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US Muslims Reach Into Their Hearts, and Pockets for Ramadan

  • Sarah Zaman

For millions of Muslims around the world Ramadan is a time to reach deep into their hearts. And for those who can afford it, it’s also a time to reach deep into their pockets and earn more blessings during this holy month.

"I very humbly ask the first kareem or kareema who says 'I will respond to your call; I will give $20,000,'" said the organizer of a recent fundraiser put on by an American Islamic charity.

The event was organized by Islamic Relief USA, a charity that helps people affected by conflicts and natural disasters around the world.

For most of the nearly 800 people in attendance, this is an opportunity to do an act of kindness during the holy month of Ramadan -- a time when Muslims believe their good deeds are greatly rewarded.

“I do try to make a special effort to do more charity during Ramadan, yes," said event attendee Matthew Longacre. "For me the most important thing is finding people who have needs and aren't asking and try to get to them before they even have to ask.”

“So I have small children they need to understand that. They have to be able to stand up and do stuff for the community,” another attendee, Iffat Zia, said.

Anwar Khan, the CEO of Islamic Relief USA, says his organization sees a dramatic rise in donations during Ramadan.

“Fifty percent of all of our donations come in the month of Ramadan. What we do in the six months of the year, we do only in one month,” he said.

“I am hoping that my contribution tonight will get to somebody who truly needs it, who is making dua, making a prayer and saying…I just need somebody to help me right now,” said Matthew Longacre.

“Orphans in Syria, in Palestine those are just heartbreaking news everyday so you know we have to just step up and do and help and share,” Iffat Zia said.

Khan says American Muslims not only donate to help Muslims in other countries but also to fight hunger and help in disaster relief, here in the U.S. The contributions made at home, he says, do not just build houses, they build relationships.

“We had a tornado here in Arkansas, and we were there to assist in the cleanup. An old lady said in Arkansas, ‘I am not going to believe any more what I see on cable news about Muslims. This is not what I expected to see.’ And it was wonderful that [then] President Clinton was able to see the work that we're doing,” he said.

In less than an hour the room full of American Muslims of all colors and backgrounds raised more than $200,000 with many hoping their act of kindness during Ramadan will not only bring them more blessings but will also be a blessing for some of neediest in the world.

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