“I’ve always believed there’s a very tight link between artistic expression and inspiring social movements,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said. “You stand right at the nexus of those two things.”
He was talking to Brother Ali, who hosts The Travelers Podcast. As a respected hip hop artist, activist, and Muslim community leader, Brother Ali explores life’s journey with cultural icons, spiritual masters, and thought leaders from across the globe like Ellison. Brother Ali sees his guests as co-travelers in the adventure that is life, and he brings listeners up close and personal with those special people who help light the way.
Music, especially hip hop, can be provocative in inspiring individuals and communities alike to uplift brothers and sisters in need. Brother Ali, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, extends that inspiration into podcast conversations about social justice, race, religion and more as he navigates his own life through discussions with others.
Zakat Foundation of America is honored to sponsor Brother Ali’s podcast. Brother Ali and Zakat Foundation of America have worked together for years, fighting for the underrepresented in different communities. Together, they commemorated in 2016 the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march at Marquette Park in Chicago, joining a coalition of religious, political, and community organizations at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network’s Takin’ It To The Streets urban music festival.
Brother Ali was among several Muslim celebrities from around the world who performed at Zakat Foundation of America’s once-only Eid-In-Place celebration in 2020. His two-decade resume includes eight critically acclaimed albums, mentorships with iconic Hip Hop legends Chuck D and Rakim, and performances on late night talk shows with Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien.
“So honored and grateful and honestly really humbled to be partnering with Zakat Foundation, specifically their program to serve orphans around the world,” Brother Ali said in his podcast. “Zakat is a pillar of the Islamic faith, and in the life of Muslims, this is the part of our religion that deals with charity. And it’s a universal reality that every spiritual tradition, all of the wisdom traditions, they’re all going to say to us that if we want to grow, then we have to give.
“In the Islamic tradition, zakat specifically means that we try our best to earn our living in ways that are honorable and respectable and virtuous, but the nature of money, the nature of business, the nature of the human condition and the world that we live in means money gets mixed up. It’s almost inevitable that we’re going to end up taking money that probably came from sources we don’t like and agree with and feel good about. We purify our income by giving back, and we purify our souls by giving back.
Brother Ali shared his enthusiasm for Zakat Foundation of America’s orphan sponsorship program, which uses 100% of each donation to support vulnerable children. It does so while maintaining the sponsorship cost of $50 per month (or $600 for the entire year) for each orphan. The children get comprehensive health care (mental and physical), education, three meals a day, and Eid gifts that warm their hearts. The organization has set a goal of sponsoring 10,000 orphans around the world this year.
“None of it pays anyone’s salary, none of it covers overhead costs, none of it covers admin,” he said. “If you donate to that project, 100% goes directly to the people they serve. Another thing that’s important to know is they have people on the ground to make sure it’s facilitated well, and with dignity, and with quality control.
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In 2021, 94¢ from each dollar donated went directly toward programs serving those in need. 3¢ went to administrative costs & 3¢ went to fundraising costs.