BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Muslims in Brunei will be able to pay their zakat fitrah online this Ramadhan with the launch of the eZakat digital platform on Monday.

Through a collaboration between the Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB), Datastream Digital (DST) and Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD), members of the public can use two online payment methods — DST’s eZakat platform and BIBD’s QuickPay.

The services will go live on the first day of Ramadhan and stay open until the 28th day of Ramadhan. 

During the launch of eZakat, MUIB’s Acting Secretary Hj Abdul Aziz Hj Akop said the outbreak of the pandemic pushed officials to accelerate plans for digital zakat payment.

Plans had already been in the works for a few years, but studies had to be conducted to see if it was permissible under Islamic law, he added.

DST said following the challenges posed by COVID-19 and physical distancing, it worked with religious authorities to ensure the product was Syariah-compliant.

Minister of Religious Affairs YB Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Awang Badaruddin speaks to DST’s senior management during the launch of the eZakat payment service. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

eZakat will allow Muslims to pay alms at any time, although the traditional means of collecting zakat through amil (collectors) will still continue at mosques, surau and religious halls.

“The act of paying zakat online is completed when the payer clicks on the button via computer or mobile phone as an agreement to hand over a sum of money as zakat, from his account to MUIB’s account,” Hj Abdul Aziz said. “The payer must have the niat or intention to make the transaction.”

Giving zakat, or tithes, is considered a religious obligation and is one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims are required to pay zakat fitrah — a special form of alms given during Ramadhan — before the end of the fasting month so it can be redistributed to the needy during Eid.

The State Mufti’s Office also issued a fatwa saying that digital payment methods for zakat are harus (permissible) and sah (valid) under Islamic law.

How you can pay your zakat online

The eZakat platform is accessible on the DST website or the religious affairs ministry’s website

If you’re a DST mobile subscriber, you can go to their website and pay zakat by deducting your mobile credit. Non-DST subscribers can use their debit cards or purchase Easi recharge vouchers on the DST website.

If you prefer to use BIBD Quickpay or Progresif Pay, you need to log on to religious affairs ministry’s website and scan the QR code to make payment. 

DST said the eZakat online payment system was developed by local talent from the telco’s InnoLab, InnoConnect and in-house developers.

It will go live on the first day of Ramadhan.

This article was updated on April 6, 2020 at 2.11pm.