[Hundreds of thousands of Muslims offered Eid al Fitr at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Friday June 15, 2018 (Photo: SPA)]
The beauty of Islam lies in its teachings. With regard to its teachings, Islam is a unique religion. The teachings of Islam encompass all the necessary elements, which make the essence of humanity. The message of Islam is not restricted to conventional activities of Muslims only but is much broader. Besides five fundamentals of Islam— Kalima (faith), Nimaz (prayers), Zakat (charity), Sawm (fasting), and Haj (pilgrimage to Makkah) – which mark the foundation of this religion, it stresses not only upon human rights but animal rights as well. Regarding human rights, Islam is the only religion that protects minorities, opposes casteism and racism, preaches equality and above all wants everyone to live a life of dignity. It is worth to take pride in being a follower of such a religion that aims at eliminating the poor and rich dichotomy. Veritably, the concept of Zakat is based on aforesaid point. Zakat is highly recommended charity that, in fact, is obligatory for every well-off Muslim. It involves giving alms to needy, destitute, and people of economically marginalized sections of society, to raise their standard of living.
In addition to Zakat - one of the religious obligations, there exists another concept – Sadaqah, Voluntary Charity. Unlike Zakat – which is compulsory for every Muslim who meets certain conditions, the Sadaqah has no bindings, and is purely voluntary. Both these tasks, however; entail providing financial, material and economic support to those who cannot provide for themselves.
Also, there is one more form of charity which is specific to the month of Ramadan, known as ‘Sadqah-e-Fitr’. The latter has been ranked as ‘Wajib’ - meaning necessary, though not obligatory. The ‘Sadqah-e-Fitr’ is different from the rest of the two mentioned. Sadqah-e-Fitr is charity given to poor at the end of fasting during Ramadan and is to be paid before the Eid prayers.
Without dwelling deeper into the concept of ‘Sadaqah-i-Fitr’, it is important to mention its actual purpose. As a matter of fact, it is also a concern for the needy. When Muslims, after fasting for a period of one month, go for celebrations on Eid, celebrate it with religious fervor and jubilance, consume lavishly on the food, clothing etc. Our Islam prefers there should not be a disparity in the celebrations. Every Muslim, from different economic backgrounds, must enjoy this day exultantly. That is why it has been commanded to pay ‘Sadaqah-i-Fitr’ to the poor, before the Eid-prayers, so that the poor, too, could manage better clothes, food, and other requirements.
As far as poverty is, concerned, recent reports revealed that nearly 10.35% of the population in the J&K falls under Below Poverty Line – the condition, which is far better than any Indian states. Thus, statistically, poverty is not a challenging issue in our Jammu and Kashmir. Here, almost every family has been making both ends meet. But unfortunately, currently Kashmir is going through hard times and nothing is ‘well’ here. A large section of the population has a doleful story to tell and share and there is no end to the creation of such crestfallen stories.
Not every year or month, but every day arrives with gloom accompanying it. Fathers shoulder the coffin of their sons, day in and day out. Every other day, families lose their bread winners, rendering them helpless. Orphans are being created routinely, with most having none to take care of them. In this unfortunate place, Kashmir, thousands of people are languishing behind bars with their families surviving at the mercy of God. Most of these families are living the life of abject misery. These families hardly manage two-time meals and are badly ignored by one and all. Many families have suffered heavy losses and are not in a position to disclose their wretchedness to anyone. Similarly, there are multitudes of children who failed to continue their education because of destitution that the prevalent situation has brought to them. There is no doubt many families, including their children, are so dejected that every day would be ‘monster’ for them. They would be trying to escape the realities of life, but will not be able to do so. And this upcoming ‘Eid’ would not be a source of exhilaration for them rather a harbinger of distress.
However, beyond any doubt, the people of Kashmir have also a potential to turn the tables. In every nook and corner of the valley, public-spirited people are residing. We have no dearth of philanthropists and people with a benevolent heart, which we have proved time and again. But there is also a problem with most of us that we wait for the indigents to express that they are needy, which we need to jettison. There is a dire need of changing approach. We need to outreach underprivileged sections of the population voluntarily and extend a helping hand without waiting for them to ask. We must look around our respective communities, find out needy people, sufferers, necessitous, and approach them to assist. Especially while we go for celebrations of festivals, we need to remember these have-nots. We must share and spread happiness and smiles. When people in every community would develop such a spirit, no family anywhere would suffer any more. And for every home the festival – Eid’ would be truly ‘Eid’- (joyful occasion). Also, we Muslims have to pay ‘Zakat’ and ‘Sadqah’, but let us ensure it would reach where it is meant to reach. Let’s make sure that our donations in the form of Zakat, Sadqah etc finds better utility, resultantly the problems faced by people would vanish into thin air.
It is said, there is no better time to start than now. Let’s contemplate over this idea and put it into use sooner than later, so that this ‘Eid’ would be rejoicing for all of us. This would be a great service that a Muslim can render to his society and best way to receive blessings of Allah and his Prophet (Peacebe upon him).
May Allah put an end to our miseries and bless us all.
[Zeeshan Rasool Khan , writes on current issues and can be mailed at email@example.com. First published by CounterCurrents.org]
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