"Verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves." (Holy Quran 13:11)
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Faith, Khidmah and Citizenship
Connecting Spirituality and Social Action to Build Civil Society"We are convinced that an effective Muslim civil society will aid the development of a dynamic and empowered British Islam, which will facilitate equality, engagement, community cohesion and social inclusion and greatly contribute towards a safer, more harmonious and just society."
Faith & Khidmah Report
An An-Nisa Society & Radical Middle Way partnership project
As part of the Faith & Khidmah Campaign, we will be organising a series of focused, interactive roundtable programmes in 2013 addressing practical issues raised by organisations and activists like you. We are pleased to announce our inaugural roundtable event.
With much more than £200 million being donated by British Muslims every year to charity which, in the main, is not spent on Muslims in the UK, we are asking:
“Rethinking Charity: Where Should our Giving be Going?”
Thursday 21 February 2013
10:00 - 16:00
Regent’s Park Mosque (Islamic Cultural Centre UK & London Central Mosque)
146 Park Road, London, NW8
Nearest Tube: Baker Street Station
- What is the jurisprudence behind such concepts as zakat and sadaqah?
- What are the ethics that should guide our giving?
- Do we need to rethink the fiqh of charitable giving?
- Is it more important to invest in our own communities before sending money abroad?
- Are mosques and madrassahs the only worth recipients of the Muslim charity pound?
- Is there a case that can be made for balancing global concerns and local responsibilities?
The roundtable will explore these vital questions. The morning session will be led Shaikha Halima Krausen followed by what we know will be a robust discussion informed a panel of respondents – and YOU!
We will be inviting leaders of charity organisations, activists and other scholarly voices to weigh in and join our participants in debating and discussing these critical questions.
Faith & Khidmah Symposium Report
Available for downloading
There are about 3 million Muslims in the UK from numerous ethnic backgrounds. British Islam has faced challenges of fractured communities, high levels of socio-economic deprivation, weak social infrastructure, an inadequate voluntary sector, ill-equipped religious institutions (mosques), institutional discrimination, lack of appropriate representation of needs and issues. However, British Islam has had additional factors to contend with that have contributed to its social exclusion and difficulties and barriers in improving its condition.
The social context has been complex. Muslims have experienced changing social patterns, socio-economic problems, and cultural conflict as well as racism and Islamophobia. Institutional Islamophobia plays a big role but is little understood. The lack of monitoring on the basis of faith has disguised what has been happening. After decades of invisibility in official statistics, the 2001 Census lifted the veil on Muslim socio-economic disadvantage. It revealed that Muslims have the highest figures for virtually everything from high unemployment, poor housing, and overcrowded conditions, to the worst health amongst others.
The stresses have led to increasing family breakdown and dysfunction -- with increases in the divorce rate, the number of single parents (mainly led by mothers), households headed by a woman. There are also rising physical and mental health problems, increased domestic violence, issues of forced marriages abd disproportionate number of children in care. Alienation of young Muslim men has also increased with an over-representation in the criminal justice system.
- The Muslim population is the youngest -- 34% under 16
- Muslims report worst health -- Muslim women have worst health
- Muslims have the highest rates of disability (24% women and 21% men)
- Muslim households experience most overcrowding (32%); most likely to lack central heating (12%); 1% lack access to a bathroom
- 1 in 3 Muslims have no qualifications (31%)
- Muslim unemployment rate highest (14% men 15% women)
Why is this happening? Where are the Muslim support services and civil society organisations providing much needed help and support? Where are the Muslim-led initiatives to tackle poverty and unemployment with business and enterprise projects?
The sorry fact is that Britain's Muslims are poorly served because we do not have a properly operational Muslim civil society.
The Radical Middle Way and An Nisa Society have, in partnership, developed an ambitious campaign, entitled 'Faith and Khidmah: Connecting Spirituality and Social Action'. It is part of our on-going work to develop relevant Islamic approaches to contemporary challenges. The goal of this campaign is to help build a vigorous and resilient Muslim civil society in Britain -- one that can develop fresh approaches that may also prove useful to other parts of the Islamic world, many of which are in the process of change and rethinking.
