This perspective post was provided by Imam Habeeb Alli, Community Development Manager, International Development and Relief Foundation, as part of our faith and giving series.
In Canada, we have celebrated Islamic History officially in October since 2008. However, not many people are aware that the more than one million Canadian Muslims are of great diversity and from widespread demographic backgrounds.
The third pillar of Islam is zakat, or giving. It is compulsory to give charity around the end of Ramadan and after Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. This is known as zakat.
Muslims have to donate to charities in hopes of fulfilling the obligation to give an extra 2.5% in savings, Zakat and Zakat ul Fitra. They would have also donated towards the required charity after Hajj called Qurbani where fresh halal meat is served to local food banks and needy families abroad.
These sacred times are based upon a lunar calendar that rotates throughout the year.
Non-obligatory charity is also given which is called sadaqah. Sadaqah can be given at any time and to anyone and it can be anything: money, clothes, knowledge, shelter, etc. Even a smile to brighten someone’s day is also considered sadaqah. The point is to make a difference in someone’s life and provide a positive impact.
Prophet Muhammad said, “Every Muslim must give charity”. His companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what if someone cannot do that?” He said, “Then let him help someone who is in desperate need.” He then said, “Then let him do good, and refrain from doing evil, and that will be an act of charity on his part.” [Sahih ul Bhukari and Muslim]
Each person, every mosque, all families, regardless of age and language, donate 2.5% of their income yearly because, in the words of the Quran, to save one life is to save the entire human race.
For me, I enjoy seeing a smile on a child whose life reminds me of Malala Yousafzai or even any other being and knowing that as a Canadian I can do this, and as a Muslim I’m blessed to. I feel proud that I can trust my charities, knowing they are accountable to Canada Revenue Agency and to God!
Imam Habeeb Alli, Community Development Manager, International Development and Relief Foundation
Habeeb Alli graduated from Queen’s College (Guyana) and holds a Masters in Islamic Theology and Arabic Language (India) as well as a Diploma in Journalism. Habeeb has authored seventeen titles on Islam and poetry, the latest is Five White Roses and A Red. He is a member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Theologians and the Canadian Council of Imams. He is Director at the GTA Faith Alliance and the Abraham Festival in Peterborough. Habeeb is a Federal Chaplain with Correctional Services Canada and Secretary for Canadian Council of Imams.