Malaysia Dateline

Zakah authorities must work hard to improve their efficiency to ensure the money really goes to the intended recipients

Amanah: Muslims should respect Zakat institutions, but…

Amanah today agreed that the country’s zakat institutions need to be recognised, but also urged that the authorities work hard to improve their efficiency to ensure the money really goes to the intended recipients.

Amanah vice-president Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus said the Islamic authorities have a duty to ensure zakat management is done efficiently in order to avoid suspicions among Muslims, which could lead them to bypass official zakat centres.

“I agree that those tasked with collecting zakat be given the responsibility to identify the target recipients so that zakat distribution can reach those in need.

“But the reality today is that we find the government and the appointed zakat collection officers are not efficient, leading us to be suspicious about zakat distribution,” he told Malaysia Dateline.

Yesterday, Perak mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria said it was haram (forbidden) for Muslims to bypass official zakat centres set up by the government by channelling their money directly to the recipients.

Zakat, or alms-giving, is part of the five pillars of Islam. The annual tax is obligatory on every Muslim who fulfils certain conditions with regard to their wealth, and must be channelled to eight categories of people specified in the Quran, including the poor and destitute.

Hasanuddin said Malaysia should emulate Singapore religious bodies in the management of zakat funds.

He said the republic’s Islamic authorities were careful in the distribution of zakat and always ensured it reached the eligible recipients.

He said local zakat centres should have proper database of those eligible to receive the funds, and to identify them, instead of merely collecting the zakat fitrah (a type of zakat paid during the fasting month in time for Hari Raya).

“It should not be done only during Ramadan,” he said, adding that identifying zakat recipients must be done throughout the year with database updated from time to time.

He said the zakat system should also be extended to non-Muslim recipients, based on the principles of maqasid shariah.

“The non-Muslim poor should also be identified, because who knows, their hearts will soften when we propagate Islam to them.”

Hasanuddin added that Muslims should be wise to find out better ways to distribute zakat if the state fails to manage the funds efficiently.