Egyptian authorities have banned public charity banquets, an age-old feature of the Islamic month of Ramadan, in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, state media reported on Sunday.
Benefactors in Egypt have the tradition of hosting such banquets, which offer free meals to the needy at break of daily fast at sunset, known as “iftar”, in Ramadan.
The ninth month of Islam’s lunar calendar, Ramadan is to start this month amid growing concerns in Muslim countries that the pandemic will impact its observance.
The Ministry of Awqaf, responsible for mosques in mostly Muslim Egypt, said it would not permit fast-breaking or iftar charity tables this Ramadan around mosques.
“We call on all benefactors, charity associations and other bodies who used to set up the iftar tables in the holy month in the past to offer their charity in the form of cash or food items to the poor.
“Also to those in need this year,” the ministry said in a statement.
Egypt closed mosques as a precaution against the virus in March, which has infected 1,070 people and caused 71 deaths.
Report says it is not clear if mosques will reopen in Ramadan, when they are traditionally packed.
The month is also marked by a special nightly prayer called “taraweeh.”
During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn to dusk.
Fasting is one of Islam’s five pillars, alongside declaration of faith, prayer five times a day, alms-giving, and the pilgrimage to holy sites in Saudi Arabia. (dpa/NAN)