Regardless of the size of good deeds, every human should make the best effort to make goodness prevail on Earth, according to a charity run by Turkey’s top religious authority.

“All kinds of material or moral actions and behaviors that can benefit the nation, the oppressed, victims, the needy, the stranded and the mournful people, without discrimination on language, religion or race can be regarded as charity,” Ihsan Acik, second chairman of the board of trustees of the Turkiye Diyanet Foundation (TDV), said to mark International Day of Charity.

One does not need to build million dollar structures or donate large amounts to be charitable, he said, and everyone can be benevolent as much as he can, depending on his abilities and situation.

“Sometimes charity is a single smile, or caressing the head of an orphan, making an orphan feel the family compassion, consoling sad people, treating an injured animal or taking care of a hungry and thirsty animal,” he said.

Acik said a charity has wide considerations, which might sometimes involve constructing a school, building a mosque or sometimes delivering a food parcel to the needy.

While some people are involved in charity work with financial means, others may also contribute skills and knowledge.

“Teaching science and knowledge to the society, children and young people can also be considered a charity,” said Acik.

Charity is of great importance for people to get rid of difficult situations — to overcome sorrows, sufferings and troubles and to continue their lives in peace, he stressed.

“In fact, charity is important for goodness to prevail on Earth. A charity that we consider small can be means of great goodness. It is necessary to act with this awareness,” he said.

Long-term social investment

Touching on the issue of providing a system alleviating poverty and preventing a cycle of dependency instead of delivering short-term assistance, Acik said it may not be possible to achieve that in regions where non-governmental organizations like TDV operate.

While there is always room for charity, Acik said, the foundation rapidly delivers aid to areas where there are urgent humanitarian needs, such as in war zones, when natural disasters occur and famine areas.

“Therefore, it is almost impossible to create permanent jobs in these regions for needy people,” he said.

However, when it comes to long-term social investment, the Diyanet Foundation also helps people earn livelihoods by developing projects such as soap workshops, sewing courses, animal husbandry and educational activities in regions where possible. 

Turkey’s stance on charity

The Turkish nation has always competed with other countries in charity in every period of history, he said.

“We have a nation that is in a race to lend a helping hand not only to our own people, but also to the oppressed and victims in countries that many have not even heard about.”

Acik underlined that Turkey’s helpfulness was not limited to local areas but crossed to other parts of the world, while mobilizing all means to help the oppressed, victims and orphans, and to be a remedy for the helpless.

“Wherever there is an oppressed person in the world, he is watching the path of our nation,” he said, adding that TDV witnessed how people in oppressed and disadvantaged geographies, informed about aid coming to the region, have been waiting for days at the place of aid distribution before aid reached.

“We, as Turkiye Diyanet Foundation, get strength from our nation and charitable people.”

Involved in giving

Highlighting the importance of driving people to get involved in giving, the charity group encourages Turks to get involved in charitable works through different campaigns in various countries, said Acik.

He went on to say that the Turkiye Diyanet Foundation mainly aims to launch regional and general campaigns in line with requirements, and is making efforts to draw people’s attention to crisis regions.

The foundation has 1,003 branches in Turkey and lends a helping hand to 149 different countries in education, culture, social and charitable services, religious services and international aid, regardless of religion, language, race or gender.

“All of these have been realized with the support and contributions of our faithful, benevolent, and charitable nation,” he added.

Akic highlighted that through different projects, TDV has provided aid worth 300 million Turkish liras ($40 million) in Syria, 39.6 million liras ($5.3 million) for people in Myanmar’s Rohingya, 37.2 million liras ($5 million) in Yemen, 5.5 million liras ($740,000) in Indonesia, 4.8 million liras ($645,000) in Sudan and 32.3 million liras ($4.3 million) in Palestine.

In 2020, the Turkish charity delivered aid worth 40 million liras ($5.37 million) as part of activities during the fasting month of Ramadan.

TDV also reached out to more than 20 million people across the world during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or the Sacrifice Feast.

Declared by the UN General Assembly in 2012, the International Day of Charity is an international day observed annually Sept. 5.

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