12 tips for Imams on how to help the poor and the needy (part_1)

12 tips for Imams on how to help the poor and the needy (part 1)

Imams definitely have a role to play in helping the poor and needy of their communities. If you’re an Imam there are a number of things you can do on an educational and practical level to help. Here are some ideas

12 tips for Imams on how to help the poor and the needy (part 1)
1. Establish projects which help the poor and the needy become self-sufficient – What better way to feed a person than to teach him or her how to fish? In other words, help people become able to support themselves without relying on donations, food stamps or welfare.

One way you can do this is to encourage financially well off brothers and sisters who own businesses, for instance, to hire the poor and needy, even if it’s only for a small task and for minimal pay. Even if they don’t make enough to completely support themselves, working for even a little will give a person back their self-esteem and in many cases, encourage them to find ways on their own to support themselves.

2. Establish a Zakat committee – How can Muslims pay their Zakat in their local communities to benefit the poor and needy if there is no structure to distribute their contribution to those who need it?

Establish a Zakat committee at your Masjid which will take care of collecting and distributing Zakat. This committee will keep a private list of the poor and needy who are eligible for Zakat in your community.

Don’t forget to be careful in distributing the Zakat. Make sure you are not giving only to those people you know personally who are in need, or even worse, only those people who are part of your ethnic group. Remember that there are those who are the poor and needy from all backgrounds and they have a right to Zakat money too. There are also those who don’t make their neediness and poverty obvious, so they need to be discreetly sought out and given Zakat money.

A note of caution: make sure the committee follows proper guidelines when approaching and distributing to those who are in need of Zakat funds.

3. Make a Zakat section of your Masjid library or bookstore – If you have bookstore or library, make sure it is stocked with books on Zakat, Sadaqa (charity) and various economic aspects of Islam.

Establish a Zakat committee at your Masjid which will take care of collecting and distributing Zakat. This committee will keep a private list of the poor and needy who are eligible for Zakat in your community.

You can even make a specific section of the library and/or bookstore devoted to the issue of Zakat and economics.

Ensure that the books are in languages most of the attendees to your Masjid understand. So you should have Arabic and Urdu literature, for instance, but also English books available on Islamic economic and money aspects.

4. Educate Muslims about the necessity of Zakat – How many Muslims believe in the Shahadah, pray, fast in Ramadan, have made or plan to make Hajj but are clueless when it comes to Zakat?

Plenty. Muslims need to have the importance of Zakat emphasized to them. They also need to have this pillar of Islam explained in a simple and straightforward way so that they can understand how to do it.

5. Organize Zakat week – Dedicate at least one week out of the year “Zakat week” at your Masjid or Islamic center. Ideally, it should be outside of the month of Ramadan so people can really focus on the issue of Zakat.

This event can include a Zakat clinic, pamphlets could be distributed, books can be sold, the whole Masjid could be decorated with verses of the Quran and Ahadith on Zakat and statistics on poverty could be on display. The overall aim: to educate and remind everyone about the duty of Zakat.

6. Give Khutbahs (sermons) on Zakat and Sadaqa (charity) – Who knows the rewards of paying Zakat and Sadaqa? There are probably many people in your community who don’t. You must educate them about the benefits and advantages of helping the poor and needy through these two Islamic mechanisms. The Friday Khutbah is an ideal forum to present this information. Focus on the general commandments and benefits, not necessarily the detailed, technical explanations.

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