Malaysia: Muslim nations' alms to go to int'l fund

Wealthy Islamic nations have agreed to pool their alms into a global fund to be used to help pull Muslim countries out of poverty, Malaysia's leader said Tuesday. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who chairs the 57-member Organization of Islamic Conference, said an agreement was reached in principle, and a panel of experts will soon flesh out details of a proposed international zakat organization. Zakat is the Islamic concept of tithing and alms. With a large number of Muslim nations living in dire conditions because of poverty, natural calamities and war, Abdullah said zakat funds can be used as development aid to improve social and economic conditions. "We should not merely feed the hungry with fish to eat. We should have programs to teach them to catch fish so they can take care of their own welfare long into the future," Abdullah told an international zakat conference in Kuala Lumpur.