About Muhammad Ilyas

Muhammad Ilyas is a humanitarian journalist, development professional, and entrepreneur. He writes on the most appealing human rights issues such as education, the equal citizenry, economic empowerment, gender equality, and pluralism.

Is homelessness a stigma?

Is homelessness a stigma? I asked this question in one of our community meetings, where people who are homeless, formally homeless, or income insecure meet once a week to discuss the issues they face. After discussing these issues, we then come up with solutions to overcome them. The responses really made me sad – listening to the issues of the people affected by homelessness. I thought to put my thoughts in the form a blog to help overcome homelessness as a stigma.

Religious Freedom and the Reality!

What is religious freedom: Everyone has a different definition of it. I will lay out some of the definition and quotes of religious freedom to better explain the concept of the religious freedom.

Mormonnewsroom defines Religious Freedom as “Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and the first among rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. It is the right to think, express and act upon what you deeply believe, according to the dictates of conscience.”

Minspring defines it as “the notion that people of religion can freely partake of the practices of their religion without opposition. This would not only include private devotions but also acts of religious significance within the realm of government.”

Social Entrepreneurship Helping People, Profit, and Planet

Poverty, gender inequality, little educational opportunities, severe health problems, and countless other issues that we still need to tackle in order to see a prosperous society. The issue is, these problems have existed for centuries and we have not been able to get rid of them or minimize them.
Several non-profit organizations are working on the issues that the world is faced with, but we still haven’t seen good results that could reduce the problems.Being a commerce and business student, and working with non-profit organizations, I have realized that non-profits organizations are not the sustainable solution to eradicate these issues – as they are dependent on the funds from various donors. Many funds are project based which last a few years and once the project is complete, no one is left to work on that issue. With the completion of projects and grants, many non-profit organization stop working on the cause due to their lack of funding.
Businesses that are established for profit making are stable (not all of them) because of the revenue that they generate by offering their services and goods, but, the issue is that they rarely care about the triple bottom lines which are people, profit, and planet. Some businesses are so focused on profit-making that they have forgotten their goals to maximize profit are actually hurting the people and planet.
We have seen some improvements regarding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in last few decades, which have been adopted by many organizations in different forms. Unfortunately, the CSR activities have been widely used for spreading good publicity about their own business, or, expanding the market share. It has remained a good opportunity for them to market their product or services on the expense of social responsibility, for which they get tax rebate too. A double benefit of-course!
Now, let’s take a look at non-profit organizations. They are doing great job for social causes and has contributed a lot to the society in different forms. In the U.S, it would be good to drive the mission – based on the organization’s mission. But, in developing countries, it is very hard for non-profit organization to focus on their mission. That’s totally fine until they are working for a social cause. But, they are dependent on someone’s else donation, so it becomes very hard for them to be sustainable. I have seen many non-profit organizations that came into existence, and then within few years they were no more. The big reason of bankruptcy continues to happen is the lack of sustainability because nonprofits depend on donations and grant money.
The solution to overcome the consequences of both profit-making organizations and non-profit organizations is social entrepreneurship or social enterprise. Through social entrepreneurship / social enterprises, we can tackle enormous level of problems that the world is faced with, and then the social enterprises would become sustainable.
Social enterprises are mission driven, very focused on three bottom lines: People, Profit, and Planet, and are looking for both social and financial reward. The best aspect of social enterprises is that they can survive without the support of donors and grant money.

Youth Experiencing Homelessness

(Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Is Life tough? Ask youth who are experiencing homelessness. You will feel blessed because you have so much that others are missing completely.

This morning, at the start of spring and heavy snow, I left for the office at 5 am to supervise our delivery crew unloading the newspapers. That’s how media houses work– they don’t care about the weather or the situation, they do what they are supposed to do. While I was few blocks away from my office, I saw a young man on the street, probably fourteen years old, asking for a change (money) for breakfast.

Time to Counter the Narrative!

History reveals that religion has been used to construct different narratives, of such narratives many have harmed humanity. Unfortunately, many of the countries have passed through these religious narrative constructions’ revolutions. If such revolution has taken place 50 years ago, when can we say that it was possible, but, if this has happened in last 30-35, then it’s a shame – where religion has been used for lobbying, self-interest, and exploiting humanity.

Let me take you to Pakistan – a country having over 193.2 million people, of them, approximately, 97 percent are Muslims. You won’t believe that this country is prouder of the religious Islamic identity rather than national. Eventhough Pakistan is an Islamic republic country, still it faces national identity crisis because of religious narrative – constructed by Saudi Arabia with the support of some others. This religious narrative where Islam was used to exploit the local people, has ruined Pakistan’s every walk of life.

The Silenced Voice That Needs To Be Empowered

Since childhood, girls are only taught how to raise children.

I am a man who feels greatly for the women. Pouncing from the love I bear for my mother and the hope I aspire for my sisters. Fifty years apart and yet I hold no tangible guarantee that my mother’s fate will not echo in my child’s yet unfolding destiny.

I have lived to witness the struggle over power, dominance and submission. I have seen the tearless and silent cries of confusion. I lived through the scuffle of fitting-in, conformity, tapering and taming down into societal expectation, both spoken and not. From what I have witnessed, I have learned that there is a silenced voice that needs to be empowered.

Ignorance Versus Wisdom, Who Won!

 

Source: (Bonnie Jo Mount / Washington Post)

Source: (Bonnie Jo Mount / Washington Post)

I am an early morning person, and I like mornings. Every morning brings a new joy, new hope, and a new breeze in my life – that’s what I like most of the morning. One fine night I slept free of sorrow and sadness and woke up to see and enjoy the new spirit, zeal, and breeze of the dawn. Unfortunately, I opened my social media and saw the news that terrorists have attacked a Army Public School Peshawar, Pakistan.

Freedom of Speech – Some Principles

The literal meaning of freedom of speech is the right to express our views and opinions without any fear, censorship, restraints. It has been defined as the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint by Dictioanry.com. Meriam Webster definition state freedom of speech as the legal right to express one’s opinions freely.

The addition of legal word reveals that it can be different country to country. In some countries, it is legal to express your opinion while in the majority it is not. If you have some sweet words on the state affairs they will warmly welcome it and will share a reference as well. If the words are challenging the state policies, then you are in trouble.

Youth! Challenges and Way Forward

United Nations (UN) defines youth as persons falling under the age range of 15-24 years. UN reports the youth population as 1.8 billion throughout the world. Globally this definition applied to everyone falling within the age 15-24 years, but, in some countries, it is different. For example, in Pakistan, the age range for youth is considered as the people between the ages 15-35. Fortunately, Pakistan’s population is approximately made of 60 percent youth altogether. Still, the extreme bad luck is that this 60 percent is the most ignored and deprived sector in the population.

Pluralism! The Word is Still Missing

Meriam-Webster defines pluralism as “a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain and develop their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization or a concept, doctrine, or policy advocating this state.”

Over the past few decades the world has seen a lot of examples where the word ‘pluralism’ seems missing almost in every aspect of life. Though, there are some improvements, but not so much significant if we compare it with technological and economic development.