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Flashes in the Dark from Houston: Updates/Reflections on Hurricane Ike


hurricane.jpg From brother AbuAbdallah, the Houstonian, running commentary and reflections on the situation of the Muslim community facing the dangers of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike:

(Sorted Newest to Oldest)

  • September 17:
    innalhamdolillah. bismillah. as salamu alaykum,

    inshaAllah this e-mail finds you enjoying the sweetness of Ramadan.  i do not think there is enough time to get the word out to many people, but i have a quick update from Houston if you want to post it (feel free to edit, and to

    in houston, at least, the immediate needs of the people with which Muslims can help are (1) shelters because so many homes still lack electricity and (2) food and ice because no electricity is affecting their refrigerators and freezers.

    although i did not see anyone using or staffing the ICNA Relief announced shelter at Masjid Taqwa on synott, i have heard from relatives that there is a need for volunteers to assist with sheltering at Masjid Hamza in Mission Bend on the westpark tollway at highway 6.

    also, the red cross is now training volunteers to work in its shelters.  anyone interested should get the experience — training and experience in red cross shelters may, inshaAllah, help them do improve/increase the relief work provided by Muslim organizations.

    i have included the attached reply from the houston red cross (HRC) to my own inquiries.

    people who wish to volunteer with HRC should do one or more of the following:
    1) show up at the training today or at the next training session — i will keep you posted with what i learn.
    2) show up at a red cross shelter and offer to help — though you may be directed to a training, and training may be good for you in any case — visit or watch the news to find open shelters
    3) visit and submit their request to volunteer

    and alhamdolillah, I am calling this an “I like Ike” update because the Mercy of Allah is so manifest in Houston, alhamdolillah.  remember the hadith where the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam was in Hudaibiya and Suhayl came with a reply to the treaty negotiations?  seeing that it was Suhayl, the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam said that the name was a good omen, alhamdolillah.  and i remember thinking before the storm that Ike was the nickname of one of America’s most respected Generals and Presidents — his campaign slogan was, of course, “I like Ike.”

    mashaAllah many Muslims now have an opportunity to mobilize themselves and earn barakat by helping their near neighbors and distant neighbors.

    may Allah accept from us all our good deeds, may He overlook and forgive our sins and excesses, and may He Guide all of us to the Straight Path.  ameen.

    abu abdAllah, the Houstonian

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: “MARTHA MAYES”
    Date: September 16, 2008 2:39:20 PM CDT
    Subject: RE: Greater Houston Area Red Cross – Contact Form

    We are having a training session tomorrow morning here at the HQ office (2700 Southwest Freeway) to train shelter personnel.  Depending upon how long you have been out of the system, we’ll need you to fill out an application and go through the training.  It is about 2 – 2.5 hours long.

    The training begins at 10am, but we’d like you to arrive about 15 minutes early so that you can complete an application.

    The training is at the American Red Cross, 2700 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX  77098 and starts at 10am.

    If you cannot make tomorrow’s training, please email me and we will contact you when additional training sessions are available.

    Martha Mayes
    Senior Director, Community Services
    American Red Cross
    Greater Houston Area Chapter
    PO Box 397
    Houston, TX  77001-0397
    (713) 313-1697
    (713) 526-5871 (Fax)

  • September 15:
    bismillah. jazak Allah khayr for the duas you have made for all of us in Houston, and jazak Allah khayr for your understanding what motivated my posts.Allahumma laa tuaakhidnee bimaa yaqooloona, waghfirlee maa laa yaalamoona, waj alnee khayram mimmaa yadhunnoon.mashaAllah, ICNA Relief is on the ball again.

    I won’t copy/paste the whole text of their Ike-Appeal (notice how that spells Ikea? i bet a lot of our brothers and sisters in flooded galveston and clear lake would be so moved by donations of fresh dry furniture from places like ikea… and if anyone knows a Muslim businessman in the furniture business locally, i would suggest buying from him rather than ikea).but if the moderators permit, i will copy/paste the shelter information. and urge anyone who needs phone numbers of the people on the ground to go get them from the ICNA relief website (link above).if you are in Houston or DFW, consider visiting these shelters even if only to cheer up your brothers and sisters, bring them chai and halwa this evening, and toys for their children.

