— Muslim Alliance of Indiana

Muslim Hoosiers Rally for Abdul-Rahman Kassig

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On Oct. 8, 2014 the Muslim Alliance of Indiana joined the Butler University Muslim Student Association in calling Hoosiers to gather and pray for Peter “Abdul-Rahman” Kassig, and raise awareness of the plight of Syrian refugees fleeing the devastation of civil war, in a rally against war, hatred, and terrorism across the globe.

Hundreds of supporters, clad in white as a symbol of peace, gathered on that evening at Butler University to pray for the safe return of a former student, Abdul-Rahman Kassig. Kassig, a foreign aid worker and Indianapolis native, was captured by the Islamic State, or ISIS, in October 2013.

At the hour-long vigil, hosted by the Butler University MSA, local Muslim leaders implored ISIS to follow the teachings of the religion they claim to follow and show mercy to a man who has devoted his life to helping others.

Organizers also spoke at length about the suffering of people in Syria, a cause that brought Kassig to the Middle East. Kassig cared deeply for the plight of the Syrian people, his friends and family say. In 2012, he founded SERA, or Special Emergency Response and Assistance, a group focused on providing refugees in Lebanon and Syria with medical assistance, supplies, clothing and food. Abdul-Rahman was originally drawn to Syria to help the 3 million Syrian refugees – half of whom are children – who have been forced to flee into Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and other countries (the equivalent of the entire population of Chicago fleeing to Indiana and Wisconsin).

[For more on the rally, see this coverage from the IndyStar: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2014/10/08/hundreds-butler-show-support-isis-captive-peter-kassig-family/16939825/]

Abdul-Rahman Kassig was announced dead on Nov. 16, 2014. After the news broke of his death, local mosques and organizations began setting up funeral dates and prayers.

On Nov. 21, the Al-Huda Mosque in Fishers planned a funeral Service for Peter Kassig. Dr. Shaker Rashid, spokesman of the Al Huda Foundation, said, “We are honored to host this service, in memorial of the life of Abdul­-Rahman Kassig, and to pray for him and his family at our mosque. Abdul­-Rahman is a Hoosier hero who gave his life to serve others, and he is an example and an inspiration for every Muslim.”

Prayer services were also held on Nov. 22, at IUPUI by the Muslim Alliance of Indiana and on Nov. 23 at Butler University. Maya Alshawa, president of Butler’s Muslim Student Association, said the world “lost a hero” when Kassig was killed.

“Abdul-Rahman was doing remarkable work for the people of Syria,” she said. “He exemplified courageousness, selflessness, and humanity. We as Butler students can look to him as an example of someone who was fulfilling his dream of helping others. We can learn from him, and live like him: with purpose. Abdul-Rahman was changing lives, and saving them. What happened to him is both evil and unfair. It is an honor to be able to say that Abdul-Rahman was a fellow Butler student, and we can remember him for his great work and his legacy of bravery.”

Abdul-Rahman Kassig left a huge impact on the lives of many. His life and work were a tribute to the bravery and compassion instilled in him by his family and community. In caring for the oppressed, the displaced, and the orphaned, Kassig exemplified the Prophetic tradition of empathy and action in the face of injustice. His murder at the hands of the Islamic State is further proof of ISIS’ complete disregard for human life, regardless of religion, creed, or innocence. In his memory, we ask the American people to support those working to help the children displaced by the Syrian civil war, through organizations like SERA (http://seramedic.org/index.html), Islamic Relief (http://irusa.org/syria/) , UNICEF http://www.unicef.org.uk/landing-pages/donate-syria/), and Doctors Without Borders (http://www.msf.org.uk/node/28331#What is MSF doing to help?).

Our thoughts and prayers are with Abdul-Rahman Kassig and his family and friends. May he rest in peace, and may Allah reward his sacrifice.

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MAI would like to thank all the speakers and organizations that participated in these events. We appreciate all your hard work and dedication.

Hazem Bata
Omar Atia
Nadir Mitiche
Shekih Tewfiq
Maya Alshawa
Waseema Ali
Fatih Sefregic
Hadeel Said
Alhuda Foundation
Bulter Muslim Student Association
IUPUI Muslim Student Association
Charlie Wiles