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ELCA World Hunger

God Created Abundantly



Another blog post from ELCA World Hunger Education Intern Aml Mohamed. In this blog, she continues to seek answers to the three questions posed in her first blog. This blog is a response to her second question: “Why would I care as a practicing Muslim to work at a Lutheran faith-based institution?” 


In July, I participated in the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During one of the skill-building sessions, participants and staff members had the chance to practice one-to-one conversations. I had a beautiful chance to discuss faith and how it plays a part in our personal and professional life with a colleague.

I wear my faith on my head. By choosing to wear the Hijab, a hair covering, it is noted by some that I am likely a Muslim. In various settings this is the first thing they notice about me, especially in a large gathering like the ELCA World Hunger Leadership Gathering. Sometimes, I do not think about it much, as it is part of me. However, I welcome those reflective questions about being of a different faith and my work. When the questions are asked properly, they do not reflect bad intentions– they reflect curiosity. They make me reflect on my own experience. I was about to respond to a participant’s question about my experience at the ELCA as a Muslim person, but they soon interrupted me. They said: “I am sure there are common things in our religions that support and encourage community work and care for hunger.” I nodded with a smile. I was happy to see that this was the assumption for why I do the work I do. But, is that enough?

To answer this question, I will return to the conversation about faith I had with my colleague and reflect on this question: do we do the work we do because of our community-driven personalities or because of our faiths?

It is not one answer or the other. I never thought of my religion as the source of my passion to work on community development. I mean, I am just a regular college student who is passionate about making a change in a small way. At the ELCA, the Lutheran faith that shapes the work is clear in many ways, such as praying before a meal or the start of the event. Is that what makes a faith-based organization different? The prayers? During the conference, it was often mentioned that God is a God of abundance. God created so much that there is more than enough to feed everyone on earth, yet there is hunger. I was confused. How can God be a God of abundance and allow hunger in the world? I soon realized in my conversation with my colleague that their work is driven by their faith grounded in hope. I realized that there is energy in people that have hope while their feet are on the ground. They know that there is too much to do, however, there is something that can be done.

I am not an Islamic scholar or a researcher, but when I heard the phrase God created abundantly, I reflected on this verse in Surat Hud 11:6 in the Quran: “And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision.” Allah is the Arabic word for God, and it is used by Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews. This is the English translation of the verse, but the Arabic word for Provision is Rizq. Rizq means so many things, which is the beauty of Arabic. Rizq means livelihood, sustenance, nourishment, daily bread, blessings and more. So, God says that every creature, not just humans, is provided for. God did not even limit the provision meaning to food or wealth, but it takes many shapes.

My personal belief that there are enough resources, ideas and energy is what pushes me to think that is possible to develop and sustain communities. It is not simple or easy to access those resources for many reasons in our world today. But, faith is my source of hope and energy. I know that there is unlimited human energy that should be invested wisely to make positive change. Working with ELCA World Hunger made me realize that faith grounded in hope points us towards change that can be done. This where I found my common ground. I saw that a faith-based organization like ELCA World Hunger achieves so much by reaching out to the community of active and caring individuals and ministries to work together. The source of hope to push and continue working on problems comes from faith in a God who provides abundantly – or for me, faith that one’s rizq is provided by God.

At the beginning of the summer I asked myself as a practicing Muslim, would I care about working at a Lutheran Church? Now, at the end of the summer, I look back, and I see how much I learned about my faith, even while immersed in Lutheran faith. I learned that caring for social change is not an impossible mission if people find common ground in their faith and worldviews to work together.

International Conference on Racism and Globalization

I am a firm believer that when you make a commitment to fight any injustice in the world, you are (maybe unbeknownst to you) making inroads into understanding and fighting against other injustices. To me, most all injustices are inextricably intertwined and work together to hold people down or at the margins. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

When we are working to end poverty and hunger in the world, it is important to remain mindful that poverty, the distribution of wealth, and hunger are chained, not only to one another, but to other, equally important injustices, like sexism, ageism, and racism.

This last weekend, June 27-29, through gracious funding from women’s ministries at the National Council of Churches- USA, I had the opportunity to attend the International Conference on Racism and Globalization at the Lutheran Center here in Chicago, Illinois. The event was organized by Agricultural Missions, Inc. (AMI) and Federation of Southern/ Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund (FSC/LAF). People from across the United States and around the world, brothers and sisters from Alabama to California, Uganda to El Salvador to Sri Lanka, gathered to share stories and network.

The goals of the conference were two fold:
To raise awareness of the interconnectedness of racism and globalization in the current context and affirm our commitment to seek to end racism within our organizations, our communities and ourselves.
To develop international networks that will assist organizations, individuals, and communities in using their power to confront and defeat any aspects of globalization that are driven by racism and negatively impacts their lives.

The weekend was full of panel dialogues on topics such as trade policy and financial institutions, human migration, food, land, water, and the environment, employment and labor, culture and spirituality, and education. We also met in small groups for in-depth discussion and cultural sharing. The culmination of the event was a declaration from the group, which I will link to when it becomes available to me.

In the mean time, here are my highlights.

Mikka’s Top 3 Learnings

1. XenoPHOBIA vs. xenoPHILIA. According to Miriam Webster’s online dictionary, xenoPHOBIA is “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.” In a speech given by Luis Rivera- Pagán, he expressed the terrible things that we, people, do to one another when we see each other as strangers. Instead, Rivera-Pagán argued for a heightened sense of xenoPHILIA, which comprises hospitality, love, and care for the stranger. Pagán is quoted here,

“In times of increasing economic and political globalization, xenophilia should be our duty and vocation, as a faith affirmation not only of our common humanity, but also of the ethical priority in the eyes of God of those living in the shadows and margins of our societies.”

2. Globalization has many definitions and many different manifestations in the world. Globalization is a huge term, which encompasses economic realities, but has a very real human impact. Globalization, as we currently know it, has been furthered through technological advancements and the ease of capital transfers around the world. However, do humans, human capital, have the same abilities and rights?

3. The church has a strong presence to offer. There were two main themes that I took away from the event in relation to the church.

First, there was a sentiment that the church, religion, and the Bible have all, at times, been “co-opted” to falsely explain acts of violence, racism, and other injustices.

However, more promisingly, people at the event recognized that faith-based organizations are essential partners. Faith-based organizations are on the front-lines, working and serving with people against injustice. Faith communities have the ability to organize and effectively advocate for things like debt cancellation and fairer practices at events like the World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Rounds.

I am always amazed at the good work being done by our sisters and brothers in the global community. I am constantly humbled and challenged as I learn more about the world that we are a part of. For more information, please email me or comment on this blog. I’ve written 715 words here, and I would be happy to continue the conversation, because, for me, continuing conversations are where the real learning happens.