What a strong message it was, made by HM last week on the zakat: “… Why does Brunei have a surplus of BND200 million of zakat? … Only if we can say that Brunei is poverty-free even for a day…” By weekend, hundreds went to the MRA (Ministry of Religious Affairs) and later to the nearby Indoor Stadium to get ‘ a slice’ of the zakat. Read the news here.
Somehow I managed to grab a copy of the suddenly sought-after zakat application form from my brother who got it from, oh, it’s complicated – from someone who also got it from someone and so on. The form comes with a warning. Before filling in the form, the front page made it clear on the definitions of those who have the right to receive the zakat. It says (in Malay) the definition of a:
Fakir – Seorang Islam yang papa tidak mempunyai apa-apa pencarian atau harta atau orang yang tidak boleh mengadakan setengah daripada keperluan untuk nafkahnya dan nafkah orang-orang yang wajib ditanggunya. (A Muslim who has no source of income or wealth or those who are unable to fulfil half of the needs for him/herself and those of their dependants).
Miskin – Orang Islam yang sungguh pun mempunyai sedikit harta atau apa-apa pencarian tetapi cuma dapat mengadakan lebih daripada separuh keperluan nafkahnya dan nafkah orang yang wajib ditanggungnya. (A Muslim who, though has a bit of wealth or source of income but could only manage to contribute for more than half of his/ her own need and their dependants).
So applicants have to ensure that they are considered as a poor or it will be a sin for them to receive zakat when they know that they are not entitle to receive it. The MRA said that in 2007, about 4% of the Brunei’s population were classified poor.
Suddenly the topic on zakat became The Talk over the weekend. Everyone who has debts wanted to apply for the zakat. When I read the news report yesterday, I couldn’t believe that some of those who thronged the stadium for the zakat, came in style, droving in expensive cars. Anyway, there was no zakat but just the forms.
Stories then surfaced that some who have applied earlier are really poor and were turned down by the authority. A village head should authorised in the first instance, as applicant should write in to the Islamic Religious Council through their respective head of village but there are cases that the village head does not approve on the application. Such cases should be investigated.
Some said that what if the Government can just give a certain amount from the zakat to those Muslims who are in debts, mostly from personal loans I assume. In this way, the zero poverty level can be achieved. Not sure about this myself if this is possible.
There were more than $6 billion in loans as of March 2008, according to statistics released by Ministry of Finance. Earlier reports indicate that non-performing loans have increased from $573 million in December 2007 to $595 million as of March 2008. These are loans all put together and not just personal loans or mortgage loans so the numbers will be smaller.
If its possible, yes, why not but if those whose loans have been repaid but do owe up loans later will have to settle themselves. Right?