Hira Welfare Association: A Beacon of Hope for the Underprivileged in Bangalore

First established in 2005 as the Hira Relief Committee, by a group of like-minded Muslim volunteers, the Committee subsequently grew into the Hira Welfare Association by 2010 and now, in 2015, takes silent credit for a huge chunk of relief efforts in Bangalore’s slums, aimed at the effective distribution of the Zakah/ Sadqah money and the prevention of its abuse, writes ZAINAB ALIYAH.

“Who is he who will lend to Allah a goodly loan so that He may multiply it to him many times? And it is Allah who decreases or increases (your provisions), and unto Him you shall return.”[The Qur’an 2: 245]

“Zakah is for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the funds, for those whose hearts have been reconciled (to the truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer. (thus is it) ordained by Allah and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.”[The Qur’an 9: 60]

Adi bin Hatim (ra) narrates that Allah’s Messenger (saws) said: “Save yourself from Hhell-fire even if by giving half a date-fruit in charity.”

Zakah (obligatory charity) being the third and essential pillar of the Islamic faith receives much prominence in the month of Ramadan, as Muslims across the world hasten to purify their wealth by giving in charity, as is obligatory on them.

The coordination of Zakah and Sawm (fasting) is such that while a believer fasts in Ramadan, he realizes the hardships and struggles of those living in poverty and cannot arrange for themselves two meals a day. With such a deep realization, stemming from personal experience, a believer humbles before the Grace of Allah (swt) and hurries to show his thankfulness for the blessings he’s received by ensuring that another of his brothers in faith is not deprived of it.

However, it is essential to ensure that only those in dire need of your Zakah receive it and not those who make a living out of deception. Hence, it is important to have an exact calculation of the amount you are eligible to pay and a thorough investigation of who receives it.

In urban, metropolitan cities, separating the ‘actually needy’ from the ‘supposedly needy’ in the garb of a famished person becomes a wild goose chase and emotionally exhausting. As a solution, and in order to avoid such frequent blunders, there are, in place, organizations willing to take your amount of the Zakah and distribute it amongst those most deserving of it. One such association that undertakes this noble endeavor is the Hira Welfare Association (HWA), founded as an initiative of the Hira Foundation Trust.

Founded in 2005 by a group of like-minded Keralite Muslims, the Hira Welfare Association (HWA) aims at the effective distribution of Zakah/ Sadaqah money and the prevention of its abuse. HWA works towards the elevation of poverty in the city by ensuring that necessary help reaches those with deplorable standards of living and in the pathos of illiteracy and unemployment. The HWA locates, within Bangalore, areas in need of the most help and seeks to provide them with financial, academic and medical assistance.

Initially, the Hira Welfare Association gained prominence amongst the Keralite Muslim population in Bangalore, who have been a part of its administration and have been availing its services for ten years now. The Association started off with an annual amount less than Rs. 100,000/- for distribution and the population of a handful of slums to cater to. Now, with ten years of efficient service and fulfilled promises to its credit, HWA has managed to raise annual funds of approximately Rs. 25,00,000/-.

The Association is an organized one where appropriate assistance is provided to the nature of the need and hence put under the respective categories within the service initiatives provided by the Association namely; medical aid, educational assistance, housing aid, debt settlements, self-employment and monthly pensions.

Following the registration of the beneficiaries, volunteers working with the Association conduct a case-study of their situation, their BPL/APL status; living, health and employment conditions, before approving their eligibility to receive the Zakah money.

Also a part of its charity scheme is the scholarship amount reserved for those aspiring for higher education but without the means to do so. The scholarship program is reserved mainly for higher education due to lack of funds to provide for the primary and secondary levels as well.

“The whole idea behind providing timely assistance to these people is that while we ensure our duty towards Allah (swt) is being fulfilled, we must also ensure that those who receive Zakah in the present year should be self-sufficient enough to pay their own Zakah [in the coming years]. It was just such a system in place during the time of the Khulafa-e-Rashidoon that eventually managed to completely eradicate poverty, owing to calculated and efficient distribution,” said Sabu Shafeeq, former President of the Association.

The Hira Welfare Association has several working departments like: media and public relations; verification and distribution; networking; accounts and documentation, self-employment, revenue generation etc., so as to assist with the incredible workload of the incoming revenue and its distribution.

The Association also works with other NGOs in order to provide help where necessary and also to notify people of their right and eligibility to a certain government aid if any is available. As ‘bonded slave’ is one of the beneficiaries of the Zakah money, HWA furthermore looks into the case studies of any prisoners who may be unduly prisoned or retained without proof and works towards their release and also their subsequent employment.

In the ten years since its inception, the Hira Welfare Association has come a long way in their endeavor of educating people about the right methods of paying Zakah and guaranteeing – through a strict process of verification and due-diligence – that it reaches the people who the Qur’an categorizes as the lawfully needy.

Despite inadequate advertising, the Association has gained a fair share of popularity in the city. However, it is their appeal to Muslims in and around Bangalore to educate themselves and others about Zakah.

While we are purifying our wealth this Ramadan, let’s make sure that we are making a marked difference in the life of at least one family.