The prominent Manchester-based scholar, Abu Eesa Niamatullah, stated in a recent Facebook post that he does not endorse Muslims in Britain giving their Zakat to the National Zakat Foundation, Islamic Relief and other big charities.
The following status was posted by Abu Eesa on his official Facebook page:
“Just wanted to ensure that everyone knows I do NOT endorse giving your zakah to the National Zakat Foundation (NZF) in the UK.
“Likewise, we at Al-Qalam Sharī‘ah Scholar Panel do not supervise the Shari’ah activities of NZF either.
“Methodological differences on their work and understanding of zakah are the reason for this, nothing else. The good folks at NZF have done a great job at reviving the concept of giving zakah locally and especially their ground-breaking work in creating agency arrangements to help abused women and vulnerable members of our society. For that reason I am happy to recommend you giving your *sadaqah* to help them in their work.
“But in my opinion, not your *zakah*. Any previous recommendations I would have stated for giving zakah to NZF or indeed Islamic Relief and other big charities etc are annulled unless you go to great lengths to ascertain certain fiqhi details which tbh most folks can’t do. I recommend that you try to give your zakah to needy people hand to hand personally, both locally or abroad – and if you have to use a charity to give abroad or anywhere else, that you vet them very carefully using your local teachers.”
The Al-Maghrib and Al-Qalam Shariah Panel scholar further clarified in the comments section:
“But just so that everyone is clear, I am personally very very strict when it comes to Zakat and that also means I restrict Qur’anic categories very tightly. In recent times, big charity organisations have come under pressure to open these restrictions especially the category of “opening the hearts” and “in the path of Allah” to that which is unacceptable in my opinion i.e. thereby giving Zakah to projects that should be supported by general charity i.e. sadaqah.
“This pressure is financial, social, political most of all especially in the UK where there is a great maslahah/benefit in being seen to work locally. But also to be fair, that pressure to open up restricted categories from classically held positions to now new positions that now justify schools and classes and hospitals and medical services and advanced studies and civic projects etc etc, actually originally started by minority (but valid) fiqhi positions that allowed other than Jihad to be covered from “in the path of Allah”. So big charities like Islamic Relief and some others and maybe places NZF as well etc cannot be condemned for following their positions on Zakah methodology especially if legal valid according to some scholars.
“But at the same time we the majority should also not be condemned if we want to protect the institution of Zakah as it should be, away from the ideology of modern day Islamic capitalist thought and pressure, and we should not be condemned when we want Muslims to pay their sadaqah to support these great projects and leave the real needy folks to benefit from their Zakah.
“That is just one of the issues I am willing to mention here, there are others but there’s no real need to make a drama here. There is no scandal if folks are looking for one, this is just me making sure that my previous recommendations (which were made based on the facts at that time) are not carried over to now when their methodology has changed, as well as their lack of a panel or body of scholars that prohibit them from taking decisions outside of their control. I know they tried to develop such a panel, but it failed and so until we have confidence in the process – not just external advisors and staff members “advising” and “working” – then we will withhold our confidence as well, and just support their work from a sadaqah perspective only. Wallahu a’lam.”