Iraq sets up committees to ensure zakat reaches the needy, not terrorists

Iraqi boys receive free food distributed to the needy at a mosque in Baghdad. [Saad Shalash / Reuters]

Iraqi boys receive free food distributed to the needy at a mosque in Baghdad. [Saad Shalash / Reuters]

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The Central Council of Iraq Scholars announced on Wednesday (August 24th) a new mechanism to ensure that Iraqis' zakat money does not end up in the hands of terrorists.

Sheikh Omar Khalid al-Bakar of the council's general secretariat said committees have been formed in every Iraqi city comprised of council members, members of the Sunni Endowment, mosque sheikhs, local mukhtars and citizens. The committees will oversee the collection and distribution of zakat money to previously registered widows, orphans and the needy.

"The objective of this operation is to ensure the money reaches its proper destination in a way that prevents even one penny from reaching terrorists who would use it to launch terrorist attacks against Iraqis," al-Bakar said.

Sheikh Mouayed Ahmad, imam and preacher at a mosque on the Karkh side of Baghdad, said that Iraqi religious scholars have determined zakat this year to be 4,000 dinars.

"This year, we shall guarantee that Muslims' money will go to the victims of terrorists, not the terrorists," he said.

"If we calculate the number of those paying zakat, the amount would be very large. If some of that money reached the terrorists, they would use it to threaten the lives of peaceful Iraqis."

Iraqi security leaders praised the religious scholars' call to direct zakat money to serving the needy directly.

"That is what we want," said Col. Talal al-Obaidi of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. "Religious scholars' and citizens' cooperation with us will deprive the terrorists of a resource of power."

"We must know that one dinar that reaches the hands of the terrorists may destroy the life of a person," he said. "If we are sure that zakat money is directed in the right way, we shall dry up the terrorists' financial sources."

Rasheed al-Mutlaq, professor at the College of Sharia and Islamic Science at Baghdad University, urged Iraqis willing to pay zakat to find a poor Iraqi family or orphaned children and pay the zakat directly to them if they are unable to find a trustworthy recipient group.

"Those who do not know to whom to pay zakat money may fall into the traps set by militants who claim to be religious and collect money on behalf of the terrorists, and this is wrong," al-Mutlaq said.

He said Iraqis are increasingly aware of the importance of confirming where they donate their money.

"There is a general tendency in Iraq this year to verify where the zakat money is going, because Iraqis are mindful and they do not want to finance terrorist operations that kill innocent people," al-Mutlaq said.

Many citizens welcomed the formation of committees to oversee the collection and distribution of zakat.

"We used to be surprised every year by someone who came knocking on our doors forcing us to pay zakat on the pretext that they were legitimate agents collecting money for the needy," said Majid Hassan, 41, who lives in Fallujah. "However, it may have been used to go to our killers."

"Today, we shall not hand over our zakat money except to those who need it, and we shall not give our money to groups that come in the morning to kill us with it.''

Malik Hameed, 53, a Baghdad resident, also heeded the religious leaders' call.

"Terrorist groups used to exploit religion to collect money from citizens," he said. "Therefore, we shall not pay money except through the special committee or directly to people whose needs we are aware of and whom we wish to help.''

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    محمد عبدالغني

    2011-9-16

    Iraq collects large amounts of Zakat money during the blessed month of Ramadan. In fact, these large amounts of money must be protected by security departments in order to be given to the poor and needy families.

  • مهند جاسم

    2011-9-16

    We are in favor of taking careful measures against the threat of the terrorist organizations’ exploiting the Zakat money. In fact, these criminal organizations have tried to steal the money of Zakat that has been collected in order to serve the needy who are unable to provide for their daily requirements. Zakat is one of the laws of social solidarity that is established by Islam. This is in order to save society from collapse.

  • فرج عبدالله

    2011-9-16

    Iraq is one of the cooperative societies. In fact, many residential areas and families have tried to help the poor families that are in the same neighborhood or area. Thus, they have cooperated in order to give these amounts of money to the poor and needy families of the same district. This is a proof of the Iraqis’ consciousness and a sign that no body can use them to finance terrorist groups that have tried to get the money of Zakat to their criminal gangs and organizations.

  • وسام عيسى

    2011-9-16

    It is important to take into account the fears that the extremist and terrorist groups would acquire these amounts of money. In fact, this is a legitimate fear, especially since many terrorist and Takfiri members have tried to exploit the poor people in order to get the money of Zakat. This is in order to fund the terrorist and criminal operations that have been carried out against Iraq and Iraqis. Thus, it is important to be careful. The concerned authorities must control the places of Zakat. This is in order to use these large amounts of money in the right way. Besides, many Iraqi families have not paid the amounts of Zakat to the centers and organizations that have collected Zakat money. In fact, they have given this money directly to the poor and needy families. This is in order to reduce fear, because some families have been afraid of the terrorist and extremist groups that have tried to get these amounts of money.

  • قيس رعد

    2011-9-15

    I pray to God to take revenge on the armed and terrorist groups and gangs that pose a threat to the lives and safety of innocent, defenseless citizens who put up with much anger, difficulty, pain, suffering, harm and great damage and losses of lives, possessions and money. All this was done at the hands of the terrorists, who don’t want the betterment of Iraq or Iraqis. May God shame and disgrace them and weaken them and make them the losers.

