Delivered at the 10th World Islamic Economic Forum

 

Introduction

  • This is one of the first times, if not the first time that a full session of Zakat has been included in the World Islamic Economic Forum schedule, and it is very important that this continues and grows
  • It is in the context of the organisation that I work with that I will share some of my learnings on Zakat
  • National Zakat Foundation (NZF)  was founded 2011 and aims to institutionalise end-to-end Zakat services: education, calculation, collection and distribution.
  • NZF services both Zakat payers and recipients
  • Zakat is the means and not the end
  • There is vast untapped potential both in terms of quantity and quality of Zakat collection and distribution globally
  • How much Zakat is being collected and how much should be collected?
  • However large the pool of Zakat is, how is this being administered and how effectively is this being communicated back to Zakat payers?
  • NZF operates in the UK, Canada and Australia where there is a collective Muslim population of over 5 million
  • Our policy is 100% local distribution. Does that make any sense? It makes a lot of sense
  • 50% UK Muslims are living in 10% of the most deprived areas and relative poverty really does exist
  • On a regular basis we deal with cases of severe destitution and homelessness
  • We focus on providing hardship grants and supported housing projects; we have four in the UK for vulnerable women and ex offenders leaving prison for whom if we don’t intervene will end up back in prison!
  • There is a 90% reoffending rate amongst the Muslim prison population in the UK; young Muslims form 27% of the prison population in London, when Muslims only make up 10% of the London population

 

Key Lessons

  • Respecting role of Muslim scholarship – this is very important in order to institutionalise Zakat
  • Zakat is a pillar of Islam so the role of scholars to interpret that in an authentic and relevant way is critical
  • Scholars and practitioners must work together to find solutions that are authentically relevant
  • For example, one category of Zakat recipients is those whose hearts need to be reconciled, but there is a huge debate on what that means
  • How do we make a decision as a distributor of Zakat on what to do with that money to fit into that category in a way that will be acceptable to our Creator?
  • Zakat payers should be served as customers and treated as shareholders
  • What do Zakat payers need and want as customers?
  • Education is needed to deepen their understanding of Zakat.  On a scale of 1-10, the average knowledge of Zakat that is required in comparison to knowledge of other pillars of Islam is maybe only 2 out of 10
  • Calculation support with an understanding of pensions, shares, ISAs, suqooqs (Islamic bonds) and how Zakat relates to these
  • Collection needs to be accessible, easy and transparent
  • Shareholders want integrity of management, transparency and clear communications; Zakat payers aren’t any different and this is an issue even in those countries where Zakat is collected and distributed at the state level
  • We need to use Zakat in a way to transform people’s lives; to make a Zakat recipient into a Zakat payer, not to keep them as recipients for the rest of their lives

 

Concluding thoughts

  • Establishing the proper collection and distribution of Zakat is of great spiritual and economic concern
  • More dialogue is needed across stakeholder communities and Zakat institutions for sharing information and sharing best practice
  • Islamic financial institutions have a significant role to play in upholding this forgotten pillar
  • The impact of Zakat is much more potent than a poor person eating when they otherwise would not have
  • Proper distribution and collection brings mercy like rain from above; when rain falls it doesn’t affect one person, it affects a whole community and Zakat can also transform a whole community
  • This is the potential if we institutionalise Zakat properly and sincerely, using all the best practice, current knowledge and exciting developments across the world in different industries and sectors

Helping you bring Zakat to life where you live.

 

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