Forget About The Mosque, Focus On The Floods

Susan notes: This is a guest blog post by M. V. Thompson, a Christian American who worked in Pakistan as a missionary for 17 years (find out more about her and why she wrote this article at the bottom of the piece). The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, and not necessarily mine or those of Amazing Woman Rock.
pakistan_floods.jpgA debate about building a mosque on the ground where the Twin Towers were destroyed is going on in the US. As is usual in such situations, people are divided in their opinions.

I have an idea that should settle the issue.

To those who want to build this costly Cordoba Mosque in America, on ground considered hallowed by most Americans and especially by those who lost relatives there, I have a better suggestion for using the millions it will cost: USE THE MONEY TO RESTORE PAKISTAN, and help the suffering Muslims in that devastated country.

Muslims throughout the world should stop to consider how they would feel if this were their plight.

They should take into consideration how their Islamic brothers, sisters and children are facing a very bleak future that will no doubt devastate them for many years to come, if indeed their country can ever make a comeback. They desperately need help.

A mosque at, or near, “ground zero” in America is unnecessary; there are already a hundred mosques in that area of New York. In the meantime, the “human condition” of Muslims in Pakistan are very literally at their “ground zero” right now, grabbing for a bottle of water or a bit of food.

Those who survive the flooding will have to try to eke out a living with absolutely nothing to go on. The pictures we are seeing show their land, their homes, their earthly possessions and their cattle all being swept downstream, along with hundreds of lives being lost.

They are eating the bitter fruit of hopelessness with nowhere to turn unless someone steps in to help. It seems logical to me that the first to help should be the Islamic nations. The Pakistan military is doing the best they can, but they cannot do all that is necessary. They could use many more volunteers.

So far, not many Muslim countries seem to be responding. Instead, as is so often the case, from half way around the world the non-Muslim US through its taxpayers, backed by the love of God and a hand outstretched to those in need, seems to be the biggest contributor.

The Virginian Pilot article on August 19, showed the figures of only two specific Islamic countries who were donating to these needs.  Saudi, with its billions in oil revenues, is giving only 44 million dollars. This is the month of the fast. Why not give the money they would be spending on food or iftar parties to ensure Pakistanis have a chapatti (bread) and water? Turkey, not so rich, is offering 11 million.

The United States, not a Muslim country, was the largest giver; it has pledged over $75 million dollars, with perhaps twice that now being offered. We know that help is being received because of the American flag printed on the large bags of wheat and rice and American military in uniform distributing the foodstuffs. Thankfully, NGOs from various countries are also working in those flooded conditions, but the job is so gigantic much more help is needed.

Pakistan--pak  (“pure” or “holy”), i  (the possessive, “of”) and stan (“land”), born when India was divided in 1947, has battled in one struggle after another since its inception. It desperately needs help to overcome the current tragedy. It needs the help of Muslims from all over the world.  It is beyond my comprehension why they have not come forward to aid their brothers. I do not doubt that some of the millions of dollars for the Cordoba Mosque will come from the pockets of the American taxpayer, poured into a mosque that is deemed unnecessary by many people.

It is the Islamic community which should unite, empty a large portion from their bank accounts for its brotherhood and help Pakistan to rebuild their country instead of building another mosque in America, especially not on this hallowed ground.

I have little respect for people who have the ability but are unwilling or uncaring, who see a calamitous need and do not immediately respond fully and wholeheartedly to it, who can watch suffering and not stop everything to help, who expect others to take care of people of their own religion in such a desperate condition. Another mosque will not make us more aware of the needs of others, but restoring and rebuilding the heart and soul of Pakistan and its people will tell the world how much Muslims care for their own people.

myrtle_thompson.jpgM.V. Thompson notes: I have written this commentary because of the deep sadness my husband and I feel for the Pakistani people.  We lived in their country as Christian missionaries for over 17 years, from January 1951 to June, 1968, in both villages and in cantonment areas. We found most of the people were hardworking, religious people. They knew who we were and what we stood for. They helped us many times and in many ways.

We did not build a church. The British had already built those and left behind a Christian legacy. However, I would like to think the educational and medical work have provided help to many people. Although we differed greatly in our beliefs, we both respected each other and we loved the people for what they were.

Wealthy Muslims and wealthy Muslim countries should feel some compassion and responsibility for the terrible plight of these eople of their faith.

Tonite on the Jim Lehrer news we heard Richard Holbrook’s report on the flood situation. He is asking Americans to send $10.00 to the phone company to aid the Pakistani relief. That is a good gesture, and certainly will be appreciated, but it will not fully solve the problems they face, because of the way the money could be spent.

The country needs money for infrastructure, but individuals also need money to be able to exist. With lands and cattle gone, there is nothing on which to build a hope unless people step in with money and the essentials for living. Will a whole nation be destroyed because not enough of us cared?

There are many very rich Muslims, not only in Islamic countries, but also here in the US. Among Muslims, Christians are often considered “infidels,” and some Americans may be, but whose heart has been more stirred when there is a need? Americans see always to run to the aid of those who are destitute.

Pictures displayed in the media show the American flag printed on the bags of wheat and rice or other foodstuffs.  Americans do these things without receiving honor, sometimes, not even thanks, but our Christian heritage has always responded when there was a need. I believe it is embedded in us because of the story Jesus told about the “good Samaritan.”

Related links:
15+ Ways To Support Relief Efforts In Pakistan Today
To Mosque Or Not To Mosque? Asks AWR Guest Blogger Susan Corso
More About Pakistan on AWR