British Muslim Charities – Corporates, Terrorists or the Fourth Emergency Service?

SHAFAQNA-

Muslim Charities are big business. Muslims are the most generous faith community in Britain but all is not necessarily well in the world of Muslim giving. Accusations of capitalist corporatism, socio-religious engineering, Takfiri political agendas are rife as the multi million pound industry becomes a potential battleground involving various overt and covert players.

The launch of  a local community center in London headed by Muslims was awash with the branding of a well known British Muslim Charity – Penny Appeal.  One attendee  who could not reveal his identity for fear of having his arts organization blacklisted in the community influenced by the connections of the Charity in question said ” you could hardly miss it – the takeover of what was originally a community initiative called Rumi’s Kitchen and Rumi’s Cave is indicative of the way large  corporate Muslim Charities are disrespecting the work of  grass roots community activists as well as artists.” He added that they have huge amounts of money gathered through Zakat and Khums which gives them enormous power to dictate the identity of emerging Muslim communities in Britain but he says “they lack the Islamic akhlaq and wisdom to spend these funds in a manner that will benefit the Muslim communities, or advance to the optimum the cause of Islam in the West.” The worry is that if these corporatized Charities are recruited by the British governments Prevention of Extremism units they could be used to roll out secular reformist policies to engineer a neoliberalized version of Islam – one that undermines the essence of true Islam. The spirit and essence of Zakat-giving is now, allegedly, being increasingly defiled by many large Charities and indeed activists are alleging that some Muslim Charity institutions are hijacking the peoples funds on behalf of British psyops.These religious campaigners insist it is being done on a larger scale than ever before;a situation, if it is allowed to continue, will not only slow down the process of Muslim community development in Britain but may well hand it over to the enemies of Islam who wish to see the neoliberalization of Islam on these shores.  

National Zakat Foundation, Muslim Aid. Islamic Relief  are just some of the big Charities turning over hundreds of millions of pounds worth of charitable donations but there are serious questions being raised about their prioritization of causes too. The suspicions about alleged links to the British governments anti Muslim agenda on the one hand, and and on the other the allegations of foreign based Saudi Wahhabist and even takfirist causes continues to grow in some quarters. It is no secret that the U K Charities Commission has been squeezing Muslim Charities on the back of counter terrorism mantras from Whitehall and Mi5 but how has this political scrutiny of Muslim Charities affected their policies? How much influence have the authorities had in managing the future focus of high turnover British Muslim Charities. We know that Muslim Aid for instance had to clear out their old Trustees to be replaced with a new team – why did this happen, and how has it affected the work of Muslim Aid? 

It is also a known fact that organizations like the Cordoba Foundation, MCB and others with  alleged connections in particular to Hamas and the Ikhwan Ul Muslameen were targeted by David Cameron on the request of the United Arab Emirates for political reasons. What was this all about? Sounds a bit heavy duty with these  sovereign nations involvement leading to closure of some bank accounts and the  blacklisting of some Muslims connected to the Cordoba Institute too. The British Government to this day still treats MCB as persona non gratis at its top table on the grounds that it maintains links to so called extremists and radicals (whatever that means as the UK has no legal definition for therse terms). 

A Government review in 2017 asserted that people in the UK are giving hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to Islamist extremists – sometimes unwittingly – in donations, Amber Rudd, the then Home Secretary, said the “most common source of support for “Islamist extremist organisations” in the UK is from small, anonymous public donations, with the majority of these donations most likely coming from UK-based individuals. In some cases these organisations receive hundreds of thousands of pounds a year,”  She had added that “Some Islamic organisations of extremist concern portray themselves as charities to increase their credibility and to take advantage of Islam’s emphasis on charity,” 

