Muslim states to set up Zakat organization

Wealthy Islamic states agreed to establish an International Zakat Organization to pool resources into a global fund for the economic and social development of poor Muslim countries.

Muslim states to set up Zakat organization

Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who chairs the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), said that his country is ready to commit the necessary resources to set up the Zakat organization.

In a keynote speech at the opening of the International Conference on Zakat in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Mr Badawi said an agreement have been reached in principle, and a panel of experts would start preparing for the establishment of the organization.

"I would also like to offer Kuala Lumpur as the headquarters of this organization, which will in turn have branches operating in other Muslim countries," he said.

Zakat, or alms giving, is the third of the five pillars of Islam, and refers to spending a fixed portion of a Muslim wealth for the poor or needy. A Muslim may also donate an additional amount of money as an act of voluntary charity (sadaqah), in order to achieve additional divine reward.

The concept of zakat is stated clearly in the Qur'an, where Allah (SWT) says: "Of their goods take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf, verily thy prayers are a source of security for them." (9:103)

Noble cause

In many countries, Muslims pay zakat to local organizations that use the money for community development.

The proposed zakat organization will pool funds for use internationally, the Malaysian premier said, adding that he hopes that other Muslim states, as well as international Islamic groups, will come forward to support this noble cause.

"Support may not only be in the form of hard funds, but also ideas, materials and other non-cash contributions that can be channeled to the needy," he said.

With a large number of Muslim states living in dire conditions because of poverty, natural calamities or war, Mr Badawi said zakat funds can be used as development aid to improve social and economic conditions.

"We should aim to use zakat as a means of providing assistance that will have a lasting effect," the Malaysian prime minister said.

"We should not merely feed the hungry with fish to eat. We should have programs to teach them to catch fish so they can take care of their own welfare long into the future," he added.

Mr Badawi also expressed concern that out of the 50 least-developed countries — the poorest in the world according to the United Nations — 22 are members of the OIC.

Abdullah Mohamad Zin, minister in charge of religious affairs, said Malaysia's zakat collection last year reached 573 million ringgit (U.S. $159 million), up from 473.6 million ringgit (U.S. $131 million) in 2004.

He said the proposed zakat organization was an initiative led by Malaysia, together with the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Islamic Development Bank.

The proposal is still in its infancy, but steps are being taken to get support of all OIC member states, Mr Zin said.

Saudi banker Sheikh Saleh Kamil, who chairs the Dallah AlBaraka Group and is also president of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has pledged U.S. $1 million to the zakat organization.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16