OPINION-Strategic Compassion: The power of Islamic finance in the service of global good

The practitioners of Islamic finance are increasingly framing their practices as ethical, socially responsible and conducive to humanity’s wellbeing. Tools like the obligatory zakat and charitable donations generate between $200 billion to $1 trillion annually. According to the World Bank, zakat can alleviate poverty in 20 of the 39 OIC countries. In Indonesia, Baznas—a national institution mandated to collect, distribute and manage zakat— has benefited around 6.8 million people. Baznas is also believed to be the first zakat organization to have formally committed to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2018, in neighboring Malaysia, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) pioneered a zakat-financing instrument with a local zakat authority to support Kenya’s Drought Assistance Programme. Green-gram seeds were bought with the zakat monies and distributed to 175,000 households. In six months, the crops produced and sold a yield worth $20 million.