Muslim-American nonprofits Celebrate Mercy and MPower Change launched the effort immediately following the attack, which took the lives of 11 victims attending a bris and prayer services at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
“When I saw the news, I thought, ‘This could have very well been at a mosque or a Hindu temple,’” said Tarek El-Messidi, a Muslim-American speaker and activist who started the fundraising effort, in an interview with the Washington Post. “We live in a time where so much bigoted rhetoric is being amplified.”
Conversely, the campaign seeks to transmit a message of solidarity with the Jewish community.
“We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action,” the campaign, entitled Muslims Unite for Pittsburgh Shooting, stated. “Our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: ‘Show mercy to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will show mercy to you.’ The Quran also teaches us to ‘Repel evil by that which is better’ (41:34).”
According to the Washington Post, the campaign was at some points taking in $2,000 per hour. The initial goal of $25,000 was reached within six hours, according to the report, inspiring the groups to increase the campaign. Funds will be used for funeral expenses and medical bills.
MUSLIMS: Let us stand with our Jewish cousins against this senseless, anti-Semitic murder. Guided by our faith, @CelebrateMercy & @MPower_Change ask you respond to evil with good. Donate now to help shooting victims with funeral expenses & medical bills: https://t.co/v01cOUYdqkpic.twitter.com/n7KJlW6mAX— CelebrateMercy (@CelebrateMercy) October 27, 2018
El-Messidi is partnering with the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh to disburse the money to families of the victims.
“In religion, we’re all worshiping a higher power, especially with our Jewish cousins,” he went on to tell the Post. “We share a lot theologically with the Jewish community, and a foundational teaching is you never harm religious spaces — regardless if it’s a mosque, a temple, church. One should never be worried about being harmed or killed in a place of worship.”
Those sentiments were echoed by many others in the Muslim community.
“Those who were stolen from us by this hateful person were like family,” says Wasi Mohamed, the Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and Emgage Pennsylvania, a nonprofit Muslim advocacy organization, in an interview with Time. “We feel obligated to follow this Prophetic tradition on standing up for the Jewish community.”