Posts tagged ‘ethics’

What does it mean to be a trustee?

By Mohammad Shakir

Trustee Week 2011 ended last Friday. The purpose was to highlight the role of trustees within charity sector and what it means to be a trustee and encourage more people to be a trustee.

A trustee is essentially a member of a Trust which runs a charity. It is a voluntary position where a person devotes their time and expertise in ensuring that a charity runs transparently, smoothly and with accountability. It is a position of responsibility within a charity as you are accountable for the donations that are given by the members of the public.

A trustee is entrusted with all those responsibilities. But that shouldn’t put you off. It can be an enriching experience where you get the opportunity to use skills that you may not use in your working life or at home.

The other aspect of a trusteeship is that almost anyone can become a trustee, subject to interview and background checks.

Some people are disqualified by law from acting as trustees, including anyone described in section 72(1) of the Charities Act 1993. This includes:

  • Anyone who has an unspent conviction for an offence involving deception or dishonesty;
  • Anyone who is an undischarged bankrupt;
  • Anyone who has been removed from trusteeship of a charity by the Court or the Commissioners for misconduct or mismanagement; and
  • Anyone under a disqualification order under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

At the end of the day holding a trusteeship of a charity is a two way street. A charity gains the benefits of your expertise and you can have a rewarding experience helping a charity and learning something new.

You don’t have to start your own charity to become a trustee; you can join an existing charity that is working in a field that you have an interest. The options are almost limitless. Give it a try, you may enjoy it.

November 8, 2011 at 10:41 am 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

Doesn’t exist? Yeah right

By Mohamed Mohamed

Domestic violence exists in all quarters of our society. This is not to say domestic violence is a Muslim problem. In England domestic violence takes place every 2 minutes. Unfortunately men are also victims, the majority are women. To those of us who know Islam and the Quran, violence against women is against the teachings of Islam that we look at those who use our religion against us as misguided, misinformed or malicious.

Many sisters who come together and talk about their problems they are facing, often find they are not able to articulate themselves properly because the person listening doesn’t have enough experience to offer legal or emotional guidance or she is too shy to talk about it because she hasn’t built enough bridge of trust to talk about such personal issues.

Under no circumstances is violence against women encouraged or allowed in Islam. The holy Qur’an contains tens of verses extolling good treatment of women. The verse couldn’t be clearer that the relationship between men and women is to be one of kindness, mutual respect, and caring. Added to these verses is the inescapable fact that the Prophet vehemently disapproved of men hitting their wives, and that he never in his entire life hit any woman or child.

In his last sermon, Prophet Muhammad told us “O people, to be kind to women as you have rights over your wives, and they have rights over you.” He also said, “Treat your women well, and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers“. In a saying of the Prophet, he said, “The strong man is not the one who can use the force of physical strength, but the one who controls his anger” (Bukhari).

When I read stories in the newspapers about women being subject of domestic violence that even leads to them being mentally affected and scarred for life needing psychiatric help, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth and makes me think what the motive was? Was it greed, was it for power, was it pressure, and was it misunderstanding? Or could it be the fact that men feel a sense of insecurity and want to feel powerful so they subject women to mental and physical abuse. Or could it simply be he had a disagreement with his wife?

In any case we should have a zero tolerance approach against domestic violence whether it is against men, women or children.

All families should maintain open lines of communication between all of their members; by having regular family meetings where everyone is allowed to talk and convey themselves without any recriminations.

Marriage must be seen as a partnership, and marriage contracts should identify a vow to an abuse free and violence-free family. Extended families must bring to an end covering up mistreatment, abuse and violence in the name of “preserving the family honour”. Beyond all, the family, like the individual must keep Allah as its focal point.

This Ramadan, Zakat House is helping Nour DV fund-raise to raise awareness and stop domestic violence. You can donate to their project here.

August 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm 3 comments

The Million Pound Drop

By Mohammad Shakir

We have seen different aid agencies, under the umbrella of the DEC, begin a fundraising campaign to help those in East Africa affected by the drought. At the last count, around £8 million has been raised.

