Zakat Fund sponsors bone marrow transplants for thalassemia patients


The Ministry of Islamic Affairs’ Zakat Fund has sponsored bone marrow transplants for 34 children with thalassemia, reports state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM).

The first ten children sponsored under the Zakat Fund departed for Sri Lanka and India with their donors on Thursday (March 12).

The bone marrow operation costs about MVR700,000 per patient, according to the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA).

NSPA CEO Mujthaba Jaleel said the first ten children were chosen based on a list provided by the Maldives Blood Service, adding that accommodation and food expenses would also be covered by the Zakat Fund.

He noted that the children would have to stay in sterilised facilities at the hospital for at least 30 days.

Eight children were sent to the Manipal Hospital in India and two children to the Asiri Central Hospital in Sri Lanka, Jaleel said.

NSPA hoped the second patch of thalassemia patients would be able to depart next month, he added.

First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim meanwhile met the ten children and their families at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport prior to their departure.

NSPA presented the first lady a plaque of appreciation for her contribution and support, whilst Madam Fathmath presented commemorative plaques to the children.


Donations made from Zakat fund to children’s home, centre for persons with special needs

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has donated MVR100,000 (US$6,485) to the children’s home in Vilimalé and MVR140,000 (US$9,079) to the centre for persons with special needs in the island of Guraidhoo in Kaafu atoll from the Zakat fund, reports newspaper Haveeru.

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

Speaking at a ceremony to hand over the donations today, Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed noted that this was the first time donations to the children’s home and the disability centre were made out of the Zakat fund.

The children at the Vilimalé home and persons with special needs were among the most deserving groups for financial assistance from Zakat proceeds, Shaheem reportedly said.

He added that details of expenditure would have to be submitted to the ministry.

Deputy Gender Minister Sidhatha Shareef meanwhile noted that the Islamic ministry has previously provided financial assistance to the children’s home and disability centre.

According to the local daily, MVR3.4 million (US$220,493) was collected as Zakat this year.


ACC probing alleged ‘jewelry deal’ between Zakat fund donor and Islamic Minister’s wife

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has said it has begun probing into an alleged business deal struck between Firoz Ghulam Khan – who promised to donate a sum of US$ 10,000 to the Zakat fund last year – and the wife of Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed, Fathimath Afiyaa.

In September 2012, during a press conference held at the ministry, Khan, a Dubai-based Indian Muslim businessman, announced that he would donate a sum of US$10,000 to the Zakat fund every month in a bid to support the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, headed by Sheikh Shaheem.

“Zakat (Alms) is not something given as charity. This is something I am obliged to do. Zakat money is something that should be given to the needy. I have told Minister Shaheem that I will deposit the money to the fund in the first week of every month,” he was quoted saying in the media.

Speaking to Minivan News on Wednesday (March 13), President of the Anti Corruption Commission Hassan Luthfee confirmed that the case was being probed.

“We first noticed it in the media and began our investigation, and later we also received a complaint from an individual. We are now investigating the matter,” he said.

According to local newspaper Haveeru, the business deal was struck on December 25, just three months after announcement of Zakat fund donation, and involved the formation a company under the name ‘Pure Gold Jewelry Maldives Private Limited’, which intended to sell jewelry to resorts.

Citing a paper it claims to have received from the Ministry of Economic Development, Haveeru claimed that the company had 1500 shares in the name of Shaheem’s wife, while Firoz Ghulam Khan’s net share was 103,500. Kareem Firoz had shares totaling up to 45,000.

Speaking to Minivan News, an official from Company Registration Department of Ministry of Economic Development confirmed that a company under the name Pure Gold Jewelry Maldives Private Limited was set up involving foreign parties. However, he did not reveal any details of the parties.

According to article 15(a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act passed in 2000, it is an offence for a Minister or his/her spouse to indulge in business with foreign parties.

Article 15(a) of the act states – “The Chief Justice, or the Speaker of Parliament, or a member of cabinet, or a cabinet minister, or anyone having a position equivalent to that, or the Auditor General, or the Commissioner of Elections, or a Judge of High Court, or an Atoll Chief, or the wife or the husband of any such person, or any state employee which the President decides so and their spouses having private business relations is an offence.”

According to the Article 15(c) of the act, punishment for such an offence includes imprisonment, house arrest or banishment for a period not more than 3 years.

Minister Shaheem – who was placed among the top 500 most influential Muslims in 2010 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre (RISC) Jordan – was earlier also accused of sexual misconduct in a video broadcast by local media Raajje TV, in which he was seen speaking with a figure in a hijab before leading her through a doorway.

However the Minister denied the allegations claiming that the video was fabricated.

Minister Shaheem’s phone was switched off at the time of press.


Government to help 1000 students with education fees

President Mohamed Waheed has stated that Maldivians could make no greater contribution to the country than to support the education system, during the launch of four government scholarship schemes.

Sun Online reported that Waheed had expressed his concerns that the level of Maldivians going int tertiary education was not too low given the Maldives’ recent promotion from Least Developed Country (LDC) status.

It was reported that the Ministry of Education announced scholarships for 440 students, provided by the Zakat fund.

State Education Minister Aminath Ali told Haveeru yesterday that it expected the four schemes would assist around 1000 students.

Waheed said that this plan to lighten the financial burden on parents was part of a World Bank scheme that he hoped would increase opportunities for jobs and tertiary study.