Come Ramadan and vehicles owned or hired by some orphanages are seen raising money in a number of areas in Srinagar. Orphanages and religious institutions mostly run on charity and, therefore, have to solicit donations from society. But the way they do it is detestable. The vans the orphanages use are mostly hired, and their owners are paid 25 per cent of the amount collected. That is, for every Rs 100 a van collects per day, its owner gets Rs 25. Similarly, safeers, or individuals authorized by Daar-ul-Uloom’s to raise funds, get a 30 per cent cut out of the total.
The money orphanages and Daar-ul-Ulooms collect during Ramadan is mostly zakaat which cannot not be used for purposes other than those specified in Muslim jurisprudence. The money, perforce, must go to the needy. It is a trust with the persons who raise it, and giving a big chunk to the van-owner or safeer is a huge disservice to the institution of zakaat and the needy for whom it is meant.
Zakaat cannot be paid to an imam (of a mosque), for construction of a mosque, or burial and funeral expenses of the departed. It cannot be utilized for construction of any building (not even Daar-ul-Ulooms and orphanages), although it can be spent on books for orphans and the poor, their uniform, food etc. Many Daar-ul-Ulooms, however, have devised a via media to utilize zakaat funds for construction works. Their managements hand over the money to the orphans and students enrolled in the institutions but direct them to donate it to the Daar-ul-Uloom or orphanage as the case may be. The poor students and orphans do as ordered, and the zakaat money is ready to be utilized for any purpose. So orphanages and Daar-ul-Ulooms are actually run by the orphans and students with their own money.
As stated above, zakaat collected by institutions is a trust with them. They are duty-bound to inform the public about every rupee they receive, and how it is spent. Some institutions come out with detailed statements of funds raised and expenditures incurred, but the amount paid to safeers and vehicle-owners is not shown. Such detestable practices must end. Society must not allow orphans to be exploited.