A London Council is warning the Muslim community not to give money to beggars following reports that they are deliberately being targeted during the holy month of Ramadan. The religious festival, with its tradition of giving alms, is believed to have become a target for unscrupulous people, some of whom have even resorted to posing as Muslims by wearing prayer shawls and using prayer mats in the street. Westminster Council has put its network of City Guardians and City Inspectors on alert, particularly in the Edgware Road area and near mosques, after reports came through of the practice.
Cllr Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for community protection, said: “We’re extremely concerned that Muslims may be exploited during the holy month of Ramadan. It is both immoral and unacceptable for people to prey on the generosity and benevolence of the Muslim community at this or any time, and we would advise never to give money to beggars in the street, apart from begging being illegal, you can never be sure the funds are going to those genuinely in need. “For those who are genuinely homeless or in need of assistance the council, along with a number of charitable organisations, offers a wide network of services. There is absolutely no need for anybody to beg on our streets.” During Ramadan Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during daylight hours, and use it as a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practise self-sacrifice. Although the Muslim community has a strong tradition of giving to charity, the giving of alms is even more significant during Ramadan with its focus on improving family bonds and friendships. Dr Abdulkarim Khalil, Director of Al Manaar, the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, said: “It is sad that anybody would seek to take advantage in this way and I strongly urge Muslims to give directly to recognised charities or their mosque so they can be absolutely certain their money is going to a good cause.
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