Ramzan 2024: Technology & Crowd-Funding Are Changing The Way Of Giving Zakat

Ramzan 2024: Technology & Crowd-Funding Are Changing The Way Of Giving Zakat

Though Zakat can be given at any time of the year, most Muslims give the donations during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan or Ramadan as it is a period of Ibadat or spirituality.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Tuesday, March 12, 2024, 11:45 PM IST
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Ramzan 2024: Technology & Crowd-Funding Are Changing The Way Of Giving Zakat |

Mumbai: The month of Ramzan, which began this week, is as much a season for charity as it is for prayers and abstinence. This is the month when believers give Zakat, an obligatory duty in Islam, to those who need help. Though Zakat can be given at any time of the year, most Muslims give the donations during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan or Ramadan as it is a period of Ibadat or spirituality.

Organisations engaged in the process of collecting and channeling these donations said that, lately, there has been a shift in the causes for which people are donating, with education and livelihood grants becoming the most important causes attracting charity, rather than food and clothing which were the most popular causes earlier.

A survey by the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) in 2019, said that 47% respondents identified education as the most important cause for which Zakat should be used; 15% listed economic empowerment as the top cause.

Syed Suhail Abbas of Zakat Centre India (ZCI), a group set up two years ago, said that the organisation looked at causes as 'consumptive' and 'productive', the latter referring to donations largely for food and clothing kits. "Instead of Zakat for consumptive causes, we focus on education and livelihood,' said Abbas who added that Zakat is neither donations or charity but an obligation for Muslims who are in a financial situation where they can donate 2.5% of the annual increment in their wealth.

ZCI, which has over 20 centres across the country, has an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) where volunteers help beneficiaries identify business ideas and offer them help to start careers as small entrepreneurs.

Funds directed at specific causes are called 'strategic donations' by Aamir Edresy of AMP which started the country's first digital crowd-fundraising platform called IndiaZakat which has collected Rs 19 crores from nearly 65,000 donations since Ramzan in 2020. These donations have funded around 6000 individual causes - 40% of them educational.

"A digital forum that offers transparency and credibility was a need. Otherwise it would be impossible to get 65,000 donations," said Edresy.

IndiaZakat works by fielding a team of volunteers who consult members of the local ulema, or religious scholars, and teachers, to identify causes that need financial help. Once a cause is identified, it is available on the website for donations. Financial grants reach beneficiaries without any cost or fees.

Iftekhar Bidkar, the head of IndiaZakat, said AMP brought together people who were passionate about making a difference to the society through an online Zakat platform, birthing the idea of IndiaZakat.

Members of the Muslim community are recognising Zakat as a instrument of change and development. The AMP survey said that 77% of respondents believed that Zakat has the potential to transform India's Muslim community. About 70% of respondents in the AMP survey said that strategic donations that identified target beneficiaries was the best way to channel donations.

At the National Zakat Conference held at New Delhi in February, delegates spoke about how to turn Zakat beneficiaries into Zakat givers by creating economic opportunities.

Organisations estimate that the value of India's annual Zakat economy is about Rs 10,000 crores. Some estimates put it around Rs 30,000 crores after calculating the number of Muslim families who give Zakat, and the average value of donations. In the absence of a central organisation to monitor and study the volume and deployment of Zakat funds, many groups are discussing the idea of a national body to bring together all agencies involved in the work.

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