The Muslim communities of Houston have offered their mosques as shelters for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas on Friday.
Not only are the mosques approachable round the clock, but supplies such as diapers, water and food have also been arranged for those affected. MJ Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH), which represents 21 Islamic Centres in the region, said four member mosques were now open for shelter 24 hours a day. He emphasised that any citizen seeking refuge was welcome inside the mosques.
“This is an obligation, a religious obligation to help others,” Khan said. “When you give, you don’t give only to your own family… You give to anybody who needs help.”
However, a major issue is that many roads were not passable. Fortunately, Khan said, “we have a pretty good networking and communication system.”
After only a few phone calls, volunteers arrived at the local mosques with bottled water, sleeping bags and other supplies. As a result, Khan said, the four mosques are fully functional shelters being run by volunteers. Since the volunteers from Houston’s Muslim community were more than sufficient in number, Khan sent some to assist city shelters and Houston’s convention centre.
A mix of Houstonians came to seek refuge in the mosques, with most of them being families with young children or elderly relatives. Classrooms inside the mosque which usually function as part of a school were transformed into private rooms for families.
Other than immediate relief, monetary help is also being provided by Islamic organisations across the US.
“We have truckloads of supplies coming,” Khan said. ISGH has also compiled a list of 50 doctors from the Muslim community who are willing to be on call.
With further flooding expected in Houston in the coming days, Khan’s message to the country is: “We appreciate your sentiment and goodwill, and especially your prayers.”
For Houstonians in need of help, he said, “We have mosques all over the greater Houston area. If you have no place to go, go to your neighbourhood mosque.”
This story originally appeared on Mic.com.