Nowadays, Zakat is often confused with charity and treated as just a donation. Zakat actually includes many aspects that are still widely unknown ; The SZF’s mission is to reach Zakat’s maximum potential, and better help our society.
Those of us who live in Switzerland will already know that the subject of Zakat among the Muslim community is not widely known, with a few rare exceptions mentioned by Dr. Moustafa Brahami in his publications and lectures. Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is characterized as an act of adoration which is extremely important in the lives of every Muslim. Despite it being a relatively large sum (an annual payment of 2.5% of a person’s wealth), little effort has been made to institutionalize the management and implementation of Zakat in Switzerland.
Education : a long-term project
Taking a step back, we can see that the imperfections that exist regarding Zakat are not limited to just the lack of institutional management. What is missing, is the lack of accessible resources, which would allow people to better understand what Zakat actually is, how it is calculated, and its purpose. With this in mind, over the last 12 months, the SZF has worked on writing a guide (translated into four languages), to promote understanding and explaining how Zakat is calculated. This guide is currently available for download on our website. The foundation also actively works on writing other guides related to more specific questions, which we hope will be published within the coming months.
It’s important to promote awareness around this topic, and to create a dialogue within the community, opening up discussions and allowing people to ask any questions they have about Zakat, in order to receive accurate answers and to understand the real potential of Zakat.
Digitalization of Zakat calculation
We are living in the 21st century, the era of digitalization. If the other services that we use in our daily lives are all widely digitalized, there is no reason that this should not also be the case for Zakat. The SZF recognizes the importance of digitalizing its services, especially when it comes to the calculation and payment of Zakat. It would be somewhat a waste to have educational materials online which do not include features that allow people to calculate and pay Zakat in an easy, secure and quick way.
Digitalization must be linked to safe and secure payment. On the SZF website, each person who contributes to Zakat and every donor has access to a secure payment platform which is completely reliable. The SZF upholds the highest standards of safety and security and works with leading Swiss financial partners.
Zakat as a way of redistributing wealth
As well as adding value to our society, Zakat meets specific needs and demands. Throughout our country, the idea that poverty and precarity don’t exist in Switzerland (or that they exist only in developing countries), is all too often ingrained in our beliefs.
Despite the fact that in Switzerland people generally enjoy a standard of living that is among the highest in Europe, poverty is a serious problem that we should not overlook. According to the Federal Statistical Office (2019), in Switzerland, 8.7% of the population were affected by income poverty. This equates to around 735,000 people. On top of that, 12.2% struggled to make ends meet. It’s worth noting that these statistics do not take into account the impact of the pandemic.
In order to deliver a real contribution and an effective solution to this problem, the most effective results are obtained by centrally pooling Zakat contributions and concentrating on local-level distribution in order to positively impact the environment in which we live. As such, our responsibility towards people in need is not limited to donating money and providing funds, but we also aim to help people to become financially independent. We endeavour to use Zakat as a catalyst and a means of redistribution of wealth in our country.
Executive Director, Swiss Zakat Foundation