Mosques and Surau Initiatives Provide Assistance to Beneficiaries

Mosques and Surau Initiatives Provide Assistance to Beneficiaries

KUALA LUMPUR – Obtaining assistance from involved institutions is difficult, allegedly causing certain groups of beneficiaries, especially the poor, needy, and converts, to seek alternative help from other sources, including those who should not be eligible.

Generally, the difficulties faced are due to the lengthy process of applying for zakat, lack of facilities, and zakat services not being readily available near their residences. Additionally, there is a constraint in literacy skills required to fill out application forms.

In reality, institutions appointed to manage zakat, such as Baitulmal and state zakat boards assisted by mosques and surau in the respective areas, are responsible for delivering aid to eligible individuals, whether in the form of daily necessities or cash.

Director of the Department of Islamic Affairs Federal Territories (JAWI), Datuk Mohd Ajib Ismail, while denying the allegations, explained that JAWI is committed to providing assistance to eligible groups as it is a genuine responsibility and trust that must be fulfilled.

“The eligible asnaf group is under the responsibility of Baitulmal Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (MAIWP), and a considerable allocation is provided to help them. JAWI, as the policy implementer, is assisted by mosques and surau in the Federal Territories to actively search, assist, and help every asnaf.

“On the part of MAIWP, the available assistance includes zakat funds. JAWI also assists in providing daily necessities through the JAWI Food Bank program or known as Gerobok Rezeki placed in mosques and surau,” he said in a recent interview with BERNAMA.

Collaborative Program Between Baitulmal MAIWP and JAWI

To date, 52 mosques and 14 surau have provided Gerobok Rezeki facilities through an easy application process, without complicating the process for applicants.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in 2020 until now, over 300,000 asnaf and individuals in need have received assistance, involving an allocation of RM6.12 million through various collaborative programs between Baitulmal MAIWP and JAWI.

Chairman of Masjid Al-Akram Kampung Datuk Keramat, Major General Datuk Ahmad Hadiatullah Maknun Ridzuan, displayed a three-kilogram bag of rice that would be given to asnaf when interviewed by BERNAMA regarding the Gerobok Rezeki program at Masjid Al-Akram, recently. Image by BERNAMA.

In addition, the Dapur It’am and Iftar Rahmah Ramadan programs were established to provide food packages to asnaf and those in need, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that no congregation members go hungry.

According to Mohd Ajib, cash assistance is also provided through the latest initiative, the Rahmah Madani Mosque-Mosques Fund, established last month through the MAIWP fund allocation to provide immediate cash contributions of RM200 to asnaf in need of emergency assistance.

“Through various provided assistance, there is no room for claims that it is difficult to obtain aid from the authorities, considering that all parties, especially mosque and surau institutions, are proactive in fulfilling a significant role in meeting the needs of the local community, serving as a one-stop center providing protection and welfare assistance to congregation members.

“The mosque’s assistance program to asnaf and those in need aligns with the core well-being principles in the Transformation Plan for Religious Affairs Towards a Civilized Malaysia (Al-Falah), proposed by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) under the agenda to strengthen the welfare assistance system and community welfare programs,” he said.

Preventing Waste and Corruption

Addressing the management of funds and assistance by mosques and surau to avoid issues of wastage and corruption, Mohd Ajib stated that contribution funds are managed according to the regulations set by financial management guidelines for mosques and surau.

This is because both institutions have their own financial sources obtained from public donations and Friday prayer collections, especially.

“Through these guidelines, any financial expenditure must go through a rigorous verification process. For instance, if there is any expenditure less than RM50,000, it can be approved at the mosque management level, but if it exceeds RM50,000, it needs approval from the MAIWP secretary.

“It is not easy to handle mosque and surau expenditures to avoid mismanagement among officials,” he added, stating that JAWI, in collaboration with MAIWP, regularly conducts audits and monitoring programs at the involved mosques and surau. They also organize seminars and training on good financial management governance.

Acknowledging the need for appointed officials to be trained with high skills and integrity, he said that mosques and surau need to have a financial management system with robust monitoring and auditing mechanisms set up by the relevant authorities.

“We do not rule out the possibility of the risk of waste in mosque and surau affairs involving a significant amount of cash, and we will not compromise on individuals found to be breaching trust.

“Full cooperation will be given to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) if any of our officials are found to have committed offenses. For the first time, JAWI, in collaboration with MACC, organized the Mosque Community Anti-Corruption Eradication Program on October 22 last year, attended by 160 mosque committee members from six zones in the Federal Territories,” he added. The reading of the anti-corruption pledge was also held to express the commitment of all mosque institutions to mitigate risks, prevent corruption, and improve mosque management governance.

Doors Always Open

A survey by BERNAMA in several mosques and surau around the Federal Territories found that not only are their doors “always open” to asnaf and those in need, but assistance is also provided in more creative ways to facilitate potential recipients.

