As we are approaching the last days of this holy month, many of us are hesitant where to donate Zakat. We therefore took advantage of our last BUILDx session to make it easier for all of us to know more about zakat, its morals, and to whom it should be given. And how can we contribute to our community’s well-being by doing so?
We first introduced Dr. Mohammad Alhnine, specialized in Islamic finance, assistant professor at Birzeit university and the vice president of High Authority Legitimate supervision. Dr. Mohammad initiated the talk by getting down to brass tacks about Zakat. Here are his insights…
What is Zakat and why is it so important?
Zakat is the poor’s right from the rich, a monetary contribution of wealth given to those in need in the society. Zakat is the third pillar of Islam and has been mentioned 30 times in the Quran. It has also always been accompanied with prayer which clearly indicates that they are spiritually inseparable. We are religiously obligated and internally driven to donate a portion of our wealth to charitable causes. Our community is driven by people’s powers and good work, that is why every person’s contribution to the society is instantly reflected and appreciated by many directly or indirectly affected.
Who should I give my zakat to?
Dr. Mohammad also added that Quran has not specified a lot of details about Zakat as the concept of giving cannot be limited in terms. Zakat is given over the wealth that has not been used for a year and is excessive to the family’s basic needs. This includes money, land, harvest, ore, and animal wealth. On the other hand, Quran has clearly specified that there are eight specific channels for Zakat: “Zakat expenditures are only for the poor, the needy, those employed to collect zakat, for bringing hearts together (for Islam), freeing captives (or slaves), and for those in debt, and for the cause of Allah and fir the traveler”. Therefore, as Dr. Mahmoud added, Zakat can be paid either individually, or through charities and institutions that focus their work on helping one or more of those recipients.
Afterwards, we heard from some of the inspiring organizations whose hard work and dedication has changed the lives of many on many levels.
Qawareb is a youth led initiative that has been active for more than 7 years, Azad shams has been one of the volunteers since the beginning. Qawareb first started to provide aid for the people in need during the winter, but then realized that charity work cannot be restricted to a specific season. People don’t just need help when it’s cold. Therefore, Qawareb began providing families with customized packages based on their needs and other basic supplies, and has continued to do so for the past 7 years. As Azad mentioned, Qawareb believes in the goodness of the people, and this is what drives the volunteers to stay active and passionate about what they are doing.
Azad also assured the fact that volunteers at Qawareb reach families wherever they are. They listen to their personal stories, and attempt to spread messages of hope while doing so. “Kafelat qawareb” is another initiative that takes place once a year, where they reach remote areas and districts in Palestine, that are usually abandoned and unreached. Qawareb decided to aid those people, and that has also led other initiatives and charity workers to notice such communities, making our society more united regardless of the geographical location.
Rotraract Club of Ramallah
Rawia Abu Aqel is one of eight volunteers at Rotaract Ramallah, whose love of serving and charity work have put them in one place. Rotract Ramallah was established in 2018 under the international Rotary, where a group of passionate and energetic youth lead initiatives targeting families in need to help improve their living conditions.
Rotaract held a lot of heartwarming initiatives such as allocating food parcels in Ramadan, gifting children with toys and games in orphanages and hospitals, and providing medical supplements to Palestinian refugee camps locally and regionally. Additionally, they held 6 motivational meetings within 7 months with experts from diversified fields who shared their knowledge and expertise with college students and fresh graduates, inspiring them with actual and real success stories.
Lastly, during Ramadan and with the current crisis, Rotaract has launched their initiative “shahr Alkheir” where they collaborated with Qawareb to help families in need around Palestine. Rotaract members reached these families personally, listened to their needs, and heard their stories. Doing so helped volunteers provide these families with non-traditional packages that were customized to their personal needs.. Rotaract view themselves as an intermediate body between donors and those of need in our society.
Raseel is a non-profit that was established for the sole purpose of helping families who have children with autism-related learning difficulties. The organization provides them with the necessary therapy sessions and support. Alaa Halayka has informed us that those sessions are pricey and usually children with autism need an average of one session a day depending on their case; and there are a number of families who cannot afford such expenditures that are on average 2000 shekels a month. Raseel, formed by a team of 11 members and specialists, who are providing a rehabilitation program that includes occupational therapy, speech therapy and special education in five specialized rooms for about 20 children since 2017.
Currently, and due to the lockdown, Raseel had to stop therapy sessions to comply with current regulations. This significantly affects the children’s learning process and their progress, which highly depend on continuity. The team at Raseel are continuously offering the parents some guidelines so they can help their children cope with the crisis. However, and as Alaa mentioned, as soon as they get back to their program, they will need almost double the amount of sessions so they make up for the time cut off.
During the upcoming period, Raseel will be holding a crowdfunding campaign to be capable to help these children and provide them with the support and care they deserve using all available resources, so stay tuned and be part of their process.
Dalia association is a community foundation that utilizes available resources to find sustainable solutions for community needs and demands. During our session Rasha Sansur told us more about Dalia’s work and vision, as they use all available resources to support initiatives through community-controlled grant-making, where the community addresses a problem or a need and seeks for Dalia to get the fund that is acquired from the community. This way, Dalia emphasizes the importance of standing together to build a better future for ourselves using all available feasible resources, making us less dependent on any external conditional financing, that is restricting us from a lot of our rights and freedom as Palestinians.
We ended the session on an inspiring note. We were again reminded that even during a global pandemic, our local community continues to work passionately to better our reality. These organizations and volunteer-led initiatives rely on the community support for sustainability. So if you still haven’t given your Zakat, consider one of the above initiatives. Help make our community more united, and help those in need and remember that this simple act of worship is capable of changing lives of many, especially in such difficult times. Do not hesitate to contact these organizations and know that you can purify your soul with donations all year around.
Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak!
Rafeef Quzmar is a an intern at BuildPalestine, a senior business student at Birzeit University and a former exchange student of Philipps University. She pursues her passion through volunteering in youth empowerment programs and is plainly dedicated to achieving social change.