Texas Governor Rick Perry asked members of all faiths and religion to pray for rain in response to the most severe drought in the state since the 1930s.
Perry released a proclamation on April 21 calling on people to pray for rain over the course of the three-day period before and including Easter Sunday. This is an interesting coincidence because one of the conditions of the prayer for rain in Islam is to do the prayer for three days. Texans regard natural disasters as a “divine warning” and pray to God to end the disaster.
Some parts of Texas have not received any rain in three months, and there has been a significant increase in the risk of fire caused by the hot temperatures and low humidity. More than 8,000 fires have broken out in the last five months. A total of 400 homes and 1.8 million have been destroyed.
In the proclamation, which wasn’t taken as a threat against secularism as it probably would have been had this occurred in Turkey, Governor Perry stated: “Throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer; it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires.”
“Under the authority vested by the Constitution,” Perry asked Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers during the three-day period from Friday to Sunday for the healing of the land and the restoration of normal daily activities.
The Turkish community in Houston was not oblivious to the governor’s appeal. From Friday prayer until Sunday Turks lifted their hands towards the skies and prayed for three days asking God not to withhold his divine mercy from Texas.
The imam of the Houston Sultanahmet Mosque, Mustafa Yiğit, called the congregation to pray for rain during the Friday prayer sermon. After the Friday prayer, people of all ages gathered in the mosque’s backyard and prayed under the guidance of theologian Dr. Adem Akıncı. During the prayer, Akıncı said: “The compassion of the Almighty God is extensive. He offers it abundantly whenever and wherever he wills. Sometimes rain does not fall and famine erupts. There are wise purposes in everything God wills. A believer should always be grateful and should rely on God and accept what happens. During a time of drought, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, performed a prayer for rain. So as it was his sunnah [tradition], we are praying to God for drought to end and for rain to come. We are praying for all the animals, plants and all living creatures that have been exposed to this disaster. We do not know what will happen in the end, but it is our obligation to pray and to ask for help from God. Drought is an opportunity for prayer. With every opportunity, we turn to God and pray. As for the outcome, that is up to God.”
Noting that they took pleasure in joining the prayers, Imam Yiğit said the event was also important in serving as an opportunity to perform a tradition of the Prophet. More children participated in the prayer ceremony held after the afternoon prayers on the second day. With the hope that the innocence of children will be more effective in attracting divine mercy, children were encouraged to attend the prayers. On the third day, prayers for rain were conducted after the morning prayer.
Mehmet Okumuş , the president of Raindrop Turkish House, a Texas-based organization founded by members of the Turkish community in that state, said it was very nice to see such a large turnout of people at the prayers and added: “As Turks we could not have ignored our respected governor’s request for people from all faiths and cultures to pray to God for the ending of this disaster, which [the governor] described as the worst drought in recent years. We responded to his appeal by performing rain prayers according to our religion.”