Quran For All

Official Blog of www.farhathashmi.com

The Looming Food Crisis And Our Actions

Posted by Admin on June 12, 2008

Sadaf Farooqi

“A new crisis is emerging, a global food catastrophe that will reach further and be more crippling than anything the world has ever seen. The credit crunch and the reverberations of soaring oil prices around the world will pale in comparison to what is about to transpire…” (The Financial Post)

More than 73 million people in 78 countries that depend on food handouts from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are facing reduced rations this year. The increasing scarcity of food is the biggest crisis looming for the world”, according to WFP officials.” (Sunday Herald)

As Muslims, we are faced with a situation this year that can help many starving people in the world, and our own selves in the Hereafter: the golden chance to donate food to millions of the world’s hungry, homeless and indigent people.

Perhaps there have been very few times in history that circumstances were so ripe for giving sadaqah. After Nargis recently struck in Burma, and last month’s massive earthquake in China, we should not only be thanking Allah for having spared us so far, but we should also be reflecting upon what we can be doing, each of us, in his or her limited scope of influence, to fulfill the dues of the millions of the world’s hungry and homeless upon us.

Is it that we are better than those afflicted by these larger-than-life calamaties, just because our bellies are full, and their’s are not? Do we think that we will be been forgiven our sins because we are still dwelling peacefully in our homes, amid the plasma television-sets and whooshing air-conditioners, while their homes have been swept away or demolished by a single, non-discriminating blast or shudder? Do we ever wonder, why it was them and not us? Is it because Allah is pleased with us, and not with them? Or could it be that such utter and complete destruction of thousands of lives in one single moment is a harsh reminder for the rest of us?

Inflation and high prices have softened the blow on our conscience when we spend money on our transgressions and extravagance. We blame it on inflation, making ourselves feel better by claiming that “everything is so expensive these days,” when we blow Rs. 600 on a meal at a posh restaurant, or Rs. 1100 on a set of fancy, diamonte-studded slippers for a wedding.

The fact remains that, no matter what our income or budget, exceeding the limits of moderation in spending money is something about which we will be answerable to Allah. If the global food crisis will not make us sit up and make an effort to channelize and thwart our spending binges, nothing else will. This is because, experts are claiming that now, for the first time in history, even the developed nations will be affected by the scarcity of food. The ever-present, multiple media channels bombard us with reminders of the pathetic living conditions of the hungry and homeless people in every corner of the world, 24 hours a day, via text, images, live videos and extensive coverage. Will we be able to escape account-taking before Allah in any way? By feigning ignorance of the affected people’s plight?

Nor do you encourage one another to feed the poor!” [Quran 89:18]

When we hear or read the headlines about these catastrophes and crises, beholding photographs of long, unrelenting queues of poor people standing in front of utility stores, in the quest of one sack of rice or flour; of a wailing woman held by her relatives as she mourns the passing away of her only child; do we quench our guilt and pass on with our day as if nothing touched our hearts? Do we thank Allah with all our heart the next time we bite a fresh roti or chunk of meat?

But he would not attempt the uphill road. And what will make you comprehend what the uphill road is? (It is) the setting free of a slave, or the giving of food in a day of hunger. To the orphan with claims of relationship; Or to the indigent person (down) in the dust.” [Quran 90; 12-16]

As the month of Ramadan approaches, most of us will be worrying about where to give our zakaat. Since it can only be given to Muslims, we should concentrate this year on using our zakaat money to provide food rations to hungry people. We could buy flour, rice, sugar, milk, and cooking oil in bulk, and distribute these foodstuffs among colony dwellers in the colony nearest to our homes. Most of us – those living in developing countries, at least – need to just look outside our windows to spot little rag-picking children sporting torn rags for clothes and battered feet without shoes. Will we be excusable before Allah?

There are other things we can do to ease our accountability before Allah:

  • Spend less on junk food and on very expensive meals at restaurants, even if we earn well and can afford them. Set aside a portion of that saved money to feed hungry people.
  • Never let any food rot in the refrigerator. Don’t keep procastinating by thinking, “Oh, I’ll eat it later, let it be”. No; give away any leftovers – be it meat or vegetables – to poor, hungry people on the same day as they are cooked and eaten. Loosen your giving hand, and widen your heart for others. 
    Narrated Hakim bin Hizam: The Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “The upper hand is better than the lower hand (i.e. he who gives in charity is better than him who takes it). One should start giving first to his dependents. And the best object of charity is that which is given by a wealthy person (from the money which is left after his expenses). And whoever abstains from asking others for some financial help, Allah will give him and save him from asking others, Allah will make him self-sufficient.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhari]
  • Every month, buy one sack of flour for one different poor household (look for households other than just that of your maid).
  • When eating a good meal, think of those who are hungry, and thank Allah profusely and sincerely for blessing you and sparing you from the turmoil which they are in. Pray for every hungry person’s belly to be filled with food, just as yours is.
  • Encourage others to do all of the above too – be they your relatives, coffee-party friends, teen buddies, or corporate think-tanks at work. This is because encouraging others to feed the poor is also a sign of faith:
    “Have you considered him who calls the judgment a lie?
    That is the one who treats the orphan with harshness,
    And does not urge (others) to feed the poor
    ” [Qur’an, 107:1-3]

As Muslims we need to feel, with all our heart, the pain of the affliction of hunger and malnutrition being faced by our brothers and sisters in Islam, and also by non-Muslims, worldwide. We need to feel it so profoundly within ourselves, that it makes it impossible for us to spend oodles of money on splurges, satisfaction of personal desires, and all kinds of other unnecessary expenditure. Which group do we want to be included in, the Muhsineen (i.e those who do utmost good, who give more than what’s due on them) or the ‘Mubadh-dhireen‘?

“Squander not (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, spendthrifts are the brothers of the evil ones (the Satan).” [Qur’an 17, 26-27]

Last but not least, if you have done some sadaqah, refrain from bragging about it to others, or seeking the approval or praise of people for it in any other way. Muslims need to keep their intentions in check and beware of riya (seeking recognition for good deeds among people) – the hidden, lesser polytheism – after having done a good deed. This is because the Muslim always does acts of charity for the pleasure of Allah only:

And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive,-
(Saying),”We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.
” [Qur’an, 76:8,9] 


2 Responses to “The Looming Food Crisis And Our Actions”

  1. tabman said

    Do I have the permission to take a print out of this article and distribute ?

  2. Admin said

    Asalamu Alaykum,

    Yes you can print out the article and distribute without making any changes to it and making sure the author name is there. Also make sure that our website URL http://www.farhathashmi.com and blog URL https://farhathashmi.wordpress.com is mentioned in its source.

    JazakAllahu Kahir,

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