Hundreds gathered at a mosque in Chino, California on Saturday to beseech God to help alleviate the state’s four-year drought during an interfaith Prayer for Rain.
Roughly 500 people attended the event at the Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino, where Imam Mohammed Zafarullah led attendees of all religions through a prayer for rain for the drought-ravaged state, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe, the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Master of the Day of Judgement,” Zafarullah intoned. “There is no god but Allah Who does what He wishes. O Allah, Thou art Allah, there is no deity but Thou, the Rich, while we are the poor. Send down the rain upon us and make what Thou sendest down a strength and satisfaction for a time.”
“May God open the heavens, and let His mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains,” added Bishop Jaime Soto, who composed a prayer for the event.
California is getting increasingly desperate in its battle against record drought. Precious little rainfall, combined with virtually no snowpack in the crucial Sierra Nevada mountains and depleted groundwater reservoirs have forced the state to make cuts on water use across the board. Earlier this month, water regulators cut diversions to some of the state’s most senior water rights holders, who had previously been free to pump from northern California rivers for more than 100 years.
The Californians of all faiths who showed up on Saturday turned to God for relief.
“If you’re a theist, a Catholic or Muslim or a Christian, you think God is personal and prayer can make a difference,” Father Michael Miller of the St. Margaret Mary Church in Chino told CBS Los Angeles. “God is a person. God can act freely, and God has some kind of emotional response when we turn to him with love.”
Of course, not everyone was on board with the religious response.
“I think it’s ridiculous, of course,” Skeptics Society founder Michael Shermer told the Times. “[Prayers for rain] often happens not only with religions but also with con men during droughts in the 19th century and the Dust Bowl years.”
Still, others in California had turned to the heavens long before Saturday’s gathering. In February of last year, the San Juan Intertribal Council staged Native American rain dances in San Juan Bautista every week for a month in hopes of busting the drought.