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Zakat: Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

// August 20th, 2011 // No Comments » // Blog

** Click here for an updated list of Zakat charities for 2013 **

The recent riots in the UK only made me more certain that, as a British Muslim, this country is where my Zakat belongs.

Not because my money will be going to youth projects, or urban outreach per se – but because the UK community is in dire need of the Mercy of Allāh – and Allāh's Mercy is poured down upon those who obey Him with love.

After my last post encouraging British Muslims to spend their Zakat in the UK, I am finally putting my money where my mouth is.

Tonight, I donated my Zakat to the following three charities:

It is Allāh who decides how much a penny is worth, and how far a pound can stretch. So perhaps my Zakat did not amount to very much; but if it was earned in a halal way, and was spent as it should be, I am certain Allāh will place His Blessing in it, and thereby raise my humble donation to a level that would put billionaire philanthropists to shame – inshā’Allāh. :)

I only share this info to encourage you to donate your Zakat wisely. Allāh says:

“Tell My Servants who have believed to keep up the prayer and give, secretly and in public, out of what We have provided them, before a Day comes when there will be no trading or friendship.” [Qur'an 14:31]

May Allāh accept it from me, and from those who actually do the hard work of spending the money where it is needed – āmīn!

British Muslims: Your Zakat is Needed in the UK too

// August 7th, 2011 // 4 Comments » // Blog

Image Source: National Zakat Foundation.

** Click here for an updated list of Zakat charities for 2013 **

Alhamdulillah, many of us in the UK are blessed with sufficient wealth that we can pay our bills, send our kids to school, and eat our three meals a day. In the midst of these blessings, it's easy to forget that there are people struggling all around us. The poverty in this country is more hidden than that of overseas, and our government's system of benefits and social care – though a noble ideal – is not perfect, with spending cuts, and many people slipping through the net: especially refugees, a significant percentage of whom are Muslim.

Zakat is a sacred duty, and is not like regular charity that can be given to anyone who is in need, whatever their faith and circumstance. There are specific rules about who must pay, how much, and to whom*: one of those criteria is that priority must be given to the needy people in your own land before anyone else – your neighbours.

Therefore I encourage my fellow British Muslims to seek out such cases, and support those organisations that are working selflessly to make sure that you fulfill your duty to Allāh in the right way.

Two such charities that I know of are JIMAS (http://www.jimas.org/zakahappl.htm) and the newly formed National Zakat Foundation (http://www.letusbelieve.com/). Click through to their websites to read about the tragic cases of Muslims suffering in the UK, and how your Zakat will help them, inshā’Allāh.

True, there are many overseas causes that need our help, both in the 'homelands' of India and Pakistan, as well as in East Africa, Palestine, and so on. I strongly urge you to generously donate your sadaqah (voluntary charity) to charities that work in these areas: both to their emergency campaigns, and those working on long term development.

However, Zakat is special; it must be spent as Allāh commanded – and our Muslim neighbours have more right on us than those who are far away. This is a fact of Islam that cannot, and should not be ignored. So please spend your Zakat wisely, and encourage your families and friends to do the same.

The Messenger of Allāh, Peace Be Upon Him said, “The best of companions with Allāh is the one who is best to his companions, and the best of neighbours to Allāh is the one who is the best of them to his neighbour” 
[At-Tirmidhi]

May Allāh accept it from us. May He alleviate the suffering of those near and far, and make it easy to serve and obey Him in the way that best pleases Him. Āmīn.

* Download your FREE guide to Zakat today, as prepared by 1st Ethical: http://www.1stethical.com/2011/07/20/the-official-launch-of-our-free-zakah-ebook/

 

 

Did You Make Dua Today?

// October 20th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Blog

I received the following quote in an email forward this morning. I hope it benefits you, inshā’Allāh:

“I am not worried about whether my du'a will be responded to, but rather I am worrried about whether I will be able to make du'a or not. So if I have been guided by Allāh to make du'a, then (I know) that the response will come with it”

[Umar bin al Khattab radi Allāh anhu]

Question for Computer Scientists: How to Build A Donation Tracker?

// September 9th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog

Before I begin the official post: ‘Īd Mubarak to everyone reading! May Allāh accept it from me and from you. Āmīn! I hope to bring you my now traditional “‘Īd in the Park” picture post tomorrow, inshā’Allāh. :)

I had a random thought this evening, perhaps triggered by the charitable atmosphere of both Ramadan solemnity and ‘Īd celebrations.

With all the recent advances in technology, there must be a way for charities to keep track of an individual's donations, from the time it is received, to the moment it is spent and distributed.

In fact, I imagine it could be exactly like the online tracking system used by most courier companies. Instead of lumping all donations in one pot, each amount could be treated as an individual entity, a 'package', which is tracked all the way until it reaches the hands of the person in need. Large donations could be split into smaller packages to be spread over several projects.

I think this would be a great way to encourage people to keep giving, as they could see exactly where their money is going. Photos and messages from recipients could also be easily attached as confirmation of receipt where time and resources permit, in the same way one signs for a delivery.

It's may also be a good way to keep charities open and accountable, and hopefully prevent fraud and corruption, inshā’Allāh.

Has anyone come across such a system in place already? I'd love to see a big Muslim charity, like Islamic Relief, take up the idea. Even if it's just a pilot project in one location, such as their water project in Niger (donate now).

I may suggest it to Dr Hanni of the Muslim Charities Forum myself, next time I see him, inshā’Allāh! It would definitely be an interesting project for a Comp Sci student to manage. Any volunteers? :)

Taraweeh in the Basement: A Haiku

// August 27th, 2010 // 4 Comments » // Blog

Above and around,
thuds resound, as knees meet ground.
“Allahu Akbar”.

