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Give and be rewarded: Muslim communities among ‘top charity givers’ across the globe

On International Day of Charity, Doha News looked at the significance of charity for Muslims.

Charity serves as a fundamental expression of compassion and kindness in Islam, with a a survey detailing that 87% Muslims were planning to donate money to charity in the Middle East.

This is based on a survey carried out across several Middle Eastern countries between February and March of last year, where 87% of Muslim participants had intentions to contribute financially to charitable causes during Ramadan, according to Statista.

Other surveys focused on diaspora Muslim communities showed that British Muslims donate one billion pounds to charity every year, rendering them the most generous demographic and of the ‘top charity givers’ in the country, whilst US Muslims donate an estimated 1.8 billion dollars every year.

Muslims around the world are actively engaged in charitable activities through various means, including mosques, local community organisations and international charities for a number of causes.

“At this point it’s become second nature to give charity to those in need,” Sara, a Qatari resident and regular charity-giver, told Doha News.

She pointed to service providers that help in the betterment of lives that often go noticed, such as cleaners, gas station personnel, street cleaners and security workers among others.

“If you could help out, by all means even if you may think it is not enough, you are still contributing to this person’s life and Allah will reward you for that,” she added.

In addition to voluntary charity, Muslims are required to pay ‘zakat’, an annual almsgiving that constitutes a fixed percentage of one’s accumulated wealth.

According to the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at Indiana University, the typical Muslim residing in the United States donates an average of $2,070 in zakat.

Charity is not merely encouraged in Islam, but stands as an obligation and one of the Five Pillars of the faith.

Zakat is systematically allocated to a range of recipients, encompassing the poor, the needy and individuals burdened by debt, among others. This meticulous approach serves to foster economic equity and boost social welfare by ensuring that wealth is circulated within the community.

The digitalisation of donations and increasing options to give to charities through websites, apps and other tech platforms has rendered Muslims at the ‘forefront of digital giving’, according to CEO and founder of JustGiving, in 2013.

Largest Muslim charities worldwide

One of the largest Muslim charities globally, Islamic Relief, assisted more than 17.3 million people through their various programs, including healthcare, education, and emergency relief, in 2022 alone.

These initiatives include a Global Hunger Prevention and Response Programme valued at $5.2 million, which aided communities in eight African nations in addressing hunger.

They also provided aid to one million individuals impacted by severe floods in Pakistan. A newly established collaboration with UNDP in Afghanistan involves implementing a $26.1 million project aimed at enhancing food production and local livelihoods.

Operating in over 70 countries, Muslim Aid has been involved in projects ranging from food distribution to clean water initiatives, reaching millions of beneficiaries worldwide.

Beyond international organisations, Muslim communities across the globe also actively participate in grassroots charitable endeavours. Mosques frequently spearhead initiatives such as food drives, clothing contributions and communal meals to provide assistance to local residents.

In Qatar, installments of refrigerators with stored food and water can be found across the country for any passer-by unable to spend money to indulge in. Water fountains are also seen around the country, erected in the same spirit.

Qatar Charity, a humanitarian and development non-governmental organisation in the Middle East, serves as a testament to the country’s forefront aims at helping out people in need. The entity maintains operational branches in 30 countries and collaborates with partners in an additional 20 countries.

Over the past five years, the charity organisation has extended its reach to assist 29 million individuals through extensive humanitarian and developmental initiatives, with a combined investment of $1.2 billion.

From helping reconstruct houses in war-torn countries and building schools to sending food and electrical powers to countries in need, Qatar has stepped in countless times to ensure charity reaches those in need.