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PA religious authority: "Breaking the Ramadan fast in public is one of the greatest sins"

Excerpt of an op-ed by Rafiah District Mufti and member of the PA's Supreme Fatwa Council Sheikh Hassan Ahmed Jaber, in his regular column in the official PA daily's religion section for the month of Ramadan. This article has been reprinted several times in previous years:

Headline: "The importance of the obligation to fast, which is a central pillar among the five pillars of Islam, and which anyone who intentionally does not keep it, without any justification or religious legal permission, has renounced Islam"
     "Breaking the Ramadan fast in public is one of the greatest sins, and only someone that has a heart of stone is capable of doing this, as Prophet [Muhammad] said: 'Whoever stops fasting on Ramadan has renounced Islam.'... The Prophet [Muhammad], peace be upon him, said: 'The pillars and foundations of Islam are three, and anyone that has neglected one of them - [the shedding of] his blood is permitted: The testimony that there is no God but Allah, fasting, and prayer.' Anyone that eats in public during Ramadan, while he renounces the commandment of fasting and denies it, violates the laws of Allah and disobeys Allah, who said: 'O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.' [Quran, Sura 2:183, Sahih International translation]. In this way he exits the circle of Islam, and [the shedding of] his blood becomes permitted. Eating in public during Ramadan also offends the sensitivities of all Muslims throughout the world... I request that all the PA [Security] Forces strike with an iron fist anyone who gives in to temptation and breaks the fast in public during the month of Ramadan by imposing the heaviest punishments against them, so that our society will be pure, clean, close to Allah, and obedient to Him, and will fully keep the obligation to fast. I also request that the owners of the cafés and restaurants throughout Palestine close their shops during the days of Ramadan in order to preserve the sanctity of this holiday."
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