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A Tribute to My Father and Grassroots Activism

dad.jpgI’ve been thinking more and more about the difference between extremely locally-based, grass-roots Islamic activism vs. a larger, almost institution-like system (such as al-Maghrib)… these thoughts have been buzzing around in my head even more since I’ve had a few short discussions with my dad about it, comparing our work (grassroots) to al-Maghrib’s kind of work.

My father thinks that al-Maghrib is doing some great work (may Allah grant them tawfeeq), but he thinks that the greater need is for more grassroots activism. Consider me biased because of my parentage and history, but I also tend to lean more towards the grass-roots, local approach over the systemized one. To have a sheikh or two in one city/town, working with the community by providing such services as khutbahs, weekly halaqas, counselling, and much more – this I feel really brings the knowledge home and does an immense amount of good. Instead of just teaching, it’s a form of growing… the longer the sheikh is with the community, the closer they become to him, the more they trust him, the more benefit they gain. Rather than impersonal questions and answers, they get interaction. It’s not just a sheikh whom they look up to, it’s a sheikh whom they know and love because of their familiarity with him. It’s like family.

Y’know how in the other thread we were discussing reaching out to those Muslims who are really weak or lax, who don’t even pray most of the time, who are suffering from such issues as drug abuse and alcoholism (and much more)? Well, this kind of arrangement helps a lot with those kinds of situations. To have the sheikh(s) available practically on-call, who can guide and coach step-by-step… truly, it works wonders.

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I used to be dazzled by the thought of travelling the world and speaking out on relevant issues such as politics and unity amongst the Muslims and whatnot. I still respect those who do. They are the superstars of the Ummah, and may Allah bless them and reward them and grant them every type of success!

But for myself, I see now that what is really needed is work of the less glamorous type. Not the superstars, but the schoolteachers who spend year after year teaching the same material, believing in it nonetheless and striving despite their weariness to get the message out, hoping and praying that when their students leave them for the wider world, that they will remember at least some of what they’ve been taught, even if they don’t remember the teachers themselves.

I’m a small-city girl, so I suppose that I’m really just addressing the small-city situation. I don’t live in major Muslim hotspots such as Toronto or Ottawa or Montreal, or even Edmonton and Calgary. I’ve spent the entirety of my (semi) mature life in exactly two cities – both of them relatively small compared to the rest of Canada and with a much smaller Muslim community. The socio-economic situation of the Muslim communities I’ve lived in is that of lower- to middle/working-class: families struggling to pull in a steady income, families who have a modest income and have to carefully budget to make ends meet, families who live in relative comfort but who can’t exactly be called rich. These are the people who need the “grounded” sheikh, who works and lives amongst them, shares their joys and their sorrows, their times of comfort and their times of hardship, who sees their children born, grow up, get married.

There’s a huge demand – or, if not an actual demand, then certainly a need – for those shuyookh and a’immah who are really and truly qualified, who have studied at and graduated from Islamic universities. In addition, they need not only Islamic knowledge but the experience of having grown up and lived in the West, so that they know first-hand the difficulty in living here as a Muslim and the challenges we face. Unfortunately, there are far too few of them. Yes, we have those such as Sheikh Muhammad al-Shareef, Yasir Qadhi, Yahya Ibrahim, and several more – but definitely not enough to go around. When we were younger, my brothers and I would wish that we could clone my dad so that he could spend more time with us while his clones would do the rest of his work (which we viewed as boring, tiresome, and an unwelcome distraction from family time); now I wish that we could clone my father and all those other shuyookh so that the needs of the Muslim community, on every level, can be better addressed and fulfilled.

If there are any students of knowledge reading this post, if there are any of you who are currently studying at an Islamic university and thinking about what you’re going to do when you graduate, or even those who just thinking of studying at an Islamic university – then here’s my suggestion: find yourself a community that lacks a good teacher, a good leader, that lacks so many services that it desperately needs. It doesn’t matter if the community is tiny and way-out-there and is guaranteed to freeze your socks to your feet, like Fort McMurray (actually, Fort Mac isn’t that bad – there are quite a few Muslims there). The point is, people need you. It’s grueling, tiresome work and rarely involves a lot of glory, but we’re not supposed to go for the glory – as long as it’s fee sabilillaah, we should be content. So please, please think about it! You have no idea how much we need you.

In closing, I would like to bring our attention and appreciation to the “small-time” du’aat that are out there, who are working so hard yet receive relatively little acknowledgement for what they’ve done and continue to do.

And so, for my father, who is one of those du’aat: Baba, I’m proud of you. I’m in awe of what you’ve accomplished, and no matter how much I disagree with you on various subjects, I still pray that at the very least, I may reach your level of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. You’ve sacrificed so much for the Muslims, and yet it never seems to be enough… but insha’Allah, on the Day of Judgement it will be enough. I am proud to be your daughter, and ashamed that I’ve never put as much effort into being a better daughter and more worthy of a father such as you. May Allah ease your many burdens, and grant you the greatest of rewards.

