Pumping Zakat Money into GoB Development Fund

Photo Credit to Flickr User siraf72

Photo Credit to Flickr User siraf72

There are similarities between the objectives of government development budget and the Zakat system of Islam. The primary goal of the Zakat system is poverty reduction. It declares a 2.5% share of the poor in the wealth of the rich. There are many public sector development projects that deal directly with poverty alleviation.

A huge amount of money is spent every year as Zakat. However, the money is spent in a way that does not contribute to poverty alleviation or income generation. Zakat payers usually buy low quality garments for the poor in order to cover more people with less amount of money. Although it is a charity, it does not help the poor change their income level. In many cases distributing Zakat garments results in death in stampede. If proper incentive measures can be taken for the Zakat payers, the money can be pumped into government development fund and can be utilised in a more planned way in poverty alleviation. It can also reduce our dependence on external loans. One of the lucrative incentives will be an income tax rebate.The government can even consider Zakat as alternative to income tax if it is paid in the government fund. Someone with a savings of twenty lakhs taka has to pay Zakat of fifty thousand taka. People of such wealth level do not pay more than this amount of income tax. There is an existing government fund for Zakat. However, people are reluctant to put their Zakat money in it because of the lack of transparency and confidence in our government systems. Moreover, a Zakat payer wants to pay his Zakat money to his/her poor relatives, friends and local people. The existing fund does not permit it. A former president made the worst use of it by spending the money in projects of his personal interest.

The government can take a project for collecting and using Zakat money for poverty reduction. It should have a number of income generating projects. A Shariah Council formed with leading Islamic scholars of the country should monitor that the money is spent according to Islamic jurisprudence. People want to pay their Zakat to their poor relatives. There should be an option of choosing the persons whom the Zakat payer wants to pay his/her Zakat. For example, if I am a Zakat payer, I will name the persons whom I want to pay it. The project will involve those persons in income generating projects that are available in the region where those persons live, if possible. An IT system can help maintaining this information.

Kind regards.

Aminul Mohaimen

Source: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dahuk/message/2610


2 Responses

  1. Rahim says:

    Comment by: Sayef Hussain

    The above mentioned message contains a good and well-meant thought about the mode of using zakat money. However, while utilizing zakat, we have to keep following two very important points, ordained by Islam, in mind:

    1. The physical possession or the title of the benefit of zakat fund must be passed on to the beneficiary, who are deserving people from Islamic point of view, and

    2. The benefits must reach only to the poor and deserving people, and not to the public in general, where rich and poor will be equally benefited (in which case rich people will be more benefited).

    Strictly adhering to the above two prerequisites, if any projects can be started, that would be good. But I personally feel that, there will be very many difficulties in it. Say for example, a school or a hospital or an industrial unit is establish through zakat money only for the deserving people (“mustaheqeen-e-zakat”). Can it be ensured that only the deserving people would get benefits of zakat? Won’t it be seen as discriminatory, a sort of social apartheid, if other people are not allowed to get the facilities? These are establishments as going concern. If deserving people are employed, or in any way involved, in these concerns later on become a little well- off, and don’t deserve zakat any more, how would they be treated?

    So, in my opinion, the best way to use zakat is individually, or by NGO, where establishment costs and running expenses are not met through zakat money, strictly according to merit. After all, individuals in a society has to do something for the benefits of fellow individuals, which would give some personal touch! I know, many people would still think that, it would would the best of the wisdom to use zakat money for development projects which would give long running benefits to the poor of the society. But there is a Divine wisdom, and sometimes we need to bow our heads before it without calling any question.

    Source: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dahuk/message/2622

  2. Rahim says:

    Comment by: Curzon

    Dear Members: Mr. Aminul has raised an interesting issue, which should we could have followed the course what for decades, Malaysia has been pursuing, I am sure, it would have left a positive impact in alleviating poverty in Bangladesh.

    The government of Malaysia maintains a Public Trust where zakat money are donated directly. The Trust now has around $3 billion in endowment and it operates several thousand projects that serve the purpose of the poor. Over the years, as Malaysia became a rich country and the level of poverty has almost been eradicated; as a result, the trust now finances other projects that aim to ameliorate well being of the people in general.

    However, as Mr. Aminul points out, because of lacking transparency and rampant corruption, people in Bangladesh do not trust the government sponsored zakat fund; as a result, its presence has no positive impact on society. In fact, majority of the people are not aware of its existence.

    An alternative approach, therefore, could have been to develop a Public Trust operated privately as a non-profit organization, which could use its fund money in poverty eradicating projects, but the question is who is going to bell the cat? Since raising such a project would take years of selfless efforts and dedication, so that similar to that of an NGO, dedicated to the cause of the poor, the Trust could run charity and development programs; therefore, such idea would remain a pipe dream.

    It is better that we look around for available alternatives. In that respect, I believe that meanwhile, what people can do, especially, who lives in abroad, is donate their money to a reputed organization that serves the cause of the poor.

    I would like to remind that in addition to numerous charity organizations such as the Salimullah Orphanage House in Dhaka, where hundreds of orphanages live on donated money, one can consider donating zakat money to the “Scholarship management Program,” conducted through “Grameen Shikhya”, a wing of the Grameen Bank that aims to spread mass education by disseminating scholarship money to poor children in rural areas, so that as a means to eradicate poverty, mass literacy can be achieved.

    After all, majority of the people have trust in sincerity of Professor Muhammad Yunus, his dedicated team and their acumen. Besides, it is a common knowledge that to reach out to the destitute, the efficient existing infrastructure of the Grameen organizations, are legendary; therefore, one can have faith that his/her money would go to the needy child. Should anyone feels interested in about the Grameen Bank’s project for Scholarship Management Program to the poor, please, visit the web page: http://www.grameen.com/grameen/gshikkha/index.html (link no longer working)

    Columbia University New York City
    Source: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dahuk/message/2635

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