The government cannot reach out to every city, town and block, knock on the door and deliver food. But we can be that good neighbour who can ensure this with ease. By adopting the gilded principles of Mawakhat and brotherhood the society will automatically take the indigent in its fold. It is not difficult to explain to people how this system would work.
Every neighbourhood, every street has a Masjid. In every Masjid the Muezzin says the Azan five times a day. In these times, there is a restriction to assemble for prayers in the Masjid but there is no restriction on the Azan, the voice is not bound. Is it not possible that before and after each Azan these words that it is obligatory on every person to ensure that his neighbour did not sleep hungry are repeated? Who will not pay heed to this call associated with the Azan to contemplate the fate of his neighbour? Hence by awakening an all-important religious, social and ethical responsibility we can counter the complications resulting from the previous suggestion of isolation and slow down of economic activity.
In addition to N2N, there are certain additional steps that can be taken in this regard, such as Mosque to Neighbourhood (M2N) and Locality to Locality (L2L) movement.
The true role of the Masjid is both prayer and service to humanity. Every city has several Masjids. What can be a better and more transparent system than distribution through your neighbourhood masjid?
- Provision of ration bags in masjids, churches and temples of low income neighbourhoods in depressed demographics will combat hunger in the worst affected areas.
- An announcement following the azan that a meal or ration pack for those who have not earned their livelihood that day is served inside the masjid.
- The members of the Masjid Committee themselves take the ownership that in their neighbourhood no one will be without food.
- Government officials and volunteers can also identify mosques in poor areas and reach out to them.
This way we can turn Mawakhat or solidarity with your neighbour into a movement.
In Locality to Locality movement (L2L) a rich locality will establish a bond of solidarity with the poor locality and support them by providing ration through their mosque. Hence most poor localities in a city will be catered to by rich localities/people of that city. Such cities may be called “Cities of Mawakhat” or “Cities of Mutual Solidarity”.
Government officials (office of district/subdivision administration) and political leadership (MNAs, MPAs) may also identify such poor localities and start relief work through the data base/information provided by mosque committees. This kind of community engagement and community lead support system may become one of the best vehicles to reach the most vulnerable and needy.
These suggested approaches require not just intellect, patience and tolerance but also sacrifice and the spirit of giving. These are the human qualities that have to be brought to the forefront. The past is replete with accounts of innumerable misfortunes and afflictions that befell many civilizations but humans have always prevailed and succeeded against all odds. Fear is but another name of Death and Hope is the namesake of Life. So let us all hold on to hope and fight against this pandemic which with the passage of time will be no more than a tale of bygone times.