Sarah, a mother of two, had a change in circumstance when her partner moved in with her. After informing the council, their benefits changed and she didn’t get paid for nearly two months. This meant Sarah had to rely on the local food banks to feed her family. Sarah said, “As a parent, to not know if you’re going to be able to feed your children is shameful and degrading. Always knowing the food bank is there puts your mind at rest a bit. Knowing you can go there and get support is brilliant.”
In a typical British classroom, nine out of 30 children live in poverty.
One in five people living in one of the world’s richest economies is in poverty.
From the 14.3m people in poverty, 8.2m are working-age adults, 1.9m are pensioners and 4.1m are children.
The number of people working and in poverty is 4m which has risen sharply by 500,000 over the last five years.
Working families who live in poverty are having to survive by relying on food banks and handouts.
The Trussell Trust issued figures in March 2018 showing that 1,332,953 three-day emergency food supplies were delivered to people in crises across the UK.
The number of people dying in winter due to not being able to pay their rising heating bills has seen increases year on year.
The rise in fuel and gas prices has serious consequences for households – 2017/18 saw an estimated 50,100 excess winter deaths in England and Wales, the highest recorded since winter 1975/76.
It is also estimated that over a third (34.7%) of influenza or respiratory diseases increased as a result.
Why do food and fuel prices keep rising?
Prices are determined by the global financial markets which are dominated by a handful of corporations, who aim to make as much profit as possible from these essential commodities. In November 2018, the FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) dropped slightly to 160.8. The FFPI is an average of five food group prices: meat, dairy, cereals, vegetable oils and sugar. However, when compared to the FFPI figure in 2000 (91.1), the scale of the rise in global food prices becomes clear. Global corporations have monopolised these essential food supplies via continuous expansion, patents, copyrights and monopolisation – whilst average and low-paid workers and those unemployed all bear the brunt.
The Islamic ideology’s view on providing necessities such as food, shelter and heating is that the most basic level of needs should be guaranteed by the central Islamic government (Khilafah).
Unlike capitalism, Islam does not adhere to the selfish ‘make as much money as you can’ mantra, rather its view on providing food and shelter is that it is a duty of the government to provide the basic necessities so no person is left to face poverty.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,
“There is no right for the son of Adam except in these things: a house in which he lives, a garment to cover his nakedness and a piece of bread and water (food).” [At-Tirmidhi]
He ﷺ also said,
“The people are partners (owners) in three things: water, pastures and fire” [Abu Dawud].
Hence, water and energy resources such as gas, oil and electricity are owned by the people but administered and run by the state. If this one rule of Islam was applied in the world today, the problems above would cease to exist.
Take home message:
Corporations and governments aiming to maximise profits on essential commodities have the hunger, humiliation and blood of the millions in poverty and hundreds of thousands of winter death victims, on their hands. The Islamic system necessitates food, clothing and shelter for all citizens, whilst making water and energy resources public-owned & state administered.