The importance of giving emergency flood relief in Pakistan to 33 million utterly devastated children, women, and men is decisive for their lives. But the truth, if we only knew, is no less profoundly momentous for the spiritual survival of each one of us as Muslims and for our existence as a faith-nation, an Ummah.
Through the terrible test of deluge that Allah has decreed to rain down upon these flood victims and to bring up from under their feet, He has likewise tested the truth of our belief, the selfishness of our souls, and how much of our humanity still abides in our hearts. Will we make the proper connections between “their” tragedy and “our” “losses,” the true oneness of them and us?
The Prophet Muhammad, on him be peace, said:
The likeness of the believers in their tenderness toward one another, their mercy for each other, and the empathy they together share is like the body. When a part of it pangs with pain, the entire body responds with sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Note the emphasis here in the Prophet’s description of us as Muslims, on him be peace. We Muslims collectively feel the affliction of any one of us, and with vigilant compassion we all together react to relieve the suffering until it is done.
In another parable of the believers, he said, on him be peace:
The Muslims are like a single man. If his eye aches, all of him aches. And if his head aches, all of him aches.” (Muslim)
All for one and one for all, could easily be the motto of this Ummah of Muhammad, on him be peace.
We Muslims are literally of one another, as the Prophet, on him be peace, demonstrated to us by interlocking the fingers of his holy hands together when he said:
Indeed, the believer to the believer is like the brick-built edifice. One part bolsters the other.” (Muslim)
There is nothing more urgent for Muslims in the world today than giving as much as we can to relieve the devastation of the inconceivable one-third of Pakistan that is now literally under water from the catastrophic, human-caused, climate-change flooding that began on 14 June of this year.
The destruction is unimaginable. Consider this:
One-third of Pakistan under water, an area the size of the U.S. state of Colorado
33 million people directly flooded out of their homes, lands, and possessions
16 million children (40% of children in Sindh already stunted by malnutrition)
650,000 pregnant women (mostly malnourished)
70,000 expected deliveries this month
1,391 people killed, more than 400 of them children
3.4 million children in need of emergency care
4.4 million crop acres under water
$2.3bn of direct crop damage
50% of cotton crop wiped out (Pakistan is the world’s 5th largest cotton producer)
70% of Sindh rice crop wiped out
500% vegetable price inflation
400% ghee (cooking fat) inflation
872,000 livestock killed (leading to meat, milk, and curd shortages)
8 million rural families formerly raising livestock for up to 40% of their income
1.7 million houses totally or partially destroyed
643,000 living in government displacement sites
22,000 schools damaged (16,000 in Sindh alone)
5,500 schools turned into displaced people sites
22.8 million children ages 5-16 out of school
4,100 miles of roadway destroyed, cutting people off from movement and markets
246 bridges destroyed, preventing people from seeking safety
1.5 million people cut off from water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) access in Khyber (20% facilities destroyed), in Balochistan (30% facilities destroyed), and in Sindh and Punjab (50% facilities destroyed)
Polio outbreak reported in North Waziristan
Waterborne disease spreading in Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan provinces
180 health facilities destroyed
900 health facilities damaged
$30bn economic damage and rebuilding costs
To be clear the rich nations of the global north are largely responsible for Pakistan’s climate damage.
The mechanism for this massive flooding is human-caused climate change from global warming from our emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Pakistan’s flooding is one of the early signs of massive destruction looming from the way we live and use resources.
If you live in the so-called global north – the United States, Canada, England, the European Union, (also Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Australia and New Zealand) – you are a major contributor to the destruction of the people and their livelihoods by the flooding in Pakistan, and you should compensate them for it. (China and India are now also major emitters.)
The people of Pakistan have suffered the dire results of global warming, but they themselves have contributed less than 1% to these emissions.
Climate scientists tell us that early spring heat waves increased glacial melt, cut short crop growth in Pakistan, then monsoon rains fell in unprecedented sheets.
The vast Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges sprawl from Myanmar to Afghanistan. They hold the world’s 14 “eight-thousanders” (peaks above 8,000 meters high), five in Pakistan itself. This is often called the “Third Pole” because after the Polar Regions it has the most glaciers on earth. It is a colossal ice wall that separates China from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. Too high for much growth, this natural reservoir sources 10 major rivers that flow down from its snowcaps to water more than 1.5 billion people, about 1 out of every 5 on earth, and their animals and crops.
Glacial melt and evaporating seas from human gas emissions drowned Pakistan.
The premature heat spike that caused the glaciers around Pakistan to burst and the monsoon to carry 15 inches of rain (the norm is 5 inches) into it happened because we have long been sending up into the atmosphere a glut of greenhouse gases.
We boiled the atmosphere enough to melt the region’s glaciers and to roil the Arabian Sea with far higher temperatures than normal, causing it to send excessive volumes of water up into the heavy seasonal winds blowing over it into South Asia.
Our brothers, sisters, and children pang with pain in Pakistan, their lives and livelihoods swept away in the floodwaters unleashed because the hands of man have “transgressed the just balance” of the earth that Allah alone has set (Surat Al-Rahman, 55:7-9).
We must respond to the people of Pakistan’s great ache as our beloved Prophet, on him be peace, has commended us – with the kindness, compassion, and feeling of a single body.
Our personal sleeplessness, as Muslims in solidarity with Pakistan’s flood victims, is not to let our heart’s rest until we share of our wealth, resources, and prayers with them, again and again, until they are sufficed.
Our fever, as Muslims supporting Pakistan’s monsoon-stricken, is to work diligently with great care and persistence to distribute these contributions of money, food, medicine, clothing, shelter, and expert engineering help to them until their health and happiness is restored.
Zakat Foundation of America has long been a brick bolstering the most vital humanitarian structures helping the people of Pakistan with life-saving emergency aid and life-changing development projects.
We have a dedicated cadre of expert aid workers who live in Pakistan. We have long supported its hospitals, clinics, food-distribution, family livestock operations, schooling, and its displaced in the hardest hit and hardest to reach places.
Please give all you can to relieve the millions of climate-change flood victims in Pakistan, knowing that our caring humanitarian hands in the Zakat Foundation are firmly interlocked with the hands of the suffering in Pakistan.
We are committed to the sleepless gathering and transforming of your gifts into life-saving help for them and to the feverish work of getting your donations and aid into the hands of as many children, women, men and families as you can help provide for in flood-ravaged Pakistan.
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In 2023, 90¢ from each dollar donated went directly toward programs serving those in need. 4¢ went to administrative costs & 6¢ went to fundraising costs.