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We are finally making progress on Muslims for Effective Altruism. For the next few months, we have someone working 0.5FTE on furthering the project and preparing it to be launched as its own organisation. We’ve linked a doc outlining our strategy in more detail and added a lot of other interesting info and considerations regarding Muslims for EA. Anyone interested in assisting this project, or wanting to keep up-to-date with its development, can email Ahmed or book a time on his calendly.

The “Why?”


  • Muslims are currently estimated to make up about 24% of the world population (1.8 billion people), and, being the fastest growing religion due partially to birth rates, the number of people in this altruistic community is set only to increase if current trends continue.[1]
  • The amount of charitable funding raised yearly through the Islamic institution of Zakat is estimated to be ~$550 billion [2]. However, the total amount of charitable funding is likely much greater because many Muslims donate other forms of Islamic charity throughout the year, which does not count towards Zakat figures.


  • To our knowledge, there are currently no organisations actively trying to direct Zakat, or other Muslim resources, to the highest impact evidence-based interventions, using frameworks advocated for by Effective Altruism.
  • There have been no successful attempts to involve Muslim influencers in the EA community, or research and document the overlaps between ideas of effective altruism and understandings of Islam.
  • The number of Muslims in the EA community is minimal. In the 2018 EA Survey, 7 respondents (out of 2607) identified as Muslim, and in the 2019 version, only 4 (of 1892) identified as Muslim.[3]This is compared to 41 who identified as Jewish (before EA for Jews was started) and 209 that identified as Christian in the 2018 survey.


  • Although community building within religious communities does pose some unique challenges, there are also comparative advantages. Individuals in religious communities are generally already convinced, by Scripture, that they should be dedicating a portion of their time and wealth to service. Therefore, not much energy needs to be given to convince the community to serve. It’s simply the “How/Where” that is up for debate.
  • There are several philosophical and normative overlaps between ideas of effective altruism and understandings of Islam, which means we don’t have to distort or radically reinterpret religious texts to be in line with EA causes or principles (such as effective giving, animal welfare, or caring about the longterm future).

Other reasons:

  • There is a lot of overlap between community building in the Muslim community and community building in Africa and Asia (where Islam is a major religion in many countries). Work is currently being started in the African community building space, showing significant growth potential over the next year. These projects could, therefore, complement each other.
  • Attempts to explore alternative “non-western” approaches to EA frameworks may benefit significantly from Islamic intellectual traditions, which itself inherited Greek philosophy and developed on it for several centuries.[4]

The “How?”


  • Carry out the first phase of community building
    • Focus on engaging Muslims already in EA (low-hanging fruit).
    • Create a closed Facebook and Slack community group.
    • Understand human resource capacity and skill sets within the community, which may inform, in conjunction with all the potential projects brainstormed by that point, where the next level of low-hanging fruit is.
  • Develop essential “Islam and EA” content
    • Before we can expand to doing outreach outside the existing EA Muslim community, it is vital that we first have some essential content about EA from an Islamic perspective. The first question many Muslims may ask is, “Is this compatible with my faith?” and we should be able to provide concise answers.
      • It would not necessarily have to be a lot of content but simply around the fundamental concepts of - 1 - doing good - 2 - effectively - and 3 - based on evidence and reason.
  • Develop a website.
    • Depending on the strategy taken, the website may or may not be branded with the name “Effective Altruism”.
    • This will require funding and volunteers to design and host the site.


  • Have a core team of volunteers that can start operationalising different project ideas listed in the document. Which ideas might depend on the specific skill-sets and passions of the group, but a priority may be further developing the Islam and EA content.
  • Start outreach to the various audiences outlined in the document in various capacities.
  • Start establishing spinoff projects/groups that are unaffiliated but EA in spirit, if that is the strategy adopted.


  • Start collaborating with major Zakat fund organisations in more established capacities, to start working on distributing Zakat in more effective ways.
  • Start implementing a module on strategies for being more effective in our altruism at international Muslim Seminaries as a part of their program (the next generation of Muslim scholars and community leaders).
  • Facilitate yearly conferences and host regular workshops for students, professionals and religious scholars.
  • Have an EA Muslims fellowship syllabus refined through several iterations of the course.
  • Have a collection of alternative literature that applies to the whole EA community on ways of thinking about being an EA based on historically neglected worldviews.

The “Who?”,[5][6]

Potential Target Audiences: 

  • EAs who are Muslim
  • Muslims who are proto-EAs
  • Influencers of the Muslim community
  • Muslim NGOs and Philanthropists
  • Scholars of Islam that share EA values

Currently working on this project: 

Ahmed Ghoor (Me)

I am currently studying for a B.Sc. in Mathematical Statistics and Computer Science at the University of Cape Town, and have also been studying Islamic Studies under various teachers in South Africa and abroad. I am the current chairperson of Effective Altruism UCT and the UCT Muslim Students Association (MSA), and a fellow in the Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute’s Future Leaders Program.[7]I am really excited to have the opportunity to combine my studies in Islamic intellectual history and contemporary legal theory, with my passion for effective altruism by working on this project. 

Kaleem Ahmid

Kaleem is a South African Muslim who’s been active/interested in EA community building, global health and wellbeing, biosecurity, and (recently) effective interior design. He started Muslims for EA after discussing his views on the compatibility of Islamic and EA values with members of the community, who encouraged him to go on and create something formal. Unfortunately, he never really had time to dedicate to the project, but he is extremely excited for someone else to take it over, and might even work on it full time in the future. He currently lives in Boston and works for CEA as a project manager for Boston and NYC property development. 

