Muslim Charity for the Poor

Fasting and celebration

At this time Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid – Islam’s most important religious festival. Eid marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. After the Eid prayer, families and friends gather to celebrate. This is a time for dressing in fine clothing, eating well, and giving gifts to children. In fact, it is not unlike Christmas. During Eid, it is customary for everyone who can afford it to donate a sum of money, zakat-al-fitr, so that the poor will also be able to eat their fill during the festival. These donations are often made via the mosque.

Zakat, or giving of alms is one of the most important aspects of Muslim worship. Here is a group of poor people waiting patiently outside a hotel for the benefactor to come and deliver Zakat : in this case a free night meal. Photo: Koshy Koshy, Wikimedia Commons

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This Week in South Sudan – Week 30

Monday 21 July The South Sudan government accused neighbouring countries of supplying the SPLA-in-Opposition with weapons. The South Sudan government claimed it has regained control over Nasir after the SPLA-in-Opposition attack Sunday. The UN and world leaders condemned the opposition attack on Nasir. Tuesday 22 July Two people were killed by armed men in Nyangkot,… Read more »

Helping or Hindering? The Impact of Civil Society Groups in the Peace Negotiations

South Sudan’s unresolved civil war dampened celebrations on its third Independence Day on 9 July 2014. Despite the urgent need for peace, the negotiation process has yet to yield a resolution. Since the signing of the recommitment to the cessation of hostilities in May 2014, progress has occurred, though with ambiguous outcomes. For example, although… Read more »

The Paradox of 2014

In recent weeks, a number of people have asked me whether I think we’re headed for World War III. Maybe it’s the intense media coverage of the centennial of WWI. Maybe it’s all the violence heating up in Israel & Gaza, Iraq, and Ukraine, and wars raging in Syria, Nigeria, and DRC.

The sculpture “Non-Violence” in front of the United Nations building in New York. Courtesy of Luke Redmond/Flickr.

Maybe it’s the fact that several of these wars are activating great power tensions in ways that haven’t been seen since the Cold War, or that diplomatic crises are shaking the United States’ friendships with foundational allies. Maybe it’s the speculation by some pundits that we are, indeed, teetering on the precipice of a new world war.Read More

This Week in South Sudan – Week 29

Monday 14 July Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar of using ‘spiritual powers’ to mobilise. SPLM/A-in-Opposition claimed they killed 15 government troops who attempted to raid cattle in Unity State. SPLM/A-in-Opposition claimed SPLA launched new attacks in Unity State last weekend. The IGAD official who has been reported calling Machar and Kiir “stupid” claimed he was… Read more »

Putin tours Latin America, but his fate is decided in Ukraine

The upcoming BRICS (a loose political-economic grouping of the large emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit, scheduled to take place in Fortaleza, Brazil, on July 15–17, provided an occasion for President Vladimir Putin to make a lengthy tour around Latin America, starting from Cuba last Friday and making a short unscheduled detour to Nicaragua on Saturday. Meetings with the Castro brothers as well as with Daniel Ortega did little to restore Putin’s international prestige, but they allowed him to make a grand gesture of writing off Cuba’s debt amounting to no less than $35 billion (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 8;, July 11). The next destination was Argentina, which can perhaps serve as a useful illustration of a protracted economic disaster aggravated by entrenched populism (Kommersant-Dengi, April 28). Putin is hardly receptive to such lessons and has to play down his trademark counter-revolutionary rhetoric, emphasizing instead the determination to stand firm against US hegemony and interventionism. This discourse certainly resonates in Latin America; but the BRICS summit is focused on economic dynamism. And Russia’s anemic economic growth makes Moscow’s claims for a major role on the international arena questionable (, July 10).

The full article is in Eurasia Daily Monitor, July 14.

Fidel has something to say to Putin. Photo: Alex Castro

This Week in South Sudan – Week 28

Monday 7 July Shoot-to-kill orders against curfew violators were issued. South Sudan security confiscated newspapers covering the federalism debate. Two people were killed when a grenade exploded in Yida camp, Unity State. Tuesday 8 July 12 people were killed in an attack on the UN camp in Bor. International Crisis Group urged the UN Security… Read more »

A Humanitarian Technology Policy Agenda for 2016

world_humanitarian_summit_logoThe World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 will feature transformation through innovation as a key theme. Leading up to the summit, OCHA has voiced the need to “identify and implement….positions that address operational challenges and opportunities” (OCHA 2013) relating to the use of information technology, big data and innovations in humanitarian action. In this blog post we sketch out four areas in need of further research over the next two years to provide policymakers, humanitarian actors and other stakeholders with up to date and relevant research and knowledge.Read More

Moscow Pulls a Diplomatic Pause as the War in Ukraine Rages

Insurgents occupy the City Council of Slavyansk in April. Photo: Wikipedia

The most dramatic turn in the protracted Ukrainian calamity last week was the decision of President Petro Poroshenko to end the ceasefire and resume the offensive against separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Poroshenko had every reason to conclude that the cessation of combat operations plays into rebel hands, since Ukraine’s control over the border with Russia was not restored and reinforcements from Russia were pouring into the motley gangs of pretentious warlords (RBC Daily, July 2). Heavy fighting brought casualties among civilians, so Poroshenko had to dismiss the top brass and appoint a new defense minister, while insisting on forceful measures (, July 4). The success of this new attempt to bring the “civil war” to an end was by no means guaranteed, but on Saturday the government troops scored a major victory by capturing Slavyansk, which had been a symbolic stronghold of the separatist cause (, July 5).Read More

Ministry for the Arctic affairs?

A project for setting a ministry for the Arctic region – similar to the recently created ministries for the Far East, the North Caucasus, and the Crimea – is under consideration in the government, according to Nezavisimaya. Any bureaucratic analogy with the Crimean issue should better be avoided, but the article argues proudly that “Events around… Read more »