Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

Kerala to mark UN Arabic Language Day

A renowned South Indian group which runs a chain of religious and general educational institutions in the state of Kerala has lined up a host of events in the run up to the UN Arabic language Day celebrations. Organizers of the event said the Fiesta Arabia, comprising various programs, would commence at the Ma’din Academy center in the Muslim dominated Malappuram district of Kerala. Kerala has hundreds of religious schools imparting Arabic language courses. The state-run colleges also offer bachelors degree in Arabic language. In 2010, UNESCO declared 18th December as the World Arabic Language Day to celebrate multi-lingualism and cultural diversity across the world.

Businessman eyes Saudi market

A Mumbai-based entrepreneur, who has introduced a new multi-lingual digital version of the Holy Qur’an in India, is currently scouting for business opportunities in real estate, housing and textile sectors in the Kingdom. The visiting leader, who runs the Mumbai-based Yasser Arafat Charitable Trust, has launched a major multi-million dollar housing project in India. He also noted that he is working on a project to export to Saudi Arabia a newly designed ihram – two pieces of seamless clothes worn by Umrah and Haj pilgrims. According to him, the high-tech ihram will be available with a unique belt using Global Positioning System (GPS) chips to locate the user.

QATAR

Flag flies into Guinness World Records

Qatar has sewn a flag large enough to cover seven football pitches, claiming a Guinness Book record, as the Gulf emirate celebrated its national day. The fabric used for Qatar’s flag was imported on board three planes. The maroon and white Qatari flag unfurled in Lusail had a total area of 101,978 sq.m and weighs 9.8 tons.

MALAYSIA

IDB plans to set up center of excellence

The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2014 has brought about positive changes to the lives of millions of people around the world, said the president of the IDB. “This is one of the bank’s greatest achievements,” he told a high-level forum in Kuala Lumpur that was organized to discuss the IDB’s future strategies. Plans are under way to set up the Islamic Banking Center of Excellence in Kuala Lumpur, which will enable IDB to provide a myriad of Islamic banking products and offerings that include research and development in innovation, capacity building, knowledge-sharing and liquidity management. Malaysia welcomes a proposal by IDB to build their office in Malaysia. The center of excellence will mitigate Islamic banking deals not only in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, but also to the greater part of the world.

MYANMAR

Rohingya Muslims: Act before it is too late

According to the United Nations, the Rohingya Muslims living in Rakhine province on Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh are one of the world’s most persecuted communities. Rakhine has been the homeland of the Rohingya people. The Yangon regime denies the Rohingya people citizenship rights. This has terrible consequences. They have no social status in the country. They are not allowed to travel. That restriction severely limits their access to schools, work and market opportunities and health services. Rohingya Muslims have no means of accessing state hospitals or of course social security. We must draw world’s attention to the plight of the Rogingya Muslims.

SAUDI ARABIA

Grand Mufti: Beware of social media perils

Grand Mufti has warned against attempts to spread propaganda through social media platforms, attacking and faulting the state for what it does in the service of Islam and Muslims. They seek to undermine the social fabric and they are platforms for malice that promote misleading doctrines, he said, while delivering a lecture to a large gathering at Taibah University. The Grand Mufti reminded the audience that the Holy Qur’an urges citizens to obey rulers who are in charge of the state. The lecture focused on urging youth to try to follow the right path.

Rare Kiswa piece fetches USD1 million

A rare piece of Kiswa (the cover of Ka’aba) dated 1354 AH, which was given as a gift by the monarch of Al-Bohra to King Abdul Aziz, was sold for USD 1 million at the second auction of Arabian Wings in Jeddah. The piece is considered to be one of the rarest pieces of the Kiswa. Arabian Wings is a well-known art group. The auction, which fetched SR 4.7 million, also saw artworks from a number of Saudi and Arab artists. They included sculptures, paintings and Islamic and contemporary art.

Non Arabs win Qur’an Contest

The top two prizes of the King Abdul Aziz International Qur’an contest, which was just concluded at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, went to non-Arabs from Nigeria and Bangladesh, an official said. The Secretary General of the Jeddah based International Qur’an Memorization Organization (IQMO) told Arab News, “The King Abdul Aziz competition is the mother of all international Qur’an contests.” He said that it encouraged 20 Arab and Muslim countries to hold similar international contests. A total of 150 contestants from 61 countries took part in the Makkah competition. A contestant thanked Saudi Arabia for the encouragement it has given Muslim youth to learn and memorize the Qur’an. The contest has given us an opportunity to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque.

