| Azlan Othman |
BRUNEI saw an increase in the number of Muslims who paid the obligatory Zakat (tithe) last year compared to the previous year.
The category of Zakat Fitrah saw a 0.65 per cent rise in collection. A total of $937,478.56 was collected in 2016 from 332,582 Muslims in the Sultanate, compared to $931,638.97 from 330,976 payers in 2015.
This was revealed by Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman, Minister of Religious Affairs, in his capacity as the President of the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), during an event to hand over certificates of appointment to Amils (tithe collectors) at Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah yesterday.
Collection of Zakat Harta, or property tithe, increased 3.35 per cent to $17,413,561.32 last year from $16,830,149.77 in 2015.
According to MUIB figures, the number of property tithe payers has dropped by 8.4 per cent to 4,625 in 2016 from 5,014 in the year before, the minister said.
For the upcoming Hari Raya, some 8,299 less fortunate individuals comprising 2,794 heads of families and 5,505 dependents will receive tithe money, he added.
Each head of family will receive $100 and each dependent $50 from Zakat Fitrah.
Additionally, the head of family will get $500 and dependent $300 from Zakat Harta. This means each head of family will get a total of $600 and dependents $350 each as tithe money.
Meanwhile, the Zakat assistance will also be provided to 3,507 Muslim converts, of whom 2,924 are heads of families while 583 are dependents.
Each head of family will receive $50 from Zakat Fitrah and $500 from property tithe, while it will be $50 and $350 respectively for each dependent.
Apart from these, tithe money distributed before the start of the new school term every year, will also benefit the less-privileged in the society.
The minister urged tithe collectors to take their roles responsibly as Zakat collection is a pious act and they will receive rewards in the days of the hereafter for their worldly good deeds. If the task is not executed honestly, they will receive punishment both now and in the days of the hereafter.
The MUIB that manages tithe money must be always alert in ensuring that tithe collectors enforce and adhere to the administrative regulations, he added.
Also in attendance at the event were Dato Paduka Awang Haji Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud, Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs and Vice-President of the MUIB; Haji Harun bin Haji Junid, Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA); Roslan bin Haji Taja’ah, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Administrative and Financial Affairs) at the MoRA; directors, assistant directors and officers.
Payment of tithe is the third pillar of Islam and a requirement for all Muslims, whether male or female, minor or adult, as long they have the means to fulfil the duty.
Since the enforcement of Tithe Act in 1969, MUIB has appointed mosque officers, Imams, Bilals, village heads, religious teachers and uniformed personnel from Royal Brunei Armed Forces, Royal Brunei Police Force, Fire and Rescue Department and other government officers as Amils.
This year, 323 Amils have been appointed to collect tithe from 141 areas nationwide. Brunei-Muara District has 190 Amils appointed for 80 areas; Belait District has 25 Amils for 15 areas; Tutong District has 49 Amils for 29 areas; and Temburong District has 23 Amils for 13 areas.
At MUIB, 36 Amils have been appointed to cover four areas.
The collection and payment of tithe are conducted at mosques, suraus, religious halls, houses of village heads appointed as Amils, the office for the distribution and collection of tithe at the MUIB, and branches for collection and distribution of tithe at the Religious Affairs Office in Tutong, Belait and Temburong districts.