Donating money to through NGOs

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Is it allowed to donate through United Nations (UNHCR program) to the syrians and other african countries? My wife is insisting me to donate to the madrassa children where she studied and then if possible i may donate to the syrians and others. My wife suspects about the UN programs as these are backed by western countries and we do not whether the donationsa re genuinely reaching the needy people. Pleae advice


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Most definitely, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) such as UNHCR provide a huge service to both the donors as well as those who are in need of humanitarian aid. However, there are a number of matters that need to be taken into consideration when donating to such organisations. Is your money really reaching the recipients? Is it given to the intended recipients or is it given to anybody the NGOs feel like helping? How much of the donated amount actually reaches the recipients and how much of it is wasted in other activities?

Every person dearly guards his hard-earned money. Considering the emotions that one experiences, due to which he/she is prepared to part with his money in order to see to the well-being of those afflicted, one would most definitely not want those funds to be misappropriated. Sharī’ah views voluntary Sadaqah/donations and Zakāt in a different light than non-Muslims. There are regulations that govern not only the dispersing of such funds but also the agencies that have been appointed to disperse such funds. Taking this into account, there are a few matters of concern due to which it is advisable to donate through NGOs that are managed by Muslims under the guidance of ‘Ulamā. Hereunder, are a few such concerns:

  • Sharī’ah attaches reward to Sadaqah/Zakāt. This reward is achieved only when such funds reach the eligible recipients. Due to this, organisations run by Muslims are very meticulous in effectively delivering the funds to the recipients, avoiding the use of such funds for administrative and running costs. On the other hand, non-Muslim NGOs are not bound by this regulation, hence, large amounts of funds end up being used for elaborate and extravagant seminars and meetings as well as administrative costs. Therefore, one’s donations may not even reach any recipients.
  • Sharī’ah advocates that funds should not be extended to one’s enemies. Non-Muslim NGOs are not in a position to differentiate between rightly guided Muslims and their enemies, many times resulting in them distributing your funds to those who are fighting against the rightly guided Muslims.
  • NGOs that are run under the guidance of ‘Ulamā understand the different aspects with regards to the handling of such funds by the organisation, unlike other NGOs who are not acquainted with their responsibilities as agents of Muslim donors.
    • Muslim run NGOs are cognisant of the fact that they are accountable in the court of Allah for their operations. This realisation and fear drives them towards meticulously dealing with the donations that they receive.

Hence, it is advisable that such voluntary funds/Sadaqah be donated through organisations that are known to operate according to Sharī’ah. Mandatory Zakāt funds should by no means be discharged through non-Muslim NGOs as they are unacquainted with the strict measures Sharī’ah has placed in discharging Zakāt.

In light of the strict laws that nowadays govern the funding of people in war torn areas, we advise against directly donating money without going through an NGO as this may lead to putting one’s wellbeing into jeopardy.

If you wish, you may donate your funds through Al-Imdaad Foundation, which is a well-known and trusted Muslim NGO, run under the guidance of ‘Ulamā’. You may visit their website at

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Nabeel Valli

Student Darul Iftaa
Lusaka, Zambia

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai. 

This answer was collected from, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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