For your convenience, Islamic Relief USA has answered your frequently asked questions below.

General | Orphans | Ramadan | Qurbani/Udhiyah | 

Zakat | Sadaqah

Please note: Islamic Relief USA consults with a council of imams who follow the Fiqh Council of North America for information about religious donations. It is advised that you consult with your local imam or scholar for more detailed inquiries.


1How are donations to Islamic Relief USA spent?

At Islamic Relief USA, we work hard to ensure that every penny is spent in the most effective way possible because we are accountable to our donors, to people in need all around the world, and most importantly, we are accountable to Allah (swt). You can check out our most recent financial reports, but in 2017, only about 11% of total revenue was spent on administrative costs and fundraising.

What’s more: Working with other organizations, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Church of Latter-day Saints, allows us to multiply your donations. An example of this was when a shipment of medical aid and children’s supplies was sent to Palestine. By working together with a like-minded organization, we were able to distribute more than half a million dollars of humanitarian aid for just a fraction of the cost—in that case, turning each $1 you donated into $14 worth of aid.

In addition to that, we receive matching gifts from some of the biggest companies in the United States. And often, our overseas affiliates are able to receive institutional funding that grows your gift further. This increases the power of your donation. Furthermore, a significant amount of our work is done by generous and hard-working volunteers who donate their time to stretch your dollars even farther.

2What is the difference between Islamic Relief Worldwide and Islamic Relief USA?

Islamic Relief USA is an independent affiliate of Islamic Relief Worldwide and the Islamic Relief family of charities. We are completely separate legal entities that work together under the Islamic Relief Worldwide umbrella to provide aid.

3Which countries does Islamic Relief work in?

Islamic Relief USA currently provides aid in more than 40 countries, including the United States: See our Where We Work section for more details.

To implement work around the world, the Islamic Relief global family has field offices (sometimes, multiple offices in the same country) based on need and location. In addition to the field offices, independent Islamic Relief affiliates operate in 16 countries along with the United States. These offices plan widespread relief efforts, provide funding and implement domestic projects. Learn more on our Affiliates and Alliances page.

4Do you accept in-kind donations?

Due to logistics and costs, Islamic Relief USA can only consider accepting in-kind donations from institutional donors and manufacturers who deal primarily with in-kind goods as well as other NGOs.The cost to pack, ship, and distribute items from individual donors is typically greater than if they were purchased local to the area of crisis or from a neighboring country. The most effective way to help Islamic Relief aid those in need is through a financial contribution. We encourage our donors to support their local community by giving in-kind goods to masjids or organizations in their area who are best able to distribute the items to those in need. To learn about IRUSA’s Gifts in Kind program, call 1-855-447-1001.

5What is the benefit of sending my donation through Islamic Relief USA rather than sending it directly to the country I’m interested in?

As a U.S.-based organization with hard-earned credentials to uphold, Islamic Relief USA regularly monitors U.S. laws to ensure that we and our donors remain in compliance with complex and changing regulations. We also take all precautions to ensure that funds are not diverted from their charitable purposes. Also, large organizations such as ours can leverage better prices on large purchases, meaning your donation works in a more cost-effective manner. And donating to a recognized charity may qualify you for a tax deduction—seek clarification from your personal tax adviser.

6How is your relationship with the U.S. government?

Islamic Relief USA receives no government funding, but we have an excellent working relationship with the federal government. We work with U.S. agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture on projects (see a related blog from the USDA website, “Food and Faith: Setting a Safe and Healthy Table”). Islamic Relief USA’s leadership and staff serves on boards, and regularly attend U.S. government meetings related to the work we do. And each year, U.S. Office of Personnel Management lists us in its Combined Federal Campaign catalogue (CFC #10194) as an approved charity to which employees are encouraged to donate.

7How does Islamic Relief USA derive its information about religious donations?

Islamic Relief USA consults with a council of imams who follow the Fiqh Council of North America for information about religious donations. The information we present is meant to provide a general understanding of the topics at hand. We highly recommend that you consult with your local imam or scholar for more detailed inquiries.

8Can I use my donations as a tax deduction?

We have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. Our tax ID number is 95-4453134. It is best to consult with your tax adviser to learn how you may be able to use your donation as a tax-deduction.

9How can I be sure my donation will go to the country/fund I have requested?

