International

Zakat: UNHCR to step promotion of alms-giving in Nigeria

April 7, 2022

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reaffirmed plans to step up its collaboration and capacity in promoting “Zakat” in Nigeria.

Zakat- which means that which purifies, is a form of almsgiving often collected by Muslim faithful as a religious obligation.

By Quranic ranking, it is next after prayer in the order of importance. Also, as one of the pillars of Islam, zakat is a form of obligatory charity that has the potential to ease the suffering of millions.

Ms Chansa Kapaya, Country Representative of UNHCR in Nigeria, gave the assurance at a workshop on: “Maximizing the Power of Zakat to Support Families Forced To Flee Nigeria” in Abuja on Wednesday .

The workshop, which was centred on the release of UNHCR Islamic Philanthropy 2021-Report, was organised by the UN Refugee Agency in partnership with the Association of Zakat and WAQF Operations in Nigeria.

Kapaya said: “As you can imagine, the number of globally displaced persons is increasing worldwide, we have to look for different partnership, different mechanism for resource mobilisation.

“In recent years UNHCR has partnered with different faith-based organisations. In this case, we are talking about the Muslim Philanthropy. We have also partnered with Christian organisations because the needs are plenty.

“We need to diversify our resource-base, we are not distributing just collecting, we use the collection of Zakat to assist the most vulnerable Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria and elsewhere.

“It is a mechanism to wield support for the vulnerable, it does not have to come to us, but direct to beneficiaries.”

She said that Islamic Philanthropy campaign was inaugurated since 2020, adding that in 2021, the UNHCR collated $98, 000 provided to vulnerable families in the Northeast in form of livelihood kits.

She, thereby, promised to work closely with relevant organisations to leverage previous achievements to encourage more support for 2.3 million IDPs and 80, 000 refugees in Nigeria by diversifying resource-base.

Speaking, Mr Khaled Khalifa, Senior Advisor and Representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, explained that Zakat organisations could benefit from one another through close working relations in such regard.

He mentioned that their Zakat organisations are operational in 122 countries, saying UNHCR would provide platform for international-organisations to partner local-organisations on collection of Zakat.

According to him, opportunities abound in the form of knowledge sharing on experiences, because what is collected globally is a small percentage of Zakat potential.

“Zakat potential globally reaches up to $5 billion annually, but what is collected by all Zakat organisations is a small percentage, only fraction of this amount.

“If done rightly, can be best modality for social solidarity; coming together will boost growth of Zakat, although issues about trust abound but such could be dealt with through collaboration,” Khalifa said.

Also speaking, Alhaji Muhammad Maidoki, Chairman, Association of Zakat and WAQF Operators in Nigeria, commended the practice to be often help to in empowerment of vulnerable people in the society.

According to him, Zakat is one of the major practice whereby a Muslim faithful contribute to the betterment of humanity.

“For humanity to benefit, whether you are a Muslim or not: in our case we have made arrangement with hospitals and Pharmacists, to identify vulnerable persons who cannot settle medical bills.

“We hope to use the funds to pay their bills in the hospitals, be it in urban or rural area, as far as the medication is prescribed by a medical doctor registered in Nigeria,” he said.

Dr Ado Muhammad, Global Director of Developing-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation (D-8’s) Health and Social Protection Programme, extolled the workshop to be apt in promotion of Zakat in the country.

Muhammad said: “We re-affirm our willingness to partner with you, to deepen this initiative towards addressing poverty, hunger and attaining overall well being and livelihood of our citizens.

“Our strategic plan 2021-2025 is on innovative financing; trade in health and data for performance, and impact with overarching goal for enhancing economic prosperity of over 1.1 billion citizens of D-8 countries.”

He said that the organisation had commenced engagement with major stakeholders including the UNHCR, religious organisations, finance institutions and the Federal Government to establish transparent system on broadening Zakat collection to achieve targets.

Zakat is customarily 2.5 per cent of Muslims total savings and wealth above a minimum amount known as each lunar year.

D-8 is an organisation centered on improving Members State position in the global economy, diversify and create new opportunities in trade relations, enhance participation in decision-making at the international level and improve standard of living.

D-8 comprise Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, in the global economy.

– agency report

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