Think Before You Donate
Islam, without any doubt provides a unique way of living, encompassing every aspect of life, be it social, religious, economic, cultural or behavioral. Apart from preaching religious harmony and brotherhood, it respects humanity without discriminating on the basis of caste, color, creed, life standards, and following from which, it wants an economic parity in the society. It wants a society where each and every individual has the basic facilities of life that are indivisible throughout the humanity. For those people who fail, due to innumerable reasons, to have sufficient wealth that can guarantee them these basic facilities, Islam introduced the concept of “Zakat” and “Sadaqah” and made the former obligatory for those who have more wealth than what their needs are, to give a specific amount from this surplus wealth of theirs to those who are in need of it.
However, this is a tragedy with majority of Muslims that they perform salah, go for hajj, observe fasts, but forget paying Zakat which is equally important as salah and saum, this is one of the basic five pillars of Islam which is all the more important as well because of it dealing with the ties between fellow Muslims. If Muslims around the world were not to overlook this pillar of Islam and were to start taking it seriously, there is not an iota of doubt that eradication of poverty will be a natural result that will follow.
They need to reconsider their opinion because seeking mercy of Allah is not the only objective of donating but it aims at improving economic conditions of needy. Donating blindly, helping dacoits, thieves and pretentious people masquerading as hapless is not a good deed rather it is equivalent to a crime as we help them to flourish and deter them from working.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims with an increased enthusiasm for praying, sympathy, compassion and doing good deeds, go through a divine change. In this blessed month people exhibit extraordinary passion of helping others and engage themselves in philanthropy. Even those who hold the money by tooth can be seen donating in this month. With this change, the poor, destitute, drown trodden, orphans and people from marginalized sections expect a lot. For them, this month holds great significance as they are helped to a large extent in fulfilling their needs. Thus, in this month, markets, public places and streets leading to mosques are seen jam packed with these people, who beg out of dire need.
But unfortunately the generosity shown by people drives more and more people to beg. Taking advantage of this generosity, some people disguise to be helpless. Young and healthy, who can make two ends meet at ease with the strength of their backs, prefer begging over working as they consider it the easiest way to make money. Women also join this ‘profession’ and through their pretentious behavior take benefit of the gullibility of public. Some families with good source of economy have put all its members into the job. Without caring about education of their wards, they field them to beg. Once I saw policemen abusing child with injured hand that irritated me, I went there to confirm about the matter. Policeman replied, days ago we took him to hospital for treatment but his parents don’t let his wound to heal, to pose him maimed before masses to collect donation. I witnessed a similar situation in a train where two females were pretending to be sufferers. Since my school days, I used to see an elderly women begging in buses claiming her husband was admitted in a hospital and was suffering from a deadly disease. Years are on; her husband has not recovered yet which urged one of the passengers to ask her, Can I visit your husband? The next minute she was nowhere to be seen around.
This new profession is flourishing in our streets with every passing day. Some people indulge into begging in very dignified way .They have found different ways to beg which don’t affect their honor .We can see people collecting alms with receipts of orphanages, madrasas etc. which in reality don’t even exist. Some people claiming to be village heads, wander in remote areas in the name of patients in their village who exist only by name, but these so called “respectable beggars” plunder people with dignity by posturing as volunteers and social activists. Begging has become a social menace that is prevalent in entire world and adding to this menace, professional beggars emigrate from major cities of India to Kashmir with the advent of Ramadan, who then outnumbers the native beggars. Wherever you go, you will encounter them. No place, no street, no bus can be seen without them engaged in faking public.
However, most of donors hold the opinion that it doesn’t matter whom we help, what matters are our intentions to help for the sake of Allah to seek his closeness. They need to reconsider their opinion because seeking mercy of Allah is not the only objective of donating but it aims at improving economic conditions of needy. Donating blindly, helping dacoits, thieves and pretentious people masquerading as hapless is not a good deed rather it is equivalent to a crime as we help them to flourish and deter them from working.
Now question is what to do? Firstly it is compulsory to pay Zakat with regularity according to rules set by Shariah and the best way to utilize it is to create local “Bayoot al Maal” in respective areas, through which we can use the collected amount (Zakat as well as other forms of Alms like sadaqah etc.) in proper way by distributing it among needy families in their respective localities .Besides satisfying their need it would also prevent these families from begging. This is the best way to curb this menace. Additionally, whenever any person approaches you, don’t give away your money unless you are sure they go to the right person. Before donating for orphanages and other institutes, confirm their validity and credibility, if they really exist, what role are they playing? .Moreover, there are some credible institutes operational in valley which no doubt are playing pivot role in welfare of people on different fronts, it is better to donate to these charity houses. Thus before donating, we need to think so that our donations do not go to those who don’t even need it and those who need it are left to suffer in poverty.
Author is postgraduate student of Zoology and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the position of Oracle Opinions.