The name Nadir Al-Nuri is now known to most Malaysians. Since the recent Gaza war by Israel during the month of Ramadhan this year, Nadir is mostly known as a head of a Malaysian non-profit, non-government organization (NGO) involved in charity works to help Palestinians and especially Palestinian Gazans with humanitarian relief work and rebuilding Gaza.
Gaza has often been under attack by Israel since 2006, and had been recurring often since then. In this year alone, the Israeli attack on Gaza had caused more than claimed the lives of 260 Palestinian including 66 children, where 459 buildings were destroyed or badly damaged including 53 schools, 6 hospitals and 11 clinics (source: Washington Post and Al Jazeera).
If war and destruction aren’t enough, Gaza has been made worse with the blockade on Gaza, imposed by Israel since 2007 when Hamas won the Palestinian election. This meant that Gazans are suffering from restricted access to electricity, water supply, essential goods, including restricted access to construction and building materials that could help rebuild homes and essential services buildings. Due to the physical blockade Gaza is facing a weakened economy where it is said that the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world, at 43%.
Halalop editor, Shahfizal Musa, spoke with Nadir Al-Nuri on Gaza and his work in Gaza. Nadir is also the only Malaysian living in Gaza.
According to Nadir, Muslims are well aware of the situation Palestinians are facing, as is often mentioned in sermons in mosques, and religious gatherings.
“The reactions are always the same year after year. We are told to make du’a to save Palestine, donate monies to charities to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians and boycott certain products with over a hundred brands listed. However, boycotts don’t normally last because people will forget which brands to boycott after a while.”
“In order to help Palestine and the Palestinians, we need to work strategically. We can’t just be reactionary.”
“For instance, for those who give donations to Palestine, they want to see that their donations turn into food packs distrubuted the next day.”
“However, some of the donations under our non-profit organization are used to fund sustainable projects which will only bear fruit five years from now.”
Nadir Al Nuri is now well known in Malaysia as the head of a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping Palestinians, especially Gazan Palestinians.
Nadir chose to study in Gaza after his Islamic studies in Shari’ah were interrupted due to the civil war of Syria, where he pursued his Islamic degree. Nadir already has a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from a Malaysian university. He then decided to relocate his studies to the Islamic University of Gaza because he wanted to immerse himself fully to be fluent in Arabic. He had reasoned that there were many Malaysian students studying in either Jordan or Egypt, which he felt that he couldn’t have immersed himself in the Arabic language or culture with many students from his home country. Hence, in 2013 he chose to study in Gaza.
Having grown up in both Scotland and Malaysia to academician parents who loved volunteerism and charitable work, he is no stranger to working for charities. Hence, while studying in Gaza he decided that he would dedicate his free time to charitable work to help the locals there. He has since married a Gazan lady, has settled in Gaza, and is now focused on rebuilding Gaza through his charitable organization.
Nadir Al-Nuri’s charity organization is called Persatuan Cinta Gaza Malaysia (CGM) which translates into The Malaysian Association For Gaza With Love. As a charitable non-profit organization, CGM has worked with over 50 charitable organizations to implement charitable projects in Gaza that are meant to sustain Gazans who are living below the poverty line as well as implement sustainable projects and initiatives to alleviate the economic conditions in the territory.
“The people in Gaza have lives to live. They have hopes and dreams, they want to continue their studies, get married, have a job, and so on. They need our (Muslim) support for them. It’s not always wartime here in Gaza.”
“The Gazans here need not just money or donation. More than anything else, they need opportunities to work, and so on.”
Nadir further explained, “Our charitable projects are more geared towards creating jobs for the Palestinian people. First, is to take them out of heavy reliance on charities’ donations. Secondly, it gives them self-esteem. They don’t really like to rely on donations because they would prefer to earn their own incomes. Palestinians are really work-driven.”
“Our organization is working closely with various Palestinian authorities to create businesses and job opportunities for the people. We take inspiration from the Companion of Rasulallah s.a.w. (Abdul Rahman bin Auf) who said that he did not want any handouts or donations when he first arrived in Madinah, just show him the way to the market (where he could generate an income).”
“Based on this, we have donated approximately Malaysian Ringgit 1.5 million for the past one and half years to build job opportunities. Some have opened up factories, wood crafts, barbershops, and so on. These are in the form of a soft loan where once they generate income they can pay back a monthly installment of at least USD100 per month. We also help in terms of providing the training needed for them to skill themselves and for their businesses.”
Featured Image and Islamic calligraphy woodwork image by Hosny Salah, Gaza Palestine, on Pixabay.
“Under CGM, we have a strawberry park, where it doubles as a recreation park as well as a strawberry farm. We’re also working with the Waqf Ministry to build futsal fields and other job creation projects.”
Nadir further explained, “donors to charities or non-profit organizations need to be smart donors. Donors can’t just say that its now just between the charity and Allah s.w.t. and that charities can do as they like.”
“For instance, is it really the right decision to donate to charities that want to build more mosques in Palestine worth millions of dollars, when there are already some many mosques here? Is building mosques here a primary need of the people here? The answer would be no.”
“Or would it be right to have a charitable organization give Ramadhan donations worth Malaysian RInggit 5 million in the form of food packs in Ramadan? Not really. Maybe out of the amount, only 1 million is needed to be in the form of food packs, and the rest in terms of building sustainable projects.”
Nadir is committed to transparency of CGM’s funds and projects and has published yearly audited annual reports which detail out all of their charitable projects.
In terms of using funds to rebuild buildings, CGM is aware of skeptics who might say why to bother to rebuild a building when it will then be destroyed by another war. “We’re reducing the risk of this by ensuring that the construction of new buildings is not in areas targetted, nor for use by Hamas. Thereafter we leave it to Allah’s s.w.t will.”
Global Muslims interested to assist Palestinians, aside from giving monetary donations, can also consider giving work, such as freelance work that can be done from afar, digitally. Nadir further emphasized that the assistance needed by the Palestinian people, especially those in Gaza, are in terms of providing them with:
1 – Job opportunities
2 – Upskilling training for startup businesses and those in the digital sector
3 – Freelancing work which can be done via remote work.
“There are a few startup incubators here in Gaza. At least one is successfully working with global tech companies via freelance remote work, GazaSkyGeeks. They are well versed in English, and would be suitable to work as freelancers in digital work, such as tech developers.”
Nadir further adds, “global Muslims who are interested in assisting Palestinians can consider hiring Palestinian freelancers for digital work through GazaSkyGeeks who can speak English well.”
“Providing training or upskilling to Palestinians is another method for global Muslims to assist. CGM is willing to help with this.”
His aspiration for the future is for the CGM team to implement the projects well on their own. The main issue right now is the lack of skillsets by the Palestinian people to implement the projects. So it’s not just about donating money, but about building partnerships in economic development,
Farah Ishak is a Content Writer at Halalop. She grew up in the United Kingdom where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Management. Later, she completed her MBA and held senior-level positions in Malaysian based MNC. She left the corporate world to be with her young kids. She is passionate about issues concerning Muslim women, Startups and Muslim businesses in general.
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