On June 17, the Al-Qabas local news editor wrote: the Al-Qabas has learnt that the charity organizations have set three conditions for those in need to be eligible for aid.
The needy must adopt the doctrine of the donor organization or association, a resident of the area, and must be well-known by the area cleric.
The editor said the needy people were taken by surprise when these charities admitted to having large sums of money allocated for them, and that the money could only be disbursed to the people of the area in spite of the fact that they sometimes do not need the help as is the case of the people of Shuwaikh for example so this money is transferred abroad.
The editor added that there are people out there who request the worshippers to bring a written statement from the imam of the mosque to prove the needy pray in his mosque, however, the purpose of this practice is to prove the sectarian affiliation of the needy.
This is not something new. Over the past 20 years we have written about this subject umpteen times. We have discussed the issue in dozens of interviews with dozens of television channels and warned of its danger to the social fabric in the nation more than hundred times, but everything seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
The money collected by most charities, especially during religious events such as in the holy month of Ramadan, a large part of it (about 20 percent) goes to those who collect it, another big sum goes into the foreign banks, which no one knows about, other than the one who deposits it, and the remaining is spent on some people to deepen the sectarian polarization.
What applies to the charity funds mentioned by the editor applies also to the funds that individuals or associations collect in the name of the so-called ‘Khums’ (literally meaning one fifth of collected money) most of which is sent abroad to specific Shiite religious personalities and nobody knows how this money is spent.
The tragedy lies not only in the fact that the ‘real’ needy does not benefit from these funds, but among us there are thousands of bedoun who face the hardships in life.
These funds, in spite of being in big numbers, have never been used to help the poor establish a ‘business’, but often spent on clothes and food for the needy, not on education. The famous saying goes like this, “Do not feed me fish, but teach me how to catch.” An Islamic state has yet to establish a scientific or educational institute.
If we look at the experiences of many businessmen who establish and manage private universities we will find they have achieved for themselves and their communities significant material and moral benefits from these educational projects.
If the Zakat and Khums funds are invested in such institutions, they would contribute to the dissemination of awareness and education in addition to making huge sums of profit which can be reinvested in the same field or help provide healthcare and develop sources of drinking water which our communities need increasingly.
It is sad our communities are illiterate and to a large extent unemployed and the surprising thing is there are people who prefer to keep the situation as it is.
This happens at a time when the Western religious institutions have gone on to establish the best universities and private hospitals.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf