Searching for Regulatory and Institutional Framework of Zakat Institutions in Thailand: Past Attempts and the Way forwards
Aris Hassama, Tawat Noipom, Mahmood Hayeemad, Suthisak Duereh;
Zakat is considered to be a tool for poverty eradication and improvement of social welfare in Muslim communities. Many Muslim and non-Muslim countries have legally institutionalised Zakat and resulted in reasonably efficient and effective Zakat management system. In Thailand, Zakat has been practiced ever since, but no regulatory and institutional framework can be established. It has been argued that without such a framework, Zakat management in this country cannot be successful. This study highlights the attempts to establish regulatory and institutional framework of Zakat within Thailand legal system. Documentary research method is adopted in collection of government and parliament reports, newspapers, magazines and research articles. Content analysis was used in the analysis of data. The results in this study indicated that a number of attempts in the past 10 years to legalise and institutionalise Zakat system in Thailand; these attempts resulted in failure. The main reasons were lack of understanding on the practicality of Zakat within Thailand setting among Muslim and non-Muslim leaders. In 2016, the Central Islamic Council of Thailand with the power under the Muslim Organisation Administration Act 1997 issued a regulation on Zakat Fund Promotion 2016. It is the effort to formally institutionalise Zakat system in Thailand and has resulted in little success due to lack of manpower and expertise. This study argues that a bottom-up approach should be now implemented with a hybrid Zakat management where people may choose to pay Zakat to Zakat fund while direct Zakat payment to recipients is also recognised. The Zakat Fund Promotion regulation shall be used as a guide for practice. At the same time, educational efforts should be done during this period. If the effort is successful, many Zakat funds shall be established in Thailand. With the reasonable level of expertise, success, and understanding, an attempt to establish formally regulatory and institutional framework should again begin.