Ramadan and Zakaah: ‘Will NGOs challenge the US Empire?’

Ramadan 2022 is an opportunity to reflect on the unjust policies of Western European countries in not only fuelling Islamophobia but also depriving aid to victims of their military aggression, writes Iqbal Jassat

The dawn of Ramadan 2022 (1443 AH) will be marked in South Africa and the rest of the world with a great deal of religious zeal. For Muslims, this annual event is a time of heightened spirituality, to inculcate deep consciousness of life and the inevitability to death.

For South Africa, a country faced with huge socio-economic challenges given the disparities between rich and poor, Ramadan is traditionally the month in the Islamic calendar when an important pillar of faith known as Zakaah, is activated.

Revenue raised for distribution to victims of poverty during this period is a remarkable testament to Islam and the selflessness of believers in their enthusiasm to discharge the obligation of Zakaah.

Islam being universal, it stands to reason that Muslims as part of the global Ummah (Community of believers), will in addition to providing relief within South Africa, reach out to as many deprived across the continent and beyond.

They will be mindful too of the devastation caused by America and allies, ironically including so-called Muslim countries such as House of Saud and the UAE, through illegitimate wars. The mass displacement resulting thereby in war-ravaged Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere, has compounded the dire conditions of malnutrition facing millions.

In other words, a tragedy of impoverishment emanating from human agency, not natural disasters. Sadly, Muslim victims of US imperialists in league with many of the wealthiest Muslim dictators, have become destitute and in need of aid.

The humanitarian crisis facing people in the heartland of Islam, is a direct result of greed by former Western colonialists and hordes of corporate conglomerates bent on exploitation in the name of “democracy”.

Regrettably, Muslim relief aid organizations, and South Africa boasting of hundreds dotted across the main capitals, seldom if ever speak to the immense destructive role of the West and their surrogates in creating conditions of misery and poverty.

Humanitarian assistance becomes a necessity. An imperative. However it will remain a one-way street if the causes of human suffering are either ignored or sidestepped.

Enemies

Indeed the post-9/11 era which unleashed a climate of fear, led to many NGOs shutting out recipients in war-torn countries, unfairly designated as “terrorists”. American inspired counter terrorism legislation ensured that aid to those the US Empire deemed to be enemies and proscribed as such at the stroke of a pen without any regard to due process, became criminalised.

For instance if group X in Iraq or Afghanistan is outlawed by the Empire, your discharge of Zakaah to the community it takes care of, becomes a criminal offence.

The web of draconian laws has had a terrible effect on the Muslim Ummah’s ability to freely distribute Zakaah in regions of the world most affected by US/NATO wars.

Ramadan 2022 is an opportunity to reflect on the unjust policies of Western European countries in not only fuelling Islamophobia but also depriving aid to victims of their military aggression.

It requires a paradigm shift by Muslim relief aid organizations to alter the one-dimensional approach by confronting perpetrators of wars leading to invasions and occupation resulting in mass starvation.

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the overarching reach America had in South Africa and elsewhere, by imposing its worldview under the rubric of the discredited “War on Terror”, has sought to tarnish Zakaah.

American neoconservatives who along with Israel’s lobbyists formed the nucleus of decision making in fuelling the Empire’s appetite for military hegemony, have not disappeared even though electoral victories swing from Republicans to Democrats.

They remain opposed to Muslims engaged in resisting them, but embrace despots and unelected tyrants as “Good Muslims”. With their hands on the levers of economic power, American neocons and the entire military industrial complex, manipulate political outcomes as well as the economic performance of many countries.

Unless Muslim NGOs in the field of welfare and humanitarian assistance adopt strategic plans to overcome American diktats, Zakaah distribution will be held hostage to Islamophobes.

*Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of Media Review Network, Johannesburg .

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