IMZ Award: Towards Global Synergy for Zakat

Posted August 3rd, 2011 in Article

By: Nana Mintarti*

Concerns over zakat in Indonesia were raised by civil community organizations during the 1990s. This era was later known as the era of modern-professional zakat management using the principles of management and good organization governance. Since then, we continued to see increasing and expanding zakat potencies in Indonesia. The most important turn point in the Indonesian world of zakat occurred in 1999. From 1999 onwards, zakat is formally included in the domain of positive law in Indonesia with the issuance of Zakat Management Act No 38/1999.

After the Zakat Management Act being imposed, numerous zakat management organizations emerged, both at national and local levels. Today, there are the National Amil Zakat Agency (BAZNAS) and 18 national Amil Zakat Body (LAZ), 33 provincial Amil Zakat Agencies (BAZ), and 429 BAZ at the level of regency/municipality. There are also at least 4,771 district units of BAZ, Zakat Collecting Units (UPZ) and numerous mosque and pesantren-based traditional-individual amil zakat. On one side, this is a positive tendency because it has encouraged more dynamic zakat management in Indonesia. However, on the other side, it potentially causes problems, particularly related to zakat governance and people’s trust.

The vast development of zakat management organization is yet to be accompanies by efforts to strengthen its organizational aspects, which caused relatively high disparity of capacity among them. In general, public still see their performance as less optimum. Most of these organizations haven’t practiced effective and efficient zakat collection and distribution. The basic culture of most of zakat management organizations in Indonesia is not oriented to institution and system strengthening; while in fact, this is mostly important to allow zakat organizations to play significant role in poverty eradication.

Building Zakat Organization Excellence and Competence

Zakat management organization (OPZ) is public institution that manages public funds. This organization is responsible to maintain their transparency and accountability in managing the funds. Each zakat organization is bound to be trustable institution before the public’s eyes. The success of a zakat management organization not only depends on the amount of funds collected, but more importantly on the impacts of zakat distribution and utilization to the community welfare and social justice. Every muzaki will be more than happy to see that their zakat funds are optimally distributed by amil institution and manifested into free education, free housing, and business capitals for many small and middle enterprises, or even supports for the dhuafa in other countries.

For that, OPZ needs to build its organizational capacity to maximize the social impacts of zakat utilization. Unfortunately, many OPZ neglected the significance of capacity building program, especially in developing and expanding zakat utilization and empowerment programs.

Building the capacity has a broader meaning than just organizational or institutional development, for it encompasses the whole system, environment or context in which individuals, organizations and societies operate and interact. Capacity is defined as the ability of individuals and organizations in carrying out its functions effectively, efficiently, and sustainably. Capacity is the power (power) of a thing (could be a system, an organization, or person) to work or to produce something. Moreover, capacity can be defined as the ability to solve problems, to achieve or carry on with the mission, as well as to achieve the overall objectives.

In simple words, we can say that a healthy OPZ is an OPZ that carries out its functions properly. In other words, a healthy OPZ is an OPZ that effectively and efficienctly keeps and maintains the public trust, runs the ZIS fund collecting activities, applies internal financial management, and promotes the concept of professional management. By running these functions, OPZ is expected to provide good service and benefits both socially and economically to public.


Appreciation for Zakat Organization Performance

Given the strategic role of OPZ in building communities both socially and economically, concern for the health of OPZ is not coming only from the organization itself, but also from the community in general, especially from muzakki. One of the main factors to the less optimum zakat management in Indonesia is the low awareness among the zakat payers (muzaki) to distribute their zakat throuogh amil institutions. Such low trust was a result of the lack of transparency and credibility of these institutions.

Building a trusted and professional image for zakat organization is important today, considering that a serious lack of trust between the community members is occurring. Image building is then a very fundamental issue, because a strong and good image will convince muzaki to distribute their zakat through these organizations. On the contrary, bad image of zakat organization will disencourage muzaki from entrusting their zakat funds. The efforts to give appreciation on the performance of zakat management organization could be part of the enabling environment in building trusted and professional image of OPZ.

Appreciation for the positive performance of zakat management organization through the IMZ Award has become a strategic effort in building national image of zakat, even to the level of global Islamic world. This strategy turns out to be effective to both ways. Inwards, it promotes zakat organization capacity and capability building, while outwards, it “announced” to the public that amidst the global phenomenon of a “sick community”, there are few people that are committed to fight for better transparency and to alleviate poverty using zakat as the tool. This kind of appreciation also motivates zakat organization to improve their professionalism, accountability, and transparency, as well as creates a favorable environment for a systemic move to alleviate poverty. In this case, systemic move means synergy.

Towards Global Synergy for Zakat

The Indonesian community of zakat is entering the globalization, with numerous cross-nations efforts are carried out by OPZ. Take example the World Zakat Forum (WZF) held in Yogyakarta on October 1, 2010, which was a global forum for zakat practitioners and observers. The forum aimed at promoting global partnership and synergy for zakat and intensifying socialization and advocacy to a wider scope of public to realize zakat civilization.

From this point, numerous efforts to gather awareness on global synergy for zakat continued emerging. Given such global goals, every OPZ in Indonesia must improve their competence and capability to level similar organizations from other countries. However, for certain issues, Indonesian OPZ shared their experiences with foreign OPZ. We witnessed these foreign OPZ’ amazement when they realize the degree of difficulties, the scope or work area and the challenges faced by OPZ in Indonesia, which they tackled with all the limitations and the lack of appreciation for their hard works. Still, we must admit that we have to make many improvements.

            The 2011 IMZ Award presented on August 3, 2011 in Jakarta, becomes the starting point in the efforts to create competitiveness and promote OPZ competence towards the cross nations OPZ synergy. It marks the journey of zakat organization in Indonesia, where OPZ can determine whether they are ready for synergy with international zakat community. A good and farsighted management system in zakat organization requires the best human resources, considering the vast work area to be handled and the large opportunities to improve people’s welfare. Through internationally qualified OPZ, insya Allah, Indonesia will gain good image to cover the blemishes and imperfections on our faces. May Allah bless our efforts.

(Author is the Director of  IMZ)

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