The Star, Monday June 9, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR: Tithes (zakat) should be distributed across the country so that more of the less fortunate can benefit from them.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi proposed that the tithes be distributed “cross border” and not be restricted by state boundaries.
He said RM2.2bil in tithes were collected nationwide from 2005 to 2007, with Selangor and Kuala Lumpur topping the list.
“Selangor collects no less than RM180mil a year while Kuala Lumpur collects RM160mil,” he told reporters yesterday after launching a Salam Hadhari programme.
He said the proposal to allow the “tithes to cross borders” did not need to be “difatwakan” (religiously decreed).
“We only need to come up with guidelines. The only constraints are the states’ guidelines, and we must find ways around them,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid said although religious affairs came under the authority of the respective Malay Rulers, it was not impossible to coordinate the distribution of tithes so that the system could become more efficient.
“If the Federal Territory wants to help those in another state, it should be allowed, or to help someone in Penang but who originated from another state,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid also told corporate companies to get the advice of religious experts before launching their campaign promotions, especially those offering prizes in contests using SMS, reported Bernama.
He said this was necessary to ensure such contests did not have elements of gambling that could confuse Muslims in the country.
He said such contests raked in profits only for the organisers and seldom the consumers.
“To me, when a person who contributes money to a contest which does not give him or her any benefit and is not able to get back the money, it is considered gambling and therefore haram,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid was reacting to a statement by Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin a few days ago over an SMS contest organised by a local telecommunications company which offered a car as the prize, which he said contained elements of gambling.
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