Muslims Making a Difference: I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | XIII | XIV
By Dr. Wajid Akhter
I don’t count myself as an overly emotional person. Indeed, as a doctor, you get used to observing intense suffering on a daily basis. You get accustomed to seeing an old lady struggling for breath as her heart fails or a young man being wheeled in with multiple fractures following a high-speed car crash. But even to a jaded person like me, there have been occasions when my heart was broken by Muslims in such a complete way that their pain is with me still… This is the story of just some of them.
The old man had barely enough rags to cover his body. The full force of the midday sun beat down on his uncovered head turning his white beard even whiter. He looked intensely frail and his ribs clearly showed through his skin. Yet, instead of resting somewhere being looked after by his family, beads of sweat poured from his face as he pedalled a cycle-rickshaw loaded with passengers. I was aghast. Why was he working? Where was his family? Then I heard his story. His only son had died leaving behind young children with no one to look after them. Living in a desperately poor society, the old man had no choice but to work and put food in the mouth of his orphaned grandchildren. As he pedalled away in the blazing heat, his bones visibly shuddering with each movement, I was shaken to the core.
It was a beautiful clear day when I went into the mosque to pray. The Jamma masjid (mosque) is one of the grandest buildings in a city full of grand buildings, towering over the ancient city of Delhi. After admiring the architecture and the historical artefacts, I walked out to a sight that stopped me in my tracks. The entire extended path to the steps of the mosque was covered with burqa-clad women sitting on the floor, each with children in their laps and hands outstretched. Again, I was aghast. Where were their families? Why were they here? My father explained, “These are young widows hoping that someone, anyone, will have mercy and give their children enough to eat so that they can live to beg another day.” There were dozens, their children too weak with hunger to stand and play. I could not see their faces, but the pain in their voice was palpable. The pain within me was more so.
The unmistakable sound of whimpering came to me as I read a notice near the grave of Muhammad Fatih, the conqueror of Constantinople. I walked until I saw a middle-aged man sitting with his back resting against a pillar. In his arms was an unwell child. You didn’t need to be a doctor to realise straight away that the child was extremely unwell. Pale, clammy and with a feeding tube still inserted into a nostril, the child was clearly dying. I asked the man what was the matter and why the child was not in hospital via a bilingual bystander. “I could not afford the payments to take care of him so I needed time to gather the money. Now I have taken him to the hospital but they said that there is nothing they can do. I have brought him here as I have no hope left other than from Allah… and I do not want his mother and sisters to see him dying at home.” As I left, the father tenderly stroked his son’s head with tears dripping down his face like a river that had no end.
These are just some of the Muslims that I passed by, but broke my heart. What could I do? Should I give them a little money? That would merely alleviate their situation temporarily. Should I sponsor one of them? That would mean ignoring the other millions who were suffering in equally dire situations. Should I take time out and work in a third world clinic? That would be useful until I needed to go back to my life and leave their suffering behind. How could I help as many people, for as long as possible and in the most comprehensive way?
We have enough wealth in the ummah (Muslim community) so that no child should go to sleep hungry, yet the artificial divisions that keep us apart mean that whilst Muslims were eating gold-leaf covered desserts at a 7-star hotel in Dubai, more than a thousand children were dying of starvation daily just over a thousand miles away in Somalia. How can we possibly rectify this situation? The only solution to this and all our other problems is to follow the advice of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) to us: He will not change the situation of a people until they change themselves. We need to be united once more upon Islam. If we are united as one nation then instead of handing out medicine or a free meal, we can build a health service or a self-sustaining agricultural sector. If we are united then we needn’t sponsor an orphan, we can provide security and protection to prevent the child being orphaned in the first instance.
From this simple idea was born Charity Week—one week each year in which Muslim youth united upon Islam work together to raise funds for orphans and needy children (both Muslim and non-Muslim) across the world. In the past 9 years, Charity Week has set up projects in dozens of countries, involved hundreds of institutions, motivated thousands of students, acted as dawah (call to Islam) to thousands of non-Muslims and raised over $3 Million. However, far more important than all that is that Charity Week has planted the importance of THE VISION—unity upon Islam—in the minds of Muslim youth. It is that vision that gives hope to the poor—far more than any amount of money can. It is clinging on to the hope of that vision that lets me sleep at night.
Charity Week is a volunteer-led project that aims to promote Muslim unity upon Islam amongst young Muslims. It is open to all (including non-Muslims) and aims to be the benchmark for Muslim student work in all aspects. For 365 days a year, a team of dedicated brothers and sisters organise to help set up a week-long fundraising competition. It currently takes place in the UK; however, it aims to expand abroad. If you are interested in getting involved or franchising the project to your city/country—get in touch. This year, Charity Week 2012 in the UK will be on the 29th October to 2nd November 2012.
[W] www.onecharityweek.com [E] email@example.com
[T] @onecharityweek [F] facebook.com/onecharityweek
I would love to have this type of program at where I live; The States. Insha’Allah!
Asalamualakum, check out the “can-paign” by Muslims Without Borders. http://www.mwbrelief.org
InshaAllah the Charity Week team are working on bringing CW to the US. Make duaa, we are keen to do it properly which is why we are taking time.
