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March 21, 2023

How your Zakat can help refugees

Zakat – which in Arabic means purification, growth and blessing – is a religious obligation for Muslims and one of the five pillars of Islam. According to the Qur’an (9:60), there are eight categories of people who qualify to be recipients of Zakat; refugees and those forcibly displaced from their home due to war and persecution qualify. 

“The past two years were very difficult,” says Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee now living in Lebanon with his family. “We can’t secure jobs and it’s so hard when one of the children gets sick.”

With Zakat giving support, Ibrahim and his family receive cash assistance – he is now able to keep his family safe and healthy. 

This Ramadan, millions of refugees will celebrate surrounded by conflict and hardship. Your gift of Zakat will make a lifesaving difference during this holy month. 

1. What is the Zakat Fund for Refugees?

To help facilitate Zakat giving, UNHCR established the Zakat Fund for Refugees in 2019. The Zakat Fund for Refugees is fully compliant and backed by 16 fatwas from more than ten leading scholars and institutions globally. All of UNHCR’s Zakat donations are strictly channeled through cash and in-kind assistance programs delivered to the most vulnerable refugees and internally displaced families, including those in hard-to-reach areas like Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Mauritania, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

2. Can I pay Zakat to help refugees?

It is permissible to give Zakat to USA for UNHCR for distribution to refugees and other families displaced by war and persecution. The entirety of the collected Zakat will be distributed to approved recipients – refugees and those displaced by war and persecution. No part of Zakat will be used to cover operations or wages – 100 percent of Zakat goes to approved recipients.

3. How will zakat help refugees?

Zakat giving will support UNHCR’s cash assistance program – an innovative and transparent way to ensure 100 percent of Zakat donations are provided to the neediest refugee families. UNHCR uses ATMs, IRIS scan, mobile wallets and other technologies to ensure cash is distributed among eligible recipients. Every $920 of Zakat funds gathered allows one vulnerable family to cover basic needs for an entire year including shelter, food, water and medicine.

Cash assistance remains one of the most effective ways to help refugee or displaced families to secure their basic needs and live in dignity. The bulk of cash assistance is spent by refugees on rent, food, healthcare and debt repayment among other essentials. The cash assistance program has saved families from eviction, addressed health conditions and ensured families can send their children to school and repay their debts. 

4. How do I calculate my zakat?

Muslims whose wealth is at, or above, a certain threshold (the Nisab) are called to donate a portion of that wealth, typically 2.5 percent, to those who are eligible. Zakat is taken from specific sources of wealth including savings, stocks and other assets. You can use USA for UNHCR’s Zakat Calculator to determine your Zakat contribution.

Learn more about the significance of giving Zakat, who is eligible to receive it and how to dedicate your Zakat this year.

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