In the wake of the Asian tsunami: Whatever happened to Islamic solidarity? [Archives:2005/805/Opinion]

January 6 2005

The devastating and tragic consequences of the South Pacific Earthquake and the tsunami that followed at year-end 2004 is a mind boggling catastrophe of enormous proportions. Never has a natural calamity been so widespread in impact and so exacting in human lives and habitats. Spanning more than one third the circumference of the Earth, the Tsunami that hit South East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and even as far as the East African underbelly has yet to be determined in terms of the cost in human lives and livelihoods. The possibility that over a quarter of a million souls vanished in one small instance of time is indeed frightening and shocking. Any human being with a heart is bound to feel alarmed by the humble strength of mankind when matched against the unlimited powers of natural forces that are beyond man's full understanding and control. Even with the sophistication of the communications systems that man has developed and the rapid speed of information flow, nature again showed that man is weak and humble and even helpless in projecting some of the volatile inklings of nature and where their span will reach. Indeed, we take it for granted that we are very much still at the mercy of the Lord Al-Mighty and are easily subjected to becoming victims of nature's fury at any moment without the least warning. A quarter of a million people of different ethnic backgrounds, nationalities and religious persuasions have been made equal by the sheer power of the elements as land and water combined to create a formidable force of monumental dimensions. The tragedy of South Asia is so huge and so sad just by the immediate deaths caused that it is impossible to even come up with a clear picture of the devastation beyond the staggering death counts that rise by the thousands day by day as earth and rubble are removed from the affected sites. God knows how many people are wounded or now turned handicapped, many of whom will also be rolled into the death counts, because the logistics, in the aftermath of the torrential flooding and tidal waves, have literally become impossible for bringing the badly needed medical supplies and foods that these wounded people might find hope for survival in. No, this is no simple localized natural disaster, this is an international catastrophe that truly deserves unqualified concern of the entire international community, because in all likelihood, it can be repeated in any vast chunk of the world, any time that the Lord Al-Mighty lets nature display its mighty arsenal of destruction, to remind even the most arrogant of men that they are no more than helpless weak souls, who have a bad understanding of the realities of the world they live in and that they are fooling themselves if they feel that their arrogance is merited by their prosperous economic well-beings and their possession of vast stockpiles of man-made weapons of destruction. With one sudden twist of the elements of nature, it is God in the end who decides who continues to exist and struggle for the minimum requirements of living and whose turn has come to turn in the towel and face the adjudication of the Divine.

Tragedies like the tsunami of South Asia are expected to ignite in every human being the humanitarian call for “what can I do to mitigate the suffering of those who have been fated to become the tragic victims of such an immense natural calamity?” This is the time for all human beings to assess their true worth in this world and see how much of it can be put to good use by remembering that any wealth or assets possessed by any human beings are really the possessions of the Lord Al-Mighty under trust with their worldly owners. This trust entails that those who hold title to wealth must seek avenues for making sure that these assets are utilized in areas that are in the domain of goodwill and philanthropy as well as the enhancement of the economic welfare of the society and the international community.

One cannot help but acknowledge that there are many in the international community, who have shown that they are ready to share their resources and capacities to help bring relief to the unfortunate victims of the South Asian Tsunami and immediately announced their willingness to allot a certain amount of their means to help these unfortunate victims. Lead by the Government of Japan, which has always shown that it is indeed a bona fide leader in providing aid to the unfortunate, as Japan has always the highest share of its GDP, compared to other wealthy or industrialized countries amounting percentages that range from 2-4% (the United States hardly surpasses the 0.5% level) that is allotted as aid to less fortunate countries. But nevertheless, one is bound to say that any declaration of commitment by any country is worth taking note of.

To come closer to home however, one is also bound to feel disgust and even anger at the very poor and inexcusable showing made by Moslem countries, especially those that have been fortunate to be entrusted with considerable material wealth, without any real productive inputs on their part to produce that wealth. The observer is inclined to believe that our rich Arab and other Moslem states were expected to be the first to declare vast sums of funds and resources to their millions of fellow Moslems, who are the overwhelming majority of the poor victims of this sad tragedy. But, alas, their hypocrisy has truly been made apparent and their faith is at best lukewarm if not absent, because they chose to ignore the ownership of God Al-Mighty to all that they believe is their rightful possession and closed their eyes while their fellow Moslems are forced to rely on the petty crumbs of non-Moslem nations that have shown more humanitarian sensitivities than what these selfish wealthy Moslems have shown. What ever happened to all the talk of Moslem solidarity and the brotherhood of the Nation of Islam? Are we truly forgetting ourselves and the universal destiny that should be our main quest? How can we claim pride in being Moslems when these so called guardians of Islamic doctrine have elected to be stingy with what is not really theirs in the first place? It is no exaggeration to say that the least that these selfish hoarders of mismanaged wealth were expected to dish out was the equivalent of at least US $ 10 billion as a start. They have it and they are never going to put it to any useful endeavor anyway. Moreover, it will hardly dent their facade of wealth and splendor, which they know they will never take with them when their fated end comes!