An Islamic Approach to Migration and Refugees

As is well known, one of the five pillars of Islam is to give compulsory charity (zakat). In addition to the poor and destitute, among the beneficiaries of this charity are those who are in need and are suffering. When the Qur’an says,“When they give away from what We have given them”(Surah 2: 3) without indicating the reference of “what,” it shows that the needs of people and the ways of helping them are numerous. Migration and being a refugee are both dire human conditions and are connected to suffering and the need for help. The word refugee is not mentioned in the Qur’an per se, but among the recipients of zakat, the Qur’an mentions a category called ibn al-sabil (see Surah 9: 60). Ibn al-sabil literally means traveler.