Source: USA TODAY
Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and prayer, begins at sunset Saturday, and many believers are already planning a key observance: zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Often translated as "charity," it requires believers to give 2.5% of their cash assets (even including the value of their jewelry or stocks) to the Muslim needy and poor.
Zakat might be given at any time in the year, but Ramadan's focus on compassion and introspection often prompts a greater outpouring.
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Muslims in the USA struggled to be sure the charities they chose supported human welfare without financing violent political efforts.
President Obama pledged in his address to the Muslim world in June that the government would take IRS and anti-terrorism measures to make it easier to clear zakat hurdles.