We began our exploration of the issues at a special symposium held in May 2012 and entitled 'Faith & Khidmah: Connecting Spirituality, Social Action and the Big Society'. The symposium has started a national conversation about the future of Muslim civil society, exploring ways to harness, direct and develop the incredible energy, commitment and experience that exists within Muslim communities. The conversation is additionally intended to help the governments in the UK, the statutory sector and voluntary sector organisations to become more effective and accountable in what they offer to British citizens who are Muslim. This is support to which all British Muslims share a full entitlement as citizens and as taxpayers.
As citizens we fully expect the government to tackle Muslim social exclusion. As taxpayers and citizens we have a right to expect specific strategies and resources to address our legitimate needs and we need to ensure that they do. However, it is also incumbent on us to take action too. If Muslim charities were to invest even half of their annual income in investing in British Islam in the UK every year, it would make a huge difference enabling us to set our own agenda and identification of our own need.
The Faith and Khidmah report
Download Faith & Khidmah reportFaith-Khidmah_FINAL_REPORT.pdf
The Report Launch
22 November 2012, Zakat House, London
"There are 3 million British Muslims. Although there are some recent success stories, the community generally suffers from multi-sectored disadvantage. Research consistently shows that British Muslims are an underclass. Yet, we have little civil society infrastructure that can uplift the community by catering for its diverse needs. Amazingly, despite being a poor community we still manage to give more in charity per head than other faith community in this country. More than £200 million is collected per year but little is invested in funding projects in this country. This campaign aims to develop our thinking as to what constitutes a Muslim civil society and to seek Islamic solutions to contemporary economic, health and social problems as well as building on our rich cultural heritage. The last decade or so has seen very difficult times for British Muslims. But we now urgently need to step back to reflect and concentrate on creating a vigorous and vibrant Muslim community in this country. We are delighted with the supportive and enthusiastic response to this initiative and we feel confident, God willing, that the time is right to make a positive change."
RMW and An-Nisa Society formally launched the Faith & Khidmah campaign with the publication of a landmark report on Muslim civil society at Zakat House on Thursday 22 November 2012. Entitled "Faith, Khidmah and Citizenship: Connecting Spirituality and Social Action to Build Civil Society", brought together the presentations and views of Muslim civil society activists who attended our symposium in May 2012, which kicked off the campaign.
Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said, a prominent religious scholar, opened the day with a reading from the Qur'an that tells the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his legacy of khidmah (service). Emphasising the role of intention in social action he said there were five messages connected to Ibrahim. The first is to understand the honourable status of being of khidmah; secondly, a Muslim is of Khidmah to all of God's creatures regardless of their faith; thirdly, true khidmah is always undertaken in a state of genuine humility; fourthly, khidmah is performed with the understanding that it is never perfect and one always ask for forgiveness for obvious shortcomings; and finally, acts of khidmah should always be part of a long term strategy based on sustainability and set targets.
Abdul Rehman Malik, Programmes Manager for Radical Middle Way chairing the event introduced the report and said that the goal of the report is simple: to start a national campaign to build a vibrant, resilient and relevant Muslim civil society in Britain through a process of consultation, collaboration, consolidation of good practice and the sharing of fresh and innovative perspectives.
In his opening remarks Fuad Nahdi, Executive Director of RMW, called for action emphasising the need for a wide range of organisations and individuals to join hands to ensure a Muslim civil society that can meet the needs of all communities and contribute to the common good. "What is now wajib (obligatory) and has always been is to invest in our communities, in our social, cultural, economic and political lives. Now is the time to initiate a nation-wide movement that would call for more transparency and accountability to those who collect millions from our generous people but are not sensible or sensitive to our own needs and requirements," he said.
Describing the report as a reconnaissance document he said he hoped it would help those who are serious about the issue to plan and strategise. "A notable exception in the document is that it, rightly so, moves away from the fiqh-fixed debate of minority and majority. It is written by a group of people for whom being British citizens is as important as being Muslims. They see no contradiction or conflict of interest. Actually they are convinced that their message of their faith can only bring more light, more relevance and more harmony to the whole society."