Islamic Relief USA tracks contributions by various restrictions. The first restriction is usually by country. The second level of restriction is usually a project category such as education, emergency relief, food, orphans, etc. Islamic Relief USA records contributions according to donor specifications. As an example, if you specify Palestine in the contribution, your donation would go toward our Palestine General Fund. However, it would not be limited to a specific project category unless you request otherwise (such as emergency relief, food, orphans, etc., as mentioned above). We ask our donors to indicate, such as by writing it on the check or money order, which country they would like their contribution to benefit.

Our funds can basically be divided into three groups:

  • Restricted: To be used for a specific purpose only. Example: Udhiyah/Qurbani, specific country, orphans.
  • Non-Restricted: This type of fund gives the organization the right to use the money where ever it is most needed. Example: General Fund.
  • Semi-Restricted: This type of fund requires us to follow certain guidelines. Example: Zakah.
10I want to give money to wherever it is most needed. Which fund should I choose?

You may donate to the General Fund. Money from this fund may be used for any project.

11Do you accept jewelry given as charity?

Yes. However, we don’t encourage it because it is very difficult to sell jewelry at a reasonable price.

12Does Islamic Relief USA fulfill aqiqah requests?

IRUSA does not currently have an aqiqah program available.

13How is Islamic Relief USA dealing with Islamophobia and negative rhetoric against Islam and Muslims?

Islamic Relief USA responds to Islamophobia and negative rhetoric against Islam by continuing our commitment to providing humanitarian relief and development to the most vulnerable individuals both at home and abroad, thereby demonstrating our core values of compassion, social justice and sincerity.  We categorically condemn and abhor violence and extremism in any form. Following the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), we endeavor to overcome divides and unify communities through our humanitarian work, partnerships and advocacy efforts. We allow the essential work we do to speak for itself. By focusing on our humanitarian mission, and serving the world’s most vulnerable people, we showcase what Islam truly is about.

We want people to know the truth about our work and why we do it.  We believe that investing in advocacy allows us to eliminate obstacles that could otherwise prevent us from doing our work effectively and reaching people in need all across the world.  With the various challenges Muslims in America face, we recognize that we need to advocate for issues that are relevant to our mission and impact all domestic charities working to respond to humanitarian needs.  That is why, in addition to continuing our programmatic humanitarian work, we have focused in recent years on increasing our advocacy efforts and dedicated resources to the task. We want to be part of the conversation, so we engage with the media to share positive stories that showcase the best of the American Muslim community.

We educate, engage, and partner with various agencies within the federal government, including the US Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Health and Human Services. We facilitate dialogue with members of Congress and with state and local officeholders, such as mayors of the cities where we have offices and members of city councils.  The Mayor of Alexandria visited our Alexandria, Virginia and read the City Council Statement of Inclusiveness, and are regularly invited to attend the New York City Mayor’s annual Ramadan iftar. When we talk to our leaders and representatives, we educate them about the great work our donors support and how we are working to make an impact in key humanitarian areas in their communities and around the world. Beyond the wide array of events that we host, we also engage extensively on policy, especially in coalition on matters related to our humanitarian work and protecting the space for non-profit organizations to implement their missions.

We find that by building relationships through engagement and education, and being good neighbors, we can transform sentiments of distrust and fear to curiosity, appreciation and, ultimately, friendship and unity.

14How does Islamic Relief USA respond to allegations that it has ties to terrorist or extremist organizations?

Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) and its partners unequivocally condemn terrorism, extremism, and violence manifested in any form.

IRUSA is a duly registered, independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has been operating in the United States to deliver humanitarian relief and development since its formation in 1993. IRUSA’s activities and financial records are therefore subject to routine audits, and the results are made public to ensure compliance with rigorous local, state, and federal laws and regulations. In addition to routine audits conducted by government bodies and accounting firms, IRUSA periodically undergoes voluntary self-elected audits by third parties to assess and strengthen the quality and effectiveness of its internal controls and practices. Finally, as a donor-driven institution, we are committed to full transparency and accountability and regularly invite our trusted and loyal donor base to closely examine our financial records and annual reports that are made available on our website.

