Utah Muslims Donate Generously to Church Disaster Fund

  Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 24 January 2014

Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake President Aden Batar, far right, discusses the society's humanitarian donation with officials from the LDS Church and the society.  Photo by Jason Swensen.

Article Highlights

  • The Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake donated $120,000 to the LDS Church Humanitarian Fund January 10.
  • The gift will be used entirely to assist those in need following Typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged several Filipino islands.

A friendship based on trust and mutual respect has grown in recent years between the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Utah’s Muslim community.

In the past, local Muslim leaders have participated in Latter-day Saint-sponsored interfaith gatherings, and the Church assisted with the construction of a mosque in West Valley City. Latter-day Saints also extended hands of fellowship to Utah Muslims in the volatile days following September 11, 2001.

Congregants from both faiths have also worked together in times of need and disaster.

That partnership reached a new level January 10 when the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake made a significant donation to the LDS Church Humanitarian Fund to assist victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines.

Bishop Dean M. Davies, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, accepted a donation of almost $120,000 from the Islamic Society during a ceremony at the Khadeeja Islamic Center in West Valley City.

He assured society leaders that the generous gift would be used entirely to assist those in need following Typhoon Haiyan. On November 8, 2013, the category 5 super typhoon ravaged several Filipino islands, claiming more than 6,000 lives and causing an estimated $1.5 billion in damage.

“I’m just overwhelmed by your generosity,” he said. “We are honored to work together with you.”

Bishop Dean M. Davies, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, embraces Abdul Afridi, center, a trustee from the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake. The society's president, Aden Batar, is at right. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Not long after the storm hit, an anonymous donor gave the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake $100,000 for Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts. The donor challenged other members of the Islamic Society to augment his gift, resulting in an additional $19,000 being raised.

Society leaders decided to turn the funds over to LDS Humanitarian Services.

“We knew that the money would go to help those people in need,” said Islamic Society President Aden Batar.

“With the [Church’s] support, we can help many people,” added trustee Abdul Afridi.

Bishop Davies called the Islamic Center “a sacred place” where worshippers gather to pray together. He added that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches “to have a prayer in our hearts continually.”

Mr. Batar spoke of his own relationships with several Latter-day Saints, including many he considers “brothers and friends.”

At the end of the ceremony, Bishop Davies and several other representatives from LDS Humanitarian Services exchanged embraces with their friends from the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake.

“It feels so good to see people come together and work together to help those in need,” he said.