Posts filed under ‘Unity’

Sibling Rivalry

Sibling Rivalry

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!

January 15, 2013 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

Does religion hold the values that all people should hold?

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

January 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm Leave a comment

A warmer winter for UK Charities

By Mohammad Shakir

Anyone that followed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this afternoon will have noticed that he announced an exemption on paying VAT for charities which share services and resources such as staff and IT equipment.

This is a major positive step as the current economic climate has led to charities downsizing such as Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) moving in with the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in summer next year in order to save costs.

At Zakat House, we have a growing number of small charities and organisations that share resources such as IT services and marketing and communications staff.

The exemption is mandatory and was introduced under European law in 1977, but has never been applied in the UK. This will help our partner organisations such as the Muslim Charities Forum and the Small Charities Coalition as well as charities that are based at Zakat House.

Our dream is to ensure that new and growing charities get a chance to achieve their goals through offering them affordable office space and the chance to plug their resource gaps by sharing resources with their fellow charities.

We also encourage all charities to share their experiences so that all can learn from the best practice of another.

So we welcome the Chancellor’s exemption on VAT – but we are also aware that there is so much more work to be done to ensure that the charity sector can weather this financial storm.

To find out more about what Zakat House can offer – click here.

November 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Security in my humanitarian space

The Humanitarian Space - Would you like to join?

By Dr. Hany El Banna

Security means safety, stability, sustainability and productivity. While my humanitarian space means my rights, dignity, privacy and ability to develop my country.

But why are we talking about my humanitarian space? Because it is a basic human right for each and every one of us. This is my main philosophy. This is the main philosophy behind the creation of Zakat House. Financial security for small and start up charities that want to carry out humanitarian works – a home for them in the heart of London’s West End.

We did not only want an empty space for these organisations – a desk, computer or individual- but we wanted to give them an interactive humanitarian space and experience, to bridge the gap between them and other start up organisations and allow the cross fertilisation of thoughts, dreams, visions and the dynamic cohesive productivity towards common solutions.

Early this week, I saw the beginning of the fruits of this interactive, humanitarian, connective space. Abdurahman, the MCF coordinator asked me to draw a three year strategy for their organisation. I thought that this was not my job. This is either the job of a highly paid consultant costing up to £500 a day, or it is his job – because I believe that strategic thinking is not something you can only you can learn at Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge, but something that has been intrinsically embedded inside every creation including birds, fish and reptiles.

Instead of talking to Abdurahman individually we called Fatima from the International HIV Fund, Abubaker from Zakat House and Rahma from the Somali Relief and Development Forum. We all sat together around one table to discuss how they can think strategically and effectively about their goals and objectives.

Once they started their own discussion, I pulled out and I watched from behind the glass door, and felt the heat of the motivated discussion amongst them. I smelled the scent of the beautiful fragrance of the flying, argumentative humanitarian thoughts between the four organisations.

Then I saw, the bonding result of the intellectual cross fertilisation process amongst them. After two sessions each lasting 90 minutes, they managed to structure the process of strategic thinking, which was more valuable than a consultant’s colourful presentation or handout. The outcome of this interactive bonding, productive humanitarian space was:

  1. Building confidence in the hearts of the coordinators.
  2. Enabling them to think loudly and collectively for a common goal
  3. To create the teamwork not amongst members of the same organisation but amongst DIFFERENT organisations.
  4. To incite their common vision, common objectives and leadership quality.
  5. To save time that was going to be utilised by a consultant.
  6. To save the £500-£1000 that a consultant could be charging us.
  7. To cement the infrastructure of the social fabric of society empire multi storey building.

While having my lunch with another organisation in the kitchen, Fatima from IHIVF, came to make her presentation to reflect the recipe of our new cuisine which has been cooked elegantly in the Anglo, Pakistani, Indo-African kitchen of our organisations. Please come and have a bite! I can tell you it tastes mmmmmm……

October 28, 2011 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

Poverty starts at home

By Mohamed Mohamed

As prices from all over the world increases, we are finding it more difficult day by day to afford the things we used to be able to buy without thinking twice. Everything has increased in terms of prices from food, to living expenses, university fees, petrol and even travelling by public transport. The effect that this has on the people is immense, as it means people will no longer be able to live in peace and could potentially lead to a life of stress and worry on how one will be able to provide for his or her family.

