With arms up and eyes glued to the sky, Muslim residents of the San Gabriel Valley in California have resorted to Allah asking him for rain as unprecedented draught hits their west coast state.
The special prayers are aimed at relieving “the ongoing drought impacting California residents and agriculture,” the group said in a news release cited by Los Angeles Times.
“Islam’s Prophet Muhammad offered similar prayers during times of drought,” the release said, reciting some of the traditional supplications, including: “Oh God, give us a saving rain, good and productive, general and heavy, now and not later, beneficial and not harmful.”
How to Offer Salatul-Istisqa'
Drought has severely hit California this year, spreading images of despair everywhere.
A sense of dread is building among farmers, many of whom have let fields go fallow. Cattle ranchers have had to sell portions of their herd for lack of water.
Sacramento and other municipalities have imposed severe water restrictions. Wildfires broke out this week in forests that are usually too wet to ignite.
The dread maximized after Colby fire erupted last Thursday, destroying 16 structures including five homes.
Amid these images, the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for special prayers on Sunday, January 19, inviting all faiths.
The prayers for rain, called Salatul Istisqa, were held after Zuhr prayer, at 1:15 pm at the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley.
Similar prayers were called earlier this month by Sacramento chapter of the Council on American-Islamic.
“Salatul-Istisqa’ is offered when seeking rain from Almighty Allah during times of drought.
Little relief was expected after forecasters announced that California braces for what could be an unprecedented winter fire season fueled by record dry conditions.
On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency and urged residents to cut water use by 20%. Downtown Los Angeles had its driest year on record in 2013.
The National Weather Service last week released a forecast for the southwestern United States calling for unseasonably dry and hot conditions.
“It's just explosive,” William Patzert, a climatologist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, said.
“The grasses are just, they go up like a match. … Everything is good to go.”
The United States is home to a Muslim minority of between six to eight million.
A recent survey found that American Muslims are the most moderate around the world.
It also showed that US Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society.
Last December, several Muslim groups across the US have launched special clothing drives to help the needy and homeless in different American states during the winter season.
Their efforts were not limited to helping American needy and homeless only
Similar drives were launched to collect aid to Burma Muslims and Iraqi refugees.