This incident should serve as an eye opener

Extreme poverty has manifested itself as a curse in this case.

Dr Mehboob Makhdoomi
Srinagar, Publish Date: May 26 2018 11:16PM | Updated Date: May 26 2018 11:16PM
This incident should serve as an eye openerFile Photo

The incident of an Army major with a minor local girl in a Srinagar hotel, has sent shock waves across all the sections of our society. The 16-yr old girl (age still being ascertained) was lured by a local man from Budgam area where the major is posted. As per some reports, the girl's mother has said that this major - who was awarded for using innocent Kashmiri as a human shield- had paid a casual visit to her house in the late hours along with the local man. That's where she says, she felt something fishy when she found this local boy talking to her young daughter.

The issue is much broader than what meets the eye. I saw a photo of the girl's house on social media. It's not a house but a tin shed. Extreme poverty has manifested itself as a curse in this case. True, poverty can't be an alibi for weak parenting or fragile moral character but - easier said than done- it's a pretty tough challenge. Some are busy cursing the girl and her family, but they forget that as Muslims, it's not a shame for the family alone but for us as a society. Not that I'm trying to be politically correct but if we abuse this family, we should reserve some abuses for ourselves too. We have divorced our institution of Bait-al-Maal (People's Treasury). If a household in our locality sleeps empty-stomach or doesn't have essential items, it's the failure of the local Masjid committee. This is not to say that you get a license of promiscuity if help doesn't arrive, but the share of responsibility falls on the Muslims at the collective level too.

Stop buying expensive chandeliers, carpets and unnecessary lighting for the masajid and establish credible Zakat and Sadaqa systems at Mohalla level in each Masjid- not only for the food & medicine of the poor but also for the marriages & educational scholarship for those who can't afford it. To do so at the local level is extremely advantageous because everybody in the committee would know the applicants in person. There's minimal chance of financial shenanigans on either side - applicant as well as the committee. We do not expect local Bait al Maal to build bridges and roads (which is the government domain), but the Mohalla/Masjid president should ensure that nobody has such urgent need which may force him/her into extreme acts. They also need to make policies which discourage laziness and intentional reliance on the Bait al Maal. Such committees from low-income areas can coordinate with other committees with surplus resources if the need be. Why can't some honest elders show us the character of our aslaaf? Why can't we see such Mohalla presidents who won't go to bed before ensuring nobody is crying for help? This can be done by having a person in masjid office 24/7 for any urgent assistance?

Very few people actually pay Zakaat- a pillar of Islam. Our ulema need to concentrate more on convincing us to pay it regularly to ameliorate inequality in our society, instead of spewing venom against other sects. It's true that Bait al Maal is the department that deals with the revenues, accounts and other economic matters of the state, but even in the absence of an Islamic state, this institution can play a pivotal role in poverty alleviation, if established locally.

So before another man sells or intends to sell yet another sister of ours for money, & politicians jump in with peanuts to seek political mileage after such incidents happen, we need to wake up and do what we as a Muslim society are expected to do. Work to build our character on one side and ensure no man is allowed to exploit the vulnerabilities of our weaknesses.


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