“We consider the sanctity of life as something sacred,” said Dr. Hafeez Rehman, president of the Albany chapter of Ahmadiyya Muslims. Ahmadiyya is a sect of Islam. The group, one of the oldest Muslim groups in the United States, has a campaign called Muslims for Life which focuses on these blood drives. It total, 30,000 units of blood have been collected over the past several years in the country.
“We want to save lives, not take them,” said Rehman. “We want to commemorate the loss of lives for 9/11 and show people that what happened had nothing to do with the teachings of Islam.”
The local Red Cross blood drive, which usually attracts about 50 people, is from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Interfaith Center in the uptown campus for UAlbany.
“As a doctor, I know the need for blood donations,” said Rehman, who has a practice in Amsterdam.
This is the first year the group has partnered with the Interfaith Center for the blood drive. The center has served the UAlbany community for 48 years and recently started to focus on serving the general Albany area community as well, said Donna Crisafulli, executive director of the center.
“We’re doing much more community engagement and this blood drive helps with that part of our mission,” said Crisafulli. The center provides engagement and education for spiritual needs for the campus and the local community. “In honor of everyone who lost their lives on 9/11, we picked the Sept. 10 date. This is the Muslim community’s way to show the general community that they care about what happened. We felt it was important to support them in getting that message out.”
A Muslims for Life blood drive will be set up on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on Sept. 11, said Rehman.
The Interfaith Center and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are also sponsoring a two-mile peace walk on Sept. 21.
Danielle Sanzone may be reached at 270-1292.