Quora Answer: In Muslim Communities, is There an Appointed Enforcer of Zakat Collection?


بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ


There is no enforcer.  There is, however, people appointed to collect the zakat and distribute it. Such a person is the amil.  The amil’s job is to collect the zakat discreetly, and distribute it discreetly - at least in theory.  The reason is so that the identities of the donors and the recipients are kept confidential.

Specifically within the Singapore context, it is written in law, in the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap 3), that non-payment of the zakat is an offence:

Non-payment of zakat or fitrah
137.—(1) Whoever, being liable to pay any zakat and having failed to procure, in accordance with section 70, the cancellation or modification of such liability, refuses or wilfully fails to pay the same, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.

(2) Whoever, being liable to pay any fitrah and having failed to procure, in accordance with section 70, the cancellation or modification of such liability, refuses or wilfully fails to pay the same, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $50 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or to both.

(3) A conviction under this section shall not operate to extinguish the debt.

(4) Any zakat or fitrah due by any person or the value of the same may be recovered as if the value thereof were recoverable as a fine imposed under the provisions of this Act.

However, Singapore being a secular state, this entire section is essentially obsolete, and unenforceable.  This is a legacy statute.

Firstly, how do we establish the zakat liable?  This is not a straightforward matter.  Zakat is on the “excess earnings”, whatever is left over after payment of expenses.  It is not a tax on income.  If monies are being saved for a specific purpose, it is not excess.  How do we prove otherwise?  Zakat is only liable on income from “halal” sources.  How do we prove a claim otherwise?  Would enforcement not benefit people with non-halal income?

Secondly, since zakat need not necessarily be paid to MUIS, how do we ascertain if an offence has taken place?  There is no tracking on this.

Finally, this legislation is silent on whether zakat is only liable on natural persons, or on all legal entities owned by Muslims.  We could argue for businesses based on qiyas from Hanafi fiqh, for example.  But what about trusts and foundations?

Personally, I think entire sections of the AMLA should be consigned to history.



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