Friday, August 24, 2012
Shawal...Are the Camels pregnant?
In the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, the camels are supposed to be carrying a fetus, since shawwal means to lift or carry (according to wikipedia although the arabic word for carry is raffa'a). We are now one week into the month of Shawwal, and Muslims especially in Malaysia are still celebrating aidilfitri. It's the month of open houses, especially for political leaders and the the rich businessmen, out to reward their supporters or clients as the case may be.
The open-house can really be a huge occasion for feasting and tightening up the relationship or promoting a leader's public relations. An elderly Auntie of mine was so happy when she attended the aidilfitri open-house reception at a Menteri Besar's home and had the opportunity to shake hand with the leader, "which had never happened before in my life" she announced with pride and joy. We can see huge smiles and appreciation expressed by those who attended the leader's open-house, captured in color photographs and splashed as headline news in the media.
There certainly are more of such pictures than that of a leader visiting an impoverished home and giving some new clothes or household furniture to the occupants. What you can see more often are pictures of richly dressed leaders handing over angpows to visitors to their homes.
The OIC extraordinary summit meeting is over and the killing goes on in Syria and elsewhere in the Muslim counties. I try to follow the news coverage as much as possible since the first day of aidilfitri but I don't see much of Muslim leaders in the Arab world spreading the spirit and joy of aidilfitri to their countrymen. Maybe our coverage of events on those countries was inadequate but what we could hear was more of political talks than efforts to spread the joy of aidilfitri. Is there no injunction by Allah SWT or examples set by the Prophet SAW for Muslim leaders to do just that during the month of Shawwal?
The main purpose of zakat fitrah is to enable the poor to join in the celebration of aidilfitri. Perhaps that objective would be achieved if the material and financial help to be given to is given before the end of Ramadhan itself. If given later how could they celebrate the aidlfitri itself on the 1st of Shawwal? Such matters, I'm sure, are too small and petty for OIC to deal with. But there are thousands upon thousands of Muslims out there devoid of any means to celebrate aidilfitri and some are facing starvation, even while other Muslims are having parties and open-houses.
Allah has ordained that the rich be the protectors of the poor. Are they fulfilling that obligation?