How Wealthy Muslims Can Establish the Next Part of Their Legacy

It’s no secret that a number of our Islamic centers were built on the backs of large donations. I’ve heard instances of people donating a million at a time. In many communities, even where a project is under $2 million, it is not uncommon to find nearly $500,000 of that being covered by 2-3 individuals.

The motivation is obvious, everyone wants the reward of building a masjid to build a house in Paradise. It becomes part of one’s legacy. You build a masjid that your children will frequent, and your grandchildren will frequent. And while there are more construction projects than we can count, I want to appeal to people to take the next step in leaving their legacy.

The Prophet (s) told us that after death, all of a person’s deeds stop except 3: 1) A righteous child that supplicates for them, 2) leaving behind knowledge that is beneficial, and 3) a charity that benefits people.

The next step for our Muslim community is investing in human resources. This primarily means education. The most common debt that Muslims carry (according to our ongoing survey) is student loan debt. This lack of resources is preventing Muslims from getting the best education possible, in some cases getting an education altogether, starting their careers ahead of the game (instead of 6 figures in the hole), and even harming our communities by keeping talented individuals from pursuing Islamic education and service.

Building the institution was the first step of a legacy. But the next, and more important step, is to invest in people so that they can be successful and continue the work. Once you’ve achieved a certain amount of success, a person reaches a stage of life where their focus shifts to mentorship and helping others succeed. The best way to do this is help by investing in the education for other Muslims. Imagine being the means by which 5 other people get a top-notch education and make positive contributions to their communities and society in general.

We’ve received a lot of requests about establishing a private scholarship fund, or helping people get financial relief for student loans. And while those ideas have some merit, there’s simply too many barriers in place to get that moving quickly.

A few stories we have come across involve students getting an education without interest by way of community sponsorships and interest-free loans. We encourage you to find such individuals and invest in them. Help cover their educational costs as a sadaqah jariyah.


Omar Usman

Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters, Qalam Institute, Muslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims. He is a regular khateeb and has served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow him on Google+ or on Twitter @ibnabeeomar. Check out his latest project at Fiqh of Social Media.

One Comment

  1. Ahmed A
    January 29, 2015

    I don’t know why more emphasis isnt given to directing zakat towards students with crippling student loans.
    An even better suggestion is that once the student enrolls in courses, the money becomes due on them… therefore they can be considered to be in debt and as long as their debts exceed their assets, they would be eligible for zakat. If zakat funds can be directed towards students at this stage, they would not even need to take the step of getting a loan.
    An open discussion is required of this issue in order to overcome the stigma attached with being a recipient of zakat.


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