Filed under: December Volume 1 - 2008, Front Page News, Interfaith, National | Tags: Blessings from Hardship
By Noora Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
For a two week period this autumn, severe gasoline shortages gripped the Southeastern United States, leaving residents in some areas of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee struggling to get to work, and go about their daily tasks. The worst cases had drivers, who were close enough, pushing their cars up to gas pumps, while others left their cars abandoned on the side of the road.
With no major gasoline storage facility or refinery in the Southeastern region, Gulf Coast pipelines are depended upon to carry gas eastward where tankers can transport it to retailers. Those pipelines were not working to capacity due to damage from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
“The shortage was terrible,” said Hanifah Mustafa, of Charlotte, North Carolina, “People were unable to get to work, school, or appointments. There were numerous fights at gas stations, and lots of cars left on the side of the road. The lines for gas were two hours long.”
Yet, according to Mrs. Mustafa, the shortage also did a lot to bring Muslims and Christians closer together. “This gas shortage and the economic crisis has opened the eyes of the people, allowing them to see that Muslims are their friends, family, and neighbors, who are in the same boat,” said the mother of three.
Mrs. Mustafa’s older children, ages 12 and 7, did not experience fear in Charlotte as nerves frayed and tempers flared, but only wanted to “get to the Holy Khanqah” to pray for things to get better for all. The twelve year old referred to a place for prayer, where people of all faiths may beseech the Almighty with high expectations. The Holy Khanqah in South Carolina was built by the local Muslim community. “My kids only feel sorry for the people and want to know how we can help,” stated the young mother and author of a children’s book published by Zavia Books entitled Moral Stories For Muslim Children.
Some months later, gas availability is back to normal, but Charlotte is not. Many people have suffered a loss in income because they were unable to afford or obtain gas to get to work. Gas prices went up to $4.49 a gallon during the two week period of the crisis, but have since dropped down almost two dollars in some places.
Some companies offered little leniency to employees unable to find fuel, only encouraging their workers to carpool. “There has been so much firing lately it’s hard to tell if it has to do with the gas shortage,” added Mrs. Mustafa, full time homemaker who is also pursuing her second bachelor’s degree in accounting.
“I spoke to my neighbor, a 65 year old, who was attacked while just going to the gas station store, not even getting gas. She and many of the people I came in contact with blame the current economic policies for the malaise of difficulties,” commented Mrs. Mustafa, although the message from the mainstream media has long painted overseas difficulties to be the culprit.
“It’s amazing to see the change in attitude of the people. They are reaching out to me wherever I go: the library, supermarket, post office, you name it. I smile, and here they come!” she added. “Some say the (blame rests with the) Zionists; it depends on who you talk to. But the blame is never on the Muslims.”
When asked what local people are doing to remain calm amidst these trying economic difficulties, Mrs. Mustafa replied that the community is joining hands to assist those in need, and improve their daunting situation in whatever way they can.
“I recently met a few ladies who were out campaigning for the elections, and I had the opportunity to speak with them. It was wonderful. It seems that the people are waking up. They are out there trying to help one another, and make everyone aware that it’s not the Muslims who are responsible for all this. One of the ladies had a newborn that she named Barack Hussein, and I shared with her that my son’s name was Mubarik Hasan. They said so many people are taking on Muslim names and standing together for the good of our children and our future,” Hanifah Mustafa continued.
“One of the [campaigning] ladies who were speaking pointed to my oldest and said, “He is our future.”
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