Tag Archives: muslims

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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A Dark Day in Christchurch, New Zealand

c/o of MuslimGirl

Who, when calamity befalls them, say, “Verily, to God we belong and, to Him we shall return.”

Quran 2:156

Today, March 15th, 2019 has been deemed a dark day in New Zealand. A group of white supremacists went into two Christchurch masjids (mosques) during Friday prayers and opened fire. More than 50 people have been pronounced dead and over 20 people so far have been reported critically injured. A few of the terrorists are currently in custody, including one that posted a 93 page document online on his ideology and reasons for today’s attack.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, gave a strong condemnation in her statement earlier, announcing that this was a terrorist attack on the nation. I am grateful for her words and leadership, one that this world needs.

I am truly dumbfounded by today’s attack but for whatever reason, I’m not as surprised as I should be. We have not forgotten the attacks on houses of worship that have taken place here at home and globally in just the past few years. We have not forgotten the people who were hurt or perished in a moment of prayer and meditation in the safety of their sanctuary.

If you are going to Friday prayers today, be cautious of your surroundings. I urge masjids with separate entrances for ladies (which is usually a side or back door) please ensure it’s safe and guarded. If you’re a non Muslim wanting to grace your local masjid with your support, call ahead or go early. Your solidarity is very much needed and appreciated.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl, shared an excellent five step call to action in her recent Twitter thread which I’ve taken the liberty to share here. In the thread, she shares the LaunchGood crowdfunding campaign being spearheaded to help the victims of the attack.

Please keep the people of New Zealand in your thoughts and prayers. May God grant them strength and patience to get through this difficult, sad time… ameen.

This page is where I’ll add any further updates, other ways to give and show support, and other calls of action as deemed fit.

Happy Holidays!

Our family has an ongoing tradition: we decorate the house and find any excuse to exchange gifts. This year was no different. My five year old nephew Salem anxiously awaited to rip to shreds the gift wrappings and freaked out in excitement over every single toy and book he received. I mean, just geek out at the sight of one of his favorite Avengers.

And being the birthday month for both my stepdad and I, we get extra lucky when it comes to presents. This year being my second holiday and birthday home, I totally lucked out by getting a few things off my wish list and a few gag gifts like my fresh set of Golden Girls shot glasses to add to my collection (thanks Mama!). Yep, love the girls and have seen every episode at least 10 times!

However, we all agreed that my sister Heba won with the gift giving this winter season. She made both my mom and brother cry with her freaking awesome sentimental gifts. For the record, I never win in this family but I’ll keep trying. hehehe

On Christmas Day, most of us have the weekend or at least the day off. So, as per tradition, our extended family gets together over delicious seafood thanks to my hostess with the mostess cousin, spoil the kids rotten and laugh to tears, literally.

This year, I learned that as an older auntie, I have to get my nephew a car when he turns 18. Thanks for setting that in motion to the universe my dearest cousins! hehehe

Our Muslim (and interfaith) family may not religiously celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah but what our family does celebrate year round is life, love and togetherness. So if we get a day off or a long weekend, we’ll be together. It’s as simple as that!

To all my wonderful peeps reading, may you and yours have a joyous and blessed holiday season! Here’s to the same in 2019, God Willing.

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.

Their Names are Deah, Yusor and Razan

Three Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina were heard being killed in their home. They were killed execution style, bullets to the head, by their angry neighbor. I learned of their death from different individuals on Twitter. My heart sank as I have family in North Carolina. I didn’t know them personally but my heart sank deeper, their names are Deah, Yusor and Razan.

They were sisters. They were daughers and sons. They were newly weds. They were aspiring dentists and architects. They were kind and generous. They were the activists many of us aspire to be. They had just taken part in contributing to homeless community with food and dental supplies. They had just traveled were to travel to Turkey to provide Syrian refugees with medical assistance.

As I read of their short lived lives and brutal death through my Twitter feed, none of the tweets came from American mainstream news media. They came from individuals. Sometimes we Americans forget that our mainstream news media is no longer the stations with varying letters of the alphabet. You and I are the mainstream and we need to continue to raise our voices. We need to support our local organizations and communities that strive to defend our rights to do so.

You can not convince me that their death was not an act of hate crime by a terrorist, for lack of a better word. You can not convince me that they were killed over a parking dispute. You can not convince me that they were “at the wrong time and place” when they were in their home. You can not convince me that there is ever an excuse to take another person’s life. There is not.

Lest we forget in our anger to mourn, honor and cherish the devotion these young people had for helping others. Let us keep their legacy alive. Let us not forget that their names are Deah, Yusor and Razan.

Photograph of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Barakat, and Razan Mohammad via @JFXM of Twitter.

May the souls of Deah, Yusor and Razan rest in God’s eternal peace and light… Ameen.

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:

“Whether 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).”

 -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…

Ramadan Verse & Quote (Day 9)

Ramadan Mubarak everyone! It’s already Day 9 for me here in Doha, Qatar. So far, it’s been an interesting experience despite my slight homesickness. I must say, Alhamdulillah (Praises to God) for technology, it’s really makes these many time zones between us all the shorter!

Without further a due, here’s your first (Insha’Allah of many) Ramadan Verse & Quote for 2012/1433!

Verse:

Being that this holy month is in large part a celebration and reflection of the Quran, I thought it was approapriate to start with this verse from Surah AlAalaq. The first verse ever to be revealed to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) being:

“Read! In the name of your Lord Who created.”
 -Quran (96:1)

Personally, this is one of my favorite verses in the Quran. It reminds us of our obligation to be educated, intellectual and a functioning part of society. It also defy’s these stereotypes in our day and age when it comes to Muslimahs and their role in society.

I’d like to remind my readers that the Quran was not revealed for men, but for the people as a whole. This means both men and women have an obligation to be educated, intellectual and a functioning part of society. Remember, half of society can not function without the other. Thus half of society is not superior of the other. The Prophet (pbuh) assuring that by asking us to seek half our faith’s knowledge from Muslimahs (at the time, referring to his daughter Fatima and his wife A’isha).

When this verse and the following were first revealed to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) by the angel Gabriel, he sought refuge in his wife’s arms out of fear. As he grew in his leadership role, he not only championed to educate himself, but the entire community around him. He not only ordered for the Quran to be written in multiple copies and spread, but for it to be memorized so that this knowledge is not lost or distorted. Over 1,433 years later, his championing causes is still going strong.

Quote:

“O Lord, increase my knowledge!” -Prophet Mohamed (pbuh)

Learn more about this verse and Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) from this week’s Friday Nasiha.