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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ALHABIBIYYAH ZAKAH DISBURSEMENT

Alhabibiyyah, in all its forms and segments, (Islamic Society, Zakah Foundation, Mosque, Academy, etc) has become a household name, touching the lives of Muslims, and setting agenda for Islamic organisations in Nigeria. You are entitled to your opinion about the people behind Alhabibiyyah; they are not unmindful of petty tyranny, name calling and strife from people who failed to do their duty but would not allow others do the right thing. The leadership of Alhabibiyyah has developed the requisite thick skin that has made it to be resolute in continuing the good work without being slowed down by the blame of any blamer.
Recently, I was the Guest Speaker in a function organised by Alhabibiyyah Zakah Foundation to disburse zakah to more than 30 recipients in a manner unprecedented in the history of giving out zakkah in this country. Motor cycles, deep freezers, grinding machines, and cash were disbursed to different recipients who cut across ethnicity and area of residence in Abuja.
Some people criticised the way Alhabibiyyah conducted the disbursement exercise. They did not understand why recipients should be given motor cycles, deep freezers, etc; or why members of the press were invited to cover ‘an event that is supposed to be between the disburser and his Lord’.
Muslims in this country are used to witnessing a long queue of destitute recipients, under the sun’s full heat, controlled by mounted troops of policemen in front of the houses of the wealthy waiting for between N5, 000 to N10, 000 per person as disbursement of zakah. Yes, whoever is used to this debasing and humiliating sight will find Alhabibiyyah’s ‘benevolent innovation’ of disbursing zakkah to recipients in an atmosphere devoid of chaos as something new, or even wrong. Yes, it is indeed strange to find both the giver and the receiver of zakah seated under the same canopy listening to sermon on the third pillar of Islaam, and how it can be a potent poverty eradication tool in our society. Yes, it is rare, in the history of zakkah disbursement in Nigeria, to find an indigent person receiving zakah without losing face or human dignity.
What is Islaam-in-Nigeria zakah disbursement norm is for recipients to know their insignificant place when receiving zakah; to be given what will keep them in destitution forever, never to be able to use their initiative in any commercial venture; they should live and die as annual recipients of zakah!
The intent of The Law Giver in the institution of zakah is to make a rich man out of an impoverished person; change a recipient to a giver of zakah, such that once anybody receives today, they cease to be recipients from that moment in time, and start thinking about how to give out zakah to others next year. Of course you cannot do that with N5, 000, N10, 000 or even N20, 000. The barakah in zakah is not measured by how many people receive it, but on the basis of the number of lives Allah improves through the disburser. In other words, it is not the more recipients the better the reward; no, but rather, the fewer the better, because each one of them will have something substantial to either enhance their commercial activities, or assist them start somewhere toward a more fulfilling, complete, and dignified existence. In addition, the number of future givers of zakah will surely swell.
On the issue of inviting the press to the occasion of the disbursement of zakah by Alhabibiyyah, I do not see anything un-Islamic in that. Those who saw nothing good in what Alhabibiyyah did thought the presence of press to be for show off which renders righteous works fruitless. They are entitled to their understanding. What they do not know is that Alhabibiyyah, through its zakah Foundation, encouraged wealthy individuals and corporate organisations to bring what they remove out of their zakatable properties for disbursement to eligible recipients. Alhabibiyyah is only a channel through which the zakah passes to the poor. The money was not sourced from any investment of Alhabibiyyah. No, the foundation is disbursing it on behalf of others.
Let us assume for argument’s sake that Alhabibiyyah is giving out zakah from its own property and calling the press to let the world know about it, in a time that the Muslim community has neglected this pillar of Islam, or misrepresented its essence. Alhabibiyyah, in this, will be amply rewarded by Allah for awakening the Muslim Ummah to the proper way of giving out zakah to the poor. You only need to remember the humble, yet open donations of Abubakr and others (R.A) to the state of Islam to appreciate what I am saying here.
Moreover, the scholars say that there are instances where ‘the objectionable’ is actually ‘recommendable’. Self-praise is abhorred but in war times, one is permitted to praise themselves, and even be proud with their lineage. During the Battle of Hunain, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon, said: ‘Doubtless, I am the Prophet of Allah, and I am the son of Abdulmuttalib!’(Sahih al-Bukhari, English Translation, vol 4, Book 52, Fighting for the Cause of Allah, Hadith 181)
By the way, a lot of people seem to confuse zakah and sadaqah; the one is compulsory and the other voluntary. With sadaqah, you get more reward for hiding the charity but in the case of zakah, you must pay up and be seen to have paid. It is a compulsory tax on your excess wealth with a fixed percentage of 2.5%.
Fund raising activities to support Islaamic causes around the world are broadcast live (at least before America’s sanctions against Muslims helping Islaam in any way after 9/11 attacks), where Muslims vie with one another in ‘lending to Allah a goodly loan’; if one Muslim gives a certain amount of money, his brother would try to outdo him, just like Abubakr and Umar, may Allah be pleased with them, did during the lifetime of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him.
Zakah foundations in Nigeria should take a leaf from what Alhabibiyyah has done. Let there be transparency in the process of selection and disbursement to recipients; let there be noise in the press about it in order to sensitize the Muslims and remind the neglectful on the third pillar of their religion. If 2.5% of the wealth in Muslims’ possession was to be disbursed the Alhabibiyyah way, our streets would not have been littered with beggars; poverty would have been eradicated as we saw during the reign of Umar Ibn Abdulaziz when not a single eligible recipient was found because everybody was sated.
Well done is better than well said. It is time Muslim organisations started copying Alhabibiyyah in zakah disbursement. People want to see commitment and sincerity in what you do as an organisation; they want to make sure you are not another thief who will collect their zakah and eat it alone without giving it out to anybody. 
Alhabibiyyah also has room for improvement. I suggest they make the names of zakah payers and how much each person paid public information and they should have a percentage for themselves - Allah has made this halaal for whoever undertakes to distribute the tax among its lawful recipients. This not only prevents suspicion and rancour, it prevents greed and temptations. Well done, Alhabibiyyah!
FEEDBACK
  1. Thanks. Allah (SWT) will accept all our efforts as act of Ibadah and bless us with ALJANATUL FRIDAUS. Again, Jazakum Lahu khayran !!! Shuukrah. Sec-Al-habibiyyah (08056112626)
  2. Salam, I read that your piece again on alhabibiyyah, honestly it has provided a guideline for our operation. Just to say thank you once again. (07031059755)
  3. Salam,Your write-up today is incredible in writing and I know rewarding in intention. Imam Fuad (08033147828)

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