The people are few but the dreams are big…
Salam to you Brother
May Allah SWT give Baraka to your and yours team efforts. I will propose that these efforts should not be confined to Muslim Brothers and Sisters living in UK USA Europe etc., but in predominantly muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh etc., unity be extended. I liked the idea of uniting the Muslim Lawyers and other professionals way you have done regarding Medical Practitioners and urge to extend the unity to the global level. Will be pleased to extend any support or assistance required. Will be pleased to write directly to you with the ideas i have in mind in this regards
Jazakallah khair for sharing these very touching and emotional stories with us! I completely agree that it is only through unity that we can revive the true spirit of the Ummah! May Allah (swt) make the charity week initiative succesful!
Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
Unity is all good. The problem occurs when people start saying strange things about Allah, worshiping at the graves of saints, innovating in religion, and the people who say all that stuff is wrong are hypocrites or harshearted with a self righteous attitude and millions of Muslim young people are left in complete ignorance as to their deen. This tends to cause “divisions” and unity isn’t as simply as “lets be unified” although I wish I was proven wrong.
These problems cause dicord in our hearts and as a result, uniting is difficult. We don’t have a khilafah, the most we have is the OIC. The Muslim United Nations if you will. The Muslim world is filled with corruption, governments who do not judge by Allah’s law and people who don’t support the law anyways.
Lookat how Christians are. “Jesus(alayhisalam), love, charity.” And? How much have they really accomplished? Look at the state of the world. We are following their footsteps, exaggerating one part of the religion and ignoring the rest. You don’t have success with partial deen-you have to go for everything.
You are absolutely right-unless we change what is in ourselves our condition will not change. If our hearts are not united, we will not be united.
May Allah unite our hearts and change us for the better.
Read Sharh al-Sudur by al-Suyuti and al-Ruh by Ibn al-Qayyim. If you are bringing up topics you claim as fact I would suggest you take a look and see that there is a difference of opinion in regards to your claims. I would advice you to read more thoroughly instead of taking face value propaganda of those who give no respect to the opinion of scholars before them. I can tell you that many pious scholars of Islam found it permissible to visit the graves, and did so themselves.
Everyone’s Iman fluctuates and having an all or nothing attitude doesn’t help those who are less pious. You can’t expect everyone to follow everything, even during the prophets time there were people who were not doing much worship as this Bedouin man.
One day the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – sat with his companions when a Bedouin came. Immediately the man asked the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam, “When is the final hour?” A question the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – disliked. The Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – replied, “What have you prepared for it?” The Bedouin said, “I have not prepared much Salah, or much Sawm, or much Sadaqah, but one thing: I love Allah and His Messenger.” Then the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – said, “You shall be with whom you love!” Anas – Radi Allahu Anhu – the narrator of the hadith said, “By Allah, nothing brought us more happiness after our Islam than that statement: ‘you shall be with whom you love.’ I love Allah and His Messenger, and Abu Bakr and Umar; And I hope to be with them (on the final day) even though I have not done as much as they did. – Muslim
May Allah guide us all.
What a beautiful hadith. I have been considering converting and every time I read something like that it draws me closer and closer to Islam.
I know this is 3 years later, but just in case you get the follow-up email 🙂 Sister Gabriella
God willing, I hope you have learned more about the beauty of Islam during this time. I sincerely wish you well in this life and in the next. Take care Sister.
Waalaikumussalam Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Jazak Allah Khair,Gibran.
I do not know what do you mean by Jesus? To be honest, I did not found that word in Qurran. I would be beyond gratitude if you could explain to me from which Surah you took it. In other words, does it exist in Qurran? Awaiting your reply.
Your brother in Islam
This is great work Mashallah
Jzk, it’s great to know the inspiration behind Charity Weel, aka the best week of the year for students in the UK 🙂 I hope that inA it will spread across the globe, uniting muslims worldwide one day.
Here’s our exciting Charity Week 2012 Trailer to see what we get up to!
A very nice article Wajid. You are right that the soloution to our crises is unity upon Islam. I would extend this further to it must be a political unity that transcends all national, sectarian and ethnic boundaries which are utilised by the west to keep us divided and weakened.
I just read an article about Mansa Musa 1st of Mali who is recorded to have been the richest man in the world ever with a wealth adjusted for inflation > $400 billion dollars. He lived at the time of the Mamluks, was a devout muslim and gave a lot to charity buildings mosques and universities (see wikipaedia).
The point is that as you said the Ummah has great wealth and when distributed Islamically can alleviate our suffering very quickly. This however requires the implementation of the economic system of Islam which abolishes usury and ensures that all natural resources are state owned. It is the job of the Islamic state to provide for the poor of our Ummah and moreover propagate Islam to the rest of the world by showing how well our system works if implemented in its entirety.
Unfortunately our rulers pay only lip service to Islam to appease us. We need to wisen up and realise what is proper implementation and what is merely window dressing.
We will again be the richest state as has been prophesised that the rightly guided khilafah will again return. It is true that for individuals and groups there are far too many hearts to fix but for a state utilising all of the Ummah’s wealth and human resources it is certainly acheivable and more.
JazakAllah khairun to everyone for their comments. More important than the Charity Week project itself is the vision behind – creating the grassroots desire for Muslims to be united practicaly, physically and totally upon Islam.
InshaAllah if we carry that forward in our lives as our own vision and goal – we will begin the process of change we need to see so that we have one Ummah once more.
To those of you interested in bringing Charity Week to your part of the world – email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch with you shortly inshaAllah
How can we combine forces to achieve such a great goal. Plz get intouch we are also a small UK registered charity..
MashAllah, How do I contact to you guys?