Disclaimer: This is in no way belittling the efforts of al-Maghrib or other similar institutions; it’s simply my observation of the needs of the Muslim community.

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Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of



  1. ibnabeeomar


    September 27, 2007 at 1:05 AM

    good read jazkallahu khayr

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    September 27, 2007 at 1:26 AM

    brilliant article

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    September 27, 2007 at 1:42 AM

    As salaamu alaikum sister Mouse!
    OK we are really twins, not kidding. I was just thinking this yesterday and today: about grass roots da’wah. SubhanAllah. You really hit the nail on the head.
    Ameen to the du’as-may we work on grassroots and larger causes for the Ummah, ameen.

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    September 27, 2007 at 2:04 AM

    Great read.
    Grass root local dawah is the backbone of any community. Bringing large institutions is the second step to grass root dawah. Institutions like AlMaghrib don’t survive in communities who don’t have any grass root work going on. On the other hand, communities that have solid local dawah programs going on, AlMaghrib thrives in those communities or those communities only grow stronger with AlMaghrib.
    Its a combo and one comes only after the other

    and hey, I had thought about cloning my dad too except that I am such a REF and I was going to photocopy him.

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    Islam Blog

    September 27, 2007 at 2:06 AM

    Very Nice post indeed. May Allah bless all the unsung duaat.

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    September 27, 2007 at 2:45 AM

    The most persistent and tireless grassroots efforts in North America are, without doubt, being conducted quietly by Jamaatul-Tabligh. It doesn’t matter what others say about them, so much of what we take for granted in our community today began with their efforts. They are the ones travelling by road from one end of the country to the other, on their own expense, trying to find every last Muslim living in the most remote cities all over North America, to establish salaah, remind others about Allah, and return people to the sunnah. They’re the only ones going door to door, trying to find anyone who might be even remotely Muslim, to bring them to the remembrance of Allah. They’re the only ones working in the dirtiest slums, reaching out to the most disaffected people, and establishing prayers in their midst. And in spite of all the criticism they receive from all sides, they keep working, and Allah keeps helping them.

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    September 27, 2007 at 3:23 AM

    as salamu`alaykum Sr Anonymouse,

    BarakAllahu feeki for your post. I was actually having a discussion about this very topic with Sh Muhammad AlShareef and he said quite clearly, “nothing replaces a local Imam”. And if you do look at some of our other instructors, like Sh AbdulBary, Sh Yaser Birjas, Sh Muhammad Faqih, Sh Riad, Sh Suhaib and other shuyukh who are Imam of their masajid…you’ll see how their community is flowering mashaAllah..and it’s not because of their involvement in AlMaghrib (even though I think that has benefited them all in the way they attract people)….it’s because of the hardwork they put in developing their community.

    So AlMaghrib has it’s place but a “resident scholar” or an Imam is like the heart of any muslim community.

    Wallahu `alam

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    Yunus Yakoub Islam

    September 27, 2007 at 3:56 AM

    Can we clone you and then you can come and be MY daughter! I’d be proud to have a kid like you, not that I aint proud of my own – but you know what I mean. :-)

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    September 27, 2007 at 6:22 AM

    I think perhaps its a little unfair to have a comparison because the two. The Ummah needs THIS and THAT. If evvveryone only focused on grass routs dawah and we didnt have any national organizations, that would be a minus as well.

    If we had no grass roots dawah, well then forget about the national organization lol.

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    September 27, 2007 at 7:36 AM

    Well, local scholars aren’t just going to pop-up by themselves :) If the current generation recognises the need for it, then they should take themselves to this task.

    I agree with Kamran and Ummabdullah.
    MAC in Canada also has a grassroots approach. In fact, theirs is quite deep: One that focuses on personal development as well as activism.
    And just with any Muslim organisation doing great work, there’s always need for more volunteers, and perhaps that’s why we feel that what they’re doing is not enough and we need more.

    But it’s not the scholarship that we need as much as we need our brotherhood to be strengthened. If we want to help someone get off drugs, it’s not just a sheikh who can do it. Rather, a lot of these problems can be solved through acceptance, love, support.. by anyone who cares.
    I understand the frustrations of living in a small town and lacking the “services” that bigger places may have. But, sometimes, that in itself is the blessing, one just has to realise it. In fact, I’ve often seen small town people thriving better, because they are like a family…
    And I’ve also seen that once people start to think that it’s the responsibility of the teachers only to take care of misguided people, they just become passive. [This is a sociology fact as well]

    Maulana Maududi had started a grassroots movement in Pakistan and he changed a lot, mashallah. We definitely have a lot to learn from systems that existed in the past and others that still exist and try to implement and expand them.

