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The Refugees of Syria: The Painful Numbers daily one sees Muslims posting hysterically about the crisis in Syria and the plight of her refugees. Brutal images are shared of mangled bodies, grief-stricken women and children, and most recently the beached, dead bodies of children who had drowned when a boat filled with refugees capsized. But it seems that is where much of the Muslim world’s response ends: Facebook and Twitter. Now here is some disturbing perspective regarding the world community’s willingness —or lack thereof from those who are supposed to be the most concerned— to care for Syria’s refugee diaspora. Many will find the facts to be both painful and embarrassing.

The Germans have proposed taking in 30,000 Syrian refugees through its humanitarian admission program. That is a staggering number for a European nation. The entire country of Germany is about the size of the State of Texas and has a gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita income of $46,896.1

The Icelandic people are pressuring their government to take in more Syrian refugees saying they will host them in their own homes if necessary. Iceland is about the size of the State of Tennessee and has a per capita income of $45,269.

The United Kingdom has proposed that it should take in 10,000 Syrian refugees. The UK is about the size of the State of Michigan and has a per capita income of $40,676.

The United States of America has claimed it will accept the 17,000 Syrian refugees who have applied for entry. They took in 1,500 last year and have promised to at least double that number by next year. The USA has a per capita income of $56,421.

But let’s not forget those who have all the while been hosting 95% of all Syrian refugees for the past few years: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.2

Turkey hosts 1.6 million Syrian refugees. Turkey is around half the size of Alaska and has a per capita income of $20,188, which is below the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average per capita income of $25,908.

Lebanon, a country of just 4.8 million people, hosts 1.1 million Syrian refugees making them 26% of the entire population. Lebanon is about half the size of the State of New Jersey and has a per capita income of $18,422, well below the OECD average per capita income of $25,908.

Jordan, a country of 6.5 million people, hosts 618,615 Syrian refugees making them nearly 10% of the entire population. Jordan is smaller than the State of Louisiana and has a per capita income of $12,213, below half of the OECD average per capita income of $25,908.

Iraq has hosted 225,373 Syrian refugees. Being a war torn country also currently beleaguered by ISIS, their reduced capacity is not surprising. In spite of this, they are hosting more than a quarter of a million Syrian refugees. Iraq is about the size of Montana and has a per capita income of $14,448, just over half of the OECD average per capita income of $25,908.

Egypt has hosted 142,543 Syrian refugees. It is between the size of Texas and Alaska and has a per capita income of $11,194, the lowest income on the list, and far, far below half of the OECD average per capita income of $25,908.

There are, of course, countries that have been far less helpful.

Slovakia, with a per capita income of $29,210 well above the OECD per capita average, says it will take in Syrian refugees but only if they are of the Christian faith. Syria is 90% Muslim.

Russia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, all nations with healthy per capita incomes, have expressed absolutely no intention of assisting Syrian refugees. Singapore, which has an impressively strong per capita income of $85,198, well over three times the OECD per capita average, has shown absolutely no interest in accommodating Syrian refugees.

But what is most lamentable is that some of the richest nations on the planet which also happen to be conservative Muslim societies have been woefully behind in accommodating their Muslim brethren from Syria. While the Gulf Arab nations of Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have donated tremendously for humanitarian relief in Syria (Saudi Arabia being the single largest donor in the world, with well over a quarter of a billion dollars to help refugees in both Iraq and Syria), they have done nothing to actually accommodate Syrian refugees into their countries.

Qatar has the highest per capita income on Earth of $143,532, five and a half times the OECD per capita average.

The United Arab Emirates has a per capita income of $65,149 making it the 7th highest in the world and well over double the OECD per capita average.

Saudi Arabia has a per capita income of $53,149, double the OECD per capita average.

Kuwait has a per capita income of $70,914, nearly three times the OECD per capita average.

Bahrain has a per capita income of $52,515, more than double the OECD per capita average.

