Tag Archives: Islamic Relief USA

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.

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How to Help Those Affected by the California Wildfires

The wildfires in my home state of California has been devastating. The Camp Fire in Butte County has claimed over 40 lives, burned over 110,000 acres and only 30% contained as of writing. This fire has been so far the worst in California history. A second fire in Southern California’s Ventura County deemed the Woolsey Fire is fast spreading. CAL FIRE reports as of this writing that the fire has spread across over 91,500 acres and only 20% contained. There have been five injuries, three of which are firefighters and I’m praying there will not be reporting of causalities.

Being almost 200 miles away from Butte County, the billowing smoke has affected the air quality here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve used my rescue inhaler over twice a day since the fires began. I’ve stayed indoors as much as possible over the weekend, dunned a face mask when one was available to me but I keep thinking, how are the people in the heart of this disaster even coping?

The first responders have put their own lives on the line helping people evacuate and attempting to put out this fire. Many of them are from Butte County and have family forced to evacuate and lost their own homes in the fire.

So how can we help our fellow Californians in their times of need? Below are a few organizations I’m aware of that are on the grounds. Your donations in the form of finances and time would be greatly appreciated.

Source: AP/Noah Berger via Islamic Relief USA

Islamic Relief USA has a Disaster Response Team that is helping those affected by the fires in both northern and southern California. The California Community Foundation has a Wildfire Relief Fund currently supporting recovery and preparedness. Benevity is supporting the American Red Cross’ efforts on the ground.

According to the Sacramento Bee, shelters have been receiving “generous but useless donations”. Meaning, kindly check what is needed before donating your entire stash of hygiene products. If you can’t donate things like underwear or backpacks, the best thing to do is to donate a gift card from say Target. Your time is also highly appreciated but please inquire ahead, your safety and that of others come first.

I’ll update this post with any additional information I come across on how we can continue to help those affected throughout California. If you have additional information to share, kindly email me or post them in the comments below.

For help, support or information for Butte County, please go buttecounty.net or call 211.

UPDATE – 14 November: ABC7 News Bay Area is teaming up with Vitalant for a blood drive. The North Valley Community Foundation is collection corporate gifts and in-kind donations. To volunteer, head to Caring Choices for more information.

Captured November 21st at 7am on Judah Street

UPDATE – 16 November: GoFundMe has created a central page with verified campaigns to help the victims. The same has been done by Charity Navigator, listing all verified organizations on the grounds in both Northern and Southern California. The California Fire Foundation is providing both financial and emotional support to the firefighters and the fallen officers and their families. Let’s be sure to showcase our support and appreciation to the amazing firefighters and first responders.

For details on the current air quality in the Bay Area, go to airnow.gov and enter the zip code of your area. As of this writing, it’s lingering at 233 here in San Francisco which is “very unhealthy”. According to KTVU, we are experiencing the worst air quality in the world. I took this picture this morning of the smoke looming above the Sunset district. Due to the air quality, most schools and universities are not open today or the rest of the week.

UPDATE – November 21: I’m sure there are many small businesses supporting the victims of the California wildfires. One of them is San Francisco’s QSpa, located on both Steiner and Divisidaro, off the Haight. Right now, QSpa is donating 100% of the proceeds from the sales of their $25 in-house cuticle oil to those affected in Butte County. For $15, you can bring back your empty bottle for a refill.

Final Update – December 1: The Camp Fire may be fully out but there is still much to do to help our friends get their lives back to some form of normalcy and rebuild the many towns affected. I want to be able to continue to showcase my support in any way possible. Therefore, all season long, I’ll be donating some of the proceeds from Ms. Hala’s Boutique to the Islamic Relief USA  and the  California Fire Foundation, two of many amazing organizations helping our friends across the state. Please continue to share this post and add on it to with any additional information in the comments below.

 

How to Help the People of Nepal

فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا. إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا
“And, behold, with every hardship comes ease. Verily with every hardship comes ease”
-Quran, 94:5-6

Nepal Earthquake Emergency

As many of you are aware, the nation of Nepal was hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake early Saturday, April 25th. Several aftershocks, measured at up to 5.5 magnitudes, have since followed in the last 48 hours causing deadly avalanches from Mount Everest, one of the largest mountains in the world.

Islamic Relief Worldwide and Qatar Red Crescent are raising funds for the necessary medical assistance, search and rescue support as well as the rebuilding process. If there’s a similar organization out there providing assistance to Nepal, please share the information in the comments below so that the post is updated with resources.

This is the least we can do to help the people of Nepal from afar. As well as to keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

May God grant the people of Nepal much patience and strength to get through this adversary… Ameen.

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! =)