Asia - Pacific

Indonesia: Muslim body for using zakat to fight slump

As economic slowdown hits the world, Indonesian religious authority suggests mechanism using charity funds to help poor

Pizaro Gozali Idrus   | 17.04.2020
Indonesia: Muslim body for using zakat to fight slump

JAKARTA, Indonesia 

Indonesia’s top religious authority on Friday recommended using the institution of zakat-- obligatory charity and one of the five pillars of Islam – to combat an imminent economic slowdown staring the world in the wake of lockdown enforced by the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

The religious authority asked people to use zakat and infaq – a nonobligatory type of charity given without any expectation of reward – to help poor neighbors, facing economic hardships.

Secretary-General of Indonesian Ulema Council Anwar Abbas said neighbors should be a priority while disbursing either zakat or infaq funds.

"Although we may have performed Umrah pilgrimage 10 times, if we let our neighbors starve, we cannot be said to have a good faith [in God]. It is all about how to love others as we love ourselves," Abbas told Anadolu Agency.

He said neighbors are the closest components of the society. “This can help low-income most vulnerable households to face the imminent economic slowdown, “he said.

The religious scholar added that besides saving a neighbor from starving, the move will also strengthen social relations in the community.

In addition to disbursing charity directly to neighbors, Abbas suggested that each neighborhood association start an early collection of zakat and infaq. Muslims largely disburse zakat in the fasting month of Ramazan.

He also suggested raising groups locally at microlevels, who will take care of the collection and disbursing of zakat and other forms of charity to the needy in the locality.

Abbas said that with this method, many people affected by the economic slowdown could get faster and reliable help.

He said it will be easier for neighborhood associations to find needy households. He, however, called for taking such steps immediately before the effects of economic slowdown rear its head.

"The stomach must be filled every day, if not, its owner will harm either himself or others," Abbas added.

The number of coronavirus cases in Indonesia rose to 5,516 on Thursday, while the death toll climbed to 496.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo

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