Ramadan Fact of the Day

I’m working with our team at Pinterest to add more content to the Ramadan 2021 board and will be sharing some more facts like this throughout the month. Do stay tuned to check them out!

May your fasts be easy and your iftar enjoyable, God willing.

Pay Your Zakat Today!

“Establish prayer and give zakat, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves—you will find it with Allah. Surely Allah sees what you do.”

– Quran 2:110

I always look forward to my annual “pay your zakat” post! It’s really awe-inspiring to see how many come to these posts in Ramadan.

Zakat is a major part of Ramadan. Before it ends, after fasting for the last few weeks, purifying oneself while feeling for the struggles of those less privileged, one must give zakat (or Ramadan charity). It’s the practice of purifying one’s materials by donating 2.5% of one’s wealth and assets.

Zakat Calculator

Here are some wonderful organization that I believe are worthy of your zakat and continued donations throughout the year.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) informs and defends community members across the nation. I commend and admire my friend’s working there for their dedication to support local communities, providing legal services, education and training.

Islamic Relief USA is always hands on and on the ground, be it here in the USA or around the world. You can choose to have your zakat go toward meal packages, disaster relief or orphan sponsorship programs.

Pure Hands started when the war in Yemen caused the most devastating humanitarian crisis in the world. Working with multiple organizations across Yemen, this US based non-profit organization has been working non-stop to provide on-going humanitarian aid.

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) provides medical aid to children across the Middle East. They continue to support refugee children in dire need from Palestine, Yemen, and Syria.

Zakat Foundation of America continues to support many initiatives throughout the year. They have multiple programs one can choose to contribute their zakat too, with the Covid response in India, clean water initiatives, and educational sponsorship.

Launch Good has been a crowdfunding staple for Muslims looking to organize and donate to local and global initiatives. This is a great starting point to find and support these amazing initiatives.

Qatar Red Crescent Society has started an initiative for vaccine equity. The WHO Director-General even acknowledged their efforts for this very important global cause. We truly can’t make it to the other side of this pandemic alone.

If there is an organization you’d like included, please do so in the comments below!

May God accept our fasts, our prayers, and our zakat.

Eid Mubarak!!

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.

From our family to yours, Eid Mubarak!!

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.

A Four Month Report

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.

They call me Doha, Ms. Doha.

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. I was able to somehow get back to reading Aleph by Paulo Coelho which was my first non-food purchase in Qatar. Then the other day, a cute little kitty followed me home and adopted me. She now goes by Ms. Doha.

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 another 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 citizenship or 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 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.

So yes, I can be both. I AM Egyptian American.

You’re all caught up and I’m still waiting for my flight back to my kitty, Ms. Doha!