Chicago zakat foundation

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Posts tagged Zakat Foundation PRESS RELEASE: Candlelight vigil tonight for Ambassador Christopher Stevens

The Chicago office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), along with members of the Chicago Libyan community, Syrian American Council Chicago, MAS (Muslim American Society), Zakat Foundation, and AMP (American Muslims for Palestine), will hold a candlelight vigil tonight to honor Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

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Features, Press Releases, Events & WorkshopsMyJihad MyJihadAmbassador Christopher Stevens, American Muslims for Palestine, attacks, CAIR, CAIR Chicago, candlelight, community, Council on American Islamic Relations, Egypt, Libya, Muslim American Society, Syrian American Council Chicago, vigil, Zakat Foundation

Muslim Action Day - 1 WEEK AWAY - Sign-up!

Sign-up and Participate in Muslim Action Day!! Meet with elected officials and make your voice heard. Join Muslims from across the state, of all backgrounds and ages, for a day at our state capitol. Hear from State Senators, Representatives and other officials while having the opportunity to stand up for yourself and your community to the officials that represent you.

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Action Alerts, FeaturesMyJihad MyJihadCIOGC, Government Affairs, Illinois Muslim Action Day, IMAD, Muslim Action Day, Reema Ahmad, Springfield, Zakat Foundation

Illinois Muslim Action Day 2010

On April 22, 2010, Muslim youth, leaders, and activists from all over Illinois will join in Springfield to lobby members of the Illinois General Assembly. This event, organized by the Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago and sponsored by CAIR-Chicago and Zakat Foundation, is expected to bring together hundreds of Muslim Americans and advocates of the community. Last year, there were over 450 participants, and organizers are hoping for even more this year.

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Board Chairman Zarzour to Emcee Zakat Foundation Fundraiser

Generous and compassionate people of all faiths and backgrounds are invited to attend Zakat Foundation's first "Solidarity through Generosity" event to raise awareness of its domestic and international relief and development programs.

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Events & WorkshopsMyJihad MyJihad60 Minutes, Ahmed Kathrada, apartheid, CAIR Chicago, charity, chicago muslims, Chicago Tribune, fard, Hickory Hills, Loyola Law School, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, LUC, PBS Front Line, Safaa Zarzour, solidarity, South Africa, Time Magazine, zakat, Zakat Foundation

Media Advisory: U.S. Postal Service Investigates Possible Sabatoge Against Local Muslim Charity

The Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced today that the U.S. Postal Service is currently conducting an investigation into concerns of possible foul play expressed by a Chicago-area Muslim Charity. The Zakat Foundation reported its concerns to CAIR-Chicago earlier today.

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Press ReleasesMyJihad MyJihadUS Postal Service, Zakat Foundation


Local Muslim charity started just months before 9/11 is now a multimillion dollar international relief organization, but its help still ‘starts with neighbors'

By Jack Murray

Daily Southtown|

Jan 22, 2020 at 3:36 PM

Halil Demir will discuss and sign copies of his book “9 Myths About Muslim Charities” on Thursday at the Islamic Prayer Center in Orland Park. He is the founder and executive director of the Zakat Foundation of America, based in Bridgeview.

In the summer of 2001, Halil Demir founded the Bridgeview-based Zakat Foundation of America with a group of other Muslims determined to aid the poor and destitute around the world.

Weeks later, the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda perpetrated the deadliest terror attack in human history, killing nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11.

Suddenly, Muslim-American citizens, charitable institutions and other groups fell under a cloud of suspicion.

During the nearly 19 years since, Demir built the nonprofit Zakat Foundation, which he leads as executive director, into a multimillion-dollar worldwide relief organization, operating in 30 countries.

He recounts that story in his book, “9 Myths About Muslim Charities,” which he will discuss at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Orland Park Prayer Center, 16530 S. 104th Ave.

Demir wrote the book, published last month, in a year. All proceeds will go to aid orphans worldwide, he said.

Demir wants to dispel the myth that Muslim American charities secretly work to undermine America by funding jihadi extremist elements in the U.S. and abroad.

“This is propaganda, Islamophobia of white supremacists and hate groups that spread poison against the Muslim community and charities that do great work,” he said.

