Charity or the act of giving is a significant aspect of life in Qatar, deeply rooted in the Islamic faith where charity or zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a duty performed on a regular basis.
As an opportunity to share their excess wealth with those less fortunate than themselves, Islam requires Muslims to give 2.5% of their wealth to the poor every year. Muslims pay zakat as an obligatory part of Ibadah, which is the Arabic word for worship, obedience, submission, and humility. Zakat does not refer to charitable gifts given out of kindness or generosity, but to the systematic giving of 2.5% of one’s wealth each year to benefit the poor.
The benefits of zakat, apart from helping the poor, are to:
- Obey God.
- Behave honestly.
- Acknowledge that everything comes from God on loan and that people do not really own anything themselves.
- Not cling to anything because when a person dies, they cannot take anything with them.
- Acknowledge that whether a person is rich or poor is God’s choice so people should help those God has chosen to make poor.
- Learn self-discipline.
- Free oneself from the love of possessions, greed and money. In addition, to free oneself from being arrogant or egocentric.
The 2.5% paid only applies to cash, gold and silver, and commercial items. There are other percentages payable for farm and mining produce, and for animals.
This giving of wealth is a way for Muslims to ‘cleanse’ their money and possessions from excessive desire or greed. The idea is, that by giving this money, a Muslim learns to place less importance on material wealth (cash and possessions).
Zakat is not an option but a compulsory act for all Muslims and is neither charity nor a tax. It is expected from every individual Muslim. It is paid on the balance of wealth after a Muslim has paid for basic necessities, family expenses, outstanding debts or loans, donations and taxes. If the amount of money one possesses is greater than the value of 592.9 grams of silver, and one owns this money for more than a lunar year, then it is obligatory for one to pay zakat.
Islam has set certain conditions for the payment of zakat:
- Full ownership (there is no zakat on public property, endowments and bad debts).
- It should be paid on properties that are liable to grow (not on the properties used for personal use such vehicles, house, tools or furniture).
- The property should reach nisab. In Sharia, this is the amount one’s net worth must exceed for the Muslim owner to be obligated to give zakat. No zakat is due on wealth until one year passes. Zakat is then determined based on the amount of wealth acquired; the greater the assets, the greater the tax.
- It is paid on surplus wealth after meeting a person’s expenses and those of his family.
- The person should be free of debts.
- The property should be in possession of a person for a complete one year, but for agricultural products zakat must paid at the time of harvesting.
- Through the payment of zakat, the rich share their wealth with the poor and thus the process of concentration of wealth is checked and fair distribution ensured. One of the key concerns that many people have is that the zakat given ultimately reaches the people in need – this means that there is no money kept by a charity for any reason.
Among other things, Islam has its own economic principles. Zakat is one of the basic principles of the Islamic economy, based on social welfare and the fair distribution of wealth. In addition to the compulsory payment of zakat, Muslims are encouraged in the Qur’an to make voluntary contributions to help the poor and needy, and for other social welfare purposes. This voluntary contribution is called sadaqah. Sadaqah or Saddka is an Islamic term that means ‘voluntary charity’. This concept encompasses any act of giving out of compassion, love, friendship or generosity.
Examples of sadaqah:
- Making a donation.
- Helping someone in need.
- Cleaning a street, beach or other places.
- Spending on your family.
- Speaking the truth and behaving in a just manner.
- Planting a tree – whatever is eaten from it, by either humans or animals, is charity.
- Using any resource (time, food, knowledge) to spend on others.
- Every step one takes towards the mosque for salat or prayer.
Note: The difference between zakat and sadaqah in Islam is that zakat is compulsory charity whereas sadaqah is voluntary charity.
Most renowned charity organisations in Qatar
Qatar Charity qcharity.com
Qatar Charity is a non-governmental organisation, founded in 1992 for the development of the Qatari society and other needy communities. It works in the fields of sustainable development, reducing poverty, and disaster relief and emergency response. QC works in different countries around the world and its activities cover many countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) ifrc.org
Established in March 1978 as Qatar’s first volunteering charitable organisation, Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) or Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) works to help and empower vulnerable individuals and communities without partiality or discrimination. QRCS is an active member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which comprises the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and a network of National Societies in 190 countries. Throughout its long history, QRCS has been serving as an auxiliary to the State of Qatar in its humanitarian efforts, in light of its central mission of improving the lives of vulnerable people by mobilising the power of humanity inside and outside of Qatar.
Eid Charity eidcharity.net
Established in Qatar in 1995, Eid Charity or the Sheikh Eid bin Mohammad Al Thani Charitable Association is an NGO and considered to be one of the largest charitable organisations in the Middle East. The organisation was named after Sheikh Eid Ibn Mohammad ibn Thani ibn Jasim ibn Mohammad Al Thani. The organisation provides relief for people in Qatar and abroad. It provides relief and subsidies, adopts educational, health and advocacy facilities and helps patients, the poor and the needy. It also works to develop poor communities through medium and small development projects.
