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Islam zakat toolkit

Learning about Muslims: What the British public knows about Islam

Wow, we’re halfway through Ramadan. And what a month it’s been!

Islamic Relief fundraisers and volunteers have been extremely busy this year (as usual), with live appeals, the Cake Campaign and regional food distributions all in full swing… And there’s still two weeks to go and a lot more fundraising to be done!

But, did you know that almost half the UK population doesn’t know that giving to charity is a major part of Islam?

A recent survey launched by YouGov* came out this week and revealed quite a few interesting facts about perceptions of Islam in the UK by the non-Muslim community.

Here’s what we learnt.


1. Charity isn’t a well-known part of Islam

To my surprise, 47% of people across Britain are not aware that charitable giving is a key component of Islam, despite Muslims donating over £150 million to charity during Ramadan 2020.

From Sadaqah to Zakat, there are a lot of obligatory and voluntary ways to give to charity.

Ramadan 2020 was a record-breaking year for donations to Islamic Relief with over 900,000 people in 31 countries benefitting from food packs. This was made possible thanks to charitable donations in the UK and worldwide.

In the survey, 10% thought Muslims gave to charity because it is a nice thing to do, whilst 3% suggested it can only be given to Muslims. Interesting outcomes!


2. The 5 pillars are five unknowns

Again, 42% of Brits admitted to not knowing the Five Pillars of Islam, which are:

These are the foundations of Islamic practices – right across cultural divides and denominations.


3. Sharia is very misunderstood

Approximately a  third of people (34%) surveyed incorrectly believed that either establishing Shariah law, treating men as the superior gender or encouraging others to convert to Islam were some of the Pillars of Islam.

For example, 9% of those asked said treating men as the superior gender was one of the Five Pillars, despite the Qur’an stating that men and women should be considered spiritual equals.


Across the UK, Muslims make up about 5% of the UK’s population, but the negative social stigma attached to our community has sadly obscured people’s understanding of what Islam actually is and how we practise it.

Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Another important part of the faith is charity. As the Qur’an states, there is a “recognised right for the needy and deprived” (70:24-5) over our own wealth.

Here at Islamic Relief, a huge part of the work we do would not be possible without generous giving from donors – particularly during Ramadan when Muslims give a significant sum through Zakat and other charitable means.

Thank you to all our generous donors for your ongoing support.

Ramadan Mubarak!


*With a total sample size of 2,100 adults, the survey was undertaken between 14 to 15 April 2021 online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

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