Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Need to Know If Koran Allows Soccer? Call Islam Line ; the 24-Hour Service, Which Answers Questions about Islam, Plans to Go Global in Coming Months

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Need to Know If Koran Allows Soccer? Call Islam Line ; the 24-Hour Service, Which Answers Questions about Islam, Plans to Go Global in Coming Months

Article excerpt

The small man hunches in his pressed gray suit and tie, peering through wire-rimmed glasses at his telephone, as the recorded voice of a younger man rises from the speaker.

"Is playing soccer forbidden under Islam?" the young man asks.

"No my brother, the game of soccer is accepted by Islam," says the Muslim cleric, speaking thoughtfully but authoritatively into a recording machine. "Soccer is one of the sports that gives young men the spirit of cooperation and work ethics."

After finishing his answer, Abd Al Moaty Bayoumy goes on to the next call, doling spiritual advice to Muslims he's never met.

In this country, where people consult their religion several times a day for guidance, authoritative answers can be as hard to find as Pharoanic treasures entombed in the Giza pyramids. But a new 24-hour hot line called Islam Line makes it as easy as picking up the phone.

Islam Line has been so successful since its August launch that the owners plan to expand to the rest of the Arab World, and eventually to Europe and the United States. Just last month it became available to mobile-phone users in Jordan.

The hot line, dubbed "Dial-a-Fatwa," averages 300 callers a day from men and women of every age and social class. Callers simply dial a number and leave their questions on a recording. Within 24 hours they can call, punch in the number designated for their question, and listen to the answer. The phone service is staffed by six highly respected, moderate clerics trained at Al-Azhar, a thousand-year-old university that's considered the cradle of Islamic learning.

On this day, Dr. Bayoumy, dean of theology at Al-Azhar, fields questions such as how to leave a cheating husband and how a promiscuous woman should be treated. Callers asked about divorce, financial dealings, and daily prayers.

Until now, many people have relied on religious television call- in programs or a government-sponsored hot line for answers. While the government hot line is free, it's less efficient. Service hours are limited, and answers are sometimes incomplete, prompting some callers to meet with a sheikh in person anyway. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.