The Yemeni Ministry of Endowments and Guidance is urging people to pay zakat to the state during Ramadan, in order to prevent this money from falling into the hands of groups that use it to bring harm to the community, officials said.
The ministry announced it is currently conducting an awareness campaign to ensure people understand that the state is authorised by law to collect and disburse zakat funds.
The comprehensive campaign includes television segments, radio programmes, seminars, lectures and brochures which stress the importance of paying zakat to the state.
"The campaign that the ministry is conducting by means of scholars and murshids aims to ensure that zakat is collected for the state, since it is the entity vested with the authority to collect and disburse these funds to sharia-approved purposes," said Sheikh Jabri Ibrahim, director general of preaching and guidance at the Ministry of Endowments and Guidance.
The state develops plans to collect zakat and dispense it, Ibrahim told Al-Shorfa, adding that those who pay zakat also have the right to disburse 25% of their zakat money directly to the poor and needy.
Beginning on the first day of Ramadan, 30 pre-recorded television segments featuring religious scholars, some from Al-Azhar Mission in Yemen, airing on official channels, Ibrahim said.
"Radio segments featuring religious scholars were also recorded and are being broadcast on Radio Sanaa and other official stations in other provinces, given the importance radio holds in the lives of Yemenis, especially in the daytime in Ramadan," he said.
The ministry also recorded four televised seminars featuring zakat scholars and specialists, in addition to distributing brochures and holding seminars and lectures between prayer times, he added.
Zakat awareness campaigns take place throughout the year but are more intensive during the holy month, Ibrahim said.
EDUCATION IS 'A RELIGIOUS DUTY:
"Educating people about zakat is a religious duty first and foremost," said Sheikh Mohammed Yahya al-Massoudy, a murshid in Taiz province.
The head of state or his representative has sole authority to collect zakat in Yemen, he said, and this work is carried out by zakat duty departments in the capital and other provinces.
"The obligation to pay zakat is not fulfilled until [zakat] is paid to the state, and the state has the obligation to disburse it for sharia-approved purposes, otherwise it would be the party that bears the culpability before God," al-Massoudy said.
The educational role murshids and scholars play around the country is vital, he said, as people listen to seminars and lectures delivered in mosques and abide by them.
Al-Massoudy warned people against paying zakat to organisations that are not affiliated with the state, "because they may not disburse them to the poor and needy, but may instead use them to serve their own agendas or in a manner that brings harm to the community, as do some organisations that operate in the name of Islam but are far from it".
CAMPAIGN IS SEEING RESULTS:
The state has already begun to reap the benefits of the campaign, said Mohammed al-Thalaya, assistant undersecretary for domestic resources at the Ministry of Local Administration.
This is "evident in the zakat collection figures recorded so far this year, which are expected to hit 15 billion riyals ($70 million), compared to 13 billion riyals ($60.6 million) last year", he said.
Zakat collection departments in various districts have referred a number of zakat payment manipulators to the courts, he said, and those found guilty as charged will be fined at least 25% of the value of their zakat.
(Al-Shorfa.Com / 17 July 2013)
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