Commentary Local

Zakat is for Ruler to decide

TheMole
Written by TheMole

Nov 6 2019

By Abdul Rahmat Omar

A week ago, Port Dickson Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim mooted Zakat (tithe) reforms saying that non-Muslims should also be included as recipients.

He said this at the International Seminar on Islamic Zakat, Wakaf and Philantrophy in Selangor.

His statement incurred the wrath of Sultan of Selangor, who through a statement said Zakat can only be distributed to eight categories of the needy that include the hardcore poor asnaf, poor asnaf, and mu’allaf who are Muslims.

Asnaf is defined as a party that does not own any property and whose work cannot meet the demands for basic needs and therefore is eligible to receive Zakat aid collected from Muslims.

A mu’allaf is an individual who is non-Muslim with the hope of converting to Islam or those new to Islam whose faith still needs to be supported or reinforced.

Based on the above-definitions, the Sultan added that Zakat can only be given to a non-Muslim mu’allaf based on the principles of asnaf Mu’allafati Qulubuhum (those whose hearts have accepted Islam).

This principle is based on the Quran, whereby “Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect (Zakat) and for bringing hearts together (for Islam) and for freeing captives (or slaves) and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the (stranded) traveller – an obligation (imposed) by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise.” (Quran 9:60).

Both, the Mufti of Perlis and Penang have made a statement supporting this. 

In a television interview the Mufti of Perlis said that Perlis had issued a fatwa to enable non-Muslims to receive tithes under the concept of asnaf Mu’allafati Qulubuhum in 2017.

“This means that Perlis follows the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad not only to help (the non-Muslim asnaf) but also for them to hopefully embrace Islam,” said the Mufti. He added that the decision of the fatwa rests on the Ulil Amri (leader – the Raja of Perlis).

The Mufti of Penang said that non-Muslims who are poverty-stricken can obtain assistance from other governmental resourcees such as the Welfare Department. 

Distributions should only go to non-Muslims if collections exceed what was needed for Muslim recipients.

He said that according to the Quran, Zakat could be extended to non-Muslims with the purpose of making them to favour Islam, to encourage them to help Muslims against the latter’s enemies, or for them to sympathise with Muslims. 

This was because the contributions come solely from Muslims who pay the tithe as a religious obligation.

Malaysia, being a country that has Islam as its religion as prescribed in the Federal Constitution holds to the doctrines of Imam Shafie who in his book Al-Umm said the following:

The Mu’allaf (those whose heart have received Islam) are those who have accepted Islam. Zakat is not given to the musyrik to entice them to Islam. If there are those who say that during the Battle of Hunayn the Prophet had distributed collections to the Musyriks, those are the distribution from fai (spoils of war) or from his own property. Not from Zakat collection.” (Al-Umm, 2/388. Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi).

As mentioned in the above paragraph, the official religion of Malaysia is Islam. The Ruler of the states that have a Ruler as Head of State, is the Head of the religion of Islam.

In states where there is no Ruler, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the Head of the religion of Islam. Matters of the religion of Islam come under the purview of Their Majesties.

It is a pity that a seasoned politician such as Anwar does not know his position when mooting such reform.

In the words of the Sultan of Selangor: do not take advantage of and use the affairs of the religion of Islam to gain popularity or win the hearts of certain parties.

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TheMole

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