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    Volume 8 Issue 94 | November 13, 2009 |

  Cover Story
  Current Affairs
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  Food for Thought
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Life on the Street

It is matter of great concern that the population of Dhaka city is increasing very rapidly day by day. A large number of people are coming to the capital from the villages and towns around the country everyday to seek a better life. But things are very difficult especially for the poor. A number of homeless people can be seen in Dhaka city especially near the footpath at Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Karwan Bazar area. For all of them their hope of a better life is evaporating. They work at whatever job (Rickshaw pulling, Day labourer etc) they get and pass their night sleeping on the footpath and in parks. It is really pathetic that such a large number of people are passing their nights in an unhealthy, noisy and polluted environment. What a pitiful scene! Is there nobody who will think about these unfortunate human beings?
Litus Chiran
University of Dhaka

Climate Change Looming
Climate change is soon going to be a great challenge for Bangladesh. Global warming and climate change are already affecting lives and livelihoods in this region. By 2050, 70 million people could be affected annually by floods and 8 million by drought, with increasingly intense cyclones hitting the coast .The largest island in the country, Bhola, has lost half of its land in the past decade and many other islands are also suffering. A temperature rise as fast as the one we have seen over the last 30 years has never happened before. But apparently no meaningful measures have so far been taken to save the earth from this disaster. The government of Bangladesh should take the lead in urging developed and developing nations alike to curb carbon emissions on an urgent basis.
Mohammad Jamal Uddin
Dept. of English
International Islamic University, Chittagong

On The Duty of Giving
This is in reference to the cover story “The Duty of Giving” published on Sept. 4 2009. I would beg to differ with the two claims of Dr. Shamsher Ali that Zakat can be given to non-Muslims and can be used for freeing prisoners. While Dr. Ali is obviously a well-read person it should be mentioned that the majority of scholars on Fiqh (Islamic law) are opposed to his view regarding the above. In fact, there was scholarly consensus (ijma) among early experts that Zakat cannot be given to non-Muslims. I would also venture to suggest that when an article in a renowned publication such as the Star Magazine cites an opinion, it should be cross referenced. It would have been better to include opinions from other experts.
Sadaqah or charity is for any needy or poor person regardless of whether they are Muslim, and this goes above and beyond what one pays as Zakat. But Zakat is an obligatory act of worship and can only be used for certain categories of people as mentioned in the Quran.
The Quran describes eight categories of people who are to receive Zakat in Surah 9, verse 60. “Sadaqat (here it means Zakat) are only for the Fuqara (destitute with no income) and Al-Masakin (needy) and those employed to collect the funds (of Zakat); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives (slaves or prisoners); and for those in debt; and for Allah's Cause, and for the wayfarer (travellers who have run out of money); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”
If Zakat was due to anyone in hardship from any religion then Allah (SWT) would not have mentioned in the aforementioned verse of Surah Tawbah (9:60) “For those whose hearts have been inclined (to the Truth)”.
One has to read the explanation of the renowned scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali in reference to the explanation of the deserving recipients of Zakat to get a better understanding of this issue. The above quote means the new Muslim converts or those non Muslims who had to face hardships and exile/torture by their families when they would turn towards Islam.
Commentators have said according to authentic Hadith reported in Bukhari and Muslim, that the Prophet (PBUH) instructed Mu'adh ibn Jabal, whom he had appointed as Governor of Yemen, to call on people to pay Zakat and specified that Zakat should be given to needy Muslims, just as he specified that it is only obligatory on rich Muslims.
However as duty to mankind and humanity and as an integral part of being a Muslim, one should definitely try and help any needy or poor person irrespective of their race, religion or nationality, the difference being it would not be from Zakat but from sadaqah which is not based on a fixed amount of money or time calculation.
These issues are important for those of us who give Zakat, and I call on scholars to have a debate about it so we can get it right before the next Ramadan.
Hina Yunus
Gulshan, Dhaka.

Call Centres
The government has given licenses to open Call Centres in order to earn foreign currency as well as to create new jobs in the country. But capitalising on the need of the job seekers these call centres are exploiting the vulnerable youth. Recently I was interviewed by the Managing Director of a call centre and got an opportunity to work there. As per the condition, I had to undergo a training period by their resource persons before starting my job. Unfortunately the instructor, a woman who claimed she worked for the customer care department of a renowned telecommunications company, could not teach us anything positive regarding the use of English. She used a funny accent and to be honest, we became irritated by her gesture, approach and behaviour. Funnily enough, she asked us to use Hindi in training if we could not speak English properly!
We hope the government monitors the conduct of these call centres for the greater good of the nation.
A former student of Jahangirnagar University


Submission Guideline:

Letters to the Editor, Star Diary and Write to Mita, with the writer's name and address, should be within 200 words. All articles should be within 1,200 words. A cover letter is not necessary, but every write-up should include the writer's name, phone number and email address (if any). While The Star welcomes unsolicited articles and photographs, it cannot accept the responsibility of their loss or damage. The Star does not return unsolicited articles and photos. Response time for unsolicited write-ups ranges from three weeks to two months. All articles submitted are subject to editing for reasons of space and clarity.
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