According to the statistics of the World Health Organization and the UN AIDS Committee a quarter of the total population of one third of African countries is HIV-positive. In another third almost ten per cent of people are struck by this fatal disease. The situation is gradually getting worse: AIDS as well as other infections cause the death of millions of people every year. The end of the millennium is very tragic for Africa.
While many experts of various world centers and funds spend time and money to improve the situation, the very fact that the disease spreads rapidly in some particular areas has been ignored so far. Even a quick glance on the map shows that the least spread of AIDS is observed where the influence of Islam is very great. This situation is observed in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and other states of Magrib where almost all population is Islamic. In such countries as Chad, Mali, Nigeria, and Guinea which are located further south and where more than half of the population is Muslims, the rate of HIV-positive (less that 10%) is quite low according to the African standards.
The Somali phenomenon is also very interesting. It might seem that his country which suffers from starvation and destruction and which has been at civil war for several years will provide most favourable conditions for the spread of AIDS, but Somali demonstrates a surprisingly low rate of the sick people in spite of the fact that it is surrounded by the countries which are heavily struck by the epidemic. It is one of the few countries with less that 1 % of people having AIDS.
One may object to that by saying that matters are much more complicated. For example, there are Jibuti where Muslims prevail and Ethiopia where almost half of the population practices Islam that joined the blacklist of countries with the greatest number of HIV-positive. However, there are such non-Islamic states as Cote d’Ivoire and Togo. Being surrounded by healthier Muslim neighbours, these countries are among the states with the lowest rate of those suffering from ‘the plague of the 20th century’.
The situation in these countries can be explained by their local peculiarities and historical conditions, and can be regarded as an exception.
Scientists have observed the following regularity: as we move down south on the African continent, the number of Muslims decreases while the number of HIV-positive steadily increases. It is astonishing that AIDS is regarded by the population as an ordinary respiratory infection in the countries where animism and local varieties of Christianity dominate.
What is the cause of this regularity and does it exist at all? Could it be accounted for by the fact that judging by the African standards Islamic countries have more developed economy and culture? Yes, it could. The North-African countries may be superior to their neighbours economically and culturally. But it is true only of the regions around big urban centers. There is no doubt that the life of an Egyptian fellah, for instance, doesn’t differ much from that of a South-African Zulu. Moreover, the figures provided by sociologists prove that the newly risen big cities have become the hotbeds of the disease. Probably, the cause of such a tragic situation should be looked for elsewhere.
Many African countries have gained independence recently. The traditional cults have lost competition with the ‘fruits’ of civilization being imposed on the Africans.
It has resulted in breaking the well-established relations and traditional taboos. The similar situation was observed in Islamic African countries, but diseases and infections didn’t spread so rapidly there.
The principles of Islam are still preserved in everyday life in those countries where Muslims prevail. Despite a large number of tourists who have come flooding in lately, it hasn’t led to moral degradation. On the contrary, there is the rise of Islam in these countries. Islam doesn’t separate the life of its followers into secular and spiritual because it regulates all the aspects of their life. Special attention is paid to household relations which have all a certain the religious meaning. It concerns especially the relationships between the sexes. Even those who do not keep to the rules, but live among the Muslims find themselves in the atmosphere filled with faith and submission.
There is no need to speak about the outbreak of extreme moral freedom in Tunis and Morocco where the Shariat rules are often ignored and even openly violated. Nowadays homosexuals and drug addiction are exceptions. Hence there is no ground for the epidemics. Moreover, following the hygienic and sanitary norms of Islam brings its results. Those who practice Islam have to perform the ritual ablutions. They are to look after the food quality carefully, the consumption of raw meat and carrion is forbidden, etc. Of course, it won’t protect people from AIDS, but it will protect them against other dangerous infections. It is the absence of sanitary norms in Africa that was the cause of the epidemics which threatened the whole world.
There is another argument in favour of Islam. Having deeply rooted on the African continent, it has been struggling against pagan superstitions, their cruel rituals and tribal conflicts which hamper the epidemic prevention.
The Muslims of Africa stick to the rules of the religion in their family and personal life. The Shariat principles are actively introduced into civilian life, and it is supported by the population. The victory of the Islamic party in Tunis is still well-remembered.
There are also forces in Egypt who support the introducing of the Shariat norms into legislation. And Sudan ceased to have the Islamic government only a few years ago. The Head of the World Organization of the Islamic Appeal is M. Kaddafi, the leader of Libya.
Thus, the religion is the main factor that holds back the spread of the fatal disease. The Muslims and Africans as well as the Europeans benefit from this, the latter feeling relatively safe from the export of the infection to Europe form the Islamic states of Africa.
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