"An important part of being a Muslim is giving to others. We believe that everything we have in this world — houses, cars, money — comes from God. So, we should give to others what God has given us.

"Every mosque has a place where Muslims can donate money to give to the poor or needy and also to help pay the expenses of the mosque. Zakat, which is Arabic for 'charity,' is the third Pillar of Islam. Throughout the Qur'an and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, we are told to give of our wealth and to help those in need in any way we can.

"During the holy month of Ramadan, an important part of the Muslim calendar, we fast every day. If we are not able to fast for one of the days, we give the price of a meal for that day to a poor person. At the end of Ramadan, we also give the price of one meal for each member of our family before we celebrate the feast of Eid al-fitr. The money is given to poor families within the community so that they, too, can enjoy the holiday.

"When we give money or help those in need, we do it without letting others know. Many Muslims quote this saying: 'Practice charity so secretly that your left hand does not know what your right hand has given.' In Islam, intentions are everything. No matter what good we do, it means nothing if our intentions are not right.

"Collection plates or baskets are not passed around during prayers. Instead, whoever wishes to give can put money into a collection box, which is usually kept in the main foyer of the mosque. This keeps the amount we give private — just between ourselves and God. Sometimes there are several boxes, each marked for a different charitable purpose. We can place money in these boxes any time we choose."

Back to reading a full review of this