The holy month of Ramzan, which starts on June 19, is the time Muslims loosen their purse strings and donate the Zakat - an annual donation that provides food, shelter and money to the homeless, and education to the poor
The Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a mandatory tax to be paid by every able-bodied Muslim, annually. The concept of the Zakat provides the person with a 'purified' income and helps bring about prosperity in society in general.
Gulzar Azmi, secretary, legal cell, Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra
As per the calculations, the Zakat is about 2.5 per cent of the annual income that is to be paid every year. This Zakat is then forwarded to various collectors and Jamats. One such organisation is the Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra that has been collecting donations and Zakat and putting it to charitable use.
Individually, the Zakat may seem like a meagre amount donated by a person but once pooled together it turns into a large enough sum to provide much-needed relief and shelter to victims of a natural calamity. Maulana Mustaqeem Azmi, president, Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra, says, "By donating Zakat, a person purifies his income and helps uplift others who are not as financially sound as himself. There are many mouths that are fed through the year thanks to this annual donation."
The Jamiat collected R3.28 crore from donations last year and processed it to victims of natural calamities, riots, medical aid, legal aid and educational aid. R45 lakh was channelled to educational aid that included school fees for underprivileged children, scholarships for meritorious students and aid for higher education.
"Over the past few years, we had been spending an average of Rs 30 lakh annually for educational aid. This year it went up to about Rs 45 lakh and we will increase it to R50 lakh for the coming year," said Gulzar Ahmed Azmi, secretary, legal cell, Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra.
Over and above these services, the Jamiat also undertakes relief work for victims of riots as well as natural calamities like earthquakes, floods and epidemics. The Jamiat also comes forward to help people who have lost their homes in tragedies and calamities by providing them with food, shelter and clothing.
The tragic flash floods that disrupted life in the Kashmir Valley had caused widespread destruction. The Jamiat had sent an initial amount of R18.50 lakh for the relief of the displaced and affected people in Kashmir. After that Maulana Arshad Madani, President, Jamiat Ulema Hind, set up a relief committee to offer medical aid and rehabilitation to the victims of the floods.
Over 6,000 blankets, 5,500 beddings and 6,000 woollens were sent to the relief camp. In addition to this, food packets containing 10 kg rice, 5 kg grains, 1 litre oil, 1.5 kg sugar, 250 gm tea powder, 250 gm spices, 250 gm turmeric, 1 kg salt, 250 gm milk powder, were distributed to 14,000 displaced families.
Fifty-five houses were constructed at the cost of R45 lakh, and 2,200 waterproof tents were set up for the victims. In addition to the relief, a huge cache of medicines was also sent to the relief camp. A total of R1.71 crore was spent on the relief camp.
The massive earthquake in Nepal killed over 8,000 people and rendered thousands homeless. The Jamiat has sent 1,800 mosquito nets, 1,200 waterproof tents, along with food grains like rice, flour, dal, cooking oil, sugar, salt, milk powder through the Harmony Foundation, founded by Dr Abraham Mathai, to victims in Nepal.
On October 22, 2014, the Jamiat Ulema provided R10,000 as aid to the widow of Ramesh Jadhav, a Shiv Sena leader from Pathanwadi, Malad. Jadhav was stabbed to death in his house by four people over a dispute in the locality.
Maulana Mohammed Aslam Qasmi, general secretary Jamiat Ulema, Malad, said, "Islam and the Prophet (PBUH) has always said that it is the duty of the believer to help others and those in need. And the Jamiat Ulema has always come forward to help the poor and the oppressed."
The legal cell of the Jamiat has been providing legal aid to over 520 accused booked under various charges in 56 cases across the India. An annual expenditure of R1.18 crore was undertaken on legal fees and R1.30 lakh as relief to their kin. In the course of trials, a total of 64 people have been acquitted which include those accused in the Akshardham attack case, 26/11 Mumbai attack, 1992 riots, and the Haren Pandya murder case.
The legal cell is handling criminal trials in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Surat, Patna, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Faizabad, Coimbatore, Ernakulam, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata.
The Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra makes it a point to provide medical aid and relief for patients who cannot afford medical treatment. A total of R4 lakh was spent on medical aid last year. A free medical camp was organised in Andheri, where over 8,000 patients were given free medicines and treatment.
Over 2,000 patients were given a free eye check-up and 1,200 patients received free spectacles. The camp offered medical services ranging from cardiac, ENT, asthma, cancer and gynaec issues. Both allopathic and ayurvedic medicines were made available at the medical camp. Other camps were held in Bhiwandi, and Nagpur.
Total amount spent on the relief camp in Kashmir Valley
Amount spent on providing legal aid across the country
The Jamiat e Ulema is an organisation — founded in Amritsar in 1919 — that has been working for the benefit of Indians since the British ruled India. The Jamiat has fought for the rights of Indians under the British raj, when the rulers tried to divide the country on communal lines. It also defended freedom fighters in terror trials in the British courts.