Disclaimer: Not a zakat expert. If any info is wrong, please help me learn by commenting
As a brainwashed Muslim (I say this with a bit of both resignation and pride – it’s a very odd feeling), I’m generally OK with paying zakat in Malaysia. I accept it as a responsibility, plus I believe it’s a way for me to ‘cleanse’ my earnings. I was told early on that as much as I try to generate halal income, some of my money will not be halal due to imperfections of the system.
Here are my thoughts on paying zakat in Malaysia. I littered this with plenty of my own questions as well, but I hope it’s useful for you guys.
- (In high school, during Pendidikan Islam) Teacher say zakat money goes to (1) the poor, (2) the needy, (3) new converts, (4) the debt-ridden, (5) those in bondage (it used to refer to slaves, but now interpreted figuratively), (6) Islamic causes (build mosques, etc), (7) the wayfarers (people traveling and without resources, like refugees fleeing a country), and (8) zakat administrators (people who distribute). Must memorise all this, might come out in exam.
- (When I first started work) I should start paying zakat. How do I do that? Who do I pay to? Which types of zakat should I pay? There are so many types! 11 types, in fact!
- Okay, so as an unmarried woman I don’t have to pay Zakat Fitrah. The responsibility lies to my father, then if married this becomes husband’s responsibility. Got it. *mixed feminist feelings*
- I don’t think Zakat Harta, Zakat Pertanian and Zakat Penternakan applies to me either.
- What in the name of God is Zakat Ma’adin, Kunuz and Rikaz???
- Zakat Emas and Perak, for gold and silver doesn’t apply to me as well. Need to have more than a certain amount before applicable. Oh, gold jewellery ownership also subject to this zakat, how interesting.
- I didn’t know there is zakat for stocks/shares too. I don’t own them, so no need to bother with Zakat Saham.
- Zakat KWSP (EPF) is only applicable when I draw the money out, yes? So no need for this too.
- Zakat Perniagaan is a bit confusing. If I pay Zakat Pendapatan, have to pay this too?
- Zakat Wang Simpanan is also a bit confusing. So far, what I understood is I must have a minimum amount as savings before applicable for this. According to this Pakdi.net article, ASB counts. Other savings applicable for this zakat: cash savings in bank and personal savings. It must exceed a certain amount (changes every year). My question is, what if those savings accounts are also a part of income? Again, if I pay Zakat Pendapatan, must pay this too?
- Serious question: What would be the calculation for zakat on bitcoin? It’s savings but also income+investment. No fatwa on it yet, too. I have no idea if this is the right way, but because it is similar to gold, I used the same Zakat Emas calculation for bitcoin. According to that calculation, my bitcoin amount is too low to be zakat-able.
- That leaves only one type of zakat left: Zakat Pendapatan. Tithe on my income. I believe this is the only zakat I have to pay now, but the more enlightened among you can advice.
- Okay then. Two major questions – (1) to whom and (2) what is the calculation for Zakat Pendapatan.
- Question on to whom: apparently it’s okay to just give it directly to people in one of those eight categories. It is permissible. However, religious authorities really, really don’t encourage own distribution, because apparently it’s better to give to religious bodies as they can distribute it better. They even say it’s a ‘sin’ if we distribute zakat on our own (the quotemark is theirs, not my own addition). Sources: x | x
- I have a problem with this. Religious authorities in Malaysia, in my opinion, can be a bit… how do I say this delicately… off track… in their priorities. I want to religious authorities that promote compassion instead of punishment. Plus the whole ‘if you don’t agree with us you’re a bad Muslim’ thing is just religious guilt-tripping in the highest order. No, I refuse to follow you blindly. Iqra’.
- (To non-Muslim friends, Iqra’ – pronounced ik-rawk – is believed to be the first Quranic word the angel Jibril conveyed to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It means ‘read’. As in learn. Get more knowledge. Don’t be uninformed. As the first word, the significance is big. It means that the first lesson from God ever is to gather knowledge.)
- Having said that, fine. I do acknowledge religious authorities do good work too. I don’t like it, but fine I’ll entrust you with my zakat money. I hope that it goes towards mostly the poor and the needy, and not for ‘buka aib’ activities like khalwat raids. Buka aib, or intentionally exposing one’s humiliation, is completely un-Islamic. I wish they remember this more. They’re very rude when they do this: bringing media, taking videos and pictures.
- So religious authorities in which state do I pay to? There are 14 of them!
- Advice received is to give to whomever, but perhaps more priority to the state you live in. In my case, Zakat Selangor. Cos I budak Shah Alam.
- In Selangor, zakat is collected by MAIS (Majlis Agama Islam Selangor) and represented by LZS (Lembaga Zakat Selangor). Read their Annual Report 2015 for more info on their distribution.
