UNHCR Zakat Collection And Distribution Report

Muslims make up the majority of today’s 15.1 million refugees. UNHCR has consulted with Muslim scholars concerning using Zakat as a source of aid. Several specialists in Islamic law confirmed that Zakat is a viable source provided that it meets certain conditions.

UNHCR is the official body for looking after the world’s 15.1 million refugees. There is a chronic need for additional funding. Since Muslims are a significant portion of the world’s refugees, it makes sense to look to the Muslim community as a potential source of funding. In 2008, it was estimated that Muslims donate between $20 billion and $200 billion annually, including voluntary sadaqat and obligatory zakat. In contrast to voluntary sadaqat, there are several conditions related to collecting and distributing obligatory zakat. UNHCR sought advice through Tabah Foundation of Abu Dhabi, UAE.

After consulting with several of today’s leading Islamic legal scholars and institutes, Tabah concluded that UNHCR can collect and distribute zakat provided that they fulfill the basic requirements of one of the legal schools.

Read the Report

25/5/2019 – Based upon our previous report and taking into consideration new fatwas from Dr Sheikh Ali Gomaa and The Fatwa Council of Tareem, Tabah approves UNHCR’s plan to distribute goods in place of cash provided that UNHCR can show that goods are purchased at a fair market price, and proof of delivery of said goods. Additionally, UNHCR may use Zakat to cover charges related to the storage and transport of said goods. This arrangement is only recommended in locations where the need for in-kind distribution is higher than cash distribution, or when distributing cash isn’t possible, which is the case for UNHCR’s operation for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

The Fatwas

(in chronological order of issuance)

Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah is an instructor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. He was the deputy head of the Union of Muslim Scholars. Before this, he served as a judge at the High Court of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and was the Head of Shariah Affairs at its Ministry of Justice. He currently serves as the president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. [More…]

Dr Sheikh Ali Gomaa is the former Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt and professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University. He is currently a member of Al-Azhar’s senior scholars council. [More…]

The Fatwa Council of Tareem is located in Hadramaut, Yemen. Hadramaut has been a major center for scholarship for over a millennium and has produced many of the world’s leading Shāfiʿī scholars. [More…]

The Senior Scholars’ Council of Morocco is the highest official religious authority in Morocco, which includes a fatwa council. [More…]

Dar al-Ifta al-Missriyyah is one of Egypt’s centers for Islamic legal research. It was established in 1895CE and is considered one of the earliest modern fatwa producing institutes. [More…]