Shop and do good at the malls

To remind mall-rats that their money can serve other purposes than simply shopping, Islamic charity organizations have gone to the malls and opened for business.

Alms foundations, such as Dompet Dhuafa and the Community Caring Justice Post (PKPU), have set up counters in various malls and shopping centers. That way, whenever Muslims go to shop they are reminded that they also have a duty to give away some of their money to the less fortunate, particularly ahead of the highly consumptive Idul Fitri celebrations.

“We can’t just wait passively [to collect alms]. We have to, as the saying goes, ‘get on the ball’, and we see that potential zakat [alms] payers go to malls,” Dompet Dhuafa executive director Ahmad Juwaini said.

Zakat, mandatory alms, is one of the five pillars of Islam. Paying zakat through malls breaks from the tradition of channeling it through mosques or giving it directly to the needy.

Dompet Dhuafa, the private alms foundation that pioneered professional zakat management in Indonesia in 1993, first opened their counters in office buildings, such as the Jakarta Stock Exchange, according to Ahmad. Eventually, they spotted the potential of malls.

In Jakarta, its counters can be found at Senayan City and Plaza Senayan, as well as Blok M Plaza and Pejaten Village.

Handaka Santosa, head of the Indonesian Association of Shopping Centers (APPBI) said that shopping centers were commonly used as meeting points. “We can use them to create awareness of zakat and provide the facilities for that,” he said.

The emergence of Dompet Dhuafa has led to the establishment of 19 national private alms foundations in addition to the government-run National Alms Agency (BAZNAS) and its regional chapters. Zakat collection by these faith-based charitable organizations continues to rise with an average increase of 24 percent annually. Last year, the organizations collected Rp 1.7 trillion (US$178.5 million).

Ahmad said that while the majority of zakat donations come through online bank transfers, donations from zakat counters in malls can account for more than Rp 1 billion.

PKPU deputy CEO Sri Adi Bramasetia said that counters at malls were quite effective in collecting mandatory and voluntary donations. Last year, the counters collected Rp 1.8 billion in mandatory and
voluntary alms, he said.

In addition, Ahmad said, “because the owners and managers of other counters in the malls see us every day, we reach them as well.”

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Tue, August 21 2012

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