Srinagar: Ramazan, the holy month when Muslims all over the world fast during daylight hours and abstain from wrong doings, is also the month when Muslims contribute to charity work and donations for the less fortunate.
However, verification is the most important part when it comes to who you are giving charity to. It needs to go to the needy. If not verified, people can deceive you and your charity won’t serve its purpose.
There have been many instances in the Kashmir valley when men screaming for charity on loudspeakers, moving around in vans and autos or going door to door with their fake receipt books were caught by people. The frauds still exist and all you can do is be cautious.
Recalling such incidents and condemning giving charity to unknown organisations or people, Chairman J&K Yateem Foundation, Muneer Ahmad Dar said, “The policy of our Yateem Foundation has always been that we don’t send anyone door to door asking for charity for the orphans. We collect it in our offices. We try to raise awareness about how one can land up in the trap of these frauds in Masajid/ other places/via media.”
“Islam also does not like this kind of approach where you give charity without verifying. I remember, about 4 years ago, a man from Kishtawar had printed a fake receipt book in the name of our foundation. He would take money in our name. But people who knew how we work called us and we caught him. He apologised and then we let him go,” shared Dar.
He also said that it was not the only incident when someone had tried to fool people in the name of J&K Yateem Foundation. Adding to it, he said that even if some institutions send people door to door, they send the orphans along which has a bad effect on the morale of the orphans.
He further said that thousands of orphanages have been registered with the government but ‘very few actually work’.
Mohammad Shareef, General Manager at a non-governmental organisation, Save the Children said that there are 2 Lakh 14 thousand orphans in the valley.
“This is the overall figure. Out of these, only 7 percent of orphans are in orphanages,” he said, inferring that the number of people who come asking for money in the name of orphans is more than it should be.
An average household here gets at least three such visitors in a day depending on if it’s Ramzan or Friday.
A couple of days before the onset of the holy month of Ramzan this year, Parveena, a housewife residing in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir was astonished to see a man asking her for charity in the name of an orphanage. She had recognised his face. The same person had visited her in the same week. As she enquired if it was the same person or not, he refused, convinced her that he was a ‘new guy’, took the money and left never to come back again.
“I asked him if he had a twin brother. I would have doubted myself but my daughter came to me while he was leaving. She confirmed that he was the man who had come the other day as well. He lied to us. He cannot be a genuine person,” said Parveena, adding that he would usually avoid giving receipts for the money he took.
Parveena, like the majority of the Kashmiris, cannot say ‘No’ to people who come to her place, knocking her door, asking for money, rice, clothes and food in the name of Allah.
“When he/she takes the name of the Almighty, we don’t think twice. Moreover, we (Kashmiris) are soft hearted people. We pity them and if it helps someone, we would be more than happy to help,” said Parveena.
However, counter to this general view to pay alms, Islam, a religion followed by the majority of Kashmiris has already laid down a blueprint to be followed.
A local Maulvi (Priest) in Soibugh, Firdous Ahmad, told FreePress Kashmir that verification is the first step when it comes to giving charity. On the basis of eight factors, he/she can spend the Zakaat (charity) money.
“ Then one can give alms to 1) A handicapped person, 2) A person who is bodily fit but is unable to sustain his/her family, 3) People who dedicate their lives to religion and do not get time to take care of the family, 4) A non-Muslim (Yahudi/ Nasara) in the society (To make him fall in love with Islam), 5) One who cannot lend back the borrowed money, 6) A traveler, 7) A sick person who cannot buy medicine/ afford treatment, 8) Darul Uloom/ institutions like that,” the Maulvi explained.
He concluded saying that when a person comes to your place, Islam asks you not to say ‘No’ to him. But, he added that one should not pay so much that he/she would regret on getting to know that it wasn’t a genuine person.
As far as the frauds are concerned, Feroz said that nothing can be done about them.
“If 5 persons come to your place, at least 3 would be genuine. And if you come to know that you spent your charity on a wrong person, you have to stop doing it. But, Allah accepts your charity,” said Feroz.
“If such a person (fraud) spends a Paisa out of a Rupee for himself from the money taken in the name of an orphan, he shall taste the hell-fire even if he dies as a martyr,” he added.