(Update) Army offers 804,000 free Iftar meals during Ramadan
CAIRO, May 19, 2018 - Each Ramadan day, the Armed Forces will offer more than 26,800 free Iftar meals, which the poor can eat at sunset to signal the end of the fast, the Minister of Defence and Military Production said yesterday.
Major General Sedki Sobhi said that the Armed Forces would donate 26,800 meals every day to low-income people at 132 "tables of mercy” that would be held nationwide.
These daily charity food tables would be set out in the governorates by the field armies during Ramadan, where the poor or any passer-by can break their fast for free.
Minister Sobhi said that the move aimed to show the Armed Forces solidarity with the poor during Ramadan, which is a month of giving.
In addition to distributing bulk supplies of food to the poor to last them the whole month, the Central Military Zone commander would set up 43 charity food tables every day in the poor neighbourhoods of Cairo, Giza, Qalubiya, Menufia, Fayyoum, Beni Sueif and Minya governorates.
The Second Field Army, meanwhile, would prepare 30 charity tables each day in the poor areas of Port Said, Daqahliya, Sharquia, Damietta, and Ismailia governorates.
In a related development, the Third Field Army would prepare 18 food tables for the poor in the governorates of Seuz, South Sinai, and the Red Sea.
The Northern and Western Military Zones would set up 21 daily charity food tables in Alexandria, Gharbiya, Behira, Kafr el-Sheikh, and Mersa Mattrouh Governorates.
The Southern Military Zone would be also preparing 18 daily tables in the governorates of Assuit, Red Sea, Qena, Aswan, Suhag, the New Valley, and Luxor Governorates.
Ramadan is a time of solidarity and giving to the less fortunate during which families gather for iftar, says Hamdi el-Fiqqi, adding that charities set up by wealthy individuals donate to the needy even before the holy month begins, mirroring an outpouring of generosity across Egypt.
These charities prepare thousands of meals to be distributed during Ramadan in all Egyptian governorates, said el-Fiqqi, stressing that the generosity extends to all Egyptians.
The meals are generally served near mosques and major squares in the capital, he said. However, he admitted that some charities use food distribution as part of an ongoing public relations blitz to prove to the world that they are working for the needy people.
"It is a bad deed for Ramadan," he laments, saying that it is as if these charities are competing against each other for who buys the most things and cooks the most food and appears on TV more than once. El-Fiqqi, however, paid tribute to the charities that keep on offering free meals during Ramadan despite the world economic crunch. The impoverished corners of Cairo's suburbs have been crammed with banquets, or iftar, since the beginning of Ramadan.
"While the rest of the year is fairly bleak for the poor, they has found some happiness in Ramadan, which has piety and charity at its core," el-Fiqqi said.
During Ramadan, charities and orphanages get a seasonal boost as they receive gifts of food, money, toys and clothes from ordinary citizens. Charity is a cornerstone of Islam, and takes on a special importance in Ramadan,el-Fiqqi said.
But, he lamented that charity tends to be personal and less institutionalised than in more developed countries, with most people giving cash directly to the poor. Sheikh Hassan Ali al-Khosussi, a religious scholar at the al-Azhar mosque and university, the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam, said charity can be given to any Muslim in need.
But orphans are mentioned in the "hadith", or sayings of Prophet Mohamed, as particularly worthy recipients of charity.