Zakat

“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”

 

We have all heard the above saying and we all acknowledge the wisdom in these words. But have you considered these wise words in relation to Zakat?

Each year Muslims distribute billions of pounds as Zakat. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and a compulsory duty for all Muslims to fulfil. The Zakat distribution system traditionally resembles the first part of the above saying, as the money we donate often benefits many people and is not enough to have a life affecting change for one individual. If we were to give an individual enough money for example to start a business, that individual could then feed himself and his own family. As a result he would become an empowered giver of Zakat as opposed to a needy receiver and we would have the satisfaction of seeing more clearly and directly the benefits being reaped from our Zakat.

So why do we not do this?

  1. We do not trust poor people enough to give them large sums of money. Instead we either spread the risk by giving lots of people small amounts or we trust an organisation or individual to distribute our Zakat for us.

 

There is nothing wrong with trusting an organisationor an individual to distribute our Zakat. However, we should not be giving our Zakat to organisations or an individual based on the sole reason that we distrust fellow Muslims. We should give our money where we see there is a need, with the purest of intentions and trust in Allah (subhanahu wa ta ala) to guide the people to utilise it for the best.  That is not to say you should give your Zakat somewhere you know it will be squandered away, but at the same time you should not give into distrust based on hearsay.

  1. We gain greater personal satisfaction from helping a group of people, as opposed to one person.

 

As stated above, by helping one person, you will not be only helping them, but their families and dependants as well. In fact you will get a greater sense of personal satisfaction because you will be able to see your money having a more profound effect.

  1. We are not aware of how much Zakat to give

There are still a substantial number of people who do not sufficiently calculate their Zakat. With technology today we have dozens of wbsites that have Zakat calculators and guides to help you calculate our Zakat. There is no reason why anyone should be giving a penny less than what they are obliged to do. We must remember that Zakat is one of the fundamental pillars of Islam and therefore we must deal with it with as much diligence as we do our prayers, fasting, hajj and so on.

May Allah (subhanahu wa ta ala) guide us all in this matter.

Salim Loonat

Nov 2011.

 

ALIPORE; GONE GOOD TO BAD??

 

I’ve just returned to the UK, after spending the last four months in Alipore, India. Lately, Alipore has become my second home as I approach retirement. I always thought I belonged to Alipore therefore I rebuilt my ancestor’s home up to the comfortable standards I was accustomed to in the UK. This was done so that me and my wife could spend lazy days in Alipore, enjoy a simple life, with the masjid around the corner, do a bit of charity work and try not to get involved with village politics. The most important aim is to miss the British winter, and so far we have spent the last six winters in India. I must say, I am beginning to learn the Indian way of life all over again.

I was sixteen years old when I came to the UK to join my brothers Ahmed and Ismail. I went to college here, well supported by my brothers. I married Amina, have two lovely sons, and managed to educate them, both now have professional careers. After my initial career in textiles, I started in the fast food business. With lots of hard work and barakat from Allah SWT, I did well.

People often ask me about the deterioration of Alipore and its surroundings. Most commonly comment and question I hear are!

 

Unfortunately, you can’t trust anyone, even your close relatives!

People are totally dishonest.

*  Even the poor are difficult to judge.
* The village is dirty and the roads are in disrepair.

* There is no unity amongst Aliporeans
These sorts of remarks and many more are often heard. What can we from the UK do about it? After all it’s our village too. The majority of people returning to the UK would say “why bother? We can’t change anything from here”! Sometimes we bring all these frustrations to the AGM of Alipore Muslim Association UK as though it’s our business.

Alipore has its own fair share of problems and people from South Africa and UK have to take part of the blame. Following the First World War, people who migrated to SA totally took over the welfare of the village. They bought a lot of land for their relatives, built houses, roads, masajids, madressahs, schools etc. This lasted until 1960’s, by which time the new migrants to the UK were ready to take over this role. In fact, this time the village had hit the jackpot. One simple letter or phone call to UK would pay for all the mod-con facilities one needed. Electricity, new bathroom and toilet, well planned new houses, mineral water plant, new masajids, new madrasah, new school, road, gutter etc. Yes folks, anything they asked UK people have obliged. So much so that now Alipore totally depend on UK help. Alipore have changed beyond recognition. There is a saying lighting doesn’t strike twice at the same place but in Alipore it did, before SA and UK people says enough is enough, there are the land their fathers and great grand fathers bought and farmed so lovingly. What one can do with it? Too lazy to do farming so let’s grab and sell it to the highest bidder and live a luxurious life while it lasts.  Thanks to Uncle Sam there are all the modcon available just round the corner. Choice of cars, glittering shopping mall, all the luxury goods &food, hundreds of doctors to treat you… It’s a different life to that of their parents and grandparents. Shall we say they are just born lucky? Or spoiled by us?