    ICNA Relief USA in cooperation with local Islamic Centers have set up shelters in the following Masjids:


    Masjid Bilal 11815 Adel Road, Houston, TX77067 Ph. 281-537-1946

    Masjid Al-Mustafa 17250 Coventry Park, Houston, TX77084 Ph. 281-859-8203

    Masjid Al-Taqwa 10415 Synott Road, Sugarland, TX77478 Ph. 281-495-3403


    IANT/Collins Musallah 1600 Plano Road, Suite 200 Richardson, TX 75081
    Ph. 972-231-5698

    Islamic Center of Irving 2555 Easters Rd, Irving, TX75062

    (the shelter information was current as of the time of posting, wAllaho’Alim)

  • September 15: bismillah. video on damage to Galveston, may Allah subhanahu wata ala Help all the Muslims from there who seek to rebuild their homes and lives, and may He Guide the others to the Straight Path. ameen.MSNBC video
  • September 14: innalhamdolillah. bismillah hir Rahman nir Raheem.alhamdolillah, i believe Allah subhanahu wata ala answered the duas of so many Muslims in Houston, paraphrasing the dua of the Prophet sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam, “O Allah give us the good of it (the storm), the good of what is in it, and the good of what is hidden in it, and protect us from the harm of it, the harm of what is in it, and the harm of what is hidden in it.”in Houston, about which so many media sources hyped fear for so many days, there have been so many barakat and so much aversion of harm, alhamdolillah.i started keeping a list of barakat and protections that people might overlook, and i am sure many keep here could add more.1) that Allah sent this storm in Ramadan gave us a chance to earn more reward for our sabr.2) that Allah delayed landfall of the storm so long permitted most people time to pray Isha in jamat and to make taraweeh, too.

    3) that Allah sent the storm on the 13th night of Ramadan was a blessing. though power went out across most of the city, still for much of the night (until about 4 am in my neighborhood) the strength of moonlight was so much that the city was not plunged into total darkness.

    4) Allah restrained lightning and thunder, and Ike was primarily a storm of wind, rain, and storm surge. and flood-prone Houston saw less flooding from Ike itself than it has from previous hurricanes. — this morning, with Ike itself many miles to the north, it is again raining. and we have seen as much as two inches of rainfall in many areas. so there is flooding now in many parts of Houston, but the rainfall itself has been gentle, alhamdolillah.

    5) though the weather forecasters had made so many “authoritative” predictions, Allah turned the storm in its path. thus Ike had much less effect on the western half of the city than on its east, and we make dua for those of our neighbors who took the hardest effect. but part of the barakat here has been that there are so many parts of the city that can provide shelter and respite to people from the hardest hit areas.

    6) throughout the night of the storm, Allah gave us so many opportunities for dhikr and tawbah. to contemplate the majesty of Allah’s Might, the completeness of our dependence upon Him, and how much more of a terror will be Qiyaamat. walking about in darkness, for example, inside our homes, wondering if the battery will give out in a flashlight, makes one think about the light that Allah will only permit to those with Iman, and then according to their righteousness and good works. do you check to make sure your batteries are not low? does your fire extinguisher need re-charging?

    7) reading Qur’an by candlelight, something we know so many generations of scholars and people of taqwa did.

    8 ) going outside to watch for the signs of fajr (not on the day of the hurricane though, because that was when the storm was in its fullest). on normal days the city is covered in a constellation of lights from homes, streets, businesses and industry. everywhere that Allah has dimmed those lights through outages, He has made bright the chance of enlivening the sunah of looking for the start of fajr in the darkened night sky.

    9) Muslims taking care of each other, mashaAllah. friends, families, and jamaat, among all of these you could see that Muslims have responded in Houston by taking care of each other, mashaAllah. there are many more barakat, i am sure, and these are just some that i have been keeping note of. jazak Allah khayr for your duas, and please keep making them as the cities hit by recent storms continue their recoveries, inshaAllah.

