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Frequently Asked Questions

What is National Zakat Foundation?

NZF’s vision is for Islam to flourish as a real commitment to God that inspires believers to strive for prosperity, harmony and justice for all.

NZF was founded by Mercy Mission UK in 2011 and became a separate entity and registered charity in 2013, when it was also launched in Canada and Australia. Since its inception in 2011, NZF has distributed £7.3m (as of December 2017) of Zakat within the UK to almost 8,000 beneficiaries.

Since it was founded, NZF’s mission has been to collect and distribute Zakat within the UK. Whilst the amount of Zakat collected and number of individuals benefitting from NZF’s Zakat distribution continues to increase exponentially, NZF is now ensuring its vision fully reflects a society where the transformative power of Zakat is maximised.

Our mosques are the collective institution to help Muslims uphold the pillar of Salat. Classically, there have also been local collective institutions to help Muslims uphold the pillar of Zakat.

NZF is now the premier Zakat institution for UK Muslims, collecting and distributing Zakat transformatively within the UK. NZF focusses on the purpose of Zakat, ensuring that distribution is transformative within the United Kingdom.

NZF distributes the majority of Zakat to individuals in need of hardship relief as well as to individuals in need of support with empowerment.  These people include some of the most vulnerable members of the community such as: the homeless, refugees, asylum seekers and the elderly. NZF distributes a smaller but critical portion to develop the Muslim community – through advocacy, Islamic scholarship, and educational/strategic initiatives.   

To achieve the transformative impact of Zakat distribution, NZF has developed a range of products and services to support Zakat payers. This includes many ways to pay Zakat and Calculation resources. 

Why do we need another charity organisation?

The concept of the National Zakat Foundation was born when shocking stories of poverty in the UK came to light. Although there are many Muslim charities in the UK, practical support for those suffering from poverty and destitution is scarce and fragmented. As a result, the National Zakat Foundation was established to provide an effective, organised and professional service to help those in need on our doorstep.

Since then, NZF has been thinking deeply about the purpose of Zakat. The two key principles behind the NZF approach are thought leadership and transformative impact.  

NZF’s strategic approach to ensuring the purpose of Zakat is fulfilled, is to:

Take a holistic approach to distributing Zakat across the eight categories of Zakat recipients -  providing practical support and building understanding of Islam and Muslims. This is achieved through providing practical support for those most in need and supporting Muslim community institutions and engaging in advocacy. 

Distribute Zakat locally - all scholars agree that each country is worthier of its own Zakat. This is where our primary responsibility lies as we know our local context and needs the best.

Pool Zakat resources - by collecting and distributing the Zakat that is due, for the purposes which we believe God has decreed.

Those most in need in our community will feel a sense of belonging, their situation can improve and they can strive to become Zakat payers themselves. Our community will improve in its understanding of faith and its participation in wider society. This will help external perceptions of Islam and Muslims improve.

When both these aspects are achieved, Islam can flourish as a real commitment to God that inspires believers to strive for prosperity, harmony and justice for all.

Why do we need to distribute Zakat in the UK when we have an established welfare system?

The purpose of Zakat is to enable Islam to flourish as intended: as a real commitment to God that inspires believers to strive for prosperity, harmony and justice for all. Supporting the poor and needy is a key component of this, but not the only element.

There are two aspects which work together to achieve the purpose:

Individual support. (the majority of NZF’s work) 50% of Muslim households are in poverty compared to 18% for the population overall. Under the welfare system, application procedures for housing and other benefits are time consuming and bureaucratic. Applicants can encounter delays of up to several months before any benefit is forthcoming. NZF aims to provide assistance during this crucial time so that applicants (often with children) can live in safety and with dignity whilst other options are being explored. Through NZF’s support, those most in need in our community will feel a sense of belonging, their situation can improve and they can strive to become Zakat payers themselves.

