Tsunami Rescue Efforts by Sacramento Area Muslims
By Ras H. Siddiqui

L to R:Farouk Fakira,Imtiaz Hussain,Khalid Azwan,Moneem Salaam and Rafat El Sayed

The Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations (COSVIO) held an “Asia Tsunami Relief Fundraiser” on Friday, January 14, 2005 at the local La Sierra Community Center to top off their efforts for the victims of this grave tragedy. Close to $25,000 dollars were collected at this venue as speakers from three organizations made their plea to the gathering and appealed for additional help for people mainly in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India who have recent borne the brunt of nature’s wrath.

This latest fundraiser was a part of a series of programs that the Sacramento Valley Muslims and their friends can be proud of as they joined the rest of America to help their fellow human beings. And in this regard starting on December 31 of last year all the mosques in this area began an awareness campaign amongst their worshippers with the “Khutbas” before prayers. “Ghaibana Namaaz-e-Janazas” or a “Mass Funeral in absence” were held to remember those who are in the hands of God now. And for those left behind, fundraisers were held on the same day at Masjid An Nur and the Folsom Islamic Center which yielded $72,000 and $16,000 respectively. On a smaller scale the Youth for Better Understanding (YBU) led by our youngsters held an event at a local Chevvy’s Fresh Mex Restaurant where around $600 was raised. In addition to this, approximately $800 was raised in Folsom. And Masjid An Nur and Masjid Ibrahim are still continuing to collect clothes. And now back to this latest event, the Downtown “V Street Mosque” collected a total of around $7,000 out of which $1000 will be sent to the Edhi Foundation. SALAM donated over $5,000 and a welcome surprise came from the Muslim Community of Live Oak, California which donated $9,900 that was presented to Islamic Relief. One brother from Sacramento has donated $4000 to the Red Cross and $2000 to Islamic Relief. Numbers from Lodi are not in yet.

A group of participants

The program started with a beautiful Qirat or recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Shaikh Refaat El-Sayed. It was followed by a welcome address by Farouk Fakira, the current president of COSVIO. “Our collective need to do something has brought us together here,” he said. What happened with the Tsunami has humbled all human beings,” he added. Br. Farouk then went on to welcome the speakers from three organizations, Asian Relief, Islamic Relief and the Indian Muslim Relief Committee (IMRC). Khalid Azam from Asian Relief really brought the tragedy home. His father in law’s extended family in Sri Lanka has lost 42 members in this tsunami. That is what inspired him to start Islamic Relief which is not limited by religion or ethnicity. Khalid spoke of “entire livelihood’s lost overnight.” Moneem Salaam from Islamic Relief next gave a very professional presentation on the work that his organization has been doing. “This is our opportunity to be able to answer the call,” he said. “Allah is giving us the opportunity here to realize… It is up to us to reach out,” he added. Imtiaz Hussain from the IMRC said that “the casualties in India have been under-reported” and that the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been hit very badly.

He also presented a background of his organization and the work that it has been doing already amongst the tsunami victims. Rashid Ahmad and Tamer Ahmad of CAIR Sacramento Valley and Dr Metwalli Amer of SALAM also spoke at this event along with a short speech by Saeed Khan from Live Oak. Quality and not quantity attended this fundraiser. And the $25,000 dollars or so collected to add to the amount raised at earlier events brings the Greater Sacramento area’s Muslim fundraising effort total to about $125,000 (since December 31.). Muslims also participated in the local KCRA Channel 3 held recently to help aid Asia Tsunami victims. More than 35 Sacramento Valley Muslims volunteered to take phone pledges for the American Red Cross. Our Sacramento area community (including Live Oak, Folsom etc.) can justly be proud of their aid efforts. A disaster of this magnitude has brought all of humanity together and maybe all of us as the collective children of God have briefly shown the ability to care for those who need our help right now.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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