A pan-India survey conducted about Zakat, which is an Islamic religious tax, shows that 77 per cent of respondents believe it has the potential to transform the Muslim community in India. However, the money is being given for various purposes with no specific focus, and the donors are also not keen on checking whether the money they give is having any tangible impact on the lives of those who received it, the survey says.
Any Muslim who owns assets worth more than 75 grams of gold after deducting his liabilities is expected to pay Zakat. The amount is pegged at 2.5 per cent of his total income, assets and savings. This amount is expected to be given to a needy person.
There are 17.18 crore Muslims accounting for 14.2 per cent of India’s population. There is no exact estimate on how much Zakat is collected in India, with estimates fluctuating between Rs 7,500 crore and Rs 40,000 cr annually.
This amount is either distributed in small amounts to individuals or goes into madrasas to fund religious education. There are numerous groups in India which collect Zakat and utilise it for community work. There have been, however, complaints that a large chunk of this money goes in funding madrasas, and very little is done for empowerment of the community.
The survey was conducted across India by the Association of Muslim Professionals, who sent questionnaires to 4,589 respondents from across various social strata to “understand the current practices of Zakat collection, distribution and its impact on Muslim community”.
The study shows that 36 per cent of the respondents paid less than Rs 10,000 as Zakat. 39 per cent paid Rs 10,000-50,000, five per cent paid Rs 50,000-Rs 1 lakh and 10 per cent over Rs 1 lakh.
The most donations are given by individuals to their own relatives, with 38 per cent saying they preferred paying charity to their less well off relatives. Only 16 per cent of respondents paid money to NGOs or community organisations.
Funding an individual’s education was the most preferred form of paying Zakat. However, with only 18 per cent paying Zakat for education, the number was relatively less.
Over 50 per cent tended to pay Zakat to the same people and over 55 per cent claimed that the money they gave as charity to someone did not change the life of the family nor were the donors interested in finding out whether the money was being used effectively.
The majority of the respondents, at 77 per cent, felt that collective donation had the potential of transforming the Muslim community in India, and nearly 47 per cent preferred the money being given for the educational empowerment of the community.
“Thousands of crores of money gets distributed as Zakat annually in India. Inspite of this huge amount, you do not see a tangible impact on the upliftment of the community. The idea of the survey was to identify the pain areas which hinder the effective utilisation of Zakat and how it can be leveraged in a better and more organised way to improve the socio economic situation of India’s Muslims,” Aamir Edresy, founder president of the Association of Muslim Professionals, said.