Community-level support. Within the UK, young Muslims are excluded, discriminated against, or failed, at all stages of their transition from education to employment. In a survey taken in 2010, “just one in four” of the British public feel positive about Islam – the proportion is likely to be lower now. There is a great need to support Islamic scholarship, our community institutions and to engage in advocacy for Islam and Muslims. Through NZF’s support, our community will improve in its understanding of faith and in its participation in wider society while external perceptions of Islam and Muslims improve.

What type of assistance does the National Zakat Foundation give for individuals?

NZF distributes Zakat to individuals who are eligible to receive it. Through our Zakat fund, we aim to provide for the basic necessities of life. Examples of the type of items we pay for includes:

  • Food vouchers
  • Emergency accommodation
  • Rent deposits
  • Baby items such as nappies and milk
  • Personal items e.g. clothing and toiletries
  • Essential travel
  • Basic furniture

Giving your Zakat to the National Zakat Foundation

I usually give my Zakat abroad, why should I give it here in the UK?

The situation for Islam and Muslims in the UK is critical. It is common for people growing up in secular Britain, especially the young, to drift away, to identify as Muslims culturally but to be less spiritually committed to Islam. 50% of Muslim households are in poverty compared to 18% for the population overall. Within the UK, young Muslims are excluded, discriminated against, or failed, at all stages of their transition from education to employment.

We have the power to change the situation. If Zakat is given within the UK via a central mechanism for the Zakat causes specified in the Qur’an – supporting individuals in hardship, Muslim community development, and advocacy for Islam and Muslims -  then it will be easier to fulfil the purpose of Zakat. Its purpose is for Islam to flourish as a commitment to God that inspires believers to strive for prosperity, harmony and justice. The result will be a faithful, successful community of Muslims, contributing to society for the benefit of all.

But we can only achieve this purpose of Zakat if it is primarily distributed locally i.e. in the country where a person resides. Our responsibility is locally. Local distribution strengthens the sense of belonging to a community. Those within a society know best and most effective ways to cultivate the necessary socio-economic environment for Islam and Muslims to flourish.

There is a strong emphasis on distributing locally in the Sunnah and narrations of the Tabi’in. Islamic scholar Ingrid Mattson explains: “The local nature of Zakat distribution is emphasized repeatedly by early Muslim scholars, who discuss extensively the purpose and benefits of local distribution”.

Can I still give my Zakat abroad? Is it wrong if I do?

If the purpose of Zakat is solely to help the poor and needy, then it makes sense to give Zakat abroad due to the extent of poverty abroad. However, all acts of worship, including Zakat, are to bring us closer to God – as individuals and a community. We can only achieve this communal purpose of Zakat if it is: primarily distributed locally and holistically, to individuals in hardship, for Muslim community development and for advocacy for Islam and Muslims.

Many scholars recommend that Zakat should be given locally. This is based in part on the instruction that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) gave to his companion, Mu'adh, who was sent to spread the message of Islam in Yemen, "O Mu'adh! Inform them that Allah makes Zakat obligatory for them. (It is) to be taken from their rich and given to their poor." [Bukhari]

NZF recommends you give Sadaqah to support causes in any other country, or any cause in this country which does not fall under the categories of Zakat mentioned in the Qur’an.

What will the National Zakat Foundation use my Zakat for?

Your Zakat will be used to fund individuals and projects that benefit Islam and Muslims in the UK and for which it is permissible to use Zakat funds, as determined by our in-house scholars who work closely with a range of external scholars. Within these limits, NZF has set strict eligibility criteria for individuals and projects. Expenditure that cannot be funded through Zakat funds will be funded through general donations (Sadaqah) and Gift Aid.

Currently, the majority of our work is focussed on Muslim individuals facing hardship. This is due to the particularly high level of poverty and deprivation within the UK Muslim community and our expertise in faith-sensitive direct service provision. NZF is also distributing Zakat funds for Muslim community development and for advocacy for Islam and Muslims.

Meet the Team

Introducing the people behind the National Zakat Foundation

How Can You Help?

Find out how your donations help us make a real difference to someone in need. Read our case studies here.