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    Mahin F Islam

    September 27, 2007 at 11:49 AM

    Assalaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakatuhu,

    Sr. Anonymouse, you don’t live in Cambridge, ON do you?

    Anyways…I myself in the future intend to pursue studies overseas and the idea of coming back and being a ‘community builder’ is a great idea that I have thought about; although not necessarily in the middle of country bumpkin ville..but if there are Muslims there, then why not? What I don’t want to do is come back and rot away in the engineering field, which I am in right now.

    May I ask what is that your dad does for a living to support y’all? That is the concern…brothers can study overseas but taking standard positions as Imams doesn’t seem to pay the bills from what I’ve seen. Please elaborate on this. If there is a market for such ‘community builders’, we can market that as a career path once brothers and sisters finish their Islamic studies.

  12. Amad


    September 27, 2007 at 12:34 PM

    ASA, I was really touched by the story… mashallah, its awesome to have a dad like yours…

    I applaud him as well and all others like him who are slowly changing communities, one person at a time.

    I don’t think Sr. Mouse’s point was to compare the two in order to undermine one. But rather, the point I think is that we hear about the big institutes and the big shayookh all the time, and yes, they have great impact. On the other hand, we don’t see and appreciate (many times) what these “local” and “resident” shayookh do. In fact, I was in Sh. Waleed’s community for several years… and we had him as a “resident” Sheikh for sometime, until he got famous and spoiled it for all of us ;) Seriously though, once he did start traveling, the community really felt his absence, and it was always a source of great discussion (plus more) as to the priorities of the “locals” vs. the needs of the rest of America. Its a tough battle of priorities at that point.

    I also agree with Faraz, that the Tablighi brothers have been working the far-flung communities for sometime, regardless of whatever disagreements people may have with their style and methodology. Credit where credit’s due. In fact, if I see a brother who is really down in terms of iman and Islamic practices, sending him for that initial charge with the tablighis is something that I would never be afraid to recommend.

    Mahin too brings up a good point. Sometimes we treat the Imam of our communities in such a despicable way, pretty much assuming and applying this assumption that the Imam has to be somehow the poorest member of the community, that we don’t sufficiently pay them their rightful dues. Sometimes the Imams have to do odd jobs just to keep up, and what a loss then for the community! An Imam spending time delivering Pizza, when he could be solving our problems.

    Challenges, challenges, challenges… interesting also in how it highlights the challenges we face, yet the most important topic in the mind of many seem to be fighting about the intricate details of Islam (hint, hint :) ). Please no tangents on this one!

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    September 27, 2007 at 12:46 PM

    Sr. you have truly hit the nail. SubhanAllah, the community i live in has HUUUUUUUGE muslim population however we definitely lack a leader, who can guide them and bring them back to Islam.

    Wallahi, my heart bleeds everytime i see Muslim Youth drifting further and further away from deen and trying to be anything but Muslims. Are the youth to be blamed for it?
    – Their parents are not religious and hardly have any knowledge to pass on to their kids.
    – The biggest Muslim Community center is ruled by Paki uncles who JUST REFUSE to let anybody outside of their ‘JAMAH’ come in Masjid in management’ position
    -I dont see anybody with sound knowledge anywhere near the community…
    -community center has soooo much money, yet it has absolutely no programs to benefit the community members and nobody is rasing their voice against it because people are too busy pursuing the dunity.
    -almost all the Muslim kids go to public schools which is poisoning them bit by bit.

    It wont be long before these youth grows up and refusing to acknowledge that they are Muslims…who is to be blamed for it ?(i know complaining is the easiest thing to do) however i am just trying to do my part by trying to start Sunday School (biggest community center refused to give me space because i am a student at ”CERTAIN” institute hence i cant be allowed to teach- thanks) and im trying to get other sisters to start teaching as well.
    What else can i do? (any suggestions will be appreciated)

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    September 27, 2007 at 3:04 PM

    Ma sha Allah sister, great post.

    I’d like to also point out our beloved AlHuda people (Dr. Idrees Zubair and Dr. Farhat Hashmi), who have literally revolutionized the “upper-class” of Karachi, Pakistan and now they are here in Toronto, Canada enlightening the community, walhamdulillah.

    It’s amazing how many lives they have touched with their work – which is in essence grassroots, yet its so global. May Allah accept from them and multiply their rewards.

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    September 27, 2007 at 3:22 PM

    Another organization that is grass roots in the USA is MAS (Muslim American Society). They are implementing chapters throughout the country that touch the lives of Muslims in all aspects of life. You will see halaqas, volunteerism, seminars, events, sports, qiyams, etc. May Allah bless their work and accept from them.

    I think both are needed, just which one is a priority and which is more effective. They are different in attracting a different audience. But dawa (Islamic work) is very broad and encompasses everything, so may Allah bless all organizations in trying to establish Islam throughout world!!

