‘WAKAF TUNAI’ INITIATIVE INSPIRED BY MAO ZEDONG
Ruslan Sangadji , The Jakarta Post , Palu | Mon, 09/08/2008 10:56 AM | The Archipelago
Reducing its dependency on Middle Eastern donors, Alkhairaat, one of the oldest Islamic education institutions in eastern Indonesia, has initiated a donation program called Wakaf Tunai (cash donations for a religious purpose).
By raising voluntary donations from its 500,000 membership annually, Alkhairaat, through its economic board, hopes that it can tackle financial constraints and continue its expansion.
Economic board assistant secretary Sofyan Bachmid told The Jakarta Post that his organization could collect Rp 25 billion (approximately US$2.7 million) annually, if only 50 percent of its 500,000 alumni donated Rp 100,000 each to the cause.
“With that sum of money, I’m certain that Alkhairaat will be able to expand its business sector to support its education and propagation activities, without depending too much on outside donors,” said Sofyan.
He expressed optimism on the program after gaining experience of managing Rp 500 million and Rp 32 million in cash donations from the Religious Ministry and a number of patrons respectively.
Thanks to these donations, the Alkhairaat supermarket is able to earn between Rp 15 million and Rp 20 million in daily turnover compared to only Rp 3 million earlier and can now subsidize 250 teachers with Rp 12,500 monthly each from the foundation.
“The supermarket can also help provide subsidies for the SIS Aljufri Hospital, Radio Alkhairaat and Media Alkhairaat’s daily newspaper,” said Sofyan, adding that given this success, the Religious Ministry has declared the Alkhairaat supermarket as the best role model for managing wakaf funds in Indonesia.
According to Sofyan, the concept of raising donations from members through the Wakaf Tunai program is actually inspired by the methods used by Mao Zedong in China, at a time when China’s economy was totally devastated.
Sofyan said that Mao urged his people to donate a grain of rice daily. Within a few years, the rice collected was sold and the proceeds saved China from a major crisis.
“China could repay its debts and its economy recovered. Now, as we’ve seen, China has developed remarkably and become a rich nation. It started only from collecting a grain of rice from each of the people daily,” he explained.
According to Sofyan, Alkhairaat currently manages a number of wakaf schemes, but these are restricted to conventional charitable methods, such as wakaf for land and buildings, used for schools. These methods are less effective in spurring growth in educational activities.
“If we only depend on government, expansion plans would become a dream. So, the Wakaf Tunai is one of the solutions to solve this problem.
“I’m certain Alkhairaat will be able to deploy its economic potential to advantage if it can capitalize from the wakaf program, given its potentially huge membership,” said Sofyan.
The government had actually launched the Wakaf Tunai donation program in 2000 by raising funds from individuals or groups and state or legal institutions. The amount of wakaf donation varied, from hundreds of thousands of rupiah to billions.
An Alkhairaat alumnae Chalid Muhammad and former national executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), has expressed his willingness to help raise funds from alumni through the Wakaf Tunai program.
“I promise to be involved in training volunteers who will work to raise funds. I will also be involved in its management,” said Chalid.
Another alumnae M. Ridha Saleh, currently a vice head of the National Commission on Human Rights, also voiced the same intention. He even promised to set aside a fraction of his monthly salary for the wakaf to improve education in Alkhairaat.
“I believe the idea of Wakaf Tunai is a very impressive and contemporary and should be appreciated by the entire alumni,” said Ridha.
The Alkhairaat was founded by Sayyid Idrus bin Salim Aljufri who passed away in 1969. The first Alkhairaat school was set up in Palu, Central Sulawesi, in 1930 and they gradually prospered throughout the eastern parts of Indonesia in the provinces of Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua.
Within a span of 78 years (1930-2008) it has set up 1,561 Islamic schools and 36 boarding schools, in its home base Palu and across the regions of Indonesia.
“One thing that we can be proud of is that our school certificate has been recognized by the Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, placing it on par with theirs,” said Alkhairaat executive chairman Ali Muhammad Aljufri.
Alkhairaat also runs the Alkhairaat University in Palu, offering six schools of study — Islamic theology, agriculture, economy, fishery, teacher’s training and medecine.