Having not eaten a full meal for weeks, millions of severely undernourished children will go to sleep tonight on an empty stomach; a common occurrence, which they have been forced to accept as normal. Unbeknown to their desperate parents, whom travel many miles everyday in search of something to feed their starving families, tens of thousands of these innocent children will pass away silently in the night. With nothing to quench their thirst or hunger, they lack the energy to escape the depravity that pervades them. And as many parents writhe in pain upon waking to their inanimate child, the world will look unto their condition as nothing but a pitiful misfortune.
This is the shocking reality that exists in many parts of Africa; roughly 20 million people currently suffer from famine in Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, and Nigeria. In countries where it is strongest, over half of the population requires food assistance. In fact, the United Nations estimates that billions of dollars are needed to solve this issue, yet only millions have been raised through international donors. Whilst it is often assumed that governments in the region are often incapable due to insufficient funds, they are actually complicit in their myopia and self-interest. In fact, certain countries have seen this far too often for government to not be prepared. Meanwhile, Qatar is spending $500 million of the Ummah’s money every week on World Cup preparations whilst Saudi indiscriminately squanders it on luxury goods for the Royal Family.
What a disgrace our rulers are. The Muslim world requires a system which secures their basic rights as human beings and a ruler that fears to sleep in the night that is riddled with death. Lest we forget, Umar bin al Khattab (ra) faced a similar situation in Madina, albeit his reaction was not to be complicit in ignoring his people’s plight. Instead, he felt the Islamic duty on his neck and even made an oath to not eat until his people could. Far from rhetoric, he treated famine with great urgency by mobilising vast sums of food from other provinces of the Caliphate, such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Persia. In doing so he brought a swift end to the famine.
Yet today we see no ruler nor government of his kind. Instead, we find nation-states that act on the self-interested ideals of this system as opposed to the benevolent principles of Islam. Indeed, this is certainly a damning indictment on capitalism, which promotes growth over distribution, particularly when a famine-ridden nation such as Nigeria is one of the largest economies in Africa, with a GDP of $520 billion. It is a stain on the free market, when millions of innocent people, young and old, are unable to consume basic goods like food and water. What kind of system should a people wish to live for when it has allowed them to die in a manner like this.
Why must it take charitable donations to solve this issue when these countries own so much wealth? Why must celebrities have to raise awareness and send planes of food and water to the people of Africa when the rest of the Muslim world watches idly? Why must millions die for the world to speak out against the injustices within the region? The answer to these rhetorical questions can only come from the Islamic system alone. It is Islam that would account the rulers who have usurped power from the people and left them in depravity. It is Islam that would secure the basic rights of man, such that he lives in ease and comfort. It is Islam that will account the ruler for misusing the public’s wealth and for not attending to their crisis. It is Islam that would return prosperity to Africa.
“The Son of Adam has no better right than that he would have a house wherein he may live, a piece of clothing whereby he may hide his nakedness and a piece of bread and some water.” [Tirmidhi]