Zakaat to NGOs/NPOs

If you thought this blog would soon become something like Bridget Jones Diaries…then…you were wrong! 😀 Tou khair, I am fine now, Alhamdulillah.

So, this is not a post that I was planning to write. Instead I wanted to continue with the ‘Iqra’ wali discussion but I just had to say this after the zakaat thing was brought up during that discussion.

I know we should be talking about zakaat near ramadan cuz thats wen a lot of people give away their zakaat but then there are others like me who would just give away zakaat wenever possible. In addition to that, ramadan is too far away. Ill forget talking about it by then 😛

People usually give away zakaat in terms of cash.  Many people just hand in the money to some NGO/NPO and with this they think their task has been completed. Just wanted to share my own experience here which might help you people in making better decisions in finding the right person/proceudre to give away zakaat.

I have worked for nearly 6 months voluntarily at two different NGOs (one of them run by a popular singer, both of them claiming to improve the standard of education for the lesser priviliged). Now, with what I have seen, I do not think it is actually a very good idea to just hand in the money to them and then completely forget about it. Why? Well, lemme tell you something which I have seen being done. There’s a school in Shehdadpur where the students/teachers have no access to water (forget about clean water, there’s no water at all). The website of that particular NGO was asking for donations to be able to overcome this problem. Money did flow in (a lot through credit card transactions, something i need to talk about later in the post). Sadly, the school in Shedadpur still has no access to water because the money that was generated was instead used to get a new air-conditioning system in the CEO’s office, a new mineral water dispenser and also a coffee machine. The CEO also ordered an HRM system to be made by one of the leading software houses, something which I offered to make for free! With this I am not saying that you should not give your donations to these NGOs, I am just trying to say that you need to be sure where that money would be used. You could perhaps sponsor a child at SOS (ensuring that you do go to SOS yourself every now and then and meet the child personally), buy an ambulance for Sahara Trust or make a science lab for The Citizen’s Foundation but please just dont consider your job done simply by giving away the money! Further, if you think that is way too much for you, then you could perhaps help a relative, again by buying something yourself rather than just handing in money.

Now, coming back to paying your zakaat through credit card just by a click of a button. Im sorry to say but the use of credit card itself is prohibited in Islam. You are paying your zakaat, which is one of the basic five pillars of Islam and you are also paying interest on that transaction, for which the Prophet (SAW) is known to have said that taking/giving interest is like waging a war against Him and Allah (SWT). May Allah (SWT) keep us away from this laanat as much possible although it seems quite unlikely in today’s age…a topic which I would definitely like to talk about later in one of my posts.

EDIT: Please read this to view the continuation of the discussion that started in the comment section of this post

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Read: In the Name of your Lord Who created man from a blood clot

Note: This post is completely a result of a discussion which I was having with Safi yesterday. As it was completely random and on texts, i thought id write something which would might be benificial and motivating for others.

A little over 14 centuries ago  Prophet Mohammad (SAW), was meditating and speculating over various aspects of creation around him in his favorite resort, a cave named Hira in the mountanous region of Mecca when an Angel, Hazrat Gabriel (AS),  came to him and said, “Read.” “I cannot read,” the Prophet (SAW) said. Hazrat Gabriel (AS) squeezed the Prophet (SAW) and repeated the order thrice until the Prophet (SAW) started repeating the verses, trembling with fear. And thus, came the first commandment of Islam: READ.

After this, there were several instances where Allah (SWT) encouraged people to educate, research and instill curosity amongst themselves. These are just a few instances:

In the heavens and the earth there are certainly signs for the believers. And in your creation and all the creatures He has scattered about there are signs for people with certainty. (Surat al-Jathiyah: 3-4)

In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are Signs for people of intelligence: those who remember Allah standing, sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: “Our Lord, You did not create this for nothing. Glory be to You! So guard us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Surah Ali-‘Imran: 190-191)

Have they not looked at the camel – how it was created? and at the sky – how it was raised up? and at the mountains – how they were embedded? and at the earth – how it was smoothed out? So remind them! You are only a reminder. (Surat al-Ghashiyah: 17-21)

Allah created you from dust and then from a drop of sperm and then made you into pairs. No female gets pregnant or gives birth except with His knowledge. And no living thing lives long or has its life cut short without that being in a Book. That is easy for Allah. (Surah Fatir: 11)

In merely 23 years after the first verse of the Quran was revealed, Prophet Mohammad (SAW) laid the foundation and became the Head of State of an ideal state in Medina. There were social reforms in areas such as social security, family structure and women rights. There were also economic reforms such as zakaat. Ofcourse, the reforms were far more than the veneration that is left today. Even after his death, Islam grew not only politically and economically but also in education and arts. But soon, it all started to detoriate.

The main idea of Islam is now simply reduced to the five basic pillars and the real essence has been lost. We now only practice them all simply as a habit which we have picked up over the years without trying to know the real meanings. The ummah has sadly forgotten the first command ever given by Allah (SWT) to the Prophet (SAW). Today, we only get education to land a good job, get married in a rich family and have a luxurious life. The curosity factor is just no more and as a result we are dependent upon all the technology that is imported from the West, which was only a few centuries ago known as the barbaric world. Today, the highest ratio of PhDs/scientists is in Israel which means there is a high degree of research being carried out by Jews in practically all fields making them world leaders. As a result, they make all the policies and are becoming stronger by the day.

So what do we do now? Of course something has terribly gone wrong. We are all so-called educated Muslims. I am sure there’s something which we can do to help the state of Muslims.

The Satanic Verses

I promised Status that Id soon be talking about the Satanic Verses a while back…so here it is.

As with all men with great popularity, several myths are associated with the Prophet (SAW): some created out of reverence and others out of enmity. The episode of the Satanic Verses is also one of these myths. I call it a myth because neither there is a reference in the Qur’an of this incident nor in the most reliable accounts the Prophet’s (SAW) life. Would you really believe in a historic event which does not appear in authentic sources? At least I wont.

The story, as it appears in books by several historians, says that the Shaitan interfered with the revelation of the Surah-an-Najam (Surah 53).  The tradition has it that the Prophet (SAW) was ‘taken over’ by the Shaitan while it was revealed and was inspired to utter two verses which declared that the three goddesses al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat could be revered (Nauzubillah) as the intermediate between man and Allah (SWT). Since the Quraysh considered these goddesses as banat al-lah, they immediately thought that Islam had placed these goddesses as equal to Allah (SWT). Because now it seemed that the Qur’an had endorsed the belief of their forefathers, they no longer saw Islam as a sacriligious threat. The story goes on that the Prophet (SAW) later received another revelation that it all had been inspired by the Shaitan (hence the name Satanic Verses). Consequently, the two verses were expunged from the Qur’an.

The story, not appearing in the most authentic Muslim sources, soon lost its significance in the Muslim World and merely remained a myth that was only covered by Western (read Christian, anti Islam) writers until Rushdie came up with his own version which repeats all the old Western myths about the Prophet (SAW) in his infamous The Satanic Verses (which I regret reading myself). For me, this myth is nothing more than just a western propoganda designed (and now embedded in the western mindset) that Islam is inherently a flawed religion by showing that the only and the most authentic source itself  was unable to distinguish between the good and evil.