The Ministry of Religious Affairs in response to my letter about the delay in fully implementing the Syariah Law has stated that the reason for the delay is the process of enacting the law, as making it flawless from all aspects is not as simple as one would think. According to them, there are many factors that need to be considered ranging from the Syariah principles, policies, practicality, socio-politics as well as "Maslahah" or public interests, and all these entail expertise, wisdom, experience, patience, perseverance, diligence and cooperation from all relevant agencies.
It's been nearly 30 years since we gained our independence and we are yet to implement the law. All the hard work in creating the law has already been done by Allah the Almighty Himself Is Allah the Almighty's Law difficult to implement?
On a different subject about donation and paying zakat, we often see in the news either in TV or newspapers, if businessmen give donations in the sum of five or six thousand dollars, there will always be some senior officials receiving them, and the place or office chosen for such occasion happens to be a nice big one. Why people who make such donations are treated with high respect?
I went to the Ministry of Religious Affairs last Wednesday to pay zakat. Compared to those businessmen, the amount I paid was five times higher, yet the treatment some of these businessmen have received was much better than mine.
Don't get me wrong, I did not want a special treatment. But for those who have never been to the office to pay the zakat, I just want to share with them how I feel about the place. I have to pass an open office where the staff is working and I am led to a small room approximately 8ft by 8ft with no window. There is a small old table with three chairs including a plastic one. It's really sad to notice that the ministry has a huge building, yet the place to pay zakat is no bigger than a small storeroom.
Despite all that, the staff is friendly and polite even when I challenged them that their calculation is wrong. How can the price of gold in 1969 be the same as in 2000 which is $1.20 per gramme. However, for the year 2001 the price is $18. They tried to tell me the price jumped from $1.20 to $18 in just a year, and I told them what they said does not make any sense.
Everyone knows the price goes up each year. I told the officers that it's their duty to find out the actual price of gold in those years, not just by saying it's already covered in the Mufti's fatwa, or else we would most certainly end up paying less for the zakat qadha if we use the current calculation that the ministry has. Who then would be held responsible if we pay less than what it should be?
My advice would be to go to the bank or any shop selling gold, I am sure they still keep the record for the price of gold from 1969 to 2000, so that the calculation for zakat qadha would be more accurate. Paying more for the zakat is okay as the surplus amount can be considered as `sedekah' or donation. But for paying less (if we use the current rate)... what would be the consequences knowing that the relevant authority is slack in doing a simple research?
As for the office to pay zakat, I hope the Ministry of Religious Affairs would find a suitable place as the current one is appalling. Even a place similar to paying the bills at DST would be fine, just like what other countries have. But definitely not a storeroom.