With Ramadan coming up soon, there are a couple of lessons we should take out time over and reflect upon.

Ramadan is a time of personal and family reflection on how our lives and those who aren’t waiting for new movie about a boy wizard to come out or next product from a certain fruit based company. They are worrying about whether they will eat today or how will they receive medical attention for something simply easily treatable like glaucoma.

Yes, we can help those affected by the drought through donating, and that is highly commendable, but there are other ways we can benefit ourselves. The power of someone praying and thanking God for His generosity and help is beyond belief.

We can demonstrate true compassion and gratefulness for the blessing that have been bestowed upon us by making changes in our lives. We can become a bit humble and treat others as we wish to be treated, regardless of race, creed or colour.

Happiness is more than just our material possessions. Ensuring that our children grow up to be well mannered and responsible can make us happy. Do your duty as a being on this earth and looking after it can make us all happy.

We should be grateful about the situation that we are in and remember that there are many people who are not as lucky as we are. Alongside donating money, we should we should look within ourselves and improve them as well.

18 days to go…. Are you ready!

July 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

Social Business Day

By Mohammad Shakir

Today, 28th June 2011 marks the second Social Business Day. Created by Muhammad Yunus and his organsiation, The Yunus Centre, it is a day where the world can come together and learn about the latest innovations about social business and celebrate what has already taken place in the field.

The theme for this year is “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals through Social Business” The Millennium Development Goals are as follows:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality rates

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

Now  I get the feeling that you are wondering, how can a social business achieve those even one of the above goals? Here is an example:

The Iko Toilets in Kenya are changing communities in Nairobi by offering something more than just a simple public toilet. The toilets are offering jobs for cleaners, a confectionery store and a shoe shine spot where people can get their shoes polished. It is the type of social business that can most definitely work to achieve Goal 1 by creating jobs through which people can feed themselves and Goal 7  because there would be a safe place for people to use the bathroom with a proper sewage system ensuring that the local environment is used for crops rather than waste. Discussions to expand the IKO network to neighbouring villages and cities thus achieving Goal 8. You see where we are coming from?

Social businesses have the potential to make a positive impact on a persons’ life. No matter how small or big it can create change that will last.

The questions is respected reader are you a spectator or part of the solution towards the goal, if you have  an interesting idea that will help someones life. Let us know on info@zakathouse.com.

June 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment

The Social Apprentice: Home or Abroad?

Time to seize the moment and make that difference

By Abubaker Adam and Mohammad Shakir

For those of you who saw The Apprentice on Wednesday evening , you would have seen Lord Sugar send his business hopefuls across the Channel to test their business acumen, and negations and guile on foreign soil. The task is – to sell British made products to the French market.

Let us give you a parallel: a social entrepreneur can create a successful concept that is applicable amongst communities in the UK, after making a profound impact on the community, they will then export it abroad to impact and improve communities all around the world. Lord Sugar, eat your heart out!

Let’s give you an example. London Street Food Bank gets its supply of food from daily outlets which are unsold. It then distributes it at different distribution points around London to the homeless and hungry. It gets food from restaurants and receives donations from other companies that supply food and drink. This type of enterprise could be exported to any other city or town within the UK or around the world to help the hungry and homeless that are everywhere. Any ideas anyone?

Imagine if your Zakat donations went towards helping a social enterprise that will make an impact on local communities in the UK. Sometimes we forget that there are people on our doorstep that require our help and donations. Zakat, Sadqaah, small giving, are all important reminder of how lucky we are. After all this is our role as Muslims – help those in need across humanity.

Let us give you another example. You may be able to make you Zakat go further by supporting a social enterprise that is helping the poor in the UK as they will have the foundations to replicate this  model abroad in the developing world.

You donation will pay for skills and experience that these social enterprises can replicate the world over and take their idea, pound for pound further and wider.

Whatever you give, no matter how small, can start a revolution. Give us your comments below. You never know you could be starting a revolution right here, right now!

*As a side note, in the true spirit of collaboration Abubaker and I decided to write this blog together over Google Docs. Believe me, it is an experience I have never gone through before!

June 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

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