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    September 27, 2007 at 3:26 PM

    Yeps, the Muslim American Society (American) branched off to the Muslim Association of Canada (Canadian)

    If you’re interested in starting a MAS or MAC Chapter in your town/city, drop me a note!

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    September 27, 2007 at 3:44 PM

    ”Another organization that is grass roots in the USA is MAS (Muslim American Society). They are implementing chapters throughout the country that touch the lives of Muslims in all aspects of life. You will see halaqas, volunteerism, seminars, events, sports, qiyams, etc. May Allah bless their work and accept from them.”

    Not to forget ICNA and YM who are working diligently for Islam. May Allah swt accept their efforts and increase them in their Ilm and Aml

  18. Avatar

    Abu Bakr

    September 27, 2007 at 5:33 PM

    Excellent post, most of the people who had a tremendous impact on me and the direction of my life were people in my local community, none of whom are famous.

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    September 27, 2007 at 8:02 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum Ramadan Mubarak

    Al Maghrib is a means of teaching Islam for those people not dedicated enough to join Islamic universities or study long term with a Shaykh.

    I agree it would be better to have a scholar in our community full time, but there are VERY FEW Islamic scholars in the west.

    Through Al Maghrib the graduates of Islamic university are reaching thousands of people, without such an organization I dont think that would have been possible.

    BTW if you go to Texas you’ll find a community who loves Shaykh Yasser Birjas very much. And he provides the se4rvices you mentioned seuch as khutbahs and halaqa’s. He’s killing two birds with one stone if you will.

    And I’m sure nothing describes the task of Al Maghrib instructors like your words.

    Not the superstars, but the schoolteachers who spend year after year teaching the same material, believing in it nonetheless and striving despite their weariness to get the message out, hoping and praying that when their students leave them for the wider world, that they will remember at least some of what they’ve been taught,

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    September 28, 2007 at 2:34 AM

    are u the same anonymouse from organicmuslimah’s blog? ur so cute u know that lol.
    i live in the middle east, and i agree with u. it’s a lot more important to do grassroot dawah than the regular teaching..we have to reach out to the youth! we need youth oriented programs. a lot of classes i go to are abt zakah, sawm etc. while these are imp, what a waste of having youngsters under the roof. we need someone to address our issues, probs we face in this time, this age..

  21. Amad


    September 28, 2007 at 9:17 AM

    Sr. Mouse, it would be awesome if your father could write a small piece telling us more about him and his background… with some advice for all those aspiring small-town community imam-wannabes :) !

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    September 28, 2007 at 11:49 AM

    I agree, I want to hear from Abu AnonyMouse inshaAllah!

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    September 28, 2007 at 6:49 PM

    I agree, sister Mouse. :)

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    Dawud Israel

    September 28, 2007 at 7:26 PM

    Sr. Mouse: Where are you located? From the sounds of it…you seem to be in my region. I wonder if we’ve meet…

    In case your wondering, I live the Lil Mosque on the Prairies ! :D

    When I told some students of knowledge that we could use them…they got more distant from the community because they weren’t ready for that. But I can tell you this much about living in a small community: When a key Muslim leaves you feel as if the community will collapse…but Allah compensates us by sending us someone new who is better! I’ve seen it happen and you can only notice these things in a small town.

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    September 29, 2007 at 2:14 AM

    Though I’m sure MuslimMatters would surely benefit from a featured post by Abu AnonyMouse, I’m afraid I’ll have to decline on his behalf. He’s too busy for blogs :)

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    September 29, 2007 at 1:40 PM

    A 18 year old came to me one day and told me that he wanted to learn the deen, i.e. he wanted to go to Egypt and then come back to serve the community. He also mentioned how he admired Suhaib Webb and gave me the impression that he would love to do something like that.

    I asked him, “After you’re done with your studies, would you be willing to lead a small community that has a small masjid?” “You’re probably not going to be famous, going around conventions, conferences, etc” “you just stay there, benefiting the people of your locality”.

    He looked at me and said, “That, honestly, is the toughest question that I ever had to answer”.

    Of course he didn’t answer me. Because it’s rare for many “seekers of knowledge” to want to stay in their locale and provide the necessary da’wah fardiah (personalized da’wah” and many are tempted to grab the microphone on stage or be a famous shaykh.

    Those people of knowledge who purposely do their work for fame or so that people will call them ‘aalim, will be with those people who read Quran and wanted people to call them qaari and those who were martyred on the path of ALlah but wanted people to call them brave. All of them will be dragged face down to the hell fire.

    It’s in Riyadhus Saliheen somewhere. :D

  27. Avatar

    Abu Bakr

    September 29, 2007 at 7:24 PM

    Both local and “international” shaykhs have their roles to play. Some people are more suitable for one role than the other. Some flourish in both roles.

