Tithe through tech: Malaysians urged to use contactless payment during pandemic

Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs, Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri, encouraged Muslims to use contactless methods for the sake of safety during the Covid-19 pandemic.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

Religious councils are providing online payment solutions for zakat fitrah (tithe), so the public can perform their religious duties while staying at home.

Though payments are typically made to amils (authorised tithe collectors), Prime Minister's Department in charge of religious affairs, Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri, encouraged Muslims to use contactless methods for the sake of safety during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If users don't want to make use of online portals, they can still use a QR code system to make cashless payments when paying in person to amils.

In view of the coronavirus, he also said that zakat matters must be in-line with the National Security Council and the Health Ministry's guidelines and the movement control order (MCO).

Zulkifli also urged Muslims to avoid the tradition of shaking hands after making a payment.

Each state is also adopting its own strategy to collect tithe safely while taking into account the needs of the people.

The Kelantan Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (Maik) is accepting online payments, but has kept counters in its headquarters open, exclusively for zakat payments.

The Melaka Zakat Centre, on the other hand, is offering door-to-door collections for those unable to make online payments in the state.

The Johor Islamic Religious Council (Maij) did not appoint any amils. Its committee chairman Tosrin Jarvanthi encouraged the public to pay via its online portal, Johor Online Payment, or online banking.

Those in rural areas unable to do so could instead make payments at the Village Community Management Council (MPKK) offices.

Meanwhile, the PahangGo app, which was designed for accepting various payments such as street parking and assessment tax in Pahang, can now also be used to pay tithe.

Most other states are also allowing payments to be made via online banking or partners like Pos Malaysia and MyEG.

The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) has also launched a dedicated site for zakat payments, including an explanation on who is required to pay, how to calculate the tithe, and the rituals involved.

It also provides the Lafaz Akad Fitrah, a recitation to make when paying, and the accompanying prayer in Arabic and Bahasa Malaysia.

The tithe is usually set to match the value of 2.7kg of rice, and the amount can vary from state to state, ranging from RM5 (S$1.60) to RM21, and must be paid before Ramadan.

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