By Mohammad Shakir
Let me give you an analogy: you have a younger sibling. They are leaning to walk and talk, play and read – but they are quite there yet as they are continually learning. As an older sibling you are there supporting and helping them along to learn tho
se life skills that you as an older child or adult take for granted.
Now, let’s apply this to the charity sector. Over 5,600 charities registered with the Charity Commission during 2011-2012. These new charities or “new siblings” are often founded by people who have great ideas, vision and drive; but lack the experience and knowledge it takes to run charity transparently, accountably and successfully.
If we look at the goals and missions of charities in general, you will find words such as improve, promote, alleviate and help – all words which connote building something positive. Much like our siblings, we would want to support these “newborn” charities achieve the best that they can through offering advice, sharing our own experiences and wisdom. The support we give may even be more physical in nature such as attending their conferences or supporting them in meetings much like you may attend a siblings’ football match or graduation.
There is a place for experienced organisations to help those that are smaller and don’t have the knowledge or expertise to lay solid foundations and not make mistakes on the way.
There is always time for sibling rivalry when you grow up!
By Mohammad Shakir
Some of you may know about that many private schools in the UK are registered charities – in fact a quick search on the Charity Commission website shows that over 25,000 organisations are educational in nature. Whether they are after school clubs, scouts or pre-school play groups; all organisations are involved in supporting the education and development of the youth today.
What you may not know is that expensive private schools such as Eton College, University College School and Highgate School are all registered charities. One of these private institutions, Fettes College in Edinburgh is under threat of losing its charitable status unless it greatly increases access for poorer students within the next 18 months. The school charges over £9,000 per term for boarding pupils and little over £7,000 for day pupils.
For a charity to have charitable status, it has to demonstrate that it provides public benefit. While the fact that admission and boarding fees Fettes is seen as a barrier to an education at the school, the question remains – should schools which charge fees, close to the price of one year at university keep their charitable status.
I feel that schools in general offer an immediate public benefit to pupils by the fact that they are a place to learn – so schools are welcome to a charitable status on that ground. But the question of access is one that needs to be looked at. There are many state schools which offer a rounded and engaging education for many children, which are over subscribed. A private school is an option which parents should be able to consider as a viable alternative to over subscribed state schools – if the child shows the aptitude and willingness to make the most of their education.
By Mohammad Shakir
As part of a Muslims life – one is meant to take care of their bodies and the world around it. In this lifetime, Muslims as trustees are responsible for maintaining the unity of God’s creation, the integrity of the Earth, its flora and fauna, its wildlife and natural environment.
If you travel to different parts of the world, you can see that we have numerous natural beauty spots such as the Grand Canyon, rainforests in the Amazon, Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand. All these places show the earth’s natural beauty. Even here in the UK we have the National Trust and English Heritage which conserves landmarks of natural beauty and places of interest.
There is logic in looking after the earth because in turn it looks after us. The oxygen we breathe comes primarily from plant life and in turn we expel our carbon dioxide which is absorbed by plant life. The earth also protects us in other ways as well. The Ozone Layer, a protective layer of oxygen in the stratosphere, protects living creatures on earth from potentially harmful sun-rays which gets absorbed by this layer.
We cannot forget the role the earth plays in sustaining us through food as well. All fruit and vegetables are grown for nourishment and come from the earth through plants. It also sustains livestock similarly through plant life.
So it is a truly two way relationship – we protect the earth and the earth will protect us.
By Mohammad Shakir
We know the ways that we can all support different charities. Donations are the most common way, as money can help a charity support their projects in a variety of different ways. But in times of austerity there are other ways you can support a charity. Time!
Time is one thing that is in my opinion much more precious than money. Once it’s gone, it’s gone – you can’t get it back. It is such a rare commodity that I am compelled to quote a line from a famous epic film:
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
The truth of the sentiment can be found in most faiths but is also pertinent to those without faith. Our time in this life is limited. Depending on your belief – there may be a life after this or not. But surely we owe it to ourselves to ensure that make the most of the time that we have. Giving your time to a cause that you believe can be fulfilling and worthy.
Sometimes events happen in our lives which make us have an introspective look at the way we spend our time. Whether you are working or playing, spend your time wisely so that you don’t regret the way you are spending it.
By Dr. Hany El-Banna
It is essential for us to understand that Allah created the universe and all its inherent attributes for our comfort. By His command, the seas have been tamed and we can traverse the planet to seek of His bounty. “And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect” 45:12-13*. He created the sun, without whose light and warmth we could not survive; the moon, a source of inspiration for poets and the stars and planets which move in galaxies. Without them, would life on this earth be possible. Of course not! “It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty), and measured out stages for it; that ye might know the number of years and the count (of time)” 10:5*.
All people should co-operate in matters upon which they agree and be magnanimous and understanding about matters on which they differ. For example, we all have common traditions, customs and terms. If we look to the different holy books we will find that they all agree on more than 90% of their content. Much of what they say is about worshipping the Creator who has created this universe and treating each other with respect. Religion I believe is a positive force that can do following:
- Construct the earth not monopolize it
- Make people happy not miserable
- Participate in good initiatives
- Understanding and cooperation not animosity or rancour
- Harmony and friendship not hatred and alienation
- Praying, not cursing
It is in this comfort that we live, living our everyday lives with the earth around us to sustain us. This is agreed upon by people of different faiths. We should look at what binds us together rather than divides us. If we look at the most basic level, we are all human – surely that should be enough.
*To read this verse you can visit Quran Explorer
By Mohammad Shakir
Wow! We have had amazing year at Zakat House. We have been blessed to meet and work with talented and gifted individuals from impressive organisations and bit by bit we are seeing the Zakat House dream come to life.
From travelling around the UK and Europe to working with other charities to support their projects during Ramadan, Zakat House as an organisation has been immensely busy.
We have had the pleasure of speaking to students around the UK and Europe gauging their thoughts on community initiatives and social entrepreneurship – essentially spreading the word about Zakat House. Our presentations at the FOSIS and FEMYSO events created a buzz and we that will continue in 2012.
Ramadan and Eid saw us working within the community with charities and highlighting the importance of supporting projects that are based in the UK as they are as worthy of our Zakat donations as much as people in need abroad. We have to remember that wherever we look, there maybe people suffering – we may not see it on the surface, but someone suffering from mental depression, discrimination or abuse are worthy of our help as much as a person abroad.
Moving into our new premises in September was the first part of a dream realised. At time of writing we have four charities that are working in and using the facilities based at Shaftesbury Avenue. As this number grows, we will see this “hub” mature into a community which will be able to help the entire charity sector, not just small and growing charities.
It may be the case that we want to help as many people as possible, here in the UK and abroad. We must not lose sight of the fact that as human beings, regardless of race or religion, we should be ready to help our fellow man that is in need. Surely we would want to be treated the same if that was us asking for help.