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Syrian Refugees and the Lost Right of Travellers

Syrian Refugees and the Lost Right of Travellers

Published in Arabic in July 8, 2016

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

Firstly: a pain in the heart:

1- Our heart has ached because of this question we have received via email: (… In Morocco, we see Syrians in the streets who were forced to quit Syria after the catastrophe that befell their homeland … Could we consider these refugees as ''travelers'' in the Quranic sense who deserve charity donations? …). What has ached our heart is not only the plight of poor, innocent Syrians in exile whose country is being destroyed and they had to flee hellish calamities, but also as the notion of rights of travelers (literally in the Quran: sons of the route; thoroughfares' travelers) is overlooked now and must be discussed here. Our heart has ached as Arabs usually ignore such rights of travelers inside their homelands, whereas the West applies such rights driven by humane reasons. The West countries know that they may host some terrorists hidden among innocent refugees, a veritable threat to Western citizens. Some Western citizens were originally Arab Muhammadans brainwashed by terrorist ideology of Wahabism, and they turn into terrorists and (suicide) bombers who commit heinous crimes. Wahabi ideology is the mainstream religion practiced by most of citizens of Middle Eastern countries, as I it were Islam, and Wahabi doctrine imposes a 'sacred' hatred, animosity, and violence against non-Wahabis, especially the West, to the extent of endorsing of murder and killing. Hence, Sunnite Wahabis hate travelers and foreigners, even if they are tourists. On the contrary, within real Islam, the Quran, tourists deserve kind treatment, charity, and generosity as part of their rights in the Quran. Refugees fall into the same category; yet, Wahabis apply their own sharia by never allowing Syrian refugees into their lands (the Gulf monarchies and the KSA, for instance), despite the fact that the KSA is behind the ruin and utter destruction of Iraq and Syria, causing millions of refugees to quit both ruined countries, along with other nationalities of people who worked there.           

2- We reply to the above question as follows: yes, of course; Syrian refugees and all refugees of all nationalities deserve rights of travelers that include charity, alms, kind treatment, housing, care, etc. in the countries in which they currently reside, and this is stressed by the Quran.

3- The Quranic notion of caring for travelers does not only include refugees; rather, it encompasses all foreigners/strangers who move from country to another for any reason (refugees, tourists, immigrants, etc.), and in our view, the notion covers also nationals who are rendered homeless, like alleys' children, who are homeless and live miserably sometimes near graveyards and in slums of many Arab cities. All such categories deserve charity alms and kind care; otherwise, they turn into time bombs in any given societies. Their explosion certainly destroys any given societies, as history gives us many examples of that; they are the marginalized ones who are used as agents by ISIS-like terrorists. An effective remedy for such a threat is to apply Quranic teachings by providing charity and care for them that include pardoning, respect, kind treatment, etc.

 

Secondly: our personal experience in the USA:

1- Alms:

 We have traveled to the USA in 2001 as a political asylee, leaving our wife and six sons in Egypt, after we passed the age of 50. Dr. Irving Spitzberg, the lawyer, helped us to submit a request of political asylum, but complications led to us forced to wait for 6 months until we were granted political asylum. During these 6 months, we lived on a settee inside a one-room apartment. We made sure that our basic food-expenditure would not exceed 7 $ a week. Once granted political asylum, we were guided to go to the office of the Virginia State specialized in caring for refugees. We got to know there Dr. Awad Al-Husseiny, an American citizen originally from Sudan who came to the USA as a refugee to flee persecution. He had a Ph.D. in cinema direction from Moscow, Russia. He worked in the Virginia State office of caring for refugees, and his job is to care for refugees of Arab origin. He made us know all rights of refugees in the USA – God bless him – and helped us a lot by going with us to institutions that offer help and care for refugees. We got to know that refugees are helped by the Virginia State officially, and by Catholic and Protestant churches on the non-official level, with so many charity and alms offices with thousands of employees. They help refugees to get housing for free or for so little rent, in learning English, in being trained to get a job, and in getting them jobs. They offer refugees a one-year health care and free-food tickets once one resisters one's name in charity list of churches that will supply one with all types of food weekly. Other charitable owners of markets help churches in that field by giving their unsold food items for free, and some give clothes for poor refugees. The Virginia State helps refugees by giving them monthly money for one year, or more if refugees are poor and have children. Many refugees of Arab origin vie to get as much help as possible to live on them instead of getting jobs, while some non-Arab refugees take as little as possible to spare items of food, etc. to other more needy refugees.               

