The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is an organisation devoted to building up a national presence in the United States. ISNA, along with other local centres, provides an avenue to give Zakat, in fulfilment of Allah’s command. It also opens an opportunity to excel by giving sadaqa and volunteering time.
How Charitable are Muslims?
(Courtesy Islamic Horizon)
However encouraging all this may seem, efforts by ISNA to raise $ 1.5 million for Islam can hardly compare with Americans who were giving $ 87 billion to charitable institutions. Individuals ordinary people paid an incredible $ 71.72 billion, 82 percent of the total! That is an average of $ 286 per person in the United States, according to a sensus.
Where did Americans spend their time and money? Brian O Connel writes in his book Philanthropy in action that there are nine spheres for funding and service and they are, perhaps surprisingly, very Islamic; to discover new frontiers of knowledge, to support and encourage excellence, to enable people to exercise their potential, to relieve human misery, to preserve and enhance politics and institutions, to make communities a better place to live, to nourish the spirit, to create tolerance, understanding, and peace among people, and to remember the dead.
The figures relating to volunteer work by Americans for religious and charitable purposes is even more staggering American’s 1.2 million non-profit organizations get about 264 billion hours of volunteer work a year! That is as if they had 6.6 million full-time, 40 hour a week workers promoting their causes for free. Infact, for every 38 people in America one is a full-time volunteer worker.
Now let us see what Muslims can do to compare with these figures. It is estimated that there may be as much as $ 1.5 billion in Zakatable income among Muslims in North America. That is $ 37.5 million due annually. If Muslims give Sadaqa at the average rate of American charity, plus pay Zakat, that is a staggering $ 1.03 billion.
We Muslims not only have lost the spirit to give charity but also lost the enthusiasm to do volunteer service for the cause of Islam and the community. The Qur’an and the Holy Prophet’s (Pbuh) teachings and action require, encourage, and motivate Muslims to give for enhancing humanity’s welfare. For as Muslims, we know that we are not true believers unless we love for our brothers and sisters what we love for ourselves.
The following verses from the Qur’an and the Hadith must certainly make us think; Never will you attain to the highest degree of virtue unless you spend out of that which you love.
O, You who believe, spend out of the good things that you have earned and of that which we produce for you from the earth, and do not select out of it for charity that which is useless.
They feed the poor the orphan and the captive for the love of Allah.
The Prophet (Pbuh) said: “Everyday that rises, two angels descend, one of them saying. O Allah, bestow increase upon the spender, and the other saying ‘O Allah ruin the miser”.
“If a person gives away in charity to the value of even a date out of his lawful earnings and Allah accepts only that which is pure Allah accepts it with His right hand and fosters it for him, as one of you tends foal, till it becomes like a mountain.” “No one’s wealth is diminished, by charity”.
Muslim communities all over the world require seminars, workshops, and other forums for public expression and training. There are adults to educate and children to school, books to be written and communication lines to be filled, poor to be fed and houses. .. When will we take heed?
(Pbuh - Peace be upon him)