Authored by Br. Amjad Taufique, Board Member, SHARE Atlanta
To create change in our communities, we have to start by setting up effective change-making organizations. Without awareness and education, it is difficult to know all the rules and regulations required to establish strong charities and mosques—and not knowing these rules can get us in legal or financial trouble. As Imam Furqan Muhammad from Masjid Al-Muminun in Atlanta put it: “Education is a must. American Muslims must be informed.”
When we set up SHARE Atlanta, we purposely incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit institution, to adhere to strict legal standards, expand our reach, and demonstrate our credibility.
It was a difficult and lengthy process and we did not have many resources or advisors to draw from, but we secured 501c3 status. We are glad that Muslim Advocates provides legal and financial education to institutions like ours across the country, to address this lack of resources and advice.
For us, the trust and resources generated by our official incorporation allows us to have greater impact.
We believe Muslim Advocates provides a valuable service to our community by helping individuals and organizations like ours to understand the legal rules and structures that guide our work to be able to better serve others. We were excited to participate in the Sept. 6th legal and financial education seminar organized by Muslim Advocates to strengthen charities and mosques in Atlanta.
We need this service because there are so many things we don’t know. One mosque leader was unfamiliar with rules concerning outreach to politicians and political candidates—the seminar helped him know what to do, to pursue his efforts legally and effectively.
I personally got involved with SHARE Atlanta out of a family ethic of helping people. Growing up, I saw people come up to my mother and ask her for help. She would go all out and do whatever she could. I like to think I have taken after her.
As a board member of SHARE Atlanta, I am proud of a transitional home we opened this year that houses individuals recently released from prison as well as homeless individuals. We hope to serve even more people through the home in the next 12-18 months under a partnership with the state of Georgia where SHARE Atlanta would receive funds to house individuals leaving state prisons on parole.
We have several other programs such as providing financial assistance to individuals and families for rent, utilities, and other critical household expenses; healthy marriage counseling; and partnering with Islamic Relief to convene an annual volunteer day. Earlier this month, we served 2,500 people across Atlanta during the Day of Dignity, providing food, health screenings, hygiene kits, school bags, and school supplies.
I am already thinking about inviting Muslim Advocates back to Atlanta in a few months, to provide additional training to charity and mosque leaders, while inviting new individuals and organizations that missed the September 6th seminar.
The Atlanta seminar brought together over 85 leaders representing organizations across Georgia—including mosques, schools, student and youth organizations, social services groups, and international aid and relief organizations. The training was the twelfth in a series of seminars held by Muslim Advocates for American Muslim charities and mosques nationwide and was held in partnership with the Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers (GAML).
We must work together to strengthen our community institutions—the problems we face are big and challenging and we need all of us to help solve them.