Zakat Foundation of America Executive Director Halil Demir addressed the Master Class on Zakat and Poverty Alleviation at the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in October.
“One part of the world cannot have everything, their bellies stuffed, while a much larger part of the world has nothing, and expect to live in peace,” Mr. Demir told the assembled heads of state, CEOs and finance experts from throughout the world. “It is the duty of every civilized society to ensure that the poor, needy and downtrodden are taken care of. This is why zakat plays such an important role: it is a religious obligation of caring for the poor and needy, not just giving whenever you feel like it out of the kindness of your heart.”
“As long as economic injustice exists, violence and other social unrest will continue,” Mr. Demir continued.
“The roots of violence, war and extremism go back to economic inequality. Every day people are crossing the Mediterranean, or crossing the Mexican border with the United States, risking their lives, and why? Because they are desperate for a better life. Anyone who has no food on the table to feed their children, any parent at all, will risk everything to feed them.”
At the conference Mr. Demir also met and spoke with East Timorean Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, who enthusiastically invited Zakat Foundation of America to work in his country.
The opulence of Dubai provided a backdrop for this year’s WIEF sessions. The three-day event themed “Innovative Partnerships for Economic Growth” brought together those interested in Muslim finance, halal business and development from around the world.