Article Example: Islamic Charities and Global Governance

2021-07-08 02:46:45
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The world has witnessed many conflicts and natural disasters that shaped the global humanitarian response architecture after the Second World War. Muslim majority states have probably had the highest share of crisis for many decades. It has led to the diversity of humanitarian actors in Muslim majority states and within the Muslim diaspora communities living in Europe and Northern America and beyond. Islamic charities have been among those set of actors in Muslim majority states and beyond to provide relief and assistance in many parts for needy Muslims and Non-Muslims suffering communities. Relations and interactions of Islamic charities with local and global governance systems have not been sufficiently debated in academic terms and policy research.

NGOs and civil society organizations have made efforts to relate their efforts within humanitarian or development sectors, and as well as in relations with governments and private sectors institutions in collaboration and coordination with international organizations and intergovernmental processes. In this chapter, global governance structures related to NGOs will be introduced and explained.

Also, this chapter aims to provide an understanding of the phenomenon of "Islamic Charity" within the Islamic World and the global governance field of studies; in an attempt to explain political, economic, social and cultural forces and perceptions that shaped Islamic charities after the terrorist attacks in the USA on 11th September 2001. The global war on terrorism has impacted Islamic charities a great deal and narrowed the allowed humanitarian space for Islamic charities response in conflict and war zones due to the changes in structures and measures which comprise part of the global security governance known as the war against terrorist financing which swept the global regulatory and banking systems.

The chapter attempts to explain the relations of Islamic charities with the states in Muslim majority countries and with the global governance of humanitarian systems, including the United Nations as well as the vast array of global. Islamic charities are a subset of global southern NGOs and their share in the global fora such as UN Economic and Social Council membership or presences which are considered to remain limited.

Global Governance frameworks of NGOs and Civil Society Organizations

Global governance is an approach to collectively, i.e., individuals, institutions, public and private interactions, to solve common global problems and challenges. There is no one global system for NGOs and civil society organizations similar to global political systems such as the UN Security Council or global economic governance system such Bretton Woods Institutions (International Monetary Fund or World Bank).

An attempt to understand global governance in the NGOs and civil society organizations world might be achieved through understanding four major global management systems. Such frameworks of governance could present how Global Governance in its widest terms and forms could be related to NGOs and civil society organizations actions world.

The first type is the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement which was established more than 150 years ago by a Swiss merchant Henry Dunant who was horrified to witness the Solferino battle (1828-1910, ICRC Website) (http://www.ifrc.org/who-we-are/vision-and-mission/the-seven-fundamental-principles/). He proposed what has been known the corners stones of Geneva Conventions and the International Humanitarian Law which govern the ethics of wars and conflicts and provide protection for civilians, civilians' objects or targets, wounded soldiers, prisoners of wars, emergency and medical crews. Henry Dunant and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that he established in Geneva as relief committee for wounded soldiers in wars became a global catalyst for the birth of national societies globally known as Red Cross Society or Red Crescent in almost every country. The movement later established the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent. This umbrella body presents global governance for humanitarian actors and NGOs with clear humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence, voluntary service, unity, humanity, and universality according to International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (http://www.ifrc.org/who-we-are/vision-and-mission/the-seven-fundamental-principles/)

The second type was the United Nations recognition of NGOs and civil society organizations since World War II when the United Nations established the Economic and Social Council framework to organize relationships with NGOs and civil society organizations through types of memberships, i.e., special or advisory status. This category includes the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). The UNOCHA has evolved in more than a decade to provide humanitarian assistance coordination services. These services include information tracking, and sharing of aid data pooled in the Financial Tracking Services, the appointment of Humanitarian Coordinators, the Interagency Standing Committee, clusters approach to plan and organize the distribution of help in the field through cluster leads and allow NGOs and civil society organizations to participate including local ones.

The third type of Global Governance frameworks has been established after global intergovernmental processes initiated through by conducting global conferences and forums such as Rio 1992 and 2012, Global Millennium Goals (MDGs) 2000-2015, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2015-2030, Sendai Framework for Disasters Risk Reduction Goals. In this category global governance is based on partnerships and collaboration processes among governments, NGOs, and the private sector. Without such collaboration being emphasized, the global governance agenda could not be pursued.

