Shia Khums: Where’s Our Money?

Some young people from Qatif have published an open letter to Shia religious leaders, calling for a reform in management of Khums. According to Shia Islamic legal terminology, Khums means “one-fifth of certain items which a person acquires as wealth, and which must be paid as an Islamic tax.”

In their letter, they raised questions on the fate of millions of riyals paid by the faithful. These enormous amounts of money have gone to support religious schools in Iraq, Iran and other places, as well as supporting liberation movements in other countries. Meanwhile, most people in the local Shia communities never dared to ask where does the money go and how it is spent, especially when our communities suffer from many problems that could have been solved using these vast resources.

I join these young men and women in their call for more transparency regarding the management of Khums money. The lack of transparency and accountability has led to increased incidents of corruption and misuse of power. If religious leaders claim the Khums money is spent the way God intended, then they should not be afraid to come out and publish regular financial reports to back these claims. I believe we have the right to know how our resources are managed, and I believe that our local communities are entitled to see these resources contribute to improving living standards of people here.