2- Charity:

  Majid was the owner of the apartment we lived in for a while, and we shared his apartment for some months. Majid was an Egyptian  constructor who worked in Egypt, the KSA, and the UAE, but he lost his money and came to the USA to work there as a worker within a construction company and he remained in the USA ever since with his wife and children. He told us many stories about his experience in his early years in the USA. He told us that when he worked within a restoration of a palace, the generous Jewish owner of it filled himself the car of Majid, the Muslim Egyptian, with loads of clothes for him and his children. Majid felt that such enthusiastic generosity removed his sense of being embarrassed. He told us once that he used to work in restoration project of the Pentagon, following 9/11 attacks, feeling embarrassed his dirty clothes as he stood in the queue to get food among high-rank officials and employees of the Pentagon, but their kind treatment and smiles to him made him feel welcome.

 We ourselves used to feel very embarrassed as we took food and clothes tickets, and we chose to take as little of such items as possible, while other Arab refugees took as much as they could as a kind of investment. Our embarrassment was dispelled by smiles and welcoming attitude of employees. This is charity per se, as commanded by the Quran: to give kindly, treat others with mercy, and to help others while waiting for anything in return. Unlike harm done and the condescension attitude by the KSA royal family when they grant money to people inhabiting Arabia, and calling such part of their rights as ''royal grants''!    

3- According to our above-mentioned experience as a political asylee, we testify that this is the nearest human application of Quranic sharia in caring charitably for the poor, the impoverished, the hungry, the homeless, the travellers, etc.

 

Thirdly: rights of travelers:

Alms:

1- There are individual alms one gives to those who deserve them, including travelers, as we read in the Quran: "Righteousness does not consist of turning your faces towards the East and the West. But righteous is he who believes in God, and the Last Day, and the angels, and the Scripture, and the prophets. Who gives money, though dear, to near relatives, and orphans, and the needy, and the homeless, and the beggars, and for the freeing of slaves; those who perform the prayers, and pay the obligatory charity, and fulfill their promise when they promise, and patiently persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and in the time of conflict. These are the sincere; these are the pious." (2:177). "They ask you what they should give. Say, "Whatever charity you give is for the parents, and the relatives, and the orphans, and the poor, and the wayfarer. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it." (2:215). "And give the relative his rights, and the poor, and the wayfarer, and do not squander wastefully." (17:26). "So give the relative his rights, and the destitute, and the wayfarer. That is best for those who seek God's presence. Those are the prosperous." (30:38).

2- There are official, formal alms paid by the Islamic country that applies the Quran truly, as the Yathreb city-state led by Muhammad, as far as spoils, donations, alms, and all money collected in the Treasury of a given State to help the poor and the needy: "And know that whatever spoils you gain, to God belongs its fifth, and to the Messenger, and the relatives, and the orphans, and the poor, and to the wayfarer…" (8:41). "Charities are for the poor, and the destitute, and those who administer them, and for reconciling hearts, and for freeing slaves, and for those in debt, and in the path of God, and for the traveler in need-an obligation from God. God is All-Knowing, Most Wise." (9:60). "Whatever God restored to His Messenger from the inhabitants of the villages belongs to God, and to the Messenger, and to the relatives, and to the orphans, and to the poor, and to the wayfarer; so that it may not circulate solely between the wealthy among you. Whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it; and whatever he forbids you, abstain from it. And fear God. God is severe in punishment." (59:7).

3- A given State must establish hospitals and orphanages as well as hostels and hotels to house travelers, houses for the homeless, cheap restaurants for the poor and the hungry, and food supplies distribution systems to give food items to those in need of it, especially the impoverished ones. An individual should deal with the needy individuals, whose categories are mentioned in the above verses, within his/her reach personally to do charity commanded by the Quran, whereas the State should deal with social strata or layers of the poor who need many things (food, clothes, health care, medicament, and other rights) as well as to house and protect all travelers who come to it and to treat them generously and kindly in a welcoming manner, even if they are rich tourists, and this is charity commanded by the Quran.  

Charity:

 Apart from alms and donations, one is to act charitably to and treat kindly with all categories of people and one's neighbors: "Worship God, and ascribe no partners to Him, and be good to the parents, and the relatives, and the orphans, and the poor, and the neighbor next door, and the distant neighbor, and the close associate, and the traveler, and your servants. God does not love the arrogant showoff." (4:36). Charity means generosity, kindness, respect, and pardon as well as tolerance.

Lastly:

Who is applying the Quranic sharia? Arabs or the West?


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