Hamas mandates zakat in GazaJuly 21, 2012
This Ramadan, Hamas is joining the ranks of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Sudan in making zakat compulsory on people and businesses in Gaza.
The Koran mandates that zakat, the two and one-half percent wealth tax of Islam, be allocated to eight groups of people, one of which is those fighting for the cause of Allah. Hamas probably justifies this new levy partly on that basis. Corruption in Gaza is well known, and this money will never make it into the pockets of the poor as “alms.” It’ll just be more cash for Hamas officials to play with.
Recall that Ramadan, which began yesterday, is the major fundraising season for Islam via zakat. Many Islamists rightly realize that Ramadan is their biggest opportunity for revenues to sustain themselves over the coming year.
From AFP on July 17:
Gaza to make alms giving compulsory
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas ruling Gaza said on Tuesday is to begin deducting the previously optional “zakat,” or alms, from firms and individuals during Ramadan.
The Zakat Foundation created by Hamas will begin deducting the money during the Muslim holy fasting month that begins on Thursday or Friday “from the taxes on firms,” its chief Rami al-Khatib told AFP.
“This will begin as an optional measure before becoming obligatory,” he said, adding that the authorities would strive “not to increase the amounts” to be deducted from individuals.
Khatib said the aim was to “collect funds for zakat and distribute it to the poor.”
In the West Bank, the rival Palestinian Authority’s religious affairs minister Mahmud Habbash said the decision was illegal.
“We warn citizens against this because it’s illegal,” he told a news conference in the town of Ramallah. “What’s dangerous is that they want to oblige people to pay zakat and that’s illegal and raises many doubts.”
The move amounted to “a threat for zakat funds,” he said.