Islamic Philanthropy as Solution to the Problem of Poverty
ACTNews, JAKARTA – Poverty is still one of the main problems in Indonesia. Based on World Bank’s statistics in 2017, 10.7 percent of world’s population, around 767 million people, live in poverty. In Indonesia, around 26.67 million people live in poverty according to Indonesian Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS).
Hamdan Zoelva, Chairman of Sarekat Islam (Islamic Union/SI), one of Indonesia’s oldest national organizations, stated on Wednesday (2/13) when receiving delegations from Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) that the problem of poverty not only affect Indonesia, but also war-torn countries. Prolonged conflict often makes life harder for the citizens of conflict-ridden countries. In Indonesia, the poverty rate is still quite high, something that also becomes a major concern for SI.
As an organization that was first established as Sarekat Dagang Islam (Islamist Trade Union/SDI) in 1905, SI focuses on developing the economy and welfare of the Islamic community. Although SI was involved in politics in 1912 under HOS Tjokroaminoto, now under Zoelva SI returns to its original goals and focuses on economic, social and religious activities. Zoelva stated that, by developing social and economic activities through Islamic philanthropy, poverty problem in Indonesia and the world can be alleviated.
“In Indonesia, if we use BPS standard, around 10 percent live in poverty. If we use World Bank’s standard, our poverty rate is around 40 percent. That’s very high. It is a tremendous problem for us all especially the Muslims. Philanthropy is a solution for the problem of poverty that we face,” said Zoelva.
Zoelva, who a is former Chairman of Indonesian Constitutional Court, mentioned that Islamic acts of philanthropy like waqf, zakat, infaq and sadaqah can help alleviating the problems in the Muslim community and humanity in general, not merely the problems of certain individuals.
“This is the core of Islamic teachings. This is why we are commanded to give zakat, recommended to give sadaqah and waqf, and that we are promised that what we give will be multiplied by 700. This is why we are all encouraged to do such acts of kindness because they bring massive benefits and effects for the empowerment of the community and eradication of poverty,” added Zoelva.
He explained that one of the ways to eradicate poverty us by developing waqf funds as the highest form of philanthropy in Islam. “If we develop the waqf funds, it can further benefit the Muslim community, and it will slowly be able to solve the problem of poverty in Indonesia because we involve the society in general. The revenues of the productive waqf are not used to benefits certain individuals. Rather, they are used to be invested and used to funds other productive enterprises,” he stated.
Zoelva’s opinion was agreed by ACT Vice President Iqbal Setyatso. Setyarso stated that in an effort to involve Islamic acts of philanthropy in alleviating poverty and other problems faced by the Muslim community, ACT launches The Rise of Islamic Philanthropy (TRIP) as its main theme in 2019.
“Alhamdulillah, ACT has taken part in helping our Muslim brothers and sisters in need since its establishment. To this day, there have been thousands of people who benefitted from ACT’s programs. We also have waqf-based empowerment programs initiated by Global Wakaf,” said Setyarso.