For an Islamic Relief Fund [Archives:2005/893/Opinion]

November 10 2005

If the Islamic Development Bank can be commended for its important role in helping Moslem countries face the challenges of development, then it should be also empowered with greater maneuverability and flexibility in confronting international disaster situations, especially within Moslem countries. While Moslem countries are not unique in facing natural disasters and calamities, the recent Tsunami catastrophe last year and now the severe earthquakes that hit Kashmir and the rest of Pakistan, seems to place many Moslem countries in disaster prone areas. In fact, the poor undeveloped nature of most Moslem countries makes them the more vulnerable to calamitous disasters, with high casualties and damages in the amounts that most of the countries involved can hardly sustain.

Needless to say, there is a lot of wealth and goodwill among the Moslem States of the world. But, with the increasing relentless chase that the American government is pursuing against all forms of organized Moslem philanthropic activity, in its so called “War against Terror”, the governments of the Moslem states need to consider viable and meaningful alternatives to having their people become helpless victims of disasters reliant on the support of the international community to bail them out of their natural disasters.

Needless to say, the Moslem world is endowed with vast resources and there are many Moslem states that are exceedingly wealthy. Thus, it is not difficult to visualize that the Moslem World can establish an Islamic Relief Fund, that will be responsible for helping Moslem countries that are prone to disasters to cope with any catastrophic conditions that hit them from time to time. This IRF can probably commence under the auspices and guidance of the Islamic Development Bank, and thus can benefit from IDB's vast network of institutions and enterprises that can be found in most Moslem counties of the world.

The proposed Islamic Relief Fund should have annual donations from the member states of the IDB and should encourage Moslems everywhere in the world to contribute to its activities. Accordingly, the IRF would need to be managed on a greater dose of transparency and its activities regularly made known to the public, in order to stimulate greater contributions from the public.

The IRF should be encouraged to work with civil society in most of the concerned Moslem states, whether as donor states or victim states. This would mean in the initiation stage of the IRF as well, in order to insure that the proper mechanisms are set in to enhance this important partnership. This would also mean in the determination of the ways of devising the modus operandi of the IRF to make sure that is capable of meeting the needs of disaster victims, especially in Moslem countries, which are poor and deprived of the adequate infrastructure and mechanisms that will ensure that they are promptly relieved of the debacles they are in.

This observer could not help but express the pity and sorrow felt at becoming aware that there are at this moment 3 million brother and sister Moslems in Kashmir, who stand to face perishing in the mountains of Kashmir as the winter months set in and the snow starts to accumulate to 11 feet above the ground. These Kashmir are homeless victims of the latest earthquakes that hit Pakistan and the vulnerable Moslems of the Pakistani side of Kashmir. The winter is due to begin very soon there and unless some efforts are shown by all Moslem governments and their friends in the international community at large to find ways of providing them with adequate emergency shelters, then their fate will be the responsibility of all those who watched idly and not show any movement of heart.

That is why an IRF as proposed here would help relieve the Moslems in the future of having to dish out large amounts to aid their fellow Moslems in times of disaster as victims or contributing states and would provide a systematic Islamic effort at relieving the plight of fellow Moslems who have been fated to be unfortunate victims of unexpected calamities, wherever they may be, as well as be ready to assist our non-Moslem friends, who are faced with similar misfortune. As Moslems we are obligated to aid and support Moslems in need wherever they may be, and if we fail in finding the means of systemizing such aid and support then we have failed in a very implementing a very important obligation as dutiful faithful Moslems. An IRF would go along way in solving a chronic problem faced by many Moslem countries, who sit on disaster prone areas and the sooner it is established the better. May Allah enlighten us to the ways to come out of our misfortune, as well as our own misdeeds.