Mysteriously. though, the former Home Secretary said she had decided not to publish the full “classified” report “because of the volume of personal information it contains and for national security reasons”, but said that Privy Councillors from opposition parties would be invited to read it.The decision was attacked by political opponents including the shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, who said the “public has a right to know” the governments, foreign and domestic groups and individuals who are funding extremism. At the time Haras Rafiq, CEO of the Quilliam counter-extremism group, also accused the Government of “whitewashing” its findings, overlooking the alleged role of countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait in constructing mosques where he claims radicalization takes place. There is a suspicion that once again the establishments alleged turning of a blind eye on Arab monarchies  and their funding of takfiri ideology arguably suits them. as  critics say the British are, in fact, quite happy to allow takfirism to fester on these shores so as to ensure they can use it as a bulwark against true Islam, which of course will never be taken seriously by a British public now  petrified by the ongoing fifty year plus roll out of the false takfirist version of the religion- an ideology whose funders the UK government still protects while at the same time condemning its proselytizers and whose narratives the media perpetuates. The real victims are  all British Muslims who are witchunted as a result and the mainstream British public whose civil liberties are being eroded steadily through the resulting counter terror legislation. The State is stereotytping and profiling Muslims, discrediting Islam and destroying democratic liberties in one foul swoop.  

On the upside, just to keep Muslims pacified amidst this injustice, MP’s from the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims noted “that as the Grenfell tragedy unfolded and catapulted to the fore the failings of society towards those most deprived,  “it also cast a light on humanity at its best – the frontline charity work being done by British Muslims up and down the country”. They added that “The term “faith-based” is significant: this work is as much a product of a Muslim sense of spiritual duty as it is a British sense of civic pride. Charity workers are largely volunteers: not often recognized, but never forgotten by those touched by their acts of kindness.Individuals have shown a willingness to volunteer time, professionalism and extend friendship to those who are simply in need of a warm embrace, a friendly face and a place to go for a free hot meal.” A classic tactic to confuse Muslim leadership into believing the establishment loves them really even though all the evidence of their actions suggests the opposite. Sadly most Muslims do buy into these tricks often due to political illiteracy or based on the hope that the authorities will not get any worse if they are compliant. They are mistaken.

Nonetheless the establishments  damage control MP’s  continue pacifying the Muslim slow boiled frog saying  Muslim charitable “acts are not always considered “newsworthy”, and when Muslim charities do appear in the media coverage, more often than not stories are focused on latent fears about charities being abused for the financing of terrorism – even though evidence gathered by the Charities Commission recognizes the near non-existent level of such abuse within the sector. It’s a story that cuts across all communities, sects, ages and even religions. For years, the Shia Ithna Ashari Community of Middlesex (SICM) have supported West London Churches Homeless Concern with volunteers on Christmas Day and Boxing Day to assist in soup kitchens.And the Al Mizan Charitable Trust have distributed 1,300 “winter warmer” packs to rough sleepers in London, Birmingham and Manchester. They give people the essentials to see them safely through to the new year: a sleeping bag, a coat, a jumper, a hat, a scarf, a pair of gloves, thermal socks, toiletries, first aid items and emergency snacks.”

The Shia communities still focus on donating to the office of the Marajaye taqleed, which is currently a safer route which ensures funding will at least not go to enslaving their own communities via  British government operations, and indeed it is most likely to reach the right causes too; but even aong the Shia movements are springing up questioning the authority of the Marja, taqleed and Khums payment to their offices. No accident say the religious activist organizations – the Shia Charities are simply the latest that will be targeted by the British government having dealt with the Deobandi and Sufi fraternity. 

Muslim communities definitely need to understand the advanced stage of the politicization of their Zakat Sadaqa and Khums and they must become smarter about who they donate their funds to for the sake of their next generation who will ask how their parents managed to give away the communities charitable asset to neoliberalist agendas. In this state of affairs, in which even Charity is political. it may be the moment  to reduce the top-down power of the big Muslim Charities by  demanding greater transparency, evaluating their outputs and outcomes as well as perhaps even rejecting their big budget fundraiser promotions and going local. Religious activists say it is far better to donate locally to people you know and  for causes which tackle local Muslim well being projects around unemployment, mental health support, crime prevention, support of the rising  Muslim prison population and local Islamic education projects etc. 

Op Ed Hannah Elizabeth Smith


Hannah
 Smith is the Co Founder of fledgling Think Tank–Initiative For Muslim Community Development and is its Director of Research.She holds a 1st class undergraduate MSci degree in Geophysics from Imperial College London, a Master of Science from University of Michigan in Geology and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education in Teaching Secondary Science and Physics from the Institute of Education, London. Hannah Smith, is currently a teacher in Harbourne Secondary School, Birmingham. 

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