Zakāt is fundamental obligation – quite literally a pillar of Islam and a subject of detailed, intricate rulings. Given we are in the blessed month of Ramadān, this means that we are in a period where Muslims are more likely to give their Zakāt money. With predictions of global Zakāt funds reaching $600 billion each year and talk of it stimulating an economy in recession following a global pandemic, its use – and potential misuse – is the focus of many.
There are Muslim organisations – some doing amazing work in the service of Muslims – which will adopt fiqh approaches and views that open Zakāt categories. This allows them to cover any cost in the organisation. This situation is a travesty as it puts Muslims in a precarious position; on the one hand we condemn deformist approaches promoted by counter-extremists and traitors, on the other, we adopt them at the level of usul if it suits our agenda. If an organisation adopts an approach to open the categories of Zakāt that leads to Zakāt money being spent on counter-extremists and deformists (see NZF, as an example, which has since made changes), we have little standing when we have contributed to its methodological normalisation in pursuit of our own causes and ends.
The responses to my piece on NZF have been spritely to put it mildly.
Luqman Ali of Khayaal Theatre engaged with me on Facebook, first stating he didn’t have time to respond, before putting an emotional response together which accused me of proffering “spurious allegations” (the Facebook comments have been deleted, the comments left on the blog are still present). Of course, when asked to point out these spurious allegations, nothing substantive was forthcoming. What seemed to escape Ali was that it was the zakat funding at stake; would I or any other Muslim concerned about how their zakat money is used, fund what he is doing?
Some seemingly stamped out comments claimed it was a “fitna” and “defamation”. Another invoked the well-worn “adab” card, though I don’t recall donors and the poor being asked whether they agreed with the direction NZF was heading in. As expected, none of the comments engaged or disputed the material that had been presented.
Then came NZF’s “Statement of Clarification” (updated on the 29th of May in response to 5PillarsUK’s coverage, I am concerned with the “The Detail” section).
Neocons relish a good tragedy. In a screed published prior to the 9/11 attacks, a cabal of neocons argued that the US Armed Forces could only be made resurgent through “some catastrophic and catalyzing event – a new Pearl Harbor”. Soon after the 9/11 attack the neocon David Brooks noted how the attack was positive for cultivating “an unconsummated desire for sacrifice and service”. Unsurprisingly, soon after the Westminster attack, the Times took the opportunity to milk the event and direct all narratives towards Islam and Muslims.
Niall Ferguson, a neocon, penned a particularly vitriolic piece, relying on three reports. The opinion piece has also been published in the Boston Globe.