This is a reader submission from Tasneem Moollah
Another year has passed and Ramadhan is yet again on our doorstep. For those of us who are fortunate enough to experience this beautiful month once again, we should give thanks to the Almighty Allah. Ramadhan holds great significance in the lives of Muslims. It a very blessed month and a time, in which two of the five pillars of our faith are executed, namely fasting and paying zakaat.
O you who believe, fasting is prescribed to you as it was to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint. â€“ Qurâ€™aan (2:183)
Abu Hurayrah related the prophet S.A.W said, â€œWhoever fasts Ramadan because of faith seeking reward from Allah alone, will have his past sins forgiven; whoever prays at night during Ramadan because of Iman, seeking reward from Allah alone, will have its past sins forgiven; and whoever passes Lailatul Qadr in prayer because of Iman, seeking reward from Allah alone, will have its past sins forgiven.â€
Zakaat (alms) is the name of what a believer returns out of his or her wealth to the most needy of Muslims for the sake of the Almighty Allah. It is called Zakaat because the word Zakaat means to increase, purify and bless.
The benefits of zakaat are gaining the pleasure of Allah; increase in wealth; protection from losses; Obtaining Allahs forgiveness and blessings; Safety from calamities; Protection from the wrath of Allah and from a bad death. The Zakaat will provide shelter on the Day of Judgement; Help you gain the pleasure of Allah; it is a security from seventy misfortunes; it will serve as a shield from the fires of Jahannam; it contributes to longevity and it saves one from fear and grief.
There are various charitable organisations throughout the world that caters for the needs of the underprivileged. There is a myriad of projects undertaken throughout the year, but our focus is on the charitable organisations in South Africa they will do for the month of Ramadhan.
strongSouth African National Zakat Fund (SANZAF)
/strongThe South African National ZakÃ¡h Fund (SANZAF) popularly known as the ZakÃ¡h Fund is the single largest institution of its kind with 32 offices and branches spread around the country. As an independent faith based welfare institution it is committed to the economic, educational, spiritual and social upliftment of the destitute. SANZAFs core activity is the administration for the collection and distribution of Zakah, Fitrah, Fidiyah and all other forms of Sadaqaat.
SANZAFs Welfare Projects are designed to assist needy families and individuals with their short-term poverty alleviation requirements as well as their long-term educational and developmental needs in order to assist them in becoming financially self-sufficient.
â€œWhat one needs to understand is that the South African National Zakat Fund is a developmental organisationâ€, said Hoosen who works at the organisation. Many of the projects that they undertake are done on a daily basis.
For the month of Ramadhan, SANZAF partners up with other organisations and puts together hampers. The packaging of the parcels is done in association with the Muslims Students Association at a university in Johannesburg.
Visit their website at a href=http://www.sanzaf.org.zahttp://www.sanzaf.org.za/a.
/strongEstablished in 1993, Muslim Hands is an international NGO working in over forty countries worldwide to help those affected by natural disasters, conflict and poverty.
The organisation is a UK Registered Charity (No. 1105056) and a signatory to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Muslim Hands trustees, who are all volunteers, form the governing body of Muslim Hands and are legally responsible for all of the organisations activities under the Charities Act.
I spoke to a representative of Muslim Hands, South Africa in Cape Town. The organisation prepares an international iftaar during the month of Ramadhan. They are also involved in fitrah distributions. This year, the winter programme coincides with the period of preparations for Ramadhan and therefore the two projects will be integrated.
Visit their website at a href=http://www.muslimhands.orghttp://www.muslimhands.org/a
strongCentral Islamic Trust and Fordsburg Muslim Youth Organization/strong
The two organisations were established in the year 1958 and 1959 respectively. It is ranked among the oldest organisations serving the Muslim community in South Africa. The services provided to the Muslim ummah in South Africa are maqaabir (burial arrangements), Islamic education, welfare for the poor and needy, dawah, bursary facilitation and a welfare workshop.
Moosa Laher, a very helpful man, who has dedicated a great part of his life towards social work, heads the organisation. His son, Ridwaan speaks highly of his father and his admiration for his father is clearly evident.
