Headnote : For last year's zakat story, click -> here.
The state of Johor has, for the first time, implemented a two-tier rate for zakat fitrah this year. For those of us who consume the normal grade of rice, the fitrah is fixed at RM5.00. For others who eat the higher grades, the rate is RM7.50 per person. Last year, the zakat fitrah in Johor was RM6.50.
In my posting last year, I reproduced a table from the PM's Department, showing the different fitrah rates for all the states in Malaysia. The same website does not have a new table for this year, so I had to google and read various sources to come up with a table of my own.
It is interesting to note that some states have increased their rates while some have made a reduction. While Johor has decided on a two tier rate for this year compared to the single rate of last year, Perlis has gone the other way. Selangor and Wilayah Persekutuan, which had relatively low rates last year, have now made upward revisions to be more in line with the national average.
As a comparison, Singapore's fitrah rates are S$4.50 / S$6.50 per person, the same as the previous year. In that country, you can pay your fitrah by phone service if you so choose. You simply express your intention (niat) and then dial a 1900- number.
I am sure the learned people at Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) has studied this process in detail before deciding that it is an acceptable practice. While I admit that technology is meant for us to be more efficient, paying zakat by way of a telepoll service is stretching it a bit too far. It removes the interaction between the contributor and the amil or collector, to the extent of making it so impersonal. I understand that Kedah has launched a similar method using SMS.
On the other hand, I applaud MUIS for publishing in Singapore's Malay daily paper, a detailed breakdown of the amount of zakat (fitrah and harta) collected for the year and how this collection was distributed. Their total distribution for last year is about S$18.5 million.
Majlis Agama Islam Johor provides similar information about zakat collection and distribution in their website. Last year, MAIJ collected RM100.7 million.
I am trying to compile some data about zakat in the other states but only a few publish the statistics in their website. In fact, some do not have websites at all. For those who have, the display of zakat information shows a fair degree of professionalism and transparency. MAIDAM Terengganu's website for example, has zakat collection data broken down to district level.