Calls for action in the city’s mosque over financial shortages

One of the city’s largest and richest mosques failed to keep basic financial records proving how much money it received in donations, independent auditors have found.

This means that questions hang over the latest accounts submitted by the charity that runs the Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath.

The error has sparked calls from some disgruntled worshipers to leaders of the mosque, who are already under the control of the Charity Commission, to resign.

They claim that the recently published accounts are further evidence of what they call the poor management of the mosque, and have called on longtime chairman Ahsan ul-Haq to resign.

Read more: Police warn after the leader of the city’s mosque arouses anger over Taliban prayers on the Facebook post

In response, the mosque’s charity – called Dar Ul Uloom Islamia Rizwia (Bralawai) – says it works closely with the charity commission and believes the management is well placed to resolve concerns. The charity is currently the subject of a regulatory compliance inquiry.

The long-overdue accounts for 2019, which have only just been posted online, reveal that the charity in the mosque was unable to keep any records of donations given by families and individuals, nor of supplementary tuition fees in connection with educational services.

As a result, the auditors say, there is no way of knowing with certainty whether the donations and proceeds reported and knocked by the mosque’s charity accurately reflect the amounts received.

Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath, Birmingham
Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath, Birmingham

Auditors Locke Williams Associates states: “The charity did not have in place appropriate internal financial policies or controls regarding the receipt, registration and bank transfer of donations and supplementary school fees.

As a result, there are no records of donations or additional tuition fees ‘receivable’ or ‘received’, the only available records being those of such income that were tapped into the charity’s bank accounts.

“Had we had access to appropriate records and there had been appropriate financial controls in place, we could have come to the conclusion that the revenue reported in these accounts was incomplete and thus significantly undervalued.

“Furthermore, due to the lack of detailed records of income registration, we were unable to verify with reasonable certainty that the distribution of income between donations and supplementary tuition fees is correct.”

Their report concluded: “We were unable to convince ourselves of the completeness of donations and supplementary tuition income. We have concluded that where the other information refers to income or the net result for the financial year, it may be materially erroneous for the same. reason.”

Read more: Tension rises at one of the city’s largest mosques as ‘power struggle’ divides worshipers

A total income of £ 472,340 was declared by the mosque, which included donations and scholarships totaling £ 176,846 and supplementary school income of £ 58,209.

The mosque reported that it has assets and ‘investment property’ worth more than £ 7.4 million, and ended the 2018-19 financial year with a balance sheet of over £ 10 million. It had a cash balance of £ 2,661,314 in the bank at the end of the year.

Independent auditors are appointed to look at the accounts of larger organizations and charities to ensure that they meet strict financial standards. In this case, auditors have had to take the rare step of “qualifying” the accounts, which means that there are questions about their accuracy.

Mosque chief Saddique Hussain, expert advisers and the regulator are working together to address deficiencies in financial processes and other issues as they embark on new community initiatives, a charity statement said.

However, they admit that there has been a “lack of proper control and measures” in the mosque for some years.

Sir. Hussain has confirmed that the accounts due for 2020 will contain a similar qualification because the economic processes that were in place at the time were the same. He says they have now been upgraded as part of a “transformation” he heads of the mosque.

In a message to BirminghamLive, a group of people close to the mosque – who asked not to be named – said they believed there was now a need for a change of leadership to ensure transparency and reassure worshipers and local families about donations, financial affairs and governance .

Inside the mosque at Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath, Birmingham
Inside the mosque at Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath, Birmingham

They said they were concerned that some people who had been involved in managing the mosque’s affairs in 2018 and 2019 – including President Mr ul-Haq – were now in senior positions.

The accounting errors come amid a long-running dispute over the way the mosque is run.

The mosque can accommodate up to 5,000 worshipers and is one of the largest in the city and a very popular venue for large funerals.

Dozens of allegations, accompanied by screenshots of WhatsApp exchanges, copies of reports and other supporting documents have been submitted to the charity in the past year.

West Midlands Police have also been asked to investigate a number of issues.

In recent incidents, a complaint was lodged in August over a post on Mr Hussain’s personal Facebook account with Taliban officials in prayer following the takeover of Kabul.

The incident resulted in a police visit to the mosque when Mr Hussain was warned by officers.

The post was deleted minutes after they left, and Mr Hussain apologized for the insult the posting caused. His full answer is included in this story.

Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath, Birmingham
Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath, Birmingham

Another series of complaints have been made over Facebook posts made by Mr Hussain and an administrator, linked to comments about Israel and about allegations of economic irregularities.

No action has been taken and the mosque said this week: “So far we have not received any formal communication from the West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council, Local Authority Designated Officer (on protection) or the Department of Education in relation to any of these allegations. “

Saddique Hussain, general manager of Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif
Saddique Hussain, general manager of Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif

In a statement in the accounts, the curators wrote under a subheading Historical cultural challenges:

“The growth of the Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif has been organically and predominantly achieved by hardworking volunteers and the founding representatives.

“In recent years, fair trial has not been paramount, and good practice has not always been advocated.”

They continue to blame unidentified “family members of a shop steward” who they say “had a significant influence in the day-to-day running of the charity.”

Read more: Birmingham Mosque charity under scrutiny over whistleblower demands

They claim that the flawed procedures and processes they revealed are now being corrected, including a system for issuing receipts for all donations and new security procedures, including CCTV and cash safes.

They also confirm that the Charity Commission first contacted them in June 2019 regarding regulatory concerns and issued a regulatory announcement in September 2019, leading to “significant changes” in the charity’s management schemes and administrators, and although delayed by the pandemic, work continues to resolve problems raised.

A Regulatory Compliance case against the charity was opened in August 2021 by the Charity Commission, the report adds. “The trustees are awaiting with interest the Commission’s response and any advice that the Commission wishes to provide.”

In a statement responding to the financial issues raised in the accounts, Mr Hussain said: “We are in discussions with the Charity Commission … not surprisingly, the Commission has sought to understand the nature of the widely publicized allegations and steps , which trustees have taken.

“We welcome this commitment as an opportunity to demonstrate the progress that charity has made and to ensure that we reach the high standards of governance to which we are committed.

“In the meantime, we are continuing to work to re-establish and reshape the activities of the charity after the forced shutdown.

“We are making good progress in line with our priorities as published on our website in our preliminary strategic statement. I can report that we have now added our staff team Community Development Workers, English speaking imams and qualified additional teachers as well as support staff.

“We have also completed the capital work on our Community Hub and opened our Madrasah (the children’s after-school center). There are a number of interesting and exciting projects in the pipeline, and the locals stand up to work voluntarily in the charity.”

Concerns have also been raised about whether worshipers and families understand that the charity and the funeral service operating out of the mosque are separate entities. Previously, funerals were part of the charity, but have since 2020 functioned as a company, but are listed in the accounts as related parties.

Sir. ul-Haq and co-guardian Abdul Khaliq are both directors of Golden Hillock Islamic Funeral Service Ltd. There is also another private funeral home, called Golden Hillock Islamic Funerals Ltd, whose directors are Malik Sajjid Hussain and Mohammed Konane, who is also a charity representative.

The charity commission, which is investigating the mosque’s affairs, said it was aware of a wide range of complaints and allegations about the mosque’s affairs, finances, social media posts and management.

“We are aware of these concerns and we will investigate them as part of our ongoing case.”

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