The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) has announced that it sponsored a United Nations forum on the role of Islamic charity in achieving world anti-poverty goals. According to the IIIT announcement:
On November 16th, The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) sponsored a forum at the United Nations brining together international development leaders and experts to look at the importance of Zakat in advancing the global UN development agenda at a forum titled ‘Linking Muslim Giving to the MDGs’. The forum was co-hosted at the United Nations by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), The World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists, and the UN Millennium Campaign. ‘While some countries have made impressive gains in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), others are falling behind. The Muslim world is no exception. Faith emphasizes building communities, sharing wealth and upholding the rights of the poor and marginalized. Faith-based giving such as Zakat which amounts to billions of dollars needs to be spent in more strategic and effective ways to accelerate development in OIC member countries’ stated Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen, the permanent observer of OIC at the United Nations, in his address. Speakers from UNDP, International Institute of Islamic Thought, Islamic Relief USA, and Kimse Yok Mu shed light on the role of faith based giving in improving lives and shared real examples from around the world of successful partnerships between faith based organizations and development agencies. Ms. Corinne Woods, the director of UN Millennium Campaign, Mr. Anir Dossal, the Chairman of Global Partnerships Forum, and Dr. Imtiaz Khan, the Chairman of Board of Directors of WCMP also addressed the forum. Dr. M. Yaqub Mirza, representing IIIT, addressed the forum and presented an overview of the significance of zakat in Islam, a presentation that incorporates the years of experience and research by Dr. Mirza and IIIT in applying this key pillar of Islam within the modern global context. ‘Zakat is a unique pillar in that it requires you go out and touch someone else. We need to be involved in the community and know who is deserving zakat’, mentioned Dr. Mirza highlighting the aspect of zakat that relates to ‘making people self-supporting and able to stand on their own feet.’ These practical faith-based practices are exactly what is needed to turn the MDG into a lived reality. World Zakat Organization (WZO), an OIC affiliate project was also showcased at the forum. The main focus of WZO activity will be eradication of poverty among the poor and needy on permanent basis through developing sustainable projects in the area of food security, human resource development in particular skill training and small and medium enterprises financing programs. ‘This event is an effort in this direction. We need to examine the potential of Zakat, tailor out a development strategy in the context of local realities, and identify right regional and international partners, said Dr. Tariq H. Cheema, the CEO of the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists.”
The Hudson Institute report details how the IIIIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Iraqi-born Jamal Barzinji and Hisham Altalib who wished to promote the Islamization of Knowledge as conceived by Ismail Al-Faruqi and who were also early leaders of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism and both organizations had been under investigation at that time by the U.S. Justice Department until at least mid 2007. The organization appeared to have withdrawn from public view following the 2002 raids but seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. IIIT has a network of affiliates located in Europe, Africa, the MIddle East, and Asia. Although little is known about the activities of these IIIT affiliates, posts have discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon.
The World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists (WCMP) describes itself as:
…..a global network of affluent individuals, grantmaking foundations, and socially responsible corporations, established to advance effective and accountable giving. WCMP is a unique catalyst for partnership across public, private, and social sectors, offering information and resources to link donors with social investment opportunities. As a trusted broker of collaborative relationships, WCMP mobilizes financial and human resources to confront social needs and advance strategic philanthropy.
The WCMP Board of Directors and Advisory Council is comprised of individuals from a variety of countries and backgrounds including at least two tied to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. The WCMP CEO, Tariq H. Cheema, was listed in 2003 as a member of the ISNA Annual Conference Steering Committee and Advisory Council member Ahmed Elhattab is currently the director of the ISNA Development Foundation.
A post from March 2008 reported on an Istanbul conference held by the newly-formed WCMP that was sponsored by the Kingdom Foundation, an organization established by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia who donated $1,500,000 to an ISNA scholarship fund and the Islamic Development Bank, a Saudi group that is known to finance Muslim Brotherhood organizations. Featured speakers included a number of individuals associated with the Global Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas including Nihad Awad, a leader of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Wadah Khanfar, Director General AL Jazeera Network. Other prominent speakers included Tayyip Erdo?an, Prime Minister of Republic of Turkey and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General, Organization of the Islamic Conference as well as members of the Qatari royal family. Other speakers/organizations of note included:
- Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation (funds the European Muslim Brotherhood)
- ?HH ?nsani Yard?m Vakf? (Turkish sponsor of the June 2010 Gaza Flotilla, close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood)
- European Union (EU)
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Gaddafi International Foundation
- Islamic Outreach ABIM (Malaysian Muslim Brotherhood youth organization)
- IslamOnline.net (tied to Youssef Qaradawi)
- Rand Corporation
A post from late November reported that the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank had signed an agreement to collaborate in the development of Islamic finance.