Observant Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan but that hasn’t stopped two metro Muslim groups from making sure that others have plenty to eat.
The Grand Mosque/American Muslim Association recently donated more than $15,000 to the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance and Oklahoma Muslim Women for Humanity is donating about $8,000 to the homeless alliance to provide meals to the homeless during Ramadan.
Both groups said the donations are a perfect fit for the holy month of fasting, which began at sundown on April 23.
Ramadan is one of the five pillars, or obligations, of Islam. Many Muslims around the world abstain from food, drink and sensual pleasures from sunrise to sunset during the month, which commemorates the divine revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims also place emphasis on acts of charity and kindness during the holy month.
“We thought what better way to start Ramadan than to show Oklahomans what we are all about. For us, this is an easy thing to do,” said Dr. Hakeem Shakir, a metro area neurosurgeon and member of the Grand Mosque and American Muslim Association.
The doctor, a member of the Homeless Alliance’s enterprise committee, said he is familiar with the nonprofit’s ongoing efforts to aid the homeless.
He said metro area Muslims wanted to partner with an agency focusing on the needs of the less fortunate in the community. Shakir said members of the Grand Mosque, 3201 NW 48, and American Muslim Association hope the recent donation will boost the homeless alliance’s efforts to provide food, shelter and other assistance to the homeless.
“They are sometimes a forgotten segment of our society. Our religion teaches us to take care of everyone, especially those who are in extreme need,” he said.
Kinsey Crocker, the homeless alliance’s communications director, said the donations will help the agency, particularly because of the challenges presented during the pandemic.
“For many Oklahoma City residents, accessing food and affordable housing are challenges that they face every day but it has been made a lot worse by the pandemic. We’re just really grateful that the American Muslim Association recognized the needs of this community and they’re helping us address those.”
‘Meals by Muslims’
Dr. Sophia Khan, a metro area gastroenterologist, helped coordinate this year’s “Meals by Muslims” initiative for the Oklahoma Muslim Women for Humanity group. The Ramadan initiative was started four years ago to raise funds to provide meals for homeless individuals who eat at the homeless alliance’s day shelter, 1724 NW 4, during Ramadan.
She said her women’s group raised most of the money for the project in about three days. The doctor said the estimated $8,000 donation includes $2,000 from another group she is part of: the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America.
Oklahoma Muslim Women for Humanity members typically don’t just raise money for meals but they help serve them at the day shelter as well.
This year, social distancing recommendations and other health concerns have prevented the women’s group from serving the homeless but Khan said they are with them in spirit. She said many members of her women’s group also made about 100 masks to be distributed by the alliance.
“In the past, we have gone there so people would know that Muslims of Oklahoma care,” Khan said. “In the time of Ramadan, you are reminded of all the blessings you have and we also give a lot to charity.”
Meanwhile, Crocker said homeless alliance leaders predict the numbers of homeless individuals and families will rise in the coming weeks and months.
“Things like evictions have been placed on hold but we’re anticipating that once the courts start doing those again, because so many people have lost their jobs or they have been furloughed, people who are already behind or just living on the edge are probably going to be pushed over the edge,” Crocker said.
“We’re anticipating a real increase in the future so the support they’re providing to us will allow us to continue feeding and housing people in Oklahoma City.”