BUKIT KAYU HITAM: SOME 100 Muslim converts here claimed that they were facing difficulties in getting financial aid in the form of zakat contributions from the Kedah Zakat Department.
A spokesman for the group comprising of mostly converts of Thai nationals married to local men, Mohammad Jiwa Abdullah, said he had gone to the department to register for alms but claimed red tape was slowing down the process.
"An officer asked for proof of our conversion and I provided him with the necessary documents.
"However, I was very disappointed when he told me that we could only get the zakat after Hari Raya," he said after meeting with the converts to update them about their zakat applications at Bandar Bharu mosque near here recently.
Mohammad Jiwa, 57, said the officer told him the department could only entertain their requests later since they had other priorities to attend to.
"We are very sad because most of us depend on the department for aid to celebrate Hari Raya," he said, adding that Muslim converts were entitled to zakat as provided in Islam.
Siti Fatimah Abdullah, 45, a Thai national who converted to Islam 19 years ago, claimed she never knew that she was entitled to receive zakat for Hari Raya.
"My husband abandoned me and our three children about 10 years ago.
"All this while, I have been the sole provider for my family and I never knew that converts could get aid from the department."
Sharing Siti Fatimah's concerns was another Thai woman who is married to a local soldier.
Siti Fatimah Ali Abdullah, 37, said her husband was now bedridden and she has 10 children to take care of.
"Any form of aid from the department would definitely help to ease our burden," she said.
State Zakat Department director Datuk Sheikh Ghazali Yaacob said the department never turned down deserving cases.
"We are still looking into their claims and this will take some time.
"We are also studying the possibility of helping them in other ways to get financial aid from us," he said.