  • September 12: Alhamdolillah alaa kulli haal. With Ike looming so close to Galveston, a mandatory evacuation is in effect for much of the coast. We pray for our brothers in Galveston’s Muslim community as they and neighboring communities right on the Gulf will take the brunt of what Ike can deliver.Ike only has to travel some 50-75 miles inland from there to reach every masjid in the Greater Houston area. Indeed masajid all over Houston have announced that Friday night is likely to see shortened taraweeh, and perhaps in some masajid no taraweeh at all. And depending on what the situation is on Saturday, some masajid are even talking about not having iftar that night.Our qadr is determined only by Allah. But we are making dua, and we ask our brothers everywhere to make dua that Allah keep from us the storm’s worst winds, and protect us from the evil that lies in them, and that He bring us only whatever good He has hidden in the wind and rain that are coming.Jazak Allah khayr for posting this article — it is important to remember that no matter how many satellites are in the sky, no matter how many devices science may devise, no matter what computers may forecast, and no matter in whom man place their faith, Allah Knows and we do not know. Innalhamdolillah! HasbunAllaho wa ne’mal wakeel.And as the article points out, we should be grateful to Allah for what we have now, what we will be spared from during the storm, and what we will be provided with thereafter — for all provision is from Allah. Allaho Ghanee, wa nahnu fuqara.It has also been a very tough past few Hurricanes for the people of the Caribbean. Make dua for any Muslims in Haiti, where whole cities have been cut off by the storm and where many communities are known to have gone without drinking water for as many as three straight days.
  • September 12: Innalhamdolillah. Bismillah. Please make a lot of dua for the people of Galveston as well as those of Clear Lake, a coastal community lying between Galveston and Houston, and home to the hosts of TDC among them our own Shaykh Waleed Basyouni.This is an excerpt from a weather service advisory report (sorry, the report text is in all caps):









    May Allah preserve and protect the Muslims in these communities and those in Houston and throughout the path of this storm. The advisory report language is very serious, full text available here.

    When I lived in Southern California, I was a Red Cross disaster services volunteer from 2004 to 2006. MashaAllah there are a great many classes that are offered in a wide variety of disaster relief services, almost all of them at no charge.

    I urge you to consider taking these classes so that when the need arises you can volunteer your experience to groups like ICNA Relief. You will be exposed to every level of disaster relief training (depending on the resources of the local Red Cross) from setting up shelters, to setting up kitchens to feed thousands of people if necessary, to coordinating with local government agencies, and much, much more.

    And should it happen that you could lend your help, but there is no Muslim relief organization there on the ground then I urge you to work with whatever local disaster relief organization is in place, be it a local governement agency, the local Red Cross, or any local civic group.

    If you live in So. Cal. and other areas that are disaster prone — like the Gulf — then your local community may (or may not) have created its own C.E.R.T. program. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team and is a program whereby citizen volunteers train, get certified, and then agree to be mobilized in times of disasters to assist in varying levels of disaster relief. Newport Beach and Huntington Beach in So. Cal. have fantastic programs, and I enjoyed the NB program experience tremendously.

    Finally, because I have seen a lot of posts in other threads that make me think this comment is necessary, I want to suggest that no one should withhold their participation in any disaster relief just because the name and symbol of the American Red Cross is what it is. If you learn anything about the history of the organization, you will know that it was started in Switzerland.

    The Swiss volunteers who started it wanted a clear way to show that they were neutrals — not belonging to any combatant forces, because the group started out by offering aid after bloody conflicts would rage outside towns in the countryside, and no one would be present to care for the dead and dying.

    So the group did a sensible thing — they took their country’s own flag and inverted the colors. Being Swiss, that means they inverted the Swiss flag, turning its white emblem red.

    Alhamdolillah, in Muslim countries the natural response was that the symbol of their organizations should not be a cross, and they adopted the crescent — though perhaps a red liyaa would have been more of a blessing.

    In almost every other country of the world the local organization is either called Red Cross or Red Crescent, and the umbrella international group is literally both: ICRC — International Red Cross and Red Crescent.

    Jews who want their own symbol and those who have no respect for cross or crescent and “reformers” alike protest the two existing symbols, and perhaps someday it will all be just a red dot.

