Sinful to give zakat directly to poor, says FT zakat centre chairman

Malaysian Muslims are committing a sin when they give zakat (alms) to the poor, instead of handing the contributions to the government's zakat collection centres, said Datuk Che Mat Che Ali. The Federal Territory Zakat Centre (PPZ-MAIWP) chairman said this was because Malaysian Muslims were more generous to "cute widows" or "eloquent speakers", rather than those truly in need. In contrast, if the money were given to the zakat collection centres, the government would ensure that all those in need would receive equal help, he said. "You have to pay (the zakat) to the leaders. But some pay this way (directly to the needy), it is valid but sinful." Che Mat told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur. He said the government distributed zakat based on a database containing details of those eligible to get the aid. "(With direct payment), if there are five people there, someone would give zakat to just those five people. If we see someone is eloquent, we see that the person is a rather cute widow, we give them lots of zakat. "When in truth, there are so many more people we are managing through our Baitulmal, through our database system." He said direct alms-giving would see people who were more needy, but less adept at speaking and asking for help, deprived of the aid they deserved. Che Mat added that the government's zakat distribution system was "the best" and Muslim Malaysians needs not seek out the needy on their own. "This often happens, injustice in terms of distribution. So just hand the money over to the government. We don't help just a few, but all who need it. Everyone gets it." He said the government distributed the zakat they received to 23,000 families in the country each month. Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director-general Datuk Othman Mustapha, who was also present at the press conference, added that there was no issue of the money not reaching the poor. One of the measures taken by authorities was to set up a squad that patrolled the Federal Territory to find those deserving of aid, he said. – November 18, 2015.