Source: The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2017
…social justice compels us to critically analyse the systems that produce marginalisation. It asks us to resist such systems and engage in strategic actions to change them so that the quality of life of all people can improve.
It is the month of Ramazan and exhortations for engaging in charity can be found everywhere, from parents alerting their children to be more mindful of the plight of the poor to special Ramazan telecasts depicting charitable acts and calling on us to do our share.
These calls for charity encourage us to give of what we have been fortunate to receive. People often share what they perceive to have in excess – food, clothes, money – with those who are less fortunate. While integral to our faith, such acts of kindness are not a substitute for an equally imperative element of our faith: social justice.
Charity is often temporary. It is a discrete, private response aimed at alleviating the suffering of someone in difficulty. This is precisely also what can make charity a dangerous enterprise. We can easily engage in charitable acts without feeling the need to investigate and think about how the suffering around us is produced in the first place. We can also end up appropriating the suffering of others to feel good about ourselves — “I fed the homeless man; I must be a good Muslim.”
Shenila Khoja-Moolji is a Postdoctoral Scholar at University of Pennsylvania. She writes at New York Times, Huffpost, Washington Post…on International Development; Gender Studies; Youth Studies, and does Fieldwork in Pakistan and USA. Dr. Khoja-Moolji teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the fields of gender and sexuality studies, and education. @SKhojaMoolji