Ramadan is a time of charity, both zakat and sadaqa: zakat being an annual specific obligation and a pillar of Islam; and sadaqa being general acts of charity and kindness.
This year as well as ongoing needs there is a particular one, that of Pakistan. Shamefully, the disastrous flooding there has received little attention in the international media and little relief response from the international community. It seems that now that the affected have reached 20 million and there is a serious cholera threat, greater attention is being paid.
To his credit, Pakistani former Ambassador Dr Ahmed Akbar, who has family in the affected region, is appearing on news channels and speaking eloquently and knowledgeably about Pakistan's current needs, and the greater need in the face of a neglectful government. Unicef's Regional Director for South Asia, Daniel Toole, is making direct appeals; and, UN Secretary General Dr Ban Ki-Moon has made a visit and a personal as well as professional plea for aid. The WHO and the IRCC are involved.
An initial case of death from cholera has been confirmed, and many other Pakistanis, and Afghani refugees there show the characteristic symptom of watery diarrhea. Cholera is transmitted by the bacteria in the stools, and hand to mouth transmission. In other words, treatment in specialized stool containing settings, sanitation, and hand washing are extremely important preventives--hard to manage in general third world conditions, washed out villages and sewage systems, homelessness, and no public facilities.
In epidemiological terms cholera is both virulent (causes severe illness) and highly transmissible. It often occurs in epidemic (high number of cases in one country or region) and pandemic (epidemic over more than one country or region) proportions. In Pakistan, ongoing rains, flooding, lack of infrastructure, and very slow and incomplete responses to the disaster both nationally and internationally lead one to believe a cholera epidemic, or pandemic to nearby Afghanistan, is a realistic fear.
AlteregoGenerationZ | August 07, 2010 SMALL CHANGES CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE - With Ramadan coming up, and our Ummah in strife, in need and reaching out to us, we need to stand up, one at a time, and give, donate, help and support. Let us ensure we shift from wanting and planning, to actually contributing and seeing to it that our contribution makes a tangible difference.
The video above includes the Islamic references about charity, visuals of the devastation, interview clips about the relief aid, or lack thereof, and excellent suggestions for what and how to donate through reliable NGOs.
American-Pakistani blogger, Jehanzeb, of Broken Mystic and Muslim Reverie, devoted his Ramadan greetings post to the topic of the need for aid to Pakistan and the reasons behind the international neglect. The post is well worth reading.
Generally, some issues are: Pakistan's poor image regarding corruption, being a Muslim country, and fear on the part of donors that this will make them targets of their own governments' surveillance of donations to Islamic charities, or Muslim countries. Donating through the IRCC, UN, or UNICEF might then be the most neutral way to do so.
Video by Raed AlSaeed
Pakistan Needs our Help
Qusay, of Qusay Today, also recently did a post appealing for help for Pakistan, and included the video above. A regular commentator remarked on the directive by King Abdullah to Prince Naif to create a Saudi national campaign for Pakistani relief.
Devastation of this nature is an equal opportunity killer, and a chance for all to respond with the aid they are able to provide. I sincerely hope that individuals, community groups, and especially major organizations, and countries--particularly Pakistan's allies in the "global war on terror" and those of the ummah--will step up.
Your comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?
Ramadan and Remembering Pakistan: Parts II, III, and IV: The Floods and Sociobiology; The Response; Katrina 5 Years On
Ramadan and Remembering Pakistan: Part V Not sure what to do with your zakat?