The Nairobi Masaajid Joint programme (NMJP) was founded in September 2003 as a response to the many challenges facing the Muslim Ummah and especially in redressing the lacunae created by un-coordinated response to issues and programmes.
In particular, it was felt that there were serious administrative lapses in the management of Iftar programme during the month of Ramadhan and the distribution of relief supplies in the drought stricken areas.
The desire of the initiative was to earn the pleasure of Allah while responding effectively to the needs and aspirations of the Muslim Ummah.
In synergy, the various masaajid and Madaaris agreed to define, streamline, coordinate and supplement the Iftaar, Zakat, etc, in order to achieve maximum coverage and utilization of funds and other materials collected, purchased and or donated for the benefit, utility and development of the Muslim Ummah.
The need for consolidation of the ummah into a formidable unit through a common approach to issues, opportunities and challenges was underscored as a central plank of the NMJP mandate. In short the joint effort was aimed at the realization of objectives as set out here under.
The following objectives were set out at inception;
- To avoid duplication of efforts in the distribution of food and other items
- To increase coverage and distributions so as to reach as wide a population and geographical areas as possible
- To implore individuals and institutions to come together for bulk and centralized purchasing, leading to better prices and hence improving both quantity and quality
- To create a welfare programme for and disadvantaged and less privileged members of the community especially in areas of medication, education, enterprise, etc
- To source for funds for the institutions listed above so as to sustain their activities as well as improve and upgrade their facilities
- Undertake bulk buying for relief and Iftaar programmes so as to cut on costs as well as enhanced coordination and transportation
- Invite other Masaajid and Institutions to join in the programme for increased efficiency and dialogue on future plans for expansion and development
- To assess and address the needs of Muslims in Kenyan remands and Prisons
With a humble beginning of a couple of institutions at inception, the Nairobi Joint Masaajid has grown to become an authority on relief and Iftaar programmes. The founding members of the organization amongst others include the following;
- Jamia Mosque Nairobi
- Parklands Mosque
- Parkroad Mosque
- Rabita Mosque-Westlands
- Al-Momin Foundation
- Railways landhies Mosque
- Sadaka Mosque-Hurlingham
- Pangani Masjid and CCPC
- Masjid Nur South C
- Bilal Masjid, South C
- Bai-tul-Maal Masjid
- South B Masjid,
- Walda Islamic Centre
- Mahad Da’awah Organization
- Al-Furqan Training Institute
- Girls training Institute Pangani
- Anjuman Himayat Islam
- Crescent Medical Aid
- Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust
- Muslim Youth Society
Growing into Ummah Foundation
For the last few years, NMJP has been operating under an informal structure to go about meeting their objectives. Alhamdulillah, we are now assuming a formal structure registered under the name UMMAH FOUNDATION. We are also widening our objectives to benefit a wider section of the Ummah.
Currently, the objectives range from enhancing unity to empowering the Ummah in all aspects; in education, health, social welfare and economic development.
A number of programmes are being run under the newly established UMMAH FOUNDATION. These programs range from issuance of relief food and wheel chairs, youth activities, women programs and Imam’s activities among others.
The latest project of the Foundation is an initiative to pool Zakat contributions into one basket for eventual distribution to those prescribed by the Shariah. All these are in the spirit of alleviating poverty and suffering amongst the Ummah.
Other objectives of the Foundation as spelt out in the trust deed include but are not limited to the following;
- To further education and to establish, construct and maintain institutions of higher learning.
- To alleviate hardships of the needy, orphans and poor by providing comprehensive preventive medical care
- To provide relief and succour to those affected by natural calamities, victims of social unrest and other accidental happenings by providing food, medical aid, help in legal proceedings and claims.
To propagate religious tolerance, teachings and understanding and respect of all religions and faiths and in particular Islam. Other objectives are auxiliary to the above.
The policy formulation organ of the organization is the steering committee comprising representatives from member organizations and institutions. The steering committee has been meeting after every two weeks but has since been reduced into monthly meetings.
A secretariat for the implementation of programmes and activities has been established and is operational. The organization runs a number of programmes but for purposes of this paper, the following suffice.
- Relief Food Distribution: This programme undertakes food distribution to famine, drought and disaster hit areas especially in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country. Last year and the better parts of this year have witnessed serious relief work in various parts of Eastern and North-Eastern Kenya. Discussions on long term measures aimed at generating alternative livelihoods for the affected areas are ongoing. Indeed a model village concept is being tested and if successful will constitute a major plank of the foundations programmatic engagement. In the meantime, continuous support in the manner and style of relief food supplies is inescapable if lives are to be saved and the affected people brought back to their original positions. An intervention framework is being designed for easier coordination and operations in future.
- Iftar Support Programme: It is an established tradition of the organization to provide Iftar rations to the less privileged members of the community. In the just concluded Holy month of Ramadhan, our organization was able to provide Iftar food to a sizeable segment of the community. Suffice it to mention that the overriding objective of the foundation is to empower community members economically so as to be able to fend for themselves during this blessed period of Ramadhan. Plans are on course to factor in an economic package for the less privileged members of the community within the framework of the proposed Central Zakat Fund. The overriding intention is to discourage begging and promote production and sharing.
