Mar 2, 2009, 5:10 AM
Alhagie Imam Muhammed Lamin Touray the President of Gambia Supreme Islamic Council (GSIC), who also doubles as deputy Imam of Gunjur Mosque, has announced that the Islamic council opened a new Zakat Centre, where people could take their zakat (alms) for easy reach to the poor.
"Zakat is a cardinal and uncompromising issue in Islam, therefore everything possible must be done to make sure that it is given, and easily reaches the people concerned. This could be very easy to do if there is a centre in the country where people can take their zakat to.
"As a result, we as members of the Supreme Islamic Council decided to establish a centre through which people to give their zakat.
"This centre will ensure that zakat is properly managed, and reaches the deserving people. If you give D1, 000, it will continue to benefit people till eternity, because it will be well-monitored and well-utilised. And you shall benefit from the reward for eternity, and even on the Day of Judgement, when there is no treasury or account because every gain is left in this world, except for your deeds," he said.
Imam Touray, who was speaking in an interview with this reporter recently, said "poverty could be reduced in The Gambia through this centre, if those who are supposed to give zakat support it," noting that it is the responsibility of the people in authority to put this in place.
"There is high campaign for poverty reduction, freedom from hunger, so on and so forth, for many years now, and still poverty is on the increase. There is still poverty, because most of the people who are supposed to give zakat (alms) refuse to do so, or even if they do they will not give it to the people concerned; or sometimes there is a duplication in the delivery of zakat to a single individual person, while other deserving persons will go without it," he added.
According to the erudite Gunjur-born imam, "since there is now a centre that is responsible for the collection and monitoring of the zakat (alms), then it should be everybody's responsibility to contribute to the struggle in the fight against poverty, for the poor to be considered and taken care of."
He further explained that this was what Umar Ibnl Abdul Aziz did during his Caliphate, which went up to a time when nobody received zakat. As he put it, everybody became rich through the collection and distribution of the zakat (alms).
He concluded by calling on the Ministry responsible for Religious Affairs to support the initiative.