Schenectady County

Student plans Islamic Relief concert in Colonie

A mosque-sponsored discussion about overseas disasters led a local college student to organize a maj

A mosque-sponsored discussion about overseas disasters led a local college student to organize a major benefit concert to help people she’s never met.

While other charities are focusing on suffering from local floods, Bibi Yasin was thinking about Pakistan — where entire towns have been flooded twice in a year.

And she was deeply disturbed to learn that millions in East Africa had nothing to eat after the drought there continued through another growing season.

So she decided to call Islamic Relief to organize some sort of fundraiser. Then, Native Deen — a major Islamic Nasheed group — agreed to perform for a benefit concert.

“They’re really big in the Islamic community,” Yasin said. “To have them play here is something amazing.”

The group is made up of three young Muslims who adhere to religious restrictions on musical instruments. They have created a hip-hop sound with percussion instruments and voice, and sing about keeping the faith, living better lives and not succumbing to the pressures and temptations of modern society, according to their website.

Tickets are $25 for the Oct. 22 show at the Islamic Center for the Capital District, at 21 Lansing Road, Colonie. It is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and will include dinner and free baby-sitting.

Yasin is organizing the concert while attending Albany College of Pharmacy and taking a few extra classes at the University at Albany. The Muslim Student Associations at five local colleges are involved in the planning.

It all began with Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, prayer and charity.

At Yasin’s mosque, leaders discussed the plight of residents in other countries, where a flood does not mean showering at a neighbor’s house while trying to fill out paperwork for government aid. In rural parts of Pakistan, where entire provinces were flooded twice in the last year, refugees are living in tents. In East Africa, they would be only too happy to have that water — millions are suffering there from a long drought.

“It’s not something we see here at home. It’s not something we feel here at home,” Yasin said. “It’s true, sometimes I live in the bubble. I just don’t realize how blessed I am here.”

She decided to do something to help the million flood victims in Pakistan and the 13 million people who live in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, where the drought has continued.

“You just can’t ignore the numbers,” she said. “It’s not something you see very much in the media here. If you flip on the news, you might not even realize 13 million people are being affected.”

She called Islamic Relief, which runs programs in East Africa and Pakistan, and said, “We need to do something.”

Islamic Relief has delivered food to 160,000 people in Somalia since 1998, where it opened offices there to bring aid to the country.

Five teams of Islamic Relief volunteer doctors are now working in Somali refugee camps, and others have delivered food and water to Ethiopia and are running hygiene and sanitation programs in Kenya.

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