Zakat Fund lifts target to new high of Dh72m

The Zakat Fund's fundraising target for Ramadan is Dh72 million - more than the government body's revenue for all of last year.

Abdullah al Muheiri, centre, secretary general of the Zakat Fund, unveils media campaigns to remind people the importance of zakat.
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ABU DHABI // The Zakat Fund's fundraising target for Ramadan is Dh72 million - more than the government body's revenue for all of last year. "We have been able, through God's grace, to shed light on the obligation of zakat, which has been forgotten by many people, and we were able to convince them to pay the zakat, which has benefited thousands," Abdullah al Muheiry, the fund's secretary general, aid said yesterday. "Through this campaign, we aim to collect Dh72m."

Mr al Muheiry said the goal was realistic and follows a doubling in donor contributions so far this year, a leap it has attributed to increased transparency at the fund. Zakat and charity donations increase dramatically during Ramadan, when many Muslims pay the annual alms tax, which is the third pillar of Islam. While precise figures are not available for Ramadan contributions in 2009, all but Dh7m of last year's Dh67m in donations to the fund occurred during the second half of the year - a span that included Ramadan.

The fund's revenues during the first six months of 2010 were Dh25.1m, twice the figure of a year earlier, while the number of donors rose by 25 per cent. Mr al Muheiry also unveiled several media campaigns yesterday designed to remind people of the importance of zakat. The online, radio and television spots highlight the importance of charity and the bond it forges between generations. One of the television messages closes with a grandfather lifting his grandson to make a donation in a Zakat Fund box at a mall.

"Through our media campaign this year, we try to enhance people's awareness about zakat obligation as one of the essential cornerstones of Islam and shed light on the role of zakat in consolidating social bonds through the elderly who realised the significant concept of zakat and its benefits on the society," Mr al Muheiry said. Through educational campaigns, he added, the fund would like to "encourage fathers and grandfathers to educate their children about zakat".

Sheikh Zayed, the late founder of the UAE, established the Zakat Fund seven years ago. The projects include providing money to the needy, paying for education for the poor, supporting Emirati women who marry non-Emiratis, covering the cost of expensive medical treatment, supporting families of inmates and paying the debts of jailed defaulters. Besides zakat, the pillars of Islam are declaring that there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet, praying daily, fasting and performing the haj.