Amidst the holiday season, religions around the world are emphasizing the need to give back to disadvantaged populations. This last Sunday, children between the ages of 7 and 14 from the Milpitas Mosque (also known as Baitul Baseer) took part in preparing food for South Bay’s homeless population. They prepared turkey sandwiches and bagged them with granola bars and water before handing them to homeless people residing in St James Park.
“Being caring and compassionate for one’s fellow human beings is a central part of Islam,” said Urmi Jahan, the activity’s organizer. “Our present caliphate is continuously reminding us to give charity in whatever form or shape we can and to educate our next generation on the importance of giving.”
Mirza Masroor Ahmad is the current and fifth leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is the sect of Islam that the Milpitas Mosque practices. He says that in every society, the rich and the poor co-exist, but there are wealthy people who abstain from spending their wealth to fulfill the needs of the poor, to the point that they become entirely oblivious to the rights of others.
St James Park is located in Santa Clara County, California, one of the richest counties in the U.S. with median household incomes averaging around $130,890, according to data obtained by the U.S. News & World Report. Despite the general population’s affluence, Santa Clara County also has some of the highest rates of homelessness in the country, based on measurements by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. There are nearly 10,000 homeless people in San Jose alone, with an overall homelessness rate of 0.84% in the South Bay.
The Qur’an reminds us that there is a “recognised right, for the needy and deprived” over our wealth (70:24-5); this means that by giving for the sake of others, a Muslim is fulfilling a duty to those in need and fulfilling one of the five pillars of Islam.
“Here in Milpitas, our Baitul Baseer students learn from a very young age the various ways of doing charity,” said Urmi Jahan. “They are encouraged to donate money from their gifts and allowance. They participate in holiday gift drives for needy children and in the past, have made warm scarves, sandwiches and hygiene kits to distribute to the local homeless community.”
There are many opportunities to give back to the Milpitas community this holiday season, from blood drives to volunteering at local shelters. These initiatives allow the younger generations to not only get involved in giving back, but to recognize their obligation to their lesser advantaged South Bay neighbors.