Charity needs caution
By: Saad Dosari
Haj is drawing near and along with it comes yet another season of “charity hunts.” Hundreds of messages and invitations about charity opportunities have stated to appear everywhere — SR10 for food, SR5 for water, SR500 for sacrificial animal and so on.
The only message I have for you, make sure you know where your contribution is going. Islam and for that matter every religion lays great emphasis on giving charity. It is an act of generosity and sacrifice one makes from his/her hard-earned money just to help others whether related or not. It is an act of self-denial, a proof of goodness and a demonstration of kind-heartedness.
And what makes charity so sentimental and emotional, is exactly what makes it, sometimes, dangerous! Life is not so simple as it used to be; the message you receive on the mobile asking you to donate SR10 to help print new copies of Qur’an to be distributed in Africa is not the same as when your grandfather used to collect SR2 from his neighbors to help the guy by the end of the street whose shop got gutted in a fire. The harsh fact is that there are those who exploit such noble sentiments and pure tendencies to promote their own diabolical designs. The riyals you thought would end up as a pencil in the hands of a little kid in a school somewhere could end up as a bullet in his head, and what you thought would help in quenching pilgrims thirst with cold sips of water could end up spilling fire on the heads of poor families in a village somewhere in the world.
The rise of organized terrorism back in the 80s and the establishment of so many terror organizations owe their existence to many fake charity centers. From the West to the East, working in different cultures and tapping on the religious sentiments of various peoples, dubious centers were built to source funds to these terror organizations. Helping the poor, fighting hunger, buildings schools, and digging water wells were all fairy tales told to melt hearts, to raise funds for these groups working in the dark. Billions of riyals were channeled to support different terror groups all over the world. By the beginning of the new millennium, and especially after the catastrophic event of 9/11, the masks on the faces of whom we thought were merciful angels dropped, and their true faces were out in the open; hideous demons.
Since then, along with money laundering, taxes evasion, and drugs finances, fighting and tracing terror groups funding is a major activity of so many financial security authorities around the world. New rules to collect charities, to wire them, to transfer them, to monitor them were put in place.
Here in the Kingdom, it is not allowed to publicize and to collect any resources for any charitable cause without obtaining approval from the government. So it is not a one-man show, a WhatsApp message, an email, or an unknown bank account out there; collecting charities adheres to a system monitored by higher authorities for the purpose of organization and security.
This is not a call for stinginess, to deprive you from that alluring feeling of giving and helping others, but it is a guarantee that your resources are directed to the right places, to where you actually intended.
You can still help that neighbor whom you know needs cash, the friend of your kid in the school whom you know needs support, but when it comes to charity calls and messages that you cannot verify, you may need to back down and consider your options. There are many licensed charity organizations in the Kingdom that you could look up to give back to the society, to make a good deed, and to submit to the teachings of Islam. It is all about making the right choice, that’s all.