Saturday, January 1, 2005

The Muslim Association of Hawaii held a communal prayer at their mosque yesterday for those who died in the tsunami and collected donations for victims. Nizam Muhsin, in back, and Abdul Elwir offered prayers to the dead and survivors.

Isle Muslims offer
prayers, funds

They weren't praying just for the victims thousands of miles away.

At Manoa Valley's mosque yesterday afternoon, Hawaii Muslims also prayed for five island families that have lost relatives in southern Asia's deadly seismic waves.


To donate to the mosque's collection for disaster aid, call the association at 947-6263 or visit the association's Web site at www.iio.org.

Some of the families, all of whom attend the mosque, have lost as many as four family members in the disaster.

"It's actually people we know who are directly affected," said Hakim Ouansafi, president and chairman of the Muslim Association of Hawaii. "As Muslims, we have to do whatever we can."

About 150 Muslims gathered yesterday to pray for the victims of the tsunamis and donate funds for relief efforts. The families that lost relatives asked for privacy.

Many of the countries that were hit have large Muslim populations, most notably Indonesia. But Imam Ismail El Shikh, the mosque's cleric, said all of the victims of the tragedy, regardless of religion, need the community's help.

"Mercy has no citizenship, no location, no color," he said. "Pray to Allah for mercy and ask him to save the survivors."

Ouansafi said he hopes to gather $250,000 for relief efforts, and worshippers were encouraged to donate at least a day's wages to the fund. After the prayer service, Ouansafi stood outside the mosque with his hands open, and worshippers dropped in their cash and checks or made pledges.

Isle marathon contributes to relief

The Honolulu Marathon has donated six truckloads of supplies, including water and clothing, to the tsunami relief effort in Sri Lanka.

The supplies from last month's race were dropped off Thursday at the Oceanit engineering firm at 810 Pohukaina St., which is gathering donations. Dayan Vithanage, a Sri Lankan native who is Oceanit's relief coordinator, said it was likely the largest donation he has received.

Among the donated items were 12,000 water cups, 2,500 Honolulu Marathon T-shirts, 20 cases of water, 15 cases of soda, 1,000 clothing bags and several thousand surgical gloves, trash bags and toilet paper rolls. The donations will be sent to Sri Lanka by container.

Star-Bulletin staff

By the time everyone had cleared out, the pile of donations was overflowing from Ouansafi's cupped palms.

Also, Ouansafi said the mosque's ongoing renovation project has been put on hold for a month so that a portion of the funds can be funneled to tsunami-affected areas.

"Disaster aid is more important than chandeliers," he said.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D, urban Honolulu) attended yesterday's service and extended his condolences to bereaved families. He said the disaster's death toll, now at more than 100,000, is too much to comprehend.

"If it had been smaller, it would have been easier to deal with," he said, adding that he would be working in Congress to increase aid to affected nations over the next months.

Worshippers gathered in small groups outside the mosque after the service to discuss the disaster's scope. Two Sri Lankans, Abdul Kariapper and Jamal Esuf, talked about how their hometown of Nintavur had been decimated.

"His house and belongings, everything gone," said Kariapper, referring to his brother, who lives in the village in eastern Sri Lanka.

Esuf said his brother, who lives in the same area, and other family members escaped with their lives, but not much else.

"They are scared," Esuf said.

East-West Center Tsunami Relief page
www.eastwestcenter.org/events-en-detail.asp?news_ID=252 American Red Cross Hawaii
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

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