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Iran charitable body says its zakat receipts rose 34% in March-November

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Photo shows a logo of Iran's Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation

Iran’s main charitable body says its zakat receipts have increased significantly this year despite economic hardships facing people in the country because of the coronavirus and the US sanctions.   

Head of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (IKRF) said on Sunday that zakat payments to the organization had increased by 34% year on year in March-October to reach a total of 13 trillion rials (over $43 million).

Morteza Bakhtiari said that the figure is equal to the total zakat receipts collected by the Foundation in the year to late March.

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and an annual obligation on all Muslims to pay a tiny portion of their earnings and wealth for charitable purposes.

Iranian Muslims normally pay their zakat to offices of senior religious authorities or to charity organizations endorsed by those authorities.

However, payment of zakat is voluntary in Iran unlike some Muslim countries where people and organizations could face prosecution for non-payment.

Bakhtiari said that over 80% of the zakat collected by the IKRF goes to cash handouts and other support schemes for the needy in Iran and the rest is spent on charitable causes, including on building mosques and roads.

Other IKRF officials said that the organization seeks to launch information campaigns about how it spends the religious tax revenue.

That comes as authorities have reported an increase in the amount of non-cash settlements of zakat in recent years.

The increase in zakat receipts for IKRF has come despite economic hardships in Iran as the country is still suffering from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the American sanctions.

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