“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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.