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Muslim Leaders Development Fund

Muslim Leaders Development Fund

Guidance and Information


Zakat, the third foundation of Islam, is the resourcing mechanism for the Muslim community which supports those struggling financially, brings about cohesion between members, removes barriers for those unable to contribute, nurtures effective leaders and provides contingency for emergencies.

As the UK’s only Zakat institution, National Zakat Foundation (NZF) provides Zakat recipients across the country with holistic support services, addressing not only their essential needs (for example, food, accommodation, clothing), but also empowering recipients to maintain their own financial security and wellbeing through additional services including counselling, advice, mediation and educational courses. Through its direct interactions with those in need, it has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience on the collective challenges facing the community.

NZF is now in its sixth year of providing Zakat services to the Muslim community in the UK, receiving close to 6,000 applications for support to date, establishing four supported housing projects and distributing over £6m to those eligible within our community.

The Aziz Foundation is an independent grant-making body seeking to support the most disadvantaged communities in Britain. It aims to do this through supporting community empowerment and leadership development in these communities, and greater public engagement by them in wider society. The Foundation seeks to support individuals and projects, strengthen organisations and networks, and help incubate innovative ideas that will ultimately improve the conditions in and for these sections of our society.

Muslim Leaders Development Fund (MLDF)

Both NZF and Aziz Foundation recognise the role of leaders in the advancement of the Muslim community and society as a whole. Effective leaders have a strategic ability to understand the needs of people and organisational processes that will get things done, embodying theocentric principles to achieve their objectives. As such, NZF has invested in over 40 undergraduate scholarships, three Masters degrees, twelve PhDs, as well as several other support packages for community activists and higher education students in the UK since its inception. The Aziz Foundation has established ten post-graduate scholarships and is also supporting two leading UK Islamic seminaries by funding four academic posts. The creation of the Muslim Leaders Development Fund is a further affirmation of our commitment to investment in the future by building capacity within the community of emerging leaders.

The MLDF is a strand of funding set aside to provide education, training, skills and other resources to emerging leaders who can demonstrate a high level of commitment to community service and those who aspire to lead and inspire in their respective fields. This fund has been developed in response to the need for enhanced leadership within the Muslim community, an area of work which NZF and Aziz Foundation recognise is lacking in development and investment.

Those applying to the fund may be imams, scholars, community activists or those working in the realm of public policy or media, wishing to upskill and develop their knowledge base to enhance their ability to serve as more effective leaders and impact positively the quality of activities they undertake. It is anticipated that investment in future leaders within the community will, God willing, result in the advancement of the Muslim community, and by extension, society.

Applying to the MLDF

As with any investment, NZF will undertake an assessment of applications in various areas including academic performance, work experience, Islamic learning (formal and informal), references and community service.

Eligibility Criteria

The MLDF aims to support emerging leaders primarily from the following groups:

Imams: This includes current and aspiring imams of mosques, as well as chaplains. 
Scholars: This includes current and aspiring Islamic scholars, as well as academics with formal religious training. 
Community activists: This includes youth workers, social workers, counsellors, project coordinators, events managers and others. 
Public policy: This includes those who are engaged with public policy on a local and national level. 
Media: This includes those engaged with media.

To be eligible to apply to the MLDF, candidates must demonstrate:

·         the value of the development activities; and
·         that they are unable to afford the related costs

As such, applicants will be requested to provide financial information including income, outgoings, financial liabilities and assets.

The MLDF is open to UK residents only.

Application Process 

Applications will be considered throughout the academic year or until allocated funding has been exhausted.

1. Applicant applies to MLDF online at

2. Applications shortlisted and interviewees informed

3. Quarterly panel interviews

4. Successful candidates informed

5. Grants paid to course provider or candidate

If you are interested in applying to the MLDF, please complete the online application form at:

MLDF Process

What types of courses and resources does the MLDF Fund?

Applications will be considered from individuals who would like to upskill and develop their knowledge base through various resources including:


·         Alimmiyyah or Islamic/Shariah studies and Ifta courses
·         Private studies with scholars
·         Chaplaincy courses
·         Interfaith engagement training
·         Community and youth development training
·         Media engagement courses
·         Social work training
·         Journalism courses
·         Language courses
·         Radio, TV and film courses
·         Public speaking courses
·         Project management courses
·         Teaching courses
·         Technology courses


·         General subsistence and travel costs related to courses
·         Costs related to non-institutional private studies with a scholar
·         Costs related to attending conferences and presenting papers

It is important to note that the above is not an exhaustive list and the MLDF welcomes applications for other development activities.

How much funding can I apply for?

Applications will be considered for funding totalling a maximum of £10,000 and will be limited to a maximum of one academic year (in exceptional circumstances for exceptional students, commitment to a full undergraduate degree may be considered).

Can you provide an example scenario of MLDF funding?

A recent media graduate who has several years of experience of working on community projects and has benefitted from informal Islamic learning throughout her academic career. She has the choice to pursue her career in media full-time, but also wishes to enhance her knowledge base by undertaking an Alimiyyah course with the aim of using her skills and knowledge to provide innovative leadership in her field. After several years of full-time education, she does not have a significant regular income or assets.

She made a successful application to the MLDF to undertake a 4 year part-time Islamic studies course, as well as public speaking training. On graduation, she aims to use her media training to provide innovative learning solutions to the community.

For queries contact: Rizwan Yusoof ( - Head of Strategy, Policy and Partnerships (SZR). Applications have now closed for the fund. 

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