Zakat Based Integrated Approach to Poverty Reduction

Approximately fifty percent of Bangladesh’s total population lives below the poverty line. In other words these people are deprived of various basic rights, such as right to food, education, health, shelter etc. They lead a distressed life. Poverty is one of the major obstacles to overall development of Bangladesh. Not only the individuals but the entire society is affected by the impact of poverty. The position of Islam in regard to helping the poor people and working for their greater development is very sturdy and apparent. The Quran in Surah Al-Mau’n narrates “Have you seen him who denies the Recompense? That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly), and urges not the feeding of Al-Miskeen (the poor)…” The Prophet [PBUH] is reported to have said “if any individual of any village wakes up in the morning having passed the night starving, Allah [SWT] does not take the responsibility to sustain the village” [Musnad-EImam Ahmad]. Allah [SWT] says in the Quran “And in their wealth the beggar and the outcast had due share” [Adh-Dhariyat: 19].


Zakat is one of the major strategies for poverty reduction in Islam. Apart from purifying the wealth of the rich, poverty reduction is at the heart of zakat system. According to prominent Islamic scholar Dr. Yususf-Al-Qaradawi, zakat has to be distributed in a way that it uproots poverty, ends the root causes of poverty and becomes enduringly enough for the recipient and the recipient does not require zakat second time. The great Caliph of Islam Hazrat Omar Faruqe [RA] declared in his thoughtful policy “while you donate, make the person solvent”. He ordered those who were responsible for distribution of zakat “give zakat several times to those who deserve it, even if they require 100 camels each [i.e. donate as long as poverty is not eradicated]”. Thus, it is obvious that the implications of zakat lie in poverty reduction and building a caring society by planned and effective use of zakat. As part of building such a caring society Masjid Council has been implementing community based integrated development program by using zakat. The program is popularly known as Hasana.

Making the difference

Majsid Council conceptualizes poverty as a multidimensional issue. It is just not an issue of material deprivation or income. Poverty means hunger, lack of or poor access to basic services; it means being unable to send children to school, a lack of assets such as land or savings, social exclusion, and a constant feeling of insecurity and stress based on an uncertain future. Poverty also means lack of moral and ethical learning and practices which causes destructions of human potential as well as personal and social capitals. Poverty is also a deprivation of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. Poverty is also an outcome of structural injustices of the society and system. Poverty eventually makes the poor people disempowered.

On the contrary, Allah [SWT] says `I have honored the children of Adam’ (17:70). It means Allah has honored and dignified human beings. There are many verses mentioning the dignity and honor of human beings in the Quran. Masjid Council holds strongly the view that human beings are empowered already by Allah [SWT]. Thus, disempowerment is opposite to the belief of Islam and disempowerment cannot be continued. Then, we need an approach that could deal with basic components of empowerment, which should include sustainable means of livelihood, right to education and basic services, social status, freedom of choice and opinion and right to practice moral values.


Empowerment is at the heart of Hasana program. Hasana program in order of achieving empowerment focuses on many aspects of development going beyond creating sustainable income opportunities for the target people. The process of empowerment of the poor consists of activities such as institution building, asset transfer, savings fund development, revolving investment fund for collateral and interest free credit access, raising human qualities by training and motivation, building awareness and promoting ethical understanding, protecting health and being worthy in the society. The most significant value addition of Hasana program is that it transfers asset [zakat money] to the target group with ownership. Then the group-fund is used collectively as business capital by its members under set rules, regulation and discipline introduced by the members according to their convenience. The collective group capital is increased over time through regular savings and deposition of shares from earned profit by the members. All decisions in the group are taken by members. Masjid Council’s role is to help increase management capacities of the members to make them efficient manager of their own institution. Hasana groups are self managed institutions and are implementing a number of interrelated activities not only for their own welfare but also for the overall development of the community they are living with.


Building a caring society based on higher moral and human values where comprehensive development of all human beings is achieved in general and livelihood needs of the poor in particular realized.


  • Ensuring sustainable employment opportunities and increase in income by up-scaling capability for employment and income generation activities and ensuring access of the target beneficiaries to local resources and services;
  • Ensuring nutrition, health and medical services rights of the poverty stricken and deprived people;
  • Raising the rate of education, capability and moral standard of the target people by ensuring life skills related education for the elderly people and education for the children;
  • Extending support to the physically challenged people, widows, orphans, poor elderly people to prevent humanitarian crisis at individual and family levels and reducing the amount of loss during disasters by applying indigenous knowledge and strategies and raising awareness of community people;

Promoting moral standard of the community people and establishing the culture of empathy in the society by motivating target people to follow religious and moral values.


Poor and hardcore poor households primarily constitute the target beneficiaries of the program. The poor people, who fail to earn more than TK. 200 per capita daily, have no sustainable employment opportunity, who encounter persistent food insecurity, who have no arable land except the homestead or minimum arable land are the direct beneficiaries of the program.


Implementation Strategies 

  • Establishing community based development institutions i.e. Hasana group involving target beneficiaries;
  • Transferring the ownership of capital formed by zakat to the groups for income generating activities of the members;
  • Facilitating the Hasana groups by Masjid Council at the initial stage to run and manage the capital and development
  • activities; however, the management would ultimately be transferred to the groups by making the members capable;
  • Enabling target people by providing training to run efficiently income generating activities;
  • Ensuring community ownership in capital formation, program implementation and monitoring;
  • Up-scaling skill of the beneficiaries for marketing their products;
  • Ensuring target people’s access to local services and resources by sensitizing them about their rights and making the government and local government service delivery departments caring towards the beneficiaries;
  • Forming capital by accumulating zakat, sadaqah, ushar and other endowments.

Current Status

Currently Masjid Council has been implementing Hasan program in 6 areas of the country. Hasana-1 is at Chindirchar Manikganj Sadar; Hasana-2 at Chartilli, Saturia, Manikganj; Hasana-3 at Nabagram, Manikganj Sadar; Hasana-4 at West Chartilli, Saturia, Manikganj; Hasana-5atDeghori, Bochaganj, Dinajpur and Hasana-6atNabagram (extension), Manikganfg Sadar. Hasana members formed 57 community organizations (small groups). There are 1447 families directly involved in Hasana program. Masjid Council providedZakat money to the beneficiaries to the tune of BDT 123,80,500 confirming the ownership of the beneficiaries over the resources.


In 2014 577 members received investment worth BDT 14623,500from HASANA group fund and same time they refunded BDT- 113119,354 to the group fund. They used the investment to undertake income generating activities to strengthen their livelihood security. Major areas of investment for livelihood are agriculture & land lease, beef fattening, cow rearing, rickshaw/van, goat farming, poultry, small trade etc. Hasana program contributed significantly contributed to the economic and social development of the target people. Majority of the beneficiaries have been successful to graduate from poverty.

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