Texas Muslims are turning mosques into shelters for Hurricane Harvey victims

'This is an obligation, a religious obligation to help others'

Narjas Zatat
Thursday 31 August 2017 13:38
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Mosques across the state of Texas are being turned into shelters for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

The Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH), which represents 21 Islamic centres in the area, has opened four of their properties as functioning 24-hour shelters.

They will provide “a dry place to stay, food and emotional support for displaced residents”, its website says.

The society is partnering with Muslim charity Baitulmaal, which is making hygiene products, food and water available to those in need.

M J Khan, president of ISGH told the Mic news website: "This is an obligation, a religious obligation to help others. When you give you don’t give only to your own family… You give to anybody who needs help.”

In the beginning there was some difficulty, as many roads leading to the mosques were inaccessible. However Mr Khan made some phone calls, and volunteers soon arrived with bottled water, sleeping bags and supplies.

The numbers of Muslim volunteers grew so large that many were instructed to offer their services at local city shelters.

The ISGH have also been fundraising, and both money and additional supplies are making their way to Houston from the Muslim community across America.

In addition, 50 doctors from the community have offered their services, should anybody need it.

“We have mosques all over the greater Houston area,” Mr Khan said. “If you have no place to go, go to your neighbourhood mosque.”

News of the ISGH's generosity comes after Pastor Joel Osteen, of the 16,000 seat Lakewood Church was criticised for not opening the building to members of the public.

It did eventually help with the relief effort.

Mr Osteen later insisted that the city "didn’t need us as shelter then. If we needed to be a shelter, we certainly would’ve been a shelter right when they first asked.”

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