Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about Islamic philanthropic giving with UNHCR Canada

Photo: © UNHCR/Antoine Tardy

At UNHCR Canada, we aim to give our donors and supporters the best experience possible. Here we answer a few questions on our Islamic Philanthropy program.

What is Ramadan?

The Holy Month of Ramadan is one of the most sacred and blessed times for Muslims around the world. It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when historically the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Blessings & Peace be upon him). It is during this sacred month that Muslims observe “siyam” or fasting (one of the Five Pillars of Islam), prayer, gratitude to Allah (SWT) and giving. Fasting is abstinence from eating, drinking or having intimate relations from dawn to sunset.

How can I help refugees this Ramadan?

Every year during the Holy month of Ramadan, UNHCR asks for support and generosity to help refugees and internally displaced people in need. By contributing to the Refugee Zakat Fund and UNHCR Sadaqah programs, you can provide cash assistance, core relief items, life-saving health care and emergency shelter assistance to millions of brothers and sisters who need it. This Ramadan, whether through Sadaqah or Zakat, we encourage you to share the blessings of the Holy month.

Why Give Zakat or Sadaqah to UNHCR?

Sixty percent of refugees and internally displaced people are from predominantly Muslims, and the humanitarian needs in these regions continues to escalate. The Refugee Zakat Fund is a trusted agent to facilitate providing resources to the most vulnerable families as it is Zakat compliant and supported more than 10 fatwas from leading Muslim scholars and institutions globally, including the Canadian Council of Imams. As the need for support is greater than ever, UNHCR ensures 100% of Zakat contributions are delivered directly to eligible refugees and internally displaced families.

What is Zakat?

“Zakat” describes the Arabic term for the obligatory almsgiving, required by all Muslims as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Zakat is a religious duty known as poor dues taken from specific sources of wealth including different forms of funds, livestock, savings, trade goods, crops, and minerals, and given to special categories of recipients.

How to calculate your Zakat in Canada

UNHCR Canada provides a Zakat Calculator to make Zakat giving easier. To determine your contribution, enter your assets and liabilities into our calculator, which will provide the Zakat calculation based on 2022 Nisab values.

How is your Zakat spent?

Your dedicated Zakat will provide essential support to eligible refugees and forcibly displaced families in dire need. UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund will distribute 100% of the Zakat you donate to the countries in need, such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Mauritania, Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. While Zakat is currently distributed through the Fund in these countries, please contact us directly if you would like to dedicate Zakat to a country not listed.

What is Nisab?

Nisab is the minimum amount of wealth that a Muslim must possess for one lunar year before they are obligated to give Zakat. It is a threshold, referring to the minimum amount of wealth and possessions that a Muslim must own before being obligated to pay zakat.

It is the value of 3 ounces of gold (or 87.48 grams of gold or 612.36 grams of silver). Measures of Nisab are traditionally done in gold and silver, and therefore must be made equivalent to today’s monetary value.

How do I become an Islamic Partner?

If you are interested in becoming an Islamic Partner with UNHCR Canada please contact: Mohammed Abu Asaker at abuasake@unhcr.org. 

More info on fatwas

UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund is a credible, Sharia compliant, and effective pioneering structure that effectively distributes Zakat, which aims to maximize the power of Zakat to transform the lives of the most vulnerable refugee and IDP families.

UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund is subject to rigorous governance and oversight, ensuring transparency at every step, from donation to provision of assistance. The Fund is Zakat compliant, backed by eleven fatwas from respected scholars and institutions, including the Canadian Council of Imams (CCI).

The scholars and institutions who have backed UNHCR Canada are as follows: Canadian Council of Imams, The Fatwa Council of Tareem, Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayya, Dr Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Tabah Foundation, Muslim World League, Dar al-Ifta al-Missriyyah, International Shariah Research Academy (ISRA), The Council of Senior Scholars of Morocco, Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy (AIRA), International Islamic Fiqh Academy, Tri State Imam Council.

This information is provided with support of Imam Dr Hamid Slimi, UNHCR Supporter, Founder of Khadija Center, and a member of the Canadian Council of Imams

“Although UNHCR is not a Faith-Based organization, it has established an Islamic Philanthropy program, which meets with Muslims’ values. I believe this program is a breakthrough for Muslims; it is trusted, Sharia-Compliant and dedicates 100% of all Zakat funds to be distributed to refugees in need, with zero overhead costs. It is our collective responsibility to contribute in alleviating the suffering of our refugee brothers and sisters.”

Imam Dr. Hamid Slimi

Sadaqa and Sadaqa Jariyah

Sadaqah, or voluntary charity, supports the well-being of those in need and ensures a vetter life for refugees and IDPs, providing them with healthcare and education services, as well as livelihood opportunities.

Sadaqah Jariyah, activities in particular refer to projects – such as provision of shelter kits, rehabilitation of schools or installation of wells – that have a sustainable impact on the lives of refugees and IDPs and provides continued critical assistance to those in need. Sadaqah Jariyah can also be given on behalf of loved ones that have passed away.

Learn More

If you are interested in partnering with UNHCR Canada through our Islamic Philanthropy program, please contact: Mohammed Abu Asaker at abuasake@unhcr.org. 

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