Muslims living in America and other Western nations are generally better off financially than their counterparts around the globe. So when tragedy strikes any part of this ummah, as with the tsunami in Indonesia and the flooding in Pakistan, alhamdulilah we really step up to the plate to raise awareness and funds. Even when a calamity befalls non-Muslim lands, such as the earthquake in Haiti, we still recognize our duty to open our hearts and wallets. What we sometimes neglect, however, are the needs of our own local and greater communities.
It's not uncommon, for instance, for Americans to send their zakat – all of it – overseas. I've done this myself, on occasion, and didn't think twice about it. At the time, I reasoned that the everyday state of Muslims overseas is far worse than that of Muslims in America, and certainly rougher that the condition of non-Muslims here. Whatever the merits of this argument may be (today, I hardly find it convincing), the plight of our neighbors shouldn't be trivialized – and neither should the benefits of aiding them.
Concern for those closest to you, both physically and biologically, is actually prescribed in our deen. One notable hadith in this regard states that the Prophet Muhammed (SAWS) said:
“To give something to a poor man brings one reward, while giving the same to a needy relation brings two: one for charity and the other for respecting the family ties.” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)
During his joint session with Sh. Yaser Birjas at ISNA this year, Sh. Yasir Qadhi spoke on this theme noting that the major books of fiqh agree that zakat should be given locally, if possible. Expanding on this point some more, Sh. Yasir highlighted the need for Muslims to engage in sadaqah and acts that benefit ones locality at large, not just the Muslims within it. Indeed, it's these actions that will allow others to appreciate our presence and build those oh-so-elusive bridges we always talk about.
As Muslims lay firmer roots in this country, this message of looking to one's community first is beginning to hit home. It's part of the reason that, alhamdulilah, we were able to raise over $20,000 in such a short period of time to help our dear shaykh, Dr. Ibrahim Dremali – after all, what would a community be without guidance from our Shuyūkh? It's also one of the principles behind the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (īmān), and “Khairat”, a grassroots endeavor run by the Islamic Center at NYU that “seeks to foster dialogue and understanding through community service.”
Throughout Ramadan, millions of Muslims worldwide draw closer to Allāh by fasting and giving in charity…During each night of Ramadan, we will give out a grant to a different non-profit organization that fulfills a unique charitable category. 30 nights, 30 grants, 30 ways to make a difference.
To promote this project, which focuses on the greater D.C. area, the team at M100 is hosting a webinar this Sunday complete with a litany of A-list speakers, including MM's own Sh. Yasir. So go register on their site and check out this great opportunity for sadaqah!
What: M100′s 30/30 Webinar
When: Sunday, August 22nd at 6:00 pm EST
Where: Online – Register here.