One day Ali(ra) was carefully recording all the money that came into the treasury and all that was spent from it, by the light of a candle. At that time, Talha(ra) and Jubair(ra) came to him for personal reasons. When they sat down, Ali lit another candle and put out the first candle. The guest exchanged a glance of surprise and then one of them asked: “O’ Ali! We have come on some important business. But why did you put out the first candle and light another one?” He replied, “That was a candle bought with Treasury funds. As long as I worked for treasury, I used it. Now you have come for some personal work, so I use the candle bought from my personal funds.”
Dealing with donated funds is no easy task. This is money that people have sacrificed and given for a specific task. It is a violation of the trust and responsibility of your position to use it elsewhere – no matter how important it may seem.
There are many horror stories abound of people who donated for a certain cause and had a falling out with a masjid because funds were mis-managed.
The rule of thumb is to properly account for all incoming money and earmark it as intended. If someone donates for construction, don’t use that money to pay the water bill. If someone donates money to be distributed to assist with feeding poor people, don’t use it to put down a deposit at the hotel for a fundraising dinner.
It seems like a simple enough concept, yet nearly every community in North America has seen a negative incident where a conflict occurred due to mismanagement of money and resources. This is a serious problem of ethics and integrity. It falls on leadership to set the standard by not only communicating these expectations clearly, but also in leading by example by showing extra care and concern in handling resources. Account for funds with the proper Islamic guidelines. For example, ensure you have the appropriate number of witnesses for each transaction.
The conflict resulting from funds mismanagement is easily avoidable. Only spend money for what it’s for. That’s it.
But then again, if people simply used their common sense, we wouldn’t have a lot to blog about here on this website would we?