‘Devote in charity whatever is beyond your need’


Syed Zafar Mahmood, President Zakat Foundation of India and chairman of Sir Syed Coaching and Guidance Centre,at office in Abul Fazle Enclave, Okhla, New Delhi (Photo Maeeshat)
Syed Zafar Mahmood, President Zakat Foundation of India and chairman of Sir Syed Coaching and Guidance Centre,at office in Abul Fazle Enclave, Okhla, New Delhi (Photo Maeeshat)

At a time when huge amount of fees are charged by institutions for IAS coaching, Sir Syed Coaching and Guidance Centre funds needy students to shine at Civils.

Syed Zafar Mahmood, President Zakat Foundation of India and chairman of Sir Syed Coaching and Guidance Centre, talks to Shaheryar Hossain on how the institution trained 17 students who cracked the UPSC this year. Excerpts from the interview as follows: 

This year 17 students from your institute cracked UPSC. And the numbers of successful candidates are increasing every year. What do you want to say on this?

This is not my dream. My dream is that there should be an institute in Delhi. There should be a complex for civil services with the name Sir Syed Coaching and Guidance Centre. In that institute, under the same roof 500 candidates (boys and girls) should receive best coaching. At present, we have three boys hostel and a girls hostel in Mukherjee Nagar. The hostels are our rental properties.

Can you explain us about the selection procedure of the candidates in your institute?

We conduct written test and interviews in four states of India – Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, West Bengal and Delhi. The candidates need to apply online. All the information related with the application is available on our website

What are the difficulties faced by Zakat Foundation of India (ZFi) while expanding its institute across the country?

There were no difficulties (Alhamdullillah). Look, when your heart stuck somewhere then difficulties do not go there. Let me explain you. Allah has told in Quran “And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days – and His Throne had been upon water – that He might test you as to which of you is best in deed. But if you say, “Indeed, you are resurrected after death,” those who disbelieve will surely say, “This is not but obvious magic.” (Surah 11, verse  no. 7) that what the purpose of creation of humanity is. In that Allah says so that I may test who among you helpful to the fellow human being. This is purpose of creation.

In my opinion, only 1/3 is for me and my family. 2/3 is for others who are needy. I always keep this in mind when I work for ZFI and Allah helps us and remove difficulties. Sometimes Kashmir University helps us. This year Vistasta School of Law and Humanities came and helped us.

In Kerala, Muslim League (ML) has also come forward to help us. We don’t have any political links with ML but just for the sake of courtesy the party said it will facilitate us. In Calcutta, Minorities Commission helped us earlier.

Well, our motto is from the verse of the Quran –يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُم (O ye who believe! If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly.).

How the idea of establishing IAS coaching centre for aspiring needy students generated in your mind? Who and what inspired you to start this noble cause?

Well, the first credit goes to Allah who gave me the opportunity to work for this noble cause. But I will give 100 % credit to my father. After the death of mother when I was three-year old, he was both father and mother to me. He was successful and honest lawyer. I noticed him doing two things in his life. Firstly, he used to establish institutions- schools and colleges. During those days, lawyers used to have weekly off on Sundays. He used to do that work on Sundays. I used to go along with him and watch what he is doing.

Secondly, he opened an account in his name. He used to ask his friends and relatives that if you don’t ask anything then will you give me Rs 5,000. Looking at his honesty, people used to give him the money and then he used to deposit it in that bank account. From that money, he used to help needy people without informing anyone.

When I grew up I felt that there is a system through which government ensure no security lapse and proper performance of Haj of the people. Similarly, Waqf Board looks after the administration of mosques and mausoleums. But there is no proper system of distribution of Zakat. Out of the five pillars of Islam, Zakat is very important for upliftment of the society.  Wealth must keep on circulating. It should not remain confined to a few hands. I would like to point out that there are two things – Zakat and Sadaqah. Zakat is 2.5 % of money/asset possessed by an individual should be given to the poor/needy. People think it is an optional charity. He/She may give or not it depends upon their wish. But this is wrong. The Quantum of Sadaqah is mentioned in the Quran in Chapter 2/ verse no.215 – They ask you, [O Muhammad], what they should spend. Say, “Whatever you spend of good is [to be] for parents and relatives and orphans and the needy and the traveler. And whatever you do of good – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.”.

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