  • kasir

    2011-9-15

    Some might believe that Zakat money could go into the hands of terrorists instead of the needy in Iraq. This scares everyone from paying Zaqat money, because terrorism harmed many people in their lives and religion, and they caused damage to all aspects of life, including the money of Zakat that people started to think and worry that it will fall into the hands of terrorist groups, to use it in buying weapons and explosives as well as consciences and weak personalities of people who need the money. They worry that this money would be the reason behind those people’s taking to the path of sin, which greatly harms Iraqi Muslims. As such, this will hurt everyone without exception, unless the money is given to those who really deserve it: families that need the money. It has to be assured that those who receive Zakat money are trusted entities with a good reputation in Iraq, and that those who are given the money are really poor families who need the money. This distribution should happen through the governorate’s centers in each governorate, and also through the organizations that have the names of all the poor families that don’t have monthly incomes or that don’t have a provider. Therefore, if the work were done according to this system, terrorists wouldn’t get the money and some people’s fears would be removed, regarding the money reaching the hands of armed and terrorist groups. Zakat money has to be paid by Muslims to those who need it, and it is an act that shows benevolence and adherence to all the instructions of Islam with no fear. May God grant success to Iraqi people to cooperate and show good intentions and mercy to each other, because God Almighty will bestow mercy on everyone and will rid us of terrorism and dangerous groups and gangs.

  • غسان احمد

    2011-9-15

    This is really scary; we have barely sighed in relief that terrorism and al-Qaeda no longer have the funding they had before, and that they are no longer able to fund their grand terrorist operations against the innocent civilians as they used to do before. As such, caution is necessary and fear has to always be there of the terrorists’ attempts to make up a charity or religion association or something of the like to lead people to pay Zakat to this association, which in its turn will transfer this money to terrorist leaders to fund their operations and their barbaric attacks against innocent people and kill the people. I hope there will be a central locus for the payment of Zakat in Iraq, through limiting the place of payment to only one location or one department, which will be responsible for this matter in order to play its role. After this money is put into good hands, it would be delivered to the poor and the truly needy, especially since we have much unemployment in Iraq and many families that are crushed due to the conditions the country is going through. This will help these families a great deal to improve their living conditions. That’s better than using this money to kill us without our knowledge, when it is handed over to terrorists.

  • عبيد جمال

    2011-9-12

    No fear at all, because God is right, and He knows the needy people. He doesn’t waste the reward of the good people- God forbid- and the benefactors who paid Zakat, and their pure hearts know that their money will be in the hands of the needy. I want to tell everyone: Remember you are fasting and you were given Zakat with good faith in God, and that God doesn’t waste your reward at all. Don’t be afraid of the terrorists themselves who launch these calls to foment sectarian strife and in order to make Iraqi life tragic. No one but the cowardly terrorists is being paid to carry out the criminal acts through which they want to get revenge on the Iraqi people. Thank God, Zakat reached the needy people, and they pray for everyone who gave them good things and good luck. God willing, their prayers will be heard, and will let people be more secure and not to be arrogant. It is the people’s right to be angry and upset about this issue, and to be nervous, because the vile terrorists can do whatever they want. I want to say to every honest Iraqi, I swear that if we cooperated in order to get the terrorists and terrorism out of Iraq, we would be stronger than they are, and among those who push them due to the acts of envy in Iraq. Zakat has reached every needy person. Terrorism and terrorists want to perform any cowardly acts to prove to the world that they are strong, and to challenge the Iraqis, but they don’t know that the Iraqis are heroes and they won’t give them a chance, and God willing, security will be restored to Iraq, Amen.

  • شاد جميل

    2011-9-11

    The fear that terrorist organizations take advantage of Zakat money instead of the poor and the needy is correct, and it might occur if ever one of these organization’s members plays a trick in order to get money by all means. The latter will certainly use this money against the community members and exploit it to launch terrorist attacks against the innocent. The latter are those who have donated this money in order to support the poor and the needy, but it did not reach the right place and has been exploited by terrorists in their criminal acts. Thus, to prevent the occurrence of these problems, it has become necessary to form committees to raise money in all Iraqi cities. The role of these committees must consist in raising money from citizens and distributing it to the needy and the poor, or whoever was mentioned by God the Almighty in the holy Quran in the “Sadaqat” verse among the eight types of people. The committee must also accurately make sure that these people need financial help or in-kind help, through submitting the papers to the specialized committees, which are composed of mosque Sheikhs, prominent regional figures and selected people who communicate with the community members and know the needy and the poor well. In fact, this will guarantee that money will go to the right people and prevent terrorists from taking advantage of this money. In fact, they use it to undermine the life of the innocent Iraqis, leading to the death of more people, using this money which reaches terrorists in an illegitimate and evil way. Furthermore, Iraqis can give their Zakat money directly to the people who deserve it, by looking for poor and miserable families, needy children, orphans and widows, if they could not pay the Zakat money to a particular untrustworthy party. In this respect, such an act will play an important role in tightening the noose on terrorist organizations by cutting off funds. In so doing, this will be another blow addressed to this organization from the Iraqi government and people, in order to eradicate terrorism. In fact, terrorist members, who have no place among the sons of this glorious country, are longing to claim the lives of the innocent Iraqis.