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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Ramadan 2018: Awqaf's Fatwa hotline gears up for Holy Month rush

The UAE's General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments will host lectures, forums and distribute water bottles during the holy month

Scholars at the Islamic Affairs Authority fatwa centre in Abu Dhabi answer questions about religion.
Scholars at the Islamic Affairs Authority fatwa centre in Abu Dhabi answer questions about religion.

On the eve of Ramadan, the UAE’s religious authority is working frantically to prepare for its busiest month.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, or Awqaf, manages and supervises the country’s mosques, organises Hajj and Umrah affairs and provides guidance to Muslims.

During Ramadan, the authority will print thousands of copies of the Quran and other religious books, host forums and organise charity projects.

“A great occasion like Ramadan turns the Fatwa centre into a beehive that works non-stop,” said Dr Mohammed Al Kaabi, head of Awqaf.

“The influx of fatwa inquiries puts a pressure on the centre to serve as many callers as ­possible.”

On an average day, the authority receives almost 1,300 calls a day but that figure more than doubles to 3,700 during Ramadan. To cope with the influx, the authority will remain open 12 hours a day to respond to as many calls as possible.

“Calls that are not attended to, due to busy lines, will be called back though a new system called ‘callback assist’,” Dr Al Kaabi said.

The system works like an answering machine where callers record their queries, to which answers are later supplied.

This year, Awqaf will organise an anti-terrorism forum, where academics and thought leaders from across the Muslim world will discuss ways young people are lured by extremists.

The forum, With Youth Awareness We Fight Terrorism, will also explore the concerns of young Muslims and ways to correct any misconceptions they might have about Islamic teachings that could make them an easy target for terrorist recruiters.

“The conference will reveal techniques used by radicals and how to fight them and study the efforts by the UAE to combat terrorism and those carried out by the authority,” Dr Al Kaabi said.

“We will conclude with suggestions to limit radical thought and draw real-life plans to do so.”

Hundreds of religious lessons will be held by scholars invited by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, to share their knowledge during the holy month at mosques, majlises and other events.

Many of the lessons focus on interpreting the Quran and on the life and characteristics of Prophet Mohammed and his sayings, Dr Al Kaabi said.

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Read more:

400 iftar meals served to labourers each day during Ramadan

Awqaf to answer fatwa questions in new English-language service

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Of their charitable projects for the holy month, the authority has allocated Dh500,000 for jailed debtors who have served their sentences but cannot be released until they pay what they owe.

The same amount will also be distributed among low-income families. Another Dh100,000 will be spent on handing out bottled drinking water across the country’s mosques.

Good-deed initiatives, under the title Zayed’s Will, will include visits to distribute gifts and “spread joy and tolerance” at nursing homes, hospitals and special-needs centres.

About 90,000 copies of the Quran and other religious texts have been printed to be distributed during Ramadan.

The authority aims to inaugurate 228 mosques this year, up from the 153 that opened last year. Another 344 mosques are under construction.

“The authority has launched a smart app to receive worshippers’ complaints and suggestions regarding the mosques they go to,” said Dr Al Kaabi.

In response to feedback, some of the mosques have undergone maintenance.