Yearly, Muslims donate thousands and thousands of to Islam-based charities, together with these in america, throughout the holy month of Ramadan (this yr, from Could 15 to June 15).
The faith stipulates that Muslims should donate 2.5 p.c of their wealth annually to assist the poor and needy, referred to as zakat, an Arab time period that means “that which purifies.”
Though zakat might be given to any charity, together with these that aren’t Muslim, the highest three nonprofit Islamic charity teams in america obtain a large quantity of the donations.
“The thought is that the wealthy would give to the poor. It’s a means of getting near almighty God,” mentioned Belcasem Nahi, regional supervisor for Islamic Aid USA in Alexandria, Virginia, the most important nonprofit Muslim charity in america.
Tens of millions in zakat
The group, which began 25 years in the past, acquired $19.three million in zakat contributions in 2017, and expects to obtain not less than that a lot this yr.
“We do quite a lot of grassroots work. We go to mosques. We go to the non-public sector and speak to them about the good thing about zakat,” Nahi mentioned.
And with three.three million Muslims in america, 1 p.c of the full inhabitants, the key Islamic charity teams work to get a portion of the zakat.
The teams compete for the donations “utilizing all the things from the web to visiting mosques,“ an particularly good supply for zakat, mentioned Arif Mehmood, M.D., applications director for Alexandria-based United Muslim Aid. He mentioned 70 p.c of the zakat the group takes in goes on to humanitarian applications worldwide.
Nahi mentioned Islamic Aid USA receives wherever from “$25 to a $1 million,” relying on the individual’s wealth.” He added that “individuals who give additional zakat will obtain extra of a reward from God, whereas serving to these in want.”
There are “Islamic rules in place” for figuring out how a lot zakat an individual ought to give, Nahi mentioned. The overall would come with issues reminiscent of investments, possession of gold and silver, in addition to particular person financial savings.
Islamic Aid USA and different Muslim charity teams have zakat calculators on their web sites.
Nahi mentioned the cash is used “wherever the place there’s a want, together with Africa, Asia and in america.”
Within the U.S., he mentioned, “we have now meals applications for the poor, catastrophe aid groups, and assist medical clinics for low-income folks.”
He mentioned his group is at the moment serving to many Syrian refugees in america, however emphasizes that assist goes to anybody in want, not simply Muslims.
“Poverty doesn’t know faith. When you find yourself hungry, it doesn’t matter what faith you might be,” mentioned Halil Demir, government director of the Zakat Basis of America, positioned close to Chicago.
In addition to worldwide aid, the inspiration helps the homeless within the U.S., paying hire and medication for refugees, and delivering meals to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island final yr.
Shayh Abdool Rahman Khan, an official with the grassroots Islamic Circle of North America, mentioned he believes the vast majority of Muslims in america are giving zakat.
However Zeid Abdalla, a 26-year-old Muslim in Washington, mentioned he’s not giving zakat proper now as a result of cash is tight. The Tunisian native mentioned it’s exhausting to maintain afloat in an costly metropolis.
Khalil Hassan, additionally in his 20s and dwelling in suburban Washington, mentioned he makes positive he provides his annual donation as a result of, “it’s my obligation as a Muslim to do that and assist others.”
Mohammed Amir, a religious Ethiopian who usually goes to a mosque together with his spouse and two kids, has comparable emotions. “We imagine on the day of judgment with God, we must reply about whether or not we gave zakat,” he mentioned.
Nahi mentioned people who find themselves poor and never capable of donate produce other methods of fulfilling their obligation.
“They will volunteer for charity organizations, for instance. It’s not simply in regards to the cash. We imagine it’s important to give with no matter God provides you,” he mentioned.