The Award acknowledged Dr. Mirza’s outstanding leadership in the North American Muslim Community and honored him for his dedicated community service contributions over the years. The ceremony was attended by more than a thousand people, with Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, as the Keynote Speaker and Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, as the Guest Speaker.
Dr. Mirza is well-known in the Muslim community as the President and CEO of Sterling Management Group (SMG) in Herndon, Virginia, which provides accounting and financial services to IIIT. He is also the author of Five Pillars of Prosperity: Essentials of Faith-Based Wealth Building (White Cloud Press, 2014).
Additionally, he is Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Amana Mutual Funds ($3.5 billion in assets), Bellingham, Washington, along with being a member of the Board of Directors, University Islamic Financial Corporation in Ann Arbor, Michigan; the Board of Trustees, George Mason University Foundation, Inc., Fairfax, Virginia; Board of Advisors, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia; Board of Advisors, Byrd School of Business, Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia, and Board’s Investment and Endowment Committee, Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia.
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Mirza recognized his wife, Tanveer Ahmed Mirza, and her entrepreneurial approach to help the impoverished through the establishment of FAITH Social Services, which operates on a $1.5 million budget. He thanked his wife for her quest to truly understand the concept of Zakah and to implement it through FAITH.
He explained, “The purpose of zakah is not just to give the poor person a few dirhams to keep him going, rather the purpose is to help this poor person attain a suitable and dignified standard of living, one that is befitting to man whom Allah has honored and appointed as His representative on earth, without either extravagance or stinginess.”
Dr. Mirza further included his family, colleagues at SMG, IIIT, Mena Investments, Amana Mutual Funds, Mar-Jac Poultry, University Bank, and University Islamic Financial, and the organizations MSA and ISNA, in receiving this award, saying, “You all have contributed greatly to my growth and made me the person I am today.”
He took this opportunity to appeal to the audience to adopt the concept of “Giving While Living.” He quoted the prophetic tradition, “It is better for a man to give a dirham as sadaqah during his lifetime than to give one hundred at the time of his death.”
Dr. Mirza added, “Giving while living provides you with an opportunity to see the effects of your gift. While living, you can direct or redirect the use of your contributions. [It] will also ensure generational fairness, i.e. to see that the future generations will have similar opportunities.”
As he concluded his speech, Dr. Mirza quoted Churchill who said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” He also shared the anecdote of someone who was asked how he could give so much and yet be wealthy. The man responded, “As I shovel it out, God shovels it in, and the Lord has a bigger shovel.”
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) congratulates Dr. M. Yaqub Mirza for this well-deserved honor. We wish him continuous success on all his endeavors and pray to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, to grant him and his family the best in this world and the best in the akhira. Ameen!