Eid is here peeps! May it be a day filled with joy as we celebrate a new beginning with our loved ones and community at large.
Just because Ramadan has come to a close, we don’t return just to our old ways. What have you learned this past month and carry it forward with you. Know that you didn’t just detox physically, but spiritually too.
May God accept your fasts, prayers and zakat… May God bless you and yours with a joyous and delightful Eid… ameen.
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.
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.
Happy Eid everyone! I pray you are all enjoying the blessed Eid AlAdha weekend.
As for me, right now, I’m spending the wee hours of the morning in Terminal 2 of the Dubai International Airport (DXB) for my bi-monthly visa turnaround, an attempt to renew my “visitor” visa, hopefully for the last time. Tomorrow marks four months since I’ve landed in Doha, Qatar. Four long, exhausting, fulfilling, exciting and at some point dangerous months. In the last four months, I’ve been caught up with work, trying to get settled into a place I can call my own and develop some form of a social life.
As of a few weeks ago, I attempted to get back to my short work outs and walks just to keep my energy level up. Recently I was able to some how get back to reading Aleph by Paulo Coelho which was my first non-food purchase in Qatar. The other day, a cute little kitty followed me half way home and adopted me. With all the time I have on my hands right now before I check out the tiny duty free section, I shall rant away at some of the events that have taken place in my first four months in Qatar…
Cool British Accent — After calling a few landlords to inquire about available apartments for rent, I received a text message (or SMS as it’s called here) stating how one very nice man liked my “really cool British accent”. I had to respond because I thought this was a joke but it turns out, that wasn’t the case. I mentioned how I wasn’t British but thanks for the kind words. His exact response (misspellings and all), “I want us to get to know echother more and I promis you I get you discount in very nice apartment. ;-)” I didn’t even know how to respond without being rude so I left it at that. However, a few more call outs over a course of a few days garnered me 3 more similar SMS’ and 2 call backs asking about my marital status.
I did realize that with all of them, I had spoken straight English. To test out the theory that if I spoke in Arabic none of this would’ve happened, I called back some of these same people speaking in my great Egyptian dialect. Of course as always, I was right! Over the course of my search, I now speak only in Arabic unless English is necessary. Now my hurdle is having someone rent out to a single lady but that’s for post.
Right now, I’m not getting much compliments on my British accent.
I Swear They’re Real — Shopping and minding my own business one day, I caught a young lady looking me up and down. I flashed her a smile and we exchanged “salams”. No little chit chat, she just straight up asked me, “Where did you get your chest and lips done?”
“God, this is all done by God.”
“They’re real? No silicone? No surgery? Padded bra?” she whispers.
“Nope, just good wholesome fat!” I whispered back giggling with the gal. I showed her that all I’ve had “done” was my lip piercing. She’s still fascinated that I haven’t had any work done. She started telling me about how she’s debating getting her chest done before she gets married. I advised her against it and to work with what she’s got rather than agonize over it. Of course, the decision is hers and I had to remind her that no one gets the final say over her body but her.
Twenty minutes after our conversation, we crossed paths where she flashed me a smile and whispered to another lady walking with her. I’m sure she’s caught up on our little conversation. I couldn’t get my wholesome fat ass out of there fast enough.
Yes, I Can Be Both — In my recent dealings with people, I’ve noticed this odd form of racism and need for a nationalistic identity. I have friends that were born and raised in Qatar but they can never call themselves Qataris. They don’t even have a Qatari passport and every year must renew their legal status in the country. I know the government is working on changing these laws (for economical and sports reasons) but my question is, “when exactly?” The idea of keeping it as pure as possible is a bit far fetched to the point of silliness in my opinion. Remember, historically the people of Qatar came from either Saudi Arabia or Iran.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being proud of your nationality, your heritage and it being part of your identity. However, there’s a difference between being proud and being arrogant; enforcing your opinion of one’s identity.
In dealing with Arabs, particularly Egyptian expatriates here in Qatar, they make it seem as if I can only pick one identity, either I’m Egyptian or I’m American. I just look them straight in the face and say, “but I’m both, proudly so.” I’ve even had arguments with random strangers after it was noted that I shouldn’t identify myself as an American.
For the record, I was born in San Francisco, California, USA. My father immigrated from Egypt in the 70’s and my mother followed suit after they got married. To deny myself the right to identify as both an Egyptian American would not be doing myself justice nor my parents for the many dreams they had for their family in America.
Just because most of the world, including Americans believe it or not, don’t agree with some of the American foreign policies, doesn’t mean that we simply drop our identity as Americans. We are a nation that prides itself in being a melting pot. We come from all over the world, united with ideals and dreams. It is those ideals and dreams that has made the heart and soul of what is good in America today.
The last ten days of Ramadan has come upon us! Everyone’s busy planning for the festivities of Eid. I do hope that people do not forget to take with them the things they’ve learned and experienced this Ramadan. I know I won’t… and with that I share with you a personally relevant verse and quote…
“Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?”
From one of my favorite chapters in the Quran, Surah ElRahman (The Merciful Chapter) is a verse that is repeated almost 20 times. This chapter is a constant reminder of God’s (swt) blessings bestowed upon us. It seems to speak to me on a personal level every time despite the fact that these verses came down onto the Prophet (pbuh) over 1,400 years ago!
It’s a constant reminder of the blessings I’ve enjoyed in the past, the blessings I’m enjoying now and the blessings I’ll enjoy in the future. A simple path that we get to shape, from where it begins, to where it goes and how it’ll end but with God (swt) on our side. Throughout this path, God (swt) continues to bless us. On my current path where it’s been difficult being without my family and close friends on such a festive time of year, it’s verses like these that remind me how far I’ve come with God (swt) on my side.
I realize that it takes being away from my family and friends to appreciate the kindness of others. I was blessed to move into a family friendly neighborhood where everyone has your best interest at heart. I was blessed that upon first meeting new people, they were extremely supportive through my toughest moment. I was blessed to have technology working on my side so I can share my blessings with my family and friends no matter the distance between us. I was blessed… I am blessed and shall not deny His favors upon me, Alhamdulillah (Praise God).
Remember when your mother always said, “treat people the way you want to be treated”? I think this quote works along those lines too…
“The Most Merciful (God) shows mercy to those who have mercy on others. Show mercy to those on earth, and the One above the heaven will show mercy to you.” -Prophet Mohamed (pbuh)
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.
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!
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
I ask that God accepts our fasts, our prayers and our zakat! =)