Marie McNair, Faroque Ahmad Khan and Henrietta Scott Fullard comment on charity in their faiths. Credit: Marie McNair; Newsday/John Paraskevas; African Methodist Episcopal Churches

Charitable contributions to religious, community-based and other qualified nonprofit organizations may be deductible if itemized in 2023 tax returns, which must be filed on April 15. This week’s commenters discuss their faiths’ approaches to charitable giving.

The Rev. Henrietta Scott Fullard

Presiding Elder (retired), Long Island District, African Methodist Episcopal churches
Jesus’ feeding of the multitude in Matthew 14:17-19 is a perfect example of faith-based charity. There are many people whose lives are affected by food pantries. In fact, all of the African Methodist Episcopal Churches (AME) on Long Island operate pantries, which accept donations of food and money. When people know they can receive food from a house of worship, they will look to the church as a refuge for other kinds of assistance, and will realize that they can depend upon the church to help them whenever they are in need. Such charities go beyond feeding food-insecure people to touching their lives in many different ways, including raising awareness of diseases and other conditions that may result from poverty. Visiting a church for aid also puts those being helped in a sanctified space where they can offer a prayer and receive spiritual anointing for their souls, bodies and minds. They will begin to look to the church as a soul-saving place, a rescue from the horrors of life and a place of transition into the biblical and religious life that God wants all of us to have.

Faroque Ahmad Khan

Chairman, Interfaith Institute of Long Island  

Generosity is in the fundamental DNA of Islam. There are five pillars, or core practices, of Islam, and the third is Zakat, a mandatory charitable contribution of 2.5% of a Muslim’s wealth to helping the less fortunate. The term Zakat means purification, because to give charity is to purify one’s wealth. The Quran makes the importance of charity clear: “Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and spend on others out of that which He has made your trustees” (Quran 5:57). Muslims in the United States have certainly heeded Islam’s call to help the less fortunate. The Muslim Philanthropy Initiative at Indiana State University conducted a survey of 1,139 U.S. Muslims, finding that they paid a whopping $4.3 billion in charity in 2021; 85% of this money stays in the United States. (Find the survey, titled Ramadan, U.S. Muslims, and Zakat: Insights From a National Survey, at

My personal favorite Muslim charity is the Zakat Foundation of America, based in Illinois, because it provides Muslims a plethora of worthy causes to support, including education, health care and disaster rehabilitation. Additionally, the Zakat Foundation provides detailed reports about the impact of its work, keeping donors connected to the causes that it sponsors.

Marie McNair of East Patchogue

Secretary, Regional Baha’i Council of the Northeastern States  

Often people need help for various reasons, and faith-based charities provide valuable assistance. Of course, Baha’is also help to alleviate suffering when circumstances call for immediate action, but Baha’is focus on the long-term issues that relate to the material and social advancement of society. In the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the Baha’i faith, we understand that the greatest need for humanity to overcome fundamental problems like poverty, prejudice, inequality, war and injustice is to understand its oneness, that it is really one human family, and that such understanding leads to unity and peace.

Dr. Faroque Ahmad Khan is one of the driving forces...

Dr. Faroque Ahmad Khan is one of the driving forces behind the new Interfaith Institute at the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury. Here, Dr. Khan is shown in front of the triple arches that lead into the newly constructed building that will house the institute on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. The aim of the institute is to explain Islam to the general public and promote understanding between different faiths. Newsday / John Paraskevas Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Baha’is apply the teachings of Baha’u’llah as they work within communities by serving humanity and contributing to constructive social change. The process of community-building in which they are engaged all over the world involves them in social action in local settings where those in the population become involved in taking care of the needs of that population. Thus, for Baha’is, social action is viewed as a spiritual matter and is best pursued with the conviction that every population should strive to trace the path of its progress and that social progress is not a project that one group carries on for the benefit of another.

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