On Sunday, Hong Kong was hit by one of the most powerful storms it has ever experienced. Typhoon Mangkhut has officially been announced as being Hong Kong’s most intense storm since records in began in 1946.
The Hong Kong Observatory saying sustained winds reached 250km/h. There were record levels of storm surge too, with flood waters reaching their highest levels since 1904, according to the city’s forecaster.
And as thousands of trees fell and hundreds of windows broke inward and outward, Hong Kong’s police, fire, medical and cleaning force have all been kept busy. However, there were another group of people keeping themselves busy doing what only a few would do – volunteer to clean up Hong Kong.
On Monday, a number of people took the streets in various locations with one goal in mind – help those who are getting rid of the fallen trees and broken items so that the streets, the roads and the pavements can be cleared up.
Among these few superheroes, there were those from the Muslim and African communities – two communities which are regularly subjected to racism and discrimination due to their faith and colour.
But today, some of them indeed showed the true essence of humanity and of their faith’s teachings as they helped with the cleanup without any financial reward.
We caught up with two of them who volunteered, Mohamed Ali Diallo, a businessmen from the Hong Kong’s African community and Rizwan Ullah, a teacher who is part of Hong Kong’s Pakistani community – both most importantly Muslims.
Q.1) What made you do what you did?
“So I woke up in the morning and arrived to work at 7am very comfortably. And when I reached my school, I saw mountains of people walking with trees and the typhoon’s destruction everywhere with only two policemen dealing with the whole thing,” recalled Rizwan.
Similarly, Ali said, “We went out after seeing the aftermath of the typhoon. We felt that it’s a responsibility of a concerned citizen to come out and help clean up the streets and give whatever assistance we can as the roads were blocked by many trees.
So we decided to come together promptly as a community to give a little contribution to the host community, because whatever goodness anyone enjoys in Hong Kong, we want to be part of it.
If there are any negative or adverse situation, we will also be affected with our work and other affairs regardless of our faiths and backgrounds. We had 5 teams, in Tsim Sha Tsui, Sham Shi Po, Yuen Long, Kam Tin and To Kwa Wan.”
Rizwan further stated, “I thought if Allah has given me so much comfort, so why not help others with this service. Maybe this is what Allah wants from me.
So, I grabbed one of my colleague and we went out to help the firemen and police force with the clearance which allowed traffic to flow again from both sides.”
2) How important it is for the Muslims to do such acts?
For Rizwan, this was simple as he said,
“What I understand about Islam is that if someone is in difficulty and if Allah has given you the ability either physically, financially or in any other sort, then we should put that towards helping those in need.”
For Ali, he explained it in more detail. He said, “Our religion strongly commands those who have not been affected by a calamity to help those who have been. It’s a test for those who haven’t been affected to see how will we respond seeing others who are affected, will we sit back and let others be or will we try to help whatever little we can.
Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) specifically encouraged us to clear paths and make things easy for others as he said it’s all a form of charity.
“A man who passed by a branch of a tree leaning over a road and decided to remove it, saying to himself, ‘By Allah! I will remove from the way of Muslims so that it would not harm them.’ On account of this he was admitted to Jannah.”
“And removing a harmful thing from the path is a charitable act.”
So for us, it’s a duty to help those in need.”
3) Do you feel this will make Hong Kong local people look at Muslims and ethnic minority community in a more positive light?
In a time when immigrants and those from the Muslim community is looked down upon and in a negative light in various lands, surely such acts will help. Rizwan agreed,
“Well definitely, they should, as we are part of Hong Kong. In fact, the firemen and those who were walking past were extremely thankful to us and kept saying thank you to us for helping out in aiding them to walk comfortably to their work.”
Ali Diallo provided a different angle as he said, “To be honest, I don’t think we should do such acts to gain people’s acceptance and praise, rather we do it because it’s the right thing to do. Our reward is from our Creator.
We just feel really satisfied that we were able to help our city, one that Allah has blessed with in a number of ways.”
Such sentiments were shared by Muslims and other members of the ethnic minority too as others who were from Nepalese, Sikh and others helped as much they could too.
Here are more photos from the work done.
May Allah accept from all.