This Ramadhan started amidst cries for help from Pakistan due to massive flooding which continues to be a problem as I am writing these words.
Listening to a lecture on prayer (Salatul Layl) by Ammar Nakshwani, he mentions four types of people that do not sleep at night. One of those types is those that can not sleep knowing there are hungry orphans and poor people in need of help. No doubt, the first example that comes to mind is that of Amir ul momineen Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (as) that used to go out at night when no one was looking to feed the hungry and to sit with the desperate so that he (as) could bring them comfort. This is the conduct of our Imam (as) and where do we stand in relation to this? Is it enough to chant the Imam’s name at our own gatherings in our loudest voices with prolonged breathing and identify ourselves as the Shia of Ali (as) (party of Ali)? Are we not required to follow the Imam (as) in all areas of our life? How is it that we are able to sleep and fast comfortably this Ramadhan knowing that our brothers and sisters are suffering in Pakistan?
Why don’t we wonder every time we break our fast with a variety of foods about what the flood victims must be using to break their fasts?
Looking on Facebook, I see very few of us involved in any sort of donation appeal for the flood victims of Pakistan. What happened to amr bil ma’roof wa nahi unil munkar? Why are we not then inviting people towards the good of donating to these victims? We are the ummah of Rehmatul Lil-aalameen (Mercy to all the worlds) Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and yet it takes all this convincing to soften our hearts just a little bit so that we may be able to donate something for our brothers and sisters. It was raining here a few days ago and I realized that Canada is surrounded by water. Some even call Canada the Saudi Arabia of water. It is water that has gone out of control in Pakistan and is currently causing these floods yet for some reason we believe that by living in Canada, we are immune. We, out of all the people of the world should know that weather is beyond human control and we should fear Allah (swt) because we know that we are living comfortably because of Allah’s mercy, not because we deserve it.
We have convinced our selves (with the help of the world media, special thanks goes out to the recently leaked 90000 documents) that Pakistanis are not deserving of help. Somehow Pakistan is a leper colony that no one wants to touch lest we catch the disease as well. I don’t see the same sentiments in Pakistani Canadians as I did when the earthquake happened in Pakistan. All I see now are discussions of how donating just means financing the corrupt politicians. Needless to say this view is extremely delusional because it’s impossible to have a country that only has corrupt people in it. Pakistan is filled with amazing charity workers that are working day and night for the flood victims and the only thing they are lacking is money.
Why Do They Hate Us?
The world at large never seems to give Pakistan a break. Pakistan is always being asked to “do more” whether by the US or by its own neighboring countries. The people of Pakistan continue to make countless sacrifices for us by confronting terrorism everyday and at the same time being accused of terrorism by their allies.
On the surface it seems that America is the only good friend Pakistan has right now because America is providing aid financially and via man power. On the contrary, we all know where this aid will end up. It has two destinations, one being in the pockets of corrupt politicians/ army generals and two being back in America via American contractors that will be hired to rebuild the destroyed areas in Pakistan. Of course in the process, some victims will be able to survive on the food packages thrown down from American helicopters. I know it seems rather ungrateful of me to be saying all this about the American aid Pakistan is getting at the moment but please answer this question for me. What am I suppose to make of this aid that is coming from a country that currently has military bases in Pakistan which it uses to attack Pakistani people with drones? By the way, even with the floods, the drone attacks have not stopped. Also, what am I to make of the fact that flood waters were turned towards highly populated areas just to save one of these military bases?
So should we then be thanking America for the aid or should we look at the bigger picture where America causes problems first and then provides solutions thereby looking like a great friend and hero to the world. On top of all this, having the nerve to ask Pakistan, why Pakistan’s other friends (i.e. China etc.) are not helping out as much. Well maybe because China is busy helping its own people, as they experienced some flooding as well.
The question still remains though: Why does the world hate us?
