As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan, Muslims globally are participating in acts of worship through congregation, hosting gatherings for iftar, and engaging in actions that strengthen and purify themselves spiritually. However, for a significant number of Muslims, Ramadan may appear differently.
For some Muslims during Ramadan in specific areas around the world, innocent children patiently ask for money or food so they can help their families. Fathers are giving generous portions of their meals to their families while remaining hungry themselves. Helpless mothers are feeling grief and anguish as their children die from starvation. For many, Ramadan looks like communities trying to exist in the harshest conditions of oppression and poverty, silently waiting, hoping that someone will take mercy upon them.
In Islam, even during difficult times, we have been asked to continue giving.
Ramadan, for many, includes trying to build their lives back after the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. It’s the ongoing war crimes and famine in Yemen, and the continuing persecution against the Hazara in Afghanistan. And almost like clockwork every year during this time, Ramadan looks like the horrific and bloody attacks against innocent Palestinians by the Israeli government.
Lest we not forget about those faced with financially hard times as businesses are failing, employees are being laid off, and workers are still underpaid. Sheikh Hasnain Kassamali, founder and religious director of the Academy for Learning Islam, states, “In Islam, even during difficult times, we have been asked to continue giving. Why? Because if you give, you’ll get back.”
To further defend this statement, Sheikh Ahmed Ali al-Kuwaity in his book, The Beauty of Charity, mentions, “Allah, too, has linked spiritual and metaphysical causes to spiritual results. Allah states that the one who is beneficial to his relatives will have an increase in his life span. Also, Allah states that giving charity removes evil.” Sustenance is a blessing God provides, and Islam guarantees it if one were to give zakaat (charity.)
In Bihar al-Anwar, an extensive collection of Shi’i traditions, the Holy Prophet is reported to have said, “Attract sustenance by giving charity.”
Further, Imam Hussain (as) is reported to have said, “Allah gives help to [a] person equal in quantity to the charity a person gives.”
Finally, Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (as) is also reported to have said that, “Everything has a key, and the key to sustenance is charity.”
In the second chapter of the Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow), God states, “it is not required of thee (O Apostle), to set them on the right path, but God sets on the right path whom He pleaseth. Whatever of good ye give, shall be rendered back to you, and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly (2:272).”
In Majma ‘al-Bayan, a tafsir (explanation) of the Qur’an compiled by a 12th-century Imami scholar Shaykh Tabarsi, he narrates that ibn Abbas stated this verse was revealed after the Muslims were refusing to donate to the non-Muslims. In this verse, the “Face of God” is not meant to be interpreted literally; rather, it emphasizes that whoever is to give charity should do it sincerely for the sake of God because He returns, in full, what you have donated with no injustices.
Now that we know the benefits and merits of giving to charity, here are some Muslim-owned charitable organizations to you can donate to:
The Kalaam Project
The Kalaam Project is a charity made up of young volunteers enacting change in Afghanistan by providing food packages, heaters, and financial assistance to struggling Afghan families mainly composed of widows, disabled parents/youths, and orphans to alleviate the ongoing disastrous humanitarian crisis, one family at a time. Because they’re speaking and providing aid to families in real-time, they’ve come face-to-face with families who are on the brink of death due to starvation and cold temperatures.
In one instance in February, the “Feed A Starving Family” campaign was launched where they interviewed a family. Just three days later, their three-month-old child froze to death. The organization points out that if more people were doing the work, chances are that the three-month-old child would still be alive.
Another reported instance was in February when the organization spoke to a family contemplating selling their son for $3000 because their other kids were starving. The son wanted to be sold as he didn’t want to see his siblings starve to death. However, with generous donations from supporters, the organization prevented this from occurring by providing the family with enough food that lasted them two months, along with financial assistance that would later be used to purchase wood for heating.
Currently, the organization has launched its Ramadan fundraiser. They’re accepting donations to provide food packages to families of victims of attacks, widows, orphans, and disabled parents/children. They’re also hosting iftars in Kabul for the public and handing out meals. To offer transparency, the organization uploads videos of the volunteers speaking with families, footage of the families receiving the aid, and providing receipts for every donation.
