Providing support to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for many charities and groups in the UK.
With more people losing jobs, demand for help has jumped more than double within the last year according to the National Zakat Foundation (NZF).
According to Evening Express, the charity received 19,244 applications for financial support in 2020, more than 2.5 times the 7,348 applications in 2019. Also, it distributed £3.8 million in grants, a 27% rise from the previous year.
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Islamic Relief provided NZF with £200,000 to help it meet rising demand after it appealed for funds.
“This is unprecedented. We’ve never seen anything like it before and it is a clear indication of just how much Covid-19 is impacting Muslims across the country,” Iqbal Nasim, chief executive of NZF, said.
“Together we must ensure that no Muslim in need who comes to NZF will have to wait for months before receiving support owing to a lack of funds.”
Zia Salik, Director of Islamic Relief UK, said: “Throughout the pandemic we have been helping people affected by Covid-19 in some of the poorest countries in the world, but we can see that people in this country are in desperate need.
“So many can’t afford to eat, pay their rent, clothe themselves or heat their homes. It’s a real emergency and we do not have time to wait to respond to these needs.
“There is no organization like NZF who can urgently distribute cash to those in need in such a robust and accountable manner and we are grateful to them for allowing us to be able to respond to so many thousands of Muslims in urgent need.”
The past year has seen many families struggling to pay their bills, rent and afford food.
Adeel, a taxi driver from Rushden in Northamptonshire, turned to the mosque for support as he lost customers after the pandemic hit.
“This has been the worst year of my life,” he said.
“I was so stressed that I would lose my home. I can’t even begin to explain; it was so tough.
“Sometimes one or two days would go by where I couldn’t afford to buy food, but thankfully as a Muslim I am used to fasting so I pulled on those resources.”
Rifhat Malik, co-founder of Islamic Relief partner Give a Gift, a Leeds-based organization supporting asylum seekers, said: “It’s a real emergency. We’re having mothers calling frantically on the phone, sobbing as they can’t afford to feed their children.
“One woman was giving her baby pasteurized milk from the supermarket as she couldn’t afford to buy baby milk. It’s so upsetting.
“Even before Covid-19, asylum seekers were really struggling; now it’s catastrophic.”
Islam encourages Muslims to treat their neighbors in a gentle way that reflects the true and genuine spirit of Islam as exemplified in its tolerant aspect especially with people of other faiths.
It makes no difference whether the neighbors are Muslim or non-Muslim.