Traditionally, people are more likely to think about giving to others during the holiday season, from the fall until when they ring in the new year. But many Las Vegans who follow the Islamic, Jewish, and Buddhist religions have their own seasons to give.
“Most Muslims have a big emphasis on giving and charity in an unconscious way,” said Yasser Moten, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Nevada.
Moten said one of the five pillars of Islam is zakat, to give to the needy.
Muslims are asked to give 2.5 percent of their wealth every year. Moten said most people give during Ramadan because it is believed that all good deeds you do are multiplied during the holy month. “It’s spiritual extra credit,” he said.
Many Muslims give their donations to local mosques.
“The mosques turns it right back to the community,” Moten said.
The donations are used to feed, clothe, and help the needy. The recipients do not have to be Muslim.
In 2001, the ILM foundation based out of Los Angeles created Humanitarian Day. Moten said the group took Islamic concepts of being charitable and put them in a context the would work in the U.S.
Humanitarian Day is now celebrated all over the country on the third Sunday of Ramadan, which took place on Sept. 30 this year.
Masjid As-Sabur organized the day, which centered around giving food, clothes, toys and free medical screenings in Las Vegas for the last year. Moten said 22 cities served about 25,000 people on Humanitarian Day this year.
Although charity is emphasized during Ramadan, Moten said Muslims give all year. Sadaqa is another form of charity that is not mandatory. Moten said Sadaqa can involve anything from giving money, cleaning up a road or taking the time to smile at someone.