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People wait to collect Fitir Zakat distributed by Zakat Fund in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National People wait to collect Zakat al-Firt distributed by Zakat Fund in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
People wait to collect Fitir Zakat distributed by Zakat Fund in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National People wait to collect Zakat al-Firt distributed by Zakat Fund in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
An event for orphans organised by the Zakat Fund. Courtesy Zakat Fund
An event for orphans organised by the Zakat Fund. Courtesy Zakat Fund

Zakat Fund provides for the needy this Ramadan

The fund helps 17 projects that support the poor, the unemployed, orphans and widows, families of prisoners, Emirati women married to foreigners, people in debt, students, converts to Islam, and needy families too proud to ask for charity.

The Zakat Fund has not only provided aid to worthy groups for the past eight years it has also provided a convenient way for Muslims to pay their dues.

Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, requires Muslims to donate a percentage of their wealth to the needy, whether in cash or in kind.

The Government fund provides a simple way of doing so.

"Our slogan is, 'pay your zakat from your place'. It is very easy, you can pay from your office, car, airplane, or any country in the world," said Jamal Al Mazrouei, the fund's head of resources.

The fund has even introduced a method for farmers to pay zakat with dates.

"We did a campaign to educate people about the project by sending 16,000 text messages to farm owners, distributing 20,000 brochures, and targeting the older generation with radio advertisements," Mr Al Mazrouei said.

He credited the numerous payment options with providing an "incredible" increase in the number of participants.

In 2010, 6,000 people paid zakat through the fund. In 2011, that number increased to 10,000, and last year it reached 20,000.

The fund helps 17 projects that support the poor, unemployed, orphans and widows, families of prisoners, Emirati women married to foreigners, people in debt, students, converts to Islam, and needy families too proud to ask for charity.

Mr Al Mazrouei said the projects covered all needy segments of society and that all of them were adequately funded. Low-income families and students are the two biggest groups the fund helps.

Two weeks ago, at 6am, the fund opened its doors to new applicants. Despite the early hour the building was soon busy with people seeking help. A mother of six arrived by bus from Al Ain in the hope the fund would solve her problems in paying school fees and rent.

"My husband's low income is not enough," said the woman, a Palestinian. "This is the first time I have come. I want to take an appointment to register for the school students programme."

She said her siblings had helped her financially in the past "but the burden got heavier so I thought maybe Allah will smooth matters for me and I decided to apply".

She said it was impossible for her to find the school fees for her six children.

"My son is in a regular Arabic high school, not an international one, and his fees are Dh45,000."

She said her husband's Dh4,000 salary could barely meet the most basic needs of their children, aged between six and 19.

The first monthly payment of Dh10,000 saved the family from homelessness.

 

hdajani@thenational.ae

 

How to pay your zakat

By SMS: type 'Z' and send it to 8010. Value: Dh10 per message.

By ATM: Zakat Fund ATMs found in populated areas and shopping malls

Online: www.zf.ae

In person: Branches of the Zakat Fund accept money transfers and cheques

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