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No Muslim beggars if Zakat is used properly

Lucknow: According to a recent report published in the English daily ‘Indian Express’, according to the 2011 census the total number of beggars in the country is 3.7 lakh (3,70,000) of which the number of Muslim beggars is about 93000. Of the 79.8 percent Hindu population in the country, 2.68 lakh earn their living by begging. As regards other (religious) communities, total number of Christian beggars is about 3,300 (0.88 percent) whereas the ratio of Buddh, Jain and Sikh beggars is 0.25%, 0.06 and 0.45% respectively of the country’s population.  

This report has caused concern in the Muslim community. In the year 2005-06 it was revealed in Sachar Committee report that the condition of country’s biggest minority is worse than even the dalits who were considered most suppressed and exploited. According to another report, in the year 2014-15 only 17.85 percent Muslims were in government jobs whereas among those registered for higher education, only 13.8 percent were Muslims and at all India level their percentage was 23.6. When an effort was made by media persons to know the views of some government officials and intellectuals, almost all of them said that governments are no doubt responsible for this sad plight of Muslims but the millat (Muslims) too is no less responsible for this. According to them, whether it is central or state government, removal of poverty and backwardness of Muslims is never their preference or, priority and whatever (small) funds are allotted for them, most of these funds are not spent by the variouis bodies, and even if spent, these do not reach those who are really deserving.

Director of the department of minorities welfare & development, Faizur Rahman says that the reason for such a large number of beggars also is Muslim’s educational and economic backwardness. He said that UP government’s steps in making changes in the syllabi of madrasas is the first step in this direction because when the students of such madrasas, after reading subjects like science, mathematics, English, social sciences etc like the students of non-religious schools, will pass out, of madrasas they will be well educated in modern and professional education. He (Faizur Rahman) also said that the objective of Akhilesh government behind various scholarship schemes for boy and girl students also is that no boy and girl may be deprived of education because of poverty.

Suhail Aiyyub Zinjani, member of UP Minorities Commission says that wrong policies of Congress governments are mainly responsible for this condition of Muslims but other governments also more or less adopted the same policy towards Muslims with the result that today about one-fourth of all beggars in the country are Muslims whereas the total population of Muslims in the country (according to 2011 census) is not even 15 percent. He said that government will have to ensure that whether it is education or employment, political or social field, prejudice and bias should not be adopted against any minority, religious, linguistic or any other. He urged the millat also to create awareness about many central and state government schemes for the welfare and development of Muslims, and they could and should take advantage of these schemes because though there are many such schemes, people cannot avail of the benefits of these schemes because of their ignorance about them.

However, the views of Muhammad Tariq Siddiqi, social and political worker, are different. He says that such a large number of Muslim beggars is really a matter of great concern, but instead of depending entirely on governments, we should depend more on our own means and efforts. He says that Zakat is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, the objective of which is helping the poor and needy people. According to him, if Muslims start using zakat amounts honestly and judiciously, there will be virtually no Muslim beggars. He said that an institutional system and rules should be framed for Zakat, Sadqa etc and it should be ensured that the amounts of these should be given to those who really deserve these and such people too should use these amounts properly. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 November 2016 on page no. 14

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