Like Muslims, Dalit group to also give ‘zakat’ to help migrants this Ramzan
A group of professionals from the Dalit community have announced to adopt the Islamic way of earmarking ‘zakat’ (charity) from their earnings and using it for the welfare of the lesser fortunate members of their society.
Under the ‘Dalit Zakat’ initiative, these professionals, bureaucrats and businessmen, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, will compulsorily donate a small percentage of the income and used the sum for assisting the economically weak members of the community during the nationwide lockdown.
“Our group was launched way back in 2003 and we have been assisting talented youths from our community in pursuing higher education. With Ramzan underway, and lockdown in place, we have decided to mobilize the resources to assist the poor members of the community, particularly the migrants,” said J Ram, a retired bureaucrat and the brain behind Bhartiya Dalit Zakat Foundation.
“Before the start of the holy month of Ramzan, the Muslim religious organisations and clerics have called upon the members of their community to assist the poor during the nationwide lockdown with giving a small percentage of their surplus wealth as ‘zakat’ to the needy. Taking a cue, we have also decided to assist people in raising money, running kitchen and providing medical assistance to the deprived members of our community,” he said while claiming that the members of the Dalit Zakat foundation are spread across the state.
“Due to lockdown we cannot hold meetings as majority of the members are following the Covid-19 guideline issued by the government by staying in their respective homes. We are using technology to raise the fund, transfer the money into account, contacting each other on the mobile to locate the needy and to hand over the money,” he said.
Majority of the migrants returning home are from the Dalit and the backward community.
“With limited resources, we know that it is not possible to assist all but we are zeroing in on the extremely poor, deprived and marginalized people in the rural and urban areas of the state. Large numbers of the Dalit students are facing hardship after their parents’ lost job. The Dalit Zakat Foundation has supported the talented students in pursuing the higher education. Several of them are employed they have also joined hand in donating a portion of their earning,” he said.
The organisation has also launched Ramabai Ambedkar Uthan Samiti to assist the women in developing vocational skills.
“We have already enrolled 300 Dalit women. They will learn tailoring skill to earn extra money for the family. We are planning to launch more such schemes for women to make them self-reliant. We have urged the members of the community to contribute from their saving to assist in the empowerment of the women,” said an office-bearer of the Dalit Zakat Foundation, SP Kureel.
He said that not many are aware of the fact that Gautam Buddha was first to propagate the idea of alms giving. He called upon his followers to donate a part of their earning to the deprived.
During diksha (initiation) to Buddhism at Nagpur on October 15, 1956, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar spoke on the uplift of the Dalit community members. “Ambedkar called upon his followers to donate five percent of their earning as done by the Muslims for the social, religious and economic emancipation of the members of the community,” Kureel said while insisting that their organisation was apolitical.
A group of students staying in Ambedkar Hostel in Gorakhpur have also adopted the principles of Zakat to run community kitchen for supplying food packets to the poor members of the community stuck in city in lockdown.
“Along with contributing fund from savings, students have called upon the well-off among the community to contribute edible items or money to run the kitchen,” said Vinod Gautam, a student.