The next time you feel like complaining about the fact that you don’t have the latest smartphone, jeans, or running shoes, think about Najiba.
Najiba Abdul Rahman lived in Turkish refugee camps for three years. She cared for two small orphaned grandchildren in a trailer that she shared with her daughter and her daughter’s family. The trailer, holding 10 people, stood in a camp of 14,000 refugees. She knew her house was destroyed, had lost one son, and didn’t know if her other son or her husband were still alive.
What does the Quran have to tell us about the current world refugee crisis? Quite a bit. The Quran is clear on condemning the actions of evildoers, but from where we’re sitting in our comfortable houses, fed often questionnable information by international media, it can be very hard to know who the real evildoers are. Needless to say, taking sides is a waste of time and energy. The Quran, however, clearly commands us to respond to suffering.
What Kinds of Refugees Are We Supposed to Be Helping?
To break it down, let’s have a look at the kinds of people now living in refugee camps outside Syria and seeking refuge the world over:
- The poor
- The wounded
- The sick
Although the limitations of technology didn’t allow this scale of catastrophe in the time of our prophet (saws), his words still clearly inform us as to how to respond to human suffering as Allah decreed:
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. [Quran, 2:177]
The Pious Slave of Allah (swt) is Caring and Generous
In spite of the fact that the roots of the Syrian conflict reach back a long way into the shady pasts of many nations and subcultures, the stabbing reality is that much of the harm is being carried out by those who insist that they follow Islam. The above aya spells out clearly that when faced with the tragic condition of humanity, the obedient slave of Allah is required to be pious, righteous, generous, honest, and patient, and for good reason.
If all of the ummah had taken this aya to heart, there would be no refugee crisis. But since they haven’t and the crisis goes on, we Muslims must do what we can to help.
. . . Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give zakah . . . [Quran, 2:83]
What can you do to help? A few suggestions, to which you should feel free to add your own in the comments section below:
- If refugees come to your town, welcome them, Muslim or not, and do what you can to provide for their needs.
- When you hear others discussing the dangers of helping refugees, or talking disparagingly about Syrians, try to tilt the conversation in a more positive direction.
- Be nice. These people have lost their country, their homes, their friends and family members. Talk gently to them and show them you care. The depth of their pain alone demands that they be treated with kindness and dignity.
The final word came from the brave Najiba herself: “I believe that God will stand with me.”
And she was right.
May your mind and heart be opened, enlightened, and nourished.
The Understand Quran Academy Team
(Najiba’s story appeared in the Washington Post in 2013, in an article by Kevin Sullivan.)