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16 May, 2020 01:20:15 PM

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Role of Zakat to mitigate Covid-19-induced hardship

Around 40 million people who survive either through day labour or doing small businesses and are not getting monthly salaries and were not in extreme poverty when they were working would be affected directly or indirectly due to Covid-19 outbreak
Md. Zillur Rahaman
Role of Zakat to mitigate Covid-19-induced hardship

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the Covid-19 pandemic could almost double the number of people suffering acute hunger, pushing it to more than a quarter of a billion by the end of 2020 around the world. The number of people facing acute food insecurity stands to rise to 265 million in 2020, up by 130 million from the 135 million in 2019, as a result of the economic impact of Covid-19, according to a WFP projection.

In Bangladesh, a report says, around 40 million people who survive either through day labour or doing small businesses and are not getting monthly salaries and were not in extreme poverty when they were working would be affected directly or indirectly due to Covid-19 outbreak.

Charity is a great act and it is benevolent. The holy Ramadan is a month of charity and millions of Muslims try to do their best to give charity. The holy Quran and the Hadith mentioned numerous benefits of donation during Ramadan in the point of religious view.

Zakat and Ramadan, both are of the five fundamental pillars of Islam. Ramadan is mandatory for all Muslims but Zakat is only compulsory for the wealthy, affordable persons who have a required asset in a particular period. Zakat can be donated any time of the year but most of the Muslims select the month of Ramadan for donate Zakat as Allah assured manifold rewards for any endowment or charity like Zakat. Zakat (Arabic zakāh) basically means "that which purifies". Zakat or almsgiving is one of the five pillars of Islam and for every sane, adult Muslim who owns wealth over a certain amount, known as Nisab, he is commanded to pay Zakat.

During the holy Ramadan, both fasting and acts of charity are obligatory upon Muslims who are able to do so. Fasting is representative of a spiritual cleansing of mind but Zakat not only purify assets, it also cause enlargement of assets, an effort to become closer to Allah, and an attempt to gain a better understanding of human suffering. The act of fasting and Zakat, both call for Muslims to practice self-discipline and sacrifice, as well as reflect upon and show compassion for the poor and less fortunate.

Muslims are reminded to be generous and increase their charitable activities. As a result, during Ramadan, much charitable giving is done by the community or persons. Donations are usually focused on giving to those stricken by poverty and hunger. In celebration of Ramadan, consider donating to one of these highly rated charities which either work predominantly in countries with large Muslim populations or strive towards the alleviation of hunger.

Zakat makes it a compulsory act, and therefore, all Muslims must give Zakat, provided they meet certain conditions. According to Islam, Zakat is meant to be paid in order to purify the wealth. Therefore, those Muslims who have enough wealth have to give a little amount i.e. 2.5% of your wealth to the poor and needy. Zakat is not a voluntary charity but an obligation. Muslims pay Zakat every year in order to purify their wealth and to seek blessings from Allah.

It is important to note that only the beginning and end of the year are taken into account. Items like gold, silver, paper currency held in cash or in bank, tradable assets owned by a business, crops, and herded animals, are all taken into consideration when calculating Zakat.

Zakat is an act of worship which every Muslim should perform to help the underprivileged Muslims. In Quran, Zakat is discussed for a number of times. "And be steadfast in prayer and regular in charity: And whatever good ye send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah” (Qur’an 2:110).

Zakat cannot be given to anyone in need. There are eight kinds of people to whom Zakat can be given as mentioned in Quran: "The alms are only for the poor or needy; and the destitute; and those employed to collect Zakat; and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined towards Islam; and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause; and for the wayfarer, a traveler who is cut off from everything; a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” [Al-Quran 9:60]

Millions of low income people of the country are suffering great losses in their earnings since the enforcement of social distancing measures and lockdowns to fight novel Covid-19 outbreak. Food assistance must be delivered quickly to the millions of households across the country suffering from acute food shortage. People who have returned to their home villages from cities are not enrolled in any social safety net programmes and so need proper delivery mechanisms to get food aid emergency. Certainly there is a crisis as those who used to live hand-to-mouth have no work now. But many of them will fall under the social safety net and many of them went below the poverty level as their incomes came to a halt because of the coronavirus.

Islam is the only religion in which helping the needy is part of faith. It is not like any other charity. It is mandatory and is the 3rd pillar of Islam. If a Muslim is financially eligible but does not pay Zakat then he will no longer be a Muslim. In terms of economic conditions, there are both poor and rich people in our society. Zakat helps to bridge the gap between the rich and poor. If stability in society is achieved then peace and discipline will be ensured. The etymological meaning of Zakat is holiness, purity and to increase.

Many affordable people in our society neither calculate the Zakat nor distribute the same among insolvent poor. If they assess their Zakat properly, then a lot of destitute can be benefited in numerous way and it is one of the best way of social justice.

But this year the Covid-19 outbreak is impacting livelihood of a lot of people. Many Muslims cannot perform fasting due to want of food and starvation has become common. Zakat is a common charity for any time but many Muslim prefer to give it during the Ramadan and if we give the same to poor stricken by poverty and hunger, then it will be a great job and many people will be benefited from starvation. Certainly it will mitigate their untold sufferings and it is the right time to stay beside the hapless destitute.

In Islamic viewpoint, Zakat is not a mercy of the rich to the poor rather it is the right of the poor. Zakat increases piety (taqwa). It teaches Muslim that they should not indulge in unnecessary spending. Zakat ensures the proper distribution of wealth. As a result, country’s economy takes off. Production increases and unemployment is reduced, raising per capita income. The disparity of wealth between the rich and poor vanishes.

So, all of us who are affordable and solvent should come forward to stay beside destitute by donating Zakat in this holy Ramadan to mitigate the poor in this pandemic.

The writer is a banker and freelance contributor. E-mail: zrbbbp@gmail.com

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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