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Charity begins at home

By Ramadan A. Kader

Street charity banquets are a hallmark of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Egypt. The charity, called Mawaed Al Rahman (the Tables of Almighty) is offered to the poor and people who cannot be at home for the sunset Iftar meal. Some benefactors have recently developed the habit of handing out food boxes to pedes.

As economic woes bite, the tradition is becoming crucial and a lifeline for many. A lawyer has gone to court, requesting the tradition to be a year-long event, according to Egyptian media.

In an Egyptian precedent, the lawyer, identified as Khaled Fouad, has demanded the government to offer three meals daily to each poor citizen. In his lawsuit at the Administrative Court, he seeks a judicial ruling obliging the government to define the areas where the proposed free meals would be provided.

The suit was filed after the government reportedly turned down the proposal, which took the shape of a notice.

In his legal battle, Fouad cites an article in the Egyptian constitution, which reads: “Every citizen has the right to healthy and sufficient food, as well as clean water. The state is committed to guaranteeing food resources to all citizens.”

Some 27.8 per cent of Egypt’s 95 million people live below the poverty line, according to 2015 official statistics. The figure is believed to have risen as a result of soaring living costs unleashed by the 2016 floatation of the Egyptian pound and cuts in state subsidy adopted as part of harsh economic reforms.

The aim of Fouad’s suit is to extend Mawaed Al Rahman throughout the year. There has been no comment yet from the government, which is struggling to tighten its finances and curb the budget deficit.


7 minutes early

By Ramadan A. Kader

Some audience of the provincial Alexandria radio was last week confused when the broadcaster aired the azan, or the call to prayer at sunset seven minutes before it was scheduled.

Muslims in Egypt often depend on the azan aired by television and radio stations to alert them to the time of the Iftar at sunset in the holy month of Ramadan when they observe a dawn-to-dusk fasting.

The Iftar signal is particularly important for people living in remote areas where there are no mosques in the vicinity to broadcast the Maghreb (evening) azan.

The discovery of the premature broadcasting on the Alexandria radio raised anger and drew condemnation on social media with some commentators expressing worry that their dawn-to-dusk fasting was invalidated for having taken the Iftar meal before the actual time.

The row prompted head of the state Alex radio, Eman Fatallah, to refer three employees, including an anchor and a technician, to investigations over what she called an “unprecedented, grave mistake.”

“The inquiry is aimed at determining who is behind this grave professional mistake and punish the one responsible,” she told private newspaper Youm7.

MP Hosni Hafez, a lawmaker representing Alexandria, called for sacking anyone found responsible for the incident. “What happened constitutes grave negligence against the institution [radio] and citizens,” he said. “There should be a swift inquiry and the one
responsible should be punished.”

Hafez told the same paper that the premature broadcasting of azan made around 5 million Muslims in Alexandria break their fast.

“Most people in the governorate rely on hearing the azan on the radio to start having their Iftar. This mistake exposes irresponsibility and grave dereliction on the part of the crew who was on duty.”

Muslim clerics, meanwhile, sought to allay local Muslims' worries about the validity of their fasting on that day.

“Those who broke their fasting, depending on the premature azan, did not spoil their fasting because they did not do this intentionally,” said Sheikh Mohamed el-Agamy, a senior official at the Waqfs religious affairs department in Alexandria. “Guilt is on the one who broadcast the azan prematurely if he did this on purpose.”

MAARET MISREEN, Syria, June 1, 2018 (News Wires) - After years of Syrian government siege, Umm Samer can finally prepare an appetizing spread to end her family’s daily Ramadan fast. But war has given the holy month a bitter aftertaste.

Crouched near a tiny gas stove in the mud hut that is now her home in northwest Syria, the 51-year-old from Eastern Ghouta slices a juicy eggplant into large chunks for the evening meal.

“Yes, there’s plenty of food here, but being far away from home is really hard for us,” Umm Samer says of her hometown of Zamalka, in the former rebel enclave.

Umm Samer, her husband and five children – two of them disabled – fled Ghouta around two months ago as it came under government control, setting up near the town of Maaret Misreen in Idlib province.

Their memories of life in Ghouta are stained with siege: during the government’s five-year encirclement, medicine was hard to find and child malnutrition rates soared as affordable food became scarce.

Every day, Umm Samer did her best to stave off her children’s hunger with a meager diet of radishes, spinach and parsley.

When they could, they ate small portions of bulgur wheat or barley bread, which often gave them stomach aches.

When the month of Ramadan came around, the family would observe the daylong fast like millions of other Muslims around the world.

But instead of breaking their fast at sundown with traditional multiple-course meals and desserts, Umm Samer’s family gathered around the same sparse spread.

