There are about seven million Muslim orphans around the globe. This large number is the result of wars, natural disasters and a host of other reasons. The conscience of the Ummah is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - the land where the most honorable of orphans in the history of mankind - the holy prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born.
And only a couple of days ago, and in the same city where the greatest of prophets was born, the governor of Makkah region, Prince Majed ibn Abdul Aziz opened the Makkah Orphanage. This model institution was built, thanks to the generous contribution by Sheikh Ismail Abu Dawood. To him such philanthropic acts are but a part of his life.
Also, on Tuesday evening, the deputy governor of Makkah region, Prince Saud ibn Abdul Mohsen will preside over the "Sanabil Al-Khair" function organized by the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) to gather funds for orphans, refugees and those in distress.
The International Islamic Relief Organization takes care of over 70,000 orphans. However, this is just a drop in the ocean. Yet the efforts that are being made are increasingly becoming important in alleviating the sufferings of many people.
The IIRO, formed in 1978 as a humanitarian non-governmental organization, has its headquarters based in Jeddah. It has more than 100 offices and its activities spread over 90 countries. Its relief programs are directed towards the provisions of medical, educational and social services consistent with the socio-cultural values of those desperately in need of them.
The major part of financing is from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries where the governments and the people have donated generously and exhibited unstinted support for its activities.
The IIRO operates wherever there is need. It has done emergency work in Somalia, Sudan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, India, Bangladesh, Bosnia ... The list of needy countries will continue.
Currently it is providing over one million refugees with some of their basic needs such as health care, education, social services and nutrition. It has shipped more than 53,000 tons of food stuff to the needy during the last year.
Its health and social care wings run hospitals, dispensaries and nutrition centers. It takes part in developmental and educational projects aiming to better the quality of life.
The IIRO goes at great length to broaden its cooperation with other non-governmental relief organizations. It has cooperated with others of different religions to reach a common goal - that of alleviating misery and suffering. It discussed shared concerns, ways and means of improving working relations and promoting the merciful and humanitarian values which religions share.
We, in this region, know more about Green Peace, the Red Cross and Amnesty International. The media in the West rightfully promotes these organizations who are doing a great job. It highlights the role of the people involved. Unfortunately, in our part of the world, similar organizations do not get their rightful share of media concern. At times the skeptics among us focus on the futility of such causes saying that the problems are too big for an organization to handle.
However, I believe that, this is the language of the defeated - finding excuses for not getting things done.
And we, as Muslims, should not but believe in the positive. We should be optimistic. Almighty Allah has ordained reward for hard work. We, on our part, should encourage such type of noble work. A few kind words about such noble organizations could, at times, mean more than giving all your worldly fortune.
The IIRO indeed is an important charity institution in the world. From a humble beginning in 1978, it now claim to be at par with others who have preceded it by decades. Let us be proud of it and support its endeavors.
The men and women who work tirelessly in this organization should be appreciated for their yeoman service. Their services should be highlighted through the media and encouraged through visits to the organization headquarters.
That is the least we can do.
"The parable of those who spend their substance in the way of God is that of a grain of corn:; it groweth seven ears, and each ear hath a hundred grains; God giveth manifold increase to whom He pleaseth. And God careth for all and He knoweth all things." (Holy Quran).