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Orphans of our time and Islam

There comes a time when every parent departs from their children by leaving this world and every human being, no matter what their age, dreads that day of segregation. Many children living in this time and age are parentless and depend on their society to exist and thrive.  Similar to the current world circumstances, Arabia in the seventh century was afflicted by warfare and poverty. Female orphans were particularly vulnerable as that society was patriarchal in nature and women were economically dependent on men, unless they inherited family wealth. The Quran therefore makes the whole society responsible for orphans care. It repeatedly tells Muslims to be kind to orphans and needy. It is clearly stated in Surah Al-Baqara, Chapter 2, verse 215 that: ‘’They ask thee, (O Muhammad), what they shall spend. Say: that which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer’’. There is a clear instruction in Surah An nisa, chapter 4, verse 2 to give orphans from their properties and not to consume them selfishly into your own.

Our current circumstances are not different from the seventh century Arabia. With constant change in economic and social circumstances, ongoing conflicts and political turmoil in many developing and transition countries like Syria, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, Mali, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, we are faced with many situations where the number of orphans and needy children is constantly increasing. According to UNICEF, there are between 143-210 million orphans in the world. This figure includes children who have lost either both of their parents or one of them. Millions of children are becoming parentless because of high rate of HIV/ AIDS in Africa. The problems faced by orphans are complex and impact on their individual age and circumstances. The mental trauma and agony of witnessing warfare or losing parents and family members is not easy to deal with and requires tremendous courage and patience to recover from it and adapt to a new situation. One might not be able to take away the grief of orphans and needy people but they can extend their hands in generosity to let them know that they are cared for and supported. Since we live in a globalised world, societies are inter-dependent on each other for survival and progress. From this perspective, people living in different regions of the world are responsible to help children in dire need of support and sympathy. Since many children are suffering due to conflicts and war in the Muslim countries, it places a greater responsibility on the Muslim countries and communities to help them in such dreadful circumstances.

Muslim Aid’s Rainbow family programme is a platform through which orphans and needy children worldwide are being helped. Through this programme, donors support orphans by providing education, healthcare, food and clothing. Furthermore, they build a personal relationship with the sponsored child through letters and receipt of progress report of the child. You are the person who helps me to survive those hard moments when I think that I have nobody. You are the person who helps me though tough time, I think how generous you are in helping me to have a better future, even though we know each other only through pictures.

Muslim Aid receives many letters from the orphans and needy children supported by the Rainbow Family programme. This gives an idea of their distressed situation and the relief they get from having generous donors to support their education and the same time provide a link with the outside world. *The copyright of this article is held by the Information and Public Affairs Department of Muslim Aid, UK. Use of its contents is allowed subject to acknowledgement. The opinions expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent the point of view of Muslim Aid.

By: Amal Imad
Information & Public Affairs Department
Muslim Aid

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