Islam as a religion places great emphasis on virtues. Using these virtues as guiding force, the religion promotes some noble practices to advance humanity and common welfare. One such practice is Zakat which is considered to be one of the pillars of Islam. It is a form of obligatory charity that has the potential to ease the suffering of millions. Zakat, with its literal meaning being ‘to cleanse’, is believed to purify and bless the remainder of one’s wealth.
Being the most populous Muslim-majority country, Indonesia is a shining enabler of these virtues including Zakat. However, activities of illegal migrants from Pakistan are proving to be challenge for the country. In the recent months, several instances of Pakistani immigrants defaming Islam in the name of collecting Zakat have been reported. In April 2022, two Pak origin miscreants who were later found to be staying in Indonesia using wrong permits were taken into custody by the local authorities of Kemenkumham Riau. According to local officials, they were found visiting various mosques for collecting unauthorized donations. The authorities plan to deport the individuals to Pakistan soon.
It was further learnt that the individuals were arrested (April 21) after receiving information from public that two foreigners were asking local mosques for donations. Both the miscreants were handed over to the police for transferring to the immigration authorities. Examination of the documents carried by the suspects revealed that they were Pakistani citizens living in Indonesia with an active Investor Limited Stay Permit (ITTI).
Within two months, this was the third instance of Pakistanis found to be involved in illegal fund collection in Indonesia. Earlier, four Pakistanis had already been deported on the same charge. Owing to the recent spurt in such acts, the involvement of a well organized network in Indonesia cannot be ruled out. Since the end use of collected funds by these operators is not known, Indonesian authorities would need to thoroughly investigate the incidents. Irrespective of the findings of that probe, the cases of illegal charity collections in the name of Islam have left the people of Indonesia enraged.
A video clip showing the Pakistanis engaged in the suspected activity has gathered over a million views on youtube. A glance through the comments made by the Indonesians reveals their agony and apprehensions towards Pak nationals.
However, Indonesians are not the only ones to have suffered due to such networks operated by Pakistanis. India, which is another major Asian country with sizeable Muslim population, also became a victim of illegal aid network. Taking advantage of the Covid situation in April 2021, some organizations raised funds online through worldwide campaigns in the name of sending medical essentials to India. The self-acclaimed charity organizations which vanished after collecting millions were later found to have roots in Pakistan.
The recent incidents have presented a new concern before the societies fighting Islamophobia. Finding and neutralizing the illegal charity networks being run from Pakistan would now be a pressing challenge for the Islamic world.