The Humanitarian Project 2014: Lecture
- Recommended for Friday, 19th September 2014
- This lecture serves as an outline. Speakers, please do edit it to be appropriate for your audiences.
In the name of Allah (God), the most Gracious, the most Merciful
“Praise be to Allah, to whom belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth, and to Him belongs all the praise in the Hereafter. He is the All Wise, the All Aware. He knows all that goes into the earth and all that comes out of it; He knows all that comes down from the heavens and all that goes up to them. He is the Merciful, the Forgiving.” [Qur’an, 34:1-2]
I bear witness there is none worthy of worship besides Allah (swt) and I bear witness that Muhammad (saw) is His final servant and messenger. May peace and blessing be upon Muhammad (saw), who was sent to us as a guide and in whom we have the best example to follow.
Our livelihoods are all from Allah SWT
“And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage. All is in a clear register.” [Qur’an, 11:6]
One of the main aspects that Islam teaches is that whatever we own and earn on this planet is from Allah (swt). Allah (swt) reminds us in the Qur’an that he has established us on this earth and made for us our living. He further admonishes us for not being grateful of what he has provided us with.
“And We have certainly established you upon the earth and made for you therein ways of livelihood. Little are you grateful.” [Qur’an, 7:10]
A society in need of empowerment…
South Africans are well aware of the economic and social challenges facing our communities in our country. A combination of present and past social, economic and political issues are preventing many of our fellow citizens from escaping the “poverty trap”. Awareness and charity drives needs to be focused on educating and empowering our citizens to be self-sufficient and leaders in their communities, instead of them being continuously reliant on a handout charity system.
Be Charitable… empower with your charity!
Indeed, in Islam, being charitable is an act of worship, an act rewarded. Helping one’s fellow humans is a deed cherished. Allah (swt) warns us of being miserly over and over again, e.g. in Surah Yaseen He tells us:
“And when it is said to them, “Spend from that which Allah has provided for you,” those who disbelieve say to those who believe, “Should we feed one whom, if Allah had willed, He would have fed? You are not but in clear error.” [Qur’an, 36:47]
Another aspect where we find guidance in the Sunnah is to empower with our charity. Hereunder follows a story where the Prophet Muhammad (saw) helped equip a man who was in difficult times into earning his own living.
Anas ibn-Malek (RA) narrated, “A man from the Ansar came to ask the Prophet (SAWS) for charity. The Prophet asked about what he has at home, and the man said that he has some fabric which they use to wear sometimes and other times to sit on. The Prophet instructed him to bring it over. Then he asked if any of his companions would like to purchase the fabric. A man offered to buy it for one Dirham. The Prophet asked for a higher price, until a man offered two Dirhams for it. The Prophet took the money and gave it to the poor man. The Prophet told him to buy food for his family with one Dirham and to use the other to buy and axe-head and bring it back to him. The Prophet then tied a handle to the axe-head and asked the man to use it in cutting wood, then selling it. And so the man went to cut wood and began to sell it. He collected ten Dirhams which he used for food and clothes. The Prophet (SAWS) said to the man, ‘This is better than asking for charity which you will be asked about on the Day of Judgment. Asking charity is permissible for only three cases; extreme poverty, paying off a large fine, or for paying blood-money in case of killing someone by mistake.” [Abu-Dawood, Hadith no. 1641 and ibn-Majah, Hadith no. 2198]
A society with a waste problem…
South Africa’s population and use of resources has increased drastically over the last decade with serious consequences for our waste management. We generate more than 108 million tonnes of waste a year (over 100 000 kg) – with only 10% of that being recycled. From hazardous chemical waste to compostable kitchen waste, our present habits and infrastructure practices are filling up limited landfill space with dangerous waste too quickly. We are producing too much waste, we are recycling too little and reusing even less. Our government has mandated waste management as one of the critical areas it needs to address in terms of service delivery and sustainability.
Waste and clean ups in Islam
Allah (swt) warns us in the Qur’an that he does not love those who waste.
“O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah does not love the wasters.” [Qur’an, 7:31]
Furthermore, cleaning up waste and respecting the beautiful creations of Allah SWT is considered an act of reward.
“Removing harmful things from the road is an act of charity (sadaqah).” [Bukhari, Hadith no 2989; Ibn Majah, Hadith no. 3683]
MSA Union’s The Humanitarian Project: Repurposing waste, making livelihoods, empowering people
The MSA Union has re-launched their Humanitarian project this year, emphasising the “waste-into-livelihoods” aspect. What is particularly good about repurposing waste to create livelihoods is that the means of reward is many fold – reducing waste, empowering people, creating sustainable jobs.
This project, while simply starting the awareness around the issue, must be taken by us in future as an opportunity to both think and do. This is an opportunity to ‘declutter’ our households, take account and thus benefit from the consequent pscychological and emotional well being benefits. Its an opportunity for us to see opportunities of pursuing livelihoods and innovation in the waste industry, serving the creator by serving both His human and non-Human creatures.
Allah (swt) tells us in the Qur’aan-e-Kareem:
“It is He (Allah) who has appointed you khaleefa (stewards) in the earth…that He (Allah) may try you in what He has given you.” [Qur’an, 6:165]
May Allah (swt) guide our intentions and actions, forgive our shortcomings, strengthen us and accept all our actions from us, no matter how small. Aameen
Pushing you down our repurposing waste story – further links:
- The Humanitarian Project 2014: Repurposing Waste
- The MSA Union manual (in pdf format) that is sent out to help campuses prepare.
- An example of a lecture that highlights the importance of empowering people and reducing our waste in Islam. It is requested that the lecture be delivered on campuses on Friday, 19th September (this article).