The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Every Muslim has to give in charity.”
“Zakat is the bridge of Islam; so whoever performs it can cross the bridge and whoever withholds it will be detained beneath it. And it (Zakat) extinguishes the anger of the Lord,” from Hadith on Zakat.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs has granted permission to the local committees in wilayats to administer, collect and distribute Al Zakah on those who deserve it through issuing a new policy. However, collecting and distributing Zakat is immersed in obscurity in the absence of any clear mechanisms and accurate database.
Collecting Al Zakah should be centralised through a Zakat Fund at the national level. The money collected by Zakat Fund should be distributed among the social welfare families in accordance with the database of the Ministry of Social Development as it is the responsible authority of people on social welfare and those who need subsidies and help during festive occasions. In an effort to ensure Zakat distribution reaches the needy, there is a need for accredited mechanisms.
Every committee is a government recognised charity organisation concerned with receiving Zakats, Sadaqat and donations from good doers to deliver them to the right people in the wilayats, according to the Sharia law.
The wilayat-level committees are entrusted with gathering and building updated database of families in villages that deserve to receive Zakats. They have to facilitate the distribution of Zakat to the people as applicable.
Committees too should raise awareness and the level of voluntary activities, and strive to increase the number of volunteers and contributors to the Zakat Fund.
Committees are also entrusted with raising awareness of Zakat obligations within society and carrying out seasonal campaigns to raise necessary funds for Zakat.
The wilayat-level Zakat committees have to work towards continuous enhancements of the income of the fund in accordance with the Islamic law and the rules and regulations of the Sultanate. It has to deliver Zakat to the needy families and earn the trust of the generous wealthy people in society.
What will the committees of Zakat distribution depend on if these data is incomplete?
One of the paradoxes is that the new regulation refers to whoever asks for Zakat has to submit a request so that the committees would study his/her case and then decide whether he/she is eligible or not. The question that arises is what are the parameters committees depend on to assess if someone is eligible for Zakat?
Generally, managing Al Zakat in the country requires more enhancement, clear mechanisms and specialisations that contribute in measuring collecting, distributing and urging Al Zakat in an appropriate manner. We can benefit from the experience of other countries on collecting Al Zakat and distributing it.
Zakat is one of the five main pillars of Islam which is enjoined on wealthy Muslims to be paid and distributed to the poor and needy people, following what He says: “Set up (your) prayers, offer (your) Zakat and bow down with those who bow.” Al Baqarah -Verse 43.
We do not doubt the efforts of new organisations and committees in the Wilayats. However, we believe such procedures require more upgrading as this ritual saves many resources to the country to subsidise those families on social welfare.
We hope there would be a central authority concerned with Al Zakat through which it can be collected and distributed to the eligible people via accurate modern scientific means. All this is done to advance the society’s capabilities as well as empower them to perform such ritual as what God may love and be pleased with.
It is heartening to note here that the donations portal at the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs has received RO 434,325.84 from 14,638 as on August 14 this year.
Ali Al Matani