The following is an excerpt from the interview conducted with Mufti Ibrahim Essa, Shariah advisor for The Citizens Foundation. Mufti Essa completed an 8-year ‘Dars-e-Nizami’ course followed by a 3 year degree in ‘Takhassus-fil-Iftah’, from Dar-ul-Uloom, Karachi, one of Pakistan’s premier institutions for religious training. Having studied under the supervision of renowned scholars Mufti M. Taqi Usmani and Rafi Usmani, he is qualified to research, deliberate upon and issue decrees (fatwas) on matters pertaining to religious law and jurisprudence. Mufti Essa serves on the panel of various banks and other financial institutions offering Islamic products as lead Shariah advisor.
Could you please explain the model of Zakat collection followed by TCF?
TCF follows the ‘wakala’ model of Zakat where the parents of deserving students, upon their admission in TCF school, nominate TCF as a ‘wakil’ (agent) and authorise the organisation to receive Zakat on behalf of these parents, to be spent for their children’s educational expense. We ensure that any parents consenting for the utilisation of Zakat for their children fulfill Islamic requirements and qualify as recipients of Zakat.
What steps does TCF take to ensure proper and transparent utilisation of Zakat funds?
All proceeds collected by TCF as Zakat are maintained in a separate bank account at an Islamic Bank, allotted specifically for the purpose. The funds are then utilised through the course of the year on operational expenses. We have well defined Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) governing our Zakat utilisation and these clearly delineate the list of applicable expenses, vetted by myself.
Currently, 30% of our operational expenses are met through the Zakat allocations, while the rest of the requirements are fulfilled through the general pool of funds. The percentage of funds going towards Zakat is carefully allocated based on the number of consent forms received by consenting and qualifying parents. Every quarter, I perform a thorough review of Zakat expenses to ensure that Zakat is being apportioned correctly.
What are some commonly held misconceptions regarding the applicability of Zakat on TCF and other NGOs?
Many people mistakenly believe that Zakat can only be given directly to individuals or families and not to organisations. This is simply not true. Zakat can be given to anyone who is ‘mustahiq’ or qualifies for receiving Zakat, either directly or through an organisation or intermediary, provided the money is spent according to the rules stipulated by Islam.
And when it comes to formal education of the children of deserving parents, it is a noble act, as seeking and obtaining education is a beneficial pursuit for both self and society and Islam places great emphasis upon it.
The Quran says: ‘Zakat expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [Zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah. And Allah is Knowing and Wise’.
Today, through your support for our cause, TCF is redefining the lives of 204,000 students enroled throughout our network of 1,441 schools across the country. Your continued commitment to our mission would enable us to ensure that our beacons of hope grow in number and empower the next generation of Pakistanis (Inshallah).