Meet Faatimah Knight, the 23-year-old Muslim woman behind the project to restore the seven black churches that have burned down within the past month. Knight, who also studies theology, set up the project during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Her original plan was to collect $500 for flowers to send to South Carolina in the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting that claimed nine lives at the hands of Roof. Knight and her friends overachieved the goal, ending up with $900, and didn’t stop there.
After hearing of the string of black churches that perished last month, the LaunchGood campaign generated in Knight’s mind. According to The Independent, she said that Islam’s teachings include protecting the weak and vulnerable. While she doesn’t feel that southern black Christian churches are weak, she empathizes with their vulnerability. Knight also said that many people of her Muslim community challenged her motives behind the project, questioning why she wouldn’t instead use her efforts to help Muslim causes. Still, the Chicago Theological Seminary student was met with support for the campaign.
“We have been overwhelmed by how generous people have been,” she told The Independent. “We will stop it today…We will figure out how to distribute the money.”
In the campaign, titled “Respond with Love,” the description tells of the Muslim community’s deep spiritual and racial connections to black churches and the aim behind the project.
“We must always keep in mind that the Muslim community and the black community are not different communities,” the description for the campaign reads. “We are profoundly integrated in many ways, in our overlapping identities and in our relationship to this great and complicated country. We are connected to Black churches through our extended families, our friends and teachers, and our intertwined histories and convergent present.”
Knight and her team have raised $76,000 with over 1600 supporters to date (July 13). She also works alongside several other organizations, such as the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative and the Arab American Association of New York and Ummah Wide.
According to the website, “Respond With Love” has four days left for the campaign and are still accepting donations.
Read the project’s details and donation info here.