Because of our underlying commitment to transparency and good business practices, IRUSA has been consistently recognized as a top-rated U.S. charity by trustworthy institutions such as Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau, GuideStar Exchange, and GreatNonprofits.  Furthermore, IRUSA is also a member of the United States Government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC#: 10154), which directly enables government employees to make charitable donations to the organization, thereby indicating we have met a broad array of requirements and regulations. Thus, any claim that IRUSA has any affiliation whatsoever with any terrorist or extremist entities are frivolous and not grounded in fact.


1How does Islamic Relief define an orphan?

Islamic Relief defines an orphan as a child younger than 18 who is living without a father or both parents, or a child whose father’s whereabouts have been unknown for two years or more (one year or more for refugees and internally displaced people). The orphan may be of any gender, religion, or race.

2How is an orphan selected for sponsorship?

Orphans are selected based on five main criteria: vulnerability, financial need, family size, housing conditions, and health. The families with the greatest need—such as larger families with dire financial situations—receive priority for sponsorship. Official documentation is required to confirm an orphan’s sponsorship, and the selection of children must not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, age, gender, or disability.

3How is the sponsorship donation spent?

In many cases, sponsorship money is paid to the orphan’s guardian in several increments throughout the year. Of course, every country is different and there are unique circumstances that sometimes affect frequency of payment or how the aid is delivered. You can learn the specific details of a particular country by connecting with us at 1-855-447-1001 or Orphans are monitored to ensure that they are receiving the full benefits of sponsorship. This may include health checks and education for school-aged children.

4How long will the sponsorship continue?

You can sponsor a child as long as you wish, up to the age of 18, or past that age in special medical or continuing education circumstances. If you choose to continue sponsorship after IRUSA’s sponsorship ends, you are free to do so. We require a minimum sponsorship time of one year because this allows us to plan ahead and maintain a consistent level of service to the orphan. However, in case of any difficulty, the sponsor may cancel at any time with advanced notice.

5Can I write a letter to my orphan?

Yes. The sponsor and orphan are free to exchange correspondence via Islamic Relief USA. Sponsors may mail or email the correspondence to the IRUSA headquarters office in Alexandria, VA.

6Can I visit my orphan?

Visits are arranged at the sponsor’s expense and must be facilitated by an Islamic Relief representative. Sponsors must arrange the visit one month prior to leaving for travel. Your orphan visit will take place at an Islamic Relief office. In addition, the visit will be supervised at all times by the orphans welfare officer at the country field office. The Islamic Relief child protection policies are in place to ensure the safety and welfare of vulnerable orphans and their families. Please note that visit requests are not guaranteed.

7I have not heard about my orphan. When will I be updated?

All sponsors receive a biography (biodata) on the child upon confirmation of the first donation payment. The biodata is mailed to sponsors typically six to eight weeks after initiating sponsorship. Thereafter, progress reports are mailed to sponsors once a year. You may contact the Orphan Support Team at if you do not receive updates.


1Do you offer a specific fund to donate money to if a family member is unable to fast?

According to Islamic tradition, when a Muslim is unable to fast during Ramadan and cannot make up the fasting days afterwards, he or she can pay fidya or kaffara in compensation. Learn more via our Fidya/Kaffara page, or call 855-447-1001.

2Do you have a specific fund to feed hungry people during Ramadan?

Yes, you may donate to the Ramadan Food Package fund. There are both general and country-specific options. Each food package holds nutritious food like rice, wheat, lentils, oil, sugar, canned fish or meat, and dates. Depending on the country, the food packages can contain up to 130 pounds of food, and can feed an entire family suffering from hunger.

3How much does it cost to feed one person for one day?

This varies according to your personal living standard. It is calculated by the cost of food for one day according to your preference and consumption.

4When should I celebrate Eid?

The day of Eid can vary from country to country, as it is dependent on the sighting of the crescent moon. We recommend that you consult your local masjid or Islamic center for the most accuracy.

5How can I donate my Zakat al-Fitr?

Islamic Relief USA is pleased to accept your Zakat al-fitr. These donations are used to pay for food that is distributed to communities in need around the world. IRUSA has specific funds for Zakat and Zakat al-Fitr. Visit http://localhost:8888/irusa/zakat to learn more and donate.


1Which animals are used for IRUSA's Qurbani/Udhiyah program?

