Ramzan teaches to help poor
Holy month of Ramzan is nearing its culmination. While this month of fasting and prayers is Almighty’s gift to the Muslims during which they are bestowed with the mercy to purify their souls, it also teaches the compassion and should make the believers to understand the pains and pangs of the ‘have-nots’. And here come the concept of Sadaqat and Zakat.
Zakat is one of Islam’s five basic tenets. All Muslims are required to pay Zakat if they satisfy specified criteria. The goal of Zakat is to cleanse one’s property as well as one’s spirit. Zakat is calculated based on a Muslim’s entire savings over a lunar (Islamic) year. Zakat is required on anybody, whose wealth reaches or surpasses a particular amount, known as the Nisab, in accordance with Islamic law.
Scholars are split on whether Zakat should be paid to the state or organisations or whether it should be given directly to the recipients, although it is preferable to donate Zakat directly to the recipients, who fall into one of the eight categories that are mentioned in the Quran. Zakat belongs to the poor, those short of money, Zakat workers, and slaves who are purchasing their freedom. Those in debt, those fighting for God, and stranded travellers (Quran, 9:60).
However, there is also scope of giving Zakat to Zakat organisations, and there are numerous other groups that get activated and collect funds in the name of Zakat. The reliability, transparency, and authenticity of the Zakat organisations must be vehemently checked before making a donation.
There is a scope for appointing an organisation to distribute Zakat to deserving recipients. However, it is necessary to have confidence in the following areas: First and foremost, one must have surety that the organisation is reaching the deserving recipients. Secondly, the Zakat donator must have confidence that his Zakat reaches the deserving recipient. And it is a must to indicate that organisations can not accumulate and withhold funds to distribute for an extended period, let’s say beyond a year. If an organisation does that and delays the payment, then it is usurping the Zakat receivers’ property.
Additionally, the organisation must be transparent in its dispensation. One should investigate the Zakat organizations’ affiliations. If it is found that the organisation is politically motivated, then no Muslim can benefit from it, neither the Zakat giver nor the deserving recipient. Working for some kind of political goal with Zakat money is depriving the Zakat recipients of their lawful right.
Muslims need to make sure that Zakat reaches the recipient directly without intermediaries, and what better act of worship than to search and reach out to the needy by himself/herself while paying the exact amount that is his right?