Islamic ministry distributes Zakat

The Islamic ministry began distributing Zakat (alms for the poor) yesterday at a rate of MVR500 (US$32) per person.

Zakat is an obligatory alms tax collected from the accumulated wealth of all able Muslims.

A large number of people reportedly began queuing outside the Islamic centre at 10:30am yesterday. More than 13,000 people in Malé and 37,800 people in other islands are registered as poor and eligible for Zakat.

Zakat is collected in the Maldives as 2.4kg of rice per person or its price, ranging from MVR12 to MVR75 depending on the quality of the rice.

The ministry has not revealed the amount collected as Zakat this year. Last year, the ministry collected MVR1.3 million (US$84,306) from Malé, which was distributed at a rate of MVR130 per person.

The ministry also collected a record MVR52 million (US$3.3 million) as property Zakat last year and distributed MVR400 (US$26) per person. The registered number of poor in 2014 was more than 53,000.

The property Zakat for this year was distributed last month at the same rate of MVR400 per person.

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More than 50,800 eligible for Zakat

More than 50,800 people across the country are eligible for Zakat (alms for the poor) this year, the Islamic ministry has revealed.

Zakat is an obligatory alms tax collected from the accumulated wealth of all able Muslims.

Deputy minister for Islamic affairs Dr Aishath Muneeza told the press on Monday that more than 13,000 people in Malé and 37,800 people in other islands are registered as poor.

Muneeza said the ministry plans to distribute MVR20 million (US$1.2 million) before Ramadan at a rate of MVR400 (US$26) per person, noting that the sum was the highest so far.

The ministry collected a record MVR52 million (US$3.3 million) as property Zakat last year. The registered number of poor in 2014 was more than 53,000.

Muneeza noted that Zakat payments can also be made through Dhiraagu and Ooreedoo.

Newly appointed Islamic minister Dr Ahmed Ziyad said at the press conference that renovation work on several mosques across the country will begin next week with a target of completion before Ramadan.

 

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Islamic Ministry proposes compulsory Zakat in new bill

Islamic minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed says proposed legislation to collect, distribute, and manage Zakat would facilitate the collection of MVR500 million annually.

Speaking at a workshop involving stakeholders to the Zakat bill, Shaheem said Zakat systems are protected by law in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sudan, Kuwait, and Malaysia.

“In these countries, Zakat systems have been set up and protected by law, while institutions involved in the management of Zakat have been empowered by law. Hence, it is very important that such a system be organised by law in our 100 percent Muslim country,” he said.

The Islamic ministry collected MVR52 million as Zakat last year.

The comprehensive bill defines Zakat as part of a property that must be given by a Muslim individual or business entity for charity to entitled recipients – which includes the poor, heavily indebted individuals, and travellers.

Zakat payment in the Maldives has traditionally been voluntary, but the new bill makes the annual payment compulsory and imposes a jail term of five years or a fine of MVR500,000 for non-compliance.

Wealth, assets, and income are zakatable – subject to the levy – under the new law. These include precious metal holdings, cash and other securities, trade and business inventories, and earnings from agriculture, fisheries, service delivery and mining.

Draft regulations introduced with the bill propose collecting 2.5 percent of the value of financial assets, business goods, net business profits and rent. The regulations also propose collecting 2.5 percent of net income as Zakat.

Analysis of the bill suggests the legislation avoids double taxation by deducting money collected as Zakat from taxes.

The Islamic ministry is to manage the Zakat fund. Money collected as Zakat is not property of the state and cannot be borrowed by the state for fiscal purposes, the bill said.

Protected by law

The Islamic Ministry must set up a Zakat Management Council to manage Zakat funds under the draft legislation. The council is to be supported through the state budget and advised by a Shariah Advisory Committee, appointed by the Islamic ministry.

Zakatable assets and wealth include gold, silver and other precious metals, cash and other securities, and trade and business inventories.

The persons eligible for Zakat are the poor, paupers, those under bondage, those in heavy debt, “those whose hearts are inclined towards Islam,” travellers and zakat officials. Zakat funds can also be used for ‘fi Sabililah’ (‘in the cause of Allah’) purposes or to defend Islam and improve the well being of Muslims.

The poor and paupers include those who are unable to work due to old age, those who are disabled, widows, and students who have no means of income, or those who do not have a legal benefactor.

