The deeper you look at it, the worse you realize the situation is. Every year £10 billion worth of food is wasted in the UK alone. The amount of money multinational companies avoid paying in tax exceeds the amount the world requires in aid. In developing countries, an area of land the size of London is sold every 6 days to foreign investors usurping local farmers from land, food and income.
Words from our beloved Prophet(pbuh) seem very applicable here:
‘A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbor is hungry.’ [Al Adab Al Mufrad]
For me, this doesn’t just refer to people who live adjacently to us but rather people in our sphere of awareness. Today, we live in a global village where it takes seconds to send and receive messages with people in the furthest regions of the Earth. We can literally travel anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. The Internet and multimedia allow us to see anything around the globe as it happens, essentially a window through our screens into the world. The lesson to take from this Prophetic tradition is that we will all be held accountable for the food crisis the world is suffering from, and we will all be asked what we did to help it.
The sad truth is we are too apathetic. We know of all these facts, yet don’t grasp the gravity of the problem; nothing in our behavior changes. Perhaps our attitude would be completely different if we saw the reality with our own eyes? But wait, we see people sleeping on the streets every day. Maybe it comes down to a mental mechanism that we employ, detaching ourselves from reality. But whatever mentally constructed worlds we live in, people still live in poor conditions with little food whilst we live in rich abundance.
We need to step up and internalize the Southern African philosophy of UBUNTU – ‘I am because we are.’ How can I be happy when so many aren’t? Such a universal wisdom, which rings true with the Prophetic saying:
‘None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself.’ [Tirmidhi].
A sustained and multi-faceted approach is required from us, from making changes in our own lives to putting pressure on governments and corporations vested in global poverty. Here are a few things that we can get started on to help cause this change:
First and foremost our intention must be straight: to please Allah. Tackling this problem isn’t a peripheral part of our religion, but rather a focus. It is our God-ordained responsibility to look after our fellow humans who are in dire straits, and with this in mind any work done towards this will bring Allah’s pleasure and love on to us.
2. Avoid waste
This means being careful of how much we cook and keeping track of when food expires. Every single particle of food is a blessing from Allah, a blessing for which we have no means to justify receiving, and hence held accountable for. We tend to eat far more than we need. The Prophet(pbuh) encouraged us to eat to a third of our fill as a MAXIMUM. [Ibn Majah]. We can also share food with neighbors and friends! Not only does this increase friendship and ties, but also lowers the chances of cooking too much food for your own family.
3. Buy Fairtrade
Putting in the extra bit of investment when we buy our groceries will go a long way to help the people who make a lot of our basic food and clothes. ‘Fairtrade’ is a certification which guarantees that the hardworking people who provide us with a variety of products such as coffee, fruit and clothing are paid a fair price for their products.
4. Participate in the ‘Enough Food For Everyone IF’ Campaign
This is a massive collaborative effort in the UK with over 100 organizations and major charities to tackle the issue of world hunger. If you’re living outside the UK, then try to find out any causes or campaigns which are working towards the same goal, and get involved!
5. Spread the word
Tell other people on how they can contribute via tweeting, facebooking, blogging and vlogging. This can be highlighting small changes we can make in our daily habits, which will make a big difference, or getting involved in projects that aim to fight world hunger. Talk to local masjids about what can be done on a community level such as fundraising or awareness campaigns. Get university societies like ISocs to get involved… but the first place to start is our own homes.
The fight to end world hunger is not going to be an easy one. It’s going to be a long uphill battle if we are to emerge victorious. It may take decades, but let us not allow our lack of action or compassion put the pathetic in apathetic. There was a time where three quarters of the world lived in unjust servitude, and certain countries’ economies relied heavily upon it. It was considered a mad man’s fantasy to think this societal norm could end. Over 150 years of struggle, it was finally outlawed.
Poverty is not an unfortunate occurrence; it is a sign that a subset of the global society needs more attention. Let us, like our righteous ancestors, show the world what it means to fight hard. Let us end world hunger. Bismillah!