Saturday, September 18, 2021

Despite COVID and conflict, Kashmiris continue to receive food | Local news

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“Because of COVID, we couldn’t go to each house,” Ahmad said, “But we knew an auto or sumo driver, a daily laborer, a vegetable vendor, or a painter, or migrant worker needed help.” All of them were given somewhere around 2,000-2,500 rupees (about $30) per month in addition to a package of rice, wheat, spices and tea that would last two months in an average household of four. For those who needed immediate attention, the mosque sent kits with cooked food. At the peak of COVID here, in May and June, hundreds of people received these kits from the mosque.

As the pandemic advanced, mosque-based Bait-ul-Mals (Arabic for “house of wealth” or treasury) and other local organizations provided oxygen concentrators and nebulizers to hospitals and clinics. But these religious centers particularly focused on the most basic human need in a crisis — food. 

Since early Islam, the concept of Bait-ul-Mal has existed in the society in varying forms. It mostly acts as an institution to pay for public works and charitable needs. Many Muslim-populated countries like Indonesia and Malaysia have government-supported Bait-ul-Mals in place. But in Kashmir, it is the common Kashmiris who donate to this institution.

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