On February 13, a homeless man named, Darryl Ferguson, turned himself over to authorities for causing a fire that burned down the Quba Islamic Institute in Southeast Houston. The fire consumed a 3,000-square-foot building used by the Muslim community for worship and education. In response to this tragic event, two remarkable events transpired.
The first was a gathering of clergy from all over the Houston area. I was among the rabbis, ministers, imams and communities leaders standing in solidarity with the Muslim community which had lost its center for prayer and learning. At this gathering, prayers and expressions of unity were expressed.
The second remarkable element of this gathering of faith was witnessed in the response given by Imam Zahid Abdullah, the imam of this Islmaic center who called the District Attorney and asked that no charges be filed the homeless man who started the fire. This act of love has moved me as it moved everyone in the building.
In a world which is tormented by anger, vengeance and hostility, this remarkable public act of forgiveness represents one of the most gracious acts I have ever witnessed, and it comes at a time when the greater Muslim community is subjected to ongoing accusations regarding the nature of their faith. Thankfully, the press coverage has been favorable to the community. http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Zahid-Amid-fear-and-hatred-forgiveness-alights-6107584.php
Now we have an opportunity to perform an act of kindness as a community. The destruction caused over $200,000 in damage and the building, sadly, was not insured. The Quba Institute is a new organization with limited resources and this fire was a devastating blow.
Please consider joining a city-wide effort to help this community back on its feet. The amount of money needed to rebuild, when we all give together, is a small part of our individual resources; it is not the case for the sixty or so members of this new house of worship, prayer and study.
In the words of Elliot Gershenson, Executive Director of Interfaith Ministries, “When our friends at Quba have the funds to rebuild, we will all come together and show the goodwill that exists in our great city. We can stand together and proclaim that forgiveness, respect and peace are our highest aspirations. This is an opportunity for all of us, from our own faith traditions, to put action behind our words, not just talk the talk.”
If you wish to contribute a financial gift towards this rebuilding effort, the Quba Islamic Institute has set up a safe PayPal Account to collect these funds. Here is the link for your donation http://www.qubahouston.org/qii/?p=600. You can also mail your gift to Quba Islamic Institute located at 730 FM 1959, Houston, TX 77034.
Thank you for considering being part of this effort to bring communities of faith together in acts of loving kindness.
Rabbi Steven M. Gross