Why Muslims Should Give Charity During the Holiday Season

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Muslims can owe zakat at any time of the year, depending on their zakat due dates. Charity in Islam isn’t limited to certain months, though there is a strong preference among Muslims to give during Ramadan to multiply blessings. Still, there is incentive to give to a Muslim charity before the end of the Gregorian year.

American holidays are already a time of giving. Although this giving doesn’t align directly with charity in Islam and Muslims don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas, the holidays fall during what tends to be colder months. Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are key times for winter relief, which our Muslim brothers and sisters need in different regions across the globe.

Places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, Jordan and Syria, India and Nepal, Argentina and Bolivia, and many more experience harsh winters as well. Zakat Foundation of America operates year-round, providing short-term and long-term aid regardless of the season, but especially when frigid temperatures become fatal.

Muslims can owe the zakat charity in Islam during any Gregorian month

The way the Hijri (Islamic calendar) and Gregorian calendars line up means a Muslim can owe his or her zakat during January this year and then again in December. This is because of zakat due dates. 

Zakat comes due after one has met the wealth criteria called nisab. Nisab includes but is not at all limited to having owned wealth for an entire lunar year. Because the Hijri year is about 11 days shorter than the Gregorian year, a Muslim might owe his or her zakat on Jan. 5, 2023, and then again around Christmas, or Dec. 25, 2023.

This is just one specific example of why Muslims should give charity during the holiday season, but the situation need not be that specific for Muslims to donate. Just like its secular and different-religion counterparts, a Muslim charity needs to be able to cover its operating expenses throughout the year.

In 2022, 91¢ from each dollar donated to Zakat Foundation of America went directly toward programs serving those in need. 4¢ went to administrative costs, and 5¢ went to fundraising costs. Additionally, the organization does not take any overhead costs from its emergency relief fund, nor its orphan sponsorship fund. 

That means those Muslims who do give — during the holidays and otherwise — are helping cover operational expenses, but the vast majority of their donations go toward programmatic work that helps beneficiaries in both the short-term and the long-term.

As a nonprofit, donations to a Muslim charity can be written off

Giving to a Muslim charity at the end of the year — at least in the United States — also has the advantage of being tax-deductible. Zakat Foundation of America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity organization, so any donations made to it can be entered when filing taxes.

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