Strengthening relationship between two muslim countries is taught by Islam since Islamic brotherhood should not be limited by territory and country. In this regard, cooperation between Indonesia and Maldives find its significance. One of the areas that need to be explored is zakat as it is the third pillar of Islam and has huge economic potential that can be utilized for betterment of the ummah.

In order to achieve this objective, BAZNAS as the zakat authority in Indonesia paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Islamic Affairs of Maldives on Wednesday (7/18). Dr Irfan Syauqi Beik, the Puskas BAZNAS director representing BAZNAS, said that this visit is an introduction towards prevailing zakat management in each country so that both Indonesia and Maldives know each other's actual condition. Irfan was accompanied by Dwatmaji Hanomanresi from Indonesian Embassy in Colombo and Dr Laily Dwi Arsyianti, a senior lecturer and secretary at the Department of Islamic Economics of IPB (Bogor Agricultural University).

In the meeting with Maldives officials, Irfan explained the zakat management system in Indonesia that is based on the Zakat Management Act No 23/2011. Irfan also elaborated method of zakat collection and programs of zakat distribution which are practiced by BAZNAS and other legal private zakat institution to his Maldivian colleagues.

As response to Irfan's explanation, Dr Ahmed Zahir (Head of Department at Ministry of Islamic Affairs of Maldives) informed current zakat system in Maldives. For zakat al fitr, both collection and distribution are under the authority of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, while for the case of zakat al maal, its collection is under the authority of Inland Revenue Board. The ministry is only responsible on the distribution side. Jannath Saeed (Head of Zakat Section) added that unlike Indonesia, Maldives do not have specific Zakat Act. "Fulfillment of zakat is still voluntary in Maldives," Jannath said. The two sides agree to identifiy possible area of collaboration that would be developed further.

The Minister of Islamic Affairs of Maldives, Dr Ahmed Ziyad, hoped that collaboration between Maldives and Indonesia could be strengthened. He said, "I believe that this collaboration will bring more benefits to the two countries." Sharing experience is very important and may inspire each other. The meeting was ended by exchanging souvenirs as token of appreciation.

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