The organisation caters for a number of local areas, such as Ennerdale, Bosmont, Newclare, Fordsburg, Mayfair, Benoni and Laudium, amongst others. As mentioned previously, winter and Ramadhan coincide to a certain extent this year and therefore the organisation will raise funds to purchase blankets and clothing. This will be distributed one week before Ramadhan.
For more info and contact details, visit a href=http://www.sanha.org.za/about/cit.htmhttp://www.sanha.org.za/about/cit.htm/a and
strongCrescent of Hope/strong
The organization was founded in October 1992 when some of its members went to help with the Somalian refugee problem in Kenya. They supplied food and helped in the building of huts for the refugees. A borehole rig was sent to Kenya because of the continuous drought in North Eastern Kenya. Its task was the drilling of boreholes and supplying water in this area. The borehole rig is still active in Kenya today.
After the experience they gained there and since relief work was also needed in South Africa, especially amongst the indigenous people, they decided to concentrate their efforts at home, by South Africans for South Africans.
For the month of Ramadhan the organisation will be putting together hampers and this will then be distributed to those in need of it. They usually provide their assistance to masjids and madressahs. If there is any area in need of help, people can contact the organisation and they will attempt to assist them. The team at Crescent of Hope is open to any suggestions that will aid them in their plans for Ramadhan.
Visit their website at a href=http://www.crescentofhope.co.zawww.crescentofhope.co.za/a
strongJohannesburg Muslim Charitable Organisation/strong
The JMCO caters locally, in and around surrounding areas, from Eldorado Park, Riverlea in the south, up to Greenside in the North, Bertrams in the east up to Roodepoort and Soweto in the west.
Assistance is provided to people mainly in South Africa, but people from all over Africa, such as Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Somalia, Morocco and Egypt go to the organisation for assistance. These people are mainly refugees.
The organization has been involved for the past 20 years, doing welfare and dawah work amongst the indigenous people of this country.
Their main source of funding is from the ummah, local businesses as well as private individuals.
The student youth come in and participate in community services on a voluntary basis. Many other youth participate in the hamper and feeding schemes, which take place a week before Ramadhan, and a week before Eid.
For the past ten years, the Johannesburg Muslim Charitable Organisation, together with the community has been providing food hampers. Their aim is to provide iftaar meals to those Muslims who are underprivileged and cannot afford meals. Their target is to put together 1000 hampers at a cost of R400.00 each. To donate towards this cause, email a href=mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org@jmco.org.za/a or a href=mailto:email@example.com@jmco.org.za/a for more info.
Visit their website at a href=http://www.jmco.org.zawww.jmco.org.za/a
strongAfrica Muslims Agency (South Africa)/strong
The primary vision of the Africa Muslims Agency is to uplift the standard of life, morality and education of the most deserving and needy in the Continent of Africa. Africa Muslims Agency supports Islamic work all over Africaâ€¦and it cares for the poor and needy.
During Ramadhan, the Sponsor an iftaar/suhoor mealâ€ programme is held. Donors are called upon to an iftaar/suhoor meal at R50 per person. These meals are distributed at their Islamic centre within South Africa, Mozambique and other parts of Africa.
The AMA caters for their Al-Furqaan Islamic centre, amongst the new Muslims in the informal settlement area of Finetown, in Gauteng. They network with over 50 dawah centres in and around South Africa.
Assistance is provided to the abovementioned places, as well as Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda and the local community in South Africa.
The headquarters of the Africa Muslim Agency is in Kuwait and covers over 34 countries across the continent of Africa.
Source of funding is local, community donor support from the Muslim community.
Volunteers continue as and when the need arises and the youth are always volunteering to the different centres and projects that are in progress.
The organisation has been undertaking such projects and many others since their inception in 1971 in Kuwait and 1987 in South Africa.
â€œWe distribute over a million meals during the thirty days of Ramadhan, to those Muslims who are poverty stricken and cannot afford a simple basic meal. While they are in such a state, we have tables decked out with all sorts of savouries and the wastage thereof in our homesâ€, said Mr. MF Honiara who we contacted at the Africa Muslim Agency office in South Africa.
