American Muslims have made great contributions to society. However, their philanthropic efforts are often overlooked by the media.
There is widespread misconception that Arab and Muslim Americans don’t contribute enough to society. Dave Agema, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, fueled the stereotype and made headlines last year when he questioned the contributions of American Muslims to society. In a Facebook post Agema said, “Have you ever seen a Muslim do anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?”
“People like Dave Agema need to educate themselves about Muslims and Islam,” said Hussein Hachem, founder of the Lebanese American Heritage Club’s Youth Leadership Committee (LAHC-YLC). “Our holy book, the Quran, says we have to help feed the poor and the needy. The Quran tells us to give as much as we can. It basically says you have to give to others if they need food, clothes and shelter.”
Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is a mandatory process for Muslims. Zakat is almsgiving for the relief of the poor. It is a religious obligation Muslim Americans are very serious about fulfilling, including the hundreds of thousands here in metro-Detroit.
“Zakat says you have to take care of your neighbor regardless of race, color or religion,” Hachem said.
Last year, Islamic Relief USA and the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC) donated a combined $100,000 to the Detroit Water Fund and the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency to help Detroiters pay their water bills. Thousands of Detroiters were affected when the city shut off water for residents with overdue balances.
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