Tag Archives: charity

SF Sundays – Winter Wonderland!

Happy December Everyone!!

I do love the city in December. Maybe it’s the holiday lights, maybe it’s my birthday month. I don’t know, I just love San Francisco in December!

Our family may not celebrate Christmas but we sure love the winter season nonetheless, exchanging presents, and decorating our home as we do for Halloween and both Eids each year.

Before we go exploring the city, I do want to remind you that we’ve had massive fires up in the North Bay thanks in part to PG&E negligence (yea, I said it!), heat waves, high winds and dry brush in the past couple of months. If you’d like to help those in need this holiday season, please support the World Central Kitchen, Islamic Relief Fund and the California Fire Foundation.

HAPPENING AROUND TOWN

If you’ve never seen a movie while the amazing San Francisco Symphony performs the soundtrack and music, have you really seen the movie? For the holiday season, expect to find movies like Love Actually, Ghostbusters and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Oh, I can’t wait for that one!

c/o sfsymphony.org

And as with every year, Cirque du Soleil is back in San Francisco with the production of Amaluna, running now through January 22, 2020. Happening at Oracle Park, with another story as told by amazing acrobatic performers and live music. Get your tickets now, these shows are selling out!

Need a friend or two to join you on these amazing wonderland adventures? You should join me as the consul of InterNation’s SF Culture and Arts Group! We check out some beautiful and fun works throughout town on a regular basis.

I entered the cosmos!

Recently, we were invited to the opening of the As Above As Below exhibit at the Menresa Gallery in the St. Ignatius Church of USF. A small but extremely dazzling exhibit bringing astrology, neurology and the arts together. I entered the cosmos and so should you, as you only have until December 15th to check it out. The exhibit is free but be sure to book your tickets online.

We also checked out the season’s must see exhibit, Soul of a Nation, at the de Young Museum. Our group got together last week and were truly immersed in the powerful pieces, from collages and photography to paintings and sculptures. Many in the group did the audio tour which went into further detail, history and relevance of each piece.

Faith Ringgold, 1977 – Alice Neel

Don’t forget the ice rinks are up and running now through January all across the Bay. Head to Union Square Ice Rink and skate around the beautifully lit tree. For the second year, the lovely Winter Park at Civic Center is back. This is an ice rink that the young ones will truly enjoy among the greenery and lights. The Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center is not just open during the holidays but all year long! There are many more ice rinks to skate through the Bay Area, which you can find thanks to TimeOut San Francisco.

YUMMINESS ACHIEVED

Nothing truly scares me like hunger. This week, I want to highlight the food banks that begin their busiest time of the year to help secure food for those in need. I urge you all to check out your local food banks, volunteer and donate.

These facilities are literal life lines to many families and individuals in need, especially those affected by the recent wildfires.

If I missed any food bank or resource in the Bay Area, please include them in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by the events, organizations or restaurants listed unless otherwise noted. If you’d like me to rant about a happening around town, an awesome organization or a yummy eatery for my SF Sundays rant series, please email ha@mshala.co.

Be Like Shabana. Be a Beggar for Life

Be Like Shabana. Be a #BeggarForLife.

Yesterday’s funeral services for our sister and friend Shabana Patel was bittersweet. We gathered amongst hundreds from many communities to support her children and honor her life. We hugged, wept, smiled and laughed remembering her warm hugs, tears, smiles and laughter.

Shabana always deemed herself a #BeggarForLife as she constantly raised funds and volunteered for many charitable organizations. Her reach went beyond Sacramento and the Bay Area when many of us learned she helped found the Ihsan Foundation for West Africa. This project supports a school in Sierra Leone and became her passionate mission. We urge you all to help continue her legacy in supporting this amazing foundation for years to come, Insha’Allah.

May she rest in God’s eternal peace and light, may her legacy live beyond our years, ameen. ūü§≤ūüŹĽ

Paid Your Zakat Yet?

If the answer is no, now is the time to do so!

First, what is “zakat”?

