Zakat in Maroua:the irrelevance models for the social economy and justice (Northern Cameroon)

Ousmanou Adama

Resumo


Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a charitable donation incumbente upon all Muslims with assets above a specified level. Eight purposes are defined in the Qur’an for the use of zakat donations, of which the most importante is the support of the poor and unfortunate. Although reliable estimates of zakat generation are not available, anecdotal evidence indicates that very large sums are generated annually, in the range of several billion or tens of billions of CFA. A debate has arisen in recent years over how to manage and use zakat, encompassing three main areas. First, scholars and practitioners disagree as to whether zakat must be used for direct donation to individuals or can be used to support institutions that serve individuals or to combat poverty through development projects such as microfinance. Second, conservative scholars argue that only Islamic authorities can collect zakat, which constitutes one of the few permitted sources of taxes to Islamic leaders while reformists promote private nonprofit organizations as equally appropriate. Zakat funds relying on the latter model are spreading in Northern Cameroon.A third issue surrounds the share of zakat collections for program administration by private parties. Other issues include how to respond to demands by reformers for increased transparency and accountability from the traditional authorities or private institutions that manage zakat collection and distribution; how to expand the definition of the purposes for which zakat can be used; and the extent to which zakat can or should serve to redistribute wealth across the society and to achieve social justice. The purpose of this article is to analyze these issues based on field research and a review of the literature to examine current practices, with an emphasis on emerging innovative models of zakat for development management and how they differ from traditional practice in Northern Cameroon.

 


Palavras-chave


Zakat; Taxation system; Social justice; Poverty Reduction; Islam; Northern Cameroon

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