The animals used are an’aam animals, such as sheep, goats, cows and buffalo. The animals must be healthy, free from blindness and chronic sickness or disease or from any apparent ailment, and must be of a fit age. One sheep or goat equals one Qurbani donation; one cow or buffalo equals seven Qurbani donations. Our prices equal one share—one sheep or goat, or one-seventh of a cow or buffalo. 

2018 Udhiyah/Qurbani Animal List

Afghanistan:  cow Albania: cow Bangladesh: cow Bosnia: cow
Chad:  cow/bull Chechnya: cow Ethiopia: sheep/goat India: sheep/goat
Indonesia:  cow Iraq: sheep Jordan: sheep Kenya: sheep/goat
Kosovo: cow Lebanon: cow Lesotho: cow Macedonia: cow
Malawi: goat/cow Mali: cow Myanmar: cow/goat Nepal: buffalo
Niger: cow Pakistan: cow Palestine: bull Philippines: cow/bull
Somalia: sheep/goat South Africa: cow/bull South Sudan: bull Sri Lanka: cow
Sudan: bull Syrian Refugees: sheep Tunisia: sheep United States: sheep
Yemen: goat Zimbabwe: goat
2What kind of meat does the Qurbani/Udhiyah program use?

Our program uses 100% halal meat. Meat is sourced locally whenever possible, to support the local economy. It is distributed fresh whenever possible, though in difficult situations like conflict zones, we may send frozen meat so it can arrive to the recipients in good condition. All logistics—from sacrifice to transportation—are handled in accordance with Islamic principle, and with the best hygienic practices possible.

3Who receives Islamic Relief USA’s Qurbani/Udhiyah program meat?

Beneficiaries selected to receive meat include widows, orphans, the destitute, the elderly, people with disabilities, refugees and disaster-affected populations—generally, people who cannot afford to buy meat often and whose diets are lacking in calories and nutrition. Many of the recipients of Udhiyah/Qurbani donations live in remote areas which are typically inaccessible—Islamic Relief makes every effort to reach them in order to provide aid to some of the most vulnerable community members.

4Does the sacrifice occur on the allotted days?

Yes, Islamic Relief performs the Udhiyah/Qurbani during the day of Eid al-Adha and the ensuing three days of Tashreek. However, under extreme circumstances, there may be exceptions due to factors such as the abundant number of Udhiyah/Qurbani or the volatile conditions on the ground in a particular country. In these cases, the Qurbani may be done after the fourth day of Eid. Scholars have approved this practice.

5Do you need the name of the people on whose behalf the sacrifice is being made?

No, because of the vast number of requests during this season, this practice becomes impossible. This is similar to the practice of offering sacrifice while on hajj. The scholars have approved the sacrifice without the names as long as the intention of the person was made. We suggest that you make the intention now.

6Is it obligatory to give on Qurbani/Udhiyah for each member of my family?

Islamic Relief USA recognizes the various jurisprudence opinions (fiqhi) in the Islamic tradition, and welcomes all to fulfill their religious right as they see fit.

7How late into the season can I submit my order for a sacrifice?

We accept orders up until the fourth day of Eid al-Adha. We prepurchase the animals and plan one year ahead of time. We also buy approximately 20% more animals, in order to fulfill all incoming requests.


1What is zakat?

In Arabic, zakat means purification, growth and blessing. It is a charitable practice that requires all able Muslims (those who meet the requirement of zakat as dependent upon nisab and hawl—see below) to contribute a fixed portion of their wealth – 2.5% of savings — to help the needy.

2What is nisab?

Nisab is the minimum amount of wealth a Muslim must have—after calculating necessary expenses—to be eligible to contribute zakat. Nisab is equivalent to the value of 3 ounces of gold. The nisabwe’ve calculated for our zakat calculator is based on the most-recent report available to us (disclaimer: this number may change daily depending on fluctuations in the gold exchange rate).

3What is hawl?

Hawl is defined as the completion period for a zakat asset, which is one lunar year. In other words, the wealth on which zakat should be paid must have been held for at least one full year. There are some forms of zakat that do not require hawl, such as for crops, when zakat should be paid at the time of the harvest. For clarification, it is recommended that you consult with your local imam or scholar.

4Who is obligated to pay zakat?

