Building bridges with the true spirit of 'zakat'

Building bridges with the true spirit of 'zakat'

Shivrajpur’s pride: The pillars, which constitute part of the people’s project.

Displaying the true spirit of `zakat' (donations) as envisaged by the Holy Quran, the people, mostly Muslims, in Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh district are engaged in constructing a bridge over Tamsa river.

The bridge, once complete, would connect the Muslim-dominated Shivrajpur village, with the rest of the state and the country.  The terrain in this part of the district is rugged, travel is not easy and these problems are compounded by the apathetic attitude of the district administration towards basic infrastructure facilities.

‘‘So far a whopping Rs 50 lakh has been spent on the bridge and the pillars are already complete...Further work will begin soon and we expect the bridge to be completed before the next monsoon'', Haji Akhtar, who inaugurated the construction work, told Deccan Herald.

A sizeable number of people from the village, especially Muslims, live in Mumbai and other parts of the country and have earned a lot of money through their hard work and business accumen.

‘‘Though we made a lot of money yet we found it hard to reach our village during the holidays. It caused us untold miseries. What is the use of having money if our village remains cut off from the rest of the country?” asked 80-year old Haji Izharul, who owns a big business establishment in Gujarat.

The villagers said they had approached the people’s representatives, including former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Ram Naresh Yadav, former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Member of Parliament Akbar Ahmed Dumpy and others but all they got in return were empty promises and hollow assurances.

The public representatives never ever bothered to visit the village to see the difficulties, which at times appeared to be insurmountable, the people faced, they said.
‘‘Ultimately we decided to build the bridge with zakat and urged the people to come forward and make generous donations'', Izharul said.

‘‘The construction work was launched with a paltry amount of Rs 17,000 collected through voluntary donations people made three years back but today there is competition among the people to give liberal donations for the bridge'', he said.
“Even the common people, including vegetable sellers and daily-wage labourers have chipped in with whatever cash they could spare. They have been far more generous than our representatives whose duty it is to serve their constitutents,'' said Shahnawaz, a Shivrajpur resident and a daily wage earner. Izharul, who is in charge of construction work, says that the people were now vying with each other in lending a helping hand. “Every day I receive scores of telephone calls from the people of the village seeking permission to rush construction material,'' he said.

Once the Tamsa river receeds, construction work will begin in right earnest. ‘‘The bridge is likely to be compete before the next monsoon'', the Haji said.
Anger boils in the depths of Shivrajpur, but their is hope and not despair in the hearts and minds of the villagers. They have taken a firm decision that since they were fobbed off by the politicians they believed would contribute to the public cause they would not invite any people’s representative or government functionary to inaugurate the bridge once it is completed.

Instead an ordinary resident of the village would do the honours.

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