Daily Israel Report

New Shar'iah Charity Fund: Underwriting Radical Islam?

A new worldwide Islamic charity fund may be used to support other ventures. Exclusive INN interview with Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 10/5/2009, 2:32 PM / Last Update: 10/5/2009, 5:10 PM

Israel news photo

A new global Islamic charity fund set to launch in early 2010 may become the vehicle to support something entirely different, according to Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, who warned that the new charity must be watched carefully.

In an exclusive interview Monday with Israel National News, Jasser expressed deep concern that the World Zakat Fund, established in part by the Malaysian government, may be "nothing more than a ruse to give transnational Islamist movements and their controlling Muslim theocrats an economic power base."

The new fund will collect donations from the 2.5 percent "zakat" set aside under Shar'iah law by observant Muslims who have the wherewithal to save money. According to a statement released to the media, it is the first Islamic charity fund ever to be established.

The fund is hoping to raise nearly a billion dollars by the end of its first year. Humayon Dar, CEO of BMB Islamic, the Shar'iah adviser to the fund, said last week that donors have made soft commitments of approximately $50 million thus far.

That could grow to as much as $10 billion within the first decade, however: Dar estimated there are some 40,000 high-net-worth Muslims in the Middle East alone, including 400 billionaires. He added that between $20 billion to $30 billion in zakat is distributed in the Muslim world each year.

'Giving the Fox the Keys to the Henhouse'
Jasser told INN that he believes the fund would simply serve to consolidate financial power "in vast orders of magnitude" and then hand it over to the member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

These are countries that have refused to abide by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, he pointed out, "and do not adhere to the same standards of human rights as Western nations."

Moreover, he said, "As far as I know, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mohamed Mahathir, has never retracted his comment from 2002 where he stated, 'A universal Islamic banking system is a jihad worth pursuing to abolish this slavery [to the West].'"

Giving OIC nations the collective ability to determine the distribution of "Muslim charity," he said, is "the epitome of giving the 'fox the keys to the henhouse.'"

'Benign Distribution of Funds by Radical Islamists?'
It is not yet clear where and how the funds from the new charity will be distributed, Jasser noted. "At this point, the effort is in its infancy, and the important details of where their monies will go is unknown."

However, he said, the controlling members of the fund's Shar'iah finance board merit some concern:

Dr. Ali al-Quradaghi is a member of the European Council of Fatwa Research, and a colleague of the global spiritual guide of the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Yusuf Qaradawi, who has sanctioned terrorist activity in Israel and Iraq. Qaradawi has also called for the murder of Muslim apostates, and has expressed the intention of replacing Western capitalism with "integrated Islamic philosophy."

Syria's Abdul Sattar Abu Guddah, is closely affiliated with Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani, who has been removed from numerous boards of Western banks, according to Jasser. Abu Guddah was on the board of the al-Baraka Bank, which was implicated in the financing of the 9/11 al-Qaeda terrorist attack on the United States. The allegations against the bank were later dismissed.

Abdul-aziz Fawzan Saleh Al-Fawzan is a Saudi Arabia-based Wahabi Islamist whom Jasser calls "a self-proclaimed hater of Christians."

In addition, the management board of BMB Islamic includes three members who hail from the International Islamic University in Pakistan. Jasser noted that in a seminar held recently by the university on Israel and Gaza, "The speaker provided an interpretation of the Koran, Chapter 5, which is anti-Semitic and incites violence."

University president Anwar Siddiqui led a discussion at the same conference with a panel of radical Islamists, Jasser said, "who called for the Islamic state in Gaza and the West Bank and for a boycott of America and Israel," among others.

"I cannot imagine how individuals as radical as this are going to distribute billions in funds in a 'benign' method globally," he said pointedly.