Malaysia

Smokers should not receive zakat

IN line with our efforts to eradicate the smoking habit and addiction within our society, smokers should not be given zakat assistance.

Zakat should be strictly given to the poor. Smokers should not qualify to receive any zakat assistance since they have the money to buy cigarettes in the first place.

If they have money to buy cigarettes, they cannot be regarded as desperate and needy people.

As one of the five pillars of Islam, zakat or alms giving is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth.

It is a mandatory charitable contribution, the right of the poor to obtain relief from the rich, and is considered a tax, or obligatory alms.

Basically, there are eight categories of people who are entitled to receive zakat assistance, namely the poor (al-Fuqara), the needy (al-Masakin), zakat administrators (al-Amil), new Muslims (Muallaf), those in bondage (slaves and captives or the Al-Riqab) and the debt-ridden (Al-Gharimin), those fighting for God’s cause (Fil Sabilillah), and those who are stranded while travelling (Ibn Al- Sabil).

The rule pertaining to smoking has been made clear in Islam, and there was also a clear edict on this issue 30 years ago.

The Fatwa Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs of Malaysia in March 1995 had discussed the issue of “Smoking from the view of Islam” and issued an edict that “Smoking is forbidden in Islam because in it there is harm”.

It’s forbidden because it harms a person’s health and leads to waste.

This is in line with what Allah said in the Quran in Surah al-Baqarah, verse 195, which states “And do not throw yourselves into destruction”.

However, many people in the country take the issue lightly.

What is more worrying is that such a habit is picked up by youngsters who are still in school.

As such, we should send a strong signal to everybody about this issue and this includes the zakat recipients themselves.

The relevant religious authorities in the country should take this issue seriously to protect the sanctity of Islam and ensure all the zakat paid by Muslims are given to truly deserving people.

DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) Nilai, Negri Sembilan