Virus impact sees 10,000 more families in Selangor becoming zakat recipients

A zakat officer prepares receipts as a man reads out a short declaration while paying the zakat fitrah outside a surau in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA: Islamic authorities in Selangor say the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could see at least 10,000 more families in the state falling under the category of asnaf, or those eligible to receive assistance from zakat, the annual wealth tax paid by Muslims to help the poor.

At the same time, the Selangor Zakat Board (LZS) also expects lower zakat collection this year from individuals and businesses hit by the crisis.

LZS said it had anticipated a total of 70,000 families needing zakat assistance by the end of year, but the prolonged movement control order (MCO) could push the number higher.

“Due to the MCO, we now estimate this number to rise to anywhere between 75,000 and 85,000 families in Selangor,” LZS’s collection head Mohd Sabirin Mohd Sarbini told FMT, adding that the figure changed monthly.

“It depends on how long (the crisis) will last,” he said. “If the movement restrictions stay until the end of the year, the number may be higher.”

He said Selangor had projected some RM900 million in zakat collection.

Zakat is a religious obligation for Muslims who meet several criteria of wealth, where 2.5% of one’s total savings and wealth above a minimum amount is collected annually.

Sabirin said the drop in zakat collection might force LZS to do away with certain types of assistance to cater to the growing number of people in need of financial help.

They could include non-critical assistance such as sponsorship for education, which could be reduced or suspended, he said.

Zakat fitrah

Meanwhile, there has been a 400% jump in online collection of zakat fitrah, a form of zakat paid during the month of Ramadan.

The increase was due to the closure of mosques where zakat fitrah is traditionally collected.

Sabirin said as at May 15, LZS collected RM8 million from about 224,000 people who used its online payment platform, compared with RM1.6 million from 41,000 people last year.

Selangor recorded a total of RM26.3 million in zakat fitrah collection last year.

The rate of zakat fitrah in Selangor is RM7 a person, to be paid before the Hari Raya celebration at the end of Ramadan.

Sabirin noted there were still those who prefer the conventional way.

“Those who pay through this method do so out of cultural habits,” he said.

The public may pay zakat online at www.zakatselangor.com.my.

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