Muslims stand with Christians, raising money for burned churches. Beliefs in action are beautiful.
"ALL houses of worship are sanctuaries, a place where all should feel safe, a place we can seek refuge when the world is too much to bear."
With eight black churches burned in the South in the wake of the Charleston shootings, many have raised their voices to stand in solidarity.
So far, three are under investigation for arson.
One group amid the thousands of voices demanding justice might appear on the surface to have little in common with Southern African-American churches.
But dig a little deeper and you'll find a community with shared values and a shared piece of the American experience, whose support and solidarity makes perfect sense. Who is this group?
Using online crowdfunding platform LaunchGood, a handful of Muslim American groups started a campaign to raise money for burned black churches.
So far, the campaign has raised over $60,000.
Why are they providing so much support (besides the fact that they're compassionate Americans who want to see an end to hate, of course)?
"We want for others what we want for ourselves: the right to worship without intimidation, the right to safety, and the right to property."
Muslim Americans have faced their fair share of struggle to worship free of hate and violence. And in turn, they're showing solidarity for all those who gather in the name of goodness. Because you don't stomp out hate once and for all by getting religion-specific. As a Muslim leader close to this campaign, Imam Zaid Shakir, points out:
"The American Muslim community cannot claim to have experienced anything close to the systematic and institutionalized racism and racist violence that has been visited upon African Americans. We do, however, understand the climate of racially inspired hate and bigotry that is being reignited in this country. ... We want to let our African American brothers and sisters know that we stand in solidarity with them during this dark hour."
The beauty of this campaign isn't just about the generosity and kindness.
This simple, warm act of solidarity demonstrates the values of Islam in America.
I spoke to religious scholar Najeeba Syeed about the practical lessons this movement is teaching. She was quick to point out a few interesting tidbits about Islam that this awesome gesture illuminates.
Here are four facts that explain why Muslim-Christian solidarity for justice (and this campaign in particular) makes so much sense:
1. Many Muslims in America are actually African-American.
That's right. All black religious people aren't Christian and all Muslims aren't Arab-Americans. The African-American Muslim community has been a part of the American landscape for centuries. This act is a reminder of the diversity and richness of the history of overlapping identities.
2. Modern Islam in America values the sanctity of ALL spaces where the name of God is spoken.
"We stand with these churches not just because of interfaith solidarity but because it's a place where the name of God is spoken, so we have a responsibility for the protection of these spaces."
— Najeeba Syeed
From Quran 22:40: "monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques - in [all of] which Gods name is abundantly extolled."
3. Timing matters. This campaign falls during Ramadan, a Muslim season of service.
Ramadan is a 30-day religious period where Muslims from all around the world reflect on their faith ... but it's also a hugely significant time of service, humanitarianism, and charity.
4. The "Theology of Neighborliness."
The Prophet Muhammad said, “He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbor to his side goes hungry."
"The idea of being a part of the community in service and giving beyond the Muslim community has a strong theological basis from the many traditions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad. In Ramadan you give to one's neighbor no matter who that neighbor is. You don't ask if that neighbor is Muslim, you just give. "
— Najeeba Syeed
How beautiful is that?
An act of hatred and a moment of tragedy have created the space for interfaith service — and a teachable moment for a country that consistently marginalizes and misrepresents Muslim Americans.
If you want to donate, there's time! Head on over to the LaunchGood page for #RespondWithLove and give what you want. Or just read about it!