Date published: Thu, 26 March 20

The U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations convened its first National Muslim Leadership Teleconference on the Coronavirus Covid-19 contagion’s impact on the Muslim community on March 21. Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Andre Carson (D-IN) participated along with 113 organizational leaders.

The two members of congress detailed the intensive efforts to ensure the then-developing stimulus package provided for the urgent financial and healthcare needs of unemployed Americans and income-deprived individuals and families.

The US Senate passed the historically large rescue bill early Wednesday. The House will take it up for debate and vote Friday. Both Omar and Carson, who lauded USCMO for the teleconference, committed to updating the forum in a week.

Attendees asked the representatives about federal preparations to help combat Covid-19, testing and treatment implications regarding immigration and deportation, and to include provisions for nonprofit organizations reliant on donations in the package.

Metro-IAF Co-Chair Martin Tremble addressed the dire situation of faith-based organizations and nonprofits. His group, like USCMO and many of its member associations, is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, a citizen leadership development forum, the largest faith and community-based organizing group in the United States. Tremble stressed the critical importance for people to call their congressional representatives, urging them to pass a fair stimulus bill on Friday that puts working Americans, families, and seniors first, and not letting the legislation devolve into another shock-doctrine bailout.

USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal briefed the community heads on the recent White House Faith Leaders teleconference and its updates on the Covid-19 crisis and response. He asked White House representatives to include relief provisions for nonprofits in the stimulus package. They promised a response in the next meeting.

Local Muslim councils from New York, Chicago, and Southern California summarized their substantial efforts to inform their communities and innovate new ways of meaningful cooperation and contact. They noted the strong and creative answers to the contagion crisis of their local task force teams.

American Muslim relief organizations – including Islamic Relief, ICNA Relief, and Zakat Foundation of America – outlined their vital emergency response to the wildfire spread of COVID-19. These included Islamic Relief’s $1.9 million in assistance to jobless, low-income families suffering local community lock-downs.

ICNA Relief dispatched more mobile clinics to assist areas around the country enduring infectious breakouts in addition to local distribution of food and other much needed items.

The Zakat Foundation made emergency door-step deliveries of more than 30,000 family food baskets, lunch buckets, and stocked hygiene kits to those enduring loss of provision, money, and mobility in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis, Delaware, and other metro areas.

In addition, Zakat Foundation’s professional mental health project, the Khalil Center, began free web therapy consultations for Americans dealing with anxiety or illness, bolstered its mental crisis hotline, and uploaded a series of YouTube videos on coping with isolation.

Owaiz Dadabhoy, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California chairman, advised community leaders on ways to keep their nonprofits operating during the extended crisis, including options open for them to consider.