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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

More than half of zakat recipients mired in debt

Khai Zem Mat Sani

MORE than half of zakat (tithe) recipients are mired in debt, said the acting secretary of Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB).

Hj Abdul Aziz Hj Akop said the majority of about 4,000 zakat recipients applied for financial assistance because they could not pay off their debts.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, he said many of the recipients had taken bank loans to purchase cars, houses and pay for wedding costs.

“Half of what the zakat recipients earn from their wages are used to pay off debts,” he added.

Hj Abdul Aziz said the number of people applying for zakat assistance under the poor and destitute category has been increasing over the years, with many of the applicants struggling to repay their loans.

“Loans have become necessary for many people in Brunei. But it will become a burden to people if they cannot afford to repay the loans,” he said.

The acting secretary added that many people who took large amounts of personal loans did not realise that the debts could affect their finances.

“Bruneians need to be more cautious when using their money. People need to know how to differentiate between needs and wants,” Hj Abd Aziz added.

He went on to say that Bruneians must learn to avoid spending on things that are not important for their daily lives.

However, he said the conditions of poor and destitute people are not as serious as in other countries in this region as majority of the recipients can still afford to spend on their daily needs such as sustenance and shelter.

The acting secretary said many of the zakat applicants under the poor and destitute category were low-income earners and their children were unemployed.

He said more than 3,000 dependents rely on the zakat recipients for financial support.

The monthly zakat is given for a period of two years for every applicant.

After two years, the recipient would usually reapply for zakat if their income or finances have yet to improve, said Hj Abd Aziz.

He added that some families stopped receiving tithes as their children have found jobs.

Hj Abd Aziz said those who apply for zakat because of bank loans are not eligible for zakat under Al-Gharimin (individuals who are deep in debt for valid purposes) category.

“People who have loans with banks have made an agreement earlier, it proves that they have money to repay their loans.

“Those who receive zakat under Al-Gharimin are among individuals who borrow money to build mosques or other buildings that benefit the community,” he said.

Sumber - The Brunei Times

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