Mosque shelter shatters stereotypes

Category: Americas, Life & Society Topics: Family, Stereotypes Views: 7492

For the past few days, homeless mother Galadrial Neece-Estrada and her family have been sleeping someplace they would never have imagined -  at a southeast Las Vegas mosque. Neece-Estrada, her boyfriend and their two sons, 2-year-old Aden Cooper and 8-month-old Austin Cooper, are spending a week at the mosque as guests of the Islamic Society of Nevada.

"I've been reading up on Ramadan (the Muslim holy month) in the classroom where we sleep," the 26-year-old mother said. "The longer I'm there, the more I realize how beautiful the (Islamic) religion is." It may seem like an unlikely place for a homeless family with no religious affiliation to end up, even temporarily. But society director Aslam Abdullah said taking care of others is what religion is all about. "If God's creations can't find a place in the house of God, then what's the use?" he said. Abdullah volunteered the mosque to Family Promise, a nonprofit organization that works with about 20 local places of worship representing eight different faiths to help homeless families.

Each church, mosque or other "faith house" takes in up to four families, providing meals and beds, for a week at a time. When the week ends, the families move on to the next host until they eventually transition into regular housing. Family Promise Director Terry Lindemann said the idea behind the program is to allow homeless parents to spend their days looking for work instead of worrying about how they will eat or where they're going to sleep. "We shelter and feed them at night. During the day, we look at what's broken and get them back on track," Lindemann said.

The organization operates out of a small house near Van Buren Avenue and F Street and helps homeless parents find social services, jobs or, in Neece-Estrada's case, study for her General Equivalency Degree. "Here you get a chance to breathe," she said. "You can follow through on the groundwork you have laid." Neece-Estrada, who hopes to eventually become a chef, said she became homeless after losing her job as a slot attendant two months ago. She and her family spent time in local shelters before being chosen for an opening at Family Promise in early November. She said the program has given her the opportunity to learn about different religions and changed her mind about Islam.

"I was guilty of believing the negative, media-generated picture of Muslims. I don't know if I would have ever gotten to a mosque on my own."

While Lindemann said Family Promise is not a religious organization and participating churches do not proselytize the homeless families they host, Neece-Estrada is absorbing as much about each faith as she can. "I feel like God pushed me" to Family Promise, she said. "I have a strong belief in God and pay close attention while at the different churches. They don't force the issue, but if you ask about their religion they'll tell you." Abdullah said he was motivated to join Family Promise not by a desire to change negative stereotypes about Islam, but to practice its beliefs. "It is the obligation of every religious community to do what we can to help those who are suffering," he said.

  Category: Americas, Life & Society
  Topics: Family, Stereotypes
Views: 7492

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Older Comments:
To Hudd, maybe you could reword it, taking out the insults.

Dion Pines, I answered you, but the editors chose not to post it. They do that whenever they disagree on principles or ideas. They would allow bashing of either Islam or Christianity for the sake of debate, but when it comes to revolutionary ideas they get an indigestion over it.


Doin Phine. Nothing allowes for name calling, I guess the hockey culture kicked in and overrid by Islamic nature. Although, myself, I wouldn't call my metaphores and epithets as 'name calling'. Anyway, if you feel that way, I apologize.

O,I can give several examples:

#1-It is very disrespectful to reject somebody's friendship or brotherly love(brotherhood). It is in fact very insulting and arrogant. This was your first mistake. Let me explain. According to the three major religions (Judaism,Christianity & Islam) we are the descendants of the original people, Adam & Eve, thus related and rightfully correct to call mankind one brotherhood. According to the latest science we all belong to the same gene pool and slight variations of the same DNA. This also suggests a human original prototype, whether it was created by God, Aliens or Nature, there was a prototype. I believe God designed it, you believe it evolved from vacuum, that's your set of beliefs. Bottom line, we are all related, thus easily we can call ourselves brothers and if we share a common activity we can call ourselves also, friends. You rejected these, so what did you expect? To accept you as our master? To believe every word that comes out of your mouth because you were white and atheist and not a brother or a friend? You wanted to have peace by not belonging or being friendly? How on earth were you going to do that without being arrogant as well as impertinent? One day a homeless person approached me to my car, he was frozen and shivering like an autumn leave in the wind. He said:"Brother! Could you spare me some change? I'm so cold I would need a coffee." I said, "Here brother, get this $5 and get yourself a breakfast too." According to you I needed to say,"You are not my brother, not even my friend, we don't go places together nor visit each other, but hey, there you go take this $5 and eat a breakfast from my charity toward worthless people like yourself." You dig, Doin?