Humera Khan, co-founder and trustee of An-Nisa Society, highlighted key aspects of the report and the proposed campaign. She said An-Nisa Society and Radical Middle Way brought their individual unique experiences and strengths to the project. While both organisations have their own bodies of work they share a common focus of harnessing traditional knowledge for contemporary challenges and engaging with grassroots communities.
Quoting from the Faith and Khidmah report Humera said that "Communities cannot mend themselves" and that we need to harness all aspects of Civil Society. Meeting the needs of the most vulnerable within Muslim communities by mainstream service providers needs to go hand in hand with developing community initiatives that empower ordinary citizens to act, engage and make change. Humera said that the objectives of the Campaign in not to re-invent the wheel but to enhance and enable what is already developing out there and to support it with a vision of how a successful Muslim civil society can look like and become.
In their responses, Shahien Taj, Executive Director of the Henna Foundation, spoke about the challenges facing grassroots organisations and highlighted the vital leadership role women play in the Muslim voluntary sector, which is not recognised or supported. She gave examples of services that were much needed but non-existent due to lack of funding and resources.
Birmingham University's Dr Laura McDonald addressed the need for engagement with public policy while maintaining integrity and independence. She spoke of the need for quality research on the scope and impact of Muslim civil society and voluntary action. She highlighted that there are 'structural inequalities' affecting Muslims, which creates barriers. The government has, by only speaking to Muslims through the lens of security, tainted the relationship and it has led to Muslims disengaging. Muslims are constantly dealing with crisis and are reactive and defensive which makes it difficult to move forward. A confident Muslim civil society is essential to change the dynamics and give us ownership of our own agenda -- after all she said, "it's our community."
Ted Cantle, Founder and Executive Chair of the Institute for Community Cohesion welcomed the report and started by saying that it was refreshing to attend an event that was about a positive and constructive initiative concerning Muslim communities. He then spoke about the context; the national and local impact of globalisation and the climate of change that concerns all. Faith has recently come into the public sphere, which this country struggles with. However, societies are no longer secular. He said Prevent, the government's counter terrorism strategy, has left a legacy, which is counter-productive. The government has not recognised the damage Prevent has done to Muslims by turning them into a 'suspect' community. He stressed that the lessons must not be lost.
He advised that the Khidmah campaign must look beyond social welfare provision to other forms of non-governmental action such as business, trade and political networks which are fundamental to notions of civil society. He said there must be a balance between working within our own communities and making the mainstream adjust to the idea of a faith-based approach. He pondered whether, in the current constrained climate where support for specific communities is reduced, we could expect the mainstream to take on faith-based services?
Dr Musharraf Hussain, CEO and Imam of the Karimia Institute, spoke about his experience of training and nurturing hundreds of grassroots activists and called on the campaign to employ an Islamic theology of social actions to meet the moral and ethical challenges facing Britain.
Participants asked probing questions about charitable giving, historical perspectives of citizenship and civil society and the need to re-examine the role of mosques and Islamic centres.
Zakat House's Fadi Itani advised that as the campaign moves forward, it is vital that traditional and established institutions are included and nudged along.
Jack O'Sullivan, journalist, campaigner and editor of the report, concluded the session emphasising the importance of making Islamic genius and creativity accessible to all.
John Eversley, Senior Lecturer in Voluntary and Community Organisations at London Metropolitan University said after the launch: "I really welcome the launch of the report on Faith, Khidmah and Citizenship as part of the programme of work by An-Nisa Society and Radical Middle Way on involvement of Muslims in Civil Society. There is clearly a lot of activity by Muslims and Muslims organisations, but civil society organisations face many challenges. I believe that a programme that embraces the theology of social action and practical problems of funding and governance will prove very valuable."
Radical Middle Way and An-Nisa Society thank Zakat House for sponsoring the launch. Also to all the volunteers and sponsors for their help and support.
For more information and to be part of the campaign, sign up to the campaign e-mail list on the main campaign page or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Download Faith & Khidmah report Faith-Khidmah_FINAL_REPORT.pdf