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This article was published 9/11/2011 (3606 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
AS cheques given by the Manitoba Islamic Association to needy families bounce, members of the community who've tithed to help the poor are wondering what is going on.
Association president Dr. Naseer Warraich says the bounced cheques were the result of a clerical error and many have been replaced.
The problem was brought to the attention of Shahina Siddiqui, CEO of the Islamic Social Services Association. She said they're getting requests for help almost daily and the NSF cheques have made things worse for some families already living on the edge.
"You're in need, and now you're in trouble with your bank," said Siddiqui.
People who don't qualify for assistance -- the working poor and many large families -- are having a tough time making ends meet, she said.
"Most people are very, very shy to come and ask for help," said Siddiqui. "It's a thing of pride. When somebody does come and ask, it is out of desperation."
The charity given by Muslims who donate a portion of their income -- zakat or tithing -- is intended to help the needy.
"The thing is people are giving zakat money and they need to know giving it to the MIA it may not reach people who need it," said Siddiqui. Some cheques were good, some were not.
"I have mothers coming into the office who don't have enough food for today," said Siddiqui. Donations from the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation are helping to feed the hungry, she said.
"We're trying to find ways to work with (the) group that does charity work to help fill that void."
Warraich wouldn't say how many cheques bounced but said several were written on an account that had insufficient funds.
"Many bounced cheques were replaced. If any cheque has not been replaced we will replace it immediately," he said in a written statement.
Siddiqui said the dysfunction at the Manitoba Islamic Association, which has led to court-ordered changes in leadership and elections in December overseen by an independent observer, is now being felt by the most vulnerable.
Former board members who went to court because they didn't trust Warraich to run a fair election say the bounced cheques are a concern.
"I was shocked, not just as a financial analyst, but as a concerned volunteer, to learn that some cheques were NSF because when we left we had over $100,000 in the new bank account that we had personally raised after we took over on June 6," said Ahmed Durrani, who was vice-president of fundraising. He is one of more than a dozen members Warraich is suing, claiming they defamed his character.
Warraich, who ran unsuccessfully for the Tories in Concordia in the October provincial election, said the MIA distributed $80,000 to the needy in August. He invited the Free Press to conduct a forensic audit of the MIA's books.