To Hudd d'Aelia; What did I say that allows for name calling. What did I say that was offensive, and give the reason why. Give me one example, so that I may learn(if you wish). Thank-you

Dion Pines visited this site in order to supplant. His politics are simple and quite relevant of his kind. Attack the Muslims, undermine their principles and ridicule their system of values, claim these as freedom of speech. If he's responded in a way he cannot handle, he claims that as harrassment, as insult and lack of respect. I don't know you Dion, all I know is what you say about Islam, Quran and Islamic heroes of the past. What you say is offensive, insulting and meant to fuel Islamophobia or better said meant to bash Islam. You believe that by belittling Islam you would cause the Muslims to be shy of their ways as many of your missionaries succeeded in areas of illiteracy in Africa and other places. You fail to understand that the Muslims you are dealing with on this site are educated, speak English and have a great knowledge of their religion in special and of all the others in general. By you being an atheist anything you say it is discredited religiously and scientifically. My faith was completed as I graduated in Masters of Applied Sciences. Only after gaining a Masters knowledge in science I could really appreciate God's design for the Universe and my worship for Him was total. Night and day meet at dusk, but their meeting is brief. Either of them would take over. Your dusk period is over, you cannot outshine the mighty day. Retreat in your cave, wait for the fall of night...untill then, I bid you Peace!

I pray Allah to reward you for your good deed. If you meant to do it for Allah sake, then you are waiting the good reward, In Sha'a Allah. This the Islam spirit to help the needy people, poor, homeless, and pass by people. Our Zakah (Elm) or the money on the people hands, which exceed their yearly expense, it has to be taxed( mandatory)to purify the rich wealtrh. One of the avenues to allocate this Zakah to pay for the poors, pass by , who their money exhausted ,and orphans, besides some other avenues. To have people in the mosque as a lodge during a period of time and feed them is very good work, keep going, Allah will help you.We are happy for it.


1)Prophet Muhammed (May Peace And Blessings Of Allah Taala Be Upon Him Said), "A beleiver is neither a taunter, nor a curser, nor an indecent, nor an abuser."
2)The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Those who frequently resort to cursing (people) would neither be accepted as witnesses nor as intercessors on the Day of Resurrection.''

3)The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Do not curse one another, invoking Curse of Allah or Wrath of Allah or the fire of Hell.''
Allah Ta'ala does not look upon your bodies or appearances, He looks upon your intentions and your deeds.
4)The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "When a person curses somebody or something, the curse goes up to heaven and the gates of heaven get closed. Then it comes down to the earth and its gates get closed. Then it turns right and left, and if it does not find an entrance to go anywhere, it returns to the person or thing that was cursed.
Dear brother, please read the aqbove Hadiths, and please try to be close to the Messenger way of talking with others. We are Ummah created to tell people of the earth to do right things and to teach them not to do wrong. So let us be that way. Your reward fro Allah.


Dion Pines stop whining! You think everybody on this website was stupid and having English as a second language thus not being able to understand your juggling about with words taken out of context. First of all, your insinuation with my alleaged bias toward women is more insulting than anything was said to you on this website. You might have French as your first language and therefore you could misunderstand straight closed sentences. I love women. O, yeah, I love women too much, as a matter of fact. Don't even try to suggest that I would be a misogynist, remember the Polythecnic Istitute of Montreal and the French crackhead that commited the massacre. Please note, Frenchman not Muslim, OK?

