Islamic parties in Kurdistan are controversially claiming the right to receive alms, known aszakat, during the holy month of Ramadan as they struggle to raise revenue. They claim they can receive alms because of their Islamic ideology, while critics say political parties are not religiously entitled to monetary contributions from the public.
Musa Habib, a Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) party leader, told Rudaw that Islamic parties are entitled in the Koran to receive alms from the people because they are spreading the word of God.
However, Dr. Arafat Karam Mustafa, the secretary-general of the Islamic Thought Forum in Iraqi Kurdistan, said, “It is not permissible in any way to give alms to parties because parties are not among the categories of people that God has designated eligible for alms.”
Mustafa argues that Kurdistan’s Islamic parties only serve their own interests instead of humanity or Islam.
Dr. Bashir Khalil Haddad, head of the Religious Affairs Committee in the Kurdish Parliament, said the Islamic groups exploit the common Islamic concept of “for the sake of God”.
“Religious scholars believe that ‘for God’s sake’ means people who work purely for God and spend their money for example on religious studies, establishing religious schools and publishing religious books which will help promote the faith,” he said. “If the zakat given to these parties is spent on such activities and not on political gains, then it is permissible to give them alms.”
Muslims from the fundamentalist Salafi sect have their own views on zakat. Abu Haris, a Kurdish Salafi residing in Germany and the author of many books on this issue, said, “I warn all Muslims not let any party trick them into giving a party alms for any reason, because partisanship is a sin and a reason for weakening relations among Muslims and the religion of Islam.”
Abu Haris also runs a Kurdish Salafi website where he writes, “Islam does not consent to political parties. Muslims do not need parties, and giving alms to these parties is not permissible in any manner.”
Mahmood Muhammad, secretary of the Community of Religious Scholars in Iraqi Kurdistan and preacher at Ahmed Boskani mosque in Sulaimani, believes that Islamic parties qualify forzakat because they have no other source of income.
“It is permissible to pay alms to the Islamic parties because they do not have any other source of income and they spend their money in the way of God and his religion, such as teaching students,” Muhammad said.