" Mawaed El-Rahman" or tables of Ramadan Iftar، is one of the most prominent manifestations of social solidarity in the holy month of Ramadan. These charity food tables offer free breakfasts to fasting people in different neighborhoods. The quality of the food varies according to the standards level of the neighborhood، and the people who afford these charity tables.
It is believed that " Mawaed El-Rahman" was called so after the name Quranic verse "Al-Maa'idah" where God granted Jesus Ibn Maryam (peace be upon him) a table of food from heaven to be a sign for the unbelievers. Also، the name "Rahman" urges mercy and affection among Muslims.
Historically، it is said that the first man who set up Mawaed Al-Rahman was Prince Ahmad Ibn Tulun، the founder of the Tulunion state.
While others go on to say that the caliph al-Mu'izz Ladinullah al-Fatimi was the first one to set up a table in the month of Ramadan.
During the last 15 years،" Mawaed El-Rahman"( or Iftar tables) became a famous phenomenon and an outlet for poor people to get a good & free meal after fasting the whole day. Among the most famous Iftar tables held in Egypt are: Al-Azhar table، which hosts about 4000 people daily، Al-Hussein table، Sayeda Zeinab table، and the table of Ramses Square، which is located by Fateh mosque، and remains open throughout the year..
The table of the Rahman has evolved in the modern era to cope with the changes of the times. It has been transformed from a table on which food is brought، and the fasting people come to eat it، to meals that are prepared and sent to the poor in their homes or distributed to hospitals، orphanages and the elderly.
It is interesting to note that the preparation of these tables is not exclusive to a particular religion. Some Egyptian neighborhoods have seen tables presented by Christians and Copts.
Some people consider setting these Iftar tables by Copts is normal، and a manifestation of coexistence between the communities in Egypt. It also sends messages about "national unity." It is funny to know that these tables also، with their own spirituality، attract foreign tourists. It is very common in some place to see a foreigner sitting at the tables of Iftar and eating with the fasting people، just to enjoy this atmosphere.
According to a study conducted by Al-Azhar University، Mawaed El-Rahman" in Cairo alone costs more than one billion pounds، which is equal to what other governorates spend on these tables during the month of Ramadan.
The study pointed out that the number of citizens who benefit from these Iftar tables is 3 million people a day، while the number or people who organize these tables are about 10 thousand person.
Information and Decision Support Center of the Egyptian Council of Ministers estimated that the number of " Mawaed al-Rahman" in Egypt is about 13،555 table. 87% of these tables are afforded by individuals، and 13% are afforded by charity associations which collect donations to finance these meals.
Despite the hard economic conditions throughout the last 7 years، Mawaed Al-Rahman was never affected It remained، as it always has been، one of Ramadan constants manifestations.