Firstly I need to get this off my chest, but every time I go to a charity fundraiser I promise myself it’ll be the last. They make incredible amounts of money, but there has to be a more respectful and less awkward way to do it. The MC cringingly egging along the crowd to publicly declare how much money you’re donating makes an exhibition of a simple good act. There’s always that one brother next to you who donates £10,000, and mA that is incredible. But then everybody is looking at you like:
Why are you looking at me?!?!? I can’t pay for my bus home let alone pledge £10,000! A person will then feel one of two ways. Either feel terrible for not being able to donate a similar outrageous amount of money, or your floating nafs slaps you saying “You gonna let this chump make you look like a girly man?!” Your dumb ass is thinking “Oh hell no” and screams “£20,000!” And what follows is two brothers testing the size of each others.. miswak.. by outbidding each other. Resulting in unrealistic bids that people actually seldom rarely end up paying. Did you know on average a charity organization would only receive over half of the pledges made during a fundraiser? True story. From our experience with charity organisations anyway.
It begs the question though, just how ethical and religious are such events? Why must we publicly parade our donations and make a circus of it all? Is it to inspire others? If so, doesn’t that say more about our own states that we must bounce off each other to be pushed to give charitably? What about the hadith (and the Honesty Policy’s motto) “a person who gives charity should conceal it (to such an extent) that the right hand does not know what the left has given”. Although I am definitely not doubting anyones intentions, I don’t think some charitable platforms are the opportune mediums for people to reflect their pure intentions.
Anyway back to the blog. Are we being racist when we donate all that money?
If there is one thing institutionalised charity organizations have pointed out, it is our tendency to favor one impoverished community over another. As we have previously suggested in a previous blog, our Islamic Organizations have undergone a process of corporatization, and our charitable organizations are exactly the same. They are conforming to capitalistic means of acquiring maximum revenue. As a result they follow monetary trends that highlight which region is currently popular, and then they deliver the relevant campaign to them. This is in their interest because as well as the cause they are supporting, they also have an organization to run.
Top of the ‘make money’ list is… Dadadadadummm. You guessed it, Palestine. In fact Palestine has been by far the biggest recipient of aid and donations from charity organizations worldwide. The contention I wanted to raise however is why Palestine over any other suffering Muslim community (of which there are many)? Would it be outrageous to claim that the reason for this is that the white privilege, arab superiority and fair-skinned polemic has permeated our charity culture? This is the question today. Now I’m NOT saying it is, but I want to pose the question. So read carefully, because I’m not saying Palestine doesn’t deserve the donations because it does, the issue is understanding why WE prioritize it over others? What are the cognitive processes when giving donations? Are we subconsciously selective and prejudice?
My issue is that from my limited experience no African country could possibly stir such an emotional tsunami as countries such as Palestine (Bosnia even), when arguably the conditions and suffering of the African people dwarfs anywhere else in the world. But this is not about who suffers more, weighing one’s suffering over another. But rather understanding why we continuously hold on to Palestine, Why then? Zionists? History? Al-Aqsa? Or, is it because we are subconsciously lulled by our preconceived prejudices into helping the pretty blue eyed, light skinned little arab girl? The Palestinian struggle reverberates in and amongst the moral consciousness of every Muslim worldwide. But show them a picture of a Somali, Ethiopian or Rohingyan and you most likely will not get the same reaction.
Even recently, in the UK there was a fundraising tour commemorating the life of Malcolm X, the famous black rights champion and hero, but it was fundraising for an orphanage in Gaza, Palestine. There’s an incongruity there isn’t it? As if there wasn’t enough African campaigns that would have complimented Malcolm’s legacy a little nicer. CAR? Darfur? Somalia? Take your pick! But we won’t, because you know why? Charity fundraising events need to sell tickets, bums on seats, that’s the reality. The truth is African causes just don’t sell enough tickets.
See for yourself. Here is two links to well known charities and their upcoming campaigns:
Is there something more to this? Is this contention linked to the bigger problem of intra-Muslim racism that continuously plagues our communities? For as much as we like to propagate hadith, prophetic character and tolerance, racism amongst Muslims remains a huge skeleton in the closet. Although superficially we may seem to be more accepting, racist sentiments still manifest themselves in subtle ways. But it exists, and it needs to stop. Are our charities perpetuating this intra-Muslim prejudice? Islam isn’t racist, Muslims are. What do you think?
Oh and racist jokes aren’t funny. Except Pakistani ones… Wheyyyyyyyy!
P.S Forgive me for any misunderstanding or offence caused through any bad attempts at being mildly satirical. Just a reminder too… this space intends to be constructive not deconstructive, aspirational not hopeless. It’s coming from a place of love, and we love you. Sending a cyber hug!
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“Surely the men and women who give in charity and give to Allah a goodly loan, they shall receive double and for them is a noble reward.”