Dallas-area Muslims pack survival kits for homeless to say ‘you’re not alone’

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SHAFAQNA – Muslim volunteers from across the area earned a round of applause and even a few “amens” from the homeless huddled inside a Dallas shelter Saturday.

“We’re Muslim, but we care about everyone,” Urooj Waheed said at the Austin Street Shelter. “We’re here to help you guys and let you know you’re not alone.”

Waheed and his wife, Sobia Waheed, were among about 125 volunteers in Allen — children, parents and grandparents — who packed survival kits that contained bottled water, socks, deodorant, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a washcloth and a blanket.

 Ma’ruf, a nonprofit designed to help local refugees, organized the donation drive at four sites: Allen, Valley Ranch, Colleyville and Fort Worth.

About 200 volunteers in all assembled the donations, which amounted to about $10,000.

Sobia Ali, the main coordinator for the event, first started outreach to the homeless out of her home about nine years ago. In the first year, 15 women bagged about 200 lunches.

Over the holy month of Ramadan, in July, they provided 450 sandwiches to a shelter. This year, she partnered with Mar’uf to expand their reach.

“As a Muslim it’s my responsibility,” Ali said. “We’re taught to help anyone in need, Muslim or not.”

She tells her three kids that they have been blessed and it is their job to help those being tested.

Saher Sayed, 15, said her faith informs her desire to help those outside the Muslim community.

She recalls an encounter at the shelter a year ago, when a man who received a donation started to cry and said he never learned about Islam but would visit a mosque.

But there’s no agenda behind the gesture, said president of Ma’ruf, Faiez Usman.

“There’s no such thing as Muslim issues,” Usman said.  There are issues. Every issue needs its attention.”

Families delivered the donations to The Bridge and the Austin Street Shelter by 3:30 p.m.

Rodney Jackson, who has been homeless for five years, was one of about a dozen men who waited outside the Austin Street Shelter, huddled in jackets.

The facility, which has a capacity of just over 400 people, was already packed.

Upon learning about the donation Jackson said, it’s good to know that people were there to help.

“I’m real happy to know somebody cares about us,” he said.

Terry Patrick, who was also waiting outside, said there was more grace on display there than at other shelters.

“It ain’t always like this,” a grateful Patrick said as he picked up his survival kit.

Other members of the homeless community clapped, and a few hollered “amen” to show their appreciation

The Muslim donors, including children as young as 5, gave out 400 bags to those staying at the shelter. A stream of “thank you” and “God bless you” followed.

Amaar Huda, an eight-year-old who helped distribute bags, said he “felt grateful because he was helping needy people.”

A note was attached to each bag with a saying from the Prophet Muhammad: "God tests those He loves most." Muslim volunteers in Allen packed survival kits for the homeless on an overcast Saturday.Faiza M. Malik
A note was attached to each bag with a saying from the Prophet Muhammad: “God tests those He loves most.” Muslim volunteers in Allen packed survival kits for the homeless on an overcast Saturday.
Faiza M. Malik

At the point where the two single-file lines intersected, a piece of paper, which was stuck to each bag fell on the floor.

The note quoted a hadith, a saying of the Prophet Muhammad, which read: “God tests those He loves most.”

After they finished handing out donations, Urooj Waheed took the children aside to debrief.

“We have to ask ourselves: Why did Allah give us so much? We didn’t do anything to deserve it. It’s a blessing Allah gives you,” Waheed told the children. “What we did should make you feel good but it shouldn’t be something you brag about. We should be doing more.”

As the Muslims left, a Christian group entered to sing Christmas carols.

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