Tag Archives: islamic relief

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.

 

Prayers for the Philippines

Philippines after the storm, National Post

  .الذين اذا اصابتهم مصيبة قالوا انا لله وانا اليه راجعون

Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To God We belong, and to Him is our return”
-Quran, 2:156

As many of you are well aware, over the past weekend, the Philippines was struck with what is being deemed the strongest storms to hit land in human history. Many in central Philippines have been evacuated, displaced or deceased. There is no official count yet as to how many causalities but at least several tens of thousands are in dire need of basic supplies to rise from this natural disaster.

Our loved ones in the Philippines need to be in our thoughts and prayers. Their rise from this disaster will not be easy and every bit of support counts! If you’d like to donate and volunteer towards the support and rebuilding efforts, you can do so no matter where you are in the world!

For those of us in Qatar, the Embassy of the Philippines* is collecting donations to be shipped out via Qatar Airways as overseen by the Emir. Donations need to be brought to the embassy no later than this Friday, November 15th and by next Friday, November 22nd. Currently what is of priority are canned foods, canned baby foods, dried foods (crackers, fruits, nuts, etc), over the counter medicines, first aid kits and toiletries (sanitizers and female products). I’ll be making a Carrefour/Almeera run for some of the listed items early Friday morning (Nov 15th). If you are interested in participating or contributing toward these purchases, kindly contact me via Twitter or Facebook as soon as possible.

In cooperation with the Philippine Red Cross, Qatar Red Crescent has a goal of collecting $2 million dollars to support over 5,000 families in need. This is to go towards health care and providing temporary shelter amongst the basics as listed above.

For those of you in the United States, you can contribute money and time to the Islamic Relief organization. This 4 star non-profit charity organization is very well known for their tireless efforts in providing hands on support within the US and across the globe. You can donate money either through your local city/state chapter or directly on their website.

As previously shared on my Facebook page through a trusted friend living in the Philippines, you can make contributions to the grassroots organization NAFCON. NAFCON, headquartered in San Francisco, has several branches across California and the US dedicated to disaster relief:

Northern California Chapter: nc@nafconusa.org / 626.534.4971
Southern California Chapter: sc@nafconusa.org / 253.381.7444
Northwest Chapter: nw@nafconusa.org; (206) 659–1896 Midwest Chapter: mw@nafconusa.org; (224) 381–6888
East Coast Chapter: ne@nafconusa.org; (650) 808–5043

The Filipino Community Center in the San Francisco Mission District is also collecting donations and supplies to be sent to the Philippines. To donate, volunteer and contribute to the efforts, kindly call +1415.333.6267 or email: info@filipinocc.org.

This post will be updated regularly, kindly share any legitimate resources you may have to support our brothers and sisters in the Philippines.

*I understand the many concerns people have in dealing with the Filipino government. However, this is being overseen by several trustworthy organizations here in Qatar and the embassy here is highly regarded amongst the Filipino community in Qatar.

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! =)

Haiti 411

Updated 2:00pm PST 22 Jan 2010… feel free to utilize this blog & repost it with proper credits…

On Tuesday 12 January 2010, the island nation of Haiti was struck by a 7.0 earthquake and then up to 24 aftershocks ranging from 4.8 to 5.9 on the ricker scale. Being one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemiphere, Haiti’s infraustructure did not withstand the quakes. Over hundreds of thousands of people across the country are presummed dead, missing or trapped until trumendious rumble.

The developments out of Haiti right now continue to be heartbreaking and devastating. Below, I have listed organizations that can use your financial help, volunteerism or to simply spread the word. Many of these organizations are already on the ground in Haiti providing necessary food, water, medicine and shelter to the many in need. Below are direct links to these organizations as well as phone numbers to call:

Islamic Relief
American Red Cross
Hollywood Unites for Haiti Relief Fund
Yele Haiti
UNICEF – 1.800.4UNICEF
Salesforce Foundation
World Vision
Medical Assistance Program International
Progressives for Haiti
Direct Relief
World Food Program
Mercy Corps
Save the Children
Lambi Fund
The International Rescue Committee
Charity: Water
Concern Worldwide
International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies
Stand With Haiti
The Salvation Army – 800-725-2769
UN World Food Programme
UN Emergency Response
Weill Cornell Medical College
Feed the Children
Clinton and Bush Fund

You can also donate via text message through the following organizations & the amount will be added to your phone bill.

–Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti: text “YELE” to 501501 to donate $5
–The American Red Cross: text “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10
–Rescue Union Mission & MedCorp International: text “HAITI” to 85944 to donate $5
–Internal Rescue Committee: text “HAITI” to 25383 to donate $5
–United Way Worldwide’s Disaster Fund: text “HAITI to 864833 to donate $5
–Clinton Foundation: text “HAITI” to 20222 to donate $10
–Salvation Army in Canada: text “HAITI” to 45678 (Canada only)
–UN Fund: text “CERF” to 90999 to donate $5 (Terms of Agreement)

Wyclef Jean

Other important information regarding relief & support for the people of Haiti:

If you or someone you know in the USA are trying to connect with family/friends in Haiti, The US Dept of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services has set up two numbers you can call: 1.800.407.4747 and 202.647.5225. You can also check the missing people board or add to it by going to Koneksyon.com which was set up by “Sebastien Barrau” and “Marvin Chery as well as the ICRC Family Links.

Doctors, nurses and anyone in the medical field, your expertise is needed!! Please visit or call the following organizations for more details… FYI: American Airlines if flying medical help to Haiti for FREE, learn more by calling 212.697.9767.

Partners in Health
Doctors Without Borders
Relief International
International Medical Corps
–National Nurses United
213.309.0266 (Bill Gallagher)

Google has made it easier to donate online as well as see a list of organizations such as the ones listed above. Please go to Google’s Official Blog for more!

All sales done through TDJunkie.com will go towards UNICEF’s efforts in Haiti!

There will be multiple fundraisers for Haiti including the following:

Haiti Earthquake Live Fundraiser ONLINE
7 January 2010 @ 2pm EST
Held by Seekers Guidance & the Islamic Relief USA

Hope for Haiti hosted by George Clooney (LA), Wyclef Jean (NY) and Anderson Cooper (Haiti)
22 January 2010 @ 8pm EST
Broadcast globally commercial free on multiple networks

If you are on Twitter, please check out my twitter list of organizations and individuals with information on Haitian relief and support.

May God grant the people of Haiti comfort, protection, patience and mercy through this difficult & sad tragedy.

To have your organization or information added to this blog, please state so in the comments below…