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Imam Khalid Latif: Ramadan Reflection Day 5: A Prayer for Somalia

5 August 2011 Huffington Post 13 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Imam Khalid Latif

Imam Khalid Latif

Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, click over to the Islamic Center at New York University or visit his author page. To follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above.

It’s shocking to me how many people have no idea what is happening in Somalia right now. Famine, drought and conflict have put almost 3.6 million people at risk of starvation. In the last month alone, 29,000 children have died and according to U.N. Under Secretary General Valerie Amos, and it is projected that up to 600,000 children may die. The Food and Agriculture Organization, also part of the U.N., stated that the famine will probably last until the end of the year and spread across most of the Southern part of Somalia in the next month or so.

Adnan Ansari, the current Vice President of Programs for Islamic Relief USA, wrote in a first-hand account,

“Mogadishu is also officially declared to have catastrophic famine conditions. With the majority of the children being malnourished, the ribs on every child’s chest can be counted. Smiles are rare; sighs and wails are commonly heard. People looked at us without any expectation. It seems as though people know that they will have to survive on their own or welcome death early as the only way out.
As a father closed the eyes of his two-year old child while she seemed to take her last breath, we tried to convince him to take her to the hospital. He insisted to let the suffering end. Even though we took the child to the clinic, only a few more breaths had remained–two hours later we found that the body was being prepared for burial.”

(Read the full text of his account here.)

So how is it that the world has not noticed? And why is it so difficult for us to give?

It’s really hard to find people who are genuinely selfless these days. Our giving unfortunately becomes conditional. We find it hard to move beyond socially constructed differences. I can’t get over your skin color being different from mine, or our languages not being the same, or that we practice a different faith. How many of us give just for the sake of giving? How many of us give in a way that our goal isn’t to make ourselves feel good, but rather to make someone else feel good?

In the Islamic tradition, an instance comes about where a gift of a goat is sent to the house of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. He immediately begins to distribute the meat from the goat to men and women in his community who are in need. It’s not as if this man has lavish banquets and an abundance of food in his home. In some narrations, it is said that that days would go by without a fire being lit in his home because there was nothing to cook on the fire. He himself was someone that did not have that much, which makes it so much more amazing that he was willing to give it away before taking any for himself. He continues to give of this goat until his wife says to him that there is nothing left of it but it’s neck. His response to her? All of it is left except it’s neck.

He did not see the world in terms of what he was giving up but rather he saw it in terms of what others were gaining. We need to start seeing the world in this way.

How much have any of us given to the people of Somalia who are most definitely in need of our help and support? How much have any of us given to anyone in the last day, week, month, or even year of our lives?

I can’t imagine what it would feel like to watch a child die in front of my eyes because they didn’t have any food to eat or water to drink. And I can’t imagine how I or anyone else can believe that I am a good person, knowing fully that as I write this and as you read this, young children are in fact dying for that very reason and we as a global community are doing virtually nothing about it.

These people have no water to drink. Imagine if that was our reality. What’s even more remarkable is that many of them who are Muslim are still fasting because that is how important their Islam is to them.

For those who are interested in donating, you can do so through Islamic Relief USA which has consistently received a four star rating from Charity Navigator for many years. In the spirit of Ramadan, some Muslims are hosting fundraising events in their local communities. Follow suit and organize something yourself. Encourage your friends, communities, and leaders to raise awareness and money for this cause. And at the very least please keep the people of Somalia and East Africa in your prayers. That, at least, won’t cost any of us anything.

Original post: Ramadan Reflection Day 5: A Prayer for Somalia


  1. This is going to sound really mean, but after what happened when we tried to help Somalia last time we were there, I will spend my charity dollars elsewhere. Those images of our soldiers bodies being dragged through the streets were enough for me. The warlords of Somalia will destroy fields in order to control food and they will sieze food shipments from international doners. It is awful to see these people die but I am not sure if there is enough food in the world to help these people. I could forgive what happened in the past but from what I see nothing at all has changed.

  2. ccc,

    i agree i remember them dragging our guy through the street. plus i remember live aid for ethiopia. you’re right about them not changing anything. shouldn’t they have learned that their populations put to much stress on the local environment and they simply don’t have the food production capacities to sustain such populations. in fact i think they have just about doubled their population since live aid?

    but back to this article and charitable giving. given the strong tradition of giving in islam, doesn’t anyone else ever wonder why in a situation like this, the gulf states wouldn’t just throw a couple of billion at it, problem solved? well as least temporarily. they are right across the gulf of aden.

  3. Very simple: Islam is the problem in Somalia.

  4. @criley, @ miky. Shame on both of you…You’re not even capable of letting your prejiduces guards against Islam and muslims down for a second, even as an act of human compassion for this human tragedy??? shame shame..

    Now to all who visit this site, especially muslims, please!! in the Name of the Merciful and the Compassinate, PLEASE donate, remember to be generous with your Zakat this Ramadan and specially add a Dua for them during your Taraweeh prayer…I have donated myself 100$ so far at my masjid, during friday Dhuhr prayer…May Allah give them patience and guide them througout this and may HE give them the peace they deserve…

  5. Do you know what your so called “soldiers” have done in somalia 1993 in order to be “dragged” in the steet?? As a matter of fact, I still remember of what had happened, i was in the Emirate, Abu-dhabi for a month long vacation at that time..

