THE Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation (ZSF) has disbursed N3.5 million in equipment and cash to 38 deserving residents from across Oyo State in furtherance of its promotion of the institution of zakat and alleviation of poverty among members of the ummah and the society at large.
At the ceremony held last weekend in Ibadan, the state capital, the Executive Director of the foundation, Prince Sulayman Olagunju, underscored the need for the beneficiaries to use the equipment and funds given to them to improve their economic status and set themselves on the path of financial freedom.
Olagunju advised eligible Muslims to be alive to the duty of regularly paying zakat, a pillar of Islam, in order to better the lot of underprivileged Muslims and earn the pleasure of Allah as a reward.
He hinted that the foundation had commenced a social security scheme designed to take care of vulnerable senior citizens.
According to Prince Olagunju, the idea of the scheme tagged “Senior Citizens Support Programme” is borne out of the need to ameliorate the suffering that aged people, especially pensioners, are passing through.
“At Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation, we feel that we have to do something for senior citizens who are not pensioners. We have decided to start with a stipend of N5,000 per month for 100 people – that is N500,000. Of the available Zakat and Sadaqat funds, we decided to allocate this amount to of 100 elders in our society every month.
“This monthly stipend would go a long way to alleviate their suffering and we are starting with the pilot scheme of N50,000 monthly in 10 states, including Oyo, Ogun, Osun and Kwara. We want to see how far a little percentage of the zakat and sadaqat will be able to take care of this. We will increase the number as we get more funds.
“One of the criteria adopted in the selection process is that the beneficiary must be somebody who has nobody to support him or her and has no means of supporting himself or herself. The beneficiaries are people who cannot work and do not have people to take care of them,” he said.
The guest lecturer, Dr Mubarak Noibi, decried the general attitude of Muslims to the institution of zakat, saying people had not been doing enough in terms of the Islamic tax.
Noibi, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan, noted what he called the erroneous belief by some Muslims that zakat is the same thing as sadaqat.
According to him, the intricacies of zakat have not sunk into this category of Muslims as they believe that once they give something to somebody, they have given their own zakat.
“So, we need to educate people that zakat is different from sadaqat. Even the sadaqat they give, what is the quantum of that sadaqat from their wealth? People need to be reminded of accountability to Almighty Allah. The best you can do is to give to others once you have satisfied yourself.
“People need to be enlightened. People just know that zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam but they don’t know the intricacies of zakat and the importance of paying it,” he said.
Speaking on the topic of the lecture, “The Institution of Waqf in Islam: The Inner Dimension,” the don called on Nigerian Muslims to try and start something along the line of waqf, which he described as Sadaqatu Jariyah, a kind of sadaqat which is perpetual; which continues even after the death of the person that has given it.
“In the first place, we should know that waqf is to seek the full pleasure of Almighty Allah and that would only be accessible, in most cases, in the Hereafter, and then benefit people who are in abject poverty,” he said.
Noibi said one of the ways by which infrastructural decadence and pervasive poverty could be addressed in Nigeria is by investing in waqf.
According to him, the opportunity is not limited to the rich in the society as the average people can also participate with as low as N1,000.
“There is also the issue of cash waqf wherein different people could make donations which are then invested and reinvested in such a way that part of the profit would go into meeting specific needs of the society, for instance paying school fees and medical bills of indigent people.
“People buy waqf bonds which are invested in real estate, agriculture and other businesses and part of the profit is dedicated to the building of mosques, medical bills, school fees and a lot of other things.
“We can improve the lot of our people by contributing even as low as N1,000 into a waqf foundation where such monies would be invested and reinvested for the benefit of the masses,” he added.
The occasion was chaired by Dr Koyejo Jolaoso of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun State.