American Muslims trump hate with love, raising $173k for San Bernardino victims in 6 days.

After the tragic terrorist attack in San Bernardino, there was a lot of talk.

Talk about all sorts of things — from people sending "thoughts and prayers" (and people questioning if that was enough) to debates on guns (and debates about debates on guns) to presidential candidates touting anti-Muslim rhetoric (and others criticizing said rhetoric). It seems social media has become a bottomless pit of people talking over each other.

As important as it is that we talk about how to prevent other attacks like the one in San Bernardino, and how to prevent people from buying weapons without background checks, and that we question how something like this happened in the first place, there's another conversation that needs to happen. And that's the question of who helps and how do we help the families of the victims and survivors pick the pieces of their lives back up in the wake of such life-changing tragedy.


Just one day after the shooting in San Bernardino, a group of Muslim Americans decided to have that conversation.

California-based neurologist and president of MiNDS Network Faisal Qazi along with Tarek El-Messidi, founder of CelebrateMercy, decided they would try to raise money to assist with the immediate needs of the victims' families.

Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Qazi and El-Messidi created Muslims United for San Bernardino and started with a goal of raising $50,000.

Aaaaaand as of this writing, they've raised more than $173,000 from over 1,400 donors.

With 20 days left in the campaign, the numbers keep growing, and it's so heartwarming to see. More than 15 Muslim groups have endorsed the initiative so far, and with almost three weeks left to fundraise, who knows what that ending amount will be ... besides huge.

It'd be an admirable contribution from any group, but it is especially significant coming from Muslim Americans.

Image by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.

That isn't to say that Muslim Americans have a responsibility to prove they aren't terrorists or to defend their religion any more than Christians should have to in the wake of terrorist attacks carried out by extremist Christians.

“When the leading Republican presidential candidate can say, ‘Bar all Muslims coming to America’ and know he can get more support for it — it is truly frightening," Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council for American-Islamic Relations, told USA Today.

But between the Paris attacks, the mass shooting in San Bernardino, and politically driven Islamophobia being pushed by presidential candidates in the United States, verbal and physical attacks on Muslims are on the rise. A campaign like this helps those who buy into anti-Muslim rhetoric see that Muslim Americans are as patriotic and caring as Americans of any other religion.

"This united American Muslim campaign aims to reclaim our faith from extremists by responding to evil with good, by rebuilding what they destroy," El-Messidi said in a press release. "We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action."

100% of the funds they raise will go to the families of the San Bernardino victims.

Image by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

The funds will be disbursed through San Bernardino County and United Way to assist victims' families with funeral expenses and other needs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

No amount of money can bring back the loved ones lost. But it can, at least, help lift some of the financial and emotional burdens in the wake of such a deplorable tragedy, and that's what they're trying to do.


When terrorist attacks happen, it's easy to give in to feelings fear and division. This campaign shows that we will always be stronger when we are united together.

You don't have to share the same beliefs or religion to share the same values as someone else. As Qazi says:

"We are hoping in this time of crises, those who are Muslim and those who are not will get to know each other. Dialogue is the only way to clear up this state of confusion and tension."


Image by Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images.

He's so right. And it's a message we should all take with us wherever we go.

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

Keep Reading Show less
True


Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.