Every adult Muslim who meets the requirements of nisab and hawl in a calendar year must pay zakat for that year. There are some conditions that may require others, a wali (guardian) of a minor for instance, to pay zakat too. As always, it is best to consult with your local imam or scholar for clarification.

5Must I have the intention to pay zakat for it to be accepted?

Yes. In Islam, intention is an essential part of any act of worship, including the payment of zakat. The intention must be made at the time the zakat is paid.

6What kinds of wealth are included in the calculation of zakat?

For a detailed list of wealth to include, please see IRUSA’s zakat calculator.
These stipulations delineate the type of wealth that should be accounted for when calculating zakat:

  • The wealth is yours and under your control. You do not need to include outstanding debts when calculating zakat.
  • The wealth is subject to development and increasing.
  • After calculating necessary expenses, the wealth meets the requirements of nisab.
  • Personal belongings, such as clothes, primary homes, food, cars, are exempt from zakat.
7When can I pay my zakat?

Zakat should be paid as soon as possible prior to or at the time that you’ve earned the requisite amount of nisab each lunar year, or one year after you last paid it. Tip: A good way to ensure zakat is made in a timely fashion is to pay your zakat during Ramadan.

8Is it acceptable from a religious perspective to give zakat toward any of your funds, or does the fund have to specify zakat?

You may make your zakat contributions toward any of our funds or projects. It is your intention that counts in this case. However, if your contribution is specifically made to our zakat fund, then we will follow specific zakat guidelines.

9What is the administrative cost on zakat donations?

IRUSA follows the practice agreed upon by most scholars, which states that collectors of zakat are one of the eight groups that are eligible to receive zakat. As such, IRUSA is eligible to use up to 12.5% of donations made to zakat-specific funds for core work, including administrative and operational functions.

10Who can my zakat be given to?

According to the Holy Qur’an (9:60), there are eight categories of people who qualify to be beneficiaries of zakat:

  • The poor
  • The needy
  • The collectors of zakat
  • Those who hearts are to be won over
  • Captives
  • Those burdened with debt
  • In the cause of Allah (swt)
  • Travelers

Most scholars agree that the poor and needy are the most important categories of people to receive zakat. Given that, it is acceptable to give your entire zakat allotment to individuals who are in those groups.

11Do I have to pay my zakat on my home?

One does not have to pay zakat on a primary place of residence. If the house qualifies as a secondary residence that sometimes get rented out, however, zakat is due on it after subtracting necessary expenses from the income generated.

12Do I have to pay my zakat on jewelry?

Yes, on jewelry you do not regularly wear and that you own for investment purposes.

13Do I have to pay my zakat on stocks?

Yes. You may use the current value on stocks.

14What’s the difference between zakat and sadaqah?

In the language of the Holy Qur’an, zakat and sadaqah are the same. In practice, however, sadaqahis the term used to indicate voluntary charitable giving while zakat is obligatory.

15What is the difference between zakat and Zakat al-Fitr?

Zakat al-Mal (commonly called “zakat“) is due when a person’s wealth reaches the nisab amount and can be paid anytime during the year. Zakat al-Fitr is paid by the head of the household for each member of the family, before Eid al-Fitr prayer. Zakat al-Fitr is about the price of one meal—estimated at $10 in 2016.

16On whose behalf do I have to pay Zakat al-Fitr? What if I have young children?

Zakat al-Fitr should be paid on behalf of everyone in the family. There are some scholars that recommend that Zakat al-Fitr is also paid on behalf of unborn children after the 120th day of pregnancy, but do not view it as obligatory. Most scholars do agree, however, that Zakat al-Fitrshould be paid on behalf of the baby after his/her birth. Please do consult with your local imam or scholar for further clarification.

17When should I pay my Zakat al-Fitr?

It should be paid before Eid prayer (or any day during Ramadan). There are some schools of thought that also allow for Zakat al-Fitr to be paid even before Ramadan. Consult with your local imam or scholar if you need additional information.


1Can I make a sadaqah donation through Islamic Relief USA?

Yes, you can make a sadaqah donation through Islamic Relief USA. You can choose the place or kind of work it does by selecting the appropriate regional, country or sector fund—or give to our global funds, and we’ll use it where needed most. We do also have a Sadaqah Jariyah fund you can select under the Islamic Giving category. Your sadaqah donation can give families much-needed food, water, education, job opportunities, emergency relief, and much more.