‘How to alleviate poverty through zakat’
ZSF empowers 494 with N108 million
Muslim Clerics have called on legislature to institutionalise payment of zakat by wealthy Muslims as an effective tool to reduce poverty.
This call was made at the 2017 Zakat Distribution organised by the Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation (ZSF) in Lagos.The foundation distributed cash and materials totaling N108.28 million to 494 beneficiaries in Lagos State. The organization has distributed zakat to beneficiaries in Delta, Ondo, Ado-Ekiti, Osun, Ogun, Oyo, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe earlier in the year.
The Executive Director of the ZSF, Prince Sulaiman Olagunju, said that as at October 2017, the foundation mobilised zakat collection totaling N191,104,352. According to Olagunju, the figure showed an increase of N71,907,592 over zakat collection of N119,196,760 last year.
Giving an analysis of how the 2017 zakat was distributed in Lagos, the director said N45.2 million was given out for economic empowerment purposes. “Beneficiaries with health-related challenges were assisted with N31.06 million; education assistance to students gulps N11.17 million while N11.49 million was spent on welfare support.
Lagos State Commissioner of Home Affairs. Dr AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef, called on relevant organisations to sponsor bills in the House of Assembly and in the National Assembly for the Federal Government to institutionalise payment of zakat.” Zakat was meant to help the needy, regardless of their religion. He, therefore, expressed the belief that members of the public must understand why it was important to push private member bill in support of zakat institution”.
As important as zakat is, the redistribution of wealth is what can save the economy; and we are not poor, it is just that we have refused to redistribute wealth. “So, members of the civil society organisations and leaders, as well as citizens, generally can call for the institution of zakat to help the poor, he said.
He noted that, Zakat is meant to help the needy, regardless of the religious inclination. So I believe that members of the public must understand what it means to push a private member bill.
Even members of the House of Assembly can do it; the whole essence is to complement the efforts of government. “There are so many well-meaning Nigerians whose wealth, if the zakat is paid, will assist in mitigating the hardship faced by so many people, he added.
The chairman of the occasion, Prof. Lai Olurode, said there was nothing wrong if the Federal Government institutionalise zakat and Sadaqat as a means of alleviating poverty among Nigerians .
“There is nothing wrong if you institutionalise zakat and Sadaqat. “It will then makes it mandatory for wealthy Muslims to pay zakat just as we are talking about the partnership to complement government efforts. “But, because of religious illiteracy and religious prejudices, Nigerians don’t think deeply that zakat is a strong economic tool that can be used to stem poverty.
“Even in Christian dominated countries, they are buying into Sukuk, they are buying into Islamic banking, but in Nigeria, they make it unnecessarily emotional and make it appear as if it is an attempt to Islamise the country,’’ Olurode said.
The Professor of Sociology, who is also the Chairman, University of Lagos Muslim Community, said poverty does not draw any boundary between people in terms of their religion.
“It does not draw a boundary in terms of their ethnicity; it does not draw a boundary in terms of their nationality, poverty is poverty, whether you are a Muslim or a Christian, you are going to be.
“So, whatever anybody can do to move people away from poverty should be done regardless of the institution. So, it doesn’t really matter where the money is coming from, whether it is from Muslims, from zakat or whatever source.
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