Zakat system needs reform, say judges
The current mechanism for calculating Zakat (the obligatory Islamic tax paid to help the poor and needy) needs to be reformed, according to a survey of 18 judges.
The survey indicated there are many flaws with the current method, Makkah daily reported.
The judges demanded a reconsideration of the way Zakat is paid in Saudi society.
They believed the big companies and leading businessmen in the country do not fulfill their religious and social responsibility by paying their Zakat.
Seventeen of the judges said the method for paying Zakat needed reexamining.
The same number said there is great confusion over whom Zakat should be paid to.
According to former judge and well-known lawyer Muhammad Al-Jidhlani, many people are demanding a change in the way Zakat is paid.
He said: “Among the strong demands are that some traders and companies should be allowed to pay this financial obligation themselves and not through the state only.
“Many traders present inaccurate financial information to keep part of their Zakat and then pay it as they see fit.
“The Zakat and Income Authority’s mechanism for calculating Zakat has defects and should be reconsidered.
“The method might be primitive and the authority might rely on old information.
“The increase in income is not calculated and sometimes the authority imposes a rate that is higher than 2.5 percent stipulated by Shariah.”
He said the mechanism for distributing Zakat has some shortcomings, but this is not a big problem.
“The more important problem is whether the dues on wealth is paid or not.
“There is a principle that if everyone who has to pay Zakat pays it, there will be no needy person left.
“Zakat is a legislation that makes it compulsory for the rich to give alms to the poor so that there is no needy person left.”
Al-Jidhlani believed some rich people are avoiding paying Zakat and others are abusing the system and collecting financial aid when they are not eligible for it.
“The Zakat distribution mechanism in Saudi Arabia is good, as it is governed by the Shariah rules. However, some people might favor others when paying the Zakat.
“Some people might prefer to give it to a relative instead of giving it to the needy. Also, there might be some discrimination in the payment of Zakat.”