Music, Kids & Islam: A Response to BBC London News

// July 1st, 2010 // 3 Comments » // Blog

I just watched the BBC London News report on the issue of a few Muslim children being removed from music lessons by parental request. Before sharing my views, I direct you to a post written by Indigo Jo for background and analysis.

The following is a short message I sent to the 'Your London' email address:

Entertainment, art and creativity have been part of the rich fabric of Islamic culture for over 14 centuries. The use of musical instruments is prohibited in orthodox Islam, but does not preclude Muslim children from engaging in other artistic pursuits. I understand that taking children out of class may introduce a problem wrt supervision, which is why teachers should consult with Muslim parents to come to an adequate solution. The matter is no different to the provision of vegetarian meals at schools to accommodate the religious beliefs of Jews, Hindus, Muslims and other faith groups.

Of course, it wasn't read out, as I expected. However, I was sad to hear the news presenter speed through several very negative messages sent in by non-Muslims, including music teachers, and two from Muslim parents that could be summarised as “most of us don't have a problem with this”. I.e., “Please stop picking on us during prime-time”.

I find it difficult to believe that mine was the only reasonable, positive message they received, though I imagine the negatives flooded in faster.

Music in Islam has been, and continues to be debated within the Muslim community. Why does BBC London think that a report on this issue will be useful to anyone? The way the story was told, and the tone of viewer comments, you'd think denying children a musical education was tantamount to child abuse. It clearly is not, and making a mountain out of a mole hill helps no-one. Least of all the Muslim children that the BBC are supposedly so concerned about, who, thanks to such irresponsible reporting, are growing up in a country that is becoming increasingly more hostile to their culture, identity and values.

FOSIS Video Competition: The Results Are In… {Halal drum roll please}

// June 29th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Announcements, Blog

A blog post for those who don't follow me on Twitter… or Facebook… or read my emails… or my text messages… or answer my phone calls. So the five remaining people in my life who don't know what happened yesterday, this is for you. :)

I attended the FOSIS conference yesterday for the video presentations. About 10 minutes before going on stage to hear the results, I became exceedingly nervous. It was one of those strange moments when raw gut feeling came into direct conflict with rational thought: I knew in my head that this wasn't the Oscars, but could someone tell my heart that please? It's about to burst out of my chest, Alien-stylee.

Continue reading…

They Asked Me to Draw Muhammad… So I Did.

// May 21st, 2010 // 8 Comments » // Announcements, Blog

My submission to Draw Muhammad Day.


Click to enlarge

The hand-drawn illustration is a combination of Arabic & English, spelling the name “Muhammad”. The text are quotes from several authentic narrations describing the physical attributes of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him [props to the Chill Yo Islam Yo blog].

Who speaks better than someone who calls people to God, does what is right, and says, “I am of those devoted to God”? Good and evil cannot be equal. [Prophet], repel evil with what is better and your enemy will become as close as an old and valued friend. But only those who are steadfast in patience, only those who are blessed with great righteousness, will attain such goodness.

Qur'an, 41:33-35

Love For Other People What You Love For Yourself

// May 17th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Blog

The following story was published back in March as part of a MuslimMatters post titled “On the Fingers of Abu Hurayrah…..Towards a Noble Life“. Since then, it has come to mind so many times during the course of normal, everyday interactions, I had to track it down, and bookmark it here.

“Love for other people what you love for yourself and you will be a (perfect) Muslim.” – Prophet Muhammed, sallalahu 'alayhi wa salam

An extraordinary example of putting this teaching into practice is that of some of our righteous predecessors.

Ibrahim al-Nakha'ee (rahimahullah) was a'war al-'ayn (blind in one eye), and his student Sulayman ibn Mihran suffered from weak eyesight (a'mash al-'ayn). Ibn al-Jawzi related a story about them in his book Al-Muntathim that they were walking in the streets of Al-Kufah headed to the masjid.

As they were walking, Imam Al-Nakha'ee said, “Sulayman, can you take one road and I take another? For I fear that if we were to pass together by the foolish people, they would say, 'A'war – one eyed – is leading an a'mash – bleary eyed- (through the road) and they would then have backbitten us and fallen into sins.”

So Sulayman replied, “O Abu 'Imran! What is wrong then when we are rewarded while they are sinful?”

Ibrahim al-Nakha'ee replied, “SubhanaAllah! Bal naslam wa yaslamun! Rather, that we be safe (from their backbiting) and they be safe (of sin) is better than if we are rewarded and they are sinful!”.

[al-Muntathim fee Tareekh al Muluk wal Umam]

This is a form of altruism that we all desperately need to adopt. There is a lot of bitterness, enmity and ill-will amongst us. We need to improve ourselves and one another with a far more loving attitude. May Allāh make it easy for us, āmīn.

UK General Election 2010: The Muslim Vote

// April 19th, 2010 // No Comments » // Blog

Less than a fortnight ago, the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, finally announced that May 6th, 2010 would be the date of the next General Election. Prior to and since, a variety of means have been used by the powers-that-be to encourage both the apathetic and the undecided to participate in the vote, including the broadcast of the first ever leaders' debate between the heads of the three main political parties.

However, in my opinion, the most interesting development surrounding the election has the been the launch of not one, but several voting campaigns targeted at Britain's relatively small community of Muslim citizens. The concentration of Muslims within a handful of constituencies, combined with the strong possibility of a hung parliament, has motivated community leaders from various backgrounds, to urge their followers to simply, “Get out and vote!”.

The following are links to web-based campaigns I have come across so far:

Continue reading at MuslimMatters.org…

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