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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

India: Scholars decry 'zakat' to fake organizations

HYDERABAD: Leading scholars of Islam in the city have advised Muslims to exercise caution in giving away zakat or mandatory charity as there has been a growth of 'spurious' institutions collecting alms for personal gains.

"Make thorough inquiries about the institution before you dole out zakat. Several instances have come to our notice where people posing as madrasa (religious school) representatives have been collecting money. Although you have good intentions, your deed is going waste as it is not reaching the deserving institutions," said Syed Khaja Moizuddin Ashrafi, main sermoniser at Kishanbagh mosque. Zakat is being misused by the collectors in several cases, other scholars said. Zakat, according to Islam, is mandatory charity deduced at the rate of 2.5 per cent from the annual savings of a Muslim and distributed either among the poor or on education, mainly during Ramzan.

According to noted philanthropist Giasuddin Babukhan, if properly organized and motivated, the Muslims in Telangana could raise zakat to the tune Rs 1,000 crore. But the actual collection and distribution of zakat is in the range of only Rs 100 crore.

"Collection of zakat and its distribution has not been organized. Every person who takes out zakat gives it away to whoever he or she feels is deserving," he said.

Babukhan's Hyderabad Zakat Charitable Trust has been able to raise Rs 10 crore from a single resource of zakat every year.

"The potential is huge provided Muslim community decides to take up zakat as a compulsory system to help eliminate poverty and provide education," he said.

Asharafi is active on social media mobilising people to give zakat to the "genuinely poor and needy institutions." Unfortunately, those who give zakat neither have the time to verify the authenticity of people who knock at their doors nor the institutions they represent.

Consequently, in many cases, zakat ends up in the coffers of fictitious madrasas and other fake welfare organizations.

A senior academic with Jamia Nizamia, Maulana Imtiyaz Ahmed, said zakat can be distributed among eight categories- the poor, destitute, those burdened with debt, pilgrims without support system and religious schools among others.

According to Ahmed, owing to the intrusion of suspect characters in the zakat collection, the amount of charity to recognized madrasas has declined substantially over the years.

General Secretary of the Deeni Madaris Board (Board for religious schools) Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, said about 20,000 children are studying in about 200 madrassas in GHMC limits. "In the last few years, some prosperous Muslims have begun to give zakat to welfare associations breaking their tradition of supporting madrassas because of cases of cheating," he said.

Appealing to Muslims to support madrassas, Maulana Rahmani lauded the trend to donate zakat to one's own relatives. "Madrasas are not only providing education to children but also food and shelter. Give zakat to such religious schools," he said.

(The Times Of India / 16 July 2014)
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