Candle-lit lanterns and steaming cups of tea welcomed more than 250 high school and college-aged young adults to the first Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) ZF Teahouse, “Where Spirituality Serves Humanity.”
Author and inspirational speaker Yasmin Mogahed kicked off the discussion of faith and service at the Orland Park Prayer Center in Orland Park, IL with her remarks inviting participants to reflect on God as the center of their lives, based on the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), “Have compassion for those on Earth and the One in the heavens will have compassion for you.”
Next, Somali-American poet, actor, and activist for refugee youth empowerment Abdi Phenomenal captivated his listeners as he interwove poetry and storytelling to share his heart-wrenching personal narrative of forced migration.
Guests were invited to sign up to serve as ZF volunteers in the refugee mentoring and tutoring program soon to be launched at the East African Community Center on Chicago’s North Side. Participants then packaged 100 winter kits, each containing a winter coat, pair of gloves, a knitted hat, and personal note, for underprivileged families in Chicago. The packages were distributed the following afternoon to homeless shelters in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
ZF Teahouse aims to cultivate a culture of compassion by celebrating the Muslim tradition of empathy and social justice. Each program highlights a particular social issue such as forced migration, human trafficking or food justice, and offers a related on-site service activity such as winter care packaging or urban gardening. Participants do an onsite service project at each event and are then invited to carry the spirit of service beyond the evening by signing up as volunteers with service programs facilitated by ZF.