[Al-Quran 50:6-8] Have they not looked at the heaven above them - how We structured it and adorned it and how it has no rifts? And the earth - We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah].

Sunday, May 17, 2015

World Hunger & Slavery

Population Growth & Food Resources
Morality & Homicide  

Related posts:

Abstract
Quran (6:151, 17:30-31) identifies poverty as the reason for hunger, and dismisses the notion that population growth leads to hunger, explicitly prohibiting the killing of children due to or out of fear of poverty. At another place, the Quran (Chapter 90) exhorts the free citizens to reduce inequality by freeing slaves and feeding the hungry, stating that these are the difficult yet required things to do. Quran (2:177) lists giving of wealth to the needy and freeing of slaves among the righteous deeds.

According to the statistics, the agricultural yields are more than enough for the current and forecasted world population, yet one in every nine people on our planet suffers hunger every day! Though decrease in population growth is promoted as a remedy to the problem, yet no direct correlation has been found between population density and hunger. Unjust economic systems lead to Poverty and Inequality,  which in turn cause Hunger, Indebtedness and Enslavement! 

An estimated 21 - 36 million people are enslaved today. Though legal slavery was finally banished from all countries in the world by 1981, yet its only changed in title and form - humans continue to be enslaved by fellow human beings. 

This article explores the meaning of the divine instruction and guidance in terms of the relevant information available.   


Full Text
The Quran repeatedly states that ‘rizq’ is provided by Allah. It warns to not to kill children because of fear of lack of food. 

 …وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُم مِّنْ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ

[Al-Qur’an 6:151, translator: Sahih International] Say, "Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason."

وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا

[Al-Qur’an 17:30-31, translator: Sahih International] Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing. And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin. 

Quran identifies poverty as the reason for hunger, and dismisses the notion that population growth leads to hunger. At another place, it exhorts the free citizens to reduce inequality by freeing slaves and feeding the hungry, stating that these are the difficult things to do: 
[Al-Qur’an 90:11-18, translator: Sahih International] But he has not broken through the difficult pass. And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass? It is the freeing of a slave Or feeding on a day of severe hunger An orphan of near relationship Or a needy person in misery And then being among those who believed and advised one another to patience and advised one another to compassion. Those are the companions of the right.  

The following verse lists giving of wealth to the needy and freeing of slaves among the righteous deeds: 
[Al-Qur’an 2:177, translator: Sahih International] 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.

Morality & Homicide 
Killing is a major crime. Hence, where it forbids the killing of children, Quran 6:151 also stresses on: ‘And do not approach immoralities - what is apparent of them and what is concealed.’ Quran 17:31 states that ‘‘…Indeed, their killing is ever a khiṭ'an kabīran’: a grave offence, a great disobedience, a monstrous error, a great sin!  

A horrifying video of the torturous killing in an abortion: The Silent Scream 

Sex, and especially sex outside marriage, may lead to unwanted pregnancies. Scholars have differing opinions on whether contraception is permissible or not, or if only some methods are permissible.  

Some cultures also value one gender over another, especially the girl child is generally unwanted and unwelcome. Consequently, a number of people resort to abortions, especially female foeticide / infanticide. Quran condemns it and will hold people accountable for it: 
[Al-Qur’an 81:8-9, translator: Sahih International] And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked For what sin she was killed? 

Dating and prostitution are actions which have socio-moral implications, and are prohibited in Islam. More on this at: Is Temporary Marriage the Halal Alternate to Dating?   

Poverty, Hunger & Population Growth 
According to estimates, about half the world population survives on $2 a day.  Consequently, about 805 million people were estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012–14, which means one in every nine people on our planet suffers hunger every day!    

A key word used in both 6:151 and 17:30-31 is poverty. Contraception and Family Planning are being aggressively promoted to mitigate global population, and the marketing slogan is that less people leads to better sharing of finite resources. However, facts do not support this position: 
‘Do too many people already cause hunger? If that were the case, then reducing population density might indeed alleviate hunger. But for one factor to cause another, the two must consistently occur together. Population density and hunger do not. 
Hunger is not caused by too many people sharing the land. In the Central America and Caribbean region, for example, Trinidad and Tobago show the lowest percentage of stunted children under five and Guatemala the highest (almost twelve times greater); yet Trinidad and Tobago's cropland per person-a key indicator of human population density-is less than half that of Guatemala's. Costa Rica, with only half of Honduras' cropped acres per person, boasts a life expectancy-one indicator of nutrition-eleven years longer than that of Honduras and close to that of northern countries. 
In Asia, South Korea has just under half the farmland per person found in Bangladesh, yet no one speaks of overcrowding causing hunger in South Korea. 
Surveying the globe, we in fact can find no direct correlation between population density and hunger. For every Bangladesh, a densely populated and hungry country, we find a Nigeria, Brazil, or Bolivia, where significant food resources per capita coexist with hunger. Or we find a country like the Netherlands, where very little land per person has not prevented it from eliminating hunger and becoming a large net exporter of food […] 
In 1989 Cornell University sociologists Frederick Buttel and Laura Raynolds published a careful study of population growth, food consumption, and other variables in ninety-three third world countries. Their statistical analysis found no evidence that rapid population growth causes hunger. What they did find was that the populations of poorer countries, and those countries where the poorest 20 percent of the population earned a smaller percentage of a nation's total income, had less to eat. In other words, poverty and inequality cause hunger.’ 

