ICNA Relief in Partnership with New York State Task Force Hold Graduation Ceremony for New Chaplains of 2014
This Saturday, 17 Muslim brothers and sisters joined their colleagues at Action in Christ Church in Brooklyn, New York for a graduation ceremony. They had just completed a chaplaincy course two weeks ago and were there to pick up their certificates and badges and to celebrate their success. Dozens of family members and friends sat in the pews cheering as a relative received their certificate from Reverand Marcos Miranda, the commanding officer of the New York State Chaplain Task Force (NYSTF).
The chaplaincy course was designed to "train you to be stronger in your faith and to work in multi-disciplined and diverse environments," Rev. Marcos said.
A chaplain is a member of the clergy who provides religious services and guidance at institutions such as hospitals, colleges and even the armed forces. ICNA Relief's Northeast Outreach Director Br. Shahid Farooqi, who is also director of Islamic affairs at the NYSTF, has partnered with this organization to train Muslims to become chaplains. Now that these brothers and sisters have graduated from the course, they will become a part of ICNA Relief's newly formed Crisis Response Team and be available to work wherever they are needed in the city.
Sr. Jamillah Abdul Kareem who is a part of the clergy at the Nassau County Correctional Center said undergoing the training was both informative and enlightning. "It gives another meaning to dawah," she said. "It told me that we're chosen from Allah -- almost handpicked -- to serve Him by helping others help themselves. I'm very grateful."
During the course, which ICNA Relief helped arrange for individuals from New York City's five boroughs and two Long Island counties, she counseled a suicidal person and helped two families with housing issues. She also served as her own brother's chaplain at the time of his death. "I felt like I got tested every class from Allah," Sr. Jamillah said.
Br. Shahid spoke to the graduates of the importance of being a beacon of hope for people in their communities. "I hope [you] will bring light when there is darkness, images of order when there is chaos, hope when there's despair, and bring love when there is hate," he said. "And that each of [you] will remind people in the midst of calamity that there is a God who is All-Merciful."
Br. Hamid Raza, Imam of Masjid Al-Ansar also in Brooklyn, spoke passionately about the need for others in his position to help the wider community to show the true character of Islam. "When we get out for the service of others on the basis of humanity, that we're all children of Adam, this is something that brings us together," he said. "The reason why I chose to become a chaplain is because I want to show our commuity and America and the world that we as imams, as leaders of our own community can serve more than just our communities."
In total, 21 Muslims graduated from this chaplaincy training.
Saudi Student Association of Lasell College and ICNA Relief MA Team Up To Spread Warmth Among The Homeless
The Saudi Student Association of Lasell College in collaboration with ICNA Relief Massachusetts organized a clothing drive to benefit the homeless in Boston, MA. Students collected warm winter clothing which they distributed in the memory of Abdullah Alkadi, a Saudi student killed in California by a man who expressed interest in buying his car.
A clothing drive was held during Jummah prayers at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center ISBCC after which items were sorted and bagged. Then on December 6th, students braved the cold and distributed the clothing locally to homeless individuals, who were surprised yet appreciative of the effort.
ICNA Relief MA would like to thank the Saudi Student Association for organizing a successful clothing drive which benefited many homeless individuals on the streets of Boston. The students exemplified the example of the Prophet Muhammad in their dedication and care for those less fortunate. May Allah reward them for their efforts - Ameen.
The students were inspired after volunteering with ICNA Relief MA Winter Blessing Bag Distribution and helping with the distribution of children's winter coats at a local area pre-school in a low income community.
University of Illinois Students Travel to New York To Participate in ICNA Relief's Brooklyn Rebuild
Even two years after Hurricane Sandy, many homeowners still don’t have their lives back together because the damage to their homes was so extensive that they’re still rebuilding.
Earlier this year, ICNA Relief held a New York Rebuild on Long Island along with Nechama, the Jewish disaster response agency, to repair Sandy-damaged homes on Long Island.
Just before Thanksgiving, ICNA Relief held another rebuild in Brooklyn, NY this year in collaboration with Resurrection Brooklyn and Rebuilding Together NYC to repair homes Sandy damaged in Sheepshead Bay. The former is network of Presbyterian churches currently on a mission to provide resources and assistance to homeowners rebuilding homes destroyed by Sandy.
Rebuilding Together NYC, is a non-profit housing organization that "provide[s] free critical home repairs for low-income homeowners, primarily those who are elderly, disabled, and veterans with help from volunteers."
Forty students from the Muslim Student Association of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign came out from more than 800 miles away to volunteer with ICNA Relief USA. For two days, the students with guidance from experts from Resurrection Brooklyn and Rebuilding Together NYC have been mudding and taping drywall in three houses across Sheepshead Bay.