The fourth type is the global governance framework related to formal or loose frameworks and structures developed by collaboration or federations of groups of significant global NGOs and civil society organizations such as CIVICUS, Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response, CAFOD, World Vision, Care, Oxfam, Save the Children and Medecins San frontiers. Through these federations and alliances structures, those NGOs and civil society organizations have been able to set a global governance framework of reference in the form of codes of conduct, operating standards, and best practices. Such structures included the formation of Emergency Capacity Building, Core Humanitarian Standards and many other sets of mechanisms to influence and improve interactions in solving global challenges and problems such as poverty reduction, climate change, and disaster risk reduction. Most of these collaborative frameworks are among only NGOs and civil society organizations.

In the 1990s there were many initiatives to improve humanitarian actors and NGOs, in light of what the world witnessed in Rwandas civil war and former Yugoslavia ethnic cleansing. In 1994 ICRC Code of Conduct was introduced. Sphere Standards was also introduced to improve better ways of delivering humanitarian aid services in the field. The World Bank introduced an NGO Accountability Law, though it was withdrawn later. NGOs and civil society organizations have grown in strength and numbers from the late 1980s in most parts of the world. Questions of accountability and good governance of non-governmental organizations and States were debated in many research and academic platforms during that period.

Political regimes and systems have significantly shaped and impacted Islamic charities and civil society organizations' works. Since the duration of the Ottoman, some of the jurisdictions have been used in those countries that the legal framework and regulation of Islamic Charities had not widely spread.

Wars, conflicts, and famine have shaped the birth of Islamic charities and their interventions as humanitarian actors, during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s and 1980s. The war had left an enormous vacuum of power which was required to be filled by various factions including Taliban by 1996.The rise of religious based terrorism which was later referred to as Al Qaeda provided funds to the non-native Muslim mercenaries during the period of conflict and operated as a liaison between the Mujahideen and the American CIA.

Religion and Global Governance

For many decades, religiosity, spirituality, and faith based organizations were ignored in humanitarian and development debates and settings due to secularist and liberal paradigm dominance on Global Governance in the global arena. It was quite an oxymoron to bring religiosity or religious actors as part of efforts to reduce poverty and alleviate suffering in conflict zones or natural disasters hit areas for many decades.

According to Marie Juul Peterson (2010), however, since mid of the 1990s, there have clear shifts toward considering religion and faith based actors as part of the solution and not part of the problem or development taboo.

The Concept of Charity in Islam

The culture of making charitable contributions plays a key role in the socio-cultural and religious aspects of the Muslim community. Among Muslims, charity refers to the spirit of helping others to meet their material or emotional needs (Perry 2006, p. 34). It is one of the Five Pillars of Faith. The other four pillars are pilgrimage to Mecca, fasting, performing of ritual prayers, and the testimony that there is only one God. The existence of millions of starving, suffering and poor people in the world points to the need for the teachings of the pillar of charity to be put into practice. According to Lacey and Jonathan (2008, p. 34), giving of charity is an ongoing responsibility through which Muslims express their religious commitment to Allah (God) by helping the needy.

Allah promises those who perform charitable acts substantial rewards in the afterlife (Napoleoni 2005, p. 85). It means that those who donate to charities or help the poor should not expect earthly gains by doing so. An example of a worldly gain is using charity to build a name as a philanthropist. It is strongly condemned in Islam because it hurts the feelings of the beneficiaries of zakat (alms giving) by making they feel inferior.

Solemn secrecy t is one of the features of Islamic charity. Muslims are encouraged to give to charities secretly to maintain utmost attention to self-purification and devotion. In so doing, Muslims protect the reputation and self-worth of those receiving charity, especially in public. It is explained in the Quran (2:271) where Muslims are forbidden from giving alms openly. In his book, (Perry, 2006) authoritatively states that any donations given as charity can only be used to support particular causes. According to the Quran (9:60), charity is supposed to support the needy and to free debtors and slaves.

There are different types of Islamic charities such as zakat, and salaah. Zakat is a charitable obligation calculated as a percentage of an individuals wealth. In Arabic, which is the most widely used language in the Islamic world and the language in which the Holy Quran was originally written, zakat means purification.' It is believed that paying zakat purifies human hearts of greed (Napoleoni 2005, p. 32). Zakat can be paid in different classes depending on an individuals capability. These classes include gold, money, business items, agricultural produce, livestock, and silver. Any of these is paid at the end of the year after taking stock of an individuals material blessings during that year. Traditionally, Muslims are required to contribute two and a half per...

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