Are you Zakat eligible?

People often ask us how we determine who is Zakat eligible when it comes to the “Poor” and “Needy” Zakat recipient categories. At NZF, we take case assessment with utmost seriousness, completely aware of the fact that this is Zakat money that you have entrusted us with & it is a responsibility and trust put on us by Allah to ensure it is distributed to the needy.

It is important that applicants understand the scope of Zakat, and why sometimes it is not easy for us to provide Zakat even though our team genuinely does want to assist the case.

When an applicant applies for financial assistance, we perform a comprehensive assessment of their financial situation to determine whether or not they are Zakat eligible.

If it is an emergency, immediate relief funds and/or accommodation is organised to help the applicant sometimes as quick as within 1 hour.

To assess an applicants financial situation, the team will request the below documents, among other things, to assess their Zakat eligibility:

  • Current bank statement for the last 3 months
  • All income statements, including any Centrelink payments
  • All bills & expenses
  • Debt proofs
  • ID
  • Medicare
  • Without the provision of all documents, we are unable to assess the applicants case.

Following this, the team will assess whether the applicant falls into the category of “Poor” or “Needy” based on the financial situation of the applicant in relation to the local community here in Australia. Typically, any assistance required in relation to shelter, medication or food will be immediately provided.

One of our primary objectives is long term sustainability.

For example, if the applicants’ expenses are above the average expenses for someone in a similar circumstance here in Australia, we will first work with the applicant to re-organise their finances as often we have found by simply planning better, the applicant can fund their needs themselves. We have networks through which we can organise professional financial planning services if needed. This is a key principle for us to ensure that we are giving Zakat to only those who are truly eligible.

Let’s look at a few case studies to put the above into practice:

Case Study 1

Background:

  • Family of 4
  • Husband is the primary income earner
  • Family lives an average life. They have 2 cars & foxtel.

Situation: Husband meets with an accident and they now don’t have an income. They need to pay the school fees for their kids and further, one of their cars needs to be fixed.

Applicant: The sister applies to NZF for funds for School fees & repairs for the car.

Assessment: The husband is handicapped and is unlikely to return to work in the near future. Based on this, the NZF case worker assesses the need for a second car. Further she finds that by cancelling the Foxtel subscription they will save another $100 a month which can be put towards food & groceries.

Conclusion: The NZF, assists with financial planning and helps them sell their car to get the required funds. No Zakat was required.

Case Study 2

Background:

  • Family of 4
  • Husband is the primary income earner
  • Family lives an average life, with one car and sufficient income for rent & food.

Situation: Husband meets with an accident and they now don’t have an income. They need to pay the school fees for their kids and further, one of their cars needs to be fixed.

Applicant: The sister applies to NZF for funds for School fees & repairs for the car.

Assessment: The husband is injured and is currently not earning with no source of income. The wife needs a car to drop the kids at school and to do all the family shopping. They are already currently living in a 1 bedroom apartment, with minimal expenses.

Conclusion: Zakat eligible. NZF provides funds for school fees & to fix their car. NZF also provides grocery vouchers for their food and asks the sister to get in touch once in a month if the husband is still unable to work to identify a long term sustainability plan.

Case Study 3

Background:

  • Family of 5
  • Husband is the primary income earner
  • Family lives a fairly comfortable life. They have 2 cars, rent a 3 bedroom house, Foxtel, etc.

Situation: Husband meets with an accident and they now don’t have an income. The wife starts looking for work while in the mean time lives of their savings. After a few months she realizes they will need to downsize their house and sell some of the unnecessary items and reduce their expenses. She sells one car, moves into a cheaper 2 bedroom house and cancels their Foxtel connection. She has been looking for a job for the last 3 months. However, she still does not have enough funds for the school fees for the 3 kids due this month.

Applicant: The sister applies to NZF for funds for School fees for the children,

Assessment: Even though the family lived a fairly high standard of living previously, it is clear the family have done their best to reduce their expenses and change their lifestyle in a short period of time. Based on her current financial status, if NZF assists with school fees, the family would have enough funds for their day to day living for atleast 2 more months during which NZF can aid the sister with trying to get a job.

Conclusion: Zakat eligible. NZF provides funds for school fees. NZF also supports the sister to undergo some training to equip her with skills that will aid her in getting a job to support her family.

We do our best

End of the day, we do our best to fulfil this Pillar of Islam and distribute Zakat as instructed by our Creator. This is a simplified view of what our case assessment process may involve and we hope that it allows you to understand that sometimes it is not black & white and it may take our team a few days to assess your case and provide you with the appropriate assistance.

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Brother Mohamed – Struggling Refugee

Imagine constantly living in fear of persecution, in fear for your life. Imagine having to flee your homeland, having to leave everything you know and love- your family, your friends, your job, your life. This is exactly the situation Brother Mohamed faced approximately 25 years ago in his home country.