To get a clearer perspective of the issue, the following two speeches are worth listening to: 
Food First: Dismantling Racism in the Food System (Just Food Keynote address by Eric Holt-Giménez)

The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now (TED talk by Gary Haugen): 

Modern Day Slavery
Quran 2:177, 4:92, 5:89, 9:60, 58:3 and 90:13 stress on the freeing of slaves, as a righteous deed, as one of the uses of zakat money, and as an expiation of sins. 

An estimated 21 - 36 million people are enslaved today generating billion of dollars for traffickers each year. Though legal slavery was finally banished from all countries in the world by 1981, yet its only changed in title and form, as: Bonded labour, Child slavery, Early and forced marriage, Forced labour, Descent-based slavery, and Trafficking. Humans continue to be enslaved by fellow human beings: ‘from women forced into prostitution, children and adults forced to work in agriculture, domestic work, or factories and sweatshops producing goods for global supply chains, entire families forced to work for nothing to pay off generational debts; or girls forced to marry older men, the illegal practice still blights contemporary world.’   
The following are links to some websites highlighting the gravity of the situation:  

Future Potential of Agricultural Production 
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO]’s World agriculture: towards 2015/2030 Summary report reads: 
‘In recent years the growth rates of world agricultural production and crop yields have slowed. This has raised fears that the world may not be able to grow enough food and other commodities to ensure that future populations are adequately fed.
However, the slowdown has occurred not because of shortages of land or water but rather because demand for agricultural products has also slowed. This is mainly because world population growth rates have been declining since the late 1960s, and fairly high levels of food consumption per person are now being reached in many countries, beyond which further rises will be limited. But it is also the case that a stubbornly high share of the world’s population remains in absolute poverty and so lacks the necessary income to translate its needs into effective demand.
As a result, the growth in world demand for agricultural products is expected to fall from an average 2.2 percent a year over the past 30 years to 1.5 percent a year for the next 30. In developing countries the slowdown will be more dramatic, from 3.7 percent to 2 percent, partly as a result of China having passed the phase of rapid growth in its demand for food.
This study suggests that world agricultural production can grow in line with demand, provided that the necessary national and international policies to promote agriculture are put in place. Global shortages are unlikely, but serious problems already exist at national and local levels and may worsen unless focused efforts are made.’ 

Historical Evidence of Mass Agriculture 
Food has always been available in large quantities, and evidence for mass agriculture is building up. Ancient Egypt flourished with subterranean rivers making its land fertile. Pharaoh is quoted in the Quran: 
[Al-Qur’an 43:51, translator: Sahih International] And Pharaoh called out among his people; he said, "O my people, does not the kingdom of Egypt belong to me, and these rivers flowing beneath me; then do you not see?”  
A recent discovery is of massive underground water resources in Africa: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/2/024009/pdf/1748-9326_7_2_024009.pdf  

A gigantic ancient canal network has been discovered, reported as follows:  
‘The largest wide-array man made (or at least non natural) structure in the world is in fact an ancient terra formed systems of agricultural-aquaculture canals in Northwestern Botswana and Northeastern Namibia, north of the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa. Obviously quite ancient, the canal systems no longer provide free flowing water throughout its 105,000 mile array, but many sections show obvious intention to provide cross sectional irrigation.
These canals are too evenly spaced over too large an area to be any kind of natural formation. Based on entry and exit points, it is readily apparent this system is a very large, controlled agronomy array and/or aquaculture system. Its age is defined by the overgrown nature of the canals, as well as some areas that are covered over with drift and sand erosion.
The entire complex covers an area about equal in size to the State of Arizona in the USA. The canals are an integrated system of apparent irrigation and agricultural (and probably aquaculture) design. The system is about 350 miles in width and about 300 miles in depth. (For the remnants still visible.) This system represents roughly 67 MILLION acres of sustainable agriculture. Given the sophistication of design, it is entirely plausible to assume an above average yield, i.e. feeding well over 90 persons per acre on an annual basis.’ 


References
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 
FAO Food Outlook (published May 2015): http://www.fao.org/3/a-I4581E.pdf 

State of Food Insecurity in the World: 
Food & Nutrition in Numbers 2014: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4175e.pdf 

World Food Program (WFP)  


Food First 
Dismantling Racism in the Food System (Just Food Keynote address by Eric Holt-Giménez)

The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now (TED talk by Gary Haugen): 

Poverty and Population 

Slavery

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