In the following our interview with Christina Safiya Tobias-Nahi, director of public affairs at Islamic Relief USA. We talked to her about Islamic strategies to cope with poverty, in particular if it concerns children and women, the most vulnerable components of Muslim societies. Islamic Relief works all over the world. Would like to thank Christina for her time and for her photos. Christina also explained the multi-dimensional concept of poverty in Islam, directly connected to the Islamic concept of social justice.
According to your experience, what are the most effective ways to address poverty?
In Islam, poverty is defined by five groups of activities and things which make up the human needs: religion, physical self, intellect or knowledge, offspring and family, and wealth. The fulfilment of these needs is considered one of the basic goals of Islam.
The Islamic perspective correlates with the broad consensus of poverty being a multi-dimensional issue, as it is based on human needs that cannot be reflected in monetary terms alone. In particular, in as far as operational measurement is concerned; the last four types of basic activities that make up basic human needs in Islam are similar to the indicators in the Human Development Indices developed by the United Nations, which stress the importance of income, education, and health.
We also try to address the root causes of poverty such as doing advocacy around issues such as international debt and usury and by encouraging microfinance; or around issues of climate and conflict that keep people vulnerable, leading to or keeping them in conditions of poverty.
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