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Where to give charity this Ramazan

If you want physical proof that God exists, visit a state-of-the-art hospital rising from the ashes in Korangi area of Karachi and you’ll burst into tears.

You’ll observe a sea of patients there, as far as the eye can see. At this hospital, there are no cash registers! The hospital treats everyone free of charge, serving up to 300,000 patients per month.

This is only done and can be done with the support of angels like you. Such institutes are run completely on Zakat and donations. This isn’t just a remarkable endorsement of the leaders of the hospital but also the Pakistani people, whose generosity and kindness is otherwise invisible in the news. Another important indicator of how ahead of their time the hospital is, they are paperless i.e. all medical records are digital. It’s important for us to support institutions like these, especially with our charity in Ramazan.
Ramazan brings remarkable changes in us. Chain-smokers who can’t go without lighting up every 15 minutes suddenly manage 15 hours without a cigarette. I struggle to control my diet all year round but suddenly discover the willpower to go without a sip of water on these long summer days. Perhaps the strangest feat of them all, our hard-earned wealth is shared with complete strangers to help them, without expecting anything in return. This is the beauty and blessing of the sacred month.

A second institution, one of my all-time favourite, is where a group of concerned citizens came together to build 1,000 schools across the country for underprivileged kids. I’m going to share just one story of a young man whose life has been transformed by being educated here. This is a moving story about a young man from a katchi abadi in Karachi, who graduated from IBA, Karachi despite his father working as a mazdoor in a wire factory for 35 years. Today, Nadeem Hussain has just co-authored and published a seminal book on the economy of modern Sindh, along with Dr Ishrat Hussain, the Adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan for Institutional Reforms.

“I’ve personally experienced how education at TCF removes the barriers of class and privilege,” shares Nadeem. “There was a time in my life when I went to the factory to help my dad sometimes.

Later, when I secured admission into IBA, the owner of the factory was so proud that he hugged my father. My father was the proudest dad in the world at that time. Two years later, the daughter of the factory’s owner also got admitted into IBA and we actually took a course together. Now, I want other children from katchi abadis to have opportunities like this.” He has already helped hundreds of children from katchi abadis secure admissions into top-tier universities.

Beyond these two organisations, for overseas Pakistanis, especially in America, who often wonder how they can give charity directly to trusted organisations, like Edhi Foundation, there are now many online options, including the Feeling Blessed App, which removes hurdles many of us have in the donation process abroad, safely and transparently.

Last but not the least, since the government won’t nurture a culture of tax paying, I have to say, please pay your taxes before you pay charity. Zakat for Muslims and taxes (as the law of the land) are mandatory for us to pay as citizens. Charity, beyond Zakat, is optional. Please don’t prioritise optional giving over mandatory responsibility as a citizen. It is like a civil servant collecting bribes ahead of Ramazan because he doesn’t want to seek bribes during the holy month.

Finally, enjoy this month of mercy by spreading as much kindness as possible in your everyday life. Hold the door for the person behind you, wear a big smile on your face and pass those jalebis at the Iftar table.

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