Ramadan, a holy time when Muslims fast and focus their attention on giving to charity, starts this weekend. Zakat is a integral part of Ramadan and one of the five pillars of Islam. Specifically, zakat requires Muslims to give at least 2.5% of their assets to the poor and hungry.
But American Muslims have found it difficult to meet this requirement in recent years. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the US government increased its scrutiny of Islamic charities accusing some of providing support to terrorists. This dampened zakat as many American Muslims feared that their generosity may inadvertently support terrorist activities.
President Obama hopes to change that. In a speech he gave in June in Cairo he said, "rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That's why I'm committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat."
To help Muslims practice informed giving during Ramadan, Charity Navigator published a listing of highly rated charities which either work in countries with large Muslim populations or strive towards the alleviation of hunger.