Minister: Zakat distributed based on list updated in late 2019

Islamic Minister of Maldives Dr. Ahmed Zahir Ali. (File Photo/Sun?Fayaz Moosa)

Islamic Minister Dr. Ahmed Zahir Ali, on Monday, said the Zakat al-Fitr this year was distributed fairly among those entitled to it, responding to allegations the distribution of Zakat this year had been unfair as it had been based on an outdated list.

Dr. Zahir was summoned for questioning by the Parliament on Monday morning.

In response to questions over the distribution of Zakat this year, Dr. Zahir said the Islamic Ministry made the decision not to update the list of the poor and distribute Zakat based on 2019’s list because of the restrictive measures in place due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The list was updated twice in 2019. The list was last updated in October 2019. That is in the year 1441,” said Dr. Zahir. “Now, as you know, Zakat a-Fitr must be distributed among those entitled to it. And as such, it was distributed among those entitled to it.”

Dr. Zahir said the list of the poor from residential islands outside of the capital are compiled by sending forms to the islands, which are filled by the residents of the islands through respective local councils. The forms are filled and sent back to the Islamic Ministry, which evaluated the forms before compiling the final list.

“Zakat al-Fitr must be distributed among those who are entitled to it. We distributed it among those entitled to it,” repeated the Islamic Minister.

Thoddoo lawmaker Hassan Shiyan, in early June, submitted a petition calling on the Parliament’s Social Affairs Committee to hold an inquiry into the distribution of Zakat this year.

He said a list complied last year would have been outdated, and that distribution of Zakat based on an outdated list was therefore unfair to the country’s poor.

The committee voted to seek access to the Islamic Ministry’s records on Zakat distribution, and to clarify the reason for the Islamic Ministry’s decision to distribute Zakat based on last year’s list.

Islamic Ministry announced in May that it collected MVR 6.6 million as Zakat this year, which comes up to MVR 3,800 per head.