    But what is indisputable is the good that this group does throughout the world. Far from perfect, it is a very human organization, and in the US a very much volunteer-manned one. The bulk of ARC personnel at any disaster site will be ordinary Americans — volunteers.

    So you can refuse to help feed, clothe, and shelter your neighbors on a day when earthquake, fire, or flood has driven them from security to need help. And if you refuse, rehearse your explanations and excuses to your Rabb.

    Or you can abstain from getting involved on a day-to-day basis with ARC, and instead get trained, be ready, strengthen groups like ICNA Relief by virtue of what you have learned, and stand side by side with your neighbors when they need you most.

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  1. AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    September 17, 2008 at 10:10 AM

    bismillah. jazak Allah khayr for posting the update, Amad. i’m sorry about all the typos.

    i want to mention something i left out in today’s update, roof and rain damage have affected many masajid including but not limited to Madrassah Islamiyyah, Jama Masjid, Masjid Abu Bakr (SE Zone, Highway 3) and Masjid Taqwa (Synott).

    anyone who can should try to help them with money — inshaAllah, earning sadaqah jahriyyah from masjid repairs and the blessings that come from assisting those in prayer by avoid damp, hot, or dark conditions. may Allah accept from those who donate and may He strengthen the steadfastness of those dealing with adverse masjid conditions. ameen.

  2. MR

    September 17, 2008 at 11:18 AM

    This makes me want to go take some classes with the Red Cross. InshaAllah.

  3. ExEx Blogger

    September 17, 2008 at 11:34 AM

    very nice post. May Allah protect all in Houston

  4. Redwan Ahmed

    September 17, 2008 at 1:41 PM

    Ma’shallah, a great post

  5. hannah

    September 17, 2008 at 5:23 PM

    alhumdulillah. the storm has passed. i think the strom served as a wake up call for me. wake up call – ramadhan is half way over- and you havent done anything great yet- get to it!

  6. AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    September 17, 2008 at 7:48 PM

    bismillah. as salamu alaykum.

    i need to offer a correction to the information about Masjid Hamza (Mission Bend). the volunteers were not needed for shelter work. instead Masjid Hamza had the most extensive water damage i have seen so far of any Muslim facility in Houston, even though it is located on the West side of the city, far from the path of the hurricane’s eye.

    here’s what i saw, and most of the immediate work was done by just after dhuhr: outside on the grounds of the masjid lie most of the rugs/carpeting from the musallah. and there is a large pile of debris, too, that will inevitably grow.

    what happened was massive water leakage on the masjid’s second floor musallah which looks out over the first floor. it is from there that much water apparently spilled down to the floor below, but i also saw signs of water seepage on other parts of the high ceiling.

    but those spots do not compare to the damage upstairs, where sisters normally pray and where students study hifdh. that floor is now completely closed off. from the main musallah, one can look up and see that the ceiling tiles in the upstairs musallah have been removed or fallen out and huge amounts of insulation hang down like yellow blankets.

    someone has donated carpet fragments for temporary use, mashaAllah, and the musallah is ready to accomodate a large jamat for maghrib and isha, inshaAllah, tonight.

    i encourage people to donate generously to Masjid Hamza to help them recover. but my advice to potential donors is that you give freely: do not limit your gifts to helping with recovery.

    mashaAllah, laa quwwata illa billah. this is one those special masajid in Houston that enjoys a blessed combination of many young families with children, a young shaykh (Isam Rajab) who is strong in knowledge and people skills, and an overall commitment to Islam that is apparent in many initiatives like the new on-site funeral home that will be built to include a freezer room for up to 3 bodies — a sign of both the rapid growth of Houston’s Muslim community and of the forward-thinking nature of this particular masjid. and no, i’m not plugging my local masjid here. :)

    inshaAllah, in the future, i will either verify information in myself before posting, or be very explicit that i have only received an unconfirmed report of shelter activity.

    finally, i have met some people who do not share my awe at the Mercy of Allah as seen in what Ike did and did not do here. for my part, i really think one dua in particular has bolstered my perspective:

    Allaahumma ‘innee ‘as’aluka khayrahaa, wa khayra maa feehaa, wa khayra maa ‘ursilat bihi wa a’oothu bika min sharrihaa, wa sharri maa feehaa, wa sharri maa ‘ursilat bihi.