    With that said, this raises the question, does MM have a parental consent form for underage bloggers?

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    September 29, 2007 at 7:58 PM

    Some valuable advice from Abdur-Raheem Green to those who wanna be da’ees!

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    Ibn Abdullah

    September 30, 2007 at 5:31 AM


    one issue that has not been mentioned by anyone is “Da’wah to Non-Muslims”.

    Of course, we need to strengthen our communities, but we shouldn’t forget that it is our responsibility to reach out to the Non-Muslims around us.

    I think, we need to have Grassroots Da’wah organizations (in every locality where Muslims reside).

    You don’t need many people to start such thing….just pick up some of the AlMaghrib goers or some practicing brothers and sisters and START!! Da’wah can be given in different fashions; from Campuses to Streets, houses to churches, chat rooms to coffee shops…You are guaranteed one thing: YOU WILL NEVER RUN OUT OF NON-MUSLIMS AROUND YOU!!

    The key to success in Da’wah is: you must seek knowledge continuously…Never ever stop learning. A Da’ee must learn new techniques on a regular basis.

    Here in Toronto, some brothers are organizing a class with Sh. Kamal El Makki. The title of the class is: “How to Give Shahadah in 10 Minutes”. You can visit for more details.

    Alhamdulillah, the Street Da’wah at Downtown Toronto is really going well. There were at least 60 converts in last one year (starting from last September). The college/university campuses also have da’wah programs. However, they still need to be improved and made ‘regular’. I pray that many people take up this task and play their role as “Ambassadors” of Islam.

    Wassalamu ‘Alaykum.

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    November 4, 2007 at 7:28 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Even though this response is coming a bit late, I’d like to thank the sister for posting this excellent article.

    I myself was born and raised in Canada all my life, then I left to come and study overseas in an Islamic University, and with a little over a year till graduation I’m trying to plan out a future for myself back in Canada.

    Your advice is something that me and the other students of knowledge here can benefit from, having spent time studying with Yasir Qadhi during his years here, and other brothers who have graduated and returned to their communities, I must say that we can also learn from their mistakes when they went back and avoid falling into the same. Your father is a pioneer of the Da’wah in Canada, in particular the West coast, and benifiting from his experience is a must for soon to be Du’at.

    P.S. I was offered to go to the community of Fort McMurray, but I think it’s too cold up there :)


  31. AnonyMouse


    November 4, 2007 at 4:40 PM

    Wa ‘alaikumus-salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

    It’s never too late for positive feedback, al-Hamdulillaah :)

    JazakAllahu khairan for your kind words, and may Allah grant you tawfeeq in all that you endeavour to do, and make you a shining light for this Ummah, ameen!

    You should think about coming down to the bigger cities of the West Coast; we have the best year-round weather in the whole of Canada!

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    November 5, 2007 at 2:21 PM

    InshaAllah I will keep it in mind, however my city is Toronto, it’ll be difficult to leave it. I may come to B.C. for a visit this summer, we’ll see how things go.


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    abdur Rahman

    November 7, 2007 at 2:43 PM

    Asalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh

    Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem was salamu salat ‘ala rasoul Allah, wa bad…

    No doubt, all action are dependent upon intentions. At first sight Institutes such as AlMaghrib (and others like it, so that we may not single them out) are well-guided. They follow the aqeedah (creed) to the best of their ability. Certainly they distinguish themselves by provding scholars who truly have knowledge. Of course without that they are not even worth the second look. Many many do not even have that (the knowledge of teh Quran and sunnah) and are NOT a subject of our discussion here.

    My main objection is the format and structure of well-intentioned and knowledgable scholars who have limited this valuable resource to only those who can pay hefty fees. How many sincere muslims who barely make ends meet here in North America driving a cab or working on an hourly basis. Do these muslims and their families do not deserve to benefits from the true scholars. Why then we speak of “grass-root” activism.

    When prophet Muhammad (sws) send the sahaba to other lands to teach them about Islam did he ask them for a fee or stipend. I know many will try to make a case for collecting fees for these courses. They argue that they need to defray the costs so that more good work can be done. But unfortunately these sources of Islamic knowledge are being run on business structure. Islam and dawah needs to be supreme goal of the scholars.

    I remind, very respectfully to my dear scholars. On teh day of judgement there will be shuhada, scholars and generous men presented in front of Allah. Allah will reject all their good acts from them because their intentions was worldly gain; in one form or another.

    Scholars (ulama) are those who fear Allah. I remind my sincere brothers/sisters running these resources to accomodate muslims (and their families) through-out North America who can not financially afford there seminars.

    Let us be sincere to Allah and His deen and come up with methods where muslims who would like to attend the educational activities may be able to participate. If we truly intend to propogate the word of Allah and His prophet(sws).

