By Salima Hunafa
Teaser:

The Muslim population in the United States is growing steadily, with estimates of Muslims living in the United States to be around 2.6 million in 2010 and expected to rise to about 6.2 million by the year 2030 (Pew Research Center). The steady rise in the Muslim population in the United States is attributed to immigration and conversions, with an increasing number of people converting to Islam over the past 25 years or more. With this steady increase in the overall Muslim population, services are needed in different areas (health, education, social services, law, foodservice and hotel industry, information technology and business) to accommodate the needs of Muslims.

 

Alhamdulillah (All Praise to Allah), there are more Muslim owned restaurants, hotels, and halal stores throughout the United States, especially in urban or suburban areas where many Muslims reside. In the area of education there are more Islamic schools being established in the United States, particularly over the past 10 years or so. However, many Muslim communities overall remain an underserved population in the area of social services, with many families struggling to pay bills, keep food in the home, and juggle family and marital concerns.

In our work with Madinah Food Pantry & Family Services, LLC, a Muslim Social Service organization designed to meet the needs of Muslim families through support and education services, we have seen the dire need for these types of services. Areas of need include food, clothing and household items distribution, bill assistance, health and nutrition education and consultation, marriage and parenting classes, matrimonial services and additional outreach programs. Alhamdulillah, we have also recently included a janazah fund for families who cannot afford to pay for the janazah expenses of their departed loved ones.

As Muslims, our diets are restricted to certain types of foods; we usually cannot benefit from local food banks in our areas due to the types of food that they distribute. Likewise with clothing: our style is modest so we cannot normally receive clothing from other agencies because they are not suited to our way of dress. With counseling for family and parenting issues we follow Islamic guidelines, the Holy Quran and Sunnah of our Holy Last Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) the best example for all mankind; we cannot go to outside agencies for advice or counseling services. Therefore, it is imperative for committed and qualified Muslims to initiate their own programs and for the Muslim community to fully support those programs and agencies in their locale which are designed to meet the needs of Muslim families.  Once these agencies start, consistency, professionalism, and a cooperative effort are imperative with those who volunteer.  Our volunteers as well as other agencies and communities are needed to join hands to work together for the common good of the overall Muslim population.  All too often Muslims do not support Muslim owned or operated businesses and services, which continues to be a weak link in the chain of the improvement and betterment of Muslim families.    

In our work with Madinah Food Pantry & Family Services, Allah Ta’Ala has allowed us to work with different Muslim communities throughout metro Atlanta and Northeast Georgia, and we have seen the impact it has had on Muslims who are in need of services.  There are food, clothes, and household items to give to families who request them, and funds are available to help families in different types of crisis situations. Non-Muslims have also benefitted from this collaborative effort between various Muslim communities as these services have also been available to them in times of need.  It is vital for Muslims to support other Muslims and all who require assistance and work together as much as possible, combining skills, talents, and abilities to maximize efficiency and potential.

With our Caring & Sharing Program over the past year we have worked with members of the Muslim community in Gainesville, Georgia at the Gainesville Islamic Culture Center to feed those without homes.  Madinah Food Pantry & Family Services has also sponsored an event at the Salvation Army Center of Hope in Gainesville.  All the residents and staff there were very appreciative of the food served and requested that we come back again as they liked the food so much.  So many sisters helped to cook the food from both metro Atlanta and Northeast Georgia that we left several trays of food for dinner on Sunday as well. We greatly appreciated the efforts of everyone who helped by donating, cooking, or serving the delicious meal.

Our two most recent food drives in the metro Atlanta area were also very successful.  Our most recent food drive at East Cobb Islamic Center in Marietta, Georgia helped to restock the pantry to almost full capacity with food for families who call in need of food assistance. We greatly appreciated the generosity and efforts of everyone who donated food and helped to load the truck—truly an outstanding effort by everyone.

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