Action for impact

Emirati philanthropist Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair on the power of Islamic philanthropy and why partnerships and collaboration are key.

What is Islamic giving?

Zakat is a pillar of Islam and a means of wealth distribution. Each year, all practising Muslims are required to donate 2.5 per cent of their cumulative wealth to the poor, in the form of zakat. Sadaqah is voluntary charity, and is given on an ad-hoc basis.

Action for impact is not just a slogan: it is the only way forward. The world is calling for action at a global scale and it is our duty as philanthropists to act with urgency and purpose to address the pressing issues of our time.

Together through compassion, dedication, and innovation - values that define the essence of Islamic philanthropy - we can build practical solutions to help us create a better future for our youth and communities.

There is no shortage of gloomy statistics which show that the wellbeing of millions of people hangs in the balance as they struggle to survive while wishing to have a prosperous future just like us.

When we see vulnerable youth both in our community and other parts of the world, it becomes our duty to come together to mobilise resources and develop solutions to empower these young people and help them to secure a better future.

Without education, it will be impossible to overcome the many humanitarian crises facing our world today. When education is unavailable or unachievable, it is not just a tragedy for these individuals and their families, it is also a missed opportunity for our global community to leverage the talent and the creativity of these young minds.

The Middle East and North Africa are facing grave challenges. The region has one of the highest unemployment rates globally for the youth under 25 and is home to over 16 million refugees and displaced people.

We cannot ignore this reality around us and if Islamic philosophy is effectively applied as it was intended, it will lead to long-term sustainability that gives (people) the most valuable chance to become financially independent and self-sufficient.

"Without education, it will be impossible to overcome the many humanitarian crises facing our world today." 

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair

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Giving young people education is key to helping them build their future. Photocredit: UNHCR/Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation.

Refugee Education Fund

The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund supports high-impact education programmes at the secondary, vocational and tertiary levels of education for refugee youth in Jordan and Lebanon and young people from conflict affected Arab countries that are living in the UAE. Since its launch in 2018, the initiative, administered by Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education and partners, has succeeded in supporting more than 62,000 youth or learners, far exceeding its initial goal of 20,000 refugees.

I launched the Refugee Education Fund in 2018 with the intention of it being a three-year programme. But we all know the crisis did not end, so I was compelled to extend it for another three years. Today, the fund has partnered with some 20 organisations and we have helped educate and support more than 62,000 refugees and vulnerable youth to finish their schooling and get post-secondary certification.

Our approach has been successful in leveraging double the resources initially invested, and that has translated into helping 300 percent more individuals than initially planned in 2018. We were able to exceed our initial target by learning, adapting, and extending our hand to holistic and strategic partnerships.

Islamic philanthropy is about collective responsibility and Zakat is a responsibility of every Muslim. Collectively as Muslims, we can maximise our impact at a time when unity is desperately needed.

Islamic philanthropy can also close the widening gap and it can ensure better outcomes. Making best practice that others can learn from as a sustainable development model that works and has a long-term impact on our community. This can only happen when there is a strong coordination, strong measurement, and transparency and accountability. We need to be persistent in making sure we find a solution. Partnerships are a way to make a difference.

May we reflect on our potential and our duty to be the best version of ourselves and willfully decide to do better, to achieve more, to offer greater support when it is needed most. This is the power of Islamic philanthropy. - PA