A news item was recently published in the national media about an unemployed man who after becoming sick of his starvation burnt his four children, including three daughters and one son, alive and later self-immolated. According to report, a man was unemployed since long and so facing serious starvation along with his family. One night he was so upset on his poor state as a result of which he sprinkled kerosene oil on all his four children who were asleep and burnt them alive. Later, he also self-immolated and ended his life.
Like millions other readers, I also went through this horrible story and tried to divert my attention from this plight of poor people, by going through other news stories and advertisements in the newspaper. It is a fact that newspapers contain a lot of readable material, which divert the readers’ attention from the important issues. For example: the government announced recruitment of 32,000 teachers in national schools; announcement of $18 billion development package for Iraq after turning it into ruins; warning of mass campaign by joint opposition against the Legal Framework Order; announcement to form a new party by Jihadi commanders of Kashmir; announcement by Afghan ruler, Hamid Karzai about launching of Jihad-e-Akbar to reconstruct Afghanistan; and new peace proposals from India etc etc. So, there are a number of news items in the newspapers which divert the attention from the hot national issues but the news about a 45-year-old poor father who was unable to feed his children took the biggest step and burnt his four children of ages between 10 years and 14 years alive and also ended his own life, could not fade away from my mind. I can imagine the pain and screams of starving people who were burning alive.
The poor man struggled hard to bring up his four children for 14-15 years. He must have tried his best to overcome his financial crisis. But, unfortunately he could not do any good and burnt the kids and himself as a heap of wood. If we consider the man, stonehearted, then the society in which we are living is also cruel which compels a poor man who cannot feed his family to end his life after burning his children alive.
The poor man took the extreme step in high desperation and according to our religious belief desperation is the biggest sin. But, here we cannot free ourselves by just saying that the man committed a sin. We must not forget that we are the followers of a religion, which does not allow us to fill our own stomach and ignore the starving neighbourer. From the religion’s point of view all Muslims are brothers and sisters to each other. Moreover, the religion teaches us that Muslims are one body, which feels pain at any part.
There are a number of people who spend millions of rupees on show-off, Iftar parties and other such unnecessary activities. There are many who spend millions on Eid shopping. There are many who prefer to purchase only the imported goods. We are of a habit of purchasing expensive Eid cards, which carry obscene pictures or which produce music by opening, just to please others or to give a superior impression. Shopping centers are thronged by men, women, and children without caring for each other and without paying any respect to one another. Women are unaware of their religious obligation of observing Purdah (covering their face and body with long veil). It seems that people have forgotten the sanctity of holy month and holy nights.
Affluent people take plea to escape criticism saying, “How would we know in which house or lane, people are starving, or how would we know which man is going to take the extreme step of self-immolation?” It is advisable for such affluent that if they plan how to double or triple their wealth, then they must also think about the right and justified distribution of Zaka’at and Sadqaat. Our ignorance provides an opportunity to the professional beggars to build their plazas, while the deserving, who really are poor and starving end their lives while staying in anonymity. This situation is also alarming for the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which make tall claims of helping the poor and eliminating the nuisance of professional beggars, but totally ignore the poor, starving and deserving people living in villages, towns and city suburbs. There is still a need of such NGOs, which instead of promoting beggary, evolve a system through which prosperity would prevail and people would live a respectable life. The NGOs can do this by providing financial assistance to the deserving people at their doorsteps.
The government is also responsible for such suicide incidents. This is basically the government’s responsibility to implement the equal distribution of Zaka’at and Bait-ul-Maal funds in letter and spirit which is presently on paper only or we hear this in the speeches of rulers.
Where those rulers have gone, who used to express grief over the death of each and every human being, who used to transport the bag of flour on their back to the doorsteps of poor and orphans, who used to stay restless on the pain of their country fellows.
Most of our journalists, in their columns, discuss various good rules and policies of European countries like ‘unemployment allowance’, but they never discuss that this is basically the Islamic principle, which we have forgotten. Regret to mention that we have adopted the darker side of life by following the non-Islamic activities and have forgotten our own Islamic principles, which teach brotherhood, equality, humanity etc. However, it is the time great concern for all Muslims that non-Muslims countries have adopted most of our Islamic principles, which are beneficial for the general public. It does not seem possible that any government would think on these lines but it is expected from the affluent people to think about their fellow countrymen who are unable to feed their families two times a day, who are unable to afford medical expenses, who are unable to get their daughters married.
If no government or NGO can take initiative in this direction then we as individuals can do a lot for the betterment of society and to eliminate the poverty and starvation. We can form an NGO at our home level to help the deserving people. As a Muslim it is our responsibility to take care of our neighbourers specially those who are less privileged. We must think of the demand of the Holy Month of Ramadhan, which says to look around to search the deserving people and extend them all possible help in a way that their honour is not smitten. Lets begin it today as we know that Allah helps those who help others. The ultimate reward is given to everyone in the life hereafter.