“In fact, Muslim American charities are representative of American people and values,” Demir said. “We spread the same values that Americans live by.” he said, noting the foundation has earned a four star rating from industry watchdog Charity Navigator.

People as diverse as U.S. Sens. Richard Durbin and Lindsey Graham, John Brennan, before he became CIA director; and Bono, the philanthropist and lead singer of the rock band U2 have recognized the Zakat Foundation for its humanitarian efforts, Demir said.

Another myth Demir tackles in his book is that Islam forbids helping people of other faiths.

“We work to help people in African-American, Hispanic, white and other communities,” he added. The Navajo in Window Rock, Ariz., have also benefitted from the foundation’s largesse.

“Last year, we distributed food on the coldest three days of the year to homeless shelters in Chicago.”

Also in Chicago, the foundation teams with Gorham United Methodist Church in the Washington Park area of the South Side, St. Sabina Parish in Gresham and other churches to aid homeless people and others living in poverty.

“They have been extremely helpful, as committed as we are to justice and helping people in the community work for justice and peace,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina’s senior pastor, said of the Zakat Foundation. “And they’ve brought food to help young people by providing meals for them.”

“They have been partners with us on issues of peace and justice and working with the poor,” Pfleger added. “We need more organizations like them in the city that are committed to helping people and promoting peace in our communities.”

The foundation’s work with St. Sabina continues as volunteers pack boxes of food and other supplies to be delivered to the church later this month, Demir said. Before Thanksgiving, the charity gave turkeys and more foodstuffs to feed 120 inner-city families served by Gorham church.

“Starting with our neighbors,” Demir said the foundation provides social services at its office in Bridgeview. The village is among localities, including Justice and Palos Hills, that refer people in financial difficulty to the charity.

It gives checks to single mothers and others facing eviction to pay rent or electric bills in arrears and buy medicine. It has also provided 65,000 hours of mental health services, according to Demir. The Khalil Center in Lombard serves as its Chicago area mental health facility.

Farther afield, the Zakat foundation sent food, clothing and medicine to aid refugees living in camps in Pakistan who fled the war in Afghanistan.

It responded to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the deadliest tidal catastrophe in modern times; the Iowa flood of 2008 that inundated Cedar Rapids and environs; Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico and disasters in Haiti.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, the foundation sent supply-laden trucks, dubbed the Caravan of Love, to Houston to help sustain displaced people living in relief centers.

“The world is a crazy place of wars and natural and man-made disasters that create thousands of refugees, displaced people in turmoil,” Demir said of his motivation to form the Zakat Foundation of America.

Zakat is an Arabic word that means giving alms or charity to the poor, one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

“I grew up in a culture that taught me to care, to share and be conscious of one’s surroundings — to be good and do good,” Demir said. “There is much poverty, hunger and misery across the world that we try to change. To make an impact and improve the life of someone means the world to them.”

A true cosmopolitan, Demir has lived on three continents. Born in a remote village in Turkey, he was raised by unschooled parents and taught himself to read as a child.

He later emigrated to Switzerland to study at the University of Basel and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Living most of his adult life in Switzerland, he became fluent in German. He also speaks Arabic and Aramaic, in addition to English and his native tongue of Turkish.

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Moving to the Chicago area, Demir completed master’s degrees in nonprofit management at North Park University and history at Chicago State. “History is my passion,” he said.

Demir set up the fledgling Zakat foundation with only a part-time receptionist before the 9/11 attacks provoked fear and anger in reaction.

“The Islamophobia was so strong, emotions ran so high against the Muslim community that whenever we tried to do good work, some people and organizations tried to portray us as bad guys,” he recalled.

But Demir persevered, and his work has not only paid off for those the foundation has helped, but for his spirit as well, he said.

“Humanitarian work kills,” Demir likes to say. “It terminates your ego. You learn what the poet John Donne said: ‘No man is an island.’ We all need each other, help and compassion from one another. That’s what it’s taught me. I am the one actually helped, receiving from my brothers and sisters in humanity.”