Mohamed came to Australia to seek refuge and asylum here in the late 80s. Despite initially coming to Australia for safety and to start a new life he has unfortunately fallen victim to the system. Not having the right to work or study and ineligible for government support Mohamed literally has no way to support him self. He has been homeless, in and out of detention centres and has had multiple applications for humanitarian visas rejected one after the other- and still has the possibility of being sent back to his country of origin. Essentially Mohamed has been living in a state of limbo and uncertainty ever since coming to Australia.

With no means to support him self brother Mohamed has been left to beg for food and to live on hand outs by non-islamic organisations. For a short while Mohamed had been living in a garage let to him by a friend free of charge, however more recently he has been asked to vacate- making him back on the streets again.

For the last 25 years Mohamed has faced numerous struggles and adversity, this has worn him down both mentally and physically. His livelihood has been stripped away from him. With no immediate improvement or progress with his situation, Mohamed’s future looks bleak however inshallah with your help we may be able to help change his story for the better.

How NZF is currently helping Mohamed:

The National Zakat Foundation has been able to arrange for Mohamed to have a meal a day or shop to buy him self meals at the local halal restaurants and shops in his area for the last 2 months.

Since Mohamed is recently back on the streets again NZF is currently in the process of helping to find him suitable accommodation.

NZF has also been networking with the client’s local ethnic community to see what else we can assist him with in the long term.

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Sister Mary – Abused Revert

Sent to Australia by her parents to study, Marys future was looking bright. Despite growing up in a family with a devout different faith, Mary was always aware and intrigued by Islam and eventually accepted Islam through the help of her fellow student.

Mary knew her family back home would never accept her change in faith and attempted to keep it a secret. At first it was easy to hide, with being so far away from home. However, things became more difficult when she went back home. She found it hard to practise in secret and her family inevitably found out she was going to the Masjid and beat her until she agreed to denounce her faith.

Mary was forced into marriage and her conversion to Islam was kept hidden from her husband because of the shame it would bring upon their name in the community. Shortly after the wedding the couple returned to Australia and continued to practise in privacy. However one day her biggest fear came true when her husband discovered her hidden copy of the Quran in their home.

From here things took a turn for the worse, not only did he tell her family but he started beating her as punishment. She was trapped with this abusive man and felt completely isolated and helpless. Mary endured both physical and mental torture from her husband for so long that she became depressed- to the point where she contemplated suicide.

Through her strong faith in Allah she found the courage to run away, but with no one to turn to for help she ended up on the streets homeless until a kind stranger took her in.

What NZF is CURRENTLY assisting sister Mary with:

The National Zakat Foundation is helping Mary with basic necessities such as food and finding her safe accommodation. The team at NZF are in the process of arranging the sister to have psychological support and counselling for the trauma she endured and are working with domestic violence groups to help her as well. She will require ongoing support from the community.

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Sister Amira – Tortured and Abused

In her home country Amira was forced into marriage. She was brought to Australia and promised a new life. However upon arriving she was subjected to torture and inhumane conditions.

Amira’s  husband would beat her until she was all battered and bruised. She was kept locked in a room for days on end without any light or heating and the only time she would be allowed out was to cook and clean. She was not allowed to have contact with the outside world and was denied basic rights such as proper food, water and medical care when she became ill.

Not only did she suffer from months of domestic violence but she also endured emotional abuse from her husbands family. She was threatened, intimated and constantly put down to make her feel worthless and inferior. Essentially Amira was brought as a slave to serve her husband and his family.

Whilst her husband was out one day Amira managed to get a hold of the phone and make a quick plea for help to her family. The police were notified and immediately went to free Amira from the hands of her abusive husband.

Its hard to believe that modern day slavery could happen within Australia but unfortunately it does. When our team met Amira she was extremely depressed and looked visibly malnourished.

What NZF is CURRENTLY assisting sister Amira with:

The National Zakat Foundation team is currently in the process of helping Amira re-establish her life by assisting her with basic necessities such as food, clothes and rent. At the moment Amira is in safe accommodation and is undergoing counselling for the trauma she went through.

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Sister Amal – Abandoned Pregnant

Life was going blissful for sister Amal. She married the man of her dreams and started to plan a new life with him. They came to Australia on a temporary visa, in hopes of finding work and establishing a life here. Their plans were put on hold when Amal found out she was pregnant.  All of a sudden their priorities had to change. Still struggling to find work and with no access to medicare or health insurance things started to become tough for the newlyweds but somehow they managed to get by.

One day Amal’s life was flipped upside down, when her husband said he did not want her anymore. She was shattered, she didn’t know what to do. This man that she had loved so much and was carrying his child had abandoned her. Attempts to get the couple back together or even for him to support his baby by the local Imaam were in vain. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with her or the baby.

Without any family or friends in Australia she was in a difficult situation. Before she knew it she was all alone and left destitute in a land still very foreign to her. Not having any money for a ticket back home and being too far along in her pregnancy to fly she was stuck in Australia. For months Amal lived in unsafe accommodation and survived on the bare minimum she could get from strangers.

