30-06-2005 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 858, by Jamal Krafess
The Muslim religion considers both humanitarian actions and the duty to help as religious obligations by which all Muslims, rich and poor, are bound. Quranic texts and hadiths sometimes have an exhortatory tone encouraging charity works.
Acts of humanitarianism are an essential element of religious practice for the Muslim. The Quranic and prophetic texts calling for humanitarian action, defining and ordering it are numerous. They are either of an obligatory or an inciting nature and do not exclude the non-Muslims from humanitarian aid. For the Muslim to undertake a humanitarian act is a way of receiving help from heaven, of erasing sins, and of meriting Paradise. The mechanisms established by the religion (e.g. zakat, waqf, kaffara) had an unprecedented impact on the lives of the population: the freeing of slaves, a significant support for the most vulnerable, and the expansion of the educational and health-care system. Nowadays faith based Muslim NGOs follow these texts to launch varied humanitarian programmes in different domains.