Your statements about Islam and Muslims in general is an insult to every honest Muslim on this website. If you cannot perceive that there are out there tools in the form of general info and Islamophobic media to brainwash you, what do you expect? Our respect? For what? For being stupid? I give you some examples:

1) You said Salah id-Din, may God be pleased with his soul, intended to conquoer Europe. This is an insult to us Muslims. It took him time, long enough to siege Jerusalem, only after the European bastards started killing the Muslims and taking their lands and properties. If you knew a bit of Universal unbiased history, you would know that Salah id-Din, Allah yirhamhu, wanted Cairo the see of the Fatimids. But you find yourself posing statements as if they were the absolute truth. That is what is offensive. You want to learn, ask and you'll be answered, but don't try to sell sand to the Arabs or more appropriate for us, sell ice to the Eskimoes.

You complained that I called you enami? When you were called a brother and an ami you said you weren't our brother nor our ami. So what the heck are you then to us? Obviously, enami.

I'm a hypocrit because I wished you peace? Are you serious? Peace is not mine to grant, but I can ask for it, God is the granter

To the editors,
I have visited this site as a non-Muslim, trying to better understand another point of view. I have been personally attacked many times through the comments section. I think it is important for the editors of this site to closely look at the comments for personal attacks on fellow commentators. Calling commentators dogs, poodles, baboons, skunks, trolls and the list goes on. I think these misplaced comments work against the efforts you are trying to accomplish with such a site.
One last example of offensive personal attacks. In the comment Ref: 34476. The person was trying to attack me by saying I'm a woman. By doing so he is showing prejudice and it is offensive to all women. If I'm a man or a woman is of no importance when making comments.
I would like to state, that other comments posted have been a great help me in my understanding of Islam, and were appreciated. Overall I enjoy visiting this site.
Thank you.
PS. please check my comments, and if there is anything of an offensive nature I would like to know, and apologise in advance. However In democracies it is important to have a FREE exchange of ideas WITHOUT violence (including verbal/written). In comment Ref: 34476, the person plays with the word ami (french for friend) so it more closely resembles enemy. I think a through reveiw of your comment review process is required ASAP.

Insult me and wish me peace, what a hyprocrite you are. Hudd when you say to me " vieux enami" I think it says it all, you look as me as an enemy, while I'm on here to exchange Ideas, you are here to insult me. I must congratulate you on researching my older comments, I must have written things that has effected you, while I don't look at your old comments, because they are empty, execpt of insults to me.

I thought I smelled skunk but it was just Dion Pines, vieux enami. Good start? Our mosques were always open to visitors, whether wealthy or needy. You Dion are very backwood, where do you live? In Iqaluit?

I couldn't believe that somebody claiming to be Canadian would be able to exhibit the crass and ignorant stupidity of the kind:

"For each terrorist act done in the name of Islam let a thousand actions such as those in the articles be done in the name of Islam."

The first Canadian born Muslim in Ontario happened in 1855 in the city of London to James and Emily Love who were Muslim immigrants from Scotland, the boy was named, Cassim (Qasim as spelling recquires today). From 1855 to 2005 there are 150 years, by short 8 generations. In USA grass-root Muslims date even from an earlier period. Are you suggesting in your confused mind that these people as well as any other local Muslims from both South and Central America are somewhat bearing any responsibility for incidents in Iraq or Palestine? For the same matter, do you believe in your ignorant judgement that Muslims from Morocco are guilty for the terroristic bombing in Bali, Malaysia? Or Muslims of Turkey are guilty for the London bombing? Dion, my poor enamy, terrorism is caused by the Western superpowers who invade, occupy and terrorize the indigen population of the Muslim countries. The greatest evil in the picture is of course, the puppet country of Israel, the bloody Zionist state that robbed the lands of the indigenious Palestinians(Muslims and Christians as well) and turned them into brothels for their Western masters.

Muhammad called president Bush a dog? Baboon would be closer, I guess, accept the correction, if you will.

Your next statement is side-splitting moronic:

"If you don't respect the west, the west won't respect Islam."

So, Bush, is the West? Let me break the news on you, pal, not even his US compatriots respect him! Only baboons like himself respect him all ov

Hi Ahmed,
Calling me a poodle, now that isn't very nice, especially from a Muslim. Personally I like dogs, but not to be called one. You should apologise, if you can find the maturity.

I don't worship President Bush (I don't worship anything), I even don't agree with everything he has done or thinks, but I would not call him a terrorist.

