Several Facts That Will Inspire You
Philanthropy is a long-standing and deeply-rooted tradition in Islam. Muslims can be a very philanthropic people, particularly due in large part to the fact that giving charity is both obligatory and voluntary in Islam. Charity and philanthropic endeavors are major themes in Quran and Sunnah. This is probably why Muslim communities gave an estimated total between $250 billion and $1 trillion dollars, according to the U.S. Agency of International Development (2005).
Here are a few facts about philanthropy and charity in the Muslim community:
Charity is one of the ﬁve pillars of faith in Islam and is obligatory. As such, it channels enormous wealth.
Most Muslims prefer direct charity to a needy individual than channeling their charitable donations through an organization. If they do the latter, religious charitable institutions are preferred and more trusted.
Muslim foundations fall under the Islamic charity category of “waqf”—an institution established for good of the public. These institutions are major providers of hospitals, schools, and other services.
The practice of philanthropy and accompanying institutional arrangements vary signiﬁcantly across the cultural zones of the Muslim world.
The modern state has encroached to differing degrees on the autonomy once enjoyed by philanthropic organizations in Muslim societies. Some states nationalized philanthropic foundations, others established ministries to regulate them, while others exerted control by determining who can organize them and for what purposes.
Obstacles to expanded cooperation between the United States and Muslim charities exist on both sides. Nonetheless, U.S. actors should expand their circle of partners to include mainstream clerics and religious organizations engaged in philanthropy.
The U.S. Government should support the restoration of greater autonomy for Muslim charities, along with reforms that liberalize rules that govern them. In exchange, foundations should improve the transparency of their operations.