“But those who struggle in Our cause, surely We shall guide them in Our ways; and God is with the good-doers.“~ Holy Qur’an (29:69) ~
Special consideration and priority is given to specific people in an attempt to be true to the objectives of the sacred law or Maqāsid Al-Sharī’a. To learn more, read Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah’s paper Living Islam with Purpose.
Please read Iana’s DISCLAIMER about references to other organizations.
1. Sacred Sciences of Islam
For education loans, we prioritize supporting student of the Islamic sciences or individuals intending to enrol at Islamic institutions such as Zaytuna College in the US or Cambridge Muslim College in the UK, as well as graduates of such programs and similar institutions themselves. Other such programs include Deen Intensive’s Rihla, the Alim Program, Reviving the Islamic Spirit, Zawiyah at Rosales, Ta’leef, and similar efforts like classical Arabic programs (e.g. Shariah Program).
2. General Financial Help
We seek to help individuals encountering difficult financial circumstances who are in need help, especially those with special circumstances like orphans, widows, people with disabilities, refugees, ex-convicts, people of colour, Indigenous brothers and sisters, immigrants, and so on. Likewise, those in our community seeking to preform Hajj or Umrah, to cover urgent living or health expenses, or seeking to get married.
This category includes people who are trying hard to avoid interest. This includes those who wish to repent from the major sin of interest or usury (riba), who are seeking God’s forgiveness and feel remorse for having fallen into it, and who are trying to get out of it and intend wholeheartedly to begin a life free from usury and interest. If you are currently caught in heavy interest-based debt, see our Relief Page for organizations with support services.
We pray that God grants us divine facilitation to constantly be in a state of sincere repentance, to always avoid usury, interest, and all sins, and to lead meaningful, rich lives that are pleasing to Him. It is reported that Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him said:
“The one who repents from a sin, is like the one who has no sin.”~ Narrated by Ibn Majah, Tabarani, Abu Nu’aim, al-Bayhaqi
3. Specific Visionaries
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”~ Henry David Thoreau
We are in dire need of volunteers, activists, thinkers, and institutions who are wisely and intelligently working at reforming society, visionaries who see the pitfalls in our times and are helping us re-define the way we look at the world to live more meaningful, purposeful lives and build intentional, harmonious communities. We specifically seek to support those seeking to make balanced, grassroots, progressive change in the areas below, among others. The point is to encourage ourselves and our applicants to renew our intentions and to focus efforts on the root causes of societal problems. (For an excellent discussion on the root problems of our time, watch Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s lecture on the Roots of Our Crisis.)
As a community, we have become more and more disconnected from our sacred traditions and from the earth and sources of our nourishment. We have also become disconnected from each other; our families and communities continue to face enormous challenges. Iana seeks to support initiatives that aim to restore the centrality of family and community to our lived experiences and put into practice the teachings of our tradition. For more on this, see some of the great work by Ta’leef and Tarjuma.
A tremendous amount of work by different thinkers and researchers has shown that the conventional mass schooling model typically used in the West is a failed or even harmful model and that alternative methods are far superior for individuals and society at large. For authors who have written in depth on this, see the work of John Holt, the father of modern homeschooling, as well as the late Mr. John Taylor Gatto, Sir Ken Robinson, Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, and other resources, like the documentary Race to Nowhere.
FOOD & HEALTH
We believe that our bodies, minds, and hearts are sacred trusts and that their nourishment affects our health, states, actions, and the environment-at-large. We cannot separate our individual health from the health of the planet. All of creation is connected and, in the Islamic tradition, this goes further as the states of our hearts and the purity of our deeds affects our bodies and our world.
The organic and fair trade food movements have been increasing in popularity. Much work is underway to help people understand the pitfalls of the normal modern diet, full of processed foods and artificial ingredients. Take for example the outstanding work of Dr. Robert Lustig which advocates against sugar. Many documentaries resulted from his work (e.g., Fed Up). Michael Pollan has written in a similar vein, along with others whose efforts have helped increase awareness around the harms of the modern diet.
We seek to support people and causes that will help advance a holistic and honourable relationship between humanity and our sources of nourishment. While there are many who would like to serve humanity in the capacity of medicine or health, there are relatively few who dig deep to get to root causes of modern health problems. There is often little to no appreciation for holistic and traditional medicine. Instead, we tend to adopt a dogmatic approach to scientific medicine. For more resources, see S. Hakim Archuletta‘s work, research on Shaykh Nuh Keller’s site, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s lecture on the topic.
