Hyderabad: A Muslim trust here is showing the way how a collective system of 'zakat', an obligatory system of charity in Islam, can lift the community out of poverty and illiteracy.
Though many organisations collect zakat and use it for the poor and needy, the Hyderabad Zakat and Charitable Trust is delivering tangible results in the area of education.
More than 25,000 students are studying in educational institutions run by the trust in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Started in 1990, the trust, headed by philanthropist Giasuddin Babu Khan, has so far helped over 400,000 students graduate. Many of them are now engineers, doctors, lawyers and chartered accountants.
"The trust has done a lot of work in education. We have so far spent Rs.110 crore on our activities," Mohammed Ziauddin Nayyar, trustee, Foundation for Economic and Educational Development (FEED), a part of Zakat Trust, told IANS.
Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a mandatory charity for every well-to-do Muslim as a measure to remove economic inequality. According to Islamic scholars, every Muslim whose assets reached 'anisab' or minimum value (current market price of 60.65 tolas of silver) has to pay 2.5 percent Islamic annual tax on his wealth.
Most Muslims pay this during the holy month of Ramadan. For want of a collective system of zakat, the money gets scattered among individuals and charity groups.
The Hyderabad trust is trying to show how zakat, if properly channelled, can achieve its purpose of eradicating poverty and backwardness.
The trust, which believes that education is the most powerful weapon to battle poverty, has adopted 105 government-run Urdu medium schools.
Over 3,000 students also study in its five English-medium high schools in Telangana.
Focussing on excellence in education, the trust last year set up the Hyderabad Institute of Excellence (HIE) to hone the skills of 10th standard toppers from poor and needy families.
More than 250 students are studying in 11th and 12th standards at its sprawling 120-acre campus near Hyderabad. They are also receiving coaching for entrance exams for professional courses.
HIE will also have a high school from next year.