You pick up your phone to check the weather before heading out to work in the morning, and use it to direct you around when construction detours hit. In the evening your phone vibrates as you perpetually chat with your spouse, simultaneously to you receiving an incoming call from your mother.
While the latest phones have applications for organization, games, reading, and group chats, some utilize their phones beyond measures in changing lives. What started as a few motivated individuals in Southwest Michigan inspired at heart in giving back to their communities, became the foundation of a WhatsApp chat that has astonishingly changed many lives.
“Never underestimate the smallest act that can make a difference in the life of someone else, and it could be that smallest act or the duaa of that person that could actually lead to your entrance into Jannah.” -Maha Mustafa, co-founder of the Muslim Outreach Committee
While hundreds of community members are aware of the Muslim Outreach Committee by either joining their projects, or by being of those aided while in dire need, most are oblivious to the stimuli of this incredible light in the community. This team has fed many hungry stomachs during Ramadan, aided those who couldn’t afford personal hygiene items or school supplies, and even joined together in helping many in financial struggles by raising funds and purchasing them cars. It’s truly remarkable, and in fact sounds parallel to the outcome of a relief organization.
However, these projects, whether raising funds or collecting food items for a single mother who left a domestic abuse marriage, all take place in a WhatsApp chat. That’s right; the phone application that you might use to stay connected with your friends across the globe, or chat the night away with your sibling, is utilized by a beautiful team of people, to change lives. Amazingly, and undoubtedly with tawfeeq from Allah (swt), this group has been blessed to educate the community, protect families, and support the youth.
This group touched hearts. This group kept stomachs full, and very likely stopped many tears of distress from forming. This group provided iftar in Ramadan for families who couldn’t afford to feed their children. This group were the cause of smiles on the faces of young children who didn’t have sufficient school supplies. More prominently, this group gave hope to many. This group proved that mercy, love, and sisterhood and brotherhood exists. This group doesn’t ask for anything in return, and this group is only growing in amazement.
Honorably, we’ve conducted an interview with Maha Mustafa from Dearborn, Michigan, regarding the spark of the Muslim Outreach Committee, and her vital role in its foundation.
What initiated the efforts of the outreach team, and how did it all begin? “The efforts of the outreach team started out small with a group of sisters volunteering at the Islamic Center of Detroit, Wayne State University campus. We would volunteer in Ramadan providing iftar meals for families and students there. As word spread about our volunteer effort at ICD, Wayne State our group started to grow. Before we knew it we grew from 20 sisters who lived in the Dearborn/Detroit area to 88 sisters from Muslim communities all over the state of Michigan. We plan all of our events and projects through a WhatsApp group that we have. It has been a huge success thus far, Alhamdullillah.”
What has been the most inspiring project thus far? “I would say the most inspiring project thus far had to be resettling refugee families that came from warn torn countries such as Syria, Yemen, and African countries like Nigeria etc. We were able to help them find adequate housing for their families as well as supply them with the essentials that they needed to live. The project was inspiring because it gave hope and encouragement to families who had lost hope. It was very rewarding to see families bounce back and start their lives all over again.”
What motivates you to keep giving back to the community, and those in need in particular? “The story of the Hijra or migration to Medina and how the Prophet (PBUH) created the perfect brotherhood and sisterhood between the Immigrants and the helpers who lived in Medina. The Immigrants were taken care of by the helpers until they were able to stand on their own two feet. Also, countless verses in the Quran that talk about mercy and compassion towards humanity and all forms of life on Earth. Allah SWT also tells us in the Quran that these are verses for people who reflect and understand. Doing what you can to help others in their time of need is an obligation not a choice.”
If you had one advice to give to others, what would it be? “We have to take care of each other and treat each other with kindness, compassion and respect. Never underestimate the smallest act that can make a difference in the life of someone else, and it could be that smallest act or the duaa of that person that could actually lead to your entrance into Jannah.”
You have changed the lives of many people, and many youth in the community look up to you in many ways. What advice do you give them? What keeps you going? “The youth have a very special place in my heart. They are in my utmost duaa every single day. They are our future leaders of the Ummah. My advice would be to stay humble no matter how successful you become. And always understand that without the mercy of Allah SWT none of that success would be possible. This humility has to show in your actions. Be mindful of Allah SWT in everything that you do and always strive to make sure your heart is in a healthy state by striving every day to perfect your acts of worship.”
What has been the most difficult part of the journey? “The most difficult part of the journey is seeing the hardships that our brothers and sisters go through first hand and trying to figure out ways to give them hope and encouragement. Hope, encouragement and quality time are more important than hygiene products, clothing, money, and food. Showing others that there are people who do care about their wellbeing is so important and it’s our duty not our choice. Alhamdullillah.”
While that concludes learning the foundation of this fantastic team, it’s only the beginning of their upsurge in incredible community projects. Keep a close eye out for the work that they do, and witness the hearts they touch and the lives that they change. Really, the provide more than the fulfillment of food, money, and clothing, but hope, quality time, and farfetched joy that leaves a mark far more than what any material good can ever do.
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.