Zakat is considered one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, second only to prayer for those financially able to participate. The payment of Zakat is not considered a charitable donation, it is considered a tax or a tithe. When considering the amount to pay for Zakat the usual is 2.5% of total wealth and income above that which is needed to live a basic life. The Zakat payment is used by the clergy to help the poor, given to new converts to the faith and then to the clergy.
For some Muslim people, paying Zakat when they live in countries where Islam is not the majority religion can be quite difficult. The following three organizations offer Muslims an opportunity to pay Zakat and assist in meeting their obligation.
Islamic Aid is run by Mahmood Hassan and is active in Africa, Asia and Europe. Their mission is to provide education, healthcare and food to those most affected by war or that are in need of assistance.
The site allows users to calculate their Zakat and ensures the payment goes to a good cause.
Islamic Relief USA
Islamic Relief USA is one of the largest sites dedicated to directing Zakat payments to those in need. The site offers other ways to pay Zakat, in the form of automobile donation, peaceful marches, stock donations and crowdfunding.
Islamic Relief USA has won many awards for its dedication. The Better Business Bureau recognized the organization and made it a part of its BBB West Giving Alliance. They have been recognized with “Top Star Ratings” by Charity Navigator and have been rated as a Top Non-Profit by GreatNonprofits.
Islamic Relief USA is also a part of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), where US Government Employees can decide to give a portion of their pay each month to the service.
Zakat Foundation of America
Founded in 2001, Zakat Foundation of America is dedicated to providing immediate relief following disasters and to provide for the needs of poorer neighborhoods.
The Zakat Foundation of America currently has three large-scale projects going. The first is to provide clean drinking water to countries and areas in need. Secondly, their “Educate and Empower” program is attempting to aid refugee children. Finally, the “Rebuild Gaza” asks for money and volunteers to rebuild homes in the Gaza strip.