“We’d eat it all with spoons because there was no bread. We couldn’t even get biscuits for the kids,” she recalls.

“Sometimes we’d wait two days before breaking our fast because there was nothing to eat,” she says.

Across the Islamic world, Ramadan is a month of prayer and remembering the less fortunate, but also a time of endless gatherings with loved ones.

In Ghouta, Umm Samer says, the heavy raids made that impossible.

“We wouldn’t dare meet up for iftar anymore,” she says, referring to the fast-breaking sunset meal.

“This year in Idlib it’s very different. There’s rice, meat, vegetables, fruit and sweets,” says Umm Samer, sitting down cross-legged on a simple mat for iftar.

They begin with sips of chilled water, then dig into dishes of turmeric-flavored rice, salad and stewed vegetables. The meal is plentiful compared with what they were eating just a year ago, but Umm Samer says starting a new life for a seven-member household is tough.

“Over there, you’re fine because it’s your hometown, your home and your land,” she says. “None of us work here. The relief groups help us but it’s limited,” she worries.

Like in Muslim communities around the world, aid groups in Idlib are distributing iftar meals to families in need.

One of them, Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous, prepares dozens of sealed packages of rice and meat every day. Men and women line up outside their center to pick up the food packages.

Such meals are life-changing for Umm Mohammed, 53, who was displaced from Ghouta a month ago with her husband, two daughters and two sons.

They too resettled in the camp of earthen huts in Maaret Misreen, but siege is still on their mind. “We once spent 11 days without me putting a single pot on the fire,” Umm Mohammed says.

Cooking radishes was unheard of before Syria’s war erupted, but it became a stable in Ghouta. “We were under siege and whatever was available, we would cook,” Umm Mohammed adds.

She crouches down on a wool carpet as her husband pours her a glass of juice to break her fast, before they begin a donated iftar of rice, chicken and meat pies.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria’s war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.


By Amina Abdul Salam

Many people get a headache during the first few days of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan, whether before or after Iftar (the sunset meal that breaks the fast). During the fast, the human body suffers from lack of glucose in the blood, which causes headache and severe fatigue. The hot weather and the lack of water and fluids also give rise to headaches.

Dr Sami Gouda, Brain and Nerves Consultant, pointed out that the brain cells always need oxygen and glucose, and the unaccustomed shortage of sugar in the blood leads to headache.

With regard to headache after Iftar, Dr Gouda said that bad eating habits are the reason. Many people are used to eating large quantities of food at Iftar and this causes a large volume of blood to be pumped into the digestive system, decreasing the flow of blood to the brain, causing headache.

To prevent headache, Dr Gouda recommends paying more attention to Suhour (the pre-dawn meal), trying to adjust the biological clock in terms of the number of hours of sleep and drinking a lot of water and fluids.


By Amina Abdul Salam

Some people with a liver disease can benefit from fasting in Ramadan. They are mainly those with a fatty liver. Fasting can help them cut their weight.

According to Dr Saeed Shalabi, Professor of Internal Diseases, Digestive System and Liver Diseases, patients with a fatty liver can benefit from fasting in Ramadan through avoiding fatty foods, lamb, liver and kidneys, in and using the corn and olive oil in preparing their food.

Dr Shalabi said that patients with liver disease are divided into three groups. First, those who suffer from chronic liver hepatitis as a result of the hepatitis C and B virus. This group can fast during Ramadan, especially if the liver’s enzymes are normal and the patient is taking all his medicines according to the therapist’s instructions.

Dr Shalabi said that this group included patients who receive their treatment by using interferon injections, if there are no complications and they drink a lot of water at Suhur.

The second group, Dr Shalabi said, are those who suffer from simple cirrhoses of the liver and their liver functions are normal. They can also fast unless complications occur. The third groups are those who suffer from advanced liver cirrhosis. They should not fast in Ramadan as they need to receive their treatment at certain times.

He stressed that patients with Aascites, hepatic coma and vomiting blood, also should not fast due to further complications possibly afflicting them, in addition to low levels of glucose in the blood that make them unable to complete a whole day of fasting.

The patient with liver disease has to drink a lot of sugary fluids to compensate for low glucose levels in the blood during the fast.



CAIRO, May 27, 2018 (MENA) - President Abdel Fattah El Sisi attended Saturday an Iftar banquet that was hosted by the Armed Forces on the occasion of the anniversary of the 10th of Ramadan war victory.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Abul-Gheit, Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed el Tayyeb, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of St. Mark Diocese and Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi were present.

Former president Adly Mansour, former minister of defense field marshal Hussein Tantawi and a host of army commanders and senior figures also attended.

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