My advice to you is, if you visiting Alipore, enjoy lovely weather, hospitality of the village, you will love fresh local produce food, pay respect to your relatives (but don’t be so naive and start dishing out money as though you are a king back home). You can’t change anything in Alipore so don’t even say anything, they will simply shrug it off anyway.

Salim Loonat

April 2014.

 

 How it all Began – An Essay by Salim Loonat

The world war just ended, but India was in midst of a new war, war for independence. In a sleepy village called Alipore, young men were worried about what was going to happen to their future, some of them were optimistic whilst others had no faith in the eventual events to come. It had been a few years since the last ship left from Mumbai to Berra and Durban, South Africa. Most of the young men from the village had left for the greener pasture of Africa. Those remaining were looking elsewhere for the betterment of themselves and their families. They had been told that South Africa had shut the door to newcomers for good, so those who had little or no land to farm were looking elsewhere for employment.

So many young Aliporeans who couldn’t get to Africa opted for the bright light of Mumbai and settled there. Some found work in hotels, restaurants, selling papad and pannier door to door, whilst others worked for Parsi Bawas, few even became rent collectors. One very poor and destitute mother who had 6 mouth to feed, said these famous words to her eldest son as she cry goodbye to him “son, just go from here, rather returning back to village, jump yourself to Mumbai ocean” were echoed all over the village. Those remain in the village helped their elders and became farmers.

Time passed on, it’s early 1950, and it had been a few years since India’s independence, as the initial euphoria died down, the nation moved forward under the leadership of Mr J Nehru. News filtered through that the mother-country had opened the door for much needed manual workers for their factories. It was an opportunity to go to England, where previously only the Rajah and Maharajah went and their sons for further education, to sail to farther shores was in the Aliporeans blood as they been going to Africa for nearly 70 years; this was an opportunity too good to miss. No one has ever gone to Europe before.

Those Aliporeans working in Mumbai were on a fact-finding mission; they wanted to know how to sail to England, get a passport and the cost for such a long journey. It was also the early days of aeroplane flights to England. Nevertheless there were regular ship and air flights from Mumbai to London.

During the British rule, it was not difficult to obtain an Indian passport, but after the independence it was difficult to obtain a passport, why does a villager need a passport? Why does he/she want to go abroad anyway? There were so many requirements to fulfil. This was an opportunity for agents to make some money if they could find a way to obtain a passport. There is always a loophole, and Indians are clever at finding such a loophole. Someone came up with the idea that Muslims can have a passport to visit their holy land i.e. Makah for hajj or Karbala in Iraq. Just writing “to visit holy places” on an application form, they can have a passport. Soon the word got around to most Aliporeans and once they had a passport it was plain-sailing to come to England. In the mid-1950′s, there was no visa system, no border control and no question asked at the port.

In the mid-1950′s England was in an economic boom. It wasn’t long since the Second World War was over; there was so much to do to rebuild the country, big demand for the British goods all over the globe. There was free National Health to run, roads to build, factories to run, and there weren’t enough people to fulfil all the demands. Britain was crying out for help, and guess who came to help in their hour of despair? A little village called Alipore from Gujarat in India. Hundreds of young and old Aliporeans came to these shores from mid 1950′s to late1970′s.Soon the news spread like wildfire to surrounding villages .People from South Gujarat joined the exodus and thousands of young men and women came to work here in England.

TIME LINE… ALIPOREANS IN U.K.

1951….    First Aliporeans to arrive in U.K. namely Ebrahim bahi Bilakhdi.

1953/55…Few others followed

1955/60…Almost 70 aliporean are here in U.K.

1962 …….U.K. stops immigration from the sub continent. Voucher system introduced. Wife and spouse now arriving here .

1962/64…First arrival take advantage of the voucher system and brings hundreds of other relatives and friends.Plenty of jobs in Woollen, Cotton and Hosiery mills all over the U.K.

1965….  New strick rules introduced onVoucher system ,by now some 300 aliporeans settled here

1966…     First of many young Aliporeans come to marry

1967/70.. Those who brought their family here, now have their boys/girls to marry,nearly 200 such young men and women  arrieved here to marry.

1970…. Settlement time, almost all who arrived here have now jobs and their own homes. Alipore Muslim Association established.

1975… Aliporeans begining to go in to their own business, majority of Aliporeans still working in Mills.

1980…Recession hits U.K. many mills closed down, some Aliporeans venture for small corner shops and other small business. Education for second generation became a priority.

1985…Many big mills shut down for good, first arrival immigrants loses many jobs. So many  take advantage of going in to small business.

1990… Well settled community with big Aliporeans population in Batley,Blackburn and Leicester.

2000; The first generation of Aliporeans, well educated and supported by parents are the back bone of the Alipoprean community.

2010; The migrant Aliporeans are now in dwindling number left, Batley and Blackburn cemetery is living proof. The first and second generation is here to make lasting impact If you have any information on above please correct me.

April 2002