The Jakarta Post
The chief minister of Melaka, Adly Zahari, opened on Wednesday the international conference of the 2018 World Zakat Forum (WZF) at the Equator Hotel, Melaka, Malaysia.
The three-day conference, held from Dec. 5 to 7, is being attended by Indonesia’s National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) head Bambang Brodjonegoro, Malaysia’s Religious Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa, WZF secretary-general Bambang Sudibyo, 31 speakers from 16 countries and around 300 participants from 28 countries, including the United Kingdom, India, Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina and South Africa.
The main theme of WZF 2018 is strengthening cooperation among global zakat management organizations to increase public welfare. Other themes to be discussed include the framework of zakat regulation and institutions, the aims for zakat and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), evaluation and measurement of the zakat system, contemporary fiqh-zakat, and zakat cooperation among Muslim countries.
WZF secretary-general Bambang Sudibyo said the global zakat movement could play an important role by distributing assistance.
"The Islamic world has been recently facing complex problems and challenges internally and externally, including negative stereotype, which caused Muslims to be the victims of discrimination and pressures,” he said.
Poor people are found in many Muslim countries, weakening the position of Muslim countries. It is worsened by a lack of education, science and technology, and weaker human resources.
“To address the problems, the zakat forum should act as strategic capital for Muslim countries to set themselves free from their long-term dependence on the West or the North, which is the extension of the new colonization,” he said.
The rise of the Muslim world should start with solving problems of its own people independently and self-sufficiency among Muslim countries by strengthening the role of zakat as a socioeconomic weapon in dealing with capitalism and liberalism.
The use of zakat should have strategic meaning in strengthening ukhuwah (solidarity), collaboration and solidarity among Muslim countries to reach common goals. Besides, the global zakat movement should support the basic aspects of humanity, which are health and education.
The WZF is expected to become a platform to formulate effective solutions for multi-dimensional problems of the Muslim world regarding the main essence of zakat. ”First, it should not be aimed only at eradicating poverty and incapability, but it should also empower the Muslim people. Second, it should reduce the socioeconomic problems among Muslims. Third, it should work toward public welfare. Fourth, it should raise the influence of the Muslim world. Fifth, it should revitalize the dignity of Islam in various global aspects,” he said.
The WZF was established as a response to the need for a global zakat movement. During a conference in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, in 2007, Indonesia was appointed to host the first WZF conference. On Sept. 30, 2010, when the first WZF conference was held in Yogyakarta, the forum was formally set up. Initially, the forum was only attended by nine representatives from international zakat organizations from countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar, Kuwait, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Jordan, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. During the first conference, KH Didin Hafidhuddin was appointed as the first secretary-general of the WZF. He held the position until 2013, when he was replaced by Ahmad Juwaini. In 2017, Bambang Sudibyo was elected as the next secretary-general.
. (Photo Courtesy of The World Zakat Forum/.)
The number of WZF member countries has increased each year. This year, the WZF will have 28 member countries. “Our target in the medium term is to include all member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the WZF. We’re also seeking to link with the UNDP, UNICEF, Islamic Development Bank and BI (Bank Indonesia),” he said. (*)