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Islamic community development concept can revolutionise a society in little time

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Zakat is an ideal example of it in Islam and this institution of organized and calculated payments to the destitute and those living on the margins can literally change a given society in short span of time.

By M Ahmad

Community development practice has been the need of almost all nations and is practiced in various ways through governmental or non-governmental efforts. The main objectives of these efforts include service provision and problem solution at grassroots level with maximum participation of community without any discrimination. Community development is the result of joint efforts of local community for promoting their collective welfare and improving their lives. It means a philanthropic gesture or initiative that is made with a view to bringing a change for the betterment of the life of community.

Community development focuses on solution of community problems and bringing positive changes and it is imperative that all initiatives of community development bring social changes. The religion of Islam is a great appreciator of this aspect of a community and, in fact, it lays great stress on community development. Zakat is an ideal example of it in Islam and this institution of organized and calculated payments to the destitute and those living on the margins can literally change a given society in short span of time.

Islam guides its followers to help the needy through various services and community development also emphasizes on service provision. Islam and community development encompass principles of self-help and social justice and bring stability and solidarity in the community. Community development practitioners need to get guidance from Islamic practices for better working in local communities.

It is beyond any doubt that Islam brought real and practical changes in all walks of life i.e., social, economic, moral and political transformation. Islam guided for changes in the social set up to build a changed society overall. Islam gives very clear and comprehensive concepts to improve quality of life. Muslims are guided for hardworking to survive and fulfil their needs which could improve their daily lives. Islam makes its followers responsible for themselves and for society too.

The tools for equitable distribution of wealth in Islamic economic system for over all development of the Society can be divided into two categories i.e. obligatory institutions and non- obligatory institutions, contents of former are Zakat,  whereas the latter consists of Waqf, Sadaqas, and Infaq, etc.,  Quran and Hadith both have given emphasis on it. Zakat is a religious institution to tackle poverty and promote welfare in the Society irrespective of religion.  It is a social pillar encouraging Muslims for bringing social justice and equity in communities.  It improves quality of life of various types of community members. It is a beautiful and workable system of fair distribution of wealth among community members.

Waqf also plays a vital role for enhancement of quality of life of poor communities. It is an important socioeconomic institution in the Islamic state and is a powerful institution for community facilitation which provides social, medical and educational initiatives in the community. Nevertheless,  Islam  remains  as  a clear  outline  of  how those  key  concepts and  principles  should be  implemented. Participation from all members of the community is necessary. Man must do something good for the community and prevents any negative  elements  that  might  affect  the  community. In other way,  it  means  that  Islam  generalizes  the purpose  of each  concept,  including  the  form of  behavior  which  ultimately able  to  develop  their  communities  by placing them as the best among other people

Meanwhile, Sadaqas (charity) has no fixed percentage and one is free to pay it as many times as one can afford or feel inclined to it. Infaq is basically pious spending in the way of Allah. It has a significant importance in Islamic economic principles, with reference to redistribution of wealth and elimination of poverty for the development of Society. Khums refers to the required religious obligation of any Muslims to pay one-fifth of their acquired wealth from certain sources toward specified causes

Islam is against injustice, inequality and discrimination. Social relationship among Muslims is based on the concept of sacrifice where they share some amount of their finances for virtue and they gain community consciousness feelings. The Holy Quran  says “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but righteousness is one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask for help and free slaves, establishes prayer and gives zakah; fulfill their promise when they promise; and patients in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” (Surat Al-Baqarah, 2:177)

Prophet (SAW), said: “Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allah adds to his respect; and the one who shows humility, Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).” (Muslim)

The writer is former Incahrge Abhedananada Home-Higher Secondary Institution for Inclusive Education, Solina, Srinagar, J&K and can be reached at [email protected]


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