SYDNEY –  On 13th of March –  Forty delegates, most of which were invited by the Australia Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) attended a technical briefing about the setting up of Baitulmal Australia based on the Sarawak State experience.    The idea of setting up of Baitulmal Australia and New Zealand was initiated by the President of RISEAP, YAB Pehin Sri Dr. Hj. Abdul Taib Mahmud during RISEAP General Assembly in Auckland in December 2009.

The delegates were from The Australian Islamic Cultural Centre, or AICC (which was represented by its President, Shafiq R Abdullah Khan) and the Muslim Women’s Network of Australia, or MWNNA (which was represented by its President and Secretaries, Aziza Abdul Halim and Zubeda Rahman).  Other delegates include imams of mosques and representatives of the State Councils and organizations that are affiliated to AFIC.   The delegates were presented an outline of our proposal to help launch the establishment of Baitulmal Australia, its registration as a Trust, the mechanisms to safeguard the zakat collected and distributed, and other technical details.

The General Manager of Baitulmal Sarawak, Tn. Hj. Abg. Shibli Abg. Naili gave a detailed two-hour presentation on the scope of operations of Baitulmal Sarawak to the audience.  Abg. Shibli underscored the importance of strategic planning, strategic direction,  data information system, collection system, quality management and human resources deployment.   After the presentations, the meeting unanimously endorsed the establishment of Baitulmal Australia as a charitable foundation.    Barring unforseen circumstances, Baitulmal Australia would be launched before Ramadan this year.

A subsequent meeting was held with the President of AFIC, Mr Ikebal Mohd Patel, to explore the infrastructural requirements (staffing for cash-collection and supporting staff for cheque-collection, issuance or receipts and other administrative matters) that AFIC could provide to make possible the operations of Baitulmal Australia, should it be launched by July this year.

New Zealand and Fiji

The leaders of Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) and Fiji Muslim League (FML) have both expressed their organizations’ desire to launch Baitulmal New Zealand and Baitulmal Fiji at or around the same time as the launch for Baitulmal Australia.

Fiji already has a zakat collection and distribution mechanism in place that has been operating for a number of years.  The establishment of Baitulmal Fiji is therefore seen as a formality, with very little additional infrastructure required.  The leaders of FIANZ have expressed their eagerness to launch Baitulmal New Zealand.

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