Some 700 residents of Lagos State recently had their welfare boost with distribution of cash and empowerment tools to enhance economic activities, courtesy of a fate based Non-Governmental Organisation, the Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation.
It was on the occasion of the 12th annual Zakat Distribution ceremony organised by the foundation held at the Alausa Secretariat Mosque multipurpose hall, Ikeja.
Speaking at the symbolic distribution of the zakat items, the Chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Mumini Alao, lamented on the level of poverty in the society, especially among the Muslim community.
Alao, who is the Group Managing Director of Complete Communications, Limited – publisher of Complete Sports remarked that many Nigerians were wallowing in abject poverty because they were living ostentatious life.
According to him, many Nigerians are living above their means of sustenance.
He said that many people often claim to be poor but that judging from the life style they live, they could not be adjudged to be poor.
“A lot of our people that claim to be poor, if you check their lifestyle, they live above their means,’’ he added
Alao, therefore, advised people to be contented with whatever God has endowed them with.
“If you live within the limit of your earnings, things will improve,” he said.
Advising the beneficiaries of the zakat, the chairman said they should not consider the zakat collected as “manners from heaven; they should not see it as bonus or fallout or a share of common cakes.
“Those of us who are recipients of these zakat, we should know that we have responsibility to manage whatever we get properly, so that along the line in a few years to come, we can also graduate from recipients to become givers of zakat.
“To give is better that to receive, definitely,’’ Alao said.
Welcoming the guest to the occasion, the Chairman, Board of Directors of the foundation, Dr Tajudeen Yusuf, reinstated the passion of the foundation for excellent service delivery in area of social welfare and economic empowerment for the benefit of the poor members of the community.
“We strongly believe that the best among us are those that care for the others,’’ Tajudeen, who is a senior lecturer in the Department of Actuarial Science, University of Lagos said.
He commended the effort of Executive Director of the foundation, Prince Sulayman Olagunju, and his team for the great sense of commitment and dedication to ensure the success recorded on zakat collection and distribution this year in spite of the economic recession.
Tajudeen also commended all the zakat and sadaqat payers for their sense of commitment to fulfil the injunction of Allah subhanna Wa Ta’ala, who made it compulsory for Muslims to observe payment of zakat being one of the five pillars of Islam.
He advised the beneficiaries of the zakat this year to endeavour to make good use of the opportunities, provided by the foundation, to take themselves out of poverty level.
Tajudeen explained why the distribution was being celebrated and publicised, saying that it was for the purpose accountability, so that zakat payers would be able how their wealth given out were distributed to reduce poverty in the society.
“Some people may question that why do we have to celebrate the distribution of zakat?
“We just have to do so based on the injunctions of the Qur’an that carrying out a project like this, there must be transparency and accountability.
“Everybody knows that Z & S is collecting money from people. How do we show accountability if you come, we give you in secret; that one come, we give him in secret. How are going to be accountable.
“We have people who are paying to us, there is need to demonstrate this sense of accountability.
“Not only that, but to also encourage those who are currently giving out zakat and those who are yet to be giving and to earn peoples trust in us…..’’ he said.
Giving a lecture on the importance of zakat toward economic development of the society, the Executive Director of Jaiz Zakat and Wagf Trust Fund, Imaam Abdullahi Shuaib, said that Allah loves we human beings so much so that He situated us strategically such that one part supposed to strengthen the other parts and the least part should not feel any grudge.
He said that the institution of zakat ought to be embraced and established by government.
“We are in a country where we have all kinds of religions and followers. That is why this important institution in Islam, is not being championed by the government.
“In other clime, where we have Islamic institution or Government in place, it is the responsibility of that government to uphold the tenant of Islam.
“But where we don’t have it, it becomes n obligations of all Muslims, mosques, societies and organisations to pull their heads together to revive and make this institution to function,’’ Shuaib said.
He further remarked that Allah has place the wealth of the world under the care of the Muslims but that ironically, the Muslims are poorest in the world.
The Executive Director of the foundation, Prince Olagunju, while speaking with newsmen on criterion being used to identify the needy and entitle to the zakat, he said the foundation has a team of experts who go round various communities and analyse peoples’ economic situation to determine those who are actually in need.
He said that in the foundation’s modest achievements, there were some people who benefited from zakat distribution some years back who have now become economically comfortable and now in turn pay zakat to.
According to him, some previous beneficiaries may not have started paying zakat; they have been contributing sadaqat to the foundation’s pool, which is a laudable achievement.
The executive director said that as at November, the foundation collected the sum of N102.225 million as zakat from Muslims, despite the economic recession plaguing the country.
Olagunju noted that the fit was achieved because Muslims were gradually becoming conscious on the need to observe payment of zakat just like they observe all other pillars of Islam.
“More Muslims are personate about observing the payment of zakat being the third pillar of Islam, which Allah has made compulsory,’’ he said.
On the disbursement of the collections, he said the foundation spent N16, , on medical needs of various people who applied for medical assistance.
Similarly, N7.35 million was disbursed to 20 finalists of the foundation’s youth empowerment scheme. Tagged “Business Plan Competition’’ which started two years ago.
On state by state distribution of zakat, the director said N20,724,405 was distributed in Abuja, Edo, Kwara Ogun, Osun, and Oyo States.
“As we draw the curtain of 2016 annual zakat distribution ceremonies in Lagos, I am pleased to inform that the sum of N68,771,218 is being disbursed to beneficiaries in the state.
“Out of this figure, empowerment and medical support got the largest share of this year’s zakat. The sum of N34,843,888 was disbursed towards empowerment while N14,913,372 was spent on medical support,’’ the zakat boss said.
By Oluwashina Iyanda
PHOTO SPEAK AT THE 12TH ANNUAL ZAKAT DISTRIBUTION CEREMONY ORGANISED BY THE ZAKAT AND SADAQAT FOUNDATION AT ALAUSA SECRETARIAT MOSQUE, IKEJA, LAGOS