Canadian media is reporting that Mohammad Ashraf, long-time leader of the Islamic Society of North America Canada, is at the center of a controversy involving mismanaged charity donations and free perks for family members. According to a report in the Toronto Star:
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. Ashraf would not answer a series of questions from the Star. “Don’t ask me anything,” Ashraf told a reporter who visited the organization’s Mississauga headquarters, marked by a graceful minaret overlooking the Queen Elizabeth Way. The 73-year-old microbiologist said he is “being transitioned into retirement” and that he is “restricted” from commenting on the audit.
Read the rest here.
In one of the most telling parts of the actual audit report, the auditor found:
During the analysis of Zakath and Fithra collections, we found that a very small portion of the zakath and fithra collected is distributed to the poor and needy and the major portion is spent on the administration of the centre.
ISNA-Canada responded by stating “This is a fiqh issue and not within the real of this audit. Amount collected in zakath is spend against ICC expense and the school.” This response appears to suggest that ISNA-Canada believes it is up to itself and Islamic scholars to decide what is or is not charity.
As documented in a Hudson Institute report, ISNA grew directly out of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.The organization actually has a long history of fundamentalism, anti-semitism, and support for terrorism and during the recent Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial, ISNA was named as an unindicted co-conspirator as a result of what the government called “ISNA’s and NAIT’s intimate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, and the defendants in this case.” Although it is true that recently ISNA has issued condemnations of terrorism which for the first time identify Hamas and Hezbollah by name, there is no indication that the organization has ever addressed or acknowledged its history of support for terrorism. Also, as the Hudson Institute report observes, almost all of the ISNA founders remain active in the organization and ISNA maintains close relations with all other components of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, a previous post discussed the ties between the ISNA Secretary-General, a former leader of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago chapter, and an Illinois school with close links to the Mosque Foundation, itself tied to fundraising for Hamas.