The obligatory alms that Muslims are required to pay as an obligatory alms tax is known by its Arabic name "zakāt." Zakat is taken from specific sources of wealth and given to specific categories of recipients. The specific sources of wealth include livestock, savings, trade goods, crops, and minerals.
The 8 categories of eligible recipients for Zakat are mentioned in the Quran: "Alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them [Zakat], those whose hearts are to be reconciled, captives, debtors, in the cause of Allah, and wayfarers...“. Refugees fall under at least four of these categories: the poor, the needy, the debtors and the wayfarers.
The Refugee Zakat Fund is a bridge that allows individuals and institutions to deliver 100% of their Zakat to the most vulnerable refugee and displaced families from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Mali. Families who are in desperate need of support after spending years away from their homes receive dignified aid: Direct cash support that allows them to afford their most basic needs such as shelter, food, and water for their children. The Refugee Zakat Fund is fully Shariah compliant and is backed by fatwas from five leading scholars and institutions.
To provide urgent funds to refugees in need with a focus on helping those most vulnerable, including the families comprising widows, orphans and the elderly. Through offering an efficient, trusted and pioneering route for Muslims to fulfil their Zakat obligations, the Refugee Zakat Fund ensures 100% of Zakat donations go to those most in need – refugees.
The Refugee Zakat Fund is designed to help Muslims fulfil their obligations regarding Zakat. Non-Zakat donations can be made to the same UNHCR cash assistance programmes through other pages: giving.unhcr.org
The Refugee Zakat Fund assists eligible refugee and displaced families from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Mali, with a focus on families comprising widows, orphans and the elderly.
Yes, we aim to expand the reach of the Refugee Zakat Fund to include other eligible refugee and internally displaced crises, such as Somalis in the near future. More information will be made available on our website as soon as possible.
Our focus with the Refugee Zakat Fund is ease, speed and transparency – we believe that only digital payments can provide this. You may also transfer your Zakat to our dedicated non-interest bearing bank account in Geneva with the following instructions to ensure it is recorded and distributed as Zakat funds:
- Beneficiary: UNHCR Swiss Clearing Number: 240 BIC/Swift Code UBSWCHZH80A Beneficiary Bank: UBS AG, P.O. Box 2770, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
- Currency USD IBAN : CH4800240240FP1003991
- Currency EUR IBAN : CH9100240240FP1003993
- Currency GBP IBAN : CH8000240240FP1003997
(please make sure to include it so that your donation goes directly to the cause)
Yes, quarterly reports on collection and distribution of Zakat through the Refugee Zakat Fund are published on UNHCR’s Zakat
. You can read our annual report here
Zero. The Refugee Zakat Fund is following a 100% Zakat policy. There will be no overhead or operational costs associated with donations on the Zakat page (i.e. 0%). The biometric registration of refugees by UNHCR is linked to cash assistance, which reduces overhead costs, ensures 100% accountability and the timeliness of assistance. Other overhead costs, such as bank transfer fees, will be covered from other sources of funding to UNHCR.
Funds are allocated through a vetting system that ensures your Zakat goes to the most vulnerable eligible refugee and displaced families from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Myanmar and Mali. You can choose to which cause your Zakat goes from the onset of making a Zakat donation. The priority of the Refugee Zakat Fund is to support families living below the extreme poverty line, with a focus on widows, orphans and the elderly.
UNHCR does receive funding from governments, however due to the sheer number of refugee emergencies globally, this funding doesn’t fully cover our important work in assisting vulnerable refugee and displaced families. We are addressing that shortfall through seeking alternative sources of donations and through pioneering initiatives such as the Refugee Zakat Fund.
UNHCR’s Zakat initiative has received five fatwas endorsing UNHCR as a legitimate recipient of Zakat funds, all from major Islamic scholars & institutions. Dar al-Ifta al-Missriyyah is one of Egypt and the world’s leading centres for Islamic legal research. It was established in 1895CE and is considered one of the earliest modern fatwa producing institutes. The Senior Scholars’ Council of Morocco is the highest official religious authority in Morocco, which includes a fatwa council. The Fatwa Council of Tarim is located in Hadramaut, Yemen. Hadramaut has been a major centre for scholarship for over a millennium and has produced many of the world’s leading scholars. Dr Sheikh Ali Gomaa is the former Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt and professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University. Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah is an instructor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.
The cash assistance programme, supported by the Refugee Zakat Fund, is an innovative way to help refugee and displaced families who have often spent years –not months – forced to live away from their homes. Closely monitored by our teams on the ground, cash assistance allows refugee families to keep living their daily lives with dignity and the freedom to choose what they need most on a day to day basis.
Zakat recipients are of course vetted by UNHCR. The aim of the Refugee Zakat Fund is to help refugees help themselves, and we know from years of experience administrating the programme that recipient refugees consistently spend this money on their daily survival (rent, food, water, medical expenses). Most vulnerable families remain supported by our cash programme until UNHCR helps them become self-reliant or finds them other durable solutions.
The bulk of cash assistance is spent by refugees on rent, food, medical expenses and debt repayment, among other essentials. The cash assistance programme, supported by Zakat funds, has saved families from eviction, addressed health conditions, reduced child labour and other exploitative work conditions, and has ensured many families can send their children to school and repay the debts that lay heavy on their shoulders.