Muslim Youth Group Are Helping To Clean Up US National Parks During Government Shutdown

Young muslim men are helping to clean up during shutdown.@MuslimsNVA/Twitter

The partial government shutdown in the US has now been going on for 18 days, affecting various public services.

This widespread disruption has affected the country’s national parks, with many lovely green spaces left strewn with uncollected litter.

As things stand, the parks are running on very limited staff and have been forced to rely upon help from outside services to try and keep the parks safe and tidy for visitors.

Fortunately, one caring group of young people took it upon themselves to clear rubbish from parks, showing the impact ordinary citizens can have when they band together for a shared purpose.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association is a national organisation of civic minded young muslims, who view supporting their communities as an integral part of putting their faith into practice.

In an impressive show of community spirit, members rolled up their sleeves over the weekend, put on their gloves and got to work; sweeping up the parks and emptying rubbish bags.

Clean-ups took place throughout the US, with members spotted tidying up at the iconic National Mall in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. Others were seen cleaning parks in the states of California, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.

In a press release from the Youth Association, their president, Madeel Abdullah, said:

Service to our nation and cleanliness are important parts of Islam.

We could not sit idly by as our national parks collected trash. We will lead by example and dispose of this garbage appropriately and invite all Americans to join us in these parks and others across the nation.

And this strong sense of community spirit is embodied wholeheartedly by the Association’s members, who have since shared their inspiring efforts on Twitter.

Often photographs of the clean up showed people from diverse backgrounds working together as proud Americans, showing love and appreciation for their shared environment.

National Spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, Salaam Bhatti, told UNILAD how members help out their fellow Americans with various worthy causes, including disaster relief, blood drives, highway cleanups, tree plantings, and hunger relief work.

Salaam told UNILAD:

Pew reports that over 60 per cent of Americans don’t know a Muslim and so they don’t know how Muslims act and don’t know what we believe. When they see us doing these types of work, then they can see Islam in action.

Recently, while inaugurating a new mosque in Philadelphia, the Khalifa of Islam, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, remarked that we will wipe away the tears of our neighbors during times of distress. By cleaning these National Parks, we humbly serve our nation and fellow countrymen at a time when many tears are being shed.

On Wednesday, we learned about the trash overflowing in national parks and wished we could do something. Less than a minute later, we knew we could do something because we are the largest men’s Muslim youth group in the nation – with over 70 chapters and 5,000 members.

Salaam continued:

We asked our regional presidents to look at local chapters and see which national parks were located near them. We found five parks (below in press release) and rallied local chapters within 48 hours to help. Through social media, we broadcast our efforts and invited the public to join us (they did!).

Through Humanity First USA, a charity, we received the funding to get the resources we needed (trash bags, gloves, vests). Over the weekend, we had at least 70 people, both Muslim and non-Muslim, who came and helped clean these five parks.

Discussing the public response to this volunteer effort, Salaam continued:

The response has been overwhelming, both from people passing by and thanking us, as well as people blowing up our social media and inbox. During these distressing times, it is important that we get out and be active in helping each other out.

We have plenty of community service opportunities ahead of us, including a hunger relief event in Manassas, VA, where we will make 25,000 meals. We invite the public to join us.

The partial shutdown, which is centred around funding for President Donald Trump’s controversial border wall, began at midnight on December 22, 2018. It marked the third US government shutdown of 2018.

If you want to get involved with the work of this brilliant association, email [email protected]

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