- Imams Empowerment Programme: The organization appreciates the central role of Imams in the community and has initiated a programme that is specifically tailored at enhancing the capacity of Imams. Training workshops have been held in the past as well as induction courses. Consequently, imams have been accorded the requisite authority and are critical players in the foundations ongoing Zakat programme. A lot of support is therefore required if the dream of building the capacity of imams is to succeed. In future, periodic capacity building workshops on thematic issues are proposed especially on various contemporary issues and skills.
- Media Engagement Programme: The media continues to play an important role in setting the socio-economic and political agenda of the society. As a result a framework is being generated around media engagement. It is therefore proposed that workshops will be organized for and with media practitioners with the objective of mainstreaming media in the community.
- Halaal Certification Programme: Over and above regular programmes, the organization has been instrumental in starting off Halaal Certification Programme by proving the requisite secretariat support. Halaal meetings have been convened and records serviced and maintained at the instance of Ummah Foundation. Currently, plans are underway to open up independent offices for the initiative and suffice it to mention that ongoing operations are coordinated and facilitated from Ummah Foundation offices.
- Central Zakat Fund: Currently Ummah Foundation is collecting Zakat and a central depository is open to all Muslims. The bulk of funds collected are aimed at improving the education standards of the Ummah by supporting bright students who are unable to proceed with their education as a result of financial incapacity. The Zakat funds are to be administered in accordance with the dictates of Sharia. Widows, orphans and poor members of the community are also poised to benefit from the programme through proactive empowerments initiatives.
- Youth Programme: Youth Programme works to empower youth to participate actively in the shaping of the Muslim youth and societies in which they live and in improving the living conditions of the youth as a Muslim in today’ worlds. The activities under this programme include the following:-sector-wide activity, small scale funding, youth education support;
a. Sector wide activity
Ummah Foundation organizes seminars, training and workshop for youth groups in various areas as:-
– team building and group achievement
– fundraising and financial management
– lobbying and advocacy
– networking and partnership
– conflict resolution
b. Small scale funding
Ummah foundation is sourcing for funds to fund 5 youth groups for sustainability of group’s projects and also inculcating the idea of entrepreneurship in Muslim youths.
The groups presented their income generating activity (IGA) proposals as well as the following; feasibility survey, business plan and repayment programme. It is projected that Ummah Foundation will be able to source for funds and eventually enter into financial agreement by Inshaallah, January 2007. Proper Monitoring and Evaluation is already in place.
8. Youth Education Support Programme: Ummah Foundation will allocate 60% of its central Zakat collection to education
especially offering bursary to youth students who are bright and needy. Education is continuously assuming focus and priority over other programmatic areas because it is increasingly becoming apparent that education plays pivotal roles in modern society. Not only does education define and determine the pace and direction of development and societal progress, education dictates access to gainful opportunities, defines environment and generally the standard of life. In essence, education is life.
9. Community Outreach Programme: It is estimated that 1 in every 10 in Kenya and most of African countries have disability. The stigma of disability has been very destructive in the past.
– locked up by the parents
– mistreated because of stigma
It is for this reason that Ummah Foundation supports people with disability from poor families to have access to wheel chairs, prosthetic limbs and sewing machines, regardless of their gender, race and religion.
10. Prisoners Rehabilitation Programme (Affiliate): The programme aims at rehabilitating prisoners through Islamic da’wa by providing:-
– Islamic books , literature & lectures
– Food stuff and beddings
– Islamic wear (khamis)
– Water tanks for ablution and prayer mats
– Medical camps
Currently the programme has designed Islamic course for prisoners, identified teachers who will teach the course and lead Friday prayers in the prison and also in preparation to construct a prayer shade for Muslims prisoners both at Maximum and Medium Kamiti prison. Other activities in the programme are:-
– Organize Qurbani at Kamiti prison and also facilitate idd-ul- adhaha congregational prayer for Muslim prisoners in December 2006.
– Medical Camp and Legal Clinic for Muslim prisoners in January 2007
The programme is currently serving Muslims inmates in 20 prisons in Kenya
11. Women’s Programme: Ummah Foundation Women’s Programme aims at empowering Muslim sisters on varied issues. Discourses and workshops on thematic issues are held periodically and support programmes are currently ongoing particularly on women prison visits and hospital visits. Plans are in the pipeline to generate economic empowerment initiatives aimed at giving capacity to the economically weak.
While the organization is still at formative and elementary stages, it is becoming apparent that a lot of expectations are being generated. As a result, the needs obtaining currently by far outweigh our capacity.
More-over, Education, Unity and Development are currently assuming prominence in terms of programmatic engagements. It is therefore imperative that like minded institutions and individuals are mobilized ostensibly for partnership and networking around issues of mutual interest and benefits.
Village Plaza Block A, Apartment A2, Ngara
P.O. Box 58717-00200, City Square
This piece is taken from the website of the Jamia Masjid Nairobi.
See on-line at: http://www.islamkenya.com/html/ummah.html