By Amal Al-Sibai
Trying to solve the problem of world hunger seems like an ever eluding dream.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that about 795 million people, of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016.
A daunting task to approach, but each of us must do our part; together we can make a difference.
Helping others, feeding the poor, and giving to the community make up a core part of our faith. These are among the first instructions that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave his companions when establishing the new Muslim community in Madinah.
In the book, Sunan ibn Majah, it is recorded that Abduallah bin Salam said, “When the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Al-Madinah, the people rushed to meet him, and it was said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has come! The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has come! The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has come!’ Three times. I came with the people to see him, and when I saw his face clearly, I knew that his face was not the face of a liar. The first thing I heard him say was when he said: ‘O people! Spread (the greeting of) Salam, feed others, uphold the ties of kinship, and pray during the night when people are sleeping, and you will enter Paradise with peace.’”
O people; feed others!
Many people have acted upon what the Prophet (peace be upon him) has commanded us to do, and it is those people we would like to highlight and celebrate, to inspire others to do the same.
Kazi Mannan owns a restaurant in Washington DC, and he cooks Pakistani-Indian halal food. He opens his doors to the homeless in the area and he serves them a hot cooked, delicious meal for free. The menu for his special guests, as Mannan likes to call them to show them that they are valued and welcome, includes potato and cauliflower curry, chicken tandoori, naan bread, chick peas, and vegetable biryani rice. And every Sunday, he also cooks a filling meal to be delivered to a homeless shelter to feed dozens of men and women.
Mannan was interviewed by the ABC 7 News and he said to them, “Sometimes they come in fifteen to twenty; sometimes nobody. We are waiting, God please send somebody.”
On that particular day, nearly 20 people who have no home came in from the elements to eat. The homeless people who come to eat truly appreciate Mannan’s generous gesture and they call him a blessing from God.
Mannan tells these people in the restaurant, “You guys are the most important guests for me.”
Right here in the heart of the Kingdom, in the city of Hail, a generous man who wished to remain anonymous came up with a brilliant idea to feed needy people in his neighborhood while sparing them the embarrassment of begging. He installed a refrigerator on the street in front of his house and encouraged his neighbors to donate food to keep the fridge stocked up with food for hungry people to come and eat. And there are others who have also implemented this idea in many other parts of the world.
Simple acts of kindness can go a long way. It is not simply a choice as Muslims, but a duty to look after the less fortunate ones in our communities. Remember the saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbor to his side goes hungry.” Seek out the homeless and the poor in your neighborhood, and assign meals to them on a regular basis. Or start an initiative at your local mosque or community center to organize kitchens for the homeless.