KOCHI – The international Zakat conference, which concluded its deliberations here Sunday, emphasized the significance of Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, in poverty alleviation, job creation and boosting human welfare.
Professor Tariq Mansoor, vice chancellor Aligarh Muslim University, who opened the conference on Friday, called for organized collection and distribution of Zakat in order to eradicate poverty in India and bring about a paradigm shift in social empowerment.
“Only 10% of Muslims in India currently pay Zakat and if all wealthy Muslims pay Zakat no one will suffer from hunger and poverty in the country,” the VC said. “Zakat is the answer to burning issues of economics,” he added.
Zakat is a spiritual obligation on the part of every Muslim who has the required amount of wealth to pay it, he said, adding that Zakat will have a positive impact not only on the receiver but also on the society as a whole.
“The Zakat system bridges the gap between the rich and the impoverished and protects the dignity of the poor,” Mansoor said.
In countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei the state directly collects and distributes Zakat. In non-Muslim countries like the US, UK and India many organizations do the job in an organized manner.
Mansoor said the Zakat system is akin to provident fund. “Zakat is a kind of cooperative society for Muslims. It’s an insurance company akin to provident fund. It supports the unemployed, the destitute, the sick, widows and orphans and frees Muslims from tomorrow’s worries and anxieties,” he said quoting Maulana Abul Aala Moudoodi, a prominent Islamic scholar and winner of King Faisal Prize for Service to Islam.
“The best way to make this insurance company successful is to pay the premium of 2.5% from our wealth,” the vice chancellor said in his keynote speech while emphasizing the need to institutionalize Zakat to make the system more effective and beneficial.
“If we implement Islamic principles and teachings honestly and effectively it can solve all our problems. During the time of Caliph Omar Bin Abdul Aziz it was difficult to find a recipient of Zakat because of progress and prosperity enjoyed by people as a result of his rule,” he explained.
P. Mujeebrahman, chairman of People’s Foundation, the chief organizer of the event, said Muslims in India can mobilize huge amounts of money in Zakat annually if effective measures have been taken to collect it.
Speaking to Saudi Gazette, he said, Zakat can be used to carry out many social welfare projects in the country including construction of homes for the needy and providing medical assistance to poor patients.
India is home to the second largest Muslim population in the world. Analysts believe that the yearly Zakat output of India ought to be to the tune of 200 billion rupees. Affluent Kerala Muslims can contribute between 20 billion to 30 billion rupees to the Zakat fund annually.
M.I. Abdul Aziz, president of Jamaat-e-Islami in Kerala, presided over the opening session. M.I. Shanavas, a Parliament member, Kochouseph Chittilappilly, chairman and CEO of V-Guard Industries, Abdul Qadir Buhari, chairman BSA Crescent Institute of Science and Technology and C.P. John, former planning board member, Kerala were other speakers.
Chittilappilly said all religions have given importance to charitable activities. “Muslims should be ready to give alms not only in Ramadan but throughout the year to uplift the downtrodden,” he added.
Buhari said his company has developed an advanced electronic platform (Ketto.org) to collect Zakat. “Within a short span it was able to collect 1.8 billion rupees,” he said, adding that e-zakat system can be effectively implemented in India.
John said the Zakat system would contribute to reducing economic disparity in the community. “It also plays a big role in protecting self-respect of the poor. Zakat must be distributed at homes of the poor,” he pointed out.
He equaled the impact of Zakat in Kerala to the state government’s financial support to Panchayats. “In Malappuram district of Kerala, Zakat is given to the needy, irrespective of their cast and creed,” he added.
International speakers who presented papers in the conference included Dr. Ali Al-Quradaghi who gave a presentation on the modern economic domains in light of Zakat, and Dr. Ajeel Al-Nashmi presented a paper on Zakat policies, social services and developmental approaches.
Dr. Mohammed Ayub Mian spoke on Zakat management in Bangladesh, Muneer Rafeeq of International Islamic University, Malaysia, explained Zakat collection and distribution in his country.
Zainab Fida Ahsan of INCIF New Delhi gave a presentation on “Exploring Zakat and Awqaf as tools for community development” while Dr. Magda Ismail Abdel Mohsin spoke on the potential of Zakat in ending poverty and empowering the mass.”
Abdullah Manham, public relations manager, highlighted the conference’s success in terms of participation and thought-provoking discussions. He said about 60 research papers were presented in the conference attended by a large number of students, researchers, scholars and businessmen.
“Many questions were raised on various aspects of Zakat and were answered by scholars and speakers. Dr. Al-Quradaghi said there are evidences in the books of Shafi school of thought including Kitab Al-Umm supporting collective distribution of Zakat,” Manham told Saudi Gazette.
“Some research papers emphasized the need to use Zakat fund for helping the poor and needy to stand up on their own feet without depending on charities in the future. Imam Shafi and other prominent scholars have stressed the need for such welfare programs based on Zakat,” he said.
P.K. Abdul Ghafour