Here’s the dilemma: Your religion, like most others, demands that you give to charity. In fact, it’s one of the central tenets of your faith. But giving to the wrong charity, even unbeknownst to you, might put you on the wrong side of the War on Terror. “We want to live under the command of our faith, but how can we if we fear arrest and deportation, profiling, persecution or intimidation?” said Zaher Sahloul, vice president of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. Now, almost four years after the Sept. 11 attacks and a federal crackdown on charities allegedly linked to terrorists soon thereafter, steps are being taken to alleviate the fear and anxiety many Muslims feel when they attempt to fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam–Zakat, which compels them to donate 2.5 percent of their annual income to the needy.
In May, the Illinois General Assembly passed bipartisan resolutions calling on the federal government to create a list of Muslim charitable organizations to which one can safely donate, legislation that Muslim and immigrant groups said was the first of its kind. It was natural that such an effort would begin in Illinois because it is home to a sizable and well-organized Muslim population, as well as some of the most prominent charities shut down after the attacks. (MORE)