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Text by Kristin Kamoy

Local charities use funds raised through Islam’s mandatory religious tax around the UAE to provide free evening meals to poor persons as they break the obligatory daily fast during Ramadan.

Almsgiving or religious tax is one of the five pillars of Islam.

In Arabic, it is called zakat, meaning “purity”.

Islamic law states that all Muslims who have enough income should purify their wealth to make the wealth halal in the eyes of God.

Hence, during the annual holy month of Ramadan, citizens and non-citizens in need benefit from collected zakat funds in the UAE.

As an illustration, Emirates Red Crescent stated it would feed 850,770 persons around the UAE this year with its Ramadan Iftar projects in 202 locations. The charity collects donations or zakat in around 194 locations such as shopping malls in the Emirates. In addition, charities use donations to provide Ramadan meals to those in need in other Muslim states around the world.

In sum, more Muslims are able to break the fast during Ramadan due to wealthy donors of charity.

The photos for this Iftar narrative were taken in the narrow lanes of Deira and in parking lots in Satwa in old Dubai during the first days of Ramadan Iftar meals. The food is prepared by mainly male volunteers who set the tarpaulin sheets on the ground in places like parking lots outside mosques. Specifically, dishes such as biryani or sometimes so-called “liquid biryani” are offered. Also, laban, the Arabic version of yogurt, and fruits and dates are distributed.

Whilst the majority of the persons breaking fast together are male blue collar workers from places like Pakistan, locals, non-Muslims and women and children sometimes also participate in the collective ritual. Before sunset, some persons sit quietly and wait for the sun to disappear in order to break their fast. It goes without saying that as the sun sets at different times the fast is broken at slightly different times every day of Ramadan.  

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