By Mohammad Sabo Keana
“He did not believe! By Allah he did not believe, … He who slept with his stomach full when his neighbour slept on an empty stomach” (SWA).
Eid days are usually one of the happiest moments for Muslims especially little children all over the world, where they are expected to be on their best clothes for Eid prayers. The opposite is the case for millions of Almajiri children under the grip of a supposedly Islamic institution. Children under the Qur’anic Almajiri schools are seen on the streets, roads of cities and hinterlands across the North with tattered clothes, unshod feet, and the ever-present unappealing begging bowl pleading to eat even on Sallah days! while their counterparts head for prayers.
Apathy to the plight of innocent children like the Almajiri children is appalling. It is not befitting for a believer who loves God to ignore the cries of his servants.
For several decades, Muslims in Nigeria especially the northern part have lived with the guilt of seeing little children under a religious duty having to beg everyday of their lives including special occasions like the Sallah!
An emphatic Hadith of the Holy Prophet (s) says: Whoever wakes up in the morning and is not concerned about the affairs of Muslims is not a Muslim. He also says: Whoever hears a Muslim call out to other Muslims and does not answer him is not a Muslim…
The Prophet reduced all the admonishment by Allah (SWA) on the need to do good, to what it means when he said, “He did not believe! By Allah he did not believe, … he who slept with his stomach full when his neighbour slept on an empty stomach”.
Can we truly call ourselves Muslims while ignoring the plight of these vulnerable souls living right within our community? Where is our conscience? turning a blind eye like we do in the face of the sufferings of these most vulnerable innocent Almajiri children speaks to our sense of responsibility .
On the occasion of this Eid celebration, we wish to once again remind all of us, not that anyone needs to be reminded that as humans and people of faith, we have moral and religious obligations towards these children.
Almajiri children begging to eat on Sallah day speaks a lot about the quality of our faith ” Can we truly call ourselves Muslims while ignoring the plight of these vulnerable souls living right within our community? Where is our conscience? turning a blind eye like we do in the face of the sufferings of these most vulnerable innocent Almajiri children speaks to our sense of responsibility and indeed the quality of our faith.
It takes a village to raise a child, we therefore have the moral and religious obligations to show empathy towards the Vulnerable Almajiri children. It’s only when we empathize with them that we can be able to understand their plight and proffer sustainable solutions to address the Almajiri child rights crisis.
Here’s therefore a call on all Muslims, to do the unusual, take food to the Almajiri children within your neighborhood, don’t wait until they come begging, let them feel the Eid celebration in a dignified manner.
I remember vividly a Mallam told me four years ago in Lafia, Nasarawa State when we started feeding Almajiri children on Sallah days, “that it was the first in more than 30 years since he began teaching the children”. Another Mallam just last month said the same to me during my recent visit to their setup in Maiduguri, Borno State. Apathy towards their plight, I daresay is a contributory factor in our failure to formulate sustainable solutions and approach to end Almajiri Child Rights crisis, this is the reason our approach and solutions over the years have failed to address the real issues.
Advocacy for the oppressed for whoever is able to, is a responsibility established in the inner instinct of the human being, in the aql (human intellect), and in the Sharī’ah or code of laws. The oppressed or mazlūm is one whose rights have been taken away. the Almajiri children’s rights to have a memorable Eid celebrations as children have been deprived by their parents and supported by Government and by our collective silence.
We call on all to join us at Almajiri child rights initiative to continue to advocate for these children until something is done to address the Almajiri child rights crisis. Advocating for them can take many forms. It could start with awareness of their plight, praying for them, conversations and discussions about them – both in personal and communal gatherings, speaking up and spreading the word, standing up in solidarity with them, helping them financially and physically if possible and writing about them and more. The plight of the almajiri kids is shame on the Muslim North!
Follow us on our Media platforms as we continue the conversation on the Almajiri children.
@AlmajiriLife, @AlmajiriChild @Almajirichildrightsinitiative. www.almajirichildrights.org
Mohammad Sabo Keana is the Team Lead, Almajiri child rights initiative.