CAIRO: Some Azhar scholars have called for the elimination of free public eateries for the poor in Ramadan, known as mawaed el-rahman, and substituting them with financial donations given directly to the poor.
“The scholars based their opinion on the tremendous increase in the price of basic commodities like sugar and rice, not to mention the unaffordable cost of one kilogram of meat, said Moustafa Darwish, an Islamic scholar and member of Al-Sheikh Saleh Kamel Islamic Economics Center, the only Economic Center that is affiliated with Al-Azhar University.
According to Darwish, NGOs and the Ministry of Social Solidarity should join forces to work on establishing an organization that collects Muslim charity during the holy month and make the best of it.
“This organization should be the only authorized body to decide how much money should be allocated to mawaed el-rahman, and how much should be given directly to the poor either in the form of money or food bags including basic food commodities, Darwish said.
Darwish explained that this new organization would be modeled on another Islamic NGO called Moasasat Al-Zakat, which collects Muslim zakat (obligatory alms to the poor constituting a certain percentage of one’s wealth), also founded by Sheikh Saleh Kamel.
The NGO coordinates the delivery of zakat in the best way to the people who need it the most.
Although Darwish is not completely against mawaed el-rahman, he said that “there are many people who are not so poor but have iftar every day at the free eateries, while on the other hand really poor people may not be able to find a place.
Darwish added that the call for “a revision of the mawaed el-rahman concept was triggered by the fact that even government and private sector employees have now become poor because of the unprecedented price hikes.