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Islamic Charitable Organizations
Mosques and modern Islamic schools across the Western hemisphere, from the wealthy Westbury mosque in Long Island to the eighty-plus mosques in the Greater Toronto Area, face a recurring problem: fundraising and how they can catalyse their trust funds to sustain themselves long-term instead of relying on continuous funding drives and donations.
Current turmoil in world financial markets provides ample opportunity for Islamic institutions to deploy stagnant capital and earn potentially excellent returns. While Islamic finance requires further integration and inflow into the world economy, significant progress has already been made in the structuring and selling of Shari'a-compliant investment products within existing frameworks.
This concise report will assist boards of directors at Islamic charitable organizations who conduct regular fundraising cycles, academics at law schools, business colleges and history departments, and Shari'a advisory firms and will address fundamental issues about how Islamic institutions can establish awqaf (religious endowments) and start making use of conservative, "core capital protected" investment strategies.
Awqaf are an integral part of Islamic heritage. While Muslims in the West have previously had to focus on issues of settlement, such as securing sources of halal food and places of worship, the next generation of Muslims can start to focus on sustainable funding for their institutions and on financial products that comport more closely with their religious beliefs. By following the example of university endowments at Oxford and Harvard, once inspired by awqaf themselves, Muslim institutions can reclaim a piece of their long-lost heritage.
Shahzad Siddiqui is a Toronto-based lawyer and investment banker. A graduate of the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School, he worked at the Bay Street law firm of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP before teaching the law of international business transactions at Southwest University in China. He subsequently spearheaded the entry of a Chinese conglomerate into the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
He currently advises organisations as diverse as Ittihad Securities, an Islamic investment firm based in Toronto; the Islamic Foundation of Toronto Inc., which is one of the largest mosque and school facilities in Canada; the Chinese Muslim Association of Canada; and Islamic wealth management teams at HSBC Securities and Blackmont Capital, a top-tier Canadian investment bank.
Mufti Talha Ahmad Azami is a U.K. based Sharia scholar specializing in Islamic Commercial Law. With undergraduate and post-graduate degrees from the world renowned Islamic Universities of Nadwatul-Ulema (India) and Darul-Uloom Deoband (India); and Loughborough University (U.K.), Mufti Talha currently serves as the in-house Sharia scholar for BMB Islamic, advising their clients on the structuring and post launch of Sharia compliant financial products.
"This guide on Awqaf provides some pragmatic applications for promoting education, health and social welfare projects especially in emerging markets, encouraging the development of arts, culture and guild crafts and supporting various charitable and philanthropic initiatives. Several successful entrepreneurs and business families have recently established awqaf and in some cases entrusted their management to external experts and professionals. The author offers some refreshing insights and perspectives on the revival and management of Awqaf together with a comparative analysis of their counterparts of Endowments and Foundations in more developed OECD markets. Certainly a valuable resource." Sohail Jaffer, FWU Group