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10/02/2008

To Know Ramadan Part #2: “Almsgiving”

081002_low I would like to talk about "almsgiving" which is one of The Five Pillars of the Muslim. Almsgiving sounds like a difficult concept but it just means 'contribution'.

There are two kinds of almsgiving. One is "zakat" and another one is "sadaqa". Nowadays, zakat is recognized as systematic (obligatory) almsgiving and sadaqa is recognized as voluntary almsgiving. 

"Zakat" is comparable to a tax imposed on Muslims, which is used for assistance to the poor. People pay it to the government like tax. Every year the government decides the rate of this tax. This year, they decided 1.5 JD (approximately 212 JPY) per person.

On the other hand, "sadaqa" is a voluntary donation. Neighbors ask each other for donations and hand it to aid poor families. This is a mutual aid system among neighbors, which is different from governmental welfare.
 
Such a mutual aid system is prevalent across the Islamic world. One of them is called "table of Allah" where Muslim give Iftar to the poor. We can see tables and chairs beside mosques, restaurants and hotels. People are taking a seat there in the evening. Anyone can take a seat and it is free. It is chance for the poor to have delicious meal because the restaurants must give them the same quality as the meals served inside.

October 2, 2008 in Iraq |