Sacramento Muslims Feed the Homeless on Christmas Eve
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Muslims in the Sacramento area with the American Muslim Voice Foundation (AMV) in the lead took the initiative to feed the homeless on Christmas Eve a few years ago and it looks like they are going to continue this annual effort for years to come.
It was great to see youth volunteers and members of the AMV Sacramento Chapter greeting the people at Loaves and Fishes on 1351 North C Street, exchanging pleasantries and smiles while serving them baked chicken with all the fixings (mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, cranberries and bread) which were on the menu this year. The AMV quest was to serve as many meals as possible, and as the many happy clients came in, it appeared that all their hard work had paid off. When one gets responses like a simple “Thank You” and is greeted with “Merry Christmas” while feeding those who could use a hot meal on a cold day, what more can one ask for?
To find out a little more background on this event I asked the AMV National President Khalid Saeed for his thoughts. He said that it has become an annual Sacramento Muslim Community tradition under the leadership of American Muslim Voice Foundation to serve about a 1000 needy guests at Loaves and Fishes homeless shelter on Christmas Eve. 2016 is the 4 th year of AMV’s community building and humanitarian effort by helping the less fortunate in our American homeland, he said. We live in a great country among great people. We are part of this landscape and by serving humanity this way, not only we are fulfilling our religious duty as Muslims but we are making visible positive contributions to our society. Here I would like to thank all our wonderful volunteers and donors for all they do to make this effort a huge success.
While the trays of cooked chicken were coming in and the vats of fixings were being replenished, it was good to see Imam MumtazQasmi of the Downtown Sacramento Muslim Mosque come in to show his support and to add his blessings (on seeing real Islam in action). He also tried to lend a hand, but the energetic AMV volunteers had the food distribution process well under control.
Next, I asked AMV Sacramento Chapter’s Communications contact Firdos Sheikh for her thoughts. She replied that the 1000 meal drive is one of the best events organized by American Muslim Voice . It is an experience that brings out the true Muslim in all of us, an opportunity given to us in the celebrations of Christmas. The homeless called us a "Happy Bunch" and wondered if we were Christians! It goes to show that our love and giving gestures make a difference. That's the message. That we are all one! And in embracing, sharing, and caring is the true spirit of this holiday season. I and all those who volunteered will cherish these moments. We came together to help, every race, color and religion for a common cause, by spending time with someone who needed our support and we joined forces to achieve this beautiful goal. Our youth were amazing. This is the spirit of humanity. And it's way above every form of bigotry, divisiveness and hate. I am so proud of our team and its ability to express our Muslim teachings of charity with so much love and joy. Happy Holidays and God bless us all and America, said Sheikh.
What was really inspiring to witness this Christmas Eve were the satisfied and happy faces of clients at Loaves and Fishes who might have had to otherwise skip a meal due to poverty. And yes, there is plenty of poor people right here in the USA that will continue to need our attention. Charity should begin at home.
Last but not least, we went to AMV Foundation’s Founder and Executive Director SaminaSundas who is based in Palo Alto to give us her view. Samina said that it is absolutely central to the Muslim identity to be compassionate and care for others, especially those in need. As Prophet Mohammad stated, "Charity extinguishes sins like water extinguishes fire." All of us should try to make a difference for someone who can never repay us. We chose the Christmas Eve so our Christian brothers and sisters can spend that time in worship with their family and friends," said Sundas.
We are also trying to pass down Islamic charitable values to our next generations by getting them involved in this service. Service to others provides young and old alike deep appreciation and joy and indisputable benefits for those receiving charity. God wishes us to be compassionate and share our wealth with our brothers and sisters in humanity. There are many ways to bring sunshine into the lives of others and lift their spirits, she added. As Mother Teresa said, “It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” We are happy to say American Muslim Voice Foundation does that with love and we serve them with a smile protecting their human dignity, said Sundas.
To conclude this report, the main thought that comes to mind is that hunger and poverty have no religion. And we just cannot ignore the less fortunate in our communities because we are somehow divided in our beliefs or by relative wealth. Count your blessings. You never know if you or any of your loved ones may need similar assistance in the future!