We here at the Virginia branch of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) proudly participated in the second annual Back to School Giveaway program. We gave away close to 300 backpacks with supplies this past Saturday, August 25, 2012. The program is funded through ICNA Relief and was started a few years ago. Last year was the first time our local chapter in VA participated in the program. Due to its success and popularity in the community, we decided to participate in it again this year. Currently, we plan on continuing with the program every year from now onwards. Just as last year, we ran out of all of the 300 bookbags.
Education is a key element within our religion and we are strongly encouraged to better ourselves through learning. We are encouraged in the Qur’an to “Observe what is in the heavens and earth” (Qur’an 10:101). Such verses are used by many Islamic scholars as encouragement by God to study and understand what is around us in the universe. Even in the beginning stages of Islam, during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), education was seen as a great asset. For example, after a decade of persecution and torture, the early Muslims finally were strong enough to have their own state and fight back their oppressors. After their first battle, known as Battle of Badr in which they came out victorious, the Prophet Muhammad and his companions took as prisoners seventy people from the enemy rank. These prisoners of war were literate people while illiteracy was the norm in that society. In order to benefit from their education, the Prophet Muhammad declared that if one prisoner teaches ten Muslims how to read and write, this will serve as his ransom and he will be set free.
We are highly honored to be doing this project for our community while at the same time knowing that it is in complete harmony with our religion and values. We hope other communities follow suit so that a time comes when there is no child in the U.S. that does not have supplies for school.