Education Above All (EAA) educationaboveall.org
Education Above All (EAA) is a foundation founded in 2012 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. Its aim is to contribute to human, social and economic development through the provision of quality education. With a particular focus on those affected by poverty, conflict and disaster, it champions the needs of children, youth and women to empower them to become active members of their communities.
Afif Charity afif.qa
Formerly known as Al Asmakh Charity Foundation together with the Social Development Center, Afif Charity was founded in 2012 to provide charitable services and humanitarian work that is based on contributing to the development of poor societies and lending a hand to the poor and needy in the basic pillars of life: education, health and empowerment.
Zakat Fund zf.org.qa
Government entities are in place to oversee the Zakat Fund and ensure all donations go to the right places. The majority of the people who benefit from the fund are low-income individuals. In addition, Zakat Fund also provides help, training and subsidies to middle-income and self-employed individuals who face financial difficulty in covering everyday costs.
Jassim & Hamad bin Jassim Charitable Foundation hbjfoundation.qa
Jassim & Hamad bin Jassim Charitable Foundation was founded in 2001 to provide basic and necessary needs to communities in the State of Qatar and abroad. The foundation is entirely self-financed through the waqf of the late Sheikh Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani.
Nasser Bin Khaled Al Thani Charitable Foundation (NBK Charity) nbkcharity.com
Nasser Bin Khaled Al Thani Charitable Foundation was founded in 2012 in aims of providing humanitarian charitable aid for the benefit of the local and international society. It is also one of the approved institutions by Qatar’s Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities (RACA). The foundation is named after politician Sheikh Nasser bin Khalid Al Thani who was born in 1915 and died in 1986.
Qatar Cancer Society (QCS) qcs.qa
Qatar Cancer Society is a charity that was founded in 1997. It works under the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities. It’s a platform to make Qatar a leader in cancer prevention and its burden control. The charity seeks to prevent cancer and control its burden in Qatar by working with its partners to educate the community, and support, empower and advocate for individuals living with cancer, in addition to engaging in professional development and scientific research in the field of cancer.
A common form of zakat is waqf (singular) or awqaf (plural), which typically is the donation of a building or plot of land or even cash for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust. The grant is known as mushrut-ul-khidmat, while a person making such dedication is known as wakif. Although awqaf apply to non-properties such as fixed property, land or buildings, it can be applied to money, books, shares, stocks, and other assets. The concept of awqaf is a well-practiced phenomenon in both the Muslim and non-Muslim world.
Kinds of awqaf:
- Religious awqaf focus on the maintenance of religious institutions, such as mosques and madrasas, (the Arabic word for any type of educational institution, whether secular or religious) and their adjacent premises and properties.
- Philanthropic awqaf aim to provide support for the poor, such as health services, as well as education. In the early days of Islam, Prophet Muhammed initiated this type of awqaf with the objective to reduce the disparity and inequality among the social strata.
- Family awqaf are unique in that it ensures awqaf proceeds are given to the family and descendants first with the excess then given to the poor.
About the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities (RACA)
The Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities (RACA) is an independent governmental body. It was established pursuant to Amiri Decree No 43 for the year (2014) amended by Amiri Decree No 10 for the year (2020) reorganising the Charitable Activities Regulatory Authority with a view to developing, promoting, supporting, and improving charitable and humanitarian activities to bring them to a high level of efficiency and transparency, and regulate them by developing standards, instructions and guidance, to foster a culture of charitable and humanitarian work, raise awareness about them, and build collaborative channels among actors in this field, to raise the level of charitable and humanitarian work in Qatar. Moreover, the authority raises awareness within the society through the dissemination of the culture of voluntary donation, motivates donors to select and follow-up the projects, and enhances the confidence of the community in charities and private charitable foundations.
About the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs
In most Muslim countries exists a Ministry of Awqaf or Endowment, which oversees issues of zakat and sadaqah. Most importantly, the Ministries of Awqaf oversee the building and maintenance of mosques in their respective countries.
The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs is one of the most important ministries in the State of Qatar. It implements an Islamic approach and is concerned with the affairs of Muslims from the pulpits of mosques. It is responsible for the management of mosques including maintenance and supervision. The Ministry has several activities such as advocacy and dissemination of human culture. The Ministry is also responsible for the annual zakat.
In addition, the Ministry implement proposed policies and programmes; informs and shows the impact of Islam and Islamic values on the development of humanity and progress of the society; disseminates Islamic culture and the development of religious consciousness; develops closer relations with other Islamic bodies and organisations in the world; administrates awqaf with the supervision, care and investment of income derived from them; and is in charge of distributing estates to beneficiaries managing the funds of minors.
Awqaf oversees the maintenance of more than 900 mosques with a budget of more than QR460 million.
Note: According to Islamic teachings, when one builds a mosque, he or she receives the good deeds of every person who prays at the mosque, and Allah builds him or her a home in jannah or heaven.