  34. Amad


    November 7, 2007 at 3:10 PM

    asaslaamlikum akhi Abdur Rahman. I am not sure if you have experienced not being able to attend an AlMaghrib class due to financial resource or is this your perception?

    I can tell you that a while back we offered 10 scholarships for converts (without regard to their affordability) for AlMaghrib classes, and I was barely able to get 2-3 people to take advantage of it. I do believe that those who really want to attend it will inshallah find that resources become available. If you would like to attend a class and don’t have the financial resources, contact us and we can try to help you inshallah to check what is available in your area…


  35. Avatar


    November 7, 2007 at 3:24 PM

    abdur Rahman:
    Almost all Islamic institutes have some type of compensation for people with financial need.
    That is hardly the issue.
    As for financial compensation:

    Umar then said to Abu Ubaydah: “When the Prophet used to send us on errands, he would recompense us, and if we showed reluctance to accept what he gave, he told us we ought not to demur as it would be of assistance to us in matters pertaining both to our worldly affairs and to our religion.”
    Read the complete conversation at:

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    abdur Rahman

    November 7, 2007 at 4:37 PM

    Alhamdulilah, personally I am in no financial need. I speak for those hundred of thousands who are lacking financial freedom. I am, Alhamdulilah, as a physician can afford such fees. But, I ity ignorance of muslims who consider it “hardly an issue”.

    Just look around yourswelf next seminar. How many can drivers, blue-collar workers do you see around yourself. We are talking about grass-root effort to do dawah and learn TRUE ISLAM. No one is asking that the respected scholars, such as Sh. Waleed, not be paid for their time and effort.

    I am bemoaning the greed of the middle-men. Who seek to make a little profit off teh word of Allah and His rasool. They see this as another venture to make lots of money. They have a full-line of products and services other than this dawah. Only Allah knows whose intentions are what.

    Why can not Al-Maghgrib and others simply facilitate scholars and leave the logistics and to meet the cost for local communities. Thus decreasing the cost towards participants. This will allow for muslim masses to be able to learn and benefit.

    Hadith of rasool Allah (sws) warned that there will come when Allah will take away the knowledeg of the deen throught the death of real scholars. Then people will follow the ignorant. Unfortunately, there are plenty of those. What is really shameful that those who are left with some true knwoledge are staisfied to sell it for the “right price”.

    “My reward is not but from Allah” (Al-Quran)

    Only Allah knows our intentions and will reward accordingly.

    Fear Allah and give people rightfully what belongs to them. This knowledge is a trust from Allah not for sale.

  37. Amad


    November 7, 2007 at 5:47 PM

    Br. Abdur Rahman, the question is not how many “blue-collar” people we see in seminars, but how many are interested? To be honest, I don’t see that a big difference between a Maghrib seminar and a free seminar at a Masjid in terms of the type of audience. And the fact that there are scholarships usually available that go unused belies the fact that there is a great demand from that section of the people.

    So, anecdotally, one may feel that a large section of the Muslims is missing out, but based on the ground reality, this isn’t happening.

    As for reasons, I would venture to say that many cab-drivers and hourly workers don’t really have that many free weekends. Also, the brother who is struggling to make ends meet usually has to work so many hours in this great capitalist economy, that I imagine it would be difficult for them to take out 2 whole weekends to study. Of course there are exceptions… I am just mentioning my own observations.

    Finally, Almaghrib or any of the other universities or institutes are not the only source of Islamic knowledge. In fact similar knowledge can be gained for free via a variety of other channels. So to make attending one of the institutes a right for Muslims, is also not right.

    P.S. I don’t know which horde of “middle-men” you are referring to. I think you need to do your research before making sweeping statements about any institute… AlMaghrib or otherwise. And I say this having no official affiliation to AlMaghrib neither being a regular student.

  38. Avatar


    November 8, 2007 at 7:27 AM

    My previous comment was incomplete:
    This is hardly an issue- The issue is that the desire for seeking knowledge comes from within. People can have all the wealth and the time in the world, but if Allah (swt) does not will it, they wont be able to acquire knowledge.
    I don’t think knowledge is about affordability as much as it is about one’s personal struggle.

  39. Pingback: » And One Year Ago, MM was Born

  40. Avatar

    Abu Uthman

    July 24, 2009 at 6:26 PM

    Al-Maghrib and their types have addressed an area of Muslims others have not addressed as yet.

    Al-Maghrib’s founder would probably qualify for the highest award in positive innovative approaches in an Islamic Khaliphate if one existed.

    Obviously, Al-Maghrib is not infallible, is not a know all nor do all, and doesn’t claim to be one unlike some others who aren’t and yet who do.

    Areas that they have not addressed should be taken up by others.

    Al-Maghrib, as well, has brought excellant well sourced Islamic knowledge to excellant brothers and sisters in an extremely challenging era and region.

    May Allah bless their work and the Mashaikh with them.

