Jakarta (ANTARA) - The National Alms Agency (Baznas) and private zakat agencies (LAZ) collected zakat (Islamic alms), donations, and charity amounting to at least Rp21 trillion (US$1.34 billion) in 2022, according to the Religious Affairs Ministry.

"Until the third quarter of 2022, the total amount recorded in the national zakat and alms collection report of Baznas and LAZ reached Rp21 trillion. This shows that public awareness is increasing," the ministry's Director of Zakat and Waqf Empowerment, Tarmizi Tohor, stated at the 2023 National Zakat Coordination Meeting here Monday.

He remarked that the increasing number of zakat, donations, and charity pooled from Indonesian Muslims benefited various aspects of the country, including religious and social activities, poverty eradication, human resource development, and economic growth.

As the pooled fund is distributed to community empowerment programs, the ministry is keen to witness an improvement in the lives of people through zakat, donations, and charity, the official affirmed.

"The ministry will act quickly to coordinate and synergize our programs with the Baznas and zakat agencies to ensure that they can inclusively benefit the people," Tohor affirmed.

Meanwhile, Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas urged the ministry's Islamic Community Guidance department to collaborate with zakat management agencies to increase Muslims' awareness of zakat and direct the integrated zakat management for the best interests of the nation.

"Zakat literacy is the key to national zakat management. Expand the zakat literacy network to all state Islamic universities, Islamic boarding schools, Islamic schools, and state companies. We must also integrate the zakat management with the national interests because the main purpose of zakat management is to realize public welfare," Qoumas explained.

He said that several Muslims, who distribute their zakat independently from authorized agencies, remain a recurring issue in zakat management in Indonesia.

Zakat must be distributed through authorized agencies to ensure the funding will be utilized for productive purposes and will reach its intended target, he stressed.

"This is a challenge we must resolve together since we could only collect Rp21 trillion out of Rp400 trillion (US$25.6 billion) zakat potentials. Use digital mediums to create breakthroughs in (promoting) zakat literacy," Qoumas stated.

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Translator: Asep Firmansyah, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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