For Iraqis, in Grand Prairie, a Little Blood to Honor a Martyr (and Help Carter BloodCare)

Categories: Events

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Photo by Leslie Minora
Blood donors filter through Carter BloodCare mobile facility as part of a religious day of memory.
About 100 Iraqi men gathered at the Imam Ali Islamic Center in Grand Prairie yesterday. Some crowded beneath a big white party tent, grilling meat and eating, or relaxed inside the mosque; others were inside the big blue Carter BloodCare van, doing what they'd all come to do -- give blood. Donating blood is their way of honoring religious martyr Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who lost his life on the 10th day of the holy month of Muharram. Which was Monday.

The memorial blood drive is common in Iraq, but this was the first in North Texas.

"They want to feel the pain of the man who lost his life along with many of his friends and family members to fight for peace and justice," said Amira Matsuda, president of the Iraqi American Association of North Texas. "They try to feel the pain of their hero."

Matsuda explained that a blood drive honoring a martyr who fought for freedom and justice is especially poignant since many of the donors are refugees. "Several of them, they fled out of Iraq because there was a threat to their life or their children's life," she said.

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"We came all together here to commemorate the tragedy of our beloved hero Imam Hussain," said Mazin Al-Sahlani, a Muslim religious leader who came from Erie, Pennsylvania, to lecture at this week's memorial celebrations for Imam Hussain. "We are here to condemn all the oppression," he said.

It's a sad holiday, to be sure, but the mood was upbeat as young men cooked a lunch of pita, grilled meat, tomatoes and onions -- a superior bounty to the goldfish crackers and OJ that usually accompanies a blood drive.

"They donate a lot in Iraq, but nobody does it here," said Haider Abed, who helped organize the event.

Abed said he hopes the event will be even bigger next year. He expects they'll reserve at least two blood donation vans, one for men and one for women. This year only men donated because the event was organized quickly. Conservative Muslim women who keep their skin covered would not be able to donate in the same facility as men.

Long ago, Matsuda said, Iraqis would lash their own backs with sharp chains to make themselves bleed in memorial of Hussain's death. Now, the modern custom of donating blood is much less brutal and more charitable.

Furat Altufaili, who was born in Iraq and moved here when he was six years old, said he felt like he'd accomplished a selfless act. He called today a chance to "be appreciative of what you have" and give to others.

"They're very healthy," said Marty Stone, the donor recruiter who organizes the mobile blood drives. "We supply over 300 hospitals in 56 counties, so there's a tremendous need."

Early-on yesterday, she estimated that the mobile donation center can accommodate around 50 people, which means the demand to donate is higher than the facility's capacity to accept -- a welcome problem, to be sure. But by the end of the day, Stone managed to accept nearly 70 donations.

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All_dallas_guy
All_dallas_guy

السلام عليكم اخواني انا احد المتبرعين واحب اقول ان الفكره والتنظيم كانا للشيخ حسين والكادر المساعد كل من محمد و مهند السلامي. مصطفى .راءد .فلاح

amal\iraq
amal\iraq

assalamualaikum dear brothers and sisters, i can't keep my joy to myself that at last ..yes at last we might really have the capacity to challenge those who demolished the real beauty of islam intentionally or by any other cause... i don't blame the people for not seeing our noble leaders or as we honor them as imams, i blame the ones who chose not to face the world with the simple truth...islam like any other religion is how you interact for the wellfare of your society and people in touch with you...dear youths i'm honoured that you represent me and what i beleive.

mohammed altamimi
mohammed altamimi

الى كل من اتهمني بالخروج عن الهدف الحقيقي من وراء التبرع بالدم. اقول هناك سوء فهم من بعض المكرهين لشخصي فهم يصطادون بالماء العكر. عندما قدمت الى الصحفية في دلاس مورننج نيوز من قبل اميره عرفتني اميره على اساس انه كنت متعاقد مع الجيش الامريكي وعملت مرتين في العراق. اخواني والله العظيم لم تسئلني الصحفيه سؤال واحد عن فكرة التبرع بالدم او لماذا. كل الاسئله التي وجهت اليه كانت حول الانسحاب الامريكي من العراق وكان جوابي على هذا السؤال الانسحاب له فوائده وله سلبياته.أما السؤال الثاني الذي اعترضت عليه أميره هو كان جوابي على الحسنه  الوحيده  الجيده من قبل الاميركان تجاه العراق بأزالة المقبور صدام حسين. كان هذا هوا جوابي هذا وهو رأي في صدام حسين قد أزعج اميره الأنها من الموالين والمحبين لصدام. الملاحضه الاخيره لي والمهمه في ما كتب حول جوابي على رد الجميل للأمريكان فكان لانه الصحفيه قد سألتني لماذا قررت العمل مع الحكومه الأمريكيه كان جوابي لها اميركا انقذت حياتنا في عام 1991 ونحن نرد المعروف الأمريكي لهم ثانية. انا لم أسئل لماذا قررت التبرع بالدم حتى يكون جوابي بتحريف الهدف الأساسي لفكرة التبرع .وعندما قلت نحن فأقصد كل اللذين عملوا في العراق.

Moe_s25
Moe_s25

تدعي اميره انها قد أسست هذه الفكره. كل الذي قامت به اميره هو الأتصال بالصحف المحليه هذا كل الموضوع. عيب عليلك ان تسرقي افكار  وتعب الغير. انا قد قرأت ماهو مكتوب في الجريده حول  والله ان هذه الفكره هي من وحي الشيخ حسين ومن أيده من مجموعة عباس مجيد

me
me

mashallah to all of  you who participated in this may Allah reward you all wallah you have finally brought good news on about Muslims!  

Mafhhz13
Mafhhz13

can't wait for next year, I'm definitely donating! عظم الله أجركم

mohammed altamimi
mohammed altamimi

you can go to the carter blood care and donate under IMMAM HUSSAIN LOVER  GROUP

hussania
hussania

can't wait for next year, I'm definitely donating! عظم الله أجرك

East Dallasite
East Dallasite

With so much hatred and misinformation spewed at Muslims and Islam it is really nice to read something positive like this.

I'm not a Muslim but I'd be tempted to donate on Ashura if I could have one of those tasty looking kabobs.

AHMEED
AHMEED

السلام عليك يا ابا عبد الله  بابي انت وامي 

jamal
jamal

Thanks to the oldest Christian Brothers who assisted us in blood donation campaign.... We thank donate blood to all people regardless of religion, race

Holmes
Holmes

I had to ask what Ashura was of my Jordanian coworker yesterday and he didn't even know. It was on our desk calendar. Glad I had Google.

But this story is good to see. Maybe Texans will realize not every Muslim is crazy.

GuyIncognito26
GuyIncognito26

If your coworker is Sunni then he probably wouldn't celebrate

Phelps
Phelps

This puts a much different light on the faith than the displays of manic sword waving and self-cutting we normally see on this occasion.

This gives me something to think about.

Jason
Jason

Phelps - I think someone has hacked your account...  

I kid, I kid.

Great story, Leslie!

Phelps
Phelps

Yeah, obviously someone who gets bent out of shape when Christians get crapped on must be some sort of raving cultist, and not someone who simply respects freethinking and freedom of religion.

jfpo
jfpo

Ah, yes Christian persecution. There's the Phelps we know and love.

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