Giving City: Muslim youths serve community over winter break


Highlights

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association deliver food at homeless shelter, gifts to neighbors.

“This initiative is to use these holy days to serve the needy and our neighbors,” a group leader says.

Over the winter break, in some of the coldest temperatures of the season, a group of young Muslim men and boys delivered gifts and food as part of their organization’s effort to dispel prejudice and serve the community.

Their group, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, is a national youth organization with a chapter in Round Rock that serves all of Central Texas. Its 50 young members are part of Austin’s Ahmadiyya Muslim sect, which has been based at a mosque in Round Rock since 2007.

“We’re a religious group with the purpose to foster religious identity based on Islam,” said Abdul Naseer, a research scientist at the University of Texas and the national director for humanitarian services for the organization. “This initiative is to use these holy days to serve the needy and our neighbors.”

Over the school break, members packed and served more than 100 meals at the downtown homeless shelter on Christmas Day, cleaned up their adopted road in North Austin and handed out small gifts to neighbors around the mosque on New Year’s Eve.

“Unfortunately, the extremist within Islam try to convey the message that Islam is against peace and against being a part of our communities,” said Naseer, “so we stand for the principle that Islam is a religion of peace that teaches us to be active in serving our community.”

RELATED:‘Meet a Muslim’ Day Saturday in Georgetown part of nationwide initiative

Yasir Quereshi, a 16-year-old member, helped deliver the meals downtown and gifts to neighbors around the mosque. He said he was surprised by the number of people at the shelter on Christmas Day.

“Being able to help them with even just one meal and knowing that it helped them get through another day felt good,” said Quereshi. “Some of them got emotional and started tearing up. We explained who we were and what we did, just to show them that the media’s biases aren’t always true, and that we can be good people, too.”

Along with the annual outreach to the community, the youth group also organizes an annual blood drive, an annual race that raises money for other charities, monthly service projects locally, and trains and deploys volunteers to assist in disaster relief. According to the group, in 2017 Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association chapters across the country helped more than 10,000 people in need, fed 570,000 people with meals, collected 2,400 bags of blood, raised nearly $40,000 for charities and provided 3,000 volunteer hours to help those affected by hurricanes in Houston, Miami and Puerto Rico.

MORE GIVING CITY: New nonprofit aims to increase nonprofit diversity

Quereshi, who had raised more than $2,000 for charity by participating in an Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association race, says most of the people he’s reached out to have been receptive and grateful.

“I think that’s the most interesting part of being a member, physically going out and meeting people, trying to make the world a better place,” he said. “I hope it gives them a more positive view about Muslims and shows them that we’re willing to help if needed.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Dump truck driver fled after North Austin crash that severely injured man, police say
Dump truck driver fled after North Austin crash that severely injured man, police say

A dump truck driver fled after he was involved in a crash on Interstate 35 that was reported early Monday, Austin police said. The driver, 30-year-old Elieser Samora, is charged with failure to stop and render aid after an accident involving serious bodily injury. A 28-year-old man had severe brain damage after the crash and is currently in critical...
Abbott asks disgraced congressman to foot bill for special election
Abbott asks disgraced congressman to foot bill for special election

Gov. Greg Abbott wants Blake Farenthold to foot the bill for a special election the governor has called to replace the disgraced former congressman. Abbott on Wednesday sent a letter to Farenthold, a Corpus Christi Republican who resigned from Congress in early April amid sexual harassment claims, demanding that he cover all costs for the upcoming...
Police: Former Adidas employee stole $2,600 from Round Rock store
Police: Former Adidas employee stole $2,600 from Round Rock store

A former employee of an Adidas shoe store at the Round Rock outlet mall has been accused of stealing $2,600 from the store, an arrest affidavit said. Frank Rodriguez III, of San Marcos, was charged with theft, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in jail. An Adidas regional loss prevention manager told police he found $2,600 missing from...
Man seriously injured after crashing into tree at Burleson Road, Metropolis Drive
Man seriously injured after crashing into tree at Burleson Road, Metropolis Drive

A man has potentially life-threatening injuries after he crashed into a tree at Burleson Road and Metropolis Drive on Wednesday evening, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Medics responded at 6:27 p.m. The man, estimated to be in his 20s, was taken to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. 
Austin man charged with online solicitation of a minor
Austin man charged with online solicitation of a minor

An Austin man sent nude pictures of himself to a police officer posing as a 15-year-old girl online, an arrest affidavit released this week said. Charles Cantu, 25, was charged with online solicitation of a minor, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail. A Georgetown police officer posted an ad on Craigslist posing as a 15-year-old...
More Stories