Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Attracting 'mualaf' with 'zakat'

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort 
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

CLAIM My Rebate - I saw this tagline on a piece of paper among pamphlets given to my wife when she paid her 'zakat' (tithe) at a state 'zakat' institution recently. 

She took the opportunity of the offer to settle her 'zakat pendapatan' ('zakat' on income) before December 31 among others because those who did so could claim rebate from their income tax for the new year which government servants and corporate workers usually settle in April.

Why give or pay 'zakat'? First it is Allah's order as it is the third (or fourth) article of the 'Rukun Islam' (Five Pillars of Islam). Ignoring paying 'zakat' when ones fulfills its requirements, then his/her faith is at jeopardy.

Scholars said all things belong to Allah SWT, and wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust. The original meaning of the word 'zakat' is both 'purification' and 'growth'. Giving 'zakat' means giving a specified percentage on certain properties to certain classes of needy people.

Our possessions are purified by setting aside a small portion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.

Looking at another note of my wife's pamphlets, I noticed it mentioned about the eight classes of people (asnaf) who have right to receive 'zakat' - a group called 'muallaf' (the dictionary spelling is 'mualaf') caught my attention. The 'Kamus Perwira' defines 'mualaf'; as a person who newly converts to Islam.

In my wife's pamphlet notes, it mentioned that 'muallaf' means 'mereka yang dijinakkan hatinya atau yang diharapkan kecenderungan hatinya untuk menerima Islam...' (those who are attracted and keen to Islam but have not confessed the faith; by giving them 'zakat', hopefully they could be coaxed to embrace Islam).

This definition of 'muallaf' fits to what an 'ustaz' stressed during his 'tazkirah' (Islamic lesson) at a 'masjid' near my house which I followed closely a few days ago. He said many people thought that 'mualaf' is a person or a group of people who had just embraced Islam - in short they were 'saudara baru' ('reborn' to the Islamic faith).

The 'ustaz' said it is true that a 'saudara baru' falls into the group of 'mualaf' and could have the 'zakat' money but in true sense those who are not yet Muslims (this term should be used and not non-Muslims) but interested in the religion are also 'mualaf' thus they too have the rights to be given 'zakat'.

Yes, it needs wisdom in da'wah including calling not yet Muslims to Islam and one way is by giving those interested in Islam the 'zakat' money. In Malay, it is call ‘berdakwah secara berhikmah’. In the Qur’an, there are many ‘ayats’ suggesting to do the da'wah work with wisdom. 

Among them in ayat 83 Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow): “…And speak to people good (words)…” (Qur’an 2:83); ayat 148 of Surah an-Nisa (Woman): “Allah does not like the public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged…” (Qur’an 4:148); ayat 3 of Surah Ali Imran (Family of Imran): “…And if you had been rude (in speech) and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you…” (Qur’an 3: 159).

Then Allah SWT mentioned in ayat 53 of Surah al-Isra’ (The Night Journey): “And tell My servants to say that which is best. Indeed, Satan induces (dissension) among them. Indeed Satan is ever, to mankind, a clear enemy.” (Qur’an 17:53); ayat 44 of Surah Taha: “And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear (Allah).” (Qur’an 20:44); and ayat 25 of Surah of Surah al-Furqan (The Criterian): “And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them (harshly), the say (words of) peace.” (Qur’an 25:63)

Da'wah to the not yet Muslims should be done professionally - in ‘beautiful’ ways. In the Qur’an (ayat 125 Surah An-Nahl, The Bee), Allah SWT says: “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is (rightly) guided.” (Qur’an, 16:125)

The 'ustaz' said one beautiful way of 'da'wah' to the not yet Muslims is by providing them good reading materials (nowadays materials at par with the ICT era) and to produce these materials we needed good financial assistance and one way is to have the 'zakat' money.

He said many of the not yet Muslims are poor in 'Bahasa' (Malay), why not we produced materials such as books and CDs in languages they are familiar with. Yes, we could produced books, pamphlets and leaflets in simple English, Chinese, Tamil, Iban and so on.

Alhamdulillah, nowadays many sectors including  non governmental organizations (NGOs) such as ABIM had produced numerous books, pamphlets and leaflets which were placed at locations such as at verandas of 'masjids'. 

However from my observation, those items placed at certain 'high profile' masjids such as Masjid Negara attract attention but they only collect dusts at other masjids. Thus, in my opinion, they should be placed at places that are of easy reach of the not yet Muslims especially among tourists such as at airports, hotels, bus terminals and railway stations. 

Regarding the result after doing ‘good da'wah work’ I was interested to quote comments from the Guest Book at Masjid Negara extracted from a pamphlet entitled ‘Mosque Tour Guide Programme by Islamic Outreach ABIM’ which I took from a rack recently.

“We learnt a lot about Islam that we didn’t know before.” – Linda & Ken Gulbrandsen, Norway

“I received a wealth of truths in this time of untruths.” – Vinay Kala, India

“My interest in Islam has grown.” – Misaa Makinchi, Japan

“All our questions were answered fully and in a friendly way.’ - Carly Bliss, England

“I feel truly blessed to receive the goodness and kindness of your religion.” – Milena Langd, Germany

“Open my eyes.” – Smonia; India

“Thanks so much for introducing me to Islam. Islam was really impressive.” – Sanne Kersken, Holland

“Good conversation with an awesome person.” – Lois Enrique, Mexico

“Very good, very, very super volunteer guide. Excellent.” – Ying, China

Subhanallah, it is so touching to know that many not yet Muslims were keen of the religion but the question is have we reach 'the millions out there'. 'Insya-Allah' we would be able to do so, perhaps with some 'zakat money' it would spruce our efforts. So zakat institutions, please take note! 

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