A mosque in the Malaysian capital city, Kuala Lumpur, introduced on February 15 a novel way to offer rice to the needy via a specially designed Automated Teller Machine (ATM), Channel News Asia reported on February 17.
“The machine, located at the Al-Akram Mosque in Kampung Datuk Keramat, was introduced to render aid to the ‘Asnaf’ population, who are also known as zakat beneficiaries,” the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (JAWI) praised the step in an official statement on Facebook.
To collect the rice, users tap a card on the machine’s sensor. The machine will then dispense 2kg of rice through a collection point at the base of the ATM.
“Those who wish to make a donation can also do so by depositing cash through a slot in the machine. The proceeds will be used to purchase more rice for the needy,” JAWI announced.
According to the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA), there are now close to 3.5 million ATMs installed worldwide.
The idea of out-of-hours cash distribution developed from bankers’ needs in 1966 when a Japanese device was invented under the name ‘Computer Loan Machine’.
This project is triggered by the concept of Islamic charity or ‘Zakat’ which is an annual payment made by every adult and abled Muslim under Islamic Shari’ah law to be used for social solidarity purposes and the wellbeing of the community.
As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, zakat or donating and charity is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth.
It’s a mandatory charitable contribution, the right of the poor to find relief from the rich, and is considered to be tax or obligatory alms.
Islamic Shari’ah also has another type of optional donation called Sadaqah. This term was used in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah for both zakat and charity.
The Malaysian constitution grants freedom of religion and makes the country an officially secular state while establishing Islam as the “religion of the Federation”.
According to the 2010 Census figures of the National Population and Housing, approximately 61.3% of the country’s population practice Islam.