Answer: Because we hate our selves. Aside from moments when natural disasters strike Pakistan, the country is always divided into its numerous ethnicities. Pakistan today lacks Pakistanis, as it only has Sindhis, Punjabis, Pathans, Balochs and Muhajirs. If we had been able to see past our own ethnicities and focus on our country as a whole we would not be in this mess right now or should I say we would not be in slavery right now. We are divided and so we allow outsiders to rule us and tell us what to do. Our self respect has disappeared down the same drain in which the blood of our Jawans (soldiers) is going, fighting this endless war on terrorism. So one wonders if these floods are punishment or an act of mercy to unite Pakistanis once again and make them realize that they are all in the same boat, in other words, flood water does not differentiate between a Kala Bagh dam supporter and someone who opposes it.
I can not say whether this was a punishment from God or not, as I am not qualified to make that judgment however, I do consider my self one of those people that can discern situations to some extent. It’s easy to blame Allah swt for our misery yet we all know that the magnitude of this disaster could have been prevented if the previous governments of Pakistan bothered to build any dams. Pakistan has undergone countless dictators, most recently Mr. Musharaf however none of these governments which had 8 to 10 years to do something positive, did anything to prepare for a possible flood. The current government has been incompetent since the beginning.
Calling these floods a punishment from Allah (swt) is analogous to a man that does not know how to swim, jumping into deep waters and when he starts drowning, asking Allah (swt) to stop punishing him. My point is these floods are not like the cold winds of the Siachin glacier where the deployed army personnel have to call out the Adhan to make it stop. These floods could have been prevented if we were prepared.
As it turns out however, we were not prepared and the floods are upon us. These flood waters seem to have a particular liking for destruction as the water is just simply relentless in its destruction of our cities and villages. It refuses to join the sea and continues to destroy people.
So What Should We Do?
Well, Pakistan is in dire need of help right now. Many camps have been set up to help the survivors and efforts are being made to rescue many people still stuck in the floods. Many areas of Pakistan can not be accessed by land any more due to the flood waters which means it’s impossible to get aid trucks over there. In times like this, there is a scary realization that all of the people can not be saved. However, what we can do is save a few lives and hope that they survive the aftermath of losing everything in the floods.
For people like me that can not get up and visit Pakistan right now, our job is help in any way that we can. It is our responsibility to donate as much as we can whether it is cash or non-perishable items without worrying about their final destination. We should stop giving ourselves excuses for not donating by saying “it will only go to the corrupt and not to the needy”. That’s not our problem. Our duty is to donate and fulfill our responsibility towards our people because they have rights over us and none of us want to be labeled as usurpers.
Who Should You Donate To?
There are countless organizations working to help flood victims in Pakistan. The name Edhi commands respect no matter which Pakistani you talk to. Edhi has a Toronto branch as well and so money can be donated to this organization. On the other hand, there are organizations such as the Shaheed Foundation and IMI which have groups on Facebook where you can see the work that these organizations are doing. These organizations are known for being transparent with their money. Furthermore, there is always Islamic Relief Canada that is also known for doing good work. Moreover, PIA, the national airline of Pakistan is also taking non-perishable food items to Pakistan with no cost to the donor. Below is a short list of the organizations that I would trust with my money and items. It is up to you to find an organization that you can donate to because of course the list below is not complete.
No matter who you choose to donate to, please remember that the magnitude of the disaster is huge and a one time donation is not enough. Please donate through various organizations with money and items because we don’t know what will reach the people and what won’t. So to ensure that our charity gets to its rightful destination, give to more than one organization and donate in more than one form. As we know it is the month of Ramadhan and this is the time to get all our sins forgiven by doing charity. So let’s follow in the footsteps of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his Beloved Successor Imam Ali (as) in these nights of Power and donate as we give condolences to the Imam of our time for the martyrdom of Imam Ali (as).
List of Organizations:
Bilquis Edhi Charitable Shop
1801-1805 Danforth Ave.
Toronto, M4C 1J2, Canada
Phone/Fax: +1 (416) 699-1388
Shaheed Foundation (currently supporting at least 700 families)
IMI – Imamia Medics International
Islamic Relief Canada
Donate 10 for Pakistan