By Saif Ahmad
The world today is at a crisis point, where humanity suffers from disease and hunger. Gross inequality exists between rich and poor. The potential of the vast majority of the world’s population isn’t merely unexplored, it is curbed. People are no longer born free, in the literal sense. The majority of them are, in fact, born with a huge burden of debt, which belongs not to them but to their parents or the nation they are born into.
The development sector is responding to these issues, with initiatives taken by international bodies such as the UNDP, UNICEF and World Bank. As British Muslims, we, along with our communities, our mosques and agencies do our part to contribute towards alleviating poverty. Nevertheless, there remains a gaping need for a coordinated Muslim response to this injustice.
So far we have not been able to make a dent on global poverty. Nor are we in a position equivalent to that of other global NGOs, in order to be taken seriously by donor bodies, particularly governmental ones such as DfID and the UN. In fact, the recipients of well over 99% of institutional donations are mainstream agencies and Muslim agencies are yet to catch up.
Why? We should have been at the forefront of receiving these funds, in order to lead the fight against poverty. As Muslims, we have an invaluable Islamic dimension to bring to the struggle for justice and equity. By embedding the Islamic concept of giving through Zakat and Sadaqah into development, we can offer the 21st century a model that is highly sophisticated, totally transparent and completely accountable.
Now is the time for a massive paradigm shift in the way that Muslim NGOs operate, and the way Muslim donations are procured. Now is the time for an interface with global agencies whereby Muslim agencies demand partnership with world bodies on an equal footing. Now is the time to shift the focus of our campaigns from political issues to humanitarian ones.
When we consider that 10,000 out of 100,000 women in Afghanistan die becuase of complications during childbirth, and that 90% of those women can be saved with small intervention, it is clear to see that what the Muslim community needs today is a radical rethinking.
In order to achieve this, we rely on our youth’s contribution. Young Muslims must immerse themselves in global issues and current state of affairs. Equipped with development related skills, they must give back innovative new solutions using Islamic models, such as Islamic microfinance.
With Act Global, MADE in Europe has developed a pilot project which empowers young Muslims with the means to respond to emergencies, and a platform from which they can voice their willingness to make a difference. We, at MADE in Europe, hope that it will be the first step towards spearheading a young, Muslim movement over the next decade that will change the face of development as we know it.
Saif Ahmed is the founder and CEO of MADE in Europe, a UK-based NGO working to mobilise young European Muslims to take action on global issues. He previously set up Faith Regen Foundation, the first Muslim-led multi-faith community regeneration agency in the UK. In 2006 he took on the role of CEO at Muslim Aid, a UK-based humanitarian and development agency working in over 70 countries worldwide. It was during his time at Muslim Aid that he became convinced of the need for an initiative which focuses on Muslim youth which led to the formation of MADE in Europe.
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