When Sabah’s husband died suddenly, his debts became hers. With a 10-year-old daughter to take care of, she desperately needed support. Newly widowed with no one to turn to, Sabah came to NZF for help.
We sat down with Sabah to hear her story, in her own words.
NZF: Asalaamu alaikum, Sabah. Thank you for speaking to us today. It’s really important for Zakat payers to hear your story, so they can see who they’re helping when they pay through NZF.
Sabah: Wa alaikum salaam. I’m happy to do this. I know there are lots of Muslims who don’t believe Zakat is needed here in the UK. People think because this isn’t a developing country, there’s nobody in poverty here. But that’s just not true.
NZF: We agree. So, let’s start by going back to the beginning. Tell us about the situation that led you to contact us for help.
Sabah: Well, in 2010, my husband lost his job because he needed heart surgery. He was a driver, a chauffeur, but because of his health, his license was revoked and he wasn’t allowed to drive anymore.
I wasn’t working at that time either, so we quickly ran out of money. To help us survive, my husband took out some loans. He also had to support his family in Pakistan, and they relied on him for support, so there was a lot of pressure on him.
NZF: And then what happened?
Sabah: Six years after his surgery, my husband passed away very suddenly, leaving me and our ten-year-old daughter.
He hadn’t been able to pay off his debt, so the debt fell on me. When my husband died, we didn’t even have money for food, so there was no way I could pay any of the debt.
NZF: Did you have any family who could help?
Sabah: They were there, but they didn’t help. And I couldn’t expect any support from my husband’s family, because they live far away.
Whenever I asked for help, people would tell me off, asking why my husband took loans in the first place, and why I’m in debt. They also said my situation couldn’t be that bad since we lived in the UK.
NZF: Is that when you contacted the National Zakat Foundation (NZF)?
Sabah: Yes. My friend told me about NZF. She said I could go online and apply for some help. I did that, and NZF agreed to support me.
They gave me Tesco vouchers, which I could use to buy food and other important things for my daughter, like shoes and clothes.
NZF: What difference did this make to your life?
Sabah: [begins to cry] It was like I could breathe again.
Before NZF’s help, I had no money for anything. It felt like there were chains around my neck stopping me from being able to breathe. Without my husband, I had to learn how to do everything by myself. It was a completely new life. I was suddenly very alone, and I was a single mum. But because of those vouchers, I felt the weight of the world lift from my shoulders again.
Eventually, I applied for benefits, and not long ago, I managed to get a job.
NZF: What do you do now?
Sabah: I work as a Supervisor. I’m at work right now, actually. I’m sat in the staff room, on the prayer mat, crying.
But I’m not crying because I’m sad; I’m crying out of gratitude that NZF helped me.
There’s a saying of Imam Hussain (may God be pleased with him) that I think of quite often: “A person will not forget two types of faces in his life: the one who helped him in his time of need; and the one who left him alone in difficult times.”
There were people who could’ve helped, but all of them chose not to. In all their wealth, there was no share for a widow and an orphan, even though the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The one who cares for an orphan and myself will be together in Paradise like this*.”
In the end, it was NZF, who were complete strangers, that helped me.
NZF: What do you say to those who give through NZF?
Sabah: I think NZF, the people who work for them, and the payers who give their Zakat to them, are the chosen ones. God chose them to be His helpers on earth, so they can support people like me and my daughter.
“When you’re deserted by friends and family, you’ll find sympathy from strangers.”
That’s what happened with me.
NZF: Sabah, is there anything you’ve said that you don’t want us to publish?
Sabah: No. Please publish my real name too. If me reaching out and telling my story will inspire someone to give their Zakat through NZF, then I don’t mind.
My name hasn’t always been Sabah. I changed my name to Sabah after I went through this hardship, because ‘Sabah’ means ‘beautiful morning’, and it reminds me that after darkness comes light.
NZF: What do you say to those who are unsure about giving their Zakat through NZF, to people who live in the UK?
Sabah: I’d say: don’t hesitate to give your Zakat to NZF. You’re helping people who aren’t getting help from anywhere else, simply because they live in the UK and people don’t believe they’re really in need.
I understand you want to help people abroad. I give to many causes abroad too, but please understand that charity starts at home.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “He is not a believer who eats his fill whilst his neighbour beside him goes hungry*”
When you give to NZF, you might be helping someone who lives on the next street, and you don’t even know her, and you have no idea what she’s going through or even that she’s suffering.
I want to say: your neighbour counts too.
NZF: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sabah: [crying] Yes. May God reward everyone who helped me at that time; NZF, and the few friends that did. I’m so grateful and I’ll always remember. You’re an organisation that will never be forgotten. Even now, three years later, when someone mentions NZF, I smile.
May God bless you, and reward you for your work, and keep the organisation up and running for the good of all Muslims until the Day of Judgement.
I pray this small contribution reaches Muslims and helps them realise there are people in the UK who need help.
By helping them with your Zakat, you’re actually doing something amazing.
NZF: Thank you, Sabah, for being so open about your experience. We ask that God corrects your affairs, that He blesses you and your daughter, and that you see the fruits of your patience in Paradise.