EDMONTON – Around one hundred Muslims gathered on Thursday, May 5, to pray for rain, as thousands sought refuge in Edmonton, running from Alberta wildfire which has ravaged their community.
“Whenever there’s a drought, our religion has a prayer to make the rain come. And that’s what’s needed right now for Fort McMurray,” Issam Saleh from the Muslim Association of Canada Vice News reported on May 5.
“And we will keep praying until it happens.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the province of Alberta declared a state of emergency after a massive wildfire destroyed 1,600 homes and buildings in Fort McMurray and forced more than 80,000 residents to evacuate to surrounding towns and cities.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police when went door to door in Anzac, Gregoire Lake Estates, and Fort McMurray First Nation, which had all been accommodating evacuees, after a mandatory evacuation order was issued for them.
The regional emergency operations center had just relocated to Anzac, located about 50 kilometers south of Fort McMurray, from the Fort McMurray airport. It planned to move further south to Lac La Biche.
Standing at the steps of Alberta legislature in Edmonton, Imam El Sayed Amin spoke to the crowd as a group of young girls waved Canadian flags.
“May Allah make us emerge from this human crisis and environmental disaster,” the Imam said.
His mosque has taken in six families from Fort McMurray, and it is bracing for hundreds more over the next week.
Muslims’ prayer for rain, or Salat-ul-Istisqa, is a well-known practice from the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
In Fort McMurray, Muslims became emotional after knowing that the local Islamic school burned down.
“How will we ever rebuild?” Ali Jomha, a prominent leader in Fort McMurray’s Muslim community, which represents around 10 percent of the city’s population, said.
Another man, Ibrahaim Elladen, recalled how he worked with a construction company in Fort McMurray and was involved with building many of the structures that have been turned to ash.
“I have to believe that the community will rise again,” he said.
“It’s a place that has so much resilience and has been through economic hardship, so I know things will look up again really soon.”