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Zakat: The Transformative Power of this Sacred Pillar

Research in fact estimates that Islamic finance – including Zakat – was worth almost $3 trillion in 2015, with between $200 billion and $1 trillion spent in Zakat each year across the globe. With almost a quarter of the world’s population being Muslim, there’s a lot of potential for Zakat to transform the lives of people in need.

Zakat is a fundamental pillar of Islam. And now that we’re in the holy month of Ramadan, it’s often the time that many Muslims decide to donate their Zakat.

As Allah (SWT) explains in the Holy Qur’an, it is our duty as Muslims to help those in need:

…and those in whose wealth there is a recognised right, for the needy and deprived.” 

(Quran, 70:24-5)

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with prayer, fasting, pilgrimage (Hajj), and belief in Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (SAW). And for every sane, adult Muslim who owns wealth over a certain amount – known as the nisab – he or she must pay 2.5% of that wealth as Zakat.

This money then goes to:

  1. The poor
  2. The needy
  3. Administrators of Zakat
  4. Those whose hearts have been recently reconciled
  5. Those who have been enslaved
  6. Those in debt
  7. In the cause of God
  8. Travellers (including refugees)

With around 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, many of who may be in need of Zakat or eligible to pay Zakat, the question springs to mind:

What would life be like if everyone who met the nisab (minimum threshold) paid their Zakat?

Think of how many people could benefit, of how many lives we could save! Picture this: if just the ten richest people in the world paid Zakat – that would be a staggering £7.7 billion. The power of that money in tackling poverty would be immense!

Zakat: A global opportunity

Paying Zakat is a religious duty as a Muslim.

Research in fact estimates that Islamic finance including Zakat was worth almost $3 trillion in 2015, with between $200 billion and $1 trillion spent in Zakat each year across the globe. With almost a quarter of the world’s population being Muslim, there’s a lot of potential for Zakat to transform the lives of people in need.

The United Nations (UN) global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which strive to end poverty by 2030, require an estimated $3 trillion to $5 trillion each year to meet these goals. To fill the current shortfall of around $1.4 trillion, it’s been suggested that using funds from religious organisations.

Not only would this fill a $2.5 trillion investment gap, it would build religious and cultural understanding and promote peace and development –  goals also set by the UN. 

Here at Islamic Relief, we’ve been investing your Zakat and know very well just how important it is in helping to transform and save the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Over the last 37 years, we’ve saved and transformed the lives of over 120 million people thanks to Zakat and Sadaqah provided by our supporters. 

SubhanAllah, Zakat is a critical income source, allowing us to carry out our work:

  • 70% of the more than £100 million we raise globally every year comes from Islamic social finance mechanisms, including Zakat
  • Working in 37 countries across the globe, this money enables us to save lives

Zakat has funded some of our crucial work with people and communities living in disaster and war zones: drought and famine-struck countries across East Africa and communities affected by conflict in Yemen. 

This also includes Syria, where after ten years of ongoing conflict, life is incredibly challenging for millions of Syrians. A staggering 11.1 million people are in need of humanitarian aid, following what’s been called the “biggest humanitarian and refugee crisis of our time”.

Zakat: Saving vulnerable lives in Syria

Abu Mohammad from Syria.

 Zakat funds donated to Islamic Relief have allowed us to support huge numbers of people in crisis. This includes people like Abu Mohammad who was forced from his home several years ago due to conflict.

Abu Mohammad is 50 years old and struggling with the effects of war. After conflict reached his hometown, he fled with his wife to the western countryside of Idlib. The couple stayed there for a few months but, unfortunately, had to leave. They couldn’t find shelter due to the huge number of people who had also been forced to flee from the conflict.

For many days, they stayed in the basement of a local building. Abu Mohammad and his wife used pieces of cardboard they found on the floor to sleep on at night as they couldn’t find a mattress. 

These were some of the most difficult days of their lives since they left their home in Deir Ezzor. After a few days, they were moved to Al-Bab city and given a small house to live in. However, after nine years of war, they are living in poverty and in desperate need of support.

Abu Mohammad suffers from Parkinson’s disease and needs medication on a regular basis. What’s more, the couple faced a very cold winter, without enough bedding or heating – which they cannot afford: 

We lost everything. We have nothing but mercy from Allah…

(Abu Mohammad)

Thankfully, our teams are on the ground providing critical aid with Zakat funds. As part of our Zakat-funded winter programme, Abu Mohammad and his wife received a winter support pack provided by Islamic Relief. 

The pack included two blankets, two mattresses, a plastic sheet, and vouchers to buy jackets, shoes, and socks. They also received coal and fuel for heating. Alhamdulillah, the couple were delighted:

We were very happy when Islamic Relief provided heating materials for me and my elderly wife… relieving our suffering and troubles in the winter.” 

So, this Ramadan, we urge you to fulfil your duty to Allah (SWT). 

Ramadan: Your chance to make a difference

Make the most of the blessings of Ramadan this month and pay your Zakat!

At Islamic Relief, we have all the resources you need to help make this sacred donation. This includes:

Do get in touch if you have any queries – we’re here to help. It’s what we do! Don’t forget also to pay your Zakat al-Fitr before Eid!

Please donate generously fisabillah. You really can save lives this Ramadan. 

Ramadan Mubarak from all of us at Islamic Relief UK. 

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