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Sunday, 25 March, 2001, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Islamic hotline goes international
Pilgrims in Mecca
Accessible advice for millions of Muslims who annually go to Mecca
By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

An Egyptian telephone hotline offering round-the clock advice on Islam has expanded into Jordan in the first step of an ambitious plan to go global.

The founders of the service, which was set up last August, say that over the next few months they hope to be available in several other Arab countries, as well as parts of Europe, Asia and the United States.

The Islamic hotline, dubbed Dial-a-Fatwa, has been doing a brisk trade.

Callers ring in with their requests for advice from a team of religious scholars who leave a recorded reply the following day.

Anonymous

Koran
From the Koran to a phone line
Its founders believe a key part of its success is that the calls are anonymous.

People can ask potentially embarrassing questions without fear of being found out.

They say the hotline receives around 500 calls a day from Egyptians wanting to know everything from Islam's view on masturbation or bank interest to the correct divorce procedures.

If all goes according to plan, Muslims around the world will soon be able to use the service too.

They would make a local call and have their question and answer transmitted via the internet.

The entrepreneur behind the hotline describes it as Islam on a platter, delivering religious advice to suit the third millennium.

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05 Oct 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Jordan
21 Sep 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Egypt
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