Social Responsibility principles have been embedded in religious scriptures in some aspect or the other. One such major religion of the world is Islam in which these principles were embedded for more than 1400 years. These principles of human development in Islam are termed as Zakat, which is the compulsory giving of a set proportion of one’s wealth to charity. It is regarded as a type of worship and of self-purification. Of the 5 major principles of Islam, Zakat is the third Pillar of Islam.
Zakat does not refer to charitable gifts given out of kindness or generosity, but to the systematic giving of 2.5% of one’s wealth each year to benefit the deprived. It is a very unique system as if the divine powers that be had foreseen the societal division and unequal distribution of wealth. Zakat is supposed to counter this unequal distribution to ensure that even the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are met. There are qualification criteria under the Islamic law for people who are eligible for Zakat, ensuring help reaches the needy and is given by people who can do so. As per Wikipedia in 2012, Islamic financial analysts estimated annual Zakat spending exceeded US$200 billion per year, which they estimated at 15 times global humanitarian aid contributions. But again, politics and other characteristics of social demarcation has hampered the extensive distribution of Zakat in the marginalized communities.
In spite of these social challenges, modern day NGOs aimed at empowering the community have developed agenda-driven collection of Zakat Funds. Their aim is to not just collect funds but to ensure it reaches the most deserving. With their long term goal of education and empowerment of the community Association of Muslim Professionals recently conducted a nation-wide survey including 191 cities in India and worldwide to identify the knowledge gaps while giving Zakat. The statistics of the Zakat Survey are alarming with majority of people not knowing how the charity has benefitted the receiver. These surveys by reputable organizations like AMP will support and assist the NGO’s in further understanding the challenges and device strategies to overcome these challenges for a better and extensive distribution of Zakat.