The Ummah rises together: Muslims across the diaspora assemble for Turkey-Syria earthquake relief
On February 6, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Southern Turkey affecting hundreds of thousands of people across Turkey and Syria.
More than 47,000 people have been killed while hundreds of thousands of homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Another earthquake then struck on Monday with a magnitude of 6.4 near the southern Turkish city of Antakya but was felt in Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, leaving six people dead and more than 290 people injured.
"It took no time for Muslims across the world to come together and partner with organisations on the grounds to provide aid and relief"
Rescue operations are still locating bodies, with the UN calling the earthquake one of the biggest disasters in the region.
During this time, media from Muslim-oriented news channels have been pushing ongoing updates on the earthquake in stark contrast to mainstream outlets in the US that have neglected the tragedy instead focusing on the annual Super Bowl.
Despite this lack of coverage, we are witnessing Muslims mobilising across many diaspora communities to provide aid to those affected.
It took no time for Muslims across the world to come together and partner with organisations on the grounds to provide aid and relief.
Among the relief efforts, we are seeing international organisations like Human Appeal from the United Kingdom, Muslim Aid from both the United States and the United Kingdom, Muslims Around The World from Australia, and many others unite on the frontlines to ensure aid is being provided.
Despite the ongoing efforts, many Turks and Syrians affected are still requesting aid and there are reports of a lack of receiving resources and assistance.
Many on the ground are still requesting community support as they aim to help those who are displaced.
“Muslim Aid USA and our other field offices from the UK and Sweden have been working tirelessly around the clock to deliver emergency aid to those affected by the earthquake,” Lisa Vogl from Muslim Aid USA tells The New Arab.
“We have delivered medical supplies, food packages, as well as shelters that include mattresses, blankets, pillows, clothing, and other basic necessities. We are overwhelmed with gratitude by the amount of support we have seen from donors around the world,” she adds.
She continues by sharing that the organisation is strategically planning how it best can serve the victims with more long-term solutions.
On a local level, Muslims living in America have launched a lot of initiatives to send aid to Turkey.
In New Jersey, mosques have conducted local charity drives and devoted their Friday sermons to urge their communities to donate.
Selaedin Maksut, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in New Jersey, who is also of Turkish origin, has been among the mobilisers.
“Muslims and non-Muslims from across the state of New Jersey and America have come together to collect goods and clothing for the victims of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria,” he says.
“I’ve seen volunteers of all backgrounds come together to organise collections, packing, and shipping of much-needed supplies like clothing, food, medical equipment, toiletries, and more at community centres, masjids (mosques), businesses, restaurants, warehouses, schools and many more drop-off sites for the collection process. It’s been a very heartwarming experience to see everyone’s eagerness to help.”
"A prominent Muslim social media page, Ilmfeed, has raised over one million dollars through their Instagram platform for Islamic Relief, with many influencers using their platforms for live fundraisers"
The Council on American-Islamic Relations encourages imams nationwide to devote their Friday sermons to the topic of Turkey and Syria and to encourage Muslims to pool their funds together to be sent to support the relief efforts.
Chaplain Khalid Latif from the Islamic Center at New York University has paid a visit to the location of the earthquake with Islamic Relief USA to help with efforts. “It’s been remarkable to see the number of people coming out to support our sisters and brothers in Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquakes,” he shares.
“I came with Islamic Relief USA as a part of a group from the United States made up of relief workers and Muslim community leaders from various parts of the country and have met people from all over the world in similar groups. It’s important that the support continues as the situation here is dire,” he adds.
He describes the scene as if it were “walking in the aftermath of a war zone.”
A prominent Muslim social media page, Ilmfeed, has raised over one million dollars through their Instagram platform for Islamic Relief, with many influencers using their platforms for live fundraisers.
“We have seen an outpouring of support from Muslims across the world. We have followers from around the world. Even if they couldn't donate, they have left comments of support, love and solidarity for those affected by the earthquake,” says page admin Rafiq Ibn Jafar.
He reports that there were over 109,000 donations, with thousands of shares among followers including celebrity Moroccan football players and from the England Cricket team.
“We did not expect to raise this much but we are grateful that Allah used our page to raise this much money. This fundraiser goes to show the love and solidarity Muslims have for one another.”
Among influencers, we have seen individuals like supermodel Imaan Hammam attach a fundraiser for earthquake victims on her social media bio. Bella Hadid has shared a post on ways people can donate, while actress Angelina Jolie has pushed for donations to local organisations on the grounds which garnered millions in reach.
We haven’t seen collective togetherness like this in a long time, but it is something that Muslims are spearheading on social media and taking the lead on.
While mainstream media waters down earthquake coverage to centre the Super Bowl and Rihanna’s performance, earthquake coverage has dominated the feed for many Muslims across many communities and will continue to do so.
Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh is the founder and editor-in-chief of Muslim.co, a news and lifestyle publication for Millennial and Gen Z Muslims that has amassed more than 2.3 million Instagram followers.
Follow him on Twitter: @ameer