Photo Courtesy: http://productivemuslim.com

It is these times that Muslims are giving in charity abundantly,humanity levels are at the peak. Kindness is probably an understatement and you could be awed at how everyone is going an extra mile to help those in need. This is one of my favourite times. It is indeed the last ten days of Ramadhan.

People differ in how they offer the sadaqa and zakat but of late, some Muslims have made it a trend to make a call-out that they will be giving zakat/sadaqa on a certain day. On these days, you would see women huddled with their children and men, old and young standing outside the premises awaiting the ‘promised package’. They would wait as long as it takes, so long as they get the flour,oil, sugar and other necessities. People are hungry, they would do anything to get that package. People are jobless, they would do anything to get something to feed their families. You see the queues of people waiting and you know how much people are desperately in need. Some would say, Kenyans just like whatever is free whatever it may cost them. Quite true but nonetheless we can never totally disagree that majority are genuinely poor. It is quite a heart breaking sight when you see them standing, seated, squatting under the scorching sun, some with crying babies and tired children waiting for the 500, 1000 shillings or the package. But have we ever kept ourselves in their shoes?

I have never really known whether what is being given is sadaqa or zakat. Whether it is announced that people should come or leakage of information that leads those crowds of people to the premises. Whatever the case, the method used in sharing this zakat or even if it is sadaqa is quite depressing. If the people responsible in giving the sadaqa/zakat are not the ones who called out for people to come over then there must be leakage of information on their plans and thus the queues of people. Because people just can’t walk miles and miles in crowds or queues if they didn’t hear the grapevine and the rumours that this person at this place will be giving out this and that. Or perhaps it is just a bad trend amongst the people to crowd themselves up? Allahu a3lam.

I’m just assuming the rich are the ones who give information on such plans or they have made the poor get accustomed to such sadaqa traditions over the years and thus the automated numbers of people appearing at the same place year in year out. If it is indeed so, then a lot has to be considered.

This woman with her child or this old man is probably coming from South Coast or Kilifi or even farther areas like Changamwe. Most probably he/she came by foot because they are not about to waste money for fare. We all know how our heat is here in Mombasa. And even if it is any other place, the distances these people walk is not a joke honestly. They come and find the ‘earlier birds’ have already arrived. It’s a huge crowd already. He thought he was early but in this case, it is first come first serve. Survival is for the fittest. He might spend the entire day roaming around the place waiting for the package. This man might have wasted a whole day of work where he would have probably earned 1500 shillings while you give them only 1000. Even if he was going to get the EXACT amount or even more from you, he wouldn’t be humiliated in such a way.

Many people take these things really for granted but please think about it. When you call out to people that you will be giving out sadaqa and people; very poor people desperately come to your place, not knowing the exact time or anything. They ‘just heard’ you will be giving out something, and ‘something’ is such a great deal for them. Have you really thought about the struggle they go through to get to your place? Waiting for hours? With all this heat and tired children on their backs?

You know, we keep saying we want jannah. We want to be in the same jannah like Umar ibn Khattab and Hamza and Fatima Azahra and Aisha Radhiya Llahu 3anhum. We want to be in the same heaven with the prophet and with people who were killed for Islam, with people who sacrificed their entire wealth Fi sabiliLlah. With people who used to take sadaqa to the doorsteps of the poor. With people who fought with the prophet peace be upon him. How by God? How do we expect to be in the same jannah with them while we humiliate people? When we make people make queues to get what is their haq from you? Even if not intentionally, aren’t you supposed to do unto others what you would prefer for yourself? How do we even dream of being in the same jannah with the sahabas and prophets??!

Let us not try to justify ourselves. If we can afford to give zakah to a random number every year then we can very well afford to actually go to South Coast, work along with the local imams in giving out to those who are really needy and just lazy beggars. And even if one is sick or unable to get there himself then he can probably afford to hire reliable people to do it on his behalf.

We keep forgetting that every single step we take towards these poor people the more the rewards for us. It is not a must that you feed 1000 people for you to feel satisfied with your sadaqa or zakat. You can as well do big projects for ten people such that they don’t have to come to you again the next year. If we REALLY want jannah then we must go out of our comfort zone. We must work hard and feel the pain of people. What we give in queues does not mean is any less valuable. No that’s not what I am saying. It does not mean that I am not aware of the bad begging habits in our Coast and Kenya in general. It does not mean I am underestimating anyone’s approach of giving sadaqa and zakat. God knows I am not being judgemental here and may He forgive me if i’m making wrong assumptions..all I meant to say is; please when giving out what you have remember that these people are human beings like you. Don’t just take their desperation to your advantage and let them struggle to get what you had in store for them. Put yourself in their shoes. Do unto them what you would have wanted if you were in their place. Not meaning to step on anyone’s toes; Allahu a3laam.