SPSS was used to analyze the data collected from the participants. A Pearson correlation coefficient evaluated the relationship between the ordinal variables (such as gender and tendency to give zakat maal or zakat fitah) and evaluated whether significance in the relationship existed. Chi-square was employed to evaluate whether ordinal and categorical relationships are significant or not and if so the level of their significance.
Lessy's (2010) discovered that most participants (54) gave their zakat fitrah to mosques, whilst 490 gave it directly to the poor, and only 20 gave their zakat fitrah to foundations. On the other hand, the reverse was evidenced with zakat maal where 45 participants gave directly to the poor, followed by only 25 who gave to mosques. 10 participants, on the other hand gave to orphanages and educational institutions, whilst a mere 8 individuals gave to relief organizations.
As to why they give the way they did, 55 explained that they gave their zakat fitrah and maal to individuals because they see those needy people in their neighborhood whilst 40 gave to institutions because they believed that the organizations were doing useful work. 12 of those who gave to foundations did so after reading their fliers, whilst 12 distrusted the foundations.
Interesting it was to note that donation of zakat maal correlated positively with mosque attendance whilst mosque attendance did not correlate with giving of zakat fitrah. It was also fascinating to discover that female respondents tended to give their zakat to foundations whilst male respondents tended to give to individuals. There was a significant effect on this point. Lessy (2010) also discovered that age and income were directly correlated with older respondents having more income and giving more charity.
Lessy's (2010) study is interesting in that it indicates certain patterns of giving as well as signifying preferences in giving between males and females. However, limitations exist in that the study was conducted only in one university and to a religious Islamic population at that who taught Islamic studies. It would be interesting to observe whether similar results could be discovered in other Islamic universities.
It was also interesting to note that zakat was heavily skewed to mosques. This accords with traditional methods of giving where, since the mosque plays a prominent role in the Muslim community, the mosque usually ends up as prime recipient of funds. More than half of Muslims are likely to give their money to a mosque (*) This is to too because Muslims attend mosques at the end of Ramadan for their ied prayers when they bring their zakat maal or fitrah at the same time.
The preference of giving to the poor may also reflect the Quranic teaching of emphasis on the poor as recipient of zakat.
The finding too that women prefer giving their zakat to institutions accords with other findings on zakat that shows that a growing number of women are more involved in philanthropy than ever before. Most of these women are educated professionals (e.g. Caster, 2008, p.354). This is likely the fact that induces them to single out institutions as recipients for their zakat.
The inverse relationship between mosque attendance and zakat maal payment may be due to the fact that no strict rules exist regarding the threshold payment given in regards to zakat maal. Consequently, some people with lower income end up giving more zakat maal than those with higher income. In connection with zakat fitrah, on the other hand, the amount given corresponds to the daily expenditure of food eaten. Many may find that easier to donate.
Zakat as contributory to welfare is, according to De Zayas (1960), underestimated in Islamic law. Rather Islamic jurists focus on Zakat from a theological, rather than from a practical perspective, evaluating it in terms of its various laws and minutiae rather than in terms of its potential contributory outcome.
In addition, even when Muslims do erect charitable organizations (i.e. non-profit or non-governmental (NGO) associations), they fail to consider the possibility of zakat contributing to maintaining these organizations. Rather these organizations tend to appeal to foreign aid for assistance and oftentimes, consequently fail. In a pragmatic sense, therefore, Lessy's (2010) study is valuable in that it can contribute to directing ideas and purposes for encouraging giving of zakat, tracing its use, and enabling Islamic organizations to encourage a potential source of charity that can help them and be more reliable far more than foreign aid can and is.
Research has found that it generally seems to be the educated professional class that is the greatest provider (Public Interest Research Advocacy Center (PIRAC) (2005; online) and investigation of the giving patterns of one such educated class in Indonesia provides us with a case-study of their patterns of giving..
Indonesia is a fervently religious Islamic community. What would be equally interesting would be to see whether professors and lecturers in Islamic institutions in the U.S.A., or in some Western nation, imitate the patterns of the zakat contribution in Indonesia, and the extent to which they do so. More precisely: whether and to which extent they give; whom it goes to (whether the preference is individuals or organizations): and the intensity and level of their giving. The results could be used to enhance Islamic social work practices in all countries as well as the fact that Islamic social work institutions could encourage greater awareness and knowledge about the potentialities of zakat and the importance of giving zakat by publicizing their needs, and by conducting research regarding whom to target and how to effectively advertise their needs.
The potentialities of zakat are huge. One needs to know how to harness them.
Al-Qur'an al-Karim. (2008). The Qur'an: A new translation. In T. Khalidi (Trans.). New York: Penguin Classics.
Benthall, J. (1999). Financial worship: The Quranic injunction to alms-giving. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 5(1), 27-42.
Caster, J.J. (2008). A new direction in women's philanthropy. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 37, 353-361.
Dean, H., & Khan, Z. (1997). Muslim perspectives on welfare. Journal of Social Policy, 26(2), 193-209.
De Zayas, F.G. (1960). The law and philosophy of zakat: The Islamic social welfare system. Damascus: Al-Jadidah Printing Press.
Salim, A. (2006). The influential legacy of Dutch Islamic policy on the formation of zakat (alms-giving) law in modern Indonesia. Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal,15(3), 683-701
Singer, A. (2008). Charity in Islamic society. Cambridge: Cambridge University…