As Charity Month Nears, Forget Not Our Institutions & the Needy Here & Abroad

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Hussein Hoballah

 To address the government’s anti-Covid-19 health measures, we have interviewed Sheikh Hassan Guillet, member of the “Interfaith Dialogue Assembly”, who has warned that “most of our masjids are in bitter finances, and that if things remain unchanged, they will be greatly endangered, as well as the constructive community service they provide.” Concurrently, people of our motherlands are suffering much, which is something we can’t just overlook. Some people have begun to aid the needy of our motherlands, including the Lebanese, who are experiencing hard times due to the continual currency decline, the widespread corruption, and the pressures laid by foreign groups that wish Lebanon and the Lebanese no good.

Guillet hasn’t made unthoughtful warnings, but has rather spoken in reference to the Covid-19 setbacks some institutions have begun facing. The lack of resources for our masjids and other religious centres is now a reality; worshippers have stopped visiting, no more religious ceremonies are being held like they had been ahead of the pandemic, and gatherings have been officially restricted in fear of outbreaks.

Though many imams had earlier spoken during private and public meetings about the sufferance, the congregation did not pay enough attention, perhaps thinking that the lack of events would save the religious institutions the costs. Factually, every institution has to meet regular and occasional payments. Paying back a loan to the bank or lenders is an unchanged monthly cost. Even when the due date is pushed back, the institution will still have to make the payment. Maintenance spending is also unchanged; maintenance staff who’ve worked long enough in the institutions can’t easily find other income sources to sustain their families.

Many of those workers, finding a financial substitute or government aid, have made use of the chance. Still, many others can’t do the same; they have come to Canada after signing contracts that leave them no other available financial resources. Therefore, the institutions’ financial burdens are now threatening their ability to go on. Only support from the congregation or the government will allow the institutions to go on.

“Our masjids depend wholly on the worshippers’ donations, which are used to maintain the masjids and support the underprivileged,” says Guillet to Sada al-Mashrek. The usual projects held have now been affected by the falling donations. That’s why the believers need to reactivate the projects. If narrowed down, those projects will affect many people who find psychological support in masjid teachings; families in lockdown have been apart from their acquaintances, and have thus been under psychological pressure.

Unwavering faith in Allah is certainly very nourishing. And as the pandemic crisis continues, faith is now a greater demand. Masjids’ teachings provide their congregation with the necessary spiritualties to overcome their misfortunes and psychological challenges driven by the pandemic.

Government aid – if provided – won’t be enough to cover the costs, especially those of major institutions that had been doing outstanding work ahead of the pandemic. Some of them have, as well, been organising social-media events met with fair interaction. That’s why the institutions must be financially and morally buoyed up.

Another crucial point is that “masjids in the Month of Ramadhan set iftar banquets to promote brotherhood and amity among the mass, and to feed the students or individuals that receive support form none,” explains Guillet. True, in Canada there are families who can’t find decent residence, clothing or food for different reasons that won’t be discussed now.

And though the need for financial assistance in Canada is great, we mustn’t forget the people of our motherlands, particularly in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Iraq; they’ve been impoverished and starved by war, oppression and corruption.

There are Canadian charities that actively collect the donations for deservers by legal means. The Month of Ramadhan is a golden chance for the people of faith, especially the wealthy, to support the needy as much as they can. The predicament of our acquaintances in Lebanon and other countries is obvious. Without a second thought, we need to back them up. Eventually, the charitable and good-spirited among us in Canada are not just a small number.

Soon enough, the Month of Ramadhan will be here, and it’s the month of generous giving, selflessness, charity, and care and kindness to the needy and orphans. So how great it would be for our fellows and families to remember and support our masjids and religious institutions and the misfortunate in Canada and abroad!

Canada, like its people, is full of virtue, and it usually opens door wide for donations spent locally and abroad by the officially registered charities. That’s why let’s do the best we can to help. After all, “Charity never narrows money,” says Allah’s Messenger Mohammed, blessed be he and his Household. “Charity pushes away afflictions and is the best medicine. It pushes away what has been firmly destined, and nothing except supplication and charity can wash away illnesses,” concludes the Holy Messenger.