BANGI, Feb 13 — The federal government has been giving financial support to Islamic groups, which also included controversial Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), deputy minister Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki confirmed today.
Asyraf said most local Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs) still hope for government support, but explained that the groups could also tap into the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds of government-linked companies (GLCs).
“We are among the Islamic countries where the government gives direct funding to Muslim NGOs, [including] in the form of annual grants to help in [their] administration,” the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department overseeing Islamic affairs said in a speech here.
“That is since my student days as president of the National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students, we received funding for administration from the Youth and Sports Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Department.
“That is given to almost all Islamic NGOs, whether it is Abim, Ikram, Isma, ulama association and so on — whether in the form of annual grants or programmes,” he added while launching Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisation’s (Mapim) headquarters here.
Asyraf Wajdi said the early days of Islamic activism saw the existence of only five or six Islamic groups, while there are now hundreds registered.
“At that time, Abim, Al-Arqam, Perkim, carried out programmes together with the government to carry out dakwah months that give such impact to Muslims in terms of religious awareness and understanding,” he said, using the Arabic-Malay word that means “preaching”.
Al-Arqam is the now banned and defunct Islamic sect, which was decreed “deviant” in 1994. Abim refers to Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement, while Perkim is the Muslim Welfare Organisation of Malaysia.
Commenting on Mapim president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid’s remark in an earlier speech that non-Muslim civil society was far more advanced than its Muslim counterpart, Asyraf Wajdi suggested that this was due to the latter working in “silos”.
He said Muslims in Malaysia are generous, but usually waste human resources and money by failing to coordinate their efforts.
Asyraf also suggested for Muslim groups to pull together funds from GLCs, citing his own success collecting RM10.5 million in just two weeks to restore flood-ravaged mosques in Kelantan, with help from both Putrajaya and GLC’s CSR funds.
He also explained that Islamic banks typically have two sets of welfare funds that can benefit Muslim groups — zakat, or tithe, and funds of non-Shariah-compliant cash that needed to be purified.
“But not many people take advantage of these funds,” he said of the latter category, highlighting that Malaysia has 18 Islamic banking subsidiaries, 10 takaful funds and “Islamic windows” in 27 institutions.