Category Archives: not self but God and others

What Philanthropy Taught us About Crowd Sourcing Financial Aid in One Month


How a Fundraiser brought together an Islamic scholar and a development practitioner, who share five key lessons in crowd sourcing financial aid for a humanitarian cause.

By Shaista Hussain and Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani

Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani is an Islamic scholar and a global goodwill Ambassador of the Zahra Trust, a UK based charity which is in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.  Shaista Hussain is a development practitioner working for a multilateral development bank, based in the Philippines. A fundraiser brought us together, and we wanted to share our thoughts which may be applied to any humanitarian cause.

This year Sayed Ammar raised a funds appeal, both offline and online, to support orphans and families in need around the world particularly in Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, India, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Tanzania. The campaign focused on providing the families with not just food aid but also giving them an opportunity to enjoy what we often take for granted – a quality meal in a nice restaurant, a football match for the children with matching kits of their favorite teams and other activities planned in giving aid with respect.  In addition, the funds were also collected for an Orphans village in Iraq with decent housing facilities and a school, among other initiatives. With the generous donations we received, this project is nearing completion.

With the successful completion of raising required funds in onemonth, here are five lessons that we wanted to share with you.

1. Those who inspire trust must walk the talk. We cannot thank people enough for their unbelievable generosity and their trust, especially the way everyone responded to our appeal. Watching Sayed Ammar campaigning for the appeal from the ground, starting from the worn-torn Iraq, helped inspire the interest of donors from all walks of life. It all comes down to one basic principle – the people in leadership positions who are blessed to have a dedicated following, must lead by example and must lead from the front.

2. Appreciate those who serve, appreciate even more the ones being servedWorld Humanitarian Day on 19th of August every year is a reminder to value the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises. This is a day to honor the men and women who give their lives to humanitarian causes. While it is important to appreciate those who serve others, it is also very important to appreciate the ones being served. The Holy Quran reminds us to help the orphans and those in need, and to be kind to others regardless of their religious or ethnic associations. We should be grateful to people who have given us an opportunity to serve them. This itself is a huge blessing when you realize that we are indeed the lucky ones who are getting an opportunity to help others, not the other way around.

3. Charity has a global appealWhen the cause is genuine, people respond. Always. When the appeal was launched in the holy month of Ramadan, we expected Muslims to make more donations – which they certainly did – but we were touched by the response of the Non-Muslims from all over the world.  Charity has a global appeal and it was no surprise that the people responding to the appeal came from different religious backgrounds and countries. The cause hit home with all, charity is indeed universal in its essence.

4. It is challenging to communicate the scale of the problem. In this visual age capturing moments is only one smart phoneclick away. However, given the scale of the problems everywhere, it is often very difficult to narrate the exact gravity of the situation. Not everyone appreciates or is able to see things as you are able to see them first hand yourself.  When we are with the beneficiaries of our projects in the field whether it is leading a humanitarian cause or a development project, we are so moved by the plight we witness firsthand. While visuals such as videos help, at the end of the day, we think it really is the trust in the person or institution calling attention to the problem that really changes people’s minds. Social media also served as an enabler to amplify the message of our campaign, with most funding coming through after Sayed Ammar’s Facebook live sessions.

5. Crowdfunding is a great way to raise funds. By using the JustGiving platform, we were able to raise almost $200k online and experienced first-hand how crowdfunding helps bring everyone together. With the power of technology, giving and receiving donations has never been so easy – and that really helped speed up the process. We saw the power in numbers, and the strength in people rallying behind a common cause.

Behind any humanitarian effort is true empathy and sincerity that keeps it going. A project may start from a piece of paper, but it is the dedicated workforce that truly yields results. This Humanitarian Day – make a commitment to support the needy not just with your financial contribution but also your time, and energy. It is really (or only) when you give of yourself that you truly give.


Shaista Hussain is a development practitioner from Pakistan, based in the Philippines. Her interests include working on regional cooperation, project design and quality assurance of development projects as well as working with refugees and humanitarian response.

Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani is an Islamic scholar, author and an articulate historian. He is listed every year as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims since 2014. Dr. Nakshawani uses his influence to promote women’s rights, social development, human rights, religious tolerance and inter-faith harmony.


Appeal for Orphans and Child Welfare in Iraq


Today, I would like to urge my blog readers to please visit my personal fundraiser – set up for the children of Iraq, supported by one of my favorite charities.

In the month of Ramadan, with so many charities available, it is often times a tough task to choose which ones to support.  I chose this because I have seen The Zahra Trust at work when I visited Iraq in December 2017.  A non-profit in its true spirit, I am inspired by their relentless support to serve the orphans and the needy.

Humanitarian crisis affects children the worst and leave them exposed and vulnerable. These children need our compassion and love;  your small contribution goes a long way and can build a secure life for a child.  Please help this campaign which will contribute directly to The Zahra Trust’s call for orphans support and child welfare in Iraq. I am also a team member with Sayed Ammar Nakshwani who is a goodwill ambassador for The Zahra Trust and has launched an Appeal for the same cause.

You can learn more about The Zahra Trust’s ongoing projects and what they did last year on this link:

If you would like to support any cause this year – let this one be your choice!

Thank you! Your reward is with Allah.

Who is the Muslim’s Pope – asks my 7- year old…


By now, most of the readers would have heard about Pope Francis visiting the Philippines #PopeFrancisPH

I was showing his videos to J&S my boys aged 13 and 7 respectively. I was showing them how much respect I have for the Pope for the way he interacts with people of all ages, color and creed – how he keeps a smile on his face, and blesses everyone as he meets them.  My 7-year old asked me, who is a Pope.  Out of convenience, I told him casually, ‘well, think of him as a Maulvi’. ‘Oh okay,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘So mama, who is our Pope in Pakistan?’

His question, which came as a painful shock to me, left me speechless.  I wish I could show him one religious leader in Pakistan who is loved and respected as much as the Pope, even the Muslim Ummah if you please, and who in return would treat people with this much love and compassion.  I give up.  Can you think of one such name? Will somebody please stand up?





When your life flashes before your eyes


This December of 2014 when I went to Islamabad – I brought back with me to Manila all my greeting cards and letters, saved since as long as I remember! Oh what a flashback it was indeed! It was as if my life was passing by me in a jiffy! Some brought a smile, some a tear or two. Life is short and slipping away at a speed faster than we can ever catch up with.

…and it got me thinking – It will be almost like the promised Day of Judgement where our life and deeds will be flashed before our eyes! I sincerely hope and pray that it’s a life worth looking at – in front of the One we all long to meet!

Until that day – it’s a constant struggle of self learning and self improvement! Don’t we all want to look our best when we meet the One Beloved. I hope it’s a meeting worth all this effort! Dear God.

When your life flashes before your eyes…


Facebook users must have seen their timelines full of the facebook flashback videos – I did too, except that I did not post mine. I figured it was more for myself than for anybody else (and I loved it).

And then it got me thinking – Gosh, this was last 6 years flashing before my eyes. I sincerely hope that when my entire life will be flashed before me, in the presence of the One, I really hope its a life worth watching! I believe in the Day of Judgement, as part of my religious beliefs, I also look forward to meeting my Allah, as promised. I just hope it is a meeting worth this life of patience, gratitude and a meeting where we receive His Mercy. I have no qualms in saying this – we have all been naughty at some point in our lives, this is all part of being a human, prone to error. I just hope, that in our ideas of fun and self-service, we have not hurt any other human being in this process. From what I know, God’s mercy is limited to His dues only, if we hurt another human being – thats between us and them!

I sincerely hope, that just before we end our lives in this world, we have all had the opportunity to repent, to make amends, to do more good, give more in charity, to tell everyone we care about that they are loved, and to tell Allah one more time how grateful we are for being blessed with a sound mind and body. It is just not worth being unkind to another human being – because when my life will flash before my eyes, I do not want to be known as someone responsible for bringing sadness in anybody’s life. And if all of us start thinking along these lines – wont this be a happier place to live in?