I think a better question you could have asked me, is what have I done to help people in need.

Personally I have given to many charitable organisations that have helped Canadians, and the rest of the world. The two latest most notable examples are to Tsunami Relief effort(considerable amount), and to my friends south of Canada in New Orleans.

In Canada I give to charities that help youth (of all religions) and the elderly. I'm very proud of the fact that I'm in a position to be able the less fortunate.

I have also helped charitable orgs with my time on and off for the last 25 years.

The act is a laudable one and the intentions are noble. I am not too sure if this was done for the purpose of propagating Islam. The House of Almighty Allah (masjid) is a sanctuary for the needy, the wayfarers, and most of all, the devotees of Allah. This is nothing new in Islam because the Prophet (SAW) himself did it while he was alive. The only problem I have with this gesture is permitting open lewdness in the mosque. From what I am deducing from this article, Neece-Estrada and her "boyfriend" are being housed in the mosque--honestly a wrong place for cohabitation. I am not too sure if all homeless people have "boyfriends" and/or "girlfriends." But if that is not the case, then can't the mosques accommodate those who do not have "boyfriends" and/or "girlfriends?" I am sure Muslims can assist homeless people who have "boyfriends" and/or "girlfriends" in some meaningful ways. I think Muslims should refrain from doing what everyone else is doing just for the purpose of being seen in a positive light especially when such actions are contrary to Allah's commandments. He (Allah) has told us in no uncertain terms not to come any closer to fornication--let alone adultery. And here we are--not just refraining from coming closer to it, but even willingly permitting it to occur in the house that we have designated for His worship. This is plain wrong. I am not in anyway suggesting that Muslims are not guilty of committing fornications and adultery, but they do not openly do it in the House of God. Does it actually matter? Yes, it does. Because when we fall out of favor with our Lord--a situation we sometimes find ourselves helpless against--it is to that House we go for communion with Him, sincerely trying to repent. But if that House becomes no different from any other house, then our situation becomes hopeless at worse. May Almighty Allah continue to forgive all of us, for He has said that He is the One who forgives over and over again. Asalam Alaikoom.

AHMED said:
Done Phine, what have you done to compensate for American terrorism? Bush is a terrorist, yet you worship him like a poodle. Disgusting.

there is nothing wrong with accommodating a non-muslim into a mosque. in fact in today's environ we should accept all into our homes and places of worship. the quran tells us to help the needy and it does not specify that they must be muslims. remember islam is a religion of mercy and brought for mankind. no one has exclusivity on Allah/God. He has exclusivity on ALL of us and by joing hands with other we please him and we must stop finding faults in others and stand on judgement. open our hearts even to the non-believers for what chance they have if we shun them. it would be like kicking a man when he is down. blessed is a man who finds faults in himslef and avoids looking for faults in others.

Good start keep it up. For each terrorist act done in the name of Islam let a thousand actions such as those in the articles be done in the name of Islam.

Alhumdulillah if all Masjids could do something like this we could do so much to change the negative view of Islam. We can not change the media, it is up to us to show true Islam to as many people as we can. We don't need to preach we just need to live the message.


This is a great programme, especially in the U.S. However the idea of a non muslim "family" sleeping in the house of Allah is a mistake. How about doing the homeless home outside of the mosque (not even adjacent) to it. Cos' the shari'a of Allah that of stopping adultery/fornication, alcohol drinking, etc are applicable to all mankind. The prophet Muhammad (SAW) was sent to all mankind and therefore the act commiting of any sin, especially in the house of Allah should be haram to all mankind.

I pray that this programme leads to Neece-Estrada and her family, and others like them revert back to their birthright of Islam in sha-Allah.

What more to say that ALLAH(SWT) KNOWS BEST!
This i s what all muslims should do because the media will play i'ts game the whole nine yards.
It is up to us not to just follow the pillars in silence but to SHOW THEM.
Assalam walaikum

god is great this is the way we have to educate non musliums to the wonders of islam hold their hand and guide them in to the islamic world not by the sword .if it was up to that dog bush nobody would even mention the word islam thaks

This is long overdue. It's about time Muslim step up to the plate and walk the talk.