Muslims Without Borders
Want to make an impact not just locally, but on an international scale as well? The excuses to not get involved have officially become invalid.
Muslims Without Borders is the first student based relief agency and aid organization dedicated to helping alleviate suffering throughout the world. Muslims Without Borders was formed after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Founding members were embedded in emergency response teams that delivered aid to unreached parts of Port Au-Prince, just one week after the earthquake struck. MWB has gone on to launch long term development projects in Haiti, and they were among the first on the scene to deliver aid to rural areas of Pakistan hit by floods. The organization is also developing programs to send American youth abroad to volunteer. MWB hopes to give American Muslim youth an alternative to extremism, and they will work to put youth energy into helping others as a means to contributing to American society as a whole.
Mission: They are a diverse group of students and volunteers who strive on a daily basis to implement targeted, cost-effective relief and development programs that improve lives. Their motto “development through service” is meant to change lives at both ends, those who need our help, and those who want to help others.
Haiti: A Land Ravaged By Destruction Is Filled With Hope
'I will never complain again,’ I thought to myself.
‘How could I have been so blind to my blessings?’
‘We’re so forgetful, but I swear, this is my last day living such a thankless existence.’
The cement walls of Masjid-ut-Tawheed in Port Au Prince, Haiti appeared cold and dark, but the warmth and tranquility that permeated the small prayer hall spoke volumes to the contrary. As I made the final tasleem of my Sunnah prayer, I couldn’t contain the flood of thoughts and emotions that washed over me, submerging my consciousness in torrents of humility and awe. I gazed wistfully all around the mostly bare room, praising and thanking Allah for blessing that struggling community with the light of Islam, and with the ability to maintain such a beautiful House of His. My mind played back images of large domes, gold lettering, and rich carpets—memories of lavish masajid that I had visited throughout the U.S., none of which made my heart throb with life the way Haiti’s did.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of children repeating letters of an unfamiliar alphabet, bringing me back to “reality” and reminding me of the purpose of our visit: we had come to distribute school supplies to the Masjid’s students. As we entered the classrooms, the students—clad in their uniform of white and blue—stood and welcomed us in unison, wishing their guests peace with a cheerful “Assalamu Alaikum!”. As we handed out notebooks, our eyes would meet the students’, and a moment of genuine, unspoken human exchange would occur. Their faces lit by wide smiles and playful curiosity, the children exuded an innocence that could melt the heart of the most hardened man. Their gratefulness was clear, and I only wished we could have done more. Again, I thought of my life of privilege and comfort. How undeniably easy had my life been? And yet, how many instances of genuine thanks and submissive gratitude to Allah could I recount? The simplicity of the Masjid and its classrooms challenged my soul and its undeserved sense of self-contentment; could I have lived that modestly and still maintained such a positive outlook? I was struck by the way its community’s vibrant life provided a stark contrast to the destruction and desolation that so evidently marred the surrounding landscape.
In a sense, the whole of Port Au Prince was the same way. With over 800,000 Haitians living in makeshift tent cities all across the capital—in open fields, alongside buildings, and even, as we saw, on the median of a major highway—you would expect the people to be full of self-pity and despair. However, the reality was quite the opposite. Almost everyone we encountered greeted us with a smile, happily exchanging “Bon jour’s” and “Merci’s”. Even the country’s nature refused to be limited by the damage and poverty that threatened to deface it.
The sky was a dazzlingly clear blue, and mountain ranges lined the horizon with awesome magnificence. It was a beautiful place, full of life and a determination to be free from the destruction that had ravaged it. It was this resilience, evident in both men and country, that drew me to Haiti, and, from what I’ve concluded, made me fall in love with it—despite the fact that I had only stepped foot onto its soil two short days ago. The collective narrative of the people was so raw, powerful, and real, that it attracted me with an eerie magnetism; indeed, it was sometimes hard to fully digest what I was experiencing, as I struggled to shed the acquired artificiality of my lifestyle, and to understand myself in light of my surroundings.
Haiti, and its people, reminded me—and in a way, re-taught me—how and why the only state that befits a servant of Allah is thankfulness. Witnessing the people’s ability to be content with painfully little, I became ridden with guilt. People without access to adequate shelter, clothing, or sanitation—not even clean food and water—acknowledged their roles in life and pressed on with dignity, humility, and courage. Yet I, assuming these things to be of the most basic standards, taking them all for granted, had allowed myself to become numb to the blessings of the Most Generous. Had I, in a previous state of non-existence, beseeched Allah for functioning hands, legs, heart, and mind for my existence in this physical world, and thus become fully deserving of them? Is it that we asked Allah more than others did for a quality education, the comfort of family, and the freedom if Islam? No. Still, we constantly forget how fragile our collection of blessings really is, and we forget the infinite levels of lesser material standing that we could potentially take on. And with that, we forget to be thankful for what and where we actually are, causing our hearts to grow distant from the remembrance of Allah—perpetuating a vicious, destructive cycle.
In a few weeks, I’ll be back in Port Au Prince, InshaAllah. In the meantime, I hope that I’m able to embody the message I’m claiming to have learned, and that it becomes a means for me to please Allah; and I sincerely pray you’ll be doing the same. As Allah mentions in His Glorious Book (verily the best speech is the Speech of Allah): “Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and reject not Faith.” (Al-Baqarah, Ayah 152)
Haiti Country Desk Manager
Pee Ess I’d love to hear what you have to say; please leave a comment or feel free to email me at email@example.com. Assalamu Alaikum!
Editor's note: To view the entire photo album, featuring more photos of MWB's work, as well as Yasir's trip, please click here.
How can YOU get involved with MWB:
Visit www.mwbrelief.org, and contact Yasir Abunamous at firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities with MWB-Tampa