07162018Mon
Last updateThu, 12 Jul 2018 2am

Is zakat a poverty reduction tool or just a mere charitable instrument? A case of uganda

According to Prof. AB Kasozi, Islam made its way into Uganda in the year 1844 through Arab traders who welcomed by the then King of Buganda, Ssuuna II who ruled the Buganda Kingdom from  (1824-1856).

According to (A. Mpoza, 2012), these Arab traders were not the propagators of Islam; but rather their, social and commercial contacts did the job of spreading the Islamic Religion.


Islam operates on five tenets or pillars, namely, declaration and believing in the oneness of Allah, secondly, performing the five daily prayers, thirdly, giving or paying of Zakat. the fourth tenet is fasting the whole month of Ramathan, lastly is performing Hajj. The order and substance of these tenets portrays a self propelled and functional institution of Islam.

 
Analytically, after a period of over 170yrs, were more than 7 million Muslim in Uganda; quite a number!, secondly, according the recent Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Statistics, were have more than 10,000 fully functional mosques, this validates the performance of Salat (Second Pillar), the Fourth pillar (Fasting) in actual terms, tops the performance charts due to the fact that, its impact is not only felt by Muslims alone! Even the non-Muslims, its affects the spending and behavioral trends of the general population. The fifth and last pillar (Hajj) is also widely revered for even by the financially crippled ones! Yet it’s obviously understood that it’s for those who can afford it. However, its Sad to note that, Zakat (Third) pillar has not been given due importance it economically and socially deserves. The neglect of Zakat has resulted into the fact that, Muslims individually are progressing whereas their Religion can’t be spoken of the same. Ravaged by high rates of school drop outs, high dependency rates, lack access to finance, lack institutional stance on key strategic issues, such as politics, education and health, Islam's growing population could turn into a burden than a blessing.
 
Zakat is the third tenet or pillar of Islam; it implies growth, purity and blessings. Zakat is aimed at purifying a person's soul and wealth and establishing social justice in society (Muhammad, 1993). It is an obligation to all financially able Muslims to pay a portion of their wealth at a rate of 2.5% on an annual basis, basing on the Zakatable Items as Zakat. The Alms are the poor, needy, administrators of Zakat, those, whose hearts are to be reconciled, those in bondage, in Debt, in cause of Allah and the stranded travelers.  
 
In Uganda, Zakat is still perceived as charity with a sole aim of relieving petty inconveniences like transport, fuel, buying domestic consumptives especially for Imams and 'sheikhs' and a selected few community members. However, in countries like Sudan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Zakat has comprehensively made a difference in sectors like, Education, Health, Economic and Social  Development.
 
House of Zakat and Waqf Uganda, a non-Profit Organization, started in 2011, with an aim of restoring the concept of Zakat, has for last 6 Years championed the revival of Zakat in the country. Using the limited Zakat collections, the institution, has 2 university students and 150 in Secondary plus 10 in Primary. In a bid to revamp the image and perception of Zakat, Imam Seminars are organized and funded by the institution; farmers are provided with livestock for commercial benefits.
 
Conclusively, Zakat has a significance role to play in the fight against poverty, educating the vulnerable, ensuring social development and developing our Religion in general if it’s collected correctly and distributed in the fields like, Education, Health, Social and Economic Development.
 
Namungo Hamzah
Country Rep. World Zakat Forum
Research and Zakat Manager, House of Zakat (Uganda)