Islamic community fights fiery hate messages with cool kindness

ByAngela Chen via KTRK logo
Monday, February 16, 2015
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In the face of fiery hate messages, they're showing their kindness

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The investigation into the fire at the Quba Islamic Institute in southeast Houston continued Monday. Eyewitness News saw a couple of arson investigators questioning people around the neighborhood in the afternoon.

Institute leaders have not started cleaning up the mess yet, but they said the building itself will cost at least $200,000 to rebuild.

After news of the Quba Islamic Institute fire spread on Friday, the hate messages started pouring in to the center. But the institute's responses have been ones of patience, battling fiery words with cool kindness.

"Rather than respond to them in the same manner, I felt like I could let them know more about our religion and how we treat people and be more polite," said Ahsan Zahid, the Assistant Imam at the Quba Islamic Institute. "I think you don't have to necessarily be the same way someone is with you."

Quba is a nonprofit and looking for donations to rebuild. In one response that has made national headlines, a commenter talked about donating bacon sandwiches and a Bible. Zahid responded, "We would gladly take your donation. We may feed the homeless in the area with the sandwiches. You are such a thoughtful human being!"

"I'd rather highlight the good messages because they've been so amazing, from so many faith-based communities - Christians and Jews, people who don't claim any God, atheists," said Zahid. "They've been very, very kind and they've been very supportive. They said they stand with us."

The Houston Fire Department confirmed with us that someone deliberately set the fire but emphasized they don't know what the intent was yet.

Extra security measures were taken last Friday as arson police kept overnight watch on this institute. as well as the Clear Lake Islamic Center.

Arson police on scene did tell Eyewitness News an accelerant of some sort was used. FBI officials said Monday they will continue monitoring the investigation closely.

As for institute operations, prayer services will continue this week but since some of the messages received have been a little bit alarming, institute leaders are suspending school and activities for kids over the next couple of days to be safe.