ICNA Relief Blog
Losing Everything in Middle Age and Starting Over
 
Bilal Usmani's life came crashing down right before his eyes. His 25-year-old marriage had ended in divorce during his middle age, he was engulfed in severe depression and he had lost his job. After a brief trip to Florida, his doctor advised him to go back to Ohio, where he had been previously living because he was used to life there . He moved to a small town in the state called Mansfield, but needed to find a job soon in order to have enough rent for his apartment. His car, which was the only means to finding a job in area with little public transportation, soon failed him as well. 
 
"I was totally broke," Br. Bilal said. "I had nowhere to look except God." 
 
That's when he googled Muslim charities and found out about ICNA Relief USA, a Muslim charity founded specifically to help Muslim and non-Muslim Americans in need. He eventually got in touch with Br. Shahid Farooqi, director of outreach ICNA Relief Northeast Region, who provided him with $200 to get his car repaired and $400 for rent so he wouldn't have to leave his apartment.
 
"I'm very thankful to Allah," said Br. Bilal on getting support from ICNA Relief. "Because He has an angel, somebody like Br. Farooqi, who went out of his way to help me and today I am at the place where I am."
 
After Br. Bilal's car was repaired, he landed a job at a restaurant for $9 an hour, which will rise to $11 with benefits have his three month trial period is over. 
 
"I saw real sincerity in this person," Br. Shahid said. "He asked specific amount just to fix his car and you could see he is saying the truth and not making anything up."
 
Br. Shahid was also heartened to find that Br. Bilal enlisted as a volunteer for ICNA Relief. He drove to different masaajid around him just to distribute fliers and even called him to inform and update him on his activities. 
 
Getting help from ICNA Relief when he needed it most, reminded the Pakistani-American Br. Bilal about an incident from his childhood living in Karachi. Being an orphan, he lived with his maternal aunt who one day asked him to give a few coins to a beggar who rang their doorbell. Being a kid and seeing the man in front of him healthy-looking, he told his aunt there was no need. However, his aunt had him give the money anyway adding that, "If anybody asks you for something and if you can help him, then help him. Don't judge him."
 
Br. Bilal now looks back at this incident in renewed understanding. "I was wearing good clothes and had a car," he said, which caused people to think he was doing well. "But I was very poor. When I put my hand in my pocket, there was nothing in it."
 
He now urges Muslims to follow the examples of their ancestors like Umer Farooq (R.A.) who he quotes once said "it's not that people who need money are bad, but that someday anyone can be in need of some money."
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ICNA Relief USA’s Immediate Response to the Survivors of Kew Gardens Fire in Queens

A seven story residential building located in Kew Gardens, Queens caught fire on Tuesday evening. More than 50 apartments were affected and 6 were completely damaged. Dozens were left out in the cold. Residents were forced to make a quick exit into the frigid night, some wearing only the clothes on their back. ICNA Relief immediately responded to the situation and distributed warm clothing, coffee, and donuts among the displaced. A residential building on 84-70 129th street in Kew Gardens, Queens caught fire and demolished 6 apartments. The tenants were ordered to evacuate from their apartments. According to witnesses, a fire erupted in apartment 3M where an elderly couple resided. The fire spread wildly and caught 12 more apartments. In the frigid cold night, the residents of the building were forced to evacuate, and 7 fire fighters were injured. According to New York Fire Department, 12 apartments were damaged and declared nonresidential. The residents have been moved to hotels by the Red Cross. ICNA Relief USA’s volunteers responded to the victims and distributed warm clothing, coffee, and donuts. The affected residents of the building appreciated ICNA Relief USA’s efforts and immediate response.
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