“But the righteous, shall drink of a cup tempered with Camphor a fountain from which the servants of Allah will drink, making it gush forth abundantly; they who keep their vows and they fear a Day whose evil will be wide spreading, they give food for the love of Him to the poor man, the orphan, and the captive, (saying): “We feed you for Allah’s sake only; we seek of you no reward nor thanks; for we fear from our Lord a Day, hard and distressful.” (Holy Quran, Surah Al-Insaan Lines 5-9)
In keeping with the examples set by both Muslims and Christians of exemplary generosity, residents of Holy Islamville initiated the Feed the Neighbors program. Desiring to continue the noble tradition of unconditional generosity found historically in both the life of Jesus son of Mary (peace be upon them both) and The Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him).
The Oasis Cafe and Market, originally established by members of Holy Islamville, South Carolina and community as a business that would support a “dawah program”, (explaining Al Islam to others) and provided an excellent venue from which to serve hot home cooked meals.
Muhammad Hussein Ghazi and his wife, Naima Begum joined forces and resources with Manager Naaji Abdul Alim and expanded the Feeding the Neighbors program which began in October 2014. It was initially set up to serve those in need on the fourth Sunday of every month from 12 pm to 4 pm. Soon the Holy Islamville chapter of AMLC (American Muslim Ladies Club) volunteered to do the same on the second Sunday of every month. Afterwards Thanksgiving dinners were added to the program. The response from the residents of York was overwhelmingly positive.
M. Hussein Ghazi explained saying, “ Since we are in a predominantly Christian community this provides us with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that we love for our neighbors what we love for ourselves.”
Oasis manager Naaji stated, “ The pleasure that comes from being able to give back is beyond what words can express, especially when you experience the appreciation, smiles and joy you are able to bring to those whom you have the honor to serve.”
Naima Begum, mentioned to some of the organizing members that she thanked The Almighty for a mother, also Muslim, who passed on to her a legacy of giving. It was through her mother’s words and deeds that Naima Begum learned the importance of helping neighbors and the less fortunate. She quoted her mother, “Make sure that as you go through life you always feed and take care of people.” That is the spirit she and her husband brought with them when they relocated to South Carolina from Michigan. In Hamtramck, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, they had established a successful feeding the needy program which they operated from 2008 to 2010. “I am thankful to the Almighty that He has allowed me to follow my mothers advice in letter and spirit.” remarks Naima Begum.
As the program established consistency, Naaji Abdul Alim began to deliver meals to the elderly and physically disabled neighbors. “Most of the people we transport meals to are the seniors, many of whom live alone and have health challenges. When we first started delivering meals they were shocked to see someone bringing food to their homes, and it not costing one copper penny.” explained Naaji. “They would say, ‘No one does this anymore.’” he quoted.
Naaji continued saying, “Through the grace and mercy of Allah and by ways of the teaching and guidance of our Imam, His Eminence Al Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, people’s hearts have warmed to us.” He further recalled that one of the ladies whose husband is an amputee, greets him every time he brings them a meal with a big smile and affectionately says, “here comes my son!”
All of the Holy Islamville community members who have participated in the Feeding the Neighbor program, whether senior or junior, donor, cook, server or transporter recognize the value and importance of what has been done to date. They are all thankful for the opportunity to execute the directives of our Imam, a direct descendant of the Holy Last Messenger, (peace and blessings be upon him), who instructs us continuously on the importance and benefit of feeding and being aware of our neighbors and those in need.
The responsibility of feeding the poor or needy is a common tradition shared by Muslims who follow the way of Rasoolullah (Holy Last Messenger) as well as the followers of Jesus son of Mary (peace and blessings be upon them both).
By Kamal Shakir, Co-writer, Abu Tariq