Every Ramzan Hyderabad pours in hundreds of crores of Rupees in Zakat, the mandatory charity on the rich Muslims. The city stands second in India in Zakat collection next only to Mumbai. Muslim have been ordained to contribute in charity 2.5 per cent of their total savings in a given year.While every rich and upper middle class Muslim contributes his or her share to Zakat, there are a few traditional families in Hyderabad known for their generous charity during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan. Muslims ensure that they pay their Zakat dues before the Id-ul-Fitr as charity during Ramzan is considered to bring 70 times the reward (sawab) with the Almighty.
Since Islam prohibits Muslims from making a show of Zakat donation, none of the members of these traditional Zakat donor families wants to divulge the amount they contribute towards charity. However, according to sources, some Hyderabadi families give as much as Rs 5 crore each in Zakat.
The traditional families known for big Zakat contributions include those of builder-politicians Bashiruddin-Ghayasuddin Babukhan, industrialist- educationists Shah Alam Khan-Mahboob Alam Khan, OU academic council
member Abid Rasool Khan, senior Telugu Desam leader Ibrahim Bin Abdullah Masqati, former Wakf Board chairman Muhammad Saleem, the Owaisi brothers Asaduddin and Akbaruddin, educationist-politician Vizarat Rasool Khan, the Allauddin family and industrialist Syed Hamid. Says Abid Rasool Khan, "most of my Zakat goes to institutions rather than a few individuals. If the funds are channelled and utilised for generating self-employment, there will be no poor person left in the country. I usually give more than the stipulated 2.5 per cent of my income as a precautionary measure lest my calculations went wrong".
The Babukhan family of former minister Basheeruddin Babukhan and Ghayasuddin Babukhan also manage the Hyderabad Zakat and Charitable Trust which has changed the living stands of lakhs of families in the rural side in the last few years. The Zakat Trust is part of the United Economic Forum which is now a registered NGO with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
"We have been providing pensions to more than 1,000 widows, constructing around 100 houses, giving clothes to thousands of students, and offering scholarships worth about Rs 2 crore through the Zakat funds," says United Economic Forum secretary Ghayasuddin Babukhan.The Shah Alam Khan family, which manage Golconda cigarette factory and a host of educational institutions. Shah Alam Khan, his son Mahboob Alam Khan and other family members distribute an undisclosed amount towards Zakat. The Shah Alam Khan family gives charity to individuals and their Zakat is not institutionalised as the Babukhan family had done. The Owaisis are said to be contributing anything upward of Rs 1 crore in
charity but they keep it secret for religious reasons. The Masqati family, which owns a big dairy, contributes to education, marriages of poor girls and self-employment.
Muhammad Saleem, however, believes in donating Zakat to individuals rather than institutions. "There's nothing wrong in donating to institutions. But I keep on donating from Zakat funds round the year. Most of the people who approach me are poor. They are in need of money for education of their children or for medical treatment. This gives instant relief to the needy," he adds.
According to rough estimates, about four lakh people stand to benefit from Zakat in one way or the other. "A notable feature of this charity is that it has no religious bounds. The receiver can be of any religion or region. The only eligibility is poverty and need. Islam believes in social equality and Zakat is the best source of achieving it," says Moulana Syed Shujath Hussain.