Jack Murray is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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The Zakat Foundation

The Zakat Foundation Logo.png
FounderHalil Demir
FocusSustainable Development, Education, Health and Nutrition, Orphans and Child Welfare, Water and Sanitation, Emergency Relief & Disaster Preparedness
OriginsChicago, Illinois, US

Area served



$8,521,089 (2015)[2]

Zakat Foundation of America (ZF) is a Chicago-based NGO providing emergency relief, post-disaster rehabilitation, sustainable development, education, healthcare, orphan sponsorship, and seasonal programs such as RamadanIftars and Udhiya/Qurbani. Zakat Foundation of America is registered under 501(c)(3) as a non-profit charity organization.


Emergency Relief – Through regional offices around the world, ZF responds to natural and man-made disasters. ZF Emergency Relief programs act to address the immediate needs of those who have been overwhelmed by catastrophe through the distribution of food and water provisions, medicine and medical supplies, emergency shelters, and hygiene kits, among other means. ZF has an ongoing presence in Syria and the surrounding countries, delivering food, medicine and temporary housing to Syrian IDPs and refugees.[4] ZF delivered over $2 million in aid to Syrian Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees in 2015. [3]

Education – In the Turkish city of Gaziantep, ZF sponsors 4 schools with 1,800 students and 70 staff members, as well as Zahra University, which hosts 300 students and is one of the first institutions of higher education dedicated to Syrian refugees. In Kenya, ZF partners with Heshima Kenya to educate refugee girls and young women, while in Afghanistan, ZF works towards providing young women with educational opportunities with schools in Kabul and Wardak Province. [4]

Development – ZF aims to sever the roots of poverty and empower individuals and communities through self-sustaining economic and financial resources. In Ghana ZF supported the establishment of women's agricultural collectives that boost local agriculture and food security while stabilizing families and communities by giving women steady employment. [6] In both Jordan and Bangladesh, ZF has sponsored women’s Vocational Training Centers for several years, which equip women with useful skillsets, such as knitting and sewing, which in turn provide a steady source of income.[5]

Health Care - Zakat Foundation and its partners support community health and nutrition education initiatives using local resources. For example, in the Hazaribagh slum of Dhaka, Bangladesh, the ZF clinic has been operating since 2009, offering medical consultations, immunizations, preventative health advice and medication at a cost of $0.12 (USD) per patient. To address the overwhelming need for doctors and health care in Kenya, ZF mobile clinics open throughout the country for a few weeks at a time, making well visits, immunizations, simple medical treatment and doctor referrals accessible to more than 2,700 people every year. In Palestine, ZF has provided $2.7 million in medical aid since 2015, in Mali ZF sponsored six medical facilities with essential supplies, and in 2015 ZF also offered - through sponsored clinics - medical benefits to over 8,000 individuals.[6]

Ramadan – During Ramadan in 2015 ZF served 600,000+ beneficiaries in over 35 countries with fresh, hot iftar meals for disadvantaged communities. ZF also gave Eid al-Fitr gifts such as toys, backpacks and new outfits to poor and refugee children. [7]

Udhiya / Qurbani – During Udhiya of 2015 ZF distributed meat from freshly sacrificed livestock to over 33,000 families across the world. [8]

Sadaqa Jariyah – This concept of "perpetual charity" translates into long-term development and the construction of mosques, schools, water wells and other resources that benefit a community long after the initial outlay of funds. In 2015, ZF-sponsored water wells and handpumps were installed in communities at risk from water scarcity to benefit close to 3 million people worldwide.[9]

Winter Kits' – Every year, ZF launches a campaign to provide underserved groups with winter clothes and supplies to provide warmth during the cold months. In 2015, over 23,000 kits were distributed in 14 countries around the world, providing coats, jackets, shawls, hats, gloves, scarves, and boots.[10]

Aqeeqah – In 2015, 15,000 beneficiaries celebrated the birth of a child through aqeeqah, receiving 300 shares of high-quality livestock whose meat was distributed in Ghana, Mali, and Bangladesh. [11]

Countries served[edit]

Zakat Foundation of America operates in 30 countries through its offices in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


In 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Zakat Foundation was awarded Charity Navigator's highest four star rating indicating that Zakat Foundation has demonstrated exceptional financial health, accountability and transparency.[12][13]

Zakat Foundation is listed as a top-rated charity by Great Nonprofits.[14]


Published in 2007, The Zakat Handbook: A Practical Guide for Muslims in the West offers a comprehensive guide to the obligatory pillar of Islam. With it Muslims can better understand the concepts, principles and calculation of Zakat.


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