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Acts of Radical Love: Christian College Student’s Idea Leads to Rally for Burned Mosque

10 August 2012 Loonwatch.com 14 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Christian college student’s idea leads to rally for burned mosque

By Josh Levs, CNN

(CNN) – When 20-year-old Ashley Carter heard about a mosque burned to the ground in her town this week, she was shocked.

“I was very saddened,” she told CNN on Wednesday. “I thought it was very evil.”

So Carter, a student at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri, texted a friend, suggesting they organize an event “promoting acts of love.”

But quickly, the idea changed: They would organize a “rally of people coming together, from all walks of life, all religions, a really diverse group of people trying to promote this radical love.”

She called Kimberly Kester, spokeswoman for the Islamic Society of Joplin, whose worship house serving about 50 families in the southwest Missouri city burned down Monday. Investigators have not determined the cause, but the mosque has been attacked in the past.

My Faith: After my mosque was torched

Kester supported the idea. So Carter and some of her friends created the plan for the rally and announced it on a Facebook page. The next day, Tuesday, word began to spread. By Wednesday morning, more than 400 people had posted that they would attend the event, scheduled for Saturday, August 25.

Carter said she was inspired by “my love for Jesus. And I know that Jesus calls us to love people.”

“With everything that’s been happening in the news this week” – which includes a shooting Sunday at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six worshipers and the gunman dead – “I was pretty discouraged,” Carter said. “Regardless of what you believe, I think everybody’s entitled to loving whoever.”

Kester told CNN she and other members of the mosque plan to attend the rally.

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The response to the burning from people throughout the community has been “outstanding,” she said. “There were representatives from different churches, different organizations at the site that afternoon speaking to the Imam. People have been calling anyone that they know that has been involved with the mosque, offering to help.”

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Joplin is hosting an iftar – a meal eaten by Muslims after dark during Ramadan – on Wednesday evening. The Council on American-Islamic Relations announced that speakers will include members of the interfaith community. Sponsoring groups include the South Joplin Christian Church, the United Hebrew Congregation, the First Community Church and Peace Lutheran Church, CAIR said.

Representatives of various Islamic groups will attend, Kester said. They will discuss the future and what provisions are needed to continue Sunday school and prayers.

The mosque is holding daily prayers at someone’s house now, and expects to rent a new place as soon as this week, although numerous religious institutions have offered their facilities, Kester said.

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“We’re hoping for security and that type of support from our community,” she added.

Members say this is an opportunity to kind of start over and improve on things that we’ve always wanted to improve upon, like our security system or Sunday school facilities,” she said. “It’s a time for us to unite and focus on supporting each other. And yes, it’s a tragedy … but we want to focus on coming together and building a stronger community.”

No final decision has been made on whether the mosque will move to a new location, but there is a consensus to move inside the city limits, Kester said. “We feel that the response time for fire employees would be less if were in the city limits and it would offer us a little bit more protection and security.”

No definite plans will be made before an investigation is completed into the burning, said the mosque’s treasurer, Navid Zaidi. “We need to get this crime solved, before we do anything.”

He said he hopes the rally is safe and that authorities keep everyone protected. Assuming the fire was arson, the perpetrator “is out there – he is loose,” Zaidi said.

Zaidi described the support coming from the community as “tremendous.”

A fundraising effort to help rebuild the mosque is off to an auspicious start.

The website of the official campaign shows a goal of $250,000, with more than $40,000 pledged by Wednesday afternoon.

A video for the campaign refers to the mosque as “our refuge in a crazy and hectic world.” It shows what the mosque looked like, followed by images of the charred wreckage.

Arsalan Iftikhar, an international human rights lawyer and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, tweeted that he will donate a dollar for every retweet of his message. He quickly got hundreds of retweets.

Iftikhar is a frequent contributor to CNN.com.

Carter says she expects donations to be taken at the rally. And anyone who wants to donate money to cover the costs of staging the rally can through the Facebook page.

Different kinds of bands will play, including religious bands, she said. And speakers will talk about “promoting love.”

“When there’s an act of hate, you have a choice to make it something beautiful. So that’s what this is all about: making things beautiful from things that aren’t.”

UPDATE I:

Joplin Mosque Raises Half its Rebuilding Goal in 2 Days

“The mosque has raised $126,000 of its $250,000 goal in an online campaign that’s attracted nearly 1,000 donors, many of them anonymous. A suspicious fire early Monday morning razed the mosque. This last blaze followed an arson attempt caught on tape five weeks ago that the FBI is still investigating.”

UPDATE II:

Joplin mosque members encouraged by support

“Members of a Joplin mosque that was destroyed in a fire will rebuild and have been encouraged by the support shown them by the Joplin community.”

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14 Comments »

  1. I wish I could help you all. I have to admit , I am an atheist, but this is a horrendous crime full of hate that I for one, cannot understand. It makes me wish I was rich as I would build a new Mosque for these truly devout and non-hateful people. What Ms. Carter has done is truly a selfless act of kindness in which the faith of Christianity SHOULD reflect. Bringing the world together in peace.

  2. “St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Joplin is hosting an iftar – a meal eaten by Muslims after dark during Ramadan – on Wednesday evening”

    Do mosques ever hold christmas or easter celebrations?

  3. So we, Christians, Jane according to you should not help and show compassion when someone burnt down their Mosque? How unChristian of you to say and believe that.

    That is where many Muslims eat for the iftar. Jesus taught us to help those in need without needing to expect anything back. Good Samaritan Parable Jesus told in Luke 10:25-37. It requires actually opening up the book and read the word of God.
    While you are at it look at these Biblical references.

    Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

    1 John 3:17 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”

    James 2:14-17 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

    Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

    John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

    Just to remind you what God teaches us, because Jane you obviously have forgotten.

  4. Brian, I am not a christian.

    I have no problem with a church hosting people from whatever other religions it chooses and the fund raising is a good idea. I asked if a mosque ever hosts a christmas or easter celebration.

  5. Jane, Iftar is not a Muslim holiday. It is just dinner after fasting. So you cannot compare Iftar to Christmas or Easter. By the way, the Turkish Muslim community here in the Bay Area hosts dialogue Iftars very often! So we do invite others into our Mosques. We just don’t do it for their holidays. And they don’t do it for ours. It is that simple Jane.

  6. Jane,

    Muslims actually DO celebrate the birth of Jesus as they revere him as an important profit.

  7. I think its great when members of a community support each other. Perhaps with the community supporting and helping build this new Mosque, more people will feel ownership and help safegard the new building from further damage.

  8. Hilmi, I know what iftar is, it isn’t just a dinner, it is a religious observance.

  9. Eissa, that’s an interfaith unity ministry

  10. Some churches do interfaith and some don’t.

  11. Jane, what is it that you seek to accomplish with all those comments you make?
    Let’s assume that no mosque ever did any non-Muslim celebration, feast or whatever. What’s wrong with changing things? What harm is there when someone decides to do something nice? Especially after a mosque got razed to the ground? Hmm? I’m pretty sure people who did attend the feast weren’t too poor to afford food, and I’m sure the church was aware of that.

  12. Jane,

    “”Brian, I am not a christian.””

    Morality and Ethics is not dependent on being a religious person, generosity and goodwill defines antarami(enlightened) person’s character.

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