Islamic Positions Guidance

A potential need within the Muslim charity sector is simple, pragmatic and accessible guidance on a variety of Islamic positions. In other words, a ‘Fiqh of charity administration’ which covers two main elements; 

1) Well researched Islamic rulings and 

2) their application (in particular at field/project implementation level).

Alhamdulillah, there is some good research based work done by organisations such as Islamic relief, NZF, Al-Qalam etc. But something covering a variety of themes which is accessible to all charities (from 6 month old volunteer charities up to £20M+ income charities) ensuring Shari’ah compliance. 

There are some initiatives taking place at the moment inshaAllah to this end, but to give an idea, below are some key themes which most charities need to be well versed on from a fiqhi perspective;

1) Zakah administration – it’s use, reality/definitions of the 8 categories, methods of disbursement, how much to give etc.

2) Orphan sponsorship – legal position of a charity, discharging funds, it’s responsibilities etc.

3) Importance of amānah/discharging the trust- the burden of collecting funds, acceptable time scales.

4) Qurbani/Udhiyah – rulings, exceptions, best practice at field level etc.

5) Establishing endowments (Awqāf) – conditions, ownership structure, eligibility of temporary endowments etc.

6) Managing finances – obligations of restricted vs unrestricted funds, direct vs support costs and potential analogy to Zakah collector criteria. Islamic view of charitable expenditure (not according to CC guidelines alone). 

7) Intervention effectiveness – e.g. Islamic SOP’s for setting up Islamic microfinance (models of Murabaha, Musharakah etc), most effective way of discharging Zakah funds in volatile areas etc. 

pastedGraphic.pngWorking in volatile/hostile areas – situations of necessity (ḍarurah and it’s usul), bribes vs saving lives, donor specifications vs beneficiary needs etc.

9) The actual status of a ‘charity’ in the sector (obligations as an agent?). What are the implications and responsibilities? 

10) General UK administration – charity investments, insurance for staff travelling, Shari’ah compliant contracts (for simple things like renting a building), etc.

11) Wills and inheritance – knowledge on advising on wills, inheritance etc (if not outsourcing this). 

12) Ramadan related – Zakat’l-fitr related issues, disbursing fidyah, are charities obligated to stop donations if they can’t fulfil certain criteria etc. 

The above is relating more to Islamic rulings, as opposed to the practical methods of effective implementation such as good governance, systems, programme effectiveness etc. That’s another field which should be linked, but there is more out there due to its overlap with the mainstream sector.

Some might argue how will everyone agree with the many opinions and schools of thought? 

With the different madhāhib, I think it is possible to find a middle path on this, whilst maintaining orthodoxy. Yes, there will be differences, but on the whole as long as scholars and practitioners of different denominations work together to balance between the letter and spirit of the Shari’ah (seeking Allah’s pleasure), inshaAllah, it’s hoped it can work.