The Azhar University has revolutionised how people can seek religious or personal help with the opening of the first “Fatwa Kiosk” at Al Shohadaa station in Ramses Square, Cairo. Among the various food and telecommunication storefronts in the stations, a small cubicle with Sheikh Ahmed Ramzy El Saber and Sheikh Youssef Ez El Din is open to the public from 9 AM - 8 PM every day of the week (except Fridays). Despite the huge line of hopeful advice-seekers, we were able to sit down with the sheikhs and ask them about the opening of the kiosk as well as test out the waters and ask a couple of questions about common things many Egyptians do that may or may not be... haram.

Why did you to think of the idea of opening a kiosk in the metro station of all places?

“People are extremely busy, they have places to be, things to do, and mouths to feed. Therefore we thought that we should go to them, instead of have them spend their valuable time looking for us. The metro is somewhere that is easily accessible for the normal civilian, and it makes it so they can come in without having to change their daily plan whatsoever. Have a few minutes between your connecting rides? Come have a chat with us.”

It’s just like writing a book and someone publishing it with their name on it and reaping the benefits. 

What do you hope to accomplish through your work at the kiosk?

“We are not only here to give advice and talk religion, we want people to have someone to talk to when they are feeling down or have problems. The best thing you can do for someone is lend them a willing ear when they are troubled by something. Although we do answer religious questions primarily, if you are having a bad day and just need to open your heart up to someone, we are here for you.”

Fake brands are all around Egypt, is it haram to purchase clothing that isn’t original?

“It is not a sin to purchase clothing that are replicas of a brand. It is haram however to manufacture or sell these items. It’s just like writing a book and someone publishing it with their name on it and reaping the benefits. Producing these items is considered stealing and forgery, and is not halal.”

The ethics and morals of Islam extend to all walks of life, including the etiquette for driving.

Is beeping the horn too much while driving, and cutting people off haram?

“Both of these are definitely sins. A person should be mindful of the way they wish to be treated while they are on the streets, and extend that same courtesy to others. Just because everyone else is doing it does not mean you should do it to. If you want to see a change in Egypt in terms of transportation and hope that we can one day emulate what is taking place in first-world countries, you need to start by changing yourself first, and soon others will follow. The ethics and morals of Islam extend to all walks of life, including the etiquette for driving.”

If I am going to Sahel, can I wear a tank-top and swim-shorts/ripped-jeans?

“As long as you are covering the necessary areas it is not a sin to wear a tank-top or swimming shorts even if they are slightly above the knees. As for ripped jeans, if the rips are not revealing or above the knee area, they are completely fine. The most important thing is to try to be modest in your clothing, if you believe that what you are wearing respects your body as well as the women who may be around, then you can wear it.”

The results of this project seem more than encouraging. We were told metro riders are glad that they can have someone to talk to and share their problems with. “It’s a fantastic idea, everyone has problems, and each day has its own issues, trials, and tribulations”, a woman waiting in line to speak with the Sheikhs told us. “What these young men are doing is going to help a lot of people who may be in need of a quick word of advice, I hope that the University will expand this project and open kiosks at more metro stations,” she added.