KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said zakat, the Islamic wealth tax to help the poor, must prioritise Muslims first before others.
He said the wealth must only be shared with other races once the Muslims are looked after.
“According to our law, zakat cannot be transferred from state to state unless all poverty in the said state is abolished. Zakat must prioritise Muslims and only once all the Muslims have received zakat and there is extra, then can we look into helping others.
“This is because zakat is based on looking at the observations and necessity of the Muslim people and is tied to the ibadah (worship) and akidah (faith) in Islam,” said Hadi during the launch of Muslim news portal Harakah Daily’s new look today.
Recently, prime minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said zakat (tithe) institutions in Malaysia have been urged to carry out their responsibilities in a transparent and trustworthy manner to ensure a more effective distribution of zakat.
He said in the context of a multi-racial society, Islam encouraged the distribution of zakat funds to non-Muslims, adding that this should not sideline the needy among the Muslims.
Hadi, while agreeing with this, insisted that many Muslims are still poor in Malaysia and they need help first.
“Islam however allows for leniency. When there is a lot of zakat and all Muslims are prospering then we can share with the non-Muslims in the spirit of humanity and living in a multiracial country,” Hadi explained.
“This all depends on the current situation throughout the country. If Muslims still need help and are still in poverty then we need to help them first.”
Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah weighed in on the issue, stating that zakat collections can only be distributed to eight groups of asnaf (eligible zakat recipients), including asnaf fakir dan miskin (those without any material possessions or means of livelihood), as well as asnaf mualaf (those who recently embraced Islam).