Faith motivates Muslim teen to serve her community through youth group
Volunteering makes Sarah Alzabet happy, but that’s not the Murfreesboro teen’s only motivator.
“Whenever I’m doing it, I feel like I’m making God happy,” Alzabet said.
The 17-year-old high school senior, who is a Murfreesboro Muslim Youth board member, sees the volunteer work she does through the organization as a way to live out one of the tenets of her faith. One of the Five Pillars of Islam is charity.
“We’re supposed to care for people no matter what, no matter what their religion is, no matter what their race is,” Alzabet said. “You’re supposed to take care of your neighbor.”
Alzabet has taken that directive seriously, making service to her community an integral part of her everyday life.
“I try to do as many things as possible,” Alzabet said.
She channels much of her charity work through Murfreesboro Muslim Youth, an organization that provides volunteer opportunities for young people while fostering community relationships and pride in Muslim identity. The group was formed in 2015 in response to the slaying of three young adult Muslims in Chapel Hill, N.C.
In 2017, the organization distributed more than 4,000 meals, donated more than 2,000 school items, gave more than 5,000 items to people in need and helped more than 300 refugees, according to the group’s annual report.
Alzabet started serving through Murfreesboro Muslim Youth after seeing its calls for volunteers online. She wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself and loves helping people. Alzabet also recognizes that she has always had everything she’s needed, but others have not.
She went from helping out here and there to being a pivotal part of the group’s work.
“Sarah is one of the individuals that has really been a fine example of our objective,” said Abdou Kattih, the president of Murfreesboro Muslim Youth. “She grew from a teenager to barely volunteering to being a volunteer to being a driver for other volunteers and taking on missions by herself.”
Alzabet has packed care kits for the homeless, assisted refugees, served food at a Ramadan event and advocated for support for minority groups through community vigils and rallies.
She also runs Murfreesboro Muslim Youth’s social media accounts and uses them to encourage people to attend events such as the interfaith Love Your Neighbor picnics meant to build bridges and foster peace. The organization partners with a local Christian group to put on the potluck gatherings three times a year.
“Whenever I’m doing that, I feel like I’m projecting the things that I believe in my religion,” Alzabet said.
Alzabet’s advice to those who want to serve their community is not to stress about being unable to donate money to a cause or those in need.
“In reality, just meeting someone and speaking to them and having them tell their story, or even just helping cook a meal or go serve a meal is enough,” Alzabet said. “Just making somebody’s day is enough and it will definitely mean the world to them.”
Sarah Alzabet, 17, volunteers with Murfreesboro Muslim Youth. “We’re supposed to care for people no matter what, no matter what their religion is, no matter what their race is,” she said. “You’re supposed to take care of your neighbor.”