The Islamic Education & Research Academy (iERA) launched its anti-racism campaign called “Against Racism, Against Hatred” in Brixton, a suburb in south London, UK. The community event commenced at the Brixton Recreation Centre with a motivational talk from iERA’s chairman, Abdurraheem Green. This was then followed by training of 20 or so attendees from Hamza Tzortzis, Head of Education and Research at iERA on how to give dawah and approach members of the public with a survey questionnaire on racism and Islamophobia. All in all, the day was a success as the survey idea (first pioneered by the Myriad Foundation in Manchester, may Allah bless them and reward their efforts) worked very well in opening up friendly dialogue and discussion. iERA hopes this will be the start of bigger and better activities challenging the evil notion of racism, God willing.
Guest writer Sara Ahmed pens down the inspiring story of John Fontain, as heard from him at the WOC 2014 event:’Story Night with the Stars’.
John Fontain was born in a working-class Christian family in Manchester. As a young boy, he would always make an intention in Church that he was praying to God alone, proving the fact that children are born on the fitrah (sound nature). At seven, he was sure that there was something amiss in Christianity when the priest changed the chorus lyrics he had written from ‘Jesus and God’ to ‘Jesus is God’. At the age of fourteen, with a growing passion for music, he became a professional jazz singer, travelling to places and performing in sports stadiums, hotels etc. With a good income and the drive to become the most famous jazz singer in the country, he naturally did not feel the need to attend university!
Feeding the Poor: An Important Religious Duty of Muslims!!
The holy Quran has linked man’s salvation to the wellbeing of fellow human beings. One cannot find salvation without caring for the fellow human beings particularly those in distress, need and hunger. One of the acts of caring for the distressed is feeding them. This act of feeding the needy and hungry has been stressed in the Quran so many times and in such strong words that one might think that not feeding the poor regularly can even earn the wrath of God leading him to the torment of hell despite all his prayers, fasting and other good deeds.
Thus, the Quran envisions a society in which every member cares for the hungry, the distressed and the needy every moment of his being along with all his personal piety and righteousness. The rights of the neighbours have also been emphasised in the same sense so that a Muslim keeps the well being of his neighbours, especially those neighbours who are poor and needy. While stressing the right of the poor and hungry, the Quran does not specify the Muslims. It only stresses on the feeding of the hungry, suggesting that a hungry person may be a Muslim, a Hindu or even an atheist.
There are more or less seven occasions on which the Quran stresses on the feeding of the poor, the hungry, the orphans and the captives. Though some of the verses recommend the feeding of the poor as an act of penitence for some sins or skipping some religious injunctions like fasting or not keeping an oath, the other verses generally require Muslims to feed the hungry and the poor as a social duty regularly or whenever required. In fact, the stress with which the Quran instructs Muslims to feed the poor, makes it seem that feeding the poor should be one of the social habits of the Muslims. If not done, the Muslims may invite the wrath of God both in this world and in the Hereafter.
The Quran says:
“And (ask) of the Sinners: What led you into Hell Fire? They will say: “We were not of those who prayed; Nor were we of those who fed the indigent;
(Al Mudaththir: 41-44)
Thus feeding only to please God is the favourite acts of the believers:
“A Fountain where the Devotees of Allah do drink, making it flow in unstinted abundance. They perform (their) vows, and they fear a Day whose evil flies far and wide. 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. (76: 6-9)
The Quran presents the picture of those who are thrown in hellfire because of not feeding the poor or the orphan while indulging in gluttony.
“This was he that would not believe in Allah Most High. And would not encourage the feeding of the indigent! (Al Haqqa: 33—34)”
In Surah Fajr, Quran lashes out at those who do not feed the hungry despite the fact that God has provided them with all the luxuries of life. It also suggests that Muslims should encourage the practice of feeding the poor and this way this practice should become a common and visible practice of the Muslims
“Nor do ye encourage one another to feed the poor!
(Al Fajr: 18)”
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Feed the hungry, visit the sick and set free the captives.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Hadith 552
“(The righteous are those) who feed the poor, the orphan and the captive for the love of God, saying: ‘We feed you for the sake of God Alone; we seek from you neither reward nor thanks.'” – The Holy Quran, 76:8-9