Nafees Fatima Organization
The Nafees Fatima Organization (NFO) is a social welfare, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit focused on world hunger, equality for education, and providing relief for natural disasters. They believe no family should have to go hungry, and no child should be out of school regardless of the situation. NFO runs campaigns throughout the year in America and Pakistan to provide direct support to families living in poverty.
The organization established in 2022, and within that year they created 110 food boxes and 150 packs of meat. They provided education sponsorships for primary-school-aged children and orphans. Later, during the 2022 American baby formula crisis, they worked across states to help supply free baby formulas. However, the most monumental moment for this organization was providing relief during Pakistan’s flood disaster of 2022. Despite the dangerous road conditions, the team went out on the highways and submerged in water to deliver food relief packages to families living in Sindh, Pakistan.
This is what NFO strives to do – provide relief beyond borders, and change lives hand-in-hand.
What was meant to be a four-hour car drive turned out to be a three-day-long journey. NFO received news from the village of Taluka Kot Diji in Sindh, Pakistan of families left without food, water and their children dying. The NFO team was the first to safely make it to the village to provide food, clean water, medical supplies, and clothing for affected families. This is what NFO strives to do – provide relief beyond borders, and change lives hand-in-hand.
Currently, NFO is accepting donations for the annual Ramadan Food Drive. They’re creating boxes of nutritious food for poor families to not go hungry this Holy Ramadan. Each box is a month’s supply of food that can feed a family of six. The food boxes include rice, flour, ghee (butter used in South Asian cooking), gram flour, an assortment of vermicelli, sugar, salt, and dates.
To provide transparency, donors receive constant updates regarding campaigns that they’ve supported. The donors receive pictures, videos, and live updates until the campaign is completed. NFO sends out receipts for all contributions made to them.
The Zahra Trust
The Zahra Trust was first established in 2008, and is headquartered in England and Wales. It’s regulated by the Charity Commission, a non-ministerial department that registers charities in England and Wales “to ensure that the public can support charities with confidence.” Zahra Trust provides global humanitarian aid to provide for the safest and healthiest lifestyles of those living in trying conditions, and the organization works “to provide spiritual support, food aid, educational support, water and sanitation services, support to orphans, widows, and vulnerable people.”
Currently, the organization is working to provide aid to those in Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Syrian Refugees, East Africa, and any others who require immediate assistance in states of emergency. In addition to this Zahra Trust annually provides aid relief during the holy month of Ramadan and the occasion of Eid ul-Adha. Other areas of aid relief that the organization is currently accepting donations for are education and training, coronavirus aid, and water aid. To provide transparency, Zahra Trust immediately emails a “PDF version of your tax receipt” and will post updates to their blog on the status of aid relief to affected victims.
Imamia Medics International
Imamia Medics International (IMI) was first discovered around 1994, when a group of Muslim immigrants and foreign medical graduates experienced firsthand the struggles of establishing a successful medical career within the United States. Realizing similar difficulties that other foreign medical professionals would experience, a group of 35 medical and legal professionals came together to register IMI as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Some monumental moments of IMI include the accreditation of the organization by the United Nations Department of Public Information in 2000. Over the past several years, more milestones have been achieved which include:
- National chapters operating in Iraq, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Tanzania, and Turkey
- Local chapters across the United States and Pakistan
- International delegations working to provide humanitarian aid relief to Haiti, Greece, Iraq, and Tanzania
- Global collaborations with renowned medical universities including the University of Edinburgh, Montefiore Medical Center, and Albert Einstein University Hospital
Currently, IMI provides health services, humanitarian relief and recovery, professional development and educational services, and advocacy. Further, IMI is taking donations for their 2023 Ramadan Appeal. Finally, in 2018, IMI was awarded Guidestar’s Platinum Seal of Transparency which symbolizes the organization’s dedicated efforts in providing transparency regarding their goals and donations to the public.
There are countless benefits of giving to charity. Make this Ramadan about giving to the less fortunate!