BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: This month of Ramadan, another kind of charity is on display at mosques all over the country. It's called zakat, and it's one of the five basic requirements, or pillars, of Islam -- giving to the poor at least two-and-a half percent of whatever is left over each year after you take care of your household's basic needs.

Our guide to zakat is Imam Mohammad Bashar Arafat, a scholar, chaplain, and interfaith leader in Baltimore, Maryland.

Imam MOHAMMAD BASHAR ARAFAT: Zakaat is obligatory on the Muslim, each Muslim, who is earning income.

They have to give from the savings of what they have from last year to this year -- they calculate and they give two and a half percent of what they earn. But that's the minimum.

The whole concept of money is considered in Islam as a gift from Almighty. As he gave it to you, he made a portion of it belong to the poor. So the poor has right in your money.

Always the Qur'an emphasizing on the issue of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping those who are in need, and the more you help, the more God helps you. And the more you give, the more God gives you.

Since the month of Ramadan is the month of blessings, the month of forgiveness, the month of doing all the good deeds, and the good deeds are multiplied during that month, so the people try to give their zakat in the month of Ramadan to get more and more blessings.

Zakaat is always connected in the Qur'an with prayer. As Allah says, "Establish prayer and give zakat. Give in charity." And it's mentioned 82 times in the Qur'an, that connection, to show the relation between prayer, salaat, and giving. You cannot claim that you are a true believer without helping others. The whole religion of Islam is based on helping others.

When you give, you feel a special gift from the Almighty in your heart. You feel that you are taking care of others as God is taking care of you.


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