Visit their website at a href=http://www.africamuslimsagency.co.zawww.africamuslimsagency.co.za/a
strongMuslim Students Association-University of the Witwatersrand
/strongMSA has an annual project for Ramadan called the Ramadan Humanitarian Project. It is a completely student driven project but they have partners such as SANZAF and Channel Islam amongst others. The project began as a Wits MSA project but it was grown to other university MSAs in the country. This year Inshallah will see the packaging of hampers at the University of Johannesburg and the University of Pretoria as well. In previous years they only participated in raising funds and packaging only took place at Wits.
â€œWe begin by selling vouchers or tickets to the public with the view of raising in excess of a million rand. To put this into context, we will begin selling tickets on July 13th and need to have the project wrapped up before Ramadhanâ€, said Mohammed Shahiem, the chairperson of the committee.
The next phase is to bring necessities such as food and sanitary items on to campus using the money raised. They then start packaging those items into hampers on the library lawns so that the project is given maximum exposure. The packaging takes place over an entire week.
At the end of the week the hampers are distributed to eligible zakaah recipients in time for the beginning of Ramadhan. Students are given an opportunity to actually go out and get involved with the distribution.
In terms of who is involved, there is a national working committee to co ordinate the project. The committee is primarily comprised of MSA executive members from the various MSAs involved with the project.
Below is a list of other charitable organisations in South Africa. For more information and to donate toward the organisation, visit their websites provided below..
strongAl Imdaad Foundation
/strongThe Al-Imdaad Foundation is a non-profit humanitarian aid relief organisation (NGO) registered in the Republic of South Africa, dedicated to providing humanitarian services in crisis and non-crisis situations to most needy orphans, widows and destitute, irrespective of race, religion, culture, creed and geographical boundary.
The Al-Imdaad Foundation aspires to excel in humanitarian relief, providing humanitarian services with the highest level of compassion, professionalism and care under the supervision of a team of professionals from South Africa and abroad.
strongIslamic relief South Africa
/strongIslamic Relief (IR) is an international relief and development charity, which aims to alleviate the suffering of the worldâ€™s poorest people. It is an independent Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) founded in the UK in 1984 by Dr Hany El Banna.
As well as responding to disasters and emergencies, Islamic Relief promotes sustainable economic and social development by working with local communities – regardless of race, religion or gender.
strongThe Gift of the Givers Foundation/strong
Disaster relief, primary health care clinics, feeding schemes, water purification and waterwell provision, distribution of new blankets, new clothing and food parcels, bursaries, educational support, toy story, agricultural self help schemes, job creation, counselling services, a drug rehab, HIV/AIDS workshops, skills development and life altering workshops are some of our diverse activities that have benefited millions worldwide. In our endeavours to serve with distinction we believe that perfection is not good enough.
/strongThe Mustadafin Foundation was established in 1986 as an emerged result of political unrest and violence in Crossroads. Crossroads was isolated due to faction fighting and violence and had a devastating effect on the local community, particularly women and children.
In order to support the community, a group of people started to work within it to provide services such as accommodation, food, clothing provision, medical care and trauma counseling. Those involved included; doctors, lawyers, social workers and community leaders as well as students and other members of the public.
It is mentioned in a Hadith that the person who feeds a fasting person at the time of opening fast will receive the same reward as that of the fasting person without there being any decrease in the reward of the fasting person. In other words, through the mercy and generosity of Allah Taala, both of them will receive the same reward. This will apply even if the person feeds him with a very simple or insignificant meal. Even if he merely gives him some water to drink.
How fortunate are those who are able to contribute toward such noble causes. May Allah grant us the ability to be able to provide for those less fortunate than us. If not in monetary worth, then may Allah grant us the ability to get involved in such projects and provide these organisations with our help. May Allah reward all those people who have been involved in charitable projects, as well as the ones who fund these projects and may He grant them the strength to continue with such honourable work. Let us remember those less fortunate than us this Ramadhan and lets open our hearts towards them, Inshallah.