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By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Several nonprofits are reaching out to American Muslims searching for vetted charities to which to donate Ramadan zakat (donations). Ramadan starts on Saturday, and the search for charities is gaining urgency, since Ramadan requires charitable giving.
But American Muslims are terrified of running into trouble with the Department of Justice, which has shut down a number of U.S.-based Muslim nonprofits on suspicion of terrorist-related activities.
I’ve found two groups trying to solve this issue: the Muslim Charities Accreditation Program (MCAP) and GlobalGiving’s online Ramadan initiative.
MCAP started last year. It examines Muslim-run community programs. So far, it has chosen three: Umma Community Health Clinic in Los Angeles, the Islamic Networks Group in San Jose and the Inner City Muslim Action Network in Chicago. They are about to receive accreditation from the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, said John Showalter, spokesman for Muslim Advocates, the San Francisco group that has organized the initiative.
GlobalGiving.com’s three-year-old Ramadan initiative features 42 projects in more than 13 countries. It also provides a zakat calculator so donors can determine how much to give during the month of Ramadan. Muslim donors can scroll down and select projects run by reputable organizations that meet IRS guidelines and follow anti-terrorism laws, say organizers. It starts August. 21.
The program “allows Muslim Americans who want to give the opportunity to give online to carefully vetted projects whose due diligence we have done,” said program officer Saima Zaman.