| Ishan Ibrahim |
THE Minister of Religious Affairs, Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad bin Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman, reported a welcome trend in the decline of “Asnaf Al-Gharimin” applicants in the country, a reflection on Brunei’s improving financial status.
“Asnaf Al-Gharimin” are those who are eligible to receive Zakat because they are in debt.
The minister was speaking at a meeting between the Ministry of Religious Affairs and members of the Legislative Council yesterday at the Islamic Dakwah Centre in Berakas.
The meeting provided a platform to exchange ideas to enhance the quality of services at departments under the ministry.
The minister highlighted that the Department of Islamic Religious Council has been receiving complaints on the delays in the presentation of Zakat.
Zakat, he said, is a trust by Allah the Almighty to humankind, hence the presentation of Zakat must be conducted according to Islamic regulations. Analysis and considerations have to be taken with utmost care to assess the eligibility of applicants for this third pillar of Islam.
There are six groups that are categorised in Asnaf Zakat, he explained, and these include the poor, the destitute, the “amil”, Islamic converts, “Ibnu Sabil” and “Al-Gharimin”.
Pengiran Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad urged the poor and destitute not to be despondent and encouraged them to accept life’s challenges, increase their efforts to improve their own lives and not to be too dependent on Zakat.
On housing aid, the minister also quoted figures from the Zakat Section’s Housing Unit on the number of successful applicants, whereby for house rentals, $623,225 was approved for the applicants.
He also quoted the findings from the Committee on the Assessment of Zakat and from the Brunei Islamic Religious Council on the approval of $15,197,086 to be presented to the six groups of Asnaf Zakat.
The minister also highlighted the increase of Zakat collection in 2014 from businesses, which amounted to $16,587,530.96, an increase over the previous year. Though, he said, Zakat payers, including companies, are on the decline during the same period.
In efforts to expedite the process of Zakat presentation, the minister said the Department of Islamic Religious Council will take steps which include the utilisation of ICT through the Management of Zakat System (SPZ) and Presentation of Zakat (BAKAZ).
On the Halal issue, the minister said the Halal Food Control Division, Department of Syariah Affairs, was established with the responsibility of managing Halal food sector in the country, including restaurants, food premises, food factories and others that wish to use the Halal food label.
He emphasised that necessary steps are taken by the section to enhance the quality of the Halal food label to ensure the country’s food security.
The meeting concluded with a dialogue session between the ministry and the members of the Legislative Council.
Among the attendees at the event were the Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Bahrom bin Pengiran Haji Bahar; Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Dato Seri Setia Haji Abd Aziz bin Orang Kaya Maharaja Lela Haji Mohd Yusof; Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Roslan bin Haji Taja’ah; Ra’es of KUPU SB, Ustazah Dr Hajah Masnon binti Haji Ibrahim, lecturers and senior officers of the ministry.