Kenitra, Morocco- Morocco has a deeply-rooted cultural identity with a sense of community that has existed in people’s cultural thinking for generations.
Nowadays, there is a need to revive once more the closer, warmer, more harmonious type of bonds between people vaguely attributed to past ages. Morocco will be far better as a unified nation imbued with the values of service, sharing, spiritual nourishment, and recognition of each individual’s gifts and contributions. It would be wonderful to see Moroccans stand together against an enemy that could destroy them: Poverty.
Over the last few years, Morocco has experienced many changes as new powers and new political actors have emerged, namely non-governmental organizations and multinational companies. In the meantime, challenges have also increased because of acute, large-scale, recurrent crises, which have broken out simultaneously and had an impact on the economy and finances of Moroccans.
In the context of such huge regional changes, deep transformations and major crises, it has become urgent to draw attention to the need for a “social renewal” in Morocco. By consolidating Morocco’s sense of community and promoting the opportunities for reclaiming a sense of national unity and connectedness, a genuine sense that each individual feels responsible for the other, Morocco will be a stronger nation. Moroccans have a capacity and desire to care about each other, and this is what will make Morocco strong, powerful, and victorious against an enemy that seeks the destruction of the Moroccan way of life: poverty.
In America, the government provides many programs to keep millions of people out of poverty: food stamps, Section 8 housing assistance, unemployment insurance, medicaid and children health insurance programs, student financial aid and child welfare, Earned Income Tax Credits, and a Food and Nutrition Program “WIC” for pregnant women, to name a few. In the private sector, churches provide pantries and food banks for anyone eligible for assistance. Nearly every store or supermarkets in the whole country asks customers to give one dollar to feed the hungry in America. One dollar by itself may be insignificant but collectively it adds up to a huge amount of money that will help those who need it.
In Morocco, the wealthy are stocking the banks with money while so many of their neighbors are starving. The government is sucking money out of the public coffers to bankroll Swiss banks instead of investing it in the programs that will assist communities in increasing productivity.
The Mosques in Morocco, in contrast with the Churches in the United States, do not have people with the know-how and skills to organize and facilitate philanthropic programs for the wealthy to make a difference in their communities. Mosques should not bejust big buildings for prayer. Rather they should be also a place where the poor can get free used furniture, used toys for kids, used clothing, food, even used bicycles, motorcycles and cars.
Our prophet has directed us to stand by our neighbor in crisis, feed the hungry, and assist the needy. Mosques are supposed to fulfill that role. But first they need to gain back the trust of people. Then they need to create that strong bond between the physical and the spiritual life while encouraging the rich to practice charity in an organized way and be practical in distributing these charities. What I mean by “practical” is they have to ask those who apply for charity to provide papers and documents that prove their status. Then decide the eligibility of each case in a very truly honest way. To ensure that only the truly needy get help, the Mosque must review and investigate each particular case before granting approvals. Yes, it is hard work! Yet, we have to do it if we really want to make a difference in our communities.
We need our Imams to be the organizers and the directors of those communities to save and cherish the morality of sharing that our Prophet (peace be upon him) talked about when he said, “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” There are so many wonderful Imams out there, loved and respected by people. Those Imams are needed to give life to the community and restore back the role of this community as a change for the better. Our dream community is the one the Prophet described when he said: “The doors of goodness are many. . . enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” (Peace be upon him).
Edited by Elisabeth Myers
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