    O Allah, I ask You for the good of it, for the good of what it contains, and for the good of what is sent with it. I seek refuge in You from the evil of it, from the evil of what it contains, and from the evil that is sent with it.

    Muslim 2/616, Al-Bukhari 4/76.
    (copied from the on-line Fortress of the Muslim

    Like so many in Houston, I made that dua repeatedly as Ike approached and while in its midst. And I made it with the belief that Allah would in fact be Merciful to us. Yet I admit that I had no idea how Allah would give us the good of a hurricane. What good could there be in a hurricane after all?

    WAllaho’Alim. And that was good enough for me. Then the hurricane ended, and everywhere I looked for it, I saw good. Alhamdolillah! Alhamdolillahilladhee razaqneehee min ghayri hawlim minnee wa laa quwwatin. Allah is deserving of all praise, the One Who Provided/Sustained me though I had no recourse and no power of my own.

    there are people who are unable to bear their conditions, and undoubtedly there are people who face more hardship than me — though my family may not have power in our home before next week.

    but when i hear someone complaining i fear for them. i think of Surah Fajr. you know the ayats:

    فَأَمَّا الْإِنسَانُ إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَأَكْرَمَهُ وَنَعَّمَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَكْرَمَنِ
    Ayat 15
    (Sahih International): And as for man, when his Lord tries him and [thus] is generous to him and favors him, he says, “My Lord has honored me.”
    وَأَمَّا إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ فَقَدَرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَهَانَنِ
    Ayat 16
    (Sahih International): But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says, “My Lord has humiliated me.”

    and reading the surah makes clear the reason to fear for such a person.

    may Allah Guide us instead to what pleases Him, to the best of akhlaque, and the Straight Path. ameen.

  7. ruth nasrullah

    September 18, 2008 at 1:08 PM

    Salaamu alaikum. Br. AbuAbdAllah, thank you for this post and may Allah reward you. Thank you especially for pointing out all the good in a disaster like this.

    Light of Islam, the bookstore which I manage, came through the storm completely unscathed, alhamdulillah. I have air conditioning and plenty of books to read and relax with. My doors are open to anyone who needs a chance to rest and re-charge. The store is at 409 E. NASA Parkway in Webster, about 1/4 mile east of highway 3.

  8. AbuAbdAllah, the Houstonian

    September 20, 2008 at 5:52 PM

    Innalhamdolillah. Howal-Muqaddimu, wa Howal-Muakhkhiru. Laa hawla wa laa quwwata, illa billah. Laa ilaha illAllah. Bismillah hir Rahman nir Raheem.

    Jazak Allah khayr, sister Ruth. I am very glad to hear that your store is fully functional, and it is always good to know where more local Islamic bookstores are located.

    Your store is very close to the Clear Lake Islamic Center, right? A friend from SE Houston told me that he prayed there yesterday, so the power is back on. MashaAllah. :) InshaAllah, I will make ‘itikaaf there starting later tonight. Because of ‘itikaaf this should be my last update until after Eid.

    So Eid Mubarak to all of you, since I won’t be writing to you till after.

    For those of you who will be busy with ibadat like ‘itikaaf, distributing zakat ul fitr, helping your masjid host iftar and suhr — any ibadat that may take up all or part of your time in these last ten days — I pray that Allah will accept from you and from me. And for all the Muslims who read these words, I pray that Allah will accept our fasts, our salat, our dua, and that He Forgives us for each of our sins and excesses. Ameen.

    If you are in the Greater Houston area in the next ten days and you do have free time, let me suggest again that you volunteer with the Red Cross Disaster Services or with some other relief effort.

    I spoke with Red Cross volunteer coordinators, and, because of the extensive damage in Galveston and other places directly on the coast, it is expected that shelters and other relief activities will continue for at least two more months. When I mentioned that I would not be available for the next ten days, but would return on or after October 2, inshaAllah, they said that would be no problem, and there would definitely still be a need.