These aforementioned Gulf nations could easily afford to accommodate, or arrange for accommodations, for each and every Syrian refugee. But they haven’t. Not a single Syrian refugee should have to apply for refugee status in Europe and America where they will be aggressively ministered to and pressured to convert to Christianity. Not a single Syrian refugee should sit in a squalid camp where Christian missions will go and manipulate their delicate emotional state and pressure them to convert to Christianity. It is happening! This is from a Christian missionary website:

“One Sunday when I was there we had 200 people in a room. We said, ‘Okay, you know that we are Christians and we believe in Jesus and we would like to pray for you.’ We shared the gospel with them. I’ve never seen so many people praying at the same time in my life, ever. All of them were Muslims. We said, ‘Do you want to give your life to Jesus?’ They said, ‘Yes,’ and they prayed. I don’t know if it’s because we were there, but I know they need Jesus. That’s all I know. That’s the maximum we can give them.”3

I didn’t quote the above to vilify this missionary. He’s doing what he believes his Lord has commanded him to do: Share the Gospel. Don’t we believe we are commanded to share Islam? But, regardless, neither Christianity, nor Islam, nor any religion for that matter, should be pushed on an emotionally vulnerable people like the indigent and hungry Syrian refugees. This is not serving God. It’s serving one’s self.

We need to step up our game because, quite frankly, when it comes to humanitarian causes for our own people we are being trounced by the Christian world while the wealthy of us think that throwing money at the problem will make it go away. Wealthy Muslim-majority nations need to stop with the multi-million dollar donations that are a drop in the bucket for them anyway and realize that the key component of the word “refugee” is “refuge”. Show-off donations are self-serving. Use that money to get involved, get on the ground, and start architecting programs to provide refuge for OUR refugees.

  1. All figures for GDP PPP were taken from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) website []
  2. All figures for the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt were taken from Amnesty International’s article Facts & Figures: Syria refugee crisis & international resettlement, 12/5/2014 []
  3. An Insider’s Glimpse into the Syrian Refugee Crisis, Christian Aid Mission, 10/24/2013 []

About the author

Shibli Zaman

Shibli Zaman

Shibli Zaman was born in Summit, New Jersey and raised in Houston, Texas. Since his childhood, he has frequently traveled throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Later in life, much of this time was spent studying Islamic jurisprudence in the Shafi`i and Hanbali schools of law. He has a deep appreciation for different cultures and is literate in several languages such as Arabic, Persian, Pashto and Urdu. Surprising for a Muslim, he is also adept in Hebrew and Aramaic. Having a proclivity for Semitic linguistics enabled him to study the Biblical texts from a unique perspective. He holds a gold medal in Bible Memory from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has contributed to one of the most significant websites defending Islam's textual sources and traditions from an academic perspective, He was an employee of Shaykh Salman al-`Awdah from whose inspiration he benefited tremendously and assisted in the early phases of his English website,


  • Salam brother, would just like to point out something.

    “Singapore, which has an impressively strong per capita income of $85,198, well over three times the OECD per capita average, has shown absolutely no interest in accommodating Syrian refugees.”

    As a Singaporean, it saddens me that you have cited us as an example with no basis other than PCI. We are also one of the MOST densely populated cities in the world. Overpopulation is a very real problem for Singapore. In future when using examples, please think about it from all sides of the story, not just one perspective.

    That being said, I am happy that you chose to point out this very real problem, Syrian, Rohingyan and other refugees of the world. May He bless your efforts in helping enlighten other people to the truth of the matter.

    • Izzah, I didn’t make this up for fun. I didn’t single out your beloved Singapore. This is straight from Amnesty Internatkonal’s report and you will find the exact reference in the footnotes. You didn’t feel bad quoting me stating the fact that Singapore has a per capita income THREE TIMES that of the OECD average to make a point that Singapore is overpopulated? What about all the Chinese they allow to constantly overpopulated the city in the name of commerce and profit? They can’t accommodate even 100 refugees? I’m disappointed in your comment.

