Zakat myth goes globalJanuary 3, 2011
The myth is that zakat donations are somehow limited by international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures. Recall that the U.S. Treasury Department cannot produce any evidence to prove that there is any “chilling effect” on Muslim giving. A whole conference on the subject couldn’t produce scientific numbers either. And our own research has shown that Islamic Relief USA’s revenues have soared in recent years.
Now African Muslim charities are adopting the same the crybaby victim mentality that American Muslim groups and leftists pioneered, claiming that Muslims can’t donate zakat easily. But as unreliable as information is on the subject even in the U.S., it’s impossible to accept the claims by these NGOs in Africa at face value. From Uganda’s New Vision on Jan. 2:
MUSLIM non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Uganda are unhappy that the association of terrorism with Muslims is making it difficult for them to receive donor funding.
Meeting at Serena Hotel for the eighth Assembly of Zakat House yesterday, the NGOs expressed fear that they would not receive funds if terrorism is continually associated with Muslims.
“With all the bomb scares, it is becoming hard to get international funds because the money has to be cross-examined many times before it is dispatched to our accounts,” Abdelmola Elmawla, the International Islamic Charitable Organisation director, said.
Apart from the delays in receiving funds, the money is not credited to individual NGO bank accounts. It is instead dispatched to international accounts, where local NGOs have to struggle to get it, incurring costs of accessibility.
The conference, hosted by Zakat House, an international donor agency, has brought together 71 African Muslim NGOs in a bid to draw up a plan to ensure transparency.
“We want to establish country committees that are to be directly accountable to Zakat House for transparency and accountability,” Adel Al-Jeri, the assistant manager for external affairs for Zakat House, said.
The project will cover 14 African countries, which will include Uganda, Senegal, Mali, Sudan and Morocco.
The conference emphasised education as a major capacity-building component for Muslims.
Elmawla said they were building a girls’ secondary school in Koboko district.
They are also planning to build schools in Hoima, Nebbi, Kaberamaido and Isingiro districts.
The project also covers university education, where about 1,000 beneficiaries at the Islamic University in Uganda will be sponsored next year.
Al-Jeri said they had already received the funds to be used to build vocational schools, health facilities and boreholes across Uganda.
However, international NGOs are still facing a challenge in coping with the Ugandan culture and government policies.
If the Zakat House, a Muslim charity itself, is going to be the arbiter of what is and what is not “transparent” and “accountable” for 71 other Muslim charities, the inmates are running the asylum.