A winter in Yemen – When charity becomes a religious duty

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8SHAFAQNA – Yemen remains enthralled in a war of attrition, burdened  by poverty and Saudi Arabia’s determination to turn this one nation of Southern Arabia into acquiescent vassal of the crown. But for all their hardship and the daily humiliation of a life under siege, Yemenis are refusing to lay their right to resistance into the hands of tyranny.

In the face of aggravated pain, Yemen resists still.

But if Yemen has vowed to stand tall and never bow to imperialism, that is not to say that Yemenis are not suffering a great deal under the armed boot of Al Saud’s war coalition.

Winter has now reached Yemen highlands, and the bite of winter’s nights has added to Yemen’s troubles.

“Winter this year is a harsh one,” said Fatik al-Rodaini, the co-founder of the Mona Relief Organization. “Winter has already claimed many lives and stand to claim many more unless warm clothing and other necessities are distributed to those most vulnerable,” he added.

And indeed, with over new 900,000 IDPs in the capital, Sana’a, the situation has become dire.

Where rich businessmen have in the past stepped in where the state has failed, offering charity to the poor, the flow of aid has dried up in view of the Saudi blockade and the financial burden of war.

Today several million people in Sana’a stand at the mercy of the elements, destined to fall ill, or worse if nothing is done.

“IDPs have no money to buy blankets for their family members … things have gone from bad to worse over the past weeks and most people are literally at the end of their tether. I’m sending through you a message to all people around the world to help the people of Yemen,” called al-Rodaini.

If charity in Islam is always encouraged, there is a point where we have a duty of care and love to our brethrens. Charity is in itself a gift for it washes away those sins we are all burdened with, but no only that; charity offers light where there was darkness and hope where there was none.

Let’s not be indifferent to Yemen’s pain, let’s not join in the crimes of Saudi Arabia by enabling terror to obliterate a people.

Here is a story to ponder over:

When a man dies his relatives ask how much wealth he has left, while the angels look to see how much he had given in charity, in the path of God. “O thou people! Send a part of your wealth in the way of God so that it may stand you in good stead in the next world. Do not leave your entire wealth here so as to be a source of annoyance to you (in the world to come).”

Whenever Imam Ali learned that someone was hungry or thirsty, without clothes or in debt, he would provide food, water, clothes and money for him. He would go to the houses of the sick, nurse them and give them money and medicines. Although Imam Ali’s shirts and shoes were full of patches, he still felt the greatest pleasure in providing others with clothes. Whenever Imam Ali used to visit the bazars of Kufa, he would help travellers, the aged and the infirm. He was particularly kind to the elderly who could not support themselves and the widows who were left destitute.

Once Imam Ali saw a woman who was carrying on her shoulders a water skin which was too heavy a load for her feeble body. Imam Ali took the load on to his own shoulder and accompanied her to her house. She had a number of children who awaited her arrival anxiously. In the course of talks, the Imam came to know that her husband was a Kharijite who had fallen in a battle fighting against him (Ali). Alone, the widow  was now looking after her orphaned children, earning her living by doing odd jobs and working for others.

The following day Imam Ali returned to repair the hut, bringing with him a basketful of eatables. On his way towards the house, Imam Ali met a number of people who wanted to carry the basket for him. But the Caliph refused, saying, “You will share my burden today but who will be there to share it on the Day of Judgment. Thus carrying the basket on his shoulders the Caliph reached the widow’s’ house, knocked at her door and put the provisions before her. The poor woman was overjoyed and in great excitement said, “May God blesses you. Let the Almighty decide between me and Ali”. At this Imam Ali said,

“Either let me bake you some bread with this flour that I have brought you or you bake it and I will play with your children and try to cheer them up.” The woman replied, “I will do the baking if you will light the oven for me.” Ali, who had been distributing dates to the children immediately apologized for his discourtesy in not having offered to light the fire. When it flamed up and he felt the heat of the oven scorching his face, he said, “Taste the heat of his fire; imagine what punishment awaits one who has neglected the widows and orphans.”

Then, a next door neighbor came in, recognizing the Caliph he exclaimed: “Cursed be thou”, she said, reprimanding the widow, “How dare you talk so insolently to the Commander of the Faithful?” The widow in great shame fell prostrate to the ground, begging forgiveness, but Imam Ali said, “It is Ali who must feel ashamed at having neglected you.”

By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna

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