Are We doing Enough?
By Dr. Aslam Abdullah
In this month of Ramadan, those who listen to the huffaz reciting the Quran during Taraweeh prayers and those who read the Quran on their own will come across some of the verses that perhaps might be the most relevant ones for us in the times we are living.
We would read the verse four of Sura 106 that describes Allah as the one â€œwho has given them food against hunger, and made them safe from danger.â€ We will also read the verse eight of sura 76, â€œAnd they fee, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captives. And in sura 90 verse fourteen describing the most challenging task for human beings and believers specifically, we are reminded of a group of peole who feed people on a day of hunger.
Doubtless Allah has given abundant food against hunger. Yet millions are suffering from hunger all over the world. In Somalia alone, hundreds are dying each day of starvation. So where is the food that Allah has provided the people with? In Italy alone, 1.5 million ton of food is wasted every year because farmers do not want to sell their crops at a cheaper price. Estimates of how much food we toss in the US vary, but according to Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It), weâ€™re wasting around 40 percent of the total. The leading English magazine the Economist recently wrote the following:
[T]he average American wastes 1,400 kilocalories a day. That amounts to 150 trillion kilocalories a year for the country as a wholeâ€”about 40 percent of its food supply, up from 28 percent in 1974. Producing these wasted calories accounts for more than one-quarter of Americaâ€™s consumption of freshwater, and also uses about 300 million barrels of oil a year. On top of that, a lot of methane (a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) emerges when all this food rots.
These figures are about just countries out of 200 plus countries in the world. Obviously, when the food is not brought in the market due to cheap prices and some 40 per cent of what is cooked is wasted, one cannot blame God for failing in his promise.
The blame can certainly be placed on those who speak in the name of God. Why are they not raising the awareness about hunger and disproportionate distribution and known wastage of resources. More specifically the Muslim religious leadership can be questioned for failing to transmit the divine message to its followers and others. There is hardly anyone talking about the unjust distribution system that exists in our world. No one ever brings up the issue of wastage of food in our homes and religious institutions. How much food the Muslim community is wasting? All you need to do is look at the dumpster at a mosque that is serving iftar and dinner to the community. You will not be surprised to find the similarity between the national and Muslim pattern of wastage.
Hardly anyone is talking about sacrifice for the betterment of the world.
Economists describes the situation in terms of world food prices and its impact on future economy. Politicians, depending on whose money they are using to get re elected, would talk about the poverty without ever doing anything to change the situation and the religious leadership is talking about issues that are totally irrelevant to the life of people. They are still talking about the differences in fajr and isha times whether the time of fajr arrives when the sun is at a 15 degree angle or 18 degree angle.
Hardly anyone is acting on the Divine message that those who prefer the needs of others over their own comfort are indeed the one successful in the life and the life hereafter. It is the quality of sacrificing for others that is the foundation for a better world and better commitment to Allah.
For a rich man who does not know the limit of his wealth, spending a few hundred thousands is nothing. For the filthy rich Muslim leaders, feeding the poor and needy from Somalia and other starving country for an entire month is almost nothing. However, when the responsibilities are limited to only two and a half percent of oneâ€™s savings regardless of the savings and regardless of the means of earning, the results would not different. How come we rarely question those dictators who have usurped the national wealth of people about their fiscal policies. How come we do not talk in our masajid about those issues?
The crisis in Somalia can be resolved in a month if even a quarter of all the money that has been looted by leaders in the Muslim world is spent on developing projects to eliminate hunger.
But that is not going to happen. Within the religious framework even the biggest cheat would offer two and a half percent of his savings to qualify for Divine blessings.
It is now left to us, the people to do sacrifice even more for the sake of humanity. We are capable of doing that. But we need to get organized which often we are not.
We need to do the following to help improve the situation in Somalia and other places.
1. On an emergency basis our relief organizations survey the availability of food at a low prices in a world market.
2. On a longer term basis, a proper survey of putting an irrigation system with the possibility of growing new high yielding crops can be made to plan for the future.
3. Our entrepreneurs work in coordination with these agencies to produce and prepare cooked nutritious food to serve those who are in need.
4. Our masses demonstrate the quality of sacrifice in their life style. Every time we eat a meal, we make it a habit of donating amount at least half or one quarter of the amount of the meal we eat and give it to an organization that knows how to do the job right.
If the 4 plus million US Muslim community saves a quarter each meal, it alone can generate resources to do everything that is mentioned above. But this would happen only when we are willing to sacrifice and willing to heed to the divine call beyond the call of our duty.
One of the steps that American Muslim relief organizations should have taken is to organize a summit to discuss this humanitarian crisis so that all could coordinate their resources and direct them to appropriate actions. But then that would require sacrifice on the part of the leadership. If they want people to sacrifice their monetary , they have to show they are willing to tame their egos and willing to sacrifice their organizational popularity for a goal much bigger than that: serving the creation of God on a day when some of it may be hungry. (90:13)
A worrying alarm arrives now from the Italian Farmers Association (CIA): mass amounts of food is sitting and rotting in their fields because sale prices donâ€™t cover all of the costs of production. The result is a 1.5 million of tons wasted every year and 4 billion of Euro frittered away. All this with rising costs for Italian consumers and farmers. (Source: EcoLocalizer (http://s.tt/12uez))