News of Our Earthquake Relief in Turkiye and Syria
Many people in the extended Threshold community have been very generous, rising to the call for earthquake relief in Turkiye. Thanks be to God, we will be able to forward on about $65,000 in emergency relief. The money is being forwarded in installments as specific needs are identified. For further donations we can suggest the following organizations which we have researched and have been recommended as trustworthy organizations working in the area.
Report from our Turkish friends doing relief in Hatay
We are in touch with Cem Baba, who the day after the earthquake loaded his truck with a water tank and 500 gallons of clean water and drove to Samandag followed by a number of his mureeds.
They’re in Hatay province and next to Antakya. Cem says, “In every wounding there is pain, most heal in a short time. This wounding is deep, like the rift in the earth if you have seen the pictures from the media. It will take years to return to a semblance of normal.” It is also a time for miracles and he relates several.
When they arrived in vehicles full of what they imagined would be needed, someone approached him and offered to put them up in modern hotel that escaped destruction. The hotel happens to be very near the Shrine of Khidr. The people there are particularly devoted to Khidr. It is said to be the place where Moses met Khidr. The shrine was spared destruction. Cem says since they have been there needs are changing weekly if not daily. They are awaiting delivery of tents they ordered directly from a tentmaker but have distributed and help set up those they purchased. Now they are turning to providing purified water to various locations and to supplying portable toilets. They are sourcing one or two metal shipping containers to house a children’s play area, someplace safe and warm with the young murids guiding them in games. A truckload of toys came to them without asking. Space heaters are also a priority but there is a demand for laundry soap and shampoo also. There are other groups of aid workers in the same area, each trying to focus on needs in a coordinated way. They were donated a warehouse to keep supplies. It is still winter there and it gets to freezing some nights, still some people sleeping outside. It is supposed to be the rainy season so it is a mixed blessing as it has not rained in a month. It will mean late planting and unknown yields.
He tells me that they are in it for the long term and are moving to Antakya along with most of his murids. He tells me burnout is a concern and he is rotating the murids back and forth to Fethiye to refresh. By now they might have started to hold evening meshks, gatherings with music and singing of illahis, dhikr, and sohbet to comfort the traumatized souls of the villagers.
Further reflections (unedited) from Senem, wife of Selcuk Gurez
On the 6th of feburary 2013 the world has cracked open giving way to this immense energy effecting the destiny of 15 milion people directly and a whole nation. The sorrow and the grief that has spread to our hearts is beyond words. We are mourning and praying for the souls who are continuing their journey and praying for sabır and shifa for the ones that are left with a big hole in their heart.
Kahramanmaraş, Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Diyarbakır, Adana, Adıyaman, Osmaniye, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya ve Elazığ…a region with a history going back 8000 years, hosting many civilizations and religions. Hatay, where we have established our base for help, the city with the first church of Christianity, the first mosque in Anatolia, the land where Khidir met Moses, with the fountain of everlasting life and many more…destroyed many times by earthquakes through the history and rebuilt many times.
We are a generation that has grown up feeling deep inside that we were to witness the Kıyamet (Apocalypse) (Kıyam-et to get up/ awaken) but were we really prepared for this? Or are we prepared for the other disasters to come? As the world changes rapidly one is pushed to a corner where you do not have a choice but to awaken.
İt is as if with this immense energy that has been spreading through the crack, all the fake and unnecessary masks that people were wearing have fallen apart. We have and are still witnessing the darkest side of humanity as well as the lightest side at the same time. Witnesing Celal and Cemal, Kabit and Basit and many more attributes of Allah reflecting through this disaster.
Beside witnessing a government even after a month of the earthquake, not sufficient to provide main shelter and food, a government stealing the help shamelessly, a government who has left Ahlak behind long ago, we are also witnessing how the people of this land and the whole world are uniting, how quick everyone was to send help, how much better the NGO’s got organized. Like the story of the ant that carried water to Abraham’s fire, everyone big or small did and are still doing whatever is in their hands.
Ahlak intrigued in tragedies like letting your neighbours family be saved because they have children, and sacrificing your own while still hearing their voices calling for help. Losing family members of a whole 5 floor building and having to bury 38 relatives, children and old ones with bare hands, having to hear the voices calling for help and having to let them fade because of insufficient help and many more happenings have buried our heart in sorrow. But beside them Allah’s confirmed miracles took place where 2-10 month old babies were saved after 5-10 days. Kids being saved telling stories they were fed and taken care of by people under gravel (spirits). A family of four, being saved after 5 days in an elevator flooded up to waist, mother carrying the small child on her shoulders since it was below zero degrees and not allowing anyone to let go… Some who are bringing the food back saying it was too much for their need, others stealing and stacking…
Although the government said the dead rate is around 50.000 , with a basic calculation and the destruction of the area one can easily calculate it up to 200.000.
