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Janice Tufte, Muslim, was born and raised in Seattle and has lived in various regions of the United states before settling back in Seattle. Janice has resided in areas of poverty and areas of great wealth. Always seeking ways to catalyze and enact positive differences she has developed multiple community-based projects that recognize poverty through awareness dissemination and individual opportunities with small simple projects. Understanding firsthand what hardships and stressors exist when living in poverty amidst persons of great wealth, she recognizes the harsh facts of facing biases and stigma on a daily basis. Janice is a nationally known patient collaborator in health services/system research, evidence ecosystem, practice improvement, and health policy. www.janicetufte.com
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I’m Janice Tufte and I’m casting a blog to you titled:
“Being Accountable to One Another: Poverty and Structural Violence
Poverty often is recognized by what visible resources a person or community has or does not have and socioeconomically is a defined minimum financial standard that is required to meet essential needs. The state of poverty can be objective or subjective, where facts can be construed and laced with assumptions and opinions. How we view poverty as individuals or as religious or neighbor communities defines our values and approaches to life. Poverty of course has a dark side where class biases and structural and systemic inequities not only survive, they truly thrive. As a Muslim I take seriously my individual responsibility to contribute to caring for people who have less and who deserve healthier more equitable lives.
Islamically we have structural solutions that can alleviate societal harms from policies that too often cause violent systemic states of poverty. Any form of Riba (interest) is forbidden in Islam as interest is recognized as a primary contributor to the inequities and downstream community blight and deprivation that stems from a variety of punitive redlining financial instruments. Addressing poverty is part and parcel to the Pillars of Islam where Saum (fasting) during Ramadan is both a time to reflect on people who live without water and food on any given day and where every day we as Muslims are required to practice Sadaqa and Zakhat (charitable giving). Islamic required distribution and reallocation of wealth greatly benefits individuals and communities who do not have their essential needs met. The Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is another pillar of Islam where everyone appears the same in white cloth and is a reminder to us all that everyone is equal in standing before Allah SWT (God.) Biases exist for many reasons known and unknown, if we only all looked at each other as equals and helped each other when in need, what beautiful communities we could have.
As an individual and a member of the Ummah (Islamic community) I understand the enormous challenges and some actions that are necessary to ensure that individuals who reside in poverty will have beneficial opportunities. We all are gifted with voices that can be heard in the halls of justice and government. Historically and still today jurisdictional laws have been written, exist, and are enforced -that further enslave persons in poverty while at the same time allow persons with financial resources to escape from.
As citizens of this Dunya (Earth) that we as one people, as people of all religions, traditions or creed can and should unify as stewards of this Earth we all call home, that it is time we need to be held accountable to one another. With education, compassion and Baseera (insight, wisdom) we can band together to develop and nurture more equitable opportunities that will help to ensure that basic needs are provided for all and that structures that harm those with less will end. We must ask ourselves: “What can I do today to help to end poverty” and then take the initial steps to do so.