Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

May 2006
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Muslim Perspectives

Let's Make “Dream Teams”
By M. Hanif Lakdawala


Transparency and integrity must be the hallmark of Muslim social and educational Trusts and Organisations. They can learn from the corporate world, as corporate leaders also demonstrate integrity.


In India, the Muslim community has thousands of registered Trusts and social organisations with budget running into thousands of crores. The community is financing them through Zakat and other funds.


Unfortunately, many of these are inflicted with low morale, stagnancy and lack of trust. The public image of these trusts and organisation is not better than any political party. The community relies on them, heavily for healthcare, education, and political patronage. The performance of these social and educational organisations will decide the future of our community.


To achieve the objective of uplifting the community, these social organisations must have the right spirit and trust where members can express their highest qualities and values at the organisation level as well as at home and in our communities. When people are in touch with their spirit and are encouraged to express it, the organisation becomes a thriving community infused with a commitment to quality, enthusiasm, honesty, respect, creativity, integrity, openness and compassion.


By contrast, very few Muslim social and educational organisations have the culture and spirit as defined by Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). The symptoms of repressed spirit show up as apathy, low morale, gossip and back-biting, fear, turf battles and power plays. It is no wonder that more and more Muslim social organisations are finding it difficult to raise finance for their future projects as the financiers no longer have faith in their capability.


Transparency must be given importance by these Muslim social and educational organisations. They must learn from the corporate world as corporate leaders also demonstrate integrity. In 1982, seven people died in the Chicago area of the United States. The cause of their deaths was a medication called Tylenol. No, this was not a drug reaction. They died because someone, not related to the manufacturer, had intentionally poisoned the medication with cyanide. This incident is most remembered today because of the actions taken by the company president. He attempted no cover-up. Immediately, he alerted the public to the danger and removed all Tylenol from sale throughout the nation. Only after he was sure that the product was safe was it re-distributed. That day, the President of Johnson and Johnson Company demonstrated personal and corporate integrity. He knew and acted on the company’s mission to “alleviate pain and disease” and to provide safe quality products. That incident cost the Johnson & Johnson Company $100 million. That incident gained the Johnson & Johnson Company priceless public trust and has till today remained the brand leader.


So lost trust of the financers and the community can be gained by promoting integrity through transparency. Another factor which is going against the Muslim social and educational organisations is the culture of back-biting and gossip. It is so rampant that it kills the very spirit of these organisations.


Now what to do about gossip. Gossip requires a talker and a listener. If no one listens then he or she cannot gossip. It is upto each individual to make the choice to participate, or not, in this past time. In breaking free of the practice of gossiping, we could apply the four-way test regarding the information received and passed on to others- Is it true? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?


The creator says: “O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, in deeds some suspicions are sins. And spy not neither back-bite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear God, verily, God is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful” (49: 12).


Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said: “Do you know what back-biting is?” They said, “God and His Messenger know best.” He then said, “It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike.” Someone asked him, “But what if what I say is true?” The Messenger of God said, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.” (Muslim).


The element of gossip enters a situation when you are not directly seeking advice or a solution for a problem, but are sitting with friends and bad-mouthing someone just for the heck of it. Back-biting and gossip is when a group of people find fault and malign someone, adding their tales of woe to it without a meaningful purpose, such that by the end of the evening there is no positive resolution and all you have accomplished is engendering ill feelings towards that person.


Muslims cannot afford to see these social and educational organisations fail or stagnate. The world scenario is changing at a rapid pace. We have to keep pace with it. The community needs to debate on how to achieve excellence in the functioning and growth of these social and educational organisations.


(The writer can be reached at mhl@rediffmail.com)