It also includes legal guardians who are unable to provide for those under their guardianship, those who are unable to initiate an economic activity due to lack of initial capital, and victims of natural disasters.

When allocating money to the poor, the council must consider other forms of state aid and assistance they receive.

Zakat fund could also be utilised to encourage conversion to Islam, for those who strive to prevent harassment aimed at Muslims by non-Muslims and to assist those who have recently embraced Islam.

Zakat allocated for travellers may be given to Muslims who get stranded and become helpless while travelling for a lawful purpose.

The Zakat Management Council will determine the amount of money to be allocated for each category.

According to the bill, property of the state is not zakatable, while draft regulations say Zakat cannot be levied on property or money obtained via a transaction that is not permissible in Islam.

If a non-Muslim owns shares in a company being valued for Zakat, the value of their shares shall not be included in the valuation for Zakat, the draft regulations state.

Zakat funds are to be deposited in an account called the Baithul Maal as a separate and specialised account with the Maldives Monetary Authority.

The auditor general is to perform an annual audit of the Zakat Management Council under the proposed legislation.



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Alms Act to increase zakat contributions

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More than 10,000 registered poor in capital Malé

Some 10,114 people have registered as poor and eligible for Zakat in the capital Malé at the end of a registration deadline yesterday, local media reports.

According to the Islamic Ministry, more than 53,000 people will be eligible for Zakat in 2014 - an obligatory alms tax collected from the accumulated wealth of all able Muslims.

The number of registered poor rose to 53,200 last year from 50,619 in 2012 – a 4.9 percent increase.

The ministry has said that MVR47 million (US$3 million) was collected last year as Zakat and out of this approximately MVR21.3 million (US$1.3 million) will be distributed to the poor – each person is expected to receive MVR400 (US$26).

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More than 53,000 poor to receive Zakat

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has said 53,200 people will be eligible for Zakat – the obligatory alms tax collected from the accumulated wealth of all able Muslims – this year.

Approximately one quarter of people registered as poor were from the capital Malé, which is home to more than a third of the population.

The total number of people who registered as ‘poor’ with the ministry in 2013 was an approximate five percent increase from the previous year.

The ministry has said that MVR47 million was collected last year as Zakat andout of this approximately MVR21.3 million will be distributed to the poor – each person is expected to receive MVR400.

While the ministry only registered people who earned less that MVR2000 in previous years, this year anyone with an identification card could be registered as poor.

Speaking to Haveeru, a ministry official has said this year the ministry will depend on the honesty of the persons seeking the money and reminded that it is not permitted in Islam for undeserving people to seek this money.

As a reminder, the ministry has placed a notice with the religious ruling on the matter outside the office delivering Zakat money.

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Islamic Ministry begins releasing Zakat

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has started releasing property Zakat (alms for the poor) money at a rate of MVR400 per person, local media reports.

The ministry reportedly collected MVR47 million as Zakat last year, which is to be released daily at official hours until next Monday.

Some 53,200 people are registered as poor in the capital Male’. Zakat funds allocated for the atolls have been released to local councils.

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More than 9,000 registered poor in Addu City

More than 9,000 people are registered as poor and eligible for Zakat (alms for the poor) in Addu City this year, according to a statement by the Addu City Council.

The council revealed that the number of registered poor in the southernmost atoll was 9,101 persons out of a population of 31,000.

The Islamic Ministry earmarked MVR 4 million to be distributed as Zakat at a rate of MVR 450 per person in Addu City this year.

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Alms Act to increase zakat contributions

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has said that a separate institution for the administration of zakat funds would result in increased payments as public confidence was enhanced, reports Sun Online.

State Minister for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed said that the new Alms Act, for which drafting began earlier this year, would describe how much people were to pay based on their assets and income.

The giving of a fixed portion of ones’ income to charity is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Shaheem told Sun that the practices of other countries such as Kuwait, Qatar, and Malaysia had been studied when drafting the new legislation, which he is hopeful will be enacted when parliament resumes.

He said that the new institution will include a council and supervisory council.

Earlier this week, Shaheem told local media of his concern that recent changes to the country’s tax system had negatively affected contributions to the zakat fund.

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Zakath fund puts two million towards scholarship programme

The Islamic Ministry has added two million rufiya to its Zakath-funded scholarship programme, reports Haveeru.

Haveeru reported that there was now seven million rufiya in the Zakath fund’s scholarships programme.

Points for applicants would be given according to academic results and financial conditions, Haveeru said.

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