Hyderabad: Zakat for health. That's the catchword this Ramzan. And this time it is Covid driven zakat. More and more Muslims are trying to channelise their annual zakat fund to help out people caught in the pandemic. Traditionally well-heeled Muslims used to offer their obligatory charity to madrasas to support the education of poor Muslim boys and girls. Now as Ramzan coincides with the devastating second wave of Covid, the idea of reaching out to the affected community members has caught on.

Many city based voluntary organisations, which are working with the Covid patients, have sought zakat donations to help people struggling to cope with the disease. Appeals of NGOs like Helping Hand Foundation, Safa Baitul Maal, Access Foundation and Help Hyderabad have struck a chord. Money is pouring in from affluent Muslims and philanthropists from both within and outside the country. Several NRIs hailing from Telangana are coming forward to help the needy with cash and kind. As the depressing ground reality becomes clear, some NRIs are aligning with NGOs to offer urgently needed medical equipment to provide succour to the poor and the disadvantaged.

With the positive cases spiralling by the day and people gasping for oxygen, more and more people are going in for home isolation. A few NGOs have come forward to provide the much needed home care for the Covid positive cases. The HHF is providing pulse oximeters, medicines and food besides helping with injectables, IV fluids and monitoring the vitals. "We are also providing ambulance and funeral services and post-Covid rehabilitation", says HHF president, Mujtaba Hasan Askari.

At a time when people are struggling to cope with the rising cost of medicare, zakat donations can help save lives. A symbol of Islamic social justice, zakat is considered the community's best bet to lift itself up. "Every year I used to offer my zakat to madrasas but this time I have donated it for care of the deserving Covid patients", said a businessman pleading anonymity.

Similar views are expressed by others who feel the present situation demands the zakat amount to be utilised for treatment and rehabilitation of Covid affected patients. Even well off families are finding it difficult to meet the rising cost of medicine and oxygen cylinders. As such all those who are eligible to pay zakat should think of coming to their aid, says an IT professional.

No matter how little there is immense satisfaction in giving.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. His third book - Urdu Poets and Writers , Gems of Deccan  - is just released. Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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