The Current Practice and Expected Transformation of Zakah Institution in Yemen in Light of the Current Crisis: An Ethical Consideration

The Current Practice and Expected Transformation of Zakah Institution in Yemen in Light of the Current Crisis: An Ethical Consideration

Fekri Ali Shawtari (Community College of Qatar, Qatar), Abdullah Mohammed Ahmed (Universiti Sains Islam, Malaysia) and Omar Alaeddin (Unversity of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3452-6.ch007

Abstract

Yemen is among the poorest countries in the region. It has become apparent during the current political crisis in which the majority of population is classified as poor so the poverty line's group has been widened. As far as Zakah is concerned, it is a duty on wealthy people to pay their alms to the poor and hence a redistribution of the wealth among the society would be achieved. Zakah rests under the responsibility of the government to supervise, govern, and apply the rules prescribed in the Islamic legislation (Shari'ah rules) to ensure that its role in the society is attained. For the last three decades, since the formation of the new country, the “Republic of Yemen” that emerged from two previously separated countries, Zakah institution has been governed and managed by the government, and its administration is formed under the responsibility of the Zakah Agency, and later on under the local counsel of each locality. Such management and administration has been criticized of being less transparent on Zakah resources on both collections or distributions issues. Therefore, Zakah efficient collections have suffered due to the low level of confidence in the governmental agencies assigned to collect Zakah funds, and this encourages Zakah payers to always seek an alternative way to channel Zakah funds, which has been found in many voluntary organizations to carry the same role the government should have made in collection of Zakah funds. This chapter is theoretical in nature. It aims and focuses on the discussion of administration and legislation of Zakah and its importance to the society in Yemen. It also highlights the current status of Zakah in Yemen. More than that, the discussion elaborates that Zakah in Yemen lacks its role in the society in reducing poverty, which has become more apparent recently. Analyzing the way Zakah is carried out revealed that Zakah administration needs a rethink on how to organize and restructure it in a way to serve its underlying purposes. Government may not be the proper Zakah administer at this point of time due to the rise of corruption in the government agencies. Since the Zakah fund is commingled with the other public budget resources, it is more likely to be misused as the other resources (i.e., oil and gas and tax) and no possible differentiation to be expected. Expected transformation of Zakah is needed and the role can be carried out by the non-government bodies supervised by scholars and experts who can be held accountable under certain governance system. This chapter originally is of importance to all stakeholders as it serves as the building block for initiating a proper system or framework of Zakah administration, a system that provides its contemporary guidelines on Zakah, taken into the consideration the original wisdom and objective of Shari'ah on Zakah enforcement by the Almighty.
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Introduction

Zakah is the third pillar of and type of Ibadah (worship) in Islam. Literally, Zakah means purification, thus Zakah is the purification of the wealth. It is part of the Islamic economic system which aims to achieve the socio-economic development of the society. Zakat is one of the most significant institutions of wealth-sharing that promotes Muslims’ economic activities and assures a minimum standard of living for Muslims (Haji Abu Baker & Haji Abd. Ghani, 2011). According to Chapra (1992), Zakah is an integral part of Muslim’s belief and it is social self-help instruments ordained to support and alleviate the poverty in Muslims’ society (Chapra, 1992). It is one of the Islamic indicators of economic justice that aims to provide an equal and trustworthy redistribution of wealth with the premise of eradicating poverty (Haji Abu Baker & Haji Abd. Ghani, 2011; Ansari, 2011). Scholars in many countries have put a mounting emphasis on the importance of proper management of Zakah to achieve divinely prescribed socio-economic objectives. This is because management of Zakah funds and resources is very critical as it involves a matter of religion that concerns all Muslims; therefore, it should be managed efficiently with proper and right institutions leading such management. Various bodies are assumed to efficiently handle the management of Zakah in its two functions: collection and disbursement. However, researchers across the Muslim countries argue that Zakah management is still unsatisfactory at different levels (Buang, 2000; Juwaini, 2008; Farhan, 2008) which has led to a lack of confidence in the institution in performing its role in the society as a mechanism of redistribution of wealth. Oran (2009) in one side argued that Zakah is long away from the realization of its role in solving socio-economic problems and as wealth creation on the other. In most Muslim countries, the major shortcoming facing Zakah institution rests on the administration of collections and allocation (distribution) of Zakah funds. The argument of Oran (2009) applies to Yemen as well and researchers substantiate this fact in Yemen (Farhan, 2008; Al-Matari, 2008). In particular, in Yemen, the distribution of Zakah funds still an ambiguous process to various stakeholders. The very clear reason is that the government of Yemen collects Zakah funds from various payers and comingles them with other government revenues and resources in order to finance the various development projects and budget needs of each district, which are approved by the planning committee. This has motivated and challenged the Zakah payers to find their own ways to reduce the amount of Zakah payable to the government and then pay their due by their own channels. Responding to these issues, Yemen has restructured the Zakah management and it has been placed under the authority of local council of every governorate as they believe it would improve the efficiency of Zakah due to the close connections between the institution’ branches and the related stakeholders of Zakah. In connections with such initiative by the government of Yemen, this new way of handling Zakah management has shown its reasonable success; however, it was not at the expectation. Similar initiatives have been placed in practice within Malaysia to improve the management of Zakah, and these include initiatives such as corporatization and localization of Zakah which have produced significant improvement in Zakah management in its both sides, the collection and the distribution. In all, the general theme of the policy initiatives is to enhance the efficiency of Zakah management either collections or distributions with the aim of boosting confidence on the institution of zakah in the society. In this line, this paper aims to theoretically and critically examine, discuss and evaluate the Zakah model in Yemen as well as the ethical considerations of management of Zakah in Yemen in respect to the current and expected future move as a response to the recent crisis and war that has waged the country since 2014. The remainder of the paper is organised as it follows: Section Two briefly presents the legislation of Zakah institution in Yemen. Section Three provides a historical review of Zakah administration practice in Yemen. Section Four discusses the realization of Zakah ethical consideration pre-and-post current crisis in Yemen. Section Five discusses Zakah Administration Models Across the Muslim Countries. Section Five discusses the future of Zakah management in Yemen, proposing transformation model in Zakah management in Yemen. The final section provides a conclusion and corresponding limitations, and some recommendations for future studies.

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