I spoke about fasting and Iftar earlier this week. Ritual fasting during Ramadan is one of three types of fasting (Sawm) practised by Muslims. Sawm is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. The other four pillars are:
- Shahada – accepting Muhammad as God’s messenger
- Salat – the five daily prayers
- Zakāt – alms giving
- Hajj – a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca
Zakāt is the Islamic equivalent of the Catholic tithe, and is to be 2.5% of your savings, wealth or earnings (I have heard different versions of this so I am not 100% sure which it is) which are paid over to the elders and then distributed to those in need. People who fall below a certain level of earning do not have to give money as their Zakāt but are expected to do good deeds instead. The Zakāt is generally paid for on an annual basis (so calculated from Ramadan to Ramadan) and then distributed within the community from which it was collected to those who need it most. If you have identified someone in your community that you feel needs this kind of assistance you are allowed to nominate them as the beneficiary of your share instead. In some countries this is collected directly from your salary, like a form of tax, to make the whole thing a lot easier.
However, as Ramadan is a time for reflection and good deeds, Muslims do tend to give more than what is required by their Zakāt at this time. As was explained to us during our recent Iftar dinner, anything donated during Ramadan attracts unlimited divine blessings, and so it’s normal to read about, and see, people giving a great deal to those less fortunate than themselves. Wealthy families, and companies, sponsor Iftar tents providing meals for labourers, and several prisoners have their sentences pardoned as their debts are cleared by anonymous wealthy donors. In fact the charitable spirit is so widespread that even non-Muslims are getting involved with various efforts like “Adopt a Camp”
or the “Box Appeal” being run by Radisson Blu this month (til the 15th September).
I will be filling a few boxes this week for the Box Appeal, those guys really deserve a helping hand after working outdoors all year round to finish roads and buildings for the rest of us to enjoy. I will also continue to feed and help the stray cats in and around our area. Does that also count?