MAIWP official backs minister, claims zakat use OK if defending Islam

(The Malaysian Insider) – The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) director said today zakat funds may be used by the Islamic affairs minister, himself and another MAIWP official to pay their legal fees as it was to “defend the sovereignty and honour of an Islamic institution.”

Datuk Che Mat Che Ali denied abusing RM63,650 in zakat funds along with Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, as the council commingled both alms money and funds from the government in the same account.

“We can pay for the legal fees to defend the sovereignty, honour, dignity and credibility of MAIWP with zakat,” he said, referring to a statement by Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Wan Zahidi Wan Teh yesterday saying it was in accordance with Islam.

“But we paid with government funds. When the government injects money, whether RM500,000 or RM700,000, it goes into the same account.

“We can’t be opening accounts everywhere because our accounts are audited by the Auditor-General,” said Che Mat, who is director of the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI).

He explained that given his role as secretary of MAIWP and Jamil Khir’s as MAIWP chairman, it was not wrong to use MAIWP funds to pay for legal fees incurred when Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim named them as respondents in his 2010 qazaf application in the Syariah Court.

Che Mat also said 2011’s increase in zakat collection by 24 per cent to RM431 million from 100,497 contributors (up by 13 per cent) showed Muslims were “confident in us.”

“We are doing our job properly as Allah’s humble servants,” he said.

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