We may now attempt to identify the operational mechanism to what different shapes it would take. A few important forms are given below to illustrate:
- The first form is that of nafaqat-e-wajiba. Wujub (obligation) points out that action against poverty starts at family level and that it will have a legal backup, so the claims of the poor relatives against the rich kins are enforced if not voluntarily met. In this respect, the closer the relationship higher will be the sanctity of the claim.
- The institution of zakah is primarily an organised state function. The Muslim jurists, however, distinguish be-tween amwal-e-zahira and amwal-e-batina, the latter being an individual’s private domain. Thus, the area of zakah is signified by both private/individual and state initiatives to cater to the needs of the poor.
- A wholly private area covers numerous forms of infaq, sadaqat, qarz-e-hasan and the institutions of waqf for a variety of purposes covering inter alia the needs of the poor, disabled and destitute, whether of immediate nature or on a long-term basis.
- The state, in any case, is fully responsible to provide for the basic human needs. To fill the resource gap for the purpose, the state has the right of taxation and to resort to other such means that ensure distributive justice with respect to wealth and property as well as providing special protection to certain areas and segments of society as long as warranted and to bring them at par or closer, to the rest. Important in this respect is to understand the basic needs. According to one Hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) proclaimed that an individual [citizen] has the right to food, clothes and shelter. We can say that these are the fundamental needs and must be taken care of at all cost. This, however, does not bar to enlarge the list of the needs in a given socioeconomic setting, to be met to the extent of resource availability — both through Zakah and tax revenues.
- Programmes and plans aiming at alleviating poverty have to move in two directions; first, as explained under (d) above, the basic needs are to be identified and met; and second, to undertake rehabilitation programmes. In case of zakah funds, the legacy of rehabilitation is contested in the light of tamleek (direct cash payment). To avoid controversy, we may propose that priority has to be given to direct assault on poverty and measures of rehabilitation considered only if resources so permit. In the days of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, even marriages of the poor were arranged by the state, because resources were abundant. This may not be considered as state obligation, yet this example makes a point for generalization and suggests that rehabilitation with the aim to make people usefully productive and earners, rather than letting them to stay as passive recipients, is very important and must form an integral component of the poverty alleviation programme.
- The emphasis on rehabilitation also brings to light fact that the programme designed for employment should give priority to self-employment. That necessitates provision and improvement of skills as well as financial, technical and other logistic support to encourage private entrepreneurships.
Source: Poverty Alleviation in Pakistan: Present Scenario and Future Strategy, Mohibul Haq Sahibzada. Republished with permission.
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