Muslim Youth Groups Are Cleaning Up National Parks During The Government Shutdown

by Christina Marfice
Image via Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Muslim youth groups are making sure our National Parks stay clean during the government shutdown

As the partial government shutdown heads into its third week, you may have seen news that National Parks have been particularly hard hit, seeing massive waste and trash problems without staff there to keep them clean and sanitary. Now, at National Parks and other significant government properties across the country, Muslim youth groups are organizing cleanup efforts.

Dozens of groups from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association met at Everglades National Park in Florida; Joshua Tree, California; Cuyahoga Valley, Ohio and other parks in between, as well as at Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. They worked together to clean up litter, sweep grounds, empty trash cans and more. Photos showed them working through rainy weather, doing their part to keep our country a little cleaner in a time of need. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

“Service to our nation and cleanliness are important parts of Islam,” Dr. Madeel Abdullah, the group’s national president, said in a press release. “We could not sit idly by as our national parks collected trash. We will lead by example and dispose of this garbage appropriately and invite all Americans to join us in these parks and others across the nation.”

CNN reported that people from the general public who saw the groups cleaning joined in, and that response to the nationwide effort has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association is made up of more than 70 chapters across the country, and contains around 5,000 members ages 7 to 40. The group regularly does community cleanup projects, and the National Park effort is just the latest one, organized in response to litter and waste problems during the shutdown.

The group’s spokesperson, Salaam Bhatti, told CNN that 60 percent of Americans do not personally know a Muslim, and projects like this one are meant to do something positive for the community, as well as create opportunity for people to engage in conversations with someone of a different faith than their own.

At a time in our country when people of different faiths, and especially Muslims, are vilified by our politicians and president, this kind of project is what we should be paying attention to, not the rhetoric. No matter what fear-mongering politicians think and say, there is truly good everywhere in the world.