Sermon urges more generosity towards Pakistan

God doubles what you donate to the relief effort, imams will say in the weekly sermon tomorrow.

Islamic authorities want Muslims to be more generous in their contributions to relief programmes for Pakistan during Ramadan. "You are now in a great month, where people compete in giving and donating seeking God's approval. God doubles for you what you spend," they said. The call came in a statement published on the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments website, which will be read out by imams across the country during tomorrow's sermon.

It cites a Quranic verse that says: "Who is he that will lend unto Allah a goodly loan, that He may double it for him and his may be a rich reward." "The people of Pakistan are living under harsh conditions and a crisis that has left them homeless and lacking basic needs of food, clothes or medicine," the statement said. "Therefore, it is our duty to stand by their side." Muslims are also reminded of a hadith by the Prophet Mohammed, which says: "Whoever relieves a calamity that has struck a believer in this world, Allah will relieve for him one of the calamities of the day of Judgement, and whoever makes things easy for a person in trouble, Allah will make his matters easy in this life and in the hereafter, and whoever shields the faults of a Muslim, Allah will shield his faults in this world and the hereafter, and Allah will help and support his servant as long as he is helping and supporting his brother."

Luz Salem, a 23-year-old Palestinian-Colombian marketing manager who has been involved in several fundraising projects for Pakistan, was optimistic that the sermon would help boost contributions among older residents. Three weeks ago, Ms Salem and a group of friends launched their efforts using Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger. "Social media has proved very effective in reaching the age group between 13 and 35," she said. "But we need the message to reach the parents, the uncles and other members of society, so the Friday sermon will be a great way in achieving that." Ms Salem's group is also working on an initiative called Rock Solid, which aims to gather Dubai's bands and artists through a Facebook group to sing a song dedicated by the UAE to Pakistan. The plan is to record the song and send revenues to Pakistan. @Email:hdajani@thenational.ae

General Ashfaq Parvez, the chief of staff of the Pakistani army, visited the headquarters of the UAE's aid effort in Multan yesterday. The UAE has delivered more than 180 tonnes of aid to the flood-stricken area. "The UAE force is playing a major role in assisting about two million affected people in the Punjab region," Gen Parvez said, according to WAM, the state news agency. Abu Dhabi Police has also provided satellite communication systems for United Nations relief teams working in the area. In Yemen, almost 1,000 people are benefiting from the UAE Red Crescent Authority's (RCA) Ramadan aid programmes every day. Khalfan al Canady, the director of UAE RCA in Yemen, said daily iftars were provided to needy families in 18 provinces. * The National