Zakat (or Zakah) is an Arabic word now used universally to mean “obligatory charity“. As prescribed to Muslims with means, it’s obligatory to make an annual contribution of 2.5% against all assets one holds for a minimum of one year towards charitable use.

A good example might be one has, after expenses, a $1,000 in the bank, gold or silver worth $5,000 and a car worth $10,000. Their total assets are at $16,000 and they’d pay a minimum of $400 against that.

Have you feared to present before your consultation charities? Then when you do not and Allah has forgiven you, then [at least] establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.

The Holy Quran, 58:13

Check out this Zakat Calculator by Islamic Relief USA

With fasting, we purify our bodies, minds, spirits as well as our material things. To do so, we sacrifice a bit of everything to bring forward our renewed selves. Fasting from food to bring in good energy. Fasting from day to day worrisome thoughts to bring in happier thoughts (think meditation). Fasting from earthly things to remind ourselves of the bigger picture through worship and Quran reading. To fully complete the month of Ramadan, one must give their zakat before Eid ElFitr (Festival of Breaking Fast), hence the term “Zakat ElFitr” (Zakat of Breaking Fast).

Remember, zakat is also giving your time and reminding others to do their part as well. Many get caught up with work, family gatherings and Eid shopping that a kind reminder is always appreciated. I know I appreciated the one I received yesterday and I hope this post as those I’ve written for the last several years serves as your kind reminder to fulfill your zakat.

Who qualifies to receive zakat?

The idea of zakat is to support those in need. That can be in the form of food, shelter, legal services or any other means to help them live a decent life. What do you have that others may have less of? If you were in a bad situation, what would you need to get out of it. It’s hard to put ourselves in another’s shoes sometimes but one of the main ideas of Ramadan is just that. Living with little food, little energy, but lots of dedication to get through it.

With that said, there are so many organizations, both locally and internationally, out there in need of our zakat to continue the amazing work they do not just in Ramadan but year round. I recommend checking on those that have been highly rated by Charity Navigator, many of which four star rated.

I personally would suggest the following organizations:

  • Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) for their amazing efforts to provide medical aid to children across the Middle East. They are currently supporting refugee children in dire need from Palestine, Yemen and Syria.
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for their dedication to helping local communities at large with legal services, training and support. They are currently supporting those in need through the disastrous border immigration response and the xenophobic Muslim Ban currently in effect.
  • Islamic Relief USA for their excellent disaster relief responses, meal plans across the globe and orphan sponsorship programs. You can select one or multiple programs you want your zakat to go towards.
  • Project Feed SF for feeding neighbors in need right here in San Francisco for over 10 years now. This and other amazing campaigns worthy of your zakat are listed under Launch Good.

Insha’Allah this information is helpful to you all. May God accept our fasts, our prayers and our zakat… ameen.

The Birthday of the Orphan Who Adopted the World

This is truly a holiday week for more than just Thanksgiving! This also happens to be the month of Rabi’ AlAwal in the Hijri calendar, which is considered the birth month of Prophet Muhammed* (pbuh). It is perceived that his birth date is on or between the 12th and the 17th of Rabi’ AlAwal, and thus throughout this week many Muslims across the globe acknowledge and celebrate the blessing that is the birth of Prophet Mahmad (pbuh).

Countries like Egypt, Indonesia, Sudan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tunisia, Iraq and Fiji will celebrate with the distribution of charity, food, host street carnivals, perform hymns and conduct lectures. These types of festivities are seen as a celebration, respect, admiration and love for Prophet Muhamad (pbuh). Don’t forget that the prophet is revered not only as the last prophet in Islam, but one that cared for his people, fought to defend their right to worship and taught through his practices on the best mannerisms of a Muslim. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is almost always revered as “the orphan who adopted the world“.

I’m sure many of my readers are asking, “but why is the date conflicted?” The date is conflicted because the Hijri calendar was not established until Prophet Mehmet (pbuh) was in his early fifties, about a decade or so before his death. It’s believed he was born in the year 570 AD and passed in the year 632 AD, at the age of 62. Even then there are some historical evidences of many celebrating the prophet’s birthday.