    Disclaimer: And I am not affiliated with Al-Maghrib in any way.

    Dying to be Muslim,


    Abu Uthman, Basement, Toronto, Canada

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need


I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

1. My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

2. Friendships were developed on good deeds

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Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

3. Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 


4. People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

5. Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

6. It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

7. Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

8. It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

9. Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

10. Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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Swallowing Your Pride For A Moment Is Harder Than Praying All Night | Imam Omar Suleiman

Iblees was no ordinary worshipper. He worshipped Allah for thousands of years with thousands of prayers. He ascended the ranks until he accompanied the angels with his noteworthy worship. Performing good deeds was no issue for him. He thanked Allah with his prayers, and Allah rewarded him with a lofty station in Paradise. But when Adam was created and given the station that he was, suddenly Iblees was overcome by pride. He couldn’t bear to see this new creation occupy the place that he did. And as he was commanded to prostrate to him, his pride would overcome him and doom him for eternity. Alas, swallowing his pride for one prostration of respect to Adam was more difficult to him than thousands of prostrations of worship to Allah.

In that is a cautionary lesson for us especially in moments of intense worship. When we exert ourselves in worship, we eventually start to enjoy it and seek peace in it. But sometimes we become deluded by that worship. We may define our religiosity exclusively in accordance with it, become self-righteous as a result of it, and abuse people we deem lesser in the name of it. The worst case scenario of this is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about one who comes on the day of judgment with all of their prayers, fasting, and charity only to have it all taken away because of an abusive tongue.

But what makes Iblees’s struggle so relevant to ours? The point of worship is to humble you to your Creator and set your affairs right with His creation in accordance with that humility. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that whoever has an atom’s worth of pride in their heart would not enter paradise. The most obvious manifestation of that pride is rejecting the truth and belittling someone else. But other subtle manifestations of that pride include the refusal to leave off argumentation, abandon grudges, and humble yourself to the creation in pursuit of the pleasure of the Creator.

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Hence a person would rather spend several Ramadan’s observing the last 10 nights in intense prayer seeking forgiveness for their sins from Allah, rather then humble themselves for a moment to one of Allah’s servants by seeking forgiveness for their transgressions against him, even if they too have a claim.

Jumah is our weekly Eid, and Monday’s and Thursday’s are our weekly semblances of Ramadan as the Prophet (s) used to fast them since our deeds are presented to Allah on those days. He said about them, “The doors of Heaven are opened every Monday and Thursday, and Allah pardons in these days every individual servant who is not a polytheist, except those who have enmity between them; Allah Says: ‘Delay them until they reconcile with each other”

In Ramadan, the doors of Heaven are opened throughout the month and the deeds ascend to Allah. But imagine if every day as your fasting, Quran recitation, etc. is presented to Allah this month, He responds to the angels to delay your pardon until you reconcile with your brother. Ramadan is the best opportunity to write that email or text message to that lost family member or friend and say “it’s not worth it to lose Allah’s forgiveness over this” and “IM SORRY.”

Compare these two statements:

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “He who boycotts his brother for more than three days and dies during this period will be from the people of hellfire.”

He also said:

“I guarantee a house in the suburbs of Paradise for one who leaves arguments even if he is right.”

Swallowing your pride is bitter, while prayer is sweet. Your ego is more precious to you than your sleep. But above all, Allah’s pleasure is more precious than it all.

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Dawah and Interfaith

Can I Give My Zakat To An Islamic Educational Cause?

As Ramadan nears its end, many Muslims are thinking about paying their zakat in the last ten nights. But what is a worthy cause to which we can give our zakat and, in particular, what do the scholars have to say on this issue?

A number of Islamic educational and media institutions in the West have in recent years been highlighting their ‘zakat-eligible’ status. The list of these institutions is quite long. In the US, they include this website, the al-Madina Institute, the Yaqeen Institute, Zaytuna College, and the Ta’leef Collective. In the UK, they include Cambridge Muslim College. Some of these institutions focus on covering the cost of tuition for students who would otherwise be unable to pay, but others are focused on running an institution whose raison d’etre is Islamic education.

But some might wonder how such institutions can receive zakat? A common belief is that zakat is meant only for the poor and destitute and that such institutions would, therefore, be ineligible. This is sometimes reinforced by the way that a minority of scholars, including learned ones, might deal with these issues.

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Last year in the UK, a respected scholar stated emphatically that “none of the scholars” in Islamic history until modern times had ever said one can give zakat to causes like supporting institutions that promote Islamic education. He asserted that only modern scholars permitted the spending of zakat on such matters in the name of the fī sabīli-Llāh category (which I will explain below). The same British scholar reiterated a similar view in the past couple of weeks, but this time said that his view was the opinion of the “vast majority of scholars”.

