Societies are the heterogeneous combination of people where they are differentiated on the basis of their physic, by their intellect while few by their financial positions. Some lived hand to mouth and some are born with spoon of gold. The thing in common is the existence of rich in minorities where majority was struggling to meet their ends by scarce means. This division becomes worse after the outbreak of COVID-19 as it increased the class gap and added a new layer to socioeconomic vulnerabilities. It push many people survive on the border line of poverty to vicious circle of poverty.
Pakistan has strong traditions of volunteering and giving, deeply rooted in the Islamic faith of its citizens. Charity is a central tenet of Islam, which lays great emphasis on supporting the needy and poor. Although philanthropy is preached and encouraged in other religions as well, Islam makes it obligatory in the form of Zakat which is one of the five pillars of the faith. The beneficiaries of Zakat are mentioned in the Quran: the poor, the needy, those employed to administer it, those whose hearts are made to incline (to truth), (to free) the captives, those in debt, and in the way of Allah and for the wayfarer. This list of beneficiaries binds Muslims to each other, and shows the notion of social responsibility and civic duty. Thus, charity in Islam is not only a form of worship, it also links humans to each other through their obligations to God.
The concept of giving charity is fundamental to the Islamic economic system. It emphasizes social solidarity as an ideal that enjoins both justice and generosity while condemning the hoarders of wealth. The necessity and value of charity giving are articulated in the Quran through numerous terms. The meanings of these terms are integrated with one another and they are often used interchangeably. The most significant terms include Sadqa, Zakat, Khairaat, Qarz-e-hasna and ‘Infaaq’ etc. Every term has its own importance and needs clear understanding.
When we talk about charity in Pakistan than we stand among top generous nations as we contribute more than 1% of our GDP on charity which is twice as India contributed. As per study of Pakistan Centre for Philanthrop, Pakistanis give around PKR 240 billion (more than $2 billion) annually to charity. The same report indicates that about 98 percent of people in the country give in one form or another if not with cash, then with in-kind donations or by volunteering for needy causes. Fueling this society by culture of generosity is the Islamic emphasis in the form of Zakat, Sadaqa, and Fitrana as well as other moral and social factors and a deeply rooted sense of compassion toward community members.
Instead of being on top in Charity most of the charity is performed by individuals directly sidestepping the charitable organizations. Supporting needy has strong role in social safety net of any nation which may influence sustainable development so, in order to become more crucial player for the game of sustainable development we need to make efforts to institutionalize the individual tendency of giving and redirect it toward more structured efforts as the dynamics behind this preference of individual vs. organization is essential to building a truly civil and sustainable future.
A survey was conducted reveals the fact that, 67% of the people prefer individuals for charity and only 33% of respondents prefer organizations for their donations/charity (https://ssir.org/articles/entry/philanthropy_in_pakistan#bio-footer). The reason behind not giving to organizations may be the regional difference, easy access to needy and lack of trust in organizations otherwise institutionalize charity always have vital contribution to the economic, social and political sectors of a nation. In fact, the role of charitable organizations and volunteer work is no less important than the roles of the public and private sectors. Charities provide essential services that positively impact the lives of citizens, such as building hospitals, schools, orphanages and religious centers. In addition, charitable organizations are a vital partner to the government in many aspects, including personal empowerment and training, fighting poverty, combating social diseases such as drug abuse, and attempting to narrow the deep divide between the rich and poor.
There is no doubt that Pakistanis are a generous people, as the practice of giving is nearly universal. However, this charitable impulse needs to target more impact-oriented contribution. In this way, individual donations can play a more-effective role in inclusive development than simply assuaging the symptoms of poverty. It is evident that a lack of trust for civil society organizations is hampering their fund raising efforts. To encourage more institutional giving, organizations have to ensure transparency and accountability, thereby mitigating the trust deficit of givers. While civil society organizations need to expand their fund raising networks among the general public, efforts should also be made to inform people that giving to organizations may have greater impact than giving to individuals. Developed nations encourage institutionalized charities by highlighting the returns on charity in the form of, for institutional charity through building positivity towards it in the form of having more gratification, satisfaction through helping deprived community, benefiting from tax reduction/holidays, giving meaning to your life and through promotion of generosity in upcoming generation which eventually becomes the root of economic prosperity.
The contributor is MD IRP/ Faculty Department of H&SS, Bahria University Karachi.