Islamic Ministry receives Rf14.8 million in public donations for mosque repairs

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs yesterday announced that Rf14.8 million (US$963,500) has been raised through public contributions to aid repairs of mosques across the country.

The ministry yesterday told media that Rf2,645,000 (US$171,530) had already been spent on repairs.

Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed stated that the ministry had already begun repair work at 60 mosques as part of wider plans to renovate some 100 mosques around the nation.

Sheikh Shaheem added that additional funds were already on their way, with the ministry expecting to raise over Rf 15 million for the proposed repair work.

Shaheem also stated that the ministry has completed draft legislation designed to regulate the collection of alms (Zakat) and urged the general public to keep paying these funds despite the introduction of taxes.

“I call upon the general public to engage in giving alms. I believe that the existing laws for taxation have a mechanism to deduct the amount from tax money that has been given to alms,” he said. He further added that he would try to ease the procedure of re-imbursement of the money by contacting the relevant authorities.

The Islamic Ministry also revealed that from money collected as alms, Rf26 million has been spent last year to help the poor and the needy.

Shaheem claimed that about 490 parties have been provided with financial assistance from alms money to cover accidental losses and medical costs for procedures such as dialysis.

Aside from the assistance given to the general public, Shaheem also stated that the money collected was used to provide funding for students pursuing higher education both in the country and abroad.

“Previously the funds were used to provide books and stationary for the needy, but now that government provides it free for all students, we have decided to spend that money for higher education. This practice has been carried out in several Islamic countries,” he said.

The ministry also announced that it had opened up opportunities to apply for grant aid for students pursuing higher education in the Maldives. Shaheem said there was already a “long queue of students that are present to apply for the aid”

Also speaking at the press briefing, Minister of State for Islamic Affairs Ahmed Abdulla Didi claimed that the ministry had worked hard of late to build religious awareness amongst the public – with a specific focus on young people.

“As you would know, there are several grievous crimes committed in the society, we have made it a priority to work more on building religious awareness amongst the youth,” Didi said.

He added that the ministry was working on publishing and distributing pamphlets to build religious awareness among the youths as well as translating several Arabic books to Divehi.

He further added that the Islamic ministry is also conducting sermons across the country on religious awareness, including at rehabilitation centres and schools.


Rf 220 per person distributed as alms

The Islamic Ministry began distributing Rf220 per person as alms today.

82,573 people are reported to have paid a total sum of Rf2,324,543.30 as alms this year. This is up Rf260,000 from Ramadan 2010.

The alms came collectively from Male, Hulhumale and Vilimale.

Alms collected in Hulhumale ward are being distributed in the ward, and alms collected in Male and Villimale are available at the ministry.


Alms registrations up by 1300

Registrations for alms at Ramadan are up by 1,300 this year in Male’, Haveeru reports.

Over 10,600 people are said to have registered as of Thursday, August 25. Alms will be distributed in Male’ on Sunday, August 28. This is one day earlier than the Islamic Ministry had originally planned.

Alms this year, or nisab, costed Rf53 per person for Basmati Rice, and Rf32 per person for Thailand Rice. Registered alms recipients can pick up their sum from the Islamic Centre in Male and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) in Hulhumale between 1 and 3pm on Sunday.


Islamic Ministry says alms payments up during 2010

The Islamic Ministry has claimed that the number of Maldivians paying alms has raised “dramatically” due to its own efforts in raising awareness of the religious rite.

The claims were made as the “Nisab”, defined as the minimum amount of income that should be earned before people are required to donate 2.5 per cent of their savings and revenue, rose 14.2 per cent to Rf8,573.95 based on the ministry’s guidance, according to Haveeru.

This guidance is formed around calculations made by the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) based on factors such as comparing market prices for gold and silver.

The paper reported that by December of last year, Rf36,000,478.05 in alms was paid by 2,225 people. The figure was up from the Rf 27,412,507.83 collected over the same period in 2009.


Island chiefs, magistrates and secretaries on alms list: NSPA

A number of island chiefs, magistrates and secretaries have signed up for alms under the government’s social welfare programme, the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) has claimed.

Speaking to Haveeru, NSPA Chairman Ibrahim Waheed observed that “some of the government employees that collect the highest salaries are also registered on the list.”

“According to my knowledge, alms are paid to the poor,” he said.

The recipients were discovered during a review of the alms list, after the government granted those on the list free participation in the Madhana health insurance service.


Islamic Ministry launches toll free religious helpline

The Ministry for Islamic Affairs has launched a toll free hotline for advice on matters of religion, reports Haveeru.

Launching the hotline on Thursday, State Islamic Minister Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed said Ministry scholars would be available to answer religious queries on 8003008901.

The Ministry also announced it had received Rf 25 million (US$1.9 million) in alms as of October 2010.

“We used to get about Rf13 to 14 million. Last year we collected Rf27 million and this year we have already collected Rf25 million. This is a huge improvement,” Haveeru reported Shaheem as saying.

The Ministry also released four free books covering alms giving and Islamic rulings on the practice. Media outlets were also awarded prizes for positive coverage of the Ministry’s works, Haveeru reported.

“Before I start my work every day, I check the websites of newspapers. I get encouragement from the media reports that praise us and try to correct mistakes identified in the reports that criticise us. I believe that media reports should be credited for the good name Islamic Ministry has been receiving,” Shaheem said.