This year, Ramadan started at sunset yesterday. Most people know that Ramadan is a time for fasting, but fewer people know that it is the month in which Muslims donate more money to charity than at any other time. Why is that?
Islam is based on five pillars – belief in Allah as the one true God; praying five times a day; fasting during Ramadan; pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime; and compulsory charitable donations, known as Zakat. Zakat is similar to the concept of tithing for Christians.
Zakat requires Muslims to pay 2.5% from their qualifying wealth to ‘the poor and needy.’ To be liable for Zakat, one’s wealth must amount to more than a threshold figure, termed the “nisab”. Once this threshold is met, it must be paid immediately and then every year after.
However, many Muslims choose to pay their Zakat during the month of Ramadan because rewards for good deeds during Ramadan are multiplied. Islamic Relief depends on these donations to support its charitable work. We are currently working in over 40 countries, including the UK, to help the poorest and most vulnerable people.
The Muslim Charities Forum (MCF) estimates that each year in Britain during Ramadan, Muslims give an estimated £100million to charities. Islamic Relief UK alone raised £11million last year.
According to the online fundraising platform, JustGiving, during Ramadan 2017, donations to Islamic charities rose by a massive 487% compared to the previous month.
And although Ramadan is the time when most Muslims donate to charity, it is worth pointing out that a recent ICM poll found that Muslims were the most generous donors to charity of all the faith groups in the UK. The poll stated that Muslims give an average of £371 per year, Jewish givers average £270 per person; Protestants £202, Roman Catholics £178 and atheists only £116.
The Qur’an teaches that Zakat is not just a duty on those who have wealth, but also a right that poor people have over them. The Qur’an also promotes the sanctity of life, stating ‘whosoever saves a life, it is as if he had saved the whole of mankind’ (Qur’an 5:32). That is why Islamic Relief’s Ramadan campaign message – displayed on buses, tube stations and billboards across the UK – declares ‘For the love of Allah, save a life now.’
For the love of Allah, save a life now
We wanted to remind British Muslims that Islamic Relief exists to transform and save the lives of ‘poor and needy’ people in the UK and overseas. We help people of all faiths and none. During this climate of Islamophobia, it’s also an opportunity for Islamic Relief to demonstrate the good that Muslims do. Through our Ramadan campaign, we want to remind people of the importance of saving lives and the importance Islam places on protecting all life.
But saving lives isn’t easy
Islamic Relief has transformed and saved the lives of more than 117million people since its formation in 1984. But saving lives isn’t easy. In order to demonstrate that point, we have produced a quirky and humorous video focusing on a young man, Yusuf, who decides that giving money isn’t enough.
Yusuf wants to go overseas to deliver aid himself. But he has no experience, no expertise and no idea of what to do or where to go once he arrives in Niger. Inevitably, things go wrong for Yusuf and he is rescued by a local man, who has been empowered by Islamic Relief and whose village has benefited from charitable donations, including Zakat. Launched earlier this month, it has already been viewed more than 317,000 times on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.