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Ramadan Is Major Time for Charitable Donations in DC

"They help everybody, which is really what Islam is all about"

What to Know

  • Ramadan, Islam's holy month of fasting and prayer, ends Saturday.
  • Organizations in the D.C. area say charitable donations made during Ramadan help Muslims and non-Muslims in our region and beyond.
  • The head of one nonprofit compared Muslims' donations during Ramadan to Christians' donations during Christmas.

When a low-income family in Northern Virginia needs food for dinner, Asad Zia steps up.

The D.C. management consultant says he regularly delivers meat from his in-laws' store to the Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help (FAITH), a Muslim organization in Herndon, Virginia, that helps low-income families and domestic abuse victims of all faiths in Northern Virginia.

"One of things that attracted me to FAITH is, even though they are an Islamic charity, they help everybody, which is really what Islam is all about," he said. 

Ramadan -- Islam’s holy month of prayer and dawn-to-dusk fasting -- is a major time for charity for Muslims, and the donations help Muslims and non-Muslims in our region and around the world. 

FAITH expects to receive at least $500,000 through Saturday night, which marks the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid al-Fitr celebrations, said the group's director of business development, Fakhir Ahmad.

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“A lot more clients will come in and say, ‘You weren’t able to help me out before Ramadan. Do you have any funds that will help me pay my rent?’” he said. “We get a lot busier, in terms of helping clients, the two months after Ramadan really. People who we couldn’t help, we’re helping them.”

Islam requires that Muslims give zakat, a donation of at least 2 percent of their wealth, to the poor, said Imam Talib Shareef of Masjid Muhammad, on 4th Street NW in the Shaw neighborhood of D.C. Muslims can fulfill this responsibility at anytime; however, many choose to do so during Ramadan, Shareef said. 

“Everything you do during Ramadan is, like, supersized in terms of blessings,” the imam said. “No other month on the Islamic calendar gives you more rewards for doing good than the month of Ramadan.”

In D.C., the group the Human Development Foundation also is expecting their Ramadan donation total to be high. They had accepted more than $47,000 in zakat as of Friday. Some of the donations were made through LaunchGood, a crowdfunding platform designed for Muslim charitable efforts.

The funds will help provide education, clean water and health care to high-poverty communities in Pakistan, chapter president Sharmeen Khan said. Just $50 is enough to provide 25 children with school uniforms, she said 

In Bethesda, Maryland, the the Islamic-American Zakat Foundation also is expecting donations in the final days of Ramadan. The foundation provides food, shelter, clothing and transportation for people in D.C., across and the country and abroad.

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Khan, the chapter president of the organization that serves Pakistanis, compared zakat giving for Muslims to Christmastime charity for Christians. 

“During Christmas, you tend to give more, because you’re spending on your own family, but you feel like you want to share it with people who are more needy,” she said. “I think it’s the same kind of thought process. Regardless of faith, during your religious and more holy times of the year, you tend to give more.”

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