Ramadan is the month of generosity: from God by giving the ajer "rewards" for fasting, and from people to each other by feeling the needs of the poor. Muslim or not, charity is a universal act of humanity. Giving without waiting to be repaid purifies your spirit of kindness. Charity in the Muslim world is divided into two categories: zakat is an obligatory form of giving, and it has certain rules when your wealth reaches a known limit; sadaqah is voluntary, where you ought to give whenever, wherever and with any amount.
As Prophet Mohammed said: "To smile in the company of your brother is charity. To command to do good deeds and to prevent others from doing evil is charity. To guide a person in a place where he cannot get astray is charity. To remove troublesome things like thorns and bones from the road is charity. To pour water from your jug into the jug of your brother is charity. To guide a person with defective vision is charity for you."
As Muslims believe, giving charity or sadaqah is investing your money in a guaranteed successful business with God. Here are a few ways you may wish to do that during Ramadan:
Red Crescent Society Abu Dhabi, 02 641 9000 Dubai, 04 261 4900 www.albahhar.ae/redcrescent One of the most famous and oldest associations in the country, the Red Crescent Society supports many types of charities, including ones for orphans, mosque construction and sponsorship of Palestinians. You can find the specific account numbers to donate to on the website. You can donate through the Abu Dhabi or Dubai Islamic Banks, and there are special Ramadan counters in branches of Carrefour, co-operative societies and malls. It has coupons that you can buy, such as Dh20 for iftar, Dh15 for zakat al fitr, Dh500 for Eid clothing inside the UAE and Dh250 for Eid clothing outside the UAE. To donate food or clothing, go to the Red Crescent's main branches. There are two in Abu Dhabi: one on Airport Road (02 641 9000) and another is behind the One to One Hotel, Muaskar Al Nahyan (02 641 9111).
Make A Wish Foundation Dubai, 04 368 0217 www.makeawish.ae A creative way of making others happy, the Make A Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with a life-threatening medical condition. The Dubai-based charity is connected to the international organisation, but 98.5 per cent of all funds raised in the UAE remain here. E-mail email@example.com to find out about donating or volunteering.
Beit Al Khair Dubai, 04 267 5555 www.beitalkhair.com This association focuses on people in need within the UAE: its slogan is from the Emirates to the Emirates. Some of its activities include distributing charity boxes to schools, and it has counters at Adnoc stations and co-operative societies at which you can buy different kinds of coupons from Dh5 to Dh100 that go toward different categories of your choice. To get the account number, call the toll-free number 800 22554 from 8am to 2pm during Ramadan.
General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments Abu Dhabi, 800 2421 www.awqaf.ae The authority has an interesting and fast way of donating: through an SMS. Categories are: teaching of Quran and sciences; orphans and the poor; construction of mosques; philanthropy; education; and health care. Send a blank SMS message to one or more of the following numbers: 9010 (Dh10), 9020 (Dh20), 9040 (Dh40), 9100 (Dh100), 9200 (Dh200).
No matter what charity you choose, keep in mind the words of the Prophet Mohammed: "The best charity is to satisfy a hungry person," he said. And: "No wealth is decreased because of charity."