Supporting the project 

What we’re looking for at this point

  • People that are particularly skilled or passionate about working on Muslims for EA or a particular Muslims for EA project idea. Including, but not limited to:
    • Muslims already in the EA community building space.
    • Students and Scholars of Islamic Studies.
    • Individuals and activists working in Islamic NGO spaces.
    • Muslim professionals and researchers in EA cause areas.
    • Website designers and developers.
  • Funding for research, community building and websites. Specific things we’d like to fund are:
    • Funding to offer to Muslim scholars as a stipend for completing an EA intro fellowship or other virtual programs.
    • Funding to compensate Islamic Scholars for research work on Islam and EA.
    • The creation of an Muslims for EA Fellowship with scholars and students of Islamic Studies to explore and think about ideas of effective altruism from Islamic perspectives.
    • The design and hosting of websites for this group or any spinoff groups that are EA in spirit but not in name.
    • Hosting a Muslim NGO conference focused on doing good more effectively.
    • Attending international Islamic philanthropy or NGO conferences to represent EA and present EA ideas to other attendees
    • Compensation for community builders to be able to spend more time on the project after my 3-month internship is over.
    • A Masters/Doctoral level EA-Aligned Islamic Studies research project.

How to get in touch

If any person or organisation is interested in assisting this project or wants to keep up-to-date with its development, please feel free to contact me via email or book a time on my calendly.


Jordan Pieters, JD (Bauman), David Nash, George Rosenfeld, Zainab Chirwa, Zakariyau Yusuf, Alimi Salifou


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^

    Although it is certainly more  - we have more people in our WhatsApp group than the EA survey has Muslim respondents.

  4. ^
  5. ^

    Not the band “The Who”

  6. ^

    Also not “The World Health Organisation” 

  7. ^
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This is very exciting!!  Best of luck with your launch!

I've been wondering for years, ever since reading about Zakat, why there hasn't been much in the way of EA outreach to the Muslim community. I'm thrilled to see it finally happening!

Very glad to see this! Here are two Facebook groups that may be of interest:

Effective Zakat - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1731235183840615/?ref=share

EA Middle East https://www.facebook.com/groups/1076904819058029/?ref=share

Thanks Rochelle! :)

While taking the introductory EA virtual programme, I shared my experiences with my Muslim roommate. She was very sympathetic to the idea of ea. Big BUT: when I mentioned one of the exercises on moral decision making which weighed the expected value of deworming children with lobbying for farmed pig welfare (and ultimately led to comparing the value of human life with a pig), she was horrified. I’m thrilled to see that Ahmed is planning to develop a Muslim EA fellowship! In the meanwhile, perhaps a Muslim EA could review the introductory EA virtual programme and see if there are any examples such as this one which could be altered to make EA principles seem less hostile to Islam while retaining the community’s intellectual honesty?

To be fair, there are lots of types of people who reject comparing value of human life with value of animal life, spanning secular and religious backgrounds. I wouldn't have guessed there was a correlation between religiosity and that particular rejection. 

Agreed. However, I think the issue with my Muslim friend was not the foreignness of this idea but rather that it was illustrated with a particularly off-putting (for her) example of pigs. In this case, I think something as simple as changing the animal to one that does not automatically invoke disgust in certain religious groups (i.e. Judaism and Islam) would increase the diversity of those taking the intro EA programme.

Thanks for this. Yeah it's tough - I've thought about this particular thing quite a bit and I don't know what the right direction would be. This could be mitigated by "EA for Muslims" not taking a particular stance on anything and creating spin-off projects which do take a stance on things (e.g. maybe "EA Islamic Animal welfare initiative" does care about pigs.

On the one hand: Some (probably most) muslims would not want to help pigs because they're specifically singled out as an unclean/non-prefered/dirty animal. I don't know whether or not they're sympathetic to pig suffering or if they're indifferent (I'm sure some percentage would be pro-pig suffering but we're probably not trying to reach those people in the first place).

but on the other hand: Some muslims (like me) think pigs are probably very capable of feeling suffering and the amount of suffering endured collectively by pigs is really really bad and we should try stopping it. I think a reasonable muslim could say something like "god made these pigs, and says lots of things about how we should prevent the suffering of animals, and he doesn't say "except pigs"

This is very exciting and has huge potential. Please get in touch with the Altruistic Agency for tech needs (e.g. website) when you are at that point, I'd love to help.

Thanks so much Markus, we definitely will be in touch!

This is great. I'm drafting a post right now covering the different worldviews other than utilitarianism that are actively included in EA in practice. There is EA for Christians, for Jews and for Buddhists. The question of "what about Muslims?" has awkwardly not had an answer for a while but now there is! I am an admin or member for several EA Slack servers and Facebook groups, so please let me know if you want me to post or share anything about EA for Muslims.

Hey Evan, we're happy for this to be shared far and wide !

Congrats! Super exciting.

Thanks for your efforts and for putting this together. This can go a long way for both Muslims and EA.

This is really excellent and has a ton of potential. Well done!

Really excited to see this, have often thought about the potential for Zakat to be made more effective!

I think this is exciting - what I would like to see at this stage is a board or advisory group with members both with predominately EA and predominately Muslim views who can review your activities and give you advice from both perspectives. I’m sure you’ve considered that but it seems like the missing bit in terms of feedback and development at the moment.

As a footnote to your comment, I'd recommend Holden Karnofsky's post Nonprofit Boards are Weird, in particular the section Who should be on the board?

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