Muslims Donated Blood for Orlando Shooting Victims Despite Fasting for Ramadan

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Floridians waiting to donate blood.
Floridians waiting to donate blood.Photo: Gerardo Mora

Following the Orlando nightclub shooting that left 49 people dead, Muslims in Florida joined the long lines to donate blood, which was extra generous of them considering that it’s Ramadan.

Many Muslims observe the holy month with intense prayer, increased generosity, and, yes, the sunrise-to-sunset fast: no food or water for as long as 15 hours. The American Red Cross recommends eating a healthy meal and and drinking 16 ounces of water before donating, and blood banks often foist juice and a snack like pretzels or cookies on donors before they can leave.

Still, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, called on Muslims to donate blood in the same statement in which it denounced the attacks by a Muslim gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Mahmoud ElAwadi, a “proud Muslim American” from Orlando, shared a photo of himself donating blood on Sunday that went viral. He wrote, ”Yes I donated blood even though I can’t eat or drink anything cause I’m fasting in our holy month Ramadan just like hundreds of other Muslims who donated today here in Orlando.”

He wrote that he was “sad, frustrated, and mad” that a “crazy guy” claiming to be a Muslim did such a shameful thing, but he “witnessed the greatness of this country” in seeing people line up to give blood as well as those passing our food and water, including Muslim women in hijab.

Others expressed their gratitude for the donations of observant Muslims.

If they can give blood under these circumstances, you can offer up your arm in exchange for some apple juice. Today is World Blood Donor Day, so why not make an appointment? Sadly, gay and bisexual men can’t donate if they’ve had sex with a man in the last year. (Before December, these men faced a lifetime ban.) Here’s hoping that updated-but-still-discriminatory rule doesn’t stick around for long.