UNHCR Receives Fatwa from International Islamic Fiqh Academy for its Refugee Zakat Fund, and Launches Mid-Year Islamic Philanthropy Report
• UNHCR receives fatwa from the International Islamic Fiqh Academy endorsing the organization’s role in collecting and distributing Zakat funds through its dedicated Refugee Zakat Fund
• UNHCR launched its mid-year Islamic Philanthropy report showing 100% of the Zakat funds received in the first half of 2020 will be distributed to support more than 1.4 million vulnerable persons globally
• Report also highlights urgent winter needs for refugees and IDPs in the region, and the role of Islamic Philanthropy in meeting these needs
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, November 16th, 2020: A fatwa allowing UNHCR to receive and distribute Zakat funds was issued by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA), a subsidiary of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Simultaneously, UNHCR launches its mid-year Islamic Philanthropy report, highlighting the impact of Zakat and Sadaqah on the lives of the most vulnerable refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
IIFA’s fatwa, the sixth received by UNHCR’S Refugee Zakat Fund, allows UNHCR to proceed with its existing Zakat collection and distribution activities given that it continues to commit to the Sharia based provisions and key governance parameters of the Refugee Zakat Fund, including the 100% Zakat distribution policy implying zero deduction of overhead costs from Zakat funds. In this regard, UNHCR has been fully committed to covering distribution costs from other sources of funding.
Commenting on IIFA’s fatwa in relation to UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund, H.E Dr. Koutoub Moustafa Sano, Secretary General of IIFA stated: “Islam is the religion of solidarity and compassion, with Zakat as one of its five pillars, which aims to provide assistance and support to the needy at every time and place. Given developments that our modern world is witnessing in terms of means of communications, and stemming from the principles of mercy, solidarity, equality and compassion that our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, advocated, the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, a part of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, considers that participating in providing necessary support for the eligible and needy among displaced people and refugees is a noble religious, moral and human duty. It calls upon the people with the means to do so, whether individuals or groups across the globe, to participate in providing support and assistance for refugees and displaced people who are in need of life-saving aid and struggling under the weight of poverty and disease.”
Adding on, His Excellency expressed his great hope that “this milestone marks the beginning of a long-term, humanitarian partnership with UNHCR by extending a helping hand to as many vulnerable families as possible.”
UNHCR’s Senior Advisor on Islamic Philanthropy and Representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, Khaled Khalifa said: “We are immensely grateful for the cooperation of IIFA as a global body for its commitment to advancing the humanitarian values of Islam. This is a testament to the Refugee Zakat Fund’s credibility and to the instrumental role that Islamic social finance tools can play in response to humanitarian crises.”
On the report launch Khalifa stated: “Zakat holds a uniquely vast potential to help address pressing humanitarian issues and plays a significant role in providing lifesaving support to the most vulnerable refugees and IDPs. UNHCR launches such reports as part of its commitment to unlock the power of Zakat and Sadaqah for the benefit of those who have been forcibly displaced worldwide.”
UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund provides much needed humanitarian assistance to refugees and IDPs in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Mauritania (among other OIC countries), through cash and in-kind assistance.
Launched alongside the fatwa today was UNHCR’s 2020 Mid-Year Islamic Philanthropy Report – Winter Edition, which reveals that despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, $46 million in Zakat and $9.2 million in Sadaqah funds were received through the Refugee Zakat Fund between January and June of this year. These donations – including 100% of the Zakat funds received – will be utilized to provide lifesaving support to more than 1.8 million vulnerable refugees and IDPs by the end of the year (1.4 million of which are Zakat beneficiaries), empowering them to address immediate needs including shelter, food, education, healthcare and debt repayment.
UNHCR has appealed for an additional $211.3 million to urgently support 3.8 million refugees and IDPs in the MENA region in order to help them cope with the harsh winter conditions ahead as temperatures gradually begin to drop. Funds like Zakat and Sadaqah will help provide families with core winter relief items, cash support, and in-kind assistance to weatherproof their homes when the cold starts to pose a struggle for survival.