There are many stories with the immorality at peak as well as where the Ahlak at peak, but what is my story?
As the earthquake happened most of us didn’t grasp what had happened and is happening. Freezing as the trauma was happening but not having the luxury to really freeze since we have 3 boys and chores to be done, nor the circumstances to run and save lives because our eldest had broken his arm and had an operation 1 week before the earthquake. I was just stuck in a place of a witness….the dark cloud was suffocating us so much that it was even impossible to pray. The only help we could do is just send clothes and blankets from home which felt so insufficient. It was amazing to see how much help was sent, trailers full with clothes and supplies but more amazing how they got wasted and dumped on the road sides because there was no proper organization to receive them.
After a week or so which felt like a lifetime I started getting out of the shock and started to pray, and do dhikr with our dervish friends and our murshid (who never stopped the prayers and dhikr and still is not) as I heard the miraculous survivors I started praying even more and more. This is the only thing we had, the rope of Allah, Her greatness, la illahe illallah, and that was all there was left… the ship of Noah, the fire of Abraham, the well of Yusuf… their prayers blended into one of Hz. Muhammad’s (S.A.V) echoed and melted into in La illahe İllallah.
As I saw a dervish friend calling to contribute for tents, I thought I might send a messege to dear friends who live abroad. Since the economic crises here one tent almost costs a monthly wage but in euros it is more affordable. So I sent out the call and it echoed all around the world. The stone I threw into the lake made waves far bigger than I thought. And hope started blooming. I started to see the beauty the Hayır in the Sher (the good in the bad, as Khidir’s story with Moses told in Quran). This disaster shook everyone’s foundation, leading the people to give Shukr to what they already have, making them question their lives, making it clear how less material we need and how much we have to share with each other… How many unnecessary worries and materials we have collected, how fragile life can be, how the world can change in 2 minutes… And also rather than materials how much we depend on each other to survive. It is amazing how much of an impact one person can have…
As the whole human family is tied together, all people will sooner or later feel the impact of this earthquake. A friend has told me that maybe every community maybe has it’s own kıyamet, as every person has their own personal Kıyamet too. A circle inside a circle inside a circle going infinitely.
As Allah is Zahir (seen) and Batın (unseen) in the Zahir we have seen buildings collapse and lives fading away, but in the Batın there has been an amazing shift. A doorway has opened up for all humanity to live up to what is right. And who can say what is right? From my poor understanding we can say that every action starting with the intention of serving sincerely, with love and affection is right. Every action that embraces the whole big human family, leading to unity is right, every action rejecting separation in any kind is right.
This is the strongest Zül Celali vel İkram my generation is experiencing. All that is being in the way of living up to Hakk has been shaken off. It’s time to act as a big family. Only then can we live up to the trust that Allah gave us. We have the power, the power of leaving all the guilt, the suspicion of “Am I good enough? Can I do it?” or the inadequacy of “What can I do, I am only one person?” behind. We have the power of holding each others hands and say:
“Hand in hand, hand to God.”
This is the only way as we see it. No help will come from outside, all will be born from the beauty that Allah has planted in us. It is up to us to water the seed and to grow it with the Himmet of Allah, and Himmet is given to the ones that serve. And service is everywhere and anyhow. Making a crying person smile, feeding the hungry, sending help, visiting your elders, cooking food with ashk for your kids, praying for the ones in need. Every action can be a service as long as you have the intention and not forget who you are serving.
As the basic symbol of yin yang which was my doorway to spirituality, all darkness has light and all light has darkness inside, they are inseparable, as the darkness grows, we know as the creation law, that the light grows as much. From the crack of the world an immense nur is flowing with compassion, through the darkness that has captured the whole humanity.
After seeing what is possible if you reach out your hand and surrender to the greatness of Allah, I beleive we will make through these difficult years that are still to come with holding each others hands. Hope is rising when you just hit the bottom and can not go deeper.
I would like to thank all the people who have helped and haven’t helped. My Hamd is to Allah since She is the only one who can make this possible. I am in Awe of Her greatness. As the present for Fatima I would like to end this with Subhanallah, Allhuekber, Elhamdülillah.