Worshippers who gathered for evening Ramadan prayers at mosques across the United States were urged to pray and donate money to victims of the devastating 7.7 magnitude earthquake that struck India, Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan early Saturday morning.
Islamic Relief USA, an aid group based in Burbank, California, raised about $130,000 from mosques around the country since Saturday, says Mohamed Abulmagd, general manager of the group's US office.
"We are asking for about $2 million from communities here in the United States," says Abulmagd. "It's Ramadan and people go to the mosque every night for prayer. So a lot of mosques are calling the community to respond and these[donations] are sent directly to us." The group has issued a worldwide appeal to the Islamic community to raise $10 million for victims.
Many Pakistanis in the United States have had trouble reaching anyone in rural areas of Pakistan where most of the damage appears to have occurred and can only wait for word about loved ones, says Abulmagd. "We don't know anyone who has a confirmed loss," he says about his southern California-based staff.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations yesterday also urged people to help relief groups. "Just as Americans came together to help the victims of recent Gulf coast hurricanes, we must do whatever we can to help those suffering from natural disasters in other parts of the world," says Ibrahim Hooper, the group's spokesman.