As Ramadan approaches, think of the families who are unable to provide themselves with a proper suhoor, iftar, or even shelter.
Despite multiple organizations existing to allow us to fulfill our obligation of Zakat, it results in the neglect of those struggling in our local communities. Zakat is often rerouted to countries abroad that are going through wars, geopolitical tensions, famine etc. Although a noble intention and goal to aid communities abroad, we may ignore the needs of our immediate environment and communities. In fact, Imam Foudil Selmoune from the Islamic Community Centre at Brossard reiterates that while giving zakat “donors should look at the people who are around them, and if they are taken care of, then they can send the money abroad, it is our duty to look at them and help them and fulfill their needs”.
What Exactly is Zakat?
Zakat purifies one’s soul, forges, and begets a balance in our communities, in which wealth can be circulated from the rich to the poor, preventing “theft” of resources from those who are already struggling. Lending a helping hand leads to the creation of a deep, and meaningful kinship between the rich and the poor.
“Whatever we give helps other members in our community, while protecting the honour and dignity of the needy.”Imam Foudil Selmoune
Why invest Zakat into our local communities?
For us to see the impact of Zakat on the local level, we need to first be aware and acknowledge that living in Canada does not resolve issues like being financially stable, living in a safe environment, etc. For instance, during the past year we have seen the increase in people facing homelessness, increase in domestic abuse against women and children, issues with housing and etc. in this Covid-19 era.
While you may be thinking to yourself that there are governmental procedures in place to target these issues, the reality of the matter is that without data the government doesn’t always act in a fast manner. To get data, you need funding. Zakat is a solution for us – members of our local community – to contribute sources to enable getting data, to enable funding projects that will cater to vulnerable populations, to help the many women facing domestic violence that are battling with the vicious cycle of falling short of paying the rent, many nights of seeing their own children starve, and having their sense of self-worth be demolished through abusive comments or physical affliction.
Focusing the bulk of our Zakat to external communities may lead to neglect of our local communities. This Ramadan, consider the benefits of giving Zakat locally, as tending to only the garden leads to neglect of the inside of a home.
About the Author:
Hifza Randhawa is a second-year neuroscience student at McGill University. She is passionate about women’s rights, neuroscientific studies, martial arts, and philosophy. In her free time (which rarely exists), she likes to read, meditate, bike, do martial arts, or have a good laugh with friends.