Dalit group offers ‘zakat’ to help underprivileged during Ramzan

The Bharatiya Dalit Zakat Foundation will not only be donating a part of their earnings to migrants, but also work on the empowerment of women by providing vocational training


As tough times envelope our spirits – the coronavirus, migrant woes, communal hatred and more, there seems to be some respite due to a handful of individuals who focus on doing the right thing.

To ease the plight of the underprivileged amid this crisis, going the Islamic way, a group of professionals from the Dalit community – bureaucrats and businessmen, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, have decided to earmark ‘zakat’ (charity) from their earnings and using it for the welfare of the lesser fortunate members of their society, reported Hindustan Times.

Under the ‘Dalit Zakat’ initiative, these professionals will compulsorily donate a small percentage of their income use the sum to assist the economically weak members of the community suffering due to the lockdown.

J Ram, a retired bureaucrat and the brain behind the Bharatiya Dalit Zakat Foundation said, “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.”

Saying that the members of the Dalit Zakat foundation are spread across the state, he added, “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.”

Ram also said that the professionals had to find new ways to deal raise funds as meeting and gathering funds wasn’t an option. “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.”

“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.

Not just this organization, a group of students at the Ambedkar Hostel in Gorakhpur have also adopted the principles of Zakat by running a community kitchen to ensure the supply of food to the poor members of the community stuck in the city.

“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.

Apart from this initiative, the Dalit Zakat Foundation has also launched the Ramabai Ambedkar Uthan Samiti to assist women in developing vocational skills. An office-bearer of the organization, SP Kureel said, “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.”

He also said that the idea of giving alms was also propagated in Buddhism in which Buddha called upon his followers to donate a part of their earnings 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.


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