[Sarwat Husain is president of the Council on American Islamic Relations in San Antonio.]

Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Muslim charities have been under increased scrutiny by Washington. American Muslims are facing a very difficult question regarding which charity their Zakat can be given without inadvertently being linked to terrorism.

Sadly, many of these charity organizations have been raided or closed down by our government linking their work to funding terrorism, creating a huge gap in the charity delivery service among the needy Muslim communities throughout the world. Most disturbing for American Muslims is to see that none of the alleged charities has been convicted of any crime. Five years later, it is still happening, resulting in the freezing of millions of dollars in bank assets.

The government’s ban on charities that provide aid in certain countries only magnifies the miseries of the poor resulting in the unnecessary spread of diseases and deaths. Innocent men, women, elderly and children are the main victims.

Last year in Illinois, a coalition of Muslim and other religious organizations pushed the Illinois State Assembly to pass a resolution called “Charity Without Fear.” The resolution called on the federal government to create a list of organizations that are safe for people to contribute to without fear of being questioned by the government. The Bush administration has made no move to respond.

With a need for a safe charitable organization to donate Zakat, Muslims continue to wait anxiously for the president’s response. Until then, American Muslims put their faith and their Zakat donations in God’s hands, hoping that it reaches those who are the most in need.


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