DUTIES THAT ARE BETTER THAN UMRA
By Dr. Ahmad Gummi
Dr. Ahmad Gummi made the following brief comment in an internet forum regarding our misplaced obsession with Umrah and I feel compelled to bring it to the notice of my readers:
“Assalamu Alaikum, Brothers and Sisters.
“May Allah free us from His Chastisement and bless our efforts in this blessed month of Ramadan.
“In as much as there is a general excitement among the rich Muslims to go on Umra during the fasting period, we need to note that the extra virtue of Umrah in Ramadan is contestable among the scholars because the hadith in question was narrated to apply to specific people at a specific time (Ibn Kathir). Also, the practical sunnah of the Prophet and the salaf did not promote it.
"However, the ibadat whose extra virtues are not contestable are:
1. Feeding the poor (remember that Somalians are dying of hunger).
2. Treating the sick (remember that treatable communicable diseases are the number one killer diseases in Africa
3. Promoting education (remember that the number one malady of the Ummah is ignorance)
Calling to Islam (remember that the image of true Islam needs to be corrected)
4. Solving these issues requires money and spending generously on them is BETTER and more VIRTUOUS than to spend on umra in Ramadan or the voluntary hajj.
Despite the incessant calls for spending on the above issues in place of Umrah, Nigerian Muslim elites continue to undertake the Umrah annually. Just some few hours ago, the BBC announced that British citizens have raised $68million (N11 billion) for victims of famine in Somalia, coming second only to the US which raised a slightly higher amount. How much has the Muslim World raised, apart from the anticipated donation from Saudi Arabia? How can we Muslims claim a better moral pedestal than the West?
Where are the Muslim charity groups, including the Red Crescent? We only hear about Oxfam and other charities from the very West that al-Shabab is preventing from reaching the affected areas.
If it were only for our dismal effort, the affected populations in Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and now Uganda would be wiped out. There is an ever ready alibi for our inaction: "It is God who caused the draught and the deaths. If he did not wish it, it would not have happened." Of what benefit would it be to God if He sees infants dying? There is something missing in us. The earlier we start looking for it the better. Can we ever wake up and believe in our capacity to improve on our condition without resorting to blaming God?
I have long ago reached the conclusion that the problem is in our brains. Consider this arithmetic:
If the umrah going Muslims among Nigerians would agree to spend the cost of their umrah on education, many schools would have been built across the country. Not less than N2billion is spent annually, which is enough to build 10 hospitals or 200 primary schools annually. That is 200 hospitals or 2,000 schools – modern or Qur’anic – across the nation in just ten years!
In our weird thinking, we feel spending these colossal amounts in quest for a reward on an act of worship whose virtue is even contestable among the scholars is better than using them to solve our social problems. Mhm.
Unless the Muslim World subscribes to rational thinking, it must abandon any hope of solving its problems of poverty, ignorance, disease and backwardness. However, it is not that we are incapable of rational thinking, we are afraid of it.
May God reward Dr. Ahmad Gummi for his nasiha.
2 August 2011