CHARITY & DONATION (SODAQOH) – WHICH IS MORE ISLAMIC?
Yesterday afternoon, one of RPWP co-founders attended a talk in Johor Bahru. He had a long chat in his flight about the modus operandi of RPWP with the passenger beside him, a ‘somebody’. He is a man who is deeply concerned and active in charitable and volunteer activities.
He expressed his frustration over Muslim charity compared to the one conducted by Rotary & Lions Club. This issue had come across our minds for quite a while and we were a bit surprised that the same thing came out from his mouth. Perhaps this is a bit controversial if you only read this article up to this paragraph.
COMPARISON BETWEEN ISLAM AND ISLAMIC
We would like to give all our loyal readers points to ponder. In many articles that we wrote, many commented the ordeal of charity fraud. The media relentlessly exposed the same thing and we ourselves had many experiences over this matter. You might also have read the blatant cases of misused under ‘charitable & donations’ cause that afflict our children recently.
Islam is the best and ‘all thing that is good, is Islam (safe and prosperous)’. The fact that this ‘somebody’ mentioned is about how in a Muslim charity, if someone donated RM100, only RM10 will reach the people that really need help. The rest of it was ‘accidentally’ spent along the way.
A simple example is the collection of the sedekah/zakat itself. Major portion of it will become the commission to the one who collect the sedekah/zakat. The rates are quite absurd, nothing like the concept of ‘AMIL’ that Prophet Muhammad p.u.b.h recommended (read at the end of this article). That alone does not yet include the administrative costs, which are very high, such as the employment of thousands of workers, buildings maintenance, building new offices, advertising fees and all other activities that need capital.
Then he compared the scenario above with what take place in the Rotary & Lions Club. They gathered professional & leaders of companies and organizations in it.
WHY THEY CHOOSE THE THIS GROUP OF PEOPLE?
Actually, this group of people already lived in adequacy. They have for their own use a sufficient fund. They do not need a commission or reward for doing a fundraising and charity work. They are people who we can really call as the real volunteers. They have understood the real value of carrying out volunteer work by their heart and it is not something to be sneezed at. If not, their membership may be reviewed.
Rotary & Lions Club membership is not easily opened for signing up. No membership without recommendation or sponsorship from an existing member. Not any Tom, Dick & Harry can join this organization. However they managed to collect a membership of 1.22 million people around the world and they are not the homeless people who live in uncertainty. They are on top of the social hierarchy in the world.
In the Rotary Club, networking is some sort of remuneration which is NOT MANDATORY. Yes, as a member, they can build network among themselves with a gathering every week. That’s the concept of “Friday prayer” for Muslims that we have pointed out before. If they are not active in volunteer work and just simply waiting to gain a profit from the built network, they will be removed immediately. That is for only knowing when to harvest but do not want to grow.
Compare this with our Islamic volunteers, how often do we meet? Did we use our own money or simply use the fund collected from others for the meeting? Rotary Club member may hold a meeting in a 5-star hotel, or maybe in an exclusive club, but they are doing that by spending their own money. It is not from the club funds designated for humanitarian aid.
Individuals in the plane who is from JB also stated his aggravation for only able to see but not able to change this scenario of Muslims charity. He dare say there are many assholes out there who just want to show off in the field without any central leadership that stand out (qowwam). There are clear examples of this in an international charity organization in the name of Islam which is based in Malaysia. Salaries of the director and their staffs are extremely high and they are using 100% of the funds donated by people to pay them.
Take an example, in the case of aid to Syria. Donations worth millions RM were used to buy needs which then were sent by ship and finally arrived when the expiration date has passed. There were items that were not yet expired but became useless because the intended recipients do not need them.
Let’s do a comparison side by side. Let say the cumulative aid to Syria is RM1 million. Then compare between purchasing the supply directly from our country and transferring the fund to neighboring countries with Syria and requested them to do the purchase. Which method is more cost saving in terms of money and time? Certainly the first method, especially as the cost of logistics and purchasing management were tremendously reduced. Just imagine how much can be saved especially if the direct purchasing does involve a malpractice. For example, purchasing something worth RM50, but the bill given stated that the purchase was worth RM100. This is for the sake of claiming the balance of RM50 for own pocket.
In Rotary Club the concept is “One dollar given, one dollar is up”. Between donor and beneficiary is only the volunteer who works without pay. In fact, they themselves provide the capital of their own welfare work. Because of this concept, they have no lust over the fund since portion of it came from their pocket as well.
Otherwise, in Muslim charity collection system, if it’s been given RM10, only RM1 might reach the intended recipients. We accept this FACT because we have a lot of experiences and we have the data regarding this. Why is it so? It is so since us HAVING NO ACTUAL volunteers. Many of our volunteers are being paid, with an addition of allowances and commissions, while working in a luxurious office. All of that were by using the charity fund and were not from our own pocket.
Many Islam volunteers today is not working as a real volunteer should be, but many (though not all) that we see received more than what they gave. Some of them are having problem securing a good job later joined the volunteer movements that give them an allowance for sustenance.
The purity of voluntarily act has gone. Non-Muslims do a volunteer work by themselves with direct involvement and they themselves contribute a lot for that cause. Contribution (Infaq) of 10% from total income is a system organized by Islam, but Non-Muslims are the one that committed to implement it. That is why they have a huge fund. We Muslims on our own are not willing to do it. Became a volunteer, been given allowances, but still have the guts to misuse the fund. How much longer are we able to withstand hearing and seeing this malpractice? Shameful enough is not it?
