Sawi: It is Necessary to Direct Zakat Money to Eradicate Poverty
|Wednesday, December 28,2011 07:10|
|By Hussein Mahmoud|
Abd Al-Hafiz Al-Sawi, an economist with the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), in an interview in the BBC’s 'Open Agenda' program, discussed use of Zakat (giving of alms) as a financial instrument to alleviate the suffering of the poor. This raised some confusion as certain newspapers circulated ‘news’ of the Muslim Brotherhood seeking to impose compulsory Zakat on every Muslim.
Sawi said, in a statement to IkhwanWeb: "Clearly, we seek to reduce the glaring inequalities in society and to eradicate poverty. Zakat is a financial tool that can ease the burden on the state budget and meet the needs of the poor. It is not only a type of charity, but a duty imposed on rich Muslims by our Islamic Sharia, too."
He added: "Zakat funds should be distributed among all Egyptians, Muslims and non-Muslims, because Islam demands it."
Sawi went on, saying: "The use of endowment and Zakat funds - properly linked to State general plans - can supplement resources for the state budget deficit."
He stressed that this proposal is supportive of the economics of any country seeking real progress and development. It is an economic vision applied successfully in some countries such as Malaysia. There are many powerful economic studies about it. It is also a fundamental part or our faith, rooted in the teachings of our religion which helps us fight , even eradicate poverty.
It is worth mentioning that the FJP’s economic program seeks to identify the responsibility the state, as well as the responsibility of financially-capable members of society, in the process of distribution and re-distribution, and through "investments of Finance", ie taxes, according to the standard requirements for providing a good life for the poor and needy.
The party's economic program aims to maximize the role of community-based economy in the economic system by establishing more NGO’s and allowing them more freedom, while emphasizing the role of institutions of Zakat, Waqf (endowment) and all acts of voluntary giving, and their strong participation in economic life, leading to the strengthening of community participation and fostering a climate of solidarity and compassion in society at large. Needless to say, such role of community-economy must remain in harmony with the requirements of the State’s general plans.
The party's economic program also stresses the importance of establishing independent investment funds for a part of Zakat and endowment funds to finance health services, education and social services for the poor, hence saving a part of their already limited incomes, which helps them to lead a better life, and perhaps even get into investment.