    They were about fews U.S soldiers, who unstead of doing what they were send for, started raping teenage boys.. Plus some of those boys were killed in cold blood by the U.S soldiers in order to keep them quiet for eternity, thus hide their crime, until finally on of those soldier was cut first hand in the act of raping a 13 or 14 year old boy.
    SO homosexuality already been strongly rejected, condemned, and hugely taboo in that culture, and add to that, the rape crimes, it was more than enough to cause a storm in the society..Of course the bias, state media in the U.S, faux-news and co’s, had their “choux-gras”, as usual..

  6. Sahra, where did you get that information. It is news to me and I doubt very much it is true. I do feel sorry for those in Somalia, but their sitution has not changed a bit and aid that is sent there will just end up being controlled by warlords. In addition they have made it clear that they do not want the U.S. there and if what you did say is true it is just another reason not to go where your not wanted.

  7. sahra,

    “@ miky. Shame on both of you…You’re not even capable of letting your prejiduces guards against Islam and muslims down for a second”, it has nothing to do with their religion. it has to do with overpopulation and poor argriculture techniques. i wouldn’t give to a christian nation or an animist nation or a secular nation. i’m a social darwinist so far as in, i beleive in survival of the fittest and laissez-faire capitalism.

    but anyways, why can’t the gulf states handle this one? oh yeah they have better things to do with their money.

  8. Sahra,

    Saudi Arabia earns an estimated $10 bil each day in oil revenue and there are supposedly 1.5 bil Muslims in the world. With that type of money and manpower why are Muslims looking to the Western world to help starving members of the ummah? Why aren’t Muslims taking the lead in helping their starving brothers and sisters? The murder of American soldiers and the abuse of their corpses by Muslim fanatics is the reason Americans in particular and Westerners in general don’t want to help Somalia.Given the atrocities committed by Somalis in 1993 it would be political suicide for an American President to send soldiers in to aid Somalia. As in all outrages Muslims commit you “reap what you sow”.

  9. hera,

    i don’t think your 10 billion a day is right. the world consumes about 85 million barrels a day. @$150 a barrel thats what less than 15 billion $s a day. the saudis produce about a quarter of the world’s oil. plus i think the saudi gnp is less than a half of trillion. at 10,000,000,000 times 365 that would be over 3 and a half trillion. there can’t be more than a dozen, maybe fifteen nations with trillion dollar econimies in the world. i think less than 7 with 3trillion dollar econimes, us, china, japan, germany, uk, and maybe the french. saudi is maybe in the top 20 at best.

    as for the rest i agree totally. but we all reap what we sow.

  10. miky…please for “darwanism” sake you must now that africa, especially black africa is under populate, and that this trajedy has nothing to do with over population, but is a cause of nature(drought) and add to that the human ugly and evil need of always causing wars, whether be civil or foreign……And (F.Y.I), the gulf states and the saudis and everybody around our fragile, crazy, controversial, but yet compassionate world is helping… it’s time to join…

  11. miky…

    Survival = Animalism

    Human = Compassion

    A food for thought…


  12. sahra,

    i know it’s a drought. but they have droughts all the time. to me you can’t base the population on what a land can sustain in (not to quote dickens) the best of times, but in the worst of times. the un says that half the population is in need of food assistance. if they hadn’t doubled their population in the last 30 years, there would be no issue. check that it looks like they have almost tripled their population in the last 35 years.

    “Somalia has a population of around 10 million inhabitants, about 85% of whom are ethnic Somalis.[2] The total population according to the 1975 census was 3.3 million.[208]”

    to me, any nation that can’t feed its self is overpopulated. as for “black africa” (the somalias look pretty black to me, but then again when i heard the janjaweed described as arab and saw a picture of that guy on horseback i scratched my head. not the picture i had in mind, the file shot was from the bbc but anyways,) if by black africa you mean sub-sahara africa, you may be right in that it could support a greater population. but then again zimbabwe went from the bread basket of africa to the basket case of africa. (except now for somilia and the sudan) agian i wouldn’t want to max out population during the best of times, only to have a drought befall the world. perhaps i’m prejudiced by my former job, i did disaster recovery planning for businesses. we always planned for the worst scenerio. (now they call it business continuance, don’t want to sound negitive) lol, there is spin everywhere. anyways i think water, or lack there of will lead to the next great war. and unfortunately people will be rallied not around reason but around race and religion. that’s why “true believers” are scary to me. it’s an old ralling cry from the crusades to osama bin laden. from the saomila wiki link aboove, “In several of his poems and speeches, Hassan emphasized that the British “have destroyed our religion and made our children their children” and that the Christian Ethiopians in league with the British were bent upon plundering the political and religious freedom of the Somali nation.[55] He soon emerged as “a champion of his country’s political and religious freedom, defending it against all Christian invaders.”[56]


    this is what i don’t get about religious peolpe, “I know that Allah has power over all things.” really? it’s a nice thought, except in times of drought, and flood and earthquake and hurricane and tornado and tsunami and monsoon and haboob and war and wildfires and riots or terror attacks. put at the very least say a prayer for the somalis, i’m sure that will help. why has god forsaken them? surely they transgress?

    fire doesn’t burn the cotton, allah burns the cotton.

    anyways, another nice thought that has no real impact on life ““May the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.””


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