- I have dutifully paid my zakat to them for a few years. Most, if not all zakat bodies have their own zakat calculators because calculations in each state are slightly different. Type in ‘kalkulator zakat pendapatan [state]’ and Google should bring you to the correct page. I used this zakat calculator.
- I usually pay my zakat in the beginning of the year. So for income collected in 2015, I pay between January-March 2016. Reason: I want the receipt. It can be used to get tax exemption (or is it tax rebate? Or tax deduction?). Anyway, usually my zakat payment is more than my tax payment, so when I submit my taxes I usually get the balance of the money back.
- Example: Zakat was RM1000. Income tax was RM800. Declared zakat payment and I get RM200 back in return. Income taxes are automatically calculated, so I’m pretty certain this is the case, but in case I’m wrong do let me know in comments.
- Fast forward to 2017. Religious authorities are getting a lot more authoritarian. MAIS and LZS (and JAIS – Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor) tried to steal land from a private company, belonging to non-Muslim. Here’s the kicker: to build a mosque. The Court of Appeal ruled in favour to the private company, and they’re still going to contest it and bring it to Federal Court.
- I’m sorry, but I don’t want my zakat money to be partly wasted on court payments. Especially when the case showed how they had abused their powers. Islamic bodies not affecting non-Muslims, my foot. I really don’t want to give my zakat money to MAIS in 2017. It’s a matter of principle.
- Researched alternative agencies I can give zakat too. Because I’m reluctant to give up tax exemption, I want it to go to bodies that can give that receipt. It proved to be harder than I thought.
- A kind Twitter follower (thank you!) helpfully suggested Islamic Relief Malaysia. Zakat paid to them is tax exempted! Prior to this, I know almost nothing about this NGO. Turns out they provide humanitarian aid worldwide, not just in Malaysia. I’m good with that! (EDIT: Muslim Aid and UNHCR receives zakat contributions too! Credit goes to QQ – see comments section)
- After calculating my zakat for 2016 to pay in early 2017, I went on their website for payment details. Found the payment page. You can pay by multiple channels, including credit card. Was going to do that but the payment processor imposes 2.8% or 2.2% fee, depending on the channel. I stopped here. Why pay the fee at all? So I decided to try and save RM20 or so and email them for their bank account number for direct bank transfer. That’s only RM0.11 in fee. Smart not.
- It took them a few days, but they replied with a direct bank payment number. Here they are: Maybank Islamic : 5-62142-708704 | CIMB Islamic : 8602073818 | Bank Islam : 12 029 01 0065643
- The email I used was firstname.lastname@example.org, and subsequently was replied by a very helpful staff. The staff asked me for proof of payment to issue the receipt, so I sent my transaction details. They asked if I want to donate the full amount to Islamic Relief Malaysia (not tax exempted – yeah I was surprised too), or to MAIP (exempted; Majlis Agama Islam Perlis). Asked further and they said MAIP gives 50% of the zakat contribution back to IRM. I’m OK with MAIP, in fact I think the Perlis mufti is pretty cool – he questioned the possible unfair implementation of RUU355. (Update: MAIP will also start distributing to poor non-Muslims!) So I consented to MAIP, and filled up the letter. Sent back to IRM and they issued the receipt.
- To recap, the order is: (1) Calculate zakat amount via zakat calculator; (2) Make zakat payment to IRM bank account; (3) Email them the transaction detail (and if you want tax exemption, mention your consent to MAIP), (4) Fill up a letter they send; and (5) Get receipt, keep for tax season.
- I just want to say here that I’m not anti-religious authorities. I am anti-abuse of power, and there have been a lot of that from some of their personnel. Only recently they get highlighted more in the news, like the married couple khalwat raid by JAIS. From the report, they were rude, invaded privacy, detained despite proof of marriage, and generally – sorry – behaved like assholes. This is not the only case. They raid marriage ceremonies, beauty pageants, hotel rooms, and God know what else. I need them to get their shit together, because this is making Islam look horrible. It’s making Malay people look horrible.
- Well, anyway, paying for zakat to an alternative agency this year soothes my conscience, but feel free to give to whomever you want (as long as they fit the criteria). I want my money to be used for good. Thank you kind souls in zakat administration who help us to help others. God bless you.
These are my zakat-paying journey, more or less, since I started paying zakat. My final questions for the day to you is:
- Who do you pay to? If they are state religious bodies, are you happy with how they distribute the zakat money?
- Do you know of any other bodies we can pay zakat to, and get tax exemption at the same time? I gave IRM as an example as I don’t know who else.
Thanks for reading, happy zakat payment, and Salam.
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