Muslims give most money during Ramadan
Tufail Hussain, deputy director of Islamic Relief UK, says that some Muslim charities in the UK are attracting donors from the corporate world as UK businesses increasingly understand the importance of whole-scale diversity.
What UK businesses engage with Muslim charities?
We live in a predominantly secular society, so it can be a challenge for faith-based charities in general, not just Muslim ones, to attract support from mainstream companies. We have seen sizeable interest from businesses across different sectors, whether they be blue chip companies, creative agencies, retailers or start-ups mainly because they have a Muslim workforce.
Tell us about the Muslim faith and ‘zakat’ giving?
Charitable giving is a religious obligation, the principle of zakat, that says that 2.5 percent of a believer’s annual saving should be donated to charity. Research has shown that average giving by Muslims in the UK is higher than for other faith groups or people with no religious affiliation. Giving is highest during the Ramadan, which usually accounts for over a third of Islamic Relief’s annual income.
What financial size is Islamic Relief?
In 2014, our global income was £182 million of which £99 million was from the UK. In the Syria crisis alone we have provided more than £130 million worth of aid to 6.5 million Syrians since the conflict began five years ago. Our work includes campaigning to tackle the root causes of poverty as well as projects alleviating the symptoms. Outside of our aid programmes and campaigns, we spend around seven percent of income on administration and fundraising costs.
Are Muslim charities treated differently by the authorities or the media?
It is important not to generalise. Some media are very interested in our work and report on it in a balanced way while others are antagonistic. As a Muslim charity, what we ask for is fair treatment, not special treatment. We want to be judged on our work and our humanitarian effectiveness, not on the basis of assumptions and preconceptions. We are currently talking to the Government about the issue of aid in conflict zones, where charities like Islamic Relief have good access to those in need but some banks are delaying or blocking the transfer of funds for fear of punitive action under counter-terrorism regulations. This is a good example of where charities need the authorities to act to support bona fide aid charities and hold the banks to account.
Tell us about Islamic Relief and your work?
Whilst community fundraising remains the bread and butter of our daily operations, we have seen an increase in corporate and institutional partnerships. With the ongoing instability in the Middle East, we are finding that our expertise in the region is increasingly being called upon. From understanding cultural differences to helping to navigate foreign bureaucracy, governments and institutions. It is now understood that Muslim charities play an important role in tackling current refugee and humanitarian crises’. To give an example, Islamic Relief is now the primary implementing partner for the UN’s World Food Programme in Yemen. At the end of 2015, we were delivering food to over two million people each month.