One of the pillars of Islam is zakah, or charitable giving, an annual religious duty which derives extra spiritual rewards for Muslims who donate during the month of Ramadan. In addition to giving to the poor, other possible recipients of zakah are those who fall under the category of serving in the cause of God, or fi sabilillah.
CAIR has in its corner Yusuf Al Qaradawi, an Egyptian Islamic scholar known for his militant religious edicts and jihadist tendencies. Qaradawi has joined other Islamist clerics in blessing CAIR as zakah eligible under the fi sabilillah category, and CAIR has enthusiastically accepted his endorsement.
Thanks in part to this support, CAIR-Philadelphia solicited its patrons daily for donations during the final 10 days of this year’s Ramadan. Meanwhile, Azzad Asset Management is helping CAIR squeeze the maximum yield from its donations by holding seminars in May and June instructing Philadelphia Muslims on how to calculate zakah on “retirement accounts, rental property, real estate,” and even “jewelry.”
Azzad is a halal investment firm located in Falls Church, Virginia. Halal investment compliance requires businesses to pursue financial products that are permissible under Islamic principles of social justice and Shariah law, such as refraining from interest lending and products that include gambling, pork and pornography
Other Azzad shareholder advocacy causes pertain to admonishing corporations that contribute to global warming and support for resolutions against companies that “set up operations in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories”. One such resolution was against the American tech giant Alphebet, Google’s Israeli branch, pressuring it to adopt the Holy Land Principles. These “principles” are geared towards increasing Palestinian Arab hiring and includes a so-called code of conduct for 545 American companies in “Palestine-Israel”.
The resolution omits any discussion about Israel’s legitimate border security concerns, and American shareholders have complained that it proposes expensive and burdensome regulations on companies doing business in Israel. Other critics have called it a “gateway drug to full BDS,” the radical Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign aimed at isolating Israel through economic warfare
But if Qasem was truly concerned about Palestinian employment, he would not be partnering with CAIR, which also supports the BDS enterprise. It was pressure from BDS proponents that forced the Israeli company SodaStream to remove its factory from Ma’ale Adumim, located just outside of Jerusalem, resulting in the unemployment of hundreds of Palestinian Arabs.
To ensure its investments comply with halal Islamic principles, Azzad maintains a Shariah Council of three experts, the most prominent of which is Dr. Mohamed Adam El-Sheikh, a Sudanese activist from the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Sunni Islamist movement with ties to violent jihadist groups. El-Sheikh is one of the founders of the movement’s American branch, the Muslim American Society (MAS), which was responsible for a recent video of Muslim school children at a North Philadelphia mosque singing about beheading Jews.
El-Sheikh was the imam and director of the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) whose guests speakers have been known supporters of terrorist organizations. As imam, he was also a regional representative of the Islamic Africa Relief Agency (IARA), an organization which the U.S. Treasury Department accused in 2004 of financing Hamas terrorist activities. El-Sheikh also encouraged members of ISB to financially support Chechen jihadists and other Al Qaeda-linked groups through IARA.
In 2004, the Sudanese cleric justified Palestinian suicide bombings in cases “where they cannot defend themselves, and their local religious leaders issued fatwas [Islamic legal rulings] to permit that.”
El-Sheikh also founded Dar Al-Hijrah, a Northern Virginia mosque formerly led by the late Al Qaeda affiliate Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed in 2011 in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Several other extremists have also attended this controversial mosque, including Fort Hood mass shooter Nidal Hassan, and Mohammed Al-Hanooti, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing;
Neither CAIR nor Azzad represent mainstream Muslim values. Yet, these two Islamist institutions are influencing many Muslims to finance Islamist special interests, while demonizing the state of Israel. They make a mockery of what is otherwise the noble cause of zakah.
Leonard Getz, CPA, is the Pennsylvania Associate with the Counter-Islamist Grid, a project of the Middle East Forum. He is also a freelance writer and the author of the book “From Broadway to the Bowery”