The average Muslim may find such conflicting claims confusing. How is it that some scholars say zakat cannot be given to Islamic educational causes, while a large number of prominent Islamic educational institutions, presumably led by Islamic scholars, are directly soliciting zakat funds?

The main reason for this is the existence of difference of opinion (ikhtilāf) among scholars regarding who or what is deserving of zakat payment. The Qur’an (9:60) sets out eight categories of zakat-eligible recipients. While people today often think of zakat as being due to the poor and needy, they only explicitly form two of these categories.

The basis on which many of the aforementioned scholarly institutions claim zakat-eligible status is the category of fī sabīli-Llāh which translates to “in God’s path.” Historically, the more dominant interpretation of this zakat-eligible category was that it referred to jihād in God’s path, i.e. zakat was to be given to people engaged in military expeditions on behalf of the Islamic community.

However, some medieval scholars, and a remarkably large number of modern scholars, appealing to the fact that the Prophet highlighted that jihād was ultimately for the sake of making God’s word prevail (li-takun kalimat Allāh hiya al-‘ulyā), have argued for a far broader understanding of this zakat-eligible category.

Jihād, as a concept, is of course incredibly broad in Islam. For example, one finds in a sound hadith that the Prophet said: “Engage in jihād against the polytheists with your wealth, your lives, and your tongues.” Additionally, some of the verses in the Qur’an that enjoined jihād were revealed in Mecca where military jihād was not yet permitted.

Because of this, a minority of medieval scholars argued that the fī sabīli-Llāh category of zakat recipients could entail payments made to support any righteous acts, while others argued that the category was ultimately about upholding and strengthening Islam specifically through da‘wa initiatives that cause God’s word to prevail of which education is one of the most effective tools.

Indeed, giving seekers of sacred knowledge (ṭullāb al-‘ilm) was deemed a legitimate form of zakat payment according to all four schools of law. Clearly, the respected British scholar cited above was inaccurate in his claim that “none of the scholars,” or only a small minority of them, viewed the fī sabīli-Llāh category as referring to anything other than military engagements.

Among modern Arab ulama, the view that the fī sabīli-Llāh category of zakat recipients can apply to Islamic da‘wa and educational initiatives has perhaps become the dominant position on this issue over the last one hundred years. This is true of all major ideological orientations, whether Salafi, Neo-traditionalist, or Islamist.

Thus, for example, arguably the most important Salafi scholar of his generation, the first Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaykh Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm Āl al-Shaykh argued that the most deserving recipient of the fī sabīli-Llāh category of zakat was the cause of da‘wa, and responding to sources of doubt about Islam. Reportedly it is also the final opinion of his most important successor, Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azīz b. Bāz. Among living Salafis, this is the position of senior scholars outside the Saudi religious establishment as well, such as Shaykh Salmān al-‘Awda and Shaykh Ṣāliḥ al-Munajjid (may Allah liberate them from their unjust imprisonment).

It is also the position of senior scholars of the Azhar and Egypt’s Grand Muftis for many generations from the 20th and 21st centuries. In our own time, this includes Neo-traditionalist scholars like ‘Alī Jum‘a and Abdullāh b. Bayyah. While the latter prefers a more restrictive interpretation for the category, he permits the more expansive interpretation in his fatwas.

Among Islamist (Ikhwān) oriented scholars, one finds Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī, author of what is perhaps the most comprehensive work to be written on the fiqh of zakat in Islamic history, promoting such an understanding as well. His two volume work, which addresses the major debates surrounding the fī sabīli-Llāh category in great detail, has also been translated into English. Among younger Islamist-leaning scholars, the encyclopaedic Mauritanian scholar and master of the Sharia sciences, Shaykh Muḥammad al-Ḥasan al-Dadaw argues that the fī sabīli-Llāh category may even be used in the establishing of educational endowments.

The above is only a selection of voices among those who are supportive of promoting Islamic educational causes on the basis of the fī sabīli-Llāh category of zakat. With due respect to scholars who would argue otherwise, it is clear that this is not only a legitimate legal opinion on this question but may well be the dominant view of many of the leading scholars of modern times.

Our communities are best served by an Islamic discourse that acknowledges the richness and diversity of our great religious tradition rather than restricts it to a narrow range of opinions. As the Prophet said to the Bedouin who prayed for God to exclusively show mercy to himself and the Prophet, “You have constricted what is vast!” (laqad ḥajjarta wāsi‘an).

Since there are a very large number of scholars who have recognised initiatives that promote the sound understanding of Islam to be eligible for receiving zakat, our community is best served by the accurate portrayal of the valid difference of opinion on such matters in which members of the community may legitimately seek to follow either opinion without claiming that the position adopted by others is illegitimate.

In an era in which the sound understanding of Islam is threatened by Islamophobic forces from without and extremist forces from within, we all recognise the importance of Islamic education as a central concern for contemporary Muslims to prioritise. May we all support this cause, whether through zakat or by some other means.

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