RPWP’S PRINCIPLES AND MODUS OPERANDI
In the flight, our REPRESENTATIVE took the opportunity to explain that Rotary Club’s concept is very similar to what we do at RPWP. We were founded using our own funds and assets that we collected as a whole. As of today, we are still with the same group of AROUND 20 PEOPLE that we called as the Co-Founder. We do not ask alms by force, but when people come to contribute, we always welcome and appreciate it because it is the outcome that we want to share to all. Regardless, we will continue with the concept of fasting, continuously being thrifty for the sake of the blessing. If a spoon of cement worth 10 cents was spilled, we will still pick it up. Nothing is put to waste.
To envisage the concept of SINCERITY which for us in principal is known as KHOLAS, the act of ALL OUT in doing something, we spent our assets and including ourselves to develop this ‘House’. Prior to the results of our effort come to fruition, we were like invisible to others and not known to the public until the 8th year of our establishment. Only then little by little the public saw what we have done. We keep doing our job continuously (Istiqomah) and lately, especially since the end of last year, public began to appreciate our efforts by giving alms, in a hope to share the ‘reward’ for accelerating the development of RPWP in rebuilding a religious practice through these kids.
Those who have come or always keep track of RPWP know that 100% of charity fund is used for the protection of ‘asnaf’s and orphans as contracted (aqad). We keep continuing our effort in a state of fasting and by spending sparingly. Public noticed the progress in RPWP day by day. That is a sign of their charities are a blessing and were blessed. Founders who spent all their assets also have been toiling for years. All expenses were determined in a meeting (syuro), there is no room for malpractice.
As to what was written in the Berita Harian newspaper on April 18th, 2014. At RPWP, all founders live in the same house, doing everything together, wear the same kind of clothes, eat the same food and ride in the same vehicle with the children. In addition to made a full contribution in terms of finance, they also act as ‘murobbi’ (regulator), managers and even drivers and construction workers for the House that they built up and still building it, together. Although they are called doctors, CEOs, entrepreneurs and university professors out there, the concept of genuine volunteers make them work every day since 2005 without a penny of salary from RPWP.
We fast from wealthy lifestyle even though each of us can afford to do so. We channel all takings from the fasting and used it for the development, health and education of the orphans and ‘asnaf’s. Some of the founders had to quit their job to serve full-time work at RPWP without pay. Nevertheless, they remain adequacy as they are, at the expense of funds from founders who are still in employment and doing business. Because of that, charity from the public is not deviate, 100% reach the intended recipients.
All of that only happens if there is sincerity in becoming a volunteer and feel disgrace in using fund contributed by public. Do we like giving alms RM1000 but only RM100 reached the needy with so many missing in action along the way? In comparison with the concept of the Rotary Club, is Muslim charity far off better? Pat own chest, ask own faith.
Ethical leadership shown by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions are being practiced by Non-Muslims. They lived with ‘just enough’ concept with funding from BAITULMAL. Every time there was a balance from unspent personal allocation, they returned it at the end of the year. How many charity managers and national leaders of ours are able to do so?
We at RPWP take example of best practices from Sunnah and best ethical of humanity regardless of religion and race. We believe all that is good is Islam and should be emulated. Otherwise all that is bad is not Islam and should be abandoned. If we are able to learn a lesson or two from them, why should we deny the benefits?
Hypocrisy and falsehood will be exposed in the end. It will not last long. It is impossible a misuse of RM 1.7 million worth donation to build a mosque can be hidden if the building is nowhere to be seen. People can value sincerity, transparency and truth on our effort. When people can see clearly that our attempt is on the right path, according to the will of Allah and the Sunnah, through our work, God willing, many will come forward and lend their hand unexpectedly.
That is the real meaning of Siddiq (true), witnessed by human (SYAHID/SYAHADAH) and then, each and everyone justifies with SODAQOH (alms). After that come the pleasure and satisfaction when altogether convey praise to Allah with HAMDALAH. Then only we can reach the satisfaction by saying SODAQO-ALLAH and SODAQO-RASULULLAH. It is not merely a blank utterance, but through EXECUTION AND RESULTS.
At the early stage of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and his companions did not strive for the establishment of Islam using charity from the people. Prophet Muhammad, Saidina Umar, Saidina Osman, and Saidina Abu Bakar were all professionals and corporate leaders. They were not homeless. Instead they were wealthy and great people. The thing that separates them from most of us today was they were willing to channel their wealth for the development of Islam. On the other hand, most of us today are with no shame selling the name of Islam to gain great wealth.
It was after the unification of Medina, when Islam was already prominent, only then the contribution of funds poured in from the public (Ansar people). But it was all channeled towards the development of Islam, not for personal interest. That’s the concept of fasting. Individuals like Abu Bakar and the other companions could afford a wealthy lifestyle, instead they willingly opted to justify (act of ‘siddiq’) all their wealth with sedeqah. The entire property and energy delivered to support the Prophet Muhammad’s missionary.
The work done by Abu Bakar was an unpaid work and in addition it requires an investment from his own pocket. But today, we are expecting remuneration in any kind of forms when doing a voluntarily work. We are still fighting with each other over contracts of supplying breakfast for morning meeting.
At the same time, we still expecting ISLAM will be BACK TO ITS GLORY. Can it really happen? In reality, we still prefer to just sit down doing nothing and hoping that Islam will establish once again by itself. Do not expect things to go smoothly without we stand up and do something about it. Allah will never change our destiny unless we stand up and strive with determination.
Let us together fight for the glory of Islam for our children and grandchildren who will be living years ahead of us. If not now when will it be? If not us who will? Islam is high isn’t it? AL ISLAAMU YA’LU WALA YU’LA ALAIK..?
SHOULD WE JUST BEG AND HOPE FOR A LENDING HAND FROM A THIRD PARTY? DID NOT ALLAH STAND BY ITSELF? IS NOT IT WORTHY IF ISLAM IS ESTABLISHED WITH THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE FOLLOWERS?