Muslims in the United States gave an estimated $4.3 billion to charity in 2020, making them one of the most generous religious groups in the US, a new study has found.
The study, by the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, was funded by Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization.
It was conducted from March 17 through April 7 polling a total of 2,005 people (1,003 Muslims, 1,002 non-Muslims).
Titled “Muslim American Giving 2021,” the survey shows that despite making up just 1.1 percent of the US population, Muslim contributions toward various causes and campaigns comprise 1.4 percent of all donations, totaling $4.3 billion, IRUSA wrote in a statement published in October.
Muslim Americans gave more money on average ($3,241) compared to the general population ($1,905).
“We have always known that American-Muslims are exceedingly generous and philanthropic. Charity is a central pillar in the Islamic faith and deeply entrenched into our way of life,” said Sharif Aly, chief executive officer of Islamic Relief USA.
“The recent study from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy only confirms our experience with a dedicated community of generous donors and further highlights the significant contributions that Muslims have made towards bettering society, both at home and abroad.”
According to the study, most of the Muslim donations were given for domestic causes, with only 15 percent of their contributions going toward international campaigns.
In addition to donations, Muslim-Americans volunteer at a much higher rate than non-Muslims, with 66.61 hours devoted toward faith-based campaigns and 45.93 hours for non-faith-based campaigns.
“Muslim Americans are stepping up to play an important role in making our world and nation better despite facing prejudice, greater scrutiny and having fewer resources,” said Shariq Siddiqui, assistant professor of philanthropic studies and director of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
“Yet there is a lack of data-driven research about Muslim giving in the US Given the centrality of giving in Muslim communities and the vital role religious giving plays in philanthropy more broadly, it is important to better understand how and why American Muslims give.”
As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, zakat or donating and charity is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth.
It’s a mandatory charitable contribution, the right of the poor to find relief from the rich, and is considered to be tax or obligatory alms.
Islamic Shari’ah also has another type of optional donation called Sadaqah. This term was used in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah for both zakat and charity.