New Delhi: According to a new survey by the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, Muslims in America gave an estimated $1.8 billion in zakat last year.
As per the report, in 2021, the average American Muslim donated $2,070 in zakat funds to charity.
The research also revealed that American Muslims saw zakat as philanthropy or charity rather than a tax.
Islam Channel TV reported that they contribute zakat to worldwide and domestic nonprofit organizations and people and relatives living abroad informally.
“The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is an important time in the Muslim charitable calendar,” said Shariq Siddiqui, assistant professor of philanthropic studies and director of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
“It is likely that much of this $1.8 billion is donated or pledged during Ramadan. Nonprofit organizations and charities must find meaningful ways to engage with Muslim-American donors around Ramadan.”
Where the zakat goes
The largest beneficiaries of Muslim American Zakat were international nonprofit organizations, which received 25.3% of all zakat funds, followed by governments (21.7% of zakat funds) and domestic nonprofits (18.3% of zakat funds).
The study’s findings show that a substantial amount of zakat (14.7%) is still given informally, whether in person, to relatives or others, and through other remittances (12.7%).
The report also suggests that Muslims consider philanthropy to consist of a wide range of acts in addition to cash or in-kind donation, such as smiling, helping relatives, and encouraging the right actions.
“Zakat funds help provide life-saving and life-enhancing aid to populations in need worldwide,” said Sharif Aly, CEO of Islamic Relief USA, which sponsored the report.
“Those figures underscore the strong sense of generosity and altruism of the Muslim-American community; the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative report showcases these findings.
Zakat and sadaqa are key Islamic philanthropic traditions. Zakat, the third of the five pillars of Islam, is an obligatory act of giving, and Sadaqa voluntarily gives beyond the minimum zakat threshold. Sadaqa can take the form of money, action, or abstention; the intention is what defines the act as charitable. This report details the findings on zakat from a self-administered web survey conducted by SSRS for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The more extensive study, of which these findings are a part, surveys the opinions of Muslims and the general population regarding faith customs, donation practices and attitudes, volunteer work, remittances, tolerance, and diversity. SSRS conducted its survey from January 25 through February 15, 2022, with 2,010 adult respondents (age 18 and over), including 1,006 Muslim and 1,004 general population respondents. SSRS reached eligible respondents via a nonprobability web panel sample. We restricted questions about zakat to the Muslim sample.