A zakat controversy is brewing in Indonesia. For those who do not know, zakat is a form of tithing in Islam and is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Westerners have concerns about zakat–especially as to how zakat interacts with Islamic charities and Shariah-compliant finance–because Shariah states that a portion of the zakat can go to those waging violent Jihad for Allah.
The controversy in Indonesia isn’t about zakat for Jihad, but there is a heated debate going on because a government agency is trying to gain control of zakat and the myriad non-governmental and local zakat entities that already exist are fighting the proposal. The government plan is said to be needed for purposes of “transparency” and because the current system does not tap into the potential for zakat collection in Indonesia.
We’re not sure we trust either side in this debate, but there is no doubt a great need for transparency when it comes to zakat. There have been numerous scandals around the world involving the misappropriation of zakat.