A Green Energy Revolution – Syed Moazzam Hai

When it comes to charity Pakistanis are considered among the most generous of nations. Every year Pakistanis are reported to donate tens of billions of rupees in zakat. However, unfortunately there’s no marked change in the lives of the common citizen.

Energy, unemployment and low income besides terrorism, corruption and law and order are major problems faced by the majority of Pakistanis. Alleviating energy shortage could have far reaching positive effects on employment, education, income and even law and order for people.

Here’s a simple and practical idea to make zakat actually change the lives of Pakistanis and Pakistan.

The idea is green energy zakat. Imagine people, institutions and organisations giving away solar units and appliances like solar lights, fans, geysers, cookers etc to people as zakat. This would be a part of zakat that would bring about long-lasting change in the lives of people. It would minimise the effects of loadshedding and provide people peace of mind to help them concentrate more on their personal and professional lives.

Millions of human hours wasted daily in loadshedding would be saved. With a good night’s sleep people would have the physical and mental rest required to efficiently resume work in the morning. Children would be able to study without being interrupted by loadshedding.

The average household electric bill would be reduced and so people would have more money for food, health and education. Religiously speaking people would be saved from the sin of stealing electricity which would result in lesser losses for power companies and a decline in loadshedding. The transmission line electricity saved at the household level would be used for industries thus generating more employment opportunities and revenues which would, in turn, help lower national deficit and increase public welfare spending on government level. Furthermore the government would have to spend less on power generation projects and thus would have more money for education, health and the environment.

This green energy zakat would also help boost growth and expansion of the solar energy sector from manufacturing to retail, resulting in employment opportunities and revenues. Furthermore installation and maintenance of solar energy units and items would create work opportunities for relevant electricians. Environmentally the spread of green energy at the grassroots level would ultimately lead to a decrease in levels of carbon emissions from thermal power generation. It would also reduce UPS use at homes; UPSs consume much more electricity than they store.

People can give green energy zakat individually as well as collectively. People who give zakat in hundreds of rupees and not in thousands or millions can form groups among friends, family members and office colleagues to buy and give away green energy zakat. NGOs can form SMS funds in collaboration with telecom companies to facilitate people to also give green energy zakat in 10s and 20s via SMS. Even the biradari system in the country could play a positive role. The well-off biradari members can create their own green energy zakat funds for the purchase and distribution of green energy zakat items.

Overseas Pakistanis, foreign philanthropist individuals and organisations could also donate for green energy zakat through well-known NGOs. Philanthropist individuals and institutes can jointly establish a green energy zakat organisation for year-round collection and distribution of green energy zakat. There could also be a consortium of public figures including philanthropists, showbiz and sports personalities, journalists and media houses, educational institutions, banks, supermarkets and green energy companies, distributors and retailers to help introduce a successful green energy zakat campaign.

This campaign can start in the month of Ramazan and continue from there. Different consumer brands can also take part by giving away solar energy items as prizes in their Ramazan promotion campaigns. Fortunately the idea of green energy zakat does not need any government role at any level; it could thus be safe from sarkari hurdles and corruption.

We should have a national target of at least four bulbs and two fans run by solar energy in every low income house in the country. This way during loadshedding our neighbourhoods will not plunge into total darkness. Green energy zakat should also be used for the homes of the helpless inhabitants of the corruption and crime-infested plundered city of Karachi and to the homeless IDPs of terrorism inflicted North Waziristan. Politicians and ulema should also take part in the campaign. Our success with this initiative would prove that citizens without any government help can change a country.

This project could make Pakistan known all over the world for the greatest ever grassroots green energy revolution instead of being known mostly for terrorism and corruption. Pakistan’s example would hopefully be followed in other geographies and studied in great universities of the world. It would also create goodwill for Islam and improve the image of Muslims in the world.

Are we still not interested?