As a Muslim I believe it is against my religion to involve any of my wealth in riba (interest). It is a command from Allah who says in the Quran “That which you give in usury for increase through the property of people will have no increase with Allah: but that which you give for charity seeking the countenance of Allah, it is these who will get a recompense multiplied.” What we can deduce from this ayah is that giving charity does not decrease wealth as Allah says it will instead increase your good deeds. Even at times like that we are in now where you have poverty on the increase as well as homeless people on the rise; it does not justify indulging in interest.

With all this it brings about fear to families about living in poverty. So what is poverty? Here is an ongoing debate about what ‘poverty’ means and how to measure it. However, most commentators agree that poverty needs to be understood in relation to typical living standards in society.

Here is a widely-used definition from Professor Peter Townsend “Individuals, families and groups in the population can be said to be in poverty when they lack the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the activities, and have the living conditions and amenities which are customary, or are at least widely encouraged and approved, in the societies in which they belong”.

There are a number of things which contribute to poverty. Unemployment has risen again over the past three months; low wages are also a concern, especially in single income households.

Also a contributing factor is benefits and tax credits, that are supposed to act as a safety net, are too low to protect families with children from poverty. Their value remains significantly below the poverty line.

So what are the consequences one may ask? We know it has an effect on children in terms of underperforming on the education level, poor health and also causes a lack of social interaction with the community.

When we consider we are living on the border line poverty or in poverty itself, one should not despair and always look at the people who are less fortunate than you as this is the teaching of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The situation of those living in the UK cannot compare with those in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

We must learn to be grateful, appreciate what we have, and abstain from interest as it has a greater consequence in the eyes of Allah, and most importantly give of the sake of Allah as it will protect you and your family from all calamities.

September 14, 2011 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

Viral violence to viral community action

By Mohammad Shakir

The events of the last few days have been etched into the minds and hearts of people all around the UK and the world. London, the former heart of a world empire has fallen into disarray. What began as a peaceful protest on Saturday evening has descended into mass chaos and destruction.

Communities in the UK need to stand together. We have already seen communities in Clapham, Croydon and Hackney come together to clean up the aftermath of all the property that had been ransacked.

There has been much anger from people, decrying the fact that the policing has been ineffective; that the parenting of the generation that have spent the past three nights looting and rampaging around London and other cities in the UK is to blame for their behaviour.

There are apologists saying that the state has failed this generation that government cuts have led to the closure of youth centres and services which could help these young people who may have lost their way.

Do we listen to the youth? Or shall we take a soft approach or do we support a tough approach from the police? What do you think?

One thing is for sure, one thing is for certain we need to help and work with our local communities. They are in need of our support as much as people who are affected by people affected by natural disasters.

Over the past three days people have lost their homes and livelihoods because of a minority. It is time to help our friends, neighbours – our community on our doorstep.

Let the theme of charity begins at home, help us unite and act in a positive way. Regardless of faith, gender or race; we must make our stand against anarchy. Together.

August 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm Leave a comment

The Life of Muhammad (PBUH) – Episode 3

By Mohammad Shakir

Last night, the BBC concluded their series of the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). If you missed it, you can watch here on BBC iPlayer.

For a show that is one hour long, it covered a multitude of topics. Rageh Omar looked at the later period of Prophet Muhammad’s life as well as focusing on the Qur’anic revelations that form the basis of Sharia and the contemporary understanding and application of Sharia. Time was also devoted to the marriages of the Prophet especially to Aisha (RA). Most importantly the show gave a greater understanding of Jihad as a struggle rather than today’s misconception of “holy war”.

This show however reiterated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a man of peace. In the words of the documentary, “His greatest conquest was through peace, not war”.

Another point which I hope viewers got for the show was one about the context of the period in which the Prophet lived and how verses and instructions in the Qur’an related to the context in which they were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) .

All three shows have had a variety of contributors and commentators, who hold a variety of views. The BBC is beholden by a charter to show balance within their news and current affairs output.

As I mentioned in a post about the last episode, we should focus on the positives from this series. It has shown the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to a mainstream audience. It has shown and addressed controversial aspects with balance and poise. It may be seen that some don’t agree with points that commentators on the show holds, but much like Prophet Muhammad (PBUH); we should look past this, as all people are allowed to hold their own views.

I hope that with Ramadan upon us, all Muslim aspire to message that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) left for us and the Qur’an and Sunnah.

July 26, 2011 at 10:02 am 1 comment

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