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Tuesday , September 21 2021

Our money and our ‘zakat’

Kuwait is perhaps the only country where Muslims, Christians, Hindus and others pay zakat money to the state.
All joint stock companies that have a mixture of partners are obliged by law to pay the Ministry of Finance 1% of their profits in the form of zakat, knowing that this, according to my understanding, is imposed on the individual Muslim and not on commercial entities, especially multinationals.

Despite the billion dinars that the treasury has accumulated in the form of zakat, which Muslim Brotherhood deputies want to transfer to the institutions they control, there is an almost absence of how the Ministry of Finance spends these funds. Zakat includes helping the poor and the needy, and it also includes works that others are not able to do, such as public services, and therefore the disbursement of zakat is not limited to helping the poor only.

One of the functions of the modern state is spending on services, in addition to providing assistance for the needy through subsidy programs, grants and gifts, and spending on education and treatment, which means that the Ministry of Finance is doing the same job as the Zakat House and much more which makes the ministry more deserving than the Zakat House because it is the State Treasury, and the presence of the ministry renders the Zakat House needless – the House which was established for political reasons, and the best evidence is that no one from outside the religious circle was able to control it.

The role of the Zakat House is similar and identical to the role of any charity organization, so why does it have priority in receiving zakat from companies and others over other charity organizations?


We say this and complain that the Ministry of Finance, as far as I know, has not spent any large sums of money on any vital, real and well-known project as stipulated in the Companies Zakat Law.
I personally contacted the Finance Ministry just like the others and asked it about the fate of the money we paid in the form of zakat, and why are we not allowed, for example, according to what is stated in this tax law, to ask it to direct what we paid towards education, for example, but the ministry chose to remain silent.


On the other hand, the joint stock companies, often Islamic, deduct 2.5% of their profits to pay zakat, 1% of which is paid to the ministry and their management controls the rest, and the majority of donors do not know how these funds are spent.
The Central Bank, or any supervisory body did not define the framework or controls to disburse these huge funds, especially since they are not subject to any disclosure requirements, as required by the principles of governance, and all that the boards of directors of these companies do is obtain tacit approval from the General Assembly and are not obliged to disclose how the zakat was spent.


There is no doubt that a majority of joint stock companies are managed competently, and the reputation of most of them is not tainted by any suspicion, but what about the future?
Is there a guarantee that future boards will not take advantage of the lack of transparency to take advantage of the situation?


Note that the Human Friendship Society, the well-known charity society, had earlier contacted a number of these companies to donate zakat money, but none of them came forward.

e-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

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