However, as more scholars studied the teachings of Islam, and mapped out the lunar events -on which the Hijri calendar is based on- differing schools of thought have determined it in the month of Rabi’ AlAwal. Sunni scholars believe it to be the 12th day of the month whilst Shia scholars believe it’s the 17th of Rabi’ AlAwal. True the exact date various but with the few Islamic holidays almost always celebrated for three to five days, rather than one and done, the entire week is used to celebrate.

Other schools of thought don’t believe it is appropriate to celebrate the prophet’s birthday. Countries with majority following the Wahhabi schools of thought do not observe it as a national holiday or host any particular festivities. However during my time in Qatar, I remember during the Friday of the birth week, sermons highlighting the prophet’s migration and struggles as a way of remembering why we as Muslims are to ask God to bring peace and blessings upon the prophet.

Personally, I love celebrating and learning more about the orphan who adopted the world. If he taught anything, it was always be kind, respectful and to be the best version of yourself. With that, I ask you all during this holiday week to do a kind thing for someone out there. Many this week have lost their homes in the California wildfires. I’ve listed ways you can help here.

Here’s to a blessed and joyous celebration of the birth of Prophet Mohamed, peace and blessings be upon him.

*There are many variations of the English/Latin lettered spelling of the prophet’s name and I wanted to showcase that in this post.

Zakat Recommendations

It’s that time of year again, as Ramadan comes to a close and Eid is suddenly upon us. Ramadan is, amongst many things, about purification. With fasting, we purify our bodies, minds, spirits as well as our material things. To do so, we sacrifice a bit of everything to bring in the new for the coming year. Fasting from food to bring in good energy. Fasting from day to day worrisome thoughts to bring in happier thoughts (think meditation). Fasting from earthly things to remind ourselves of the bigger picture through worship and Quran reading.

Zakat ElFitr, or “Fast Breaking Charitable Offering” is a major part of Ramadan. It’s been noted than one must purify their materials by donating at least 2.5% or whatever one can from their assets they’ve held for at least a year. This is calculating any financial accounts, properties, gold, etc. There are helpful online zakat calculators one can use to help determine how much they should give. Remember, that this must be given before Eid ElFitr prayers to make everything you did in Ramadan count Insha’Allah.

Remember, Zakat isn’t only finances, but it’s also your time and energy such as volunteerism and referring others to do the same. With that and reflecting on my post from two years ago, below are some organizations, Zakat approved, that you should continue to support now and throughout the year.

San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS)

The¬†San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS)¬†has truly come a long way in the last several years. They’ve grown with the love and support of the community in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are working tirelessly to start San Francisco’s first full time Islamic faith based school in the coming year and can use all the support they can get. If you can donate financially or volunteer just a couple of hours a week, I urge you to go to their website and learn more!

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

A community can not be called one if it does not have a strong support system. From losing a job because of faith to defending civil rights on a larger scale, Muslims in the US do come across bigotry and backlash on a daily basis. Through it’s many chapters across the country, CAIR has been that support system for the Muslim community at large. Educating the masses to “know your rights” as well as voicing common concerns of the Muslim community on Capital Hill is the tip of iceberg of the great work CAIR does. Your financial and volunteer contribution goes a long way to support the community. Find¬†a chapter near you¬†and ask how your zakat can support the community.

Islamic Relief USA

Islamic Relief USA

With all that is happening in the world, be it natural disasters or man created conflict, you will always find Islamic Relief of USA¬†there. Day after day, I’m impressed by this 4-star organization’s efforts and dedication to serving humanity at large. When other organizations leave an area, Islamic Relief is still there, for the long haul be it locally throughout the US or on a global scale. I’m honored that I know many individuals on a personal level that work and contribute their time and efforts into this organization and I ask you to do the same.

If you know of any organizations that should be on this list, please post their information in the comments or tweet them to me (@ms_hala).

