الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ الْخَائِفِينَ،
Who comes to the help of those who are upright (saaliheen),
Who promotes the cause of the oppressed,
annihilates the oppressors,
Who destroys the monarchs and appoints others in their place.
وَيُهْلِكُ مُلُوكاً وَيَسْتَخْلِفُ آخَرِينَ؛
The aide of the seekers of aid,
And the supporter of the faithful believers.
O Allah: (please do) send blessings upon Muhammad, Your servant, and Messenger,
اللّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ عَبْدِكَ وَرَسُولِكَ
And Your confidant, friend, and beloved,
وَأَمِينِكَ وَصَفِيِّكَ وَحَبِيبِكَ
I thank and praise the Almighty Allah swt for making it possible to address you here today. Thank you, Imam Rashid, for affording me the opportunity to share some thoughts with the CMRM community. I hope that you will consider my contribution here today as part of the CMRM Jihad Against Poverty Program.
On Monday the 16.October.2017, The United Nations marks World Food Day to raise awareness of the problem of hunger in the world. This day affords us the opportunity to express our solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.
- 815 million people – one in nine – still go to bed on an empty stomach each night.
Eradicating hunger and malnutrition is one of the great challenges of our time.
Very closely related to World Food Day is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty which is marked on the 17.October 2017.
Around the world, 1.2 billion people are living in extreme poverty.
They are challenged and threatened by a lack of food, shelter, water, and sanitation. They endure hazardous working conditions and live in degraded and insecure living environments. This day is also an opportunity for us to renew our commitment and show solidarity with the poor, to help them make their concerns heard.
In keeping with this advice of making the concerns of the poor heard, I bring you the story of two such people who will provide us with a glimpse of what hunger and poverty mean to them. The first story is that of Farida Bibi who lives in a village near Barisal in the Bay of Bengal. Listen to her relationship with food.
“In the morning, we eat little rice diluted with water. At midday, we are given bread by people in whose fields we work. In the evening we eat rice and vegetables. In the lean season, we eat only roti’s with chili and salt to give it some taste.”
“You dream of food all the time. You fear the mornings because you will wake up hungry and hear the children crying. I have picked up sugarcane that other people have eaten and thrown away to give them something to chew. We have cooked leaves from the trees and roots from the earth. We have chewed rags.When you have no land and no money to buy food in the market, you do not go near it: it is torture to see what you cannot have.”
“Hunger moves inside you like a living thing. At first, it makes you restless, but then you grow tired. You don’t waste energy by moving about. Sleep is your only escape. You lose interest in the world, hunger eats your flesh. To feed your children is your only concern. You work for neighbors in exchange for a little rice or vegetables. You become small. You lose appetite. Then, the thought of food stops being a dream. It frightens you. You wonder how you managed to eat. You lose your relationship to food, you lose all relationship with your own body.”
“I have sent my daughter to the town to live as a maidservant. She is ten. I do not have to find food for her. When she comes home she brings something from the table of her employers. This is a feast day.
Let me also tell you of little Elton from Valhalla Park whom I spotted a few weeks ago. He stood next to a dirt bin waiting hopefully on his father to find something to eat for them in the bin. His father told me that they had not eaten for two days. After responding to his immediate need and praying to Allah swt. I said to myself that Elton and his father both looked rather small in their build.
25% of South African children are nutritionally stunted. We know that stunting leads to poor educational, economic and social outcomes that last throughout life. Stunting contributes to the enormous social problems in our country. What future is there for Elton? Elton and his father are not alone.
The recent Poverty Trends Report published by StatsSA tells us that 55% of our compatriots are experiencing hunger on a daily basis. In the community of Ocean View, 69% of the people are food insecure. Food security is tested by checking if the food is adequate (enough) if there is access to the food (can they get it), can it be utilized (can it be cooked) and is the supply of the food stable, is it always available.
Elton and Farida Bibi are not hungry because they are lazy as some would suggest. The food first movement has challenged 12 myths that are promoted as to why there is hunger. The myths include that there is simply not enough food, to nature is to blame and that the free market and free trade is the solution have all been refuted.
Free Trade as the solution for ending hunger has made people more food insecure, and the unethical practices of MNC;s have made people more sick from the food they eat and has squeezed independent producers out of the food chain into urban slums. Leaving them poor destitute and unable to feed themselves. The food chain globally is owned and controlled largely by 10 Multinational Corporations who are the architects of the Free Trade argument.
These MNC’s are found across the proverbial farm to fork continuum. What do these MNC’s want? They want to maximise their profits and to minimise or avoid paying tax altogether. They want to privatize profit and socialize loss. A study by the School of Public Health and the Centre for Excellence in Food Security of the UWC have shown in great detail how the South African food chain is now controlled by big food companies.
May Allah swt continue to guide and protect the poor and the vulnerable.
I wish to advise myself and advise you towards Taqwa.
