Poverty not sign of piety, says scholar

•As 75 benefit from The Companion’s N8m zakat

AN Islamic scholar and chief executive officer of Qiblah International Travels and Tours, Alhaji AbdulFatah AbdulMajeed, has ruled out poverty as being one of the signs of piety.

He spoke during the disbursement of zakat proceeds by The Companion, an association of Muslim men in business and the professions, held at the organisation’s Ikeja, Lagos national secretariat.

No fewer than 75 people received cash and materials worth N8 million from The Companion Zakat and Sadaqah Fund.

Abdul Majeed warned that poverty could lead to unbelief in a sufferer.

“This is why our Prophet taught us how to pray against poverty. It is the duty of Muslims to fight against anything that has to do with poverty. Allah also commanded Muslims to seek refuge against it,” he said.

According to him, it is unwise to seek advice from someone who is hungry.

The Companion’s former national amir (president), Alhaji Musibau Oyefeso, called for the promotion of financial literacy among Muslims.

Oyefeso said this would grant them access to the various governments’ intervention funds.

He urged The Companion to organise a seminar on financial literacy for the beneficiaries of zakat.

“We have huge poverty in the country. It can be ameliorated through accessing government’s funds and their judicious use,” he said.

The Companion’s national amir, Alhaji Thabit Sonaike, urged wealthy Muslims to fulfill their zakat obligation.

Sonaike, represented by the head of the Zakat and Sadaqah Fund, Alhaji Lai Baruwa, reminded well-to-do Muslims that zakat is meant to purify and increase their wealth.

“They will also earn a great reward from Allah both in this world and hereafter. If left unpaid, unfortunately, zakat will also be a source of punishment from Allah both in this world and hereafter. I pray Allah to save us from His punishment,” he said.

Sonaike called on government at all levels to create more social welfare programmes for the suffering masses.

Health care services, especially at the primary health care centres, he said, should be free or heavily subsidised.

“Pension should be paid as and when due, education in public schools should be affordable and the agricultural sector (especially food crop production, storage and distribution) should be heavily subsidised in order to make prices of food affordable for the poor.

“The government should do more for the masses, while our political officeholders should give up part of the extravagant lifestyles and humongous remuneration for the release of money for the welfare of the masses. I hasten to remind the government that the security and welfare of the people is their most paramount duty,” he said.

Sonaike said he was happy that the number of zakat contributors this year was higher than the previous years.

He said: “We have been able to increase the number of beneficiaries as well, even though it is less than 50 per cent of the applications we received. This clearly shows that we still have a very long way to go.”

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