salt-lake-temple.jpgYou probably can’t get more doctrinally diverse religious groups than Muslims and Mormons–but that didn’t stop these two religious bodies from joining together in a common goal to relieve suffering of the innocent victims of the current Middle East war–that continues to rage.

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beliefnet is reporting that Mormons and Muslims have pooled their resources to send much needed relief to the Middle East:

During the first week of August, an MD-11 airplane filled with 85 tons of supplies — baby formula, powdered milk, medical supplies, hand soap and hygiene kits filled with toothbrushes, toothpaste and other personal products — left Salt Lake City for a Lebanese port.

“We kind of complement each other,” said Mokhtar Shawky, acting CEO of Islamic Relief, based in Buena Park, Calif. “We try to help with the transportation costs. They put the material together. We have our people overseas that distribute it to the needy.”

Garry Flake, the director of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ humanitarian emergency response, said combining forces was a matter of practicality.

“When you get into the Islamic world, they have some strengths that others of us don’t,” he said. “It’s just simply driven by the idea that there’s people in need and we reach out where an organization has a strength that we can match up to.”

Shawky estimated the recent shipment of supplies was worth $1.5 million, but church officials declined to place a value on them. Shawky’s office has allocated more than $1 million to Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank and is working to raise a total of $6.4 million for emergency aid.

In addition to their cooperation with Islamic Relief, Latter-day Saints officials said they made a $50,000 contribution to Magen David Admon, the Israeli affiliate of the International Red Cross, to help with ambulance response, blood services and the needs of individual families.

The strange alliance between Mormons and Muslims is not new. Both groups teamed up early on in the Iraqi war to send relief aid to Iraq and other locations in need throughout the Middle East:

Although both organizations have worked with other secular and religious groups to provide relief, their leaders say the Muslim-Mormon collaboration projects began three years ago. The church sent an aid shipment to Iraqis in 2003. Since that time, joint shipments have gone to Bangladesh and Sudan.

The two groups jointly aided victims of the Indonesian earthquake last May, sending off a shipment within days of the quake that included first-aid supplies, walkers and crutches.

The article also highlights some of the welfare resources of the Church, and how members will give a “fast offering” to donate to help those less fortunate:

The overseas connections of Islamic Relief, both in the Middle East and elsewhere, are linked with a long-term tradition among Mormons. Church members periodically make a “fast offering,” donating the money they would have spent on food to aid others.

“That fast offering concept has allowed the church to bless the lives of millions of people,” said Neil Newell, a spokesman for the church’s Welfare Services Department. “We have farms and storehouses and canneries where people come and prepare food up against the time where others might need it.”

Church officials estimate that from 1985-2005, more than $800 million in material and cash assistance were donated to humanitarian causes in more than 160 countries.

It is good to see this press coverage not just because it shines a friendly light upon the Church. It helps the world see that these incredibly diverse cultures and religious movements can put aside their differences, join forces and help those truly in need. This world needs more examples of this type of conduct, that which truly reflects the pure love of Christ, and less wall to wall coverage of these immoral wars raging throughout the world.