The Strategic Role of Mosques in the Context of Zakat by: Tiara Tsani*

Posted March 27th, 2012 in Article

by: Tiara Tsani*

In 2010, zakat collection in Indonesia stayed stagnant at the average of Rp 1.5 trillion; far below the Islamic Development Bank’s estimation of Rp 100 trillion (IDB, 2010). It became even smaller when we compare it to the estimation made based on the research conducted by BAZNAS and the Bogor Agricultural Institute School of Economics and Management (FEM IPB) in 2011, which stated that Indonesia has zakat potency of around Rp 217 trillion. Why is it so hard even only to exceed a mere 2% of the zakat collection potency in Indonesia? This big question obviously needs answer and solution.
There are several possibilities that might answer this question. Mostly, it related to people’s awareness and knowledge to pay zakat. They might have known that for Moslems, zakat is compulsory. What they might not know is that zakat today has many classifications, including the zakat profession. According to a 2010 IMZ research, only 16.7% of the Indonesian people know about the zakat profession. For such case, a comprehensive education on zakat should be given by the government, religious figures, zakat practitioners and academics.
We must also consider that the zakat realization figure as reported by BAZNAS represents zakat funds collected only by BAZNAS, BAZDA and LAZ, while zakat collections from mosques were not accounted in the report. An IMZ report (2010) suggested that most of muzakki prefer to distribute their zakat to mosques. This might explains why the national zakat realization figure could be so low.
The fact that mosques are located among community members makes it the most popular zakat collection site. Another significant reason for this preference is that many muzakki feel satisfied by paying their zakat to the nearby mosque and thus contributed to mustahik in the neighboring areas.
BAZ and LAZ, on the other side, offer a more diversified zakat management systems compared to mosque-based system. Most likely, the simple zakat management system practiced by mosques was chosen due to the relatively low amount of zakat collected in mosques, the dominant role of local religious figures, and conventional human resources, which made most of zakat collected by mosques were distributed as consumptive zakat.
However, despite the above review on the aspects of muzakki and the internal organization of mosque, mosque remains people’s first choice to pay their zakat, and thus it must be accounted to the zakat discourse. Mosque becomes the ideal place to socialize zakat to community members, as well as the center of zakat collection and management. If we can make mosque a formal zakat institution so that the amount of zakat collected by mosques can be added up to the national zakat collection, we might see increasing zakat performance to reach its potentials. Moreover, it will make zakat distribution more efficient, and muzakki – mustahik indentification can be easily performed by local mosque officials. These officials will also easily identify social economy problems occurred in the neighborhood.
Considering all of these factors, it is very important to empower mosque’s role in improving zakat performance. The government, BAZ and LAZ, as well as community figures can give their moral supports, acknowledgement, or carry out program synergy and trainings to increase the capacity of mosque officials (amil masjid). Therefore, we can see that mosque no longer focuses only on the matters of imam, khatib and Islamic holidays, but also on its important role as a center of community empowerment, especially in the economic sector.
*Author is a staff at the Research and Advocacy Division of IMZ

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