The City Circle is an open circle for open minds

As part of City Circle's evolving journey, we write to update you on the latest farewells and new faces to the CC team.

CC Chair
Rabia Malik, after two exciting years at the wheel, will be stepping down as Chair and shall continue her contribution as a trustee.  We acknowledge the fresh perspective and balance that Rabia has provided in leading the team, as well as the greater spiritual and analytical influence she introduced.  We thank her sincerely for her time and efforts.
Sid Djerfi will be taking the reigns.
Sid is a management consultant, previously in the City, who now works for an educational NGO tackling educational inequity.  He has considerable project management, technology and networking skills and very strong relationships across the London communities. 
Sid very successfuly led the CC Saturday School for two years.  He is incredibly energetic, very much a pragmatist who brings people together effectively.  His interests lie in raising the conditions of the Muslim community and promoting greater engagement of Muslim professionals in public life.
Andleen Razzaq
A founder member and trustee of CC, one of the surviving veterans who has been the defacto trusted 'Gatekeeper' for CC being the first port of call for media, government, and members of the public.  She has networked, represented, defended, apologised and generally mothered the roost with sensibility and grace, and we are very sad to see her go as a result of her move to Singapore. Andleen shall remain 'plugged in' as trustee and we are sure a few thousand miles will not keep her from the CC family. 
Management Committee
We welcome the following new additions:

Layla El-Wafia practicing solicitor in the City of London specialising infinance and infrastructure projects. She has previously worked with local and international NGOs with social and human rights interests in the USA, Middle East and England.  She is Arab-American and has been living in London for seven years.  Her focus within the City Circle is to strengthen ties with professionals in the City as well as organise events relating to the Arab world.

Dr Ameen Kamlana, a GP currently based in Surrey, with a special interest in Mental Health. In his free time he enjoys reading History and Popular Science. He also teaches Classical Arabic for a charitable organisation. He grew up in the Lake District and has been in the South East of England since 1999. Ameen has previously worked with local and international medical NGO's, and his focus within City Circle is to collaborate with NGO's in organising joint community events and also to contribute to Project Detox.
Farewell to Alyaa Ebbiary who has been instrumental in developing CC's outreach to the student community, her student led critique of the PREVENT strategy and we wish her all the best on her potential travels oversees.

The City Circle team looks forward to your continued support.  It is only with your energy, engagement and advice that we continue to make City Circle a great plaform for discussion and an effective conduit for chanelling the capacity of Muslim professionals into projects that serve the community.

The City Circle

Ramadhan is an interesting time. It has seen us all give up food and drink in the height of the summer, it seems many of us return to praying and encourages many of us to extend a hand of charity that we typically keep in our pocket. It seemingly a time where many of us find the light of Islam rekindle in our lives, as unquestionably Islam is founded on such spiritual experiences underpinned by the concept of selflessness. As your fasting and your prayer are for your unseen lord and your charity, typically for your unknown brothers and sisters. We see in the famous hadith of Gabrial, where he emerged in the form of a man in front of the finest of creation, the Prophet Mohammed, Upon Whom Be Peace, and said,

'Muhammad, tell me about Islam.'

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,

'Islam is that you witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and you establish the prayer, and you give the Zakat, and you fast Ramadan, and you perform the hajj of the House if you are able to take a way to it.'

And therefore we see so much more of these pillars of Islam lift the Muslim community in Ramadan. Now one of these pillars is one, which in the remaining few days of Ramadan many of us will be looking to fulfill, and that is the payment of the Zakah. A pillar of such magnitude that when it was not honored by some in the time of Abu Bakr As Siddique, he fought them until they paid it.

Unfortunately in our time this pillar has been affected by what I call, ‘three click syndrome’. This is the phenomenon by which we pay our Zakah. We just pick a big Islamic charity, click on ‘Zakah’, click an amount and then press the red button, ‘donate’, then we carry on our merry way. Now here is the problem. Should an act of worship be such a non-spiritual experience? Should an act of worship be such an act that it is difficult to differentiate it from buying a DVD online? I think not.

We need to take a step back and make our intention that we are seeking to move closer to our lord through reaching out to the most vulnerable in society the way the Lord of the Worlds intended. With the intention clear and the hope to win the pleasure of Allah then go about honoring this pillar with three things in mind:

The first thing is, it needs to be calculated with the due care and attention it requires. Just like we take care to honor the salah with its correct rackaat for the correct salah, and we need to ensure we calculate this figure correctly. We need to take consideration of all our qualifying assets!

The second thing is, we need to ensure it is given in line with which it was ordained. And this brothers and sisters means, quite clearly we need to try and give it locally.

RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam instructed Mu’adh when he sent him to Yemen, “let them know Allah has made obligatory upon them zakah in their wealth to be taken from their rich and to be given to their needy.” The use of the word “their” indicates the needy from within that community.

The wealth is of no use to Allah, and thus its purpose is for us to essentially prove our conviction and give from that which we love; our wealth. Furthermore, to help provide a cohesive Muslim society, to relinquish need from our locality and bring equity and justice.

If we look at whom Allah has made eligible for Zakah;

"The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for jihad in the path of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, Wise."(The Holy Qur'an 9:60).

It is clearly for those who are vulnerable in society. Those who are in need are not to be left alone, as we know poverty and disbelief go hand in hand. Zakah seeks to not only purify your wealth but also the local community where it is invested. Zakah is not an emotional transaction; it is not something that should be governed by feelings, but rather by what is prescribed for that pillar of Islam.

The final thing is, Zakah should be given in a way that you feel the value of it, and this will inspire you to continue in giving. Islam comes only with honor, and peace for the society as well as for the individual. Hence the Prophet, Upon Whom be Peace, Said,

“A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allâh will fulfil his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allâh will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection….” [Bukhâri]

This hadith is amazing and provides some of the essential understanding we need to actually see brotherhood manifest amongst the Muslimeen. To see it move from something that is spoken about to something that is felt. When you give your Zakah, try and give it in a way where you will be able to see the value add of your intervention as this will strengthen your heart in what you gave and open your heart to give more.

Brothers and sisters, when you look at this issue of giving from your wealth locally, you will see how the impact of it brings genuine brotherhood into our community.

Many a people will say, and maybe I would have in the past, there is no one in need in the UK, and yet there are people dying in the horn of Africa as we speak.

We should be moved by those causes across the world, but why would we limit our support by 2.5% of our net wealth. If we truly care, why are we not overcome by a desire for voluntary giving?

I am sure many reading this grew up in the 1990s, and thus I say consider the example of the Bosnians who arrived here. What support did they find? What comfort was given to them from their brothers and sisters? I remember my masjid turned them away.

Then imagine the way the Muhajireen welcomed the ansaar? They split their wealth in two and their women removed their jewels, and we did not even open our masaajid? Now consider how many a Muslim refugee we have in the UK now, many of whom are in the Home Office’s infamous ‘limbo’ status; not allowed to work and not eligible for benefits?

I am not here to say forget the famine in Sudan, leave the suffering in Palestine ignore the unrest in Libya, but rather to say, put your money where your mouth is. As if those things are so important to us, why are we only willing to give from our Zakah? Why are we only willing to donate from the money that we have no choice but to give? If we care, we should spend and send forth as much as possible from our wealth and alleviate the need of the Muslimeen.

Finally, just take advantage of the few days that remain of this blessed month and give in charity and I think its important to remember when you give, the greatest benefactor is yourself. Abdullah ibn Mas’ood radi Allahu anhu said, “Store your wealth where no worms will eat it, where it cannot be reached by thieves. Store it in charity.” And the greatest way to feel that is, when you can see those you are helping benefit.


Azim Kidwai

Head of Mercy Mission UK and founder of the UK’s National Zakat Foundation.


In the name of God, the Infinitely Compassionate, the Merciful.

We are pleased to announce a very strong set of results for the students at the City Circle Saturday School who sat GCSE examinations in Mathematics and English this year.
In total 14 students sat for Mathematics while 12 students sat for English Language and Literature exams
A brief summary of the results are below:
100% Maths
100% English Language
92% English Literature
93% Maths
67% English Language
67% English Literature
67% Maths
50% English Language 
42% English Literature
I think it is fair to say that these results don't provide one with a complete idea of the tremendous achievement of the teachers and students. There is the danger the individual stories of diligence, commitment and discipline are hidden in the collective results. I would say in most cases the students exceeded the expectations they would have had at the start of the year.
As those students who are part of the school in the lower years rise up through the ranks we continue to hope to be able to improve on these results, with our long term goal being that every child at the school secures at least a B grade in both Maths and English when they sit their final GCSE examinations in year 11.
The objective of the school is not only for academic success but to improve the children's educational experience in its most complete sense: by presenting to them role models, granting them inspiration to do their best, encouraging them to see how they can give back to their communities and society and ultimately reminding them to seek God's pleasure in every endeavour.
For further details of how to get involved with the project visit the school's page found here.

City Circle Saturday School Management Team

 In this episode of "Islam and Life", Prof. Tariq Ramadan asks Dr. Sinan Mir, of the City Circle, about we can maintain a moderate and balanced diet during the holy month of Ramdhan so we we can reap the health benefits as much as we gain spiritual ones.