Update: 16:02, 22 December 2007 Saturday
Italy Udhiyah for Palestinians
As `Eid Al-Adha draws to Italian Muslim activists are satisfied with the Udhiyah charity dedicated to their fellow poor Muslims in the occupied Palestinian territories particularly in Gaza, which is under a crippling Israeli and western blockade.
"This is the 13th year in a row we collect Udhiyah for our brothers and sisters in occupied Palestine," Raed Dawood, the director of the Milan office of charity for Supporting the Palestinian People, told IslamOnline.net.
"Every year we collect about 600 Udhiyahs and send them to the Palestinians through the 101 Days charity chaired by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi," said Dawood, referring to a charity supporting the Palestinian people, which was launched in 2001 by prominent scholar Al-Qaradawi, the head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars.
Dawood said the Genoa-based charity invites every `Eid an imam from Italy or abroad to encourage Muslims to donate their Udhiyahs for the Palestinians.
"This `Eid we invited Palestinian imam Riyad Al-Bastangi," he said.
The Italian Muslim activist said Al-Bastangi toured several Italian cities and preached Muslims on the virtues and high rewards of donating Udhiyah to the poor and the needy in the developing world.
A financially-able Muslim sacrifices a single sheep or goat or shares six others in sacrificing a camel or cow as an act of worship during `Eid Al-Adha.
According to the majority of scholars Udhiyah or sacrifice is a confirmed Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
It reminds Muslims of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God.
Mohammad el-Zayaat of Islamic Relief Italy said most of Italian Muslims who perform the Udhiyah ritual donate the meat to the Palestinians.
"They feel sympathy towards the Palestinian people," he said.
"It is because of the demography of the Italian Muslim minority with a majority of whom hail from North African descent unlike the Muslim minority in Britain, for instance, the majority of who are of Asian descent and sympathize with the victims of natural disasters in Indonesia or Bangladesh," he explained.
Al-Zayaat said Islamic Relief, which was established in 1984 in the British city of Birmingham, stepped up this year its awareness-raising campaigns on how to make the best use of Udhiyah.
"We have found that most of Muslims are ignorant about Udhiyah rules," he said.
"They even used to consume the whole Udhiyah leaving nothing to the poor."
"Italian Muslims spend annually some 10 million euros on Udhiyah, of which some 3.3 million euros (one-third) should go to the poor."
Al-Zayaat, however, said the awareness-raising campaigns organized by Islamic Relief have paid off this year.
"More Italian Muslims sought this year our Udhiyah programs," said the Muslims activist whose organization's Udhiyah programs worldwide raised last year Udhiyah meat for some two million poor Muslims in 27 countries.
Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.2 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to unofficial estimates.
The northern city of Milan has the largest Muslim concentration.
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