Initiative to use Zakat to fund small Businesses of poor and needy Muslims

Ashraf Ali Bastavi

Ramzan is the holy month for Muslims, when the faithful are enjoined to Fast, Pray and give Charity. Many Muslims who have a certain amount of Wealth, after deducting their normal life expenses, are supposed to give a small part in Charity on their annual savings which is called ‘Zakat’ or ‘Poor Due’.

Zakat literally means to ‘Purify’, and a Muslim by giving it secures his wealth in the eyes of God who has given him the capability to earn. Most of the wealthy Muslims give Zakat in Ramzan because of the immense rewards due in this month for any good deeds done.

Some Organisations in India are in the process of streamlining the process of Zakat Collection and Disbursements, so the maximum underprivileged people can be benefitted. Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) is one among them, who would like to make the beneficiaries of Zakat today, become Zakat givers of tomorrow.

MoinShaikh, who is one of the beneficiaries is a mechanic told “Whatever I earned through contractors was just sufficient for hand to mouth existence but a day of holiday taken for some emergency or a Doctor visit would make me run out of my pockets. I would have to worry about from whom to borrow, as my contractor wouldn’t support my extra expenses for any difficulty. I would be heavy of heart and feel teary eyed to arrange money from other sources for any such emergency or event at home.”

Fortunately, Moin came in contact with the AMP team at Gulbarga during a particular occasion and after listening to his distress, they assured to help him. Later, they gifted him a Bosch Machine Tool Kit as a part of their Self Employment Assistance through AMP Zakat Fund.

“I was amazed to find a branded new Tool Kit which I had only heard about but never used earlier since I always used machine tools of local manufacturing. This has really given me an opportunity to earn extra income as I work part time after regular work through this new machine with a lot of zeal”, says Moin Shaikh.

This small intervention by AMP has changed Moin’s life and now he has two of his own workers and according to him, “I am getting better contracts as well wherein I don’t need any sub-contractor to give me work. I get direct calls from the contractor and they assign me my work and pay me directly.”

 Waseem Ishaque who is AMP Gulbarga Chapter Head said that “Moin is one among six people whom we helped with this kind of toolkit in Gulbarga and all of them are doing a good business now and are able to manage their families in a more dignified way”.

“Rather then zakat being utilised piecemeal we need the have a strategic objective on its utilisation. It can be and should be used as a corpus to bring other Muslims out of poverty and empower them rather then spending it in peaces” WasimIshaque said.

Aamir Edresy, President, AMP, underlines the need for strategic collection and distribution of zakat. “The fundamental problem is the way zakat is collected and spent without any collective strategy and without keeping the needs of the entire community in mind. The only solution lies in Ijtemaiyat or collective effort in collection and distribution of zakat. The amount of money involved is enormous and it can work for us as a corpus for several daunting community needs.” “We have helped 186 youth to start such small businesses, 194 Orphans for their Basic Education and 372 Scholarships for Higher and Technical Education.” Said Edresy.

Edresy says “the system cannot be changed overnight, that too in a vast country like India, but initiatives should be taken within smaller groups.”

“If we look at ground realities, we will find that the major portion of zakat is distributed in pieces. The huge amount has never been used as a tool for poverty alleviation. It has never been used as the tool to transform the beneficiary of today into benefactors of tomorrow,” said Syed Nashit, a member of AMP’s Bangalore Chapter.

AMP has taken to the Internet to achieve that objective. With 70 chapters across India, it has launched an online campaign called “AMP Zakat Fund” in which it is seeking money. “I have requested all my relatives, friends, colleagues to donate to AMP Zakat Fund so that we can help more and more poor people every year and transform their lives” said Abdullah Ansari, one of the leads of Zakat Fund Management Committee.AMP Zakat Fund helps transform Underprivileged Muslims from Beneficiaries to Benefactors.

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