We also recommend the book More Harm Than Good by Zelicoff and Bellomo, which provides an insightful critique of modern medicine and discusses, among many things, the unexamined preference for high cost treatment when simpler, cheaper, and more effective treatments exist. There is widespread corruption in the pharmaceutical industry (Shaykh Nuh Keller touches on this on his website). There are also institutional problems with healthcare, specifically in the US but in other countries, too. For a starting point, consider watching Sicko by Michael Moore, or check out pioneering organizations such as the Umma Clinic and Muslim MDs.
All of this is to say that medical practitioners have a narrow approach and often provide band-aid solutions at an individual level, and even then the approach is more mechanistic (dealing with one problem or symptom in isolation from others). While this is praiseworthy, we are also in dire need of critical thinkers and visionaries who can see through these challenges and address the root problems directly. We seek to support those who share the same view and advocate for and dedicate themselves to finding solutions that will literally save and benefit hundreds of millions of people in the long-run.
When it comes to the health of our environment as a whole, modern ways of living have had devastating affects on the entire planet including the land, air, and water we all share, as well as specific harm to countless animal species. As stewards of the earth, it is our sacred duty to restore the balance in the world such that we live in harmony with all creatures.
Amazing work is being done by organizations like: the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Working Group, Environmental Defence, Council of Canadians, and many more. The methods of mass agriculture have long-term, harmful consequences, both to small-scale communities and to ecosystems across the planet (see Cowspiracy). There is a renewed push for grassroots solutions; local food movements are making way across the globe. Consider reading about the permaculture movement and initiatives like the Soil Association.
Clothing is another important areas, because what wear and how it’s made has a tremendous impact on the world. The Organic Cotton movement, as part of the organic textile movement, is growing and needs much support (see the efforts of Global Organic Textile Standard, or GOTS).
We also must contend with the widespread use of chemicals and plastics in the manufacturing industry. Plastic Pollution Coalition and Tapped: The Movie discuss the problem at length. Stephanie Soechtig, director of Tapped, also speaks about modern cosmetics in this great clip. Other resources include the Story of Cosmetics and Skin Deep.
May God grant the means to pure (tayyib) food, strong and sound health, and a pristine environment on all levels. Ameen.
If we were summary all Iana’s work in a nutshell, it would be that Iana is one humble effort to help combat the widespread oppression by modern economic systems. A lot is being done by other organizations to explore alternative local currencies, to advocate for credit unions over large banks, to prefer cash over credit cards, and even to make a push for real currencies over cash. (For more on this, see Bruce Livesey’s Thieves of Bay Street, or the documentary Money as Debt, and others.) The inherent inequalities of modern economic systems harm all of us and lead to poverty and war. We need to do more to raise awareness and to establish fair economic institutions and programs. At Iana, we believe adherence to the principles of Islamic finance is key to solving these problems.
Economics, aside from the purely financial side, deeply effects all other areas of life. We must learn to see that ethical spending is a way to vote with our dollars. By being critical, conscious consumers, we can decide which causes, companies, organizations, and concepts to support or not support. There are many initiatives that help in this regard such as the Good Shopping Guide, Better World Shopper, and Ethical Consumer. By being intentional in how we spend our money, we can help reform our world on many levels including the environment, human rights, child welfare, animal rights, and more. While Iana does not fully endorse any of these works in their entirety, they are providing tremendously beneficial services to help people make more ethical choices in their spending and to avoid being complicit in human and environmental injustice.
We highly recommend the work being done by Dr. Adi Setia and others on ethical earning and spending and the over-arching Islamic economic system. Their research is highlighted in the international Journal for Islamic Sciences.
JOURNALISM & MEDIA
News agencies are increasingly coming under the control of corporate interests, leaving few networks that are committed to independency and transparency. Honest and courageous journalism and media help safeguard and protect the rights of the oppressed and disenfranchised, amplify the voices to overlooked segments of the population, and provide information and awareness that’s trustworthy and significant. But they need to be supported and championed to continue doing what they do. See some of the great work by the Real News Network, Democracy Now, National Observer, the Intercept, and many more.