Muis is committed to carry out its duty and responsibility in administering zakat. Besides the task of collecting zakat, it is also essential for Muis to discharge its role in disbursing zakat according to all the different ‘asnaf’. A bigger portion of Zakat is disbursed to the asnaf of ‘fakir’ and ‘miskin’ – defined as people who are poor and needy.
WHO ARE THE POOR AND NEEDY?
Different countries would have its own understanding and description of the poor and needy. In Singapore’s context, Muis takes on the approach that the poor and needy are people who are the most vulnerable within the poor which is why the aim of its Zakat assistance is to provide support to the lowest 5% of the population’s income earners.
To determine who are those who belong to the bottom 5%, Muis uses a means testing method of calculating the per capita income (PCI) of its Zakat assistance applicants, which presently stands at a PCI of $400. The PCI is reviewed annually to ensure that Zakat assistance continues to meet the changing needs of the community. Once the applicant qualifies, the zakat assistance is provided without any attached conditions and beneficiaries are not required to adhere to any action plans or achieve individual goals.
On average, Muis disburses $1.1 million of zakat to 4,300 households every month. This translates to about 13,000 people who benefit directly from the monthly Zakat financial assistance (FA).
A majority of these Zakat beneficiaries – about 65% of them, are considered as ‘Long-Term’ beneficiaries because they receive 12-months of Zakat FA which would usually be renewed every year. These Long-Term beneficiaries are mainly those who have a PCI of $400 and below, and are also suffering from problems such as chronic illness, elderly poverty, disabilities, etc. Other than the Long-Term beneficiaries, those who are facing transitional problems such as retrenchment, insufficient income, incarceration, etc. would be categorised as Short-Term beneficiaries who would typically receive the monthly Zakat FA for a period of 6 months
SUPPLEMENTARY AND SUPPORT PROGRAMMES
Muis acknowledges that the zakat financial assistance alone would not be enough to support the multiple needs of the family and to ensure that the wider needs of the zakat beneficiaries are met, Muis works closely with the larger network of support from national agencies for referrals. For example, beneficiaries are encouraged to explore assistance schemes from ComCare which are administered by the Social Service Offices (SSOs) so that they could be connected to other channels of assistance that covers issues such as employment, childcare, health care, counselling and other specialised services.
Muis also works closely with the SD mosques to implement support programmes aimed at different groups of beneficiaries. An example is the SD Core Programme which is open to all Zakat beneficiaries and their families. The SD Core Programme aims to equip the Zakat beneficiaries with the necessary life-skills, such as financial management, motivation and self-esteem, religious learning, family and parenting skills. The programme is run at the various mosque clusters and organised in collaboration with partner agencies such as People’s Association(PA), Community Development Councils (CDCs), Malay Muslim Organisations (MMOs), Health Promotion Board (HPB) and many other stakeholders within the locality.
A support programme specifically aimed at helping the elderly and chronically ill Zakat beneficiaries is the Befrienders Scheme. The Befrienders Scheme is a volunteer based social befriending service that matches volunteers from the mosques with long-term zakat beneficiaries. The role of the volunteers is to develop a friendship with zakat beneficiaries through regular home visits and the purpose of these visits are to check in on the beneficiaries and ensure that they are not at risk of being socially marginalised or isolated. It is hoped that this would be the first step towards nurturing a caring and active community in an organised way, one that empathizes with the plight of the Zakat beneficiaries.
Last updated on 28/9/2019