This is the season of giving. Giving gifts to our friends and family, to the people who serve us, and to the most in need. But I’ve begun to notice a nice trend over the last few years, celebrating every occasion by giving forward.
We attended Kira’s 2nd birthday party last weekend, and instead of gifts, the parents (and Kira) asked for donations to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which was perfect for their adorable farm themed birthday party. Thanks to the Amin Family, their friends became more aware of animal cruelty issues and also were able to do something to support it.
Our family began that tradition of donating birthday gifts for my eldest son’s first birthday. Over the last 3 years, we were able to bring awareness to a few charities close to our hearts: Together We Rise (supporting foster children in the U.S.) and Bachao (aiding the needy in Bangladesh). The return on this gifting has been significantly more than any toy that he has received. I won’t lie, my children love toys, they might even be borderline spoiled, which makes keeping this tradition alive as they get older even more important.
Charity in Islam is second only to faith and prayer. Is it the third pillar of Islam. Several different categories of charity are defined in Islam, the two most important being zakat (obligatory charity) and sadaqa (voluntary charity). Zakat is a specific, standardized percentage of one’s extra wealth (over and above the necessities of life) that must be given to the poor and those in need. Sadaqa can be given to anyone in many forms including a smile, mentorship, or helping to build a home or masjid.
Zakat literally means “purification,” because zakat is considered to purify one’s heart of greed. Our society is obsessed with wealth, and it takes firm belief in God to part with it. Something I respect deeply about the Quran is that it specifically calls out using Zakat to support the poor and to free slaves and debtors (Quran 9:60). Freeing slaves in Islam was/is an act of worship. Mind blown.
Together We Rise is particularly close to my heart because of Islam’s emphasis on taking care of orphans. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran (2:83), “…..and (you shall do) good to (your) parents, and to the near of kin and to the orphans….” It has been explained by exegetes that orphans are mentioned right after the parents and the kin because when going outside the circle of relatives; the orphans are the most deserving of kindness. Next, the Quran (76:8) describes the righteous people as those who give food to the orphans – “And they give food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive.”
Now, back to giving forward through special events. Facebook has recently jumped on this trend. Facebook now prompts you to donate your birthday. Initially, they charged a fee (on top of credit card processing fee), but as of November 29th’s announcement, they are no longer charging a fee for charitable donations. So you have the green light to collect donations through Facebook.
I’m the type of woman that reads books like “You Are A Bad Ass“, the author, Jen Sincero, wrote, “When we trust that we live in an abundant universe and allow ourselves to give freely, we raise our frequency, strengthen our faith, and feel awesome thereby putting ourselves inflow and the position to receive abundant amounts in return. When we’re in fear, we hold on to what we’ve got because we don’t trust that there’s more. We pinch off the energy, we’re scared to share, and we focus on and create more of, the very thing we’re hoping to avoid…”
May you all live in abundance.
Peace & Salam,