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, ‚ÄúWhoever paid it (Zakat al-Fitr) before Eid Prayer, it is acceptable Zakat (for Ramadan) before Allah. Whoever paid it after Eid Prayer, it is just a charity.‚ÄĚ The companion of the Prophet used to pay it a few days earlier. ‚Äď Bukhari, courtesy of¬†Friday Nasiha

Ramadan Verse & Quote (Day 15)

I was recently having some interesting conversations with friends of mine about the various things that have been bothering us. It got me thinking about forgiveness.

Verse:

‚ÄúWhether you publicize a good deed or hide it or pardon a (personal) offense (done against you), know that God has the power to pardon (all sins).‚ÄĚ

 -Quran (4:149)

From Surah ElNisa’ (The Ladies Chapter), we are reminded that God (swt) is truly the one whom forgives. How can we not be able to be forgiving? Why walk around with this heavy hurt, this negative energy, this sadness? We hold on, unable to forgive thus¬†forgetting¬†that God (swt) may have already forgiven.

Speaking for myself, I was picked on and bullied almost all through elementary school before it weened out in the 8th grade. It caused me to be sensitive, sad, angry and hold extreme grudges for long periods of time. It has taken me years to grow out of that person and be the happy person I’m today.¬†I owe that positive change in my life in part to a lesson I learned years ago.

The lesson was that God (swt) does not accept one’s salat (prayers), seyam (fasts) or zakat (charity) if they hold a heavy heart towards anyone. Why? For God (swt) is the one whom “has the power to pardon”, the all forgiving for He is the generous one. If God (swt) has forgiven them, how can we not? If God (swt) has forgiven us, how can we not?

It took me a long while to reflect upon that message and being honest when I said to myself, “All is forgiven. I forgive me. I forgive them. All is forgiven.”¬†Alhamdulillah (Praise God), today, I’m in a great place in my life by the grace of God (swt), my family’s love, my friend’s support and of course my own hard work and determination.

I urge you all to reflect this Ramadan and find it in your heart to be more forgiving to yourself and to others.

Quote:

Not sure there’s much for me to add here…

Zakat Recommendations

Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak to all my readers and followers!

It’s that time of year where we Muslims reflect back on ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically. It’s also that time of year where we also need to give back to our communities be with finances, volunteerism or word of mouth. I’d like to take this time to recommend a couple of great organizations that you can offer your Ramadan charitable offerings or “zakat” too.

San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS)

If you are in San Francisco Bay Area, then you’ve heard of the San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS). Starting small, this nonprofit education¬†organization¬†is providing a major source of education, faith and community awareness to our young ones, from pre-K to high school students. SFIS is run on the energy of volunteers (yes, NO ONE gets paid!), with funds going towards the rental of classrooms at Mercy High School, textbooks, materials as well as towards major events like SFIS at the Zoo. As they come to start another school year, they are in dire need of volunteer teachers, teachers assistants and general volunteers. I personally have been with this organization for a couple of years as the 2nd grade Arab Language and Quran Studies teacher. Believe me when I say that I’m always taken back by what I learn from my students every week. Check out SFIS to learn more, volunteer your time and donate today!

Islamic Relief USA

With all that is happening, specifically in Africa, one must remember why zakat is a pillar in our Islamic faith.¬†Where ever you may in the world, there is a good chance the Islamic Relief USA is there! Islamic Relief is a 4-star charity organization that goes over and beyond the duty to support and bring forth support to hard hit places around the world. They were one of the first organizations on the grown in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, one of the few organizations in Pakistan during their most recent floods and now they are in the Horn of Africa as they struggle through this drought and famine. Please check out Islamic Relief‘s website where you can not only read on all their efforts but select which effort you want your donation to go to.

If there is an organization you feel that is worthy of our zakat, please the information in the comments below or via Twitter by mentioning me, @ms_hala.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Whoever paid it (Zakat al-Fitr) before Eid Prayer, it is acceptable Zakat before Allah. Whoever paid it after Eid Prayer, it is just a charity.” The companion of the Prophet used to pay it a few days earlier. – Bukhari, courtesy of¬†Friday Nasiha

c/o absarforex.blogspot.com

I ask that God accepts our fasts, our prayers and our zakat! =)

Jazakum Allah Kheer! =)