The role of zakat is undeniably becoming more important and strategic. Zakat is not only about mandatory worship that must be fulfilled by muzakki (zakat payer) but also has incarnated into global movement that affect all aspects of the muslim life everywhere in the world. Collection trend in many countries portrays significant increase for the last decade. Growing awareness among muslims is believed to be the triggering factor increasing zakat collection trend.

However, another task that must be carefully observed is on distribution side. Distribution principles described by Quran and Sunnah must be strictly followed, although new interpretation of asnaf or eligible recipients of zakat may be required. Therefore global consensus in this regard is highly needed. This is one of the issues that was discussed by Director of BAZNAS Center of Strategic Studies, Irfan Syauqi Beik and the CEO of the UK National Zakat Foundation, Iqbal Nasim during their meeting in London (14/9).

Iqbal said that zakat management in the muslim minority country like UK has a unique characteristics that may not be found in the muslim majority country. "Asnaf of muallaf, for example, needs a widened definition. We hope that da'wah to non muslims using zakat in order to soften their hearts and change their perception towards Islam and muslims can also be considered as allocation to asnaf of muallaf," Iqbal said. This is just an example of reality in the zakat management in UK.

Iqbal also added that education to Muslims on the essence and philosophycal foundation of zakat should be strengthened. "If they understand the true concept of zakat, they will not consider zakat as burden, rather as their needs," Iqbal said. Therefore UK National Zakat Foundation has made this zakat education as one of their priorities.

Irfan on the other hand, explained the efforts of BAZNAS in campaigning zakat to the society. Irfan also described the existence of National Zakat Index (NZI) as the measurement standard of zakat performance in Indonesia. "It is the first measurement standard in the world, which I hope, can inspire other countries to have the same standard. I believe that it will increase the quality of zakat management" Irfan said. Irfan, who is also associate professor at the Department of Islamic Economics at Bogor Agricultural University, also added the challenges faced by BAZNAS in terms of people understanding on zakat concept. "Continuous education and strategic campaign are the answers to educate people on zakat concept," he said.

The two figures discuss a number of issues in zakat management. The two agree on the importance of formulating strategic collaboration between the BAZNAS and UK National Zakat Foindation. Iqbal and Irfan also agree to strengthen the World Zakat Forum as the media to accelerate global zakat development and to harmonize strategic movement among its member countries and member institutions.