[Snapshot Survey] Zakat in the UK

Written by Sadiq Dorasat
Published April 8, 2023

Survey finds overwhelming majority of British Muslims distribute their Zakat abroad.

Within the month of Ramadan, the extraordinary giving habits of Muslims is emphasised. A report from Givebrite claimed that British Muslims donated over £150million to charity during Ramadan in 2020. A large bulk of the pounds donated are as a result of the many Muslims who pay their Zakat within the holy month.

However, studies on how British Muslims perceive Zakat and their specific donating habits are few and far between. In times where a British Muslim applies to receive Zakat support every 12 minutes according to the latest findings by National Zakat Foundation, understanding how a Muslim thinks when paying their Zakat is crucial. And so, the team at Muslim Census launched a survey exploring exactly this.

Across the dates 2nd March – 13th March 2023, we surveyed 236 British Muslims to understand what factors contribute to them deciding on how and where to pay their Zakat. The snapshot study was conducted via an online survey and distributed to the Muslim Census subscriber base. A full sample breakdown can be accessed below.

British Muslims look abroad when paying Zakat

Although Muslims can choose their Zakat date at any point in the year, 80% of British Muslims pay their Zakat during Ramadan.

So where do they pay it?

In the last few years, there has been a huge increase in the attention given to distributing your Zakat locally, or abroad. Spurred on by the pandemic and subsequent cost of living crisis, Muslim Census ourselves found there to be a massive increase in British Muslims struggling to make ends meet in our Cost of Living report published in November 2022.

However, the need for support abroad has not waned either. The Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have further harshened the conditions for refugees amongst others, and the poverty and struggles of countries such as Palestine, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan are still pressing.

We found that of the 236 surveyed, just 1 in 5 (21%) gave their Zakat locally within the UK last year, and just 22% said they intend to donate locally this year. Interestingly, there is quite a difference between men and women. 28% of Men said they will be giving their Zakat in the UK this year, whereas this number falls to 16% for women.

Clearly, the overwhelming majority of British Muslims still prefer to give their Zakat abroad. It is worth pointing out that half of the people donating their Zakat abroad, are doing so to their own home country.

In terms of causes Muslims feel most passionate about, donating their Zakat to support orphans is by far and away the most popular. Also, in terms of the factors in deciding which charity to select for their Zakat, transparency was cited by 69% of respondents. The charity’s reputation and the type of cause came a close second and third (63% and 59% respectively) whilst the need for a 100% donation policy was cited by 52%.

Calculating Zakat proving difficult

The influx of Zakat webinars during Ramadan shows that there is a real need for education regarding how to calculate the value of your Zakat amount. The multi-layered concept goes much deeper than just 2.5% of your total wealth. With the understanding of the gold and silver nisab, and the differences between types of assets from stocks and shares to cash to pensions and even crypto, It is quite easy to see how people may be confused by it all.

In fact, our study found that 1 in 4 Muslims are not confident that they are calculating their Zakat correctly (24.1%). We also went on to find that 45% of Muslims use an online Zakat calculator, and 42% manually calculate the amount for themselves.

We hope you found this insight report useful, you can go ahead and see the full breakdown of the study here.

We recommend using the online Zakat calculator provided by Islamic Relief here.

If you would like more information, or want to reach out to the Muslim Census team, please do here.

May Allah accept our efforts in this blessed month of Ramadan.

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