Religion Roundtable

Witnessing heroism in the midst of poverty

Earlier this summer, my wife, sister-in-law, 15 other members of our church and I boarded a plane for the little nation of Haiti. The 17 of us from Williams went on a short-term mission trip to help with some projects at a school where my sister-in-law is teaching biology for a year.

While I was there, I was witness to unimaginable poverty and all those things that come with it — a lack of sanitation and clean drinking water, crumbling houses no bigger than most of our bathrooms or closets, trash and sewage piled and flowing freely in ditches and across crowded streets.

I also witnessed something in the midst of that overwhelming poverty that made everything else seem infinitesimal: I witnessed people smiling, laughing, working and playing in the midst of what some here might call hell on earth. I witnessed what I can only describe as real heroism. As people — real people — gave of themselves to others, I witnessed real heroism.

I saw heroes in the form of men and women from a little community in northeast Alabama giving of their time, leaving behind the familiar comfort, in order to give of themselves to people they’ve never met and may never see again.

I saw heroes in the form of Haitian children who are doing their absolute best to learn as much as they can to help change their families, communities and their country.

I saw heroes wherever I chanced to look in that tiny spot on that tiny island.

So, who are my heroes? My heroes are those people who never make the headlines, who never make millions of dollars, who never get their name engraved on grand monuments or buildings, yet they give of themselves because they believe the world is worth saving, even if it starts with the changing of one life.

– Chris Thomas, First Baptist Church of Williams, Jacksonville

From Abraham to Jesus to Muhammad and in between

My heroes are the prophets of God.

Quran is unbiased and impartial about all the prophets of the Gospels and the Torah. Let us look at these words of Quran: “That is Our argument. We gave it unto Abraham against his folk. We raise unto degrees of wisdom whom We will. Lo! thy Lord is wise, aware. And We bestowed upon him Isaac and Jacob; each of them We guided; and Noah did We guide aforetime; and of his seed (We guided) David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron.

“Thus do We reward the good. And Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elias. Each one (of them) was of the righteous. And Ishmael and Elisha and Jonah and Lot. Each one of them did We prefer above (Our) creatures” (6:83-86).

“We make no distinction between any of His prophets” (2:285).

Prophets never want a return. “O my people! I ask of you no reward for it” (11:51).

Abraham begged to God for the forgiveness of those people who tried to burn him by saying, “My Lord! whoso followeth me, he verily is of me. And whoso disobeyeth me – still Thou art forgiving, merciful” (14:36).

Jesus will beg to God for the forgiveness of sinners by saying, “If Thou punish them, lo! they are Thy slaves, and if Thou forgive them, Thou, only Thou, art the mighty, the wise” (5:118).

And finally, “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” (48:29).

– Muhammad Haq, Anniston Islamic Center