Anwar calls for zakat reforms, says include non-Muslim recipients too
(FMT) – Anwar Ibrahim has called for the reform of Malaysia’s institutions of zakat, the Islamic wealth tax to help the poor, while calling for it to be extended to the non-Muslims.
Speaking at an international conference on zakat organised by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) and UiTM, the PKR leader cited an opinion by prominent Muslim jurist Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
He said in the context of a multi-racial society, Islam encouraged the distribution of zakat funds to non-Muslims, adding that this should not sideline the needy among the Muslims.
Anwar however said the proposal could be considered, and would require fatwa and policy changes before it can be implemented.
He said zakat institutions in the country should be an example to other public institutions.
“The zakat institution has a big responsibility. They need to prove that they are excellent in management, accountability and responsibility compared to other institutions in the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, a speaker at the conference, Muhamad Rahimi Osman from UiTM said separation of powers between state and federal authorities was the biggest challenge in the administration of zakat and waqf, or endowment.
“Due to certain restrictions, the federal government cannot enforce certain laws such as tax laws and etc, because of the states’ limited powers,” he said.
The conference, on the topics of zakat, waqf and Islamic philanthropy, is organised by MAIWP’s Zakat Collection Centre (PPZ-MAIWP) and UiTM’s Academy of Contemporary Islamic Studies.
Rahimi said the issue of double taxation is another problem, as Muslim-owned businesses would also pay zakat in addition to the income tax.
Zakat is a religious obligation for Muslims who meet several criteria of wealth, where 2.5% of one’s total savings and wealth above a minimum amount is collected annually.