Hunger in this World and the Next
Shaykh Hamid Waqar delivered this lecture as part of his series “The Prophet’s (s) Sermon” delivered in the Month of Ramadan, 2014, at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre in Sydney. In this speech he discussed how one can use the hunger and thirst that he feels while fasting to remind him of the hunger and thirst of the less fortunate and the hunger and thirst of the Day of Judgment. Lecture notes below.
Statistics painting the picture of inequality in this world:
- Maternal mortality rate: White women in Australia = 1 in 10,000. Aboriginal women in Australia = 1 in 2,000. Poorest countries = 1 in 10.
- 240,000 children die daily due to poverty.
- 1.4 billion live on less than $1.25 a day. 3 billion live on less than $2.50
- 80 percent of world’s population live in less than $10 dollars a day.
Effects of Poverty:
- 35,000 children die each day from preventable diseases.
- 2.4 million lack basic sanitation.
- 20 percent lack basic nutrition (absolute poverty, in contrast to relative poverty)
- 1 billion people are illiterate
- 100 million children work on streets (beg, steal, prostitution, drug carriers)
Contrast with the Super Rich:
- 1,000 billionaires live in this world with an average net worth of 3.5 billion. 40% of these billionaires live in the United States.
- The number of billionaires increased after the 2009 financial crisis.
- The richest 1% own 40% of the world.
- The seven richest people in the world are worth more than the 41 poorest countries.
Hence, helping the poor, especially feeding those who lack the means to feed themselves, is highly encouraged in Islam. Refer to the following traditions:
Imam Hassan (a) was asked about generosity, he defined it as follows: “To give first, before one being asked and to feed others during times of necessity and famine.”
Imam Ali (a): “The nourishment of the body is food while the nourishment of the soul is feeding others.” (Mishkat al-Anwar, tr.325)
Imam Baqir (a): “Verily Allah loves the feeding of food to others.” (al-Mahasin, v.2, p.143, tr.1370)
Imam Sadiq (a): “One of the things which gives one obligatory entrance into paradise and forgiveness is feeding a starving person.” (al-Mahasin, v.2, p.145, tr.1381)
Imam Sadiq (a): “Verily, the Commander of the Faithful resembled the Prophet the most in the way that he ate. He used to ear bread, vinegar, and oil and feed others bread and meat.” (al-Mahasin, v.2, p.279, tr.1901)
Modern psychology also mentions the benefits of altruism, including increased happiness and improved relationships. They state that this is conditioned upon giving without expectations, giving from a sense of gratitude with knowledge that time is limited and precious, giving because it promotes intimacy, and giving for no good reason – except the other is in need. These are in congruence with the Islamic perspective of charity.
With regards to remembering the hunger and thirst on the Day of Judgment, one should be reminded of death. The Quran states that “every soul shall taste death.” (3:185). This death occurs when the angels extract the soul from the body. This is done with compassion for the believers and violence for the nonbelievers. Refer to these verses:
“Those whom the angels take away while they are pure. They say [to them], ‘Peace be to you! Enter paradise because of what you used to do.” (Quran, 16:32)
“Were you to see when the angels take away the faithless, striking their faces and their backs, [saying], ‘Taste the punishment of the burning.” (Quran, 8:50)
Then, one will experience the interrogation of the angels and the constricting of the grave in purgatory (barzakh), along with all of the torments – if they weren’t amongst the righteous.
Then, the resurrection will occur. The earth will experience severe earthquakes, the middle of the earth will come out, there will be widespread destruction, the oceans will part, and the mountains will fall. Everything will be flattened. The moon, sun, and other stars will explode. Celestial movement will change. The atmosphere will fall upon the earth and smoke will be everywhere. At this moment the trumpet of death will be blown and everything will die, except Allah (swt).
Then, the trumpet of life will be blown and everything will come back to life. People will be raised from the graves, terrified, scattering around like locusts. They will be gathered in a huge courtyard. Reality will be clear, divine governance apparent. Everyone will be thinking about themselves, even forgetting their loved ones. This day will last at least 50,000 long years. It will be hot, there will be severe hunger and thirst for all – except the righteous. May Allah admit us amongst them.