After two Muslim attackers killed 14 people and injured 21 others in San Bernardino, Calif., during a shooting spree at a social services regional center on Dec. 2, American Muslim leaders and groups united to raise funds for the victims' families. To date, they have generated more than $175,000, as reported by Esquire, which is 124 percent of the original goal.
The Los Angeles Times reports this charitable campaign has become the biggest crowdfunding venture Muslim Americans have ever created for the general population. The collective group created "Muslims United for San Bernardino" on the crowdfunding site LaunchGood.
"We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action," the organizers said in a statement. "This united American Muslim campaign aims to reclaim our faith from extremists by responding to evil with good, by rebuilding what they destroy."
Syed Rizwan Farook, a U.S.-born citizen of Pakistani descent and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, stormed the office holiday party being held at Inland Regional Center on Dec. 2, with a massive arsenal of ammo, bombs and high-powered weapons. They, too, died hours later in a shootout with police.
Organizers of the fundraising initiative indicated they wanted to do something to help San Bernardino families, who "lost their loved ones in a deplorable act of violence." They stated their prophet Muhammad said: "Have mercy to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens (God) will have mercy upon you." And the Quran teaches to "Repel evil by that which is better" (41:34).
All fundraising proceeds will help with the immediate, short-term needs of the grieving families, according to the funding webpage.
"No amount of money will bring back their loved ones, but we do hope to lessen their burden in some way. Since the campaign has continued to exceed every new goal we set (initial goal was $50,000), we may even be able to assist families with longer-term expenses or possibly donate to the regional center where the shooting took place," states a recent online update.
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, chair of the Southern CA Islamic Shura Council, said, "We are sad at the suffering of our neighbors in San Bernardino. We are with them not only with the words of sympathy and condolences; we should show the acts of kindness and compassion. Victims' Fund is a noble idea. I urge all American Muslims to contribute to this fund."
Though this is a Muslim-led campaign, organizers welcome "friends of other faiths" to also contribute. Funds will be distributed to the victims' families by the MiNDS Network. MiNDS is a Family-Centered Development organization based in southern California with a wide charitable network of the specialty healthcare providers, community development, and economic empowerment programs.
According to the website Shooting Tracker, San Bernardino was the 351st mass shooting in America this year.
The initiative received the following endorsements:
- Local Organizations: The MiNDS Network, UPLIFT, MECASoCal, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, CAIR-LA, MAS-LA, Institute of Knowledge (IOK), Muslim Family Foundation, Interfaith Witnesses (IW), Shifa Clinic (San Bernardino), ICNA-Relief southern CA
- Regional Organizations: Tarbiya Institute, CAIR Florida, CAIR Arizona
- National Organizations: CelebrateMercy, Islamic Networks Group, Islamic Society of North America, Mental Health for Muslims, MuslimARC, SeekersHub, Zaytuna College, Wives of Jannah, Satary Foundation, Michigan Muslim Community Council, Tawheed Center Michigan, Indianapolis Muslim Community Association, American Muslim Community Centers
- Muslim Leaders/Scholars/Organizers: Ustadh Hassan Elwan, Shaykha Muslema Purmul, Shaykh Yasir Fazaqa (OCIF), Shaykh Atef Mahgoub (ICOI), Shaykh Mohammed Faqih (IIOC), Imam Mustafa Umar (IIOC), Dr. Ahmed Soboh (CVIC), Shaykh Suhail Mulla, Ustadh Usman Asrar, Imam Osman Umarjee, Hosai Mojaddidi, Lobna Mulla, Imam M. A. Azeez (Tarbiya Institute), Shaykh Nomaan Baig (IOK), Shaykh Jamaal Diwan, Imam Tahir Anwar, Anse Tamara Gray, Suzy Ismail, Dalia Mogahed, Yasmin Mogahed, Linda Sarsour, Shaykh Omar Suleiman, Megan Wyatt, Shaykha Maryam Amir, Dr. Colleen Keyes
- Websites: AtlantaMuslim.com, IlmFeed.com, MuslimMatters.org, VirtualMosque.com