Experts alarmed at spreading online begging on social networking sites

Updated 14 April 2016
0

Experts alarmed at spreading online begging on social networking sites

ABHA: Online beggars have started using social media where they direct their messages to draw sympathy through stories from inside Saudi Arabia.
Information security expert Mohammad Al-Sareai said the information revolution has contributed to the spread of online/electronic begging using forged documents and fabricated stories and posting them across social networks such as Twitter and WhatsApp.
“People usually seek to collect funds for mosques or treatment under nicknames and fake accounts, where electronic begging is considered the latest means of fraud. Electronic begging and fraud are two sides of the same coin, and aim to deceive people into raising funds illegally. The crime of fraud is considered among the most frequent occurring cybercrimes on social networking sites,” he said.
Al-Sareai added that Article 4 of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law covers “acquisition of movable property or bonds for oneself or others or signing such bonds through fraud or use of false name or identity. Any person who commits said crime shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years and a fine not exceeding SR2 million, or to either punishment.”
Sheikh Ahmed Al-Muabi, said that “cyberfraud and begging have become widespread in our communities, and we can never tell if they are all liars, but it is the new means of begging and we should, in fact, be cautious about it.”
He added that no doubt it is human nature to feel sympathy and compassion, but people should first investigate the source, because God has made it clear to whom zakat should be given: “Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah.”
Dr. Mohammed Kisnawi, sociology counselor at the University of Umm Al-Qura, said that the person should deal with such messages with caution and advise the sender to go to charities.
“We should not forget the need to educate individuals on circulating news about a person who gives zakat, where this helps increasing the phenomenon of begging,” he said.
Kisnawi continued saying that society should be aware of the risk of circulating such messages, rather make sure to reach out to competent authorities.”
Khaled Al-Jelban, a family and community medicine consultant at King Khalid University, indicated, “families must educate their children about practices of begging across social media … and community institutions should direct charitable work among our youths to official authorities, which already provide services to those in need.”


Enigmatic traveler who revealed full majesty of Makkah to the world

Pilgrims camp in Arafat during Hajj in this rare old picture. (Supplied)
Updated 19 min 37 sec ago
0

Enigmatic traveler who revealed full majesty of Makkah to the world

  • The next day he and his companions wore Ihram garments and walked along winding roads until they reached Makkah
  • The vessel floundered and sank, forcing Al-Abbasi and his men to flee in a lifeboat and row for hours before reaching the safety of a Red Sea island

JEDDAH: Ali Bey Al-Abbasi was not the first European enamored with the Arab Peninsula and the mysteries of Makkah. Nor was he the first Westerner to visit the city — but he was an unusually resourceful man, with wealth of unknown origin and a great thirst for discovery, who provided Westerners with the first comprehensive account of the city.
He was born Domingo Francisco Jorge Badía y Leblich in Barcelona in 1767. After receiving a liberal education, he focused on astronomy, medicine and mineral science. He also developed an interest in learning Arabic.
“Al-Abbasi was an agent of the king of Spain or of Napoleon,” says August Raleigh, author of the book “Makkah in the Eyes of a Christian Pilgrim.”
In 1801, Al-Abbasi set off for Paris and London, returning to Spain two years later wearing Islamic clothing. Later, he formed a close friendship with the sultan of Morocco who, with growing affection, advised the Spaniard to find a wife, to which Al-Abbasi replied that he had made a pledge not to marry before visiting Makkah. The sultan tried to discourage Al-Abbasi from making the trip but when he could not, and saw the determination of his friend, he presented him with a beautiful, extravagant tent as a gift.
On the third day of Shawwal, 1806, Al-Abbasi joined a convoy heading to Makkah, taking with him 14 camels and two horses. He boarded a ship from Suez but fate, and the weather, were not on his side. The vessel floundered and sank, forcing Al-Abbasi and his men to flee in a lifeboat and row for hours before reaching the safety of a Red Sea island. From there, they were rescued and taken to Jeddah.
On the 12th day of Dul Qaada, Al-Abbasi had to be carried on a stretcher because he had a fever that weakened him and damaged his bones. The next day he and his companions wore Ihram garments and walked along winding roads until they reached Makkah.
Al-Abbasi entered the city and when he reached the courtyard of the mosque, a guide gestured for him to stop. He pointed to the Kaaba and said: “Look. Look at the house of God.”
The Spaniard was deeply affected by the reverence of his experience. He wrote: “The house of God is covered with a black robe from above to be draped, surrounded by a ring of lamps, the unaccustomed hour and the stillness of the night; and our guide, who was speaking before us as if he were inspired, all these images formed an amazing image that will not be erased from my memory.”
He remained in the city, living among noblemen and aristocrats. The governor of Makkah even asked him to help clean the Kaaba. Describing one of the many incredible sights that he witnessed, during a year when the number of pilgrims was 83,000, Al-Abbasi wrote: “Only in Arafat can one get an idea of the majestic scene of pilgrimage. There are countless people from all nations and colors from every corner of the world. Despite the thousands of countless dangers and obstacles that they had to overcome, all of them worship one God. Everyone counts themselves as members of one family. There is no intermediary between man and his Lord; everyone is equal before their creator.”
Al-Abbasi, who later wrote of his experiences, was the first European to present to the world a detailed account of Makkah, unlike the fragmented notes of earlier travelers such as Ludovico di Varthema and Joseph Bates. He went so far as to include a precise location, determined through astronomical observation, and recreated a map of the Grand Mosque.
Al-Abbasi continued to travel, visiting many countries before he died of dysentery in 1818, in Aleppo, Syria. He was buried in Balqa, near Amman, the capital of Jordan.