Posts Tagged ‘Mohammad Ashraf’

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ISNA’s zakat scandal par for the course

January 25, 2011

ISNA Canada is in scalding hot water for how little of the money it collects in zakat actually goes to the poor.  ISNA Canada is the Canadian branch of the Islamic Society of North America, which was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation’s Hamas terrorist financing operation.  The Star has published a devastating article on ISNA Canada’s finances on Jan. 20 based in large part on the findings of a rather brave auditing firm.  The article gives us a rare glimpse into the inner workings of an Islamic charity.

That being said, the article focuses a little too much on the personal mismanagement by Ashraf.  There is a much broader phenomenon pervading most Islamic charities which includes three Koran-based patterns:  1) The use of charitable funds for personal gain.  We’ve seen this everywhere from Pakistan’s zakat ministries to Western Islamic charities.  This is justified by the Muslim charity managers in part because the Koran authorizes those who collect zakat to keep a portion of the zakat.  2)  The Koran mandates that zakat will go toward the mujahideen.  However, terrorist financing is illegal in the West.  That creates a built-in temptation by the Muslim charity leaders to conceal their actual expenses and the nature of their charitable programs.  3) A widespread lack of professional accounting at Islamic organizations.  This is partly a cultural problem of the third world where Muslims have immigrated from, but it also has roots in Islam.  Financially speaking, Islam encourages believers to treat each other with trust, but to treat non-Muslims with doubt and watchfulness.  The prejudice results in greater scrutiny by Muslims of in their transactions with non-Muslims but with meager oversight or controls on their internal revenues and expenditures.

Here’s the Star’s full account (h/t RoP):

Muslim charity squandered money for the poor

Jesse McLean, Staff Reporter

Devout Muslims donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to one of Canada’s largest Islamic organizations on the promise that the cash would be used to help the poor.

But only one in four dollars donated to a special pool of money at the Islamic Society of North America Canada (ISNA Canada) actually reached the needy.

Mismanagement of more than $600,000 is among the findings in a scathing audit obtained by the Star.

A “very small portion . . . is distributed to the poor and needy and the major portion is spent on the administration of the centre,” concluded the 2010 audit of the previous four years.

ISNA Canada is embroiled in controversy, with the audit revealing the practice of giving free perks to family members of a top official; the improper issuing of charitable tax receipts; and the diversion of charity money to private businesses. At the centre of it all is long-time secretary general Mohammad Ashraf, who has recently announced he is stepping down.

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