فَقَدْ قَالَ اللّٰهُ تَعَالَى فِى كِتَابِهِ الْعَزِيْزِ،
أَعُوْذُ بِاللّٰهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيْمِ،
بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
وَأَسِيرًا وَيَتِيمًا مِسْكِينًا حُبِّهِ عَلَىٰالطَّعَامَ وَيُطْعِمُونَ
شُكُورًا وَلَا جَزَاءً مِنكُمْ نُرِيدُ لَا اللَّهِ لِوَجْهِ نُطْعِمُكُمْ إِنَّمَا – 76:9
And they feed, for the Love Of God, the indigent, The Orphan, and the captive, (Saying), “We feed you For the sake of God alone: No reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.
I deliberately chose to include these verses from Surah Insan as it was revealed following the exemplary actions of the Ahlul Bayt, Ali Fatima Hassan, and Husayn (a.s) who, when in need of food themselves they gave it to those who were poor, destitute, vulnerable.
I would now like to continue with the theme of the impact of the control the food system but this time looking at it in the context of the Seerah of our Prophet and Master Muhammed (s.a.w.a)
After the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, a treaty we believe that was signed from a position of strength, that Allah swt commands the Prophet to turn his attention to the real source of power and oppression in the Arabian Peninsula – at the time. These were the rulers of Khaybar. The leaders of Khayber controlled the agricultural-based economy of the region. It was they who had funded the battle of Khandaq. It was these leaders of Khaybar activities that undermined the government led by Rasullalah and which caused for there to be food insecurity. So before the Liberation of Mecca, the Prophet set off on this mission of challenging the economic dominance of Khaybar. The people of Khaybar were the corporations of their time.
When Ali (a.s) lifted the gate of Khaybar with the strength and power of his belief in Allah swt, he literally and figuratively exposed the leaders of Khaybar and their wealth. He dealt a severe blow to their control of the economy and the food system. The other citadels of the region, such as Fadak, the smaller economic powers were given an option by Rasullah, live under the just Islamic rule or leave all your wealth behind (your gold and silver etc)as you leave the Muslim lands. Now that was radical economic transformation.
Those that possessed massive farmlands were allowed to continue to farm, but they had to share their harvest with the government of Rasullah on a 50-50 basis. Now that is a land reform programme that has a meaningful impact…no need for a willing buyer willing seller arrangement. The just Muslim state distributes its 50% to the poor, the disabled, the military veterans, the officials, the widows, and orphans through the treasury. The impact of the fall of Khaybar was great, and it immediately addressed a number of issues that may sound familiar.
- The Prophet dealt severely with those companions who wanted to loot Khaybar
- There were no BEE deals to be made with the Khaybar Monopoly capitalists because of the 50-50 agreement
- The sentiments of the poor were best expressed by Ummul Mu’mineen Ayesha who said that before Khaybar we were always hungry and after Khaybar, we knew what it was to
The Prophet analyzed his society, he challenged those in political and economic power. He exposed the influence of the people of Khaybar and changed the situation with his hands…
- We are faced with the challenges of the oppressive nature of the greedy 1%,
- those driven by profits over the lives of people.
- How are we going to respond in our march to Khaybar,
- Do we even know the names of the CEO’s of these companies that influence what we eat?
- How are we going to unmask them and expose their wealth?
- How do we curtail the revolving doors used by MNC’s and the control they have over our elected representatives and government officials who are supposed to work for us but are now beholden to BEE barons, white monopoly capital, and MNC’s?
We are well aware of the Hadith of the Prophet report on the authority of Abu Saeed Al Khudri عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيّ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ سَمِعْت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم يَقُولُ: “مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ، وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَانِ” .
[رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ] “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]
Let us draw inspiration from this hadith and ask ourselves. What alternatives do we present as part of our Jihad against poverty and our spirit of solidarity? Can we consider the following as things we could do with our hands.
- By saving the seed from that vegetable you prepare to eat, you can build up your own seed bank.
- Every day you plant a seed you are resisting the MNC’s and you are obeying Allah I advise you and myself to read Surah Waqia daily and reflect on who makes the seed grow. Is it they who control the food system or Allah swt Quran 56: 63 -65
- Your compost heap is a space of resistance…You are no longer interested in the harmful fertilizers they sell you.
- Grow your own food even one tomato or one bunch of coriander at a time.
- Buying from our very own farmer, here at the mosque, mean that we support small-scale food producers that are particularly targeted by MNC.
- By establishing our own ethical buying club at this mosque means that we are taking control of the food system as aware consumers and giving meaning to key aspects of food sovereignty as taught by the peasant’s movement, Via
- Our fellow musallees who are economists and researchers and students can develop a meaningful relationship with other faith formations such as the Economic Justice Network, led by Malcolm Damon and others to contribute towards developing new policies, introduce the 50-50 Khaybar agreement and challenging MNC friendly policies
- Let us uphold and practice more conscientiously what we know and Let us share our food conscious practices and our best practice to avoid Let us share how we Live simply so that others may simply Live
May Allah swt make all our efforts a success as we strive to establish food justice, Let us make more of the voices of the poor be heard more directly. We make dua and
Ask Allah swt as his Beloved did. Please show us the way the world really is and not the way we want to see it.
Allahumumma Ah yini miskina
Wa amitni miskina wahshurni fi
Rabbana aghrijna minhazihil qaryatizalimi ahlu ha
Waj allana milla dunka waliya
Waj allana milla dunka nasira.