(Alexandria, VA)—Yesterday evening, Islamic Relief USA hosted its largest dinner in the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan area ever, bringing together more than 800 people for a fundraising dinner to benefit relief and development projects around the world.
Held at the Fairview Marriott in Falls Church, Virginia, and hosted by emcee Isra Chaker of the Sister Cities International, Islamic Relief’s Grand Iftar for Worldwide Relief was widely reported as a success. More than $215,000 was raised to benefit IRUSA’s vital projects around the world, some of which include invaluable food aid to malnourished people in Mali, and education programs for orphans in Afghanistan.
As the organizers described it, the event had an even greater purpose. According to IRUSA CEO Anwar Khan, “Tonight is about more than fundraising. In this holy month of Ramadan, we refocus on the important things. While charity and giving to others is crucial, we must also remember the importance of coming together as a community. That is what an event like tonight’s Grand Iftar is meant to be about—providing a space for the community to come together, break our fast together, and eat so that others may not go hungry.”
Organizer Said Durrah, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Event Coordinator for IRUSA, thanked the attendees for their outpouring of support.
“Without each of you here, this event would not have been possible,” he said. “Sure, we could have contacted this hotel, and rented a large room, and provided dinner. But without each and every one of you, our work around the world would not be possible. You are the heart of IRUSA.”
Durrah’s remarks highlight the event’s focus on IRUSA’s yearly theme: the cycle of love. This theme, marked by the slogan, “You are the heart of IRUSA,” refers to the cyclical nature of giving through Islamic Relief USA. Donors and volunteers begin the cycle when they decide to help someone in need. Islamic Relief staff deliver their gifts to those who desperately need it. And finally, the recipients send back what they can—their gratitude and prayers.
Khan discussed the “cycle of love” at length. In particular he referenced the impact that IRUSA’s Disaster Area Response Team (DART), with IRUSA’s official partner, the American Red Cross, made by assisting those affected by the devastating tornadoes in Arkansas earlier this year.
The DART team had met a woman whose home was destroyed in the Arkansas tornadoes. When she saw the IRUSA volunteers, she said, “I had never seen a Muslim before, other than what is on the news. This is not what I expected. You shatter stereotypes and I can’t thank you enough for your help.” Khan pointed out that, for many of IRUSA’s supporters and staff, helping is a duty inspired by Muslim values. “We believe Islam is about mercy and compassion. We believe it’s our Islamic and humanitarian duty to give without expecting anything in return. And through this work, we help people see through the ethnicity and instead see the truth of our hearts underneath.”
Among other distinguished speakers were national Muslim leaders Imam Mohamed Magid and Imam Suhaib Webb. Imam Magid spoke about the value of giving and charity in Islam. He also discussed the special importance of providing aid to those in need in Africa. He described his recent visit to the Central African Republic, explaining how a local imam there put his faith in Imam Magid to inspire the Muslim community in America to assist those suffering in Central African Republic. Imam Magid hoped to draw attention to the crisis, as well as the invaluable work that IRUSA is doing in that country.
Imam Suhaib Webb highlighted the generosity of the Muslim community, and how generosity, kindness, and happiness are to be celebrated. The evening’s participants were able to experience this firsthand during the event, as they witnessed others giving generously, and laughed during the performance of comedian Amer Zahr. Other performers included spoken word artists Sadiyah Bashir and Norhan Basuni, who gave thought-provoking performances of their poetry.
The evening ended on a spiritual note with special taraweeh prayers. In their prayers, IRUSA’s supporters remembered those in need around the world.
IRUSA has been providing emergency humanitarian relief for more than 20 years. Here is more information about IRUSA’s Central African Republic assistance efforts.
Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization. Its mission is to alleviate suffering, hunger, illiteracy and disease regardless of color, race, gender or creed, and to provide aid in a compassionate and dignified manner. Islamic Relief USA aims to provide rapid relief in the event of human and natural disasters and to establish sustainable local development projects, allowing communities to better help themselves. Its programs benefit millions of people each year around the world, including in the United States.
Islamic Relief USA meets all of the Standards for Charity Accountability of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a national charity monitoring group affiliated with the Better Business Bureau system. Islamic Relief USA is on the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity list, and it is also a signatory to the code of conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.