    Here are some ways to help:
    Call 713-313-1625 to volunteer at the local Red Cross — you will probably be called back in less than 24 hours.
    Visit and click the volunteer or contact us links. Both ways should work, but I got a fast response using Contact Us.
    Call 311 and volunteer to help with efforts coordinated by the City.
    Call FEMA or visit their web site to seek volunteer or even paid positions in relief work.

    Many people in Houston are still without power, including my own family, alhamdolillah alaa kulli haal. You really notice the effect of power on the whole city when you come to a stop light at a busy intersection — and it takes you upwards of ten minutes to get through it. Only to line up again at the next light. Where I knew the local streets well, that prompted me to switch from main thoroughfares to small ones, and alhamdolillah, even when I have been stuck beyond recourse — like on Highway 3 between Abu Bakr and CLIC — I dug out an old Al Maghrib CD set (Usool ul Fiqh) I found in my car. It was much better than turning on the radio to hear shock jocks whip up people’s frustrations more.

    Some people in Houston are upset with delays in getting financial assistance from the government or the Red Cross. Alhamdolillah alaa kulli haal. Many who complain may have no memory of the post-Katrina and post-Rita criticisms that too much aid was given too quickly to people who could not document their losses. Of course, the natural response to that criticism was to require either documentation or independent verification.

    And requiring damage assessment has slowed down the quantity of aid — meaning that many people could only immediately get that aid that would help them on a day to day basis. The same people may still receive more aid later, in order to rebuild their lives, once the damage assessment process has finished.

    Today I got a firsthand taste of the process. My Red Cross volunteer shift today was in DA — Damage Assessment — doing data entry on the reports filed by DA volunteers in the field. DA field volunteers are literally working their way street by street, block by block, residence by residence.

    Then their reports have to be collated and organized in a fashion that allows data entry with quality control in place. Once enough DA data entry has been completed, caseworker-volunteers and professionals will be able to meet the actual relief needs of families and individuals with financial disbursements.

    DA data entry has already started, but to give you an idea of the scope of the task, they are still sending out teams to survey affected neighborhoods, and the first teams went out the day after the storm.

    So if you volunteer, there is no doubt at all that you will have helped people in need. Whether you are in a shelter, or in the field doing DA, or in the command center doing tasks like data entry, or any other work — your help will translate to real comfort for people who are calling out for help.

    Don’t you want the angels to carry such deeds from you to Allah subhanahu wata ala in this blessed month?

    MashaAllah, across the table from me was another Muslim working on his own terminal. I had never met him before, and I am glad to have met him while volunteering. He is not going into ‘itikaaf, and he will be there volunteering every day for the next week, inshaAllah. May Allah accept from him and from us. Ameen.

    Here are more updates from area masajid since my last update.

    I visited the ISGH Main Center and talked with a staff person who assured me that all ISGH masajid (which include Masjid Hamza and Masjid Abu Bakr) are fully insured, and insurance adjusters have already begun working on claims. So, alhamdolillah, money for rebuilding those facilities is not a great worry.

    That is not the case for all masajid. Madrassah Islamiyyah is in great need of financial help. Just today I prayed Dhuhr there, and the local Muslim Houston-City-Councilman was present with the local non-Muslim US Congressman for the area. And the Congressman told us that he is making a personal contribution himself to the repair fund. It was an interesting sight, mashaAllah. I may write more about it at a later date. May Allah give him (and all of us) Guidance. Ameen.

    I visited Masjid Abu Bakr, which like many masajid, mashaAllah, has been using a generator so that it can stay open at night for taraweeh. There I saw representatives from MAS and LIFE who were touring the area’s masajid and making pledges of aid for repairs, mashaAllah, and for pledges to pay for iftars. They paid for 350 persons for this Friday, for example, at Abu Bakr. And they had already visited many masajid that serve poorer communities. May Allah accept from them and from us. Ameen.

  9. ruth nasrullah

    September 20, 2008 at 6:02 PM

    The Chronicle has been doing an awesome job of covering every possible angle of the post-Ike issues and keeps them constantly updated.

    They have ongoing lists of volunteer needs here .I registered with Volunteer Houston and it took a little while but I got an assignment in the Clear Lake area (although we’re going to work in a shelter whose location I’m not sure of). I believe the Food Bank is very much in need of volunteers.

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