For most mothers pregnancy is a exciting time as they get to focus and prepare for bringing a new life into this world, with the help of their partners, friends and family who shower them with love and support. Whilst Amal on the other hand was worrying about how she would get through the night and how she would look after the baby once she gives birth.

Amal didn’t have any medical care throughout her pregnancy because of her financial hardship and situation. When the NZF team met her it was obvious that she was extremely malnourished and dehydrated. She was so unwell to the point were our staff had to call an ambulance during our first meeting. Amal was understandably very scared and stressed about the situation she was in and initially refused to go on the ambulance to hospital because she didn’t have the money. As we got to know her more we found out that her only plan was to deliver the baby herself!

How the National Zakat Foundation helped sister Amal:

The NZF team have since provided Amal with extensive care- checking up on her well being regularly and  taking her to medical appointments after arranging the services of local Muslim GP who was willing to provide care for her.

Through the Zakat donations from the Australian public NZF have provided assistance with living expenses support and supplies and materials for the baby.

More recently through the communities support NZF have been able to fundraise around $5000 towards her medical costs.

Update:

Sister Amal was admitted into hospital to give birth however due to some complications she had to have a caesarean birth.

Alhamdulilah she gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl! Through the will of Allah we even had the opportunity for one of the hospital staff members to give the baby the Adhaan. Allahu Akbar!

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Sister Zainab – Domestic Violence

Fatima, a shop owner looked out her window, and saw a pretty looking young girl getting comfortable to sleep in her car in the car park. It was nearly 6 months ago she saw her turn up and since then she has been seeing this girl every night. She nearly called the police as she was pretty sure it was either drugs or prostitution, but there was something about the girl that didn’t quite add up. She decided that it was time to find out for herself.

21 year old Zainab was just getting comfortable in her blanket in her car when a lady knocking her window startled her. Fear crept in and her heart was in her mouth. She opened the door and the lady introduced herself as Fatima and asked if she wanted to come into her shop to have some coffee. Zainab was in tears, she couldn’t remember the last time she was invited any place. She accepted and went inside with Fatima.

Over the next few hours, Fatima found out about Zainab’s extreme circumstances that forced her to live in her car. She belonged to an affluent family and was the oldest of 4 children. In the past year, her father turned extremely abusive towards her mother, so much so that she developed severe mental health issues. Her father decided to abandon them, got remarried and moved to the UK. He now doesn’t want to have to do anything with his previous wife or children anymore. Zainab’s mother’s condition got worse and she kicked Zainab and her 16 year old sister Farah out of their home and only keeping  the younger children with her.

Zainab was a strong young woman however. She got in touch with the police & DHS, took up a full time job at a restaurant, in addition to her studies and rented a small apartment for herself and her sister, She was receiving some Centrelink benefits and the DHS were happy for Farah to be under Zainab’s care and while things were not ideal but they were able to get by. As fate would have it, their house got robbed and badly damaged, as a result of which the owner terminated their lease. Having no roof under their heads, DHS had to place Farah under foster care while Zainab sorted things out. Due to stress, Zainab had to quit her job and also put her studies on hold to desperately try and figure out what she was going to do. Farah was all she had and she felt responsible for her safety. To make matters worse, Farah was having issues with her foster family and tried multiple times to run away.

How NZF helped Zainab:

Fatima was glad she decided to find out for herself what Zainab’s story was. In her heart she knew Zainab was in trouble for no fault of her own and she needed help desperately. Fatima immediately called up the National Zakat Foundation (NZF) and informed her of Zainab’s case. An NZF case worker immediately organised temporary accommodation for a few nights at a nearby safe hotel and met with Zainab the following morning to organise food and some supermarket vouchers. NZF then coordinated with a youth refugee service centre to provide free temporary longer term accommodation for Zainab for 2 months until she was able to find her own place and stabilize her life. Counselling was also organised for Zainab.

After about a month, Zainab is still at the refuge centre today. Though she has been diagnosed with anxiety, is under severe stress due to rising debts and is extremely impulsive and making irrational decisions, the case workers seem positive that Zainab is improving and inshaAllah they will soon advise on when she will be ready to leave the centre.  Alhamdulillah her sister Farah is happier in her current foster home, and DHS have advised once Zainab finds a place for herself, they are happy to move Farah back into her care and reinstate benefits.

The damage caused by #DomesticViolence at the home is unimaginable. Apart from the immediate victim (Zainab’s mother), it has displaced two young girls, broken a once happy family and is on the verge of running Zainab and Farah’s lives. We need to come together as a society and say NO to Domestic Violence. Join hands and support  #WhiteRibbonDay  and raise awareness of Domestic Violence, right here in Australia!

You can do this simply by sharing this on your wall. The more people are aware of #DomesticViolence the more people will make a conscious effort to check themselves. Do your bit. JazaakumAllahu Khairan.

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