Chairman of Masjid Al-Akram Kampung Datuk Keramat, Major General Datuk Ahmad Hadiatullah Maknun Ridzuan, said that the mosque provides an ATM rice machine, taking into account the advancing technology that should be utilized for the convenience of asnaf.

According to him, the machine, purchased in Indonesia in 2019, with its tank capable of holding about 240 kilograms of rice, needs to be used with a special ATM card to allow recipients to get three kilograms of rice at any time, once a week.

“So far, we have about 100 registered asnaf who benefit from this rice ATM machine. We are also working to upgrade the amount of rice that can be withdrawn from three kilograms to six kilograms, depending on the needs of the asnaf families.

“We also implement the Gerobok Rezeki program, where various daily items such as sugar, flour, cooking oil, and canned sardines are provided. A recipient is only allowed to take four items at a time to ensure that the stock is sufficient for other asnaf,” he said.

A beneficiary, Zaiton Akmal, 68, expressed gratitude for receiving various benefits from the mosque, considering that she is unable to work due to a serious back problem and asthma.
“I used to work as a childcare provider, but had to quit because of the illnesses I suffer from. Now I just stay at home. I never buy necessities because I have no salary or money.
Fortunately, the Gerobok Rezeki program has helped me a lot.

“The mosque also helps a lot. There are officials who are willing to deliver necessities, including rice, to my doorstep. In addition, Baitulmal provides a monthly assistance of RM500, which I use to pay rent. Such assistance is a ray of hope and makes me not lose hope in the kindness of the community around us,” said Zaiton, who hails from Melaka.

Meanwhile, for the Chairman of Masjid Ar-Rahimah Kampung Pandan, Mohd Shah Hasim, the implemented Gerobok Rezeki program also offers items such as adult diapers and frozen products such as chicken, meat, and curry puffs, as the mosque has a donated freezer. Chairman of Masjid Ar-Rahimah Kampung Pandan, Mohd Shah Hasim, displaying a food package stored to be given to asnaf or those in need when interviewed by BERNAMA regarding the Gerobok Rezeki program at Masjid Ar-Rahimah, recently. Image by BERNAMA.

“The aid items are more or less the same as other mosques, but we have frozen products and assistance with adult diapers, as it is a basic need that is quite expensive in the market. All these items are put in a large plastic bag for the convenience of the recipients. Such assistance is significant for nearly 8,000 residents in this area, most of whom are low-income, B40, and poor,” he said.

For a recipient of assistance from Gerobok Rezeki at the mosque, Ridzuan Mohidin, 70, it has helped him and his wife a lot, especially since both of them are no longer working due to health constraints.

“I used to work as a clerk at the Attorney General’s office, but had to stop in 2017 due to lung damage and severe asthma. I spent a lot of money because I had to go back and forth to the hospital for treatment and depended on financial support from my three working children,” he added, stating that the mosque has helped alleviate their burdens, hoping that more asnaf like him will come forward to receive the provided assistance.

Avoid Taking Advantage

Sharing his views, the Grand Imam of the Federal Territories Mosque (MWP), Rozimi Zamri, said that despite various assistance provided for asnaf, there are still those who take advantage and misuse it.

According to him, there are cases of asnaf taking aid items from other congregational mosques but coming to the Federal Territories Mosque to receive assistance, making it difficult for other eligible asnaf who should be receiving the aid.

Additionally, there are cases of asnaf selling aid items to obtain cash.

“If such cases occur, we usually conduct an investigation to track down these asnaf. Perhaps they are truly in dire straits, forcing them to do so. We also need to emphasize to asnaf not to be greedy for assistance because we are concerned about wastage if too many items are received at once.

“For asnaf, do not worry because the mosque is always ready to help with any needed items. We just hope for fairness to other asnaf friends because they also need the provided aid items,” he said.

Describing MWP as always committed to helping mosque and surau members, especially those with a high percentage of asnaf and the poor, he said that the majority of the population around the mosque is financially capable.

“Therefore, the available assistance may be redirected to other mosques and surau that need it more. So far, almost 1,200 recipients have benefited from Gerobok Rezeki or Baitul Rizki MWP from early January to October 2023,” he said.

Rozimi said that they have established guidelines regarding the selection and monitoring of Baitul Rizki MWP beneficiaries. This includes identifying poverty status from family and economic information from application forms, as well as obtaining information and support from relevant institutions such as mosques, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and resident associations near the applicant’s residence.

In addition to mosque funds, other contributions are received from individuals, companies, NGOs, and welfare associations, with the MWP Friends Association being one of the consistent contributors, providing many items for the Gerobok Rezeki.

For a Baitul Rizki MWP aid recipient, Mohd Hafiz bin Mohammad Tahir @ Mohammad Kamil, 46, who is also a person with disabilities (OKU) and has four children, the initiative helps lighten the burden of buying basic necessities.

“So far, what I have received is enough, not more or less. Besides, I only take this assistance once a month because I feel there are others more deserving than me. My hope is for this program to be expanded and other items such as baby diapers and others suitable for asnaf to be added,” he said.

– DG (Original from Bernama)

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