Op-Ed: Muslim Charitable Giving

October 11, 2002

Source: The New York Times

On October 11, 2002 The New York Times printed an Op-Ed piece by Salam Al-Marayati, the Executive Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. It stated, "on Wednesday, the government indicted Enaam M. Arnaout, the leader of the Benevolence International Foundation... on charges that he helped finance Osama bin Laden's terrorist activities. While there are still unanswered questions raised by the indictment, if the charges are proved in open court and without secret evidence or sequestered accusers, Mr. Arnaout should be subject to the full measure of the law; like any other American citizen. As important as what the government did this week is what it did not do. It did not indict Benevolence International itself. This is of considerable importance to American Muslims because it could signal a shift in administration policy, one that will enable us to engage in what is both an American right and a religious commandment: to contribute to charity. President Bush seemed to understand this when I and other American Muslims met with him last month to express our concerns about his policies. He compared zakat to the Christian tradition of tithing and said that he would work to ensure that we were able to pursue our religion unimpeded."