It is an indisputable fact that life does not offer equal opportunity to people and that while life endowed and elevate some people and provide them with abundance of wealth some beg for their daily food and at times die in poverty. This was brought to bear recently during an empowerment programme where people who have suffered various dehumanising circumstances in their lives due to situations beyond their control, were relieved of their pains, sufferings and shame.
Knowing fully well that anyone who is denied of the basic necessities of life like food, clothing and shelter can automatically feel neglected and estranged and then filled with whimsical thoughts could commit crime or suicide, Nasfat Agency for Zakat and Sadaqat (NAZAS), a non-governmental organisation established with the aims to give succour to the needy in the society, decided to do something about it by giving out financial, moral and emotional support. To a needy set of people, the group donated items like deep freezer, cooler, photocopying machines and other valuables which can be used to start a business. The beneficiaries expressed delight over NAZASâ€™s gesture.
Lukman Oluwo, a physically challenged young man from Shomolu area was in shock as he was given N200, 000 as start-up for business. With this N200, 000 from NAZAS, I will build a container and start up my business and by the grace of God I will rise again. I am grateful to NAZAS.â€
Hazizat Adelagun, a trader from Mushin area who also received a cash donation of N200, 000 said, â€œI currently sleep in the Mosque but God used these kind-hearted individuals through NAZAS to put an end to my homelessness and resuscitate my business. I am a petty trader of pure water and soft drinks. But due to life challenges, I have been struggling as I currently live in the mosque. With this money I will get an accommodation and put my business back on track. I pray to God to continue to be with them and their families.â€
At a Ramadhan lecture tagged, â€˜The Benefits of Giving in Islamâ€™, powered by NAZAS, where the empowerment was carried out, the focus was on shedding more light on the concept of spending and giving in the cause of serving the Almighty Allah.
Speaking on the theme, one of the guest speakers and a member of Nasrul-lahi-Fatih Society (NASFAT) National Mission Board, Dr. Daudu Oniyide explained that Islam has established an institution of charity to eradicate poverty and cater for the have-nots. â€œIt has become a religious obligation upon whoever the Almighty Allah has endowed with abundance of wealth to stand and respond to the need of such people and putting smile on the faces in order to create a peaceful co-existence between the poor and the rich and also to maintain balance in the society,â€ he said.
Oniyide said further that Islam, being a religion of peace, wants everyone to have a meaningful life and strongly advocates charity as one of the means of sharing wealth to cater for the needs of others.
â€œThe Quran emphasises on the issue of feeding the hungry and helping those who are in need, and the more one helps others, the more he or she would receive Allahâ€™s help,â€ he said. â€œNobody can claim that he is a true believer without helping others.â€
Charity, Oniyide stressed, comes in different forms. â€œIt can come be in form of money, food, shelter sharing experience and spending valuable time with those who need assistance.â€ He said, â€œWe cannot discuss the act of giving without considering Zakat as the foremost. Zakat is the third pillar of Islam, it is a specific payment prescribed by the Almighty Allah to all Muslims whenever his wealth reaches a specific percentage and must be adequately distributed to a specific set of people in the community.â€ Zakat is a form of alms-giving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax, which, by Quranic ranking, is next after prayer in importance.
The Missionary, NASFAT Oworo/Ifako Branch, Alhaji Isiak Folorunso Faagba, also admonished Muslims to pay their Zakat as at when due as that was the only one God accepts and the one that can redeem oneâ€™s sins in the sight of God. The cleric said Zakat is not for boasting rights. â€œIn whatever position you find yourself, donâ€™t be arrogant because God is the giver of all positions and even as Muslims be patient and persevere in the face of adversity, provocation and challenges and above all be like God in forgiveness, patience and mercy,â€ Faagba said.
NAZAS, an offshoot of NASFAT, is committed to touching lives. Incorporated on January 31st January 2014, it swung into action immediately through empowerment and scholarship programmes, which cuts across primary, secondary, tertiary, visually impaired, law school and prison inmates. The agencyâ€™s benevolent acts are not limited to individuals alone as it has reached out to the vulnerable within the society through donations of relief materials to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Also, through its public health initiative, the agency has been collaborating with the Islamic Medical Association of Nigeria (IMAN) to provide free medical services to the downtrodden in underserved locations.