OCCUPIED WEST BANK - As Muslims worldwide welcomed the holy fasting of Ramadan with special celebrations and banquets, the desperate Palestinian mother Um Mohamed could only break her fast on free meals provided by charities.
I am here for the same reason as these other people are. If I didn't need this then I wouldn't be here, Um Mohammed told Reuters on Tuesday, July 16.
Because the situation is bad, because we can't always get food. I have a difficult situation at home.
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As the sun sets at the end of Ramadan fasting day, the elderly mother from Hebron receives a meal from the Takeyat Ibrahim hospice.
The hospice is run on private donations that are collected and distributed by the Islamic Religious Endowment Authority, the Islamic Waqf.
Like Um Mohamed, thousands of Palestinians consider charity as an essential source of nourishment.
In the kitchen, workers prepare cooked food in large tubs, filling the containers with chicken and peas. They're working quickly to cope with the increasing demand.
The number of meals from the beginning of the month aren't consistent, but at the very least we get between 2500 and 3000 families every day, said Ammar Al-Khatib, Supervisor of the Hospice Abrahimi Charity.
Every Ramadan night, people rush with empty buckets and containers in hand, ready to take home the food to share with their families.
As well as the free meals distributed at the hospices, several charities are also holding large charity iftars, or Ma'edat al-Rahman, for Muslims during the holy month.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started last Tuesday, July 9.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Ramadan free meals started as an old tradition in Al-Quds old city (Occupied East Jerusalem).
The Takeyat Hasseki Sultan has been going for many years, due to the economic hardship in Al-Quds, said Sheikh Azzam Al Khatib, Jerusalem's Director of Islamic Endowments.
It plays a key role in relieving the suffering, and the economic and living situation, for the people in the Holy Land, and especially those living in the Old City.
During past years, the numbers of those seeking free meals has been increasing.
We have around 130 families in Jerusalem benefiting from this charity, the charity's supervisor, Abdallah Ajaj, said.
There are even some families with middle incomes who sometimes come and take food from this charity.
In Al-Quds old city, the Takeyat Hasseki Sultan has its roots in the Ottoman era.
According to those working for the organization it was established in 1552.
During Ramadan, Muslims dedicate their time to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur'an and good deeds.
The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net