  • Prayer happens within the lineage of the Abrahamic faiths.
    Why is it that music uses common notes while in transition
    to new key structures and consequently modulate accordingly
    to the rules of transposing from one key to the next.
    What would the prophet Abraham say to all the relations that
    continue to perch their speech disregarding rules of traditional harmony
    while music theory holds the prelude of Abraham and the branches of
    key changes throughout history utilizing the common threads of humanity
    as notes on the scales of life.
    Look at speech and the dynamics within the lines and spaces while God implores
    peace and blessings upon all the prophets!
    The article is well cadenced.

  • Thank you so much. Finally some one that knows what they are talking about and actual footnotes to back up your words. This is a very close personal concern of mine as my “man” lives in Damascus and will be attempting to get out of Syria this month with an unknown destination. If all goes well I hope to join him if my health lets me next year, when he has found a place of acceptance.

  • This is a really good article, you are right about the response of the Muslim World ending in social media, I think most people just repost stuff in the spur of the moment, whatever they see doesn’t really effect them in their daily lives. But I am surprised nobody is talking about the real issue here. How did we have the refugee crisis in the first place? It’s because the world ignored the Assad and Daesh situation and now things have gotten out of hand.

    This is not the first time the world had to deal with refugee. We all know what happens to refugees. Unfortunately majority of them end up living in tents, their kids have no future. They are the first one to be blamed if something goes wrong in the country. Unfortunately discrimination based on culture and language has become very common and people are very intolerant of ‘foreign’ things.

    So we let the refugees move in to different places, then what? How long are they going to stay? (Unless you’re assuming that Assad and Daesh will just stop and back down) Are they going to live in a makeshift home for this unknown length of time? What about schools, hospitals and employment for the refugees? Will they even be able to work? (since they are already traumatized) What if there is increase in the crime rate because of poverty? These things require a lot of planning by the government.

    The best solution is obviously the long-term solution. Refugees never leave their counties by will, they leave because things have no other option. The best way, in my opinion, is to help them in their own homes and end the war by diplomacy or by force. The countries in power should do everything they can to stop the war in Syria and then help the people financially so they can rebuild their countries.

  • Good day Brethren
    It is accepted today that whatever a person/nation/group/family does, prays for,
    Contributes to, asks for, constantly thinks about, works towards, etc etc
    They will eventually receive
    I now beg for an answer as to what my beloved Islamic brothers of which I
    Had the most gentle of school friends ……my best friends were Muslim
    I in fact had more Muslim friends than of my own Anglican
    I never saw any Muslim fight or argue or being ugly at school
    I loved them …they were good looking …sweet ….generous
    Why oh why … they suffer now?

    • Since no comment in one year….allow me to answer my own question …….(there are other other contributing answers too)
      Downfall the oil producing countries unknowingly faced ……with all the funds flowing freely …..made the community lazy to think …plan ….discover …. create …etc
      In fact it stunts all our talents …hidden genius …..and growth
      I see a repeat …elsewhere …..Americans and Canadians are carried along by …exceptional funds still pouring in for decades from Coca Cola …m/ soft Windows
      ….a thousand Frank sinatras etc … can name some ….they are all
      Good for the country as long as we don’t become complacent …..and forget to do our personal thing …..

  • I was so shocked reading that Saudi Arabiai did nothing to syrian refugees. Ya Akhi, It is haram for a muslim to to say a bad thing about a whole country without making sure it is true.I am Saudi citizen living in Saudi Arabia, and from here I confirm to you that Saudi Arabia took 2 million of syrian refugees living here peacefully, taking monthly salary without working plus getting all the services free of charge.

  • I am a saudi citizen and I am telling you that your information, unfortunately, about Saudi Arabia is not accurate. Saudi Arabia hosts 2 million of syrian refugees living here peacefully, getting monthly salaries without working and recieving all the services out of charge.

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