Criminalize abuse of Prophet

Delegates at a conference in Madinah have called on governments of Muslim majority nations to seek a United Nations resolution that would make the abuse of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), other prophets and caliphs a criminal offense. This was one of several resolutions adopted by the World Conference on the Prophet (pbuh) organized by the Madinah Islamic University. The conference recommended organizing a workshop at the university for human rights activists from Arab and Islamic countries to develop a binding charter to protect Islam and the name of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The delegates also called on Muslims to spread the message of Islam to non-Muslims globally through print and electronic media on all platforms in all languages and for business people to invest in these projects.

Saudis say ‘Smile,’ It is Sunnah

A group of young Saudis have launched a smile campaign saying that it is a revival of a tradition by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Holding placards that said, ‘Smile, it is Sunnah,’ the young men used the Corniche in the Red Sea of Jeddah to promote better feelings and greater uplifting energy among people. The drive was warmly welcomed by the citizens who responded by encouraging the activists, the local news site, Sabq, reported.

Honors Dutch revert

The head of the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques honored Arnoud van Doorn, a prominent Dutch politician who embraced Islam, by conferring on him his cloak. Van Doorn was a leading member of the rightist Freedom Party of Geert Wilders who produced the “Fitna” film abusing the Prophet (peace be upon him). The embracing of Islam by Van Doorn and many other Westerners show that it is the true and final religion. Islam will spread all over the world despite the smear campaign against the religion and its Prophet.

OIC Chief praises Pope’s efforts

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has commended the efforts exerted by Pope Francis to revitalize interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims. He made his comments during his first meeting with the pope at the Vatican. The two expressed the need for greater efforts to foster respect for religious pluralism and cultural diversity and to counter the spread of bigotry and prejudices. They highlighted establishing a secondary, cultural tract to support interfaith dialogue initiatives. Views were exchanged on regional and international developments, especially the situation in Palestine. Concern and dismay were also expressed about the continuation of violence in Syria, which they agreed requires a solution based on dialogue and negotiation.

IDB project spending nears USD100bn

The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank Group, which marks its 40th anniversary next year, has spent nearly USD100 billion to finance infrastructure, health, educational and other projects in member countries, including the 4,500 km Sahara Highway. The President of the IDB said that the bank has received tremendous support from its 56 member countries, including Saudi Arabia and other GCC states. Saudi Arabia has the largest stake in IDB, which has a subscribed capital of USD150 billion. IDB has financed projects worth USD98 billion in member countries.

Former Haram Imam refused entry to UK

A former Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah was stopped from travelling to Britain as he boarded his plane in Riyadh bound for London. “I was stopped at the door of the plane and told that the authorities received a message from the British Embassy saying that I was not allowed to enter Britain,” the former Imam told Arab News. He had planned to visit the British Muslim community. The British Embassy did not explain why he was refused entry. He said that the British Muslim community had arranged a series of events where he could speak and meet people in various UK cities including London. He further informed that he was told that other Muslim scholars have also been denied entry and had their visas cancelled.

EGYPT

Qaradawi quits Al Azhar

Muslim Brotherhood linked theologian, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has resigned from the governing body of Cairo’s Al Azhar, accusing the top Islamic seat of learning of supporting Egypt’s military installed government. Egyptian born Qaradawi, who has been based in Qatar since he was stripped of his citizenship decades ago, has been an outspoken critic of the army’s 3rd July ouster of President Muhammad Mursi. The scholar retains a huge influence through his regular appearances as a commentator on Doha-based satellite channel, Al Jazeera. 

ANGOLA

Denies banning Islam

Angola’s government denied that it had banned Islam and closed mosques in the country after speculation that sparked outrage among Muslims worldwide. There is no war in Angola against Islam or any other religion, said the director of the National Institute for Religious Affairs, which is part of the Ministry of Culture. There is no official position that targets the destruction or closure of places of worship, whichever they are. Reports that Angola would crackdown on Muslims had drawn condemnation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and others.  In Egypt, the Mufti said that such a move would be a provocation not only to Angolan Muslims but to more than 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world.

NEW ZEALAND

Oakland Islamic Center

The Secretary-General of the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL), laid the foundation stone for the Islamic Center in Oakland in New Zealand and urged Muslims in the country to preserve their culture and heritage.  The project would include a mosque, a school, an Islamic cultural center, a rest house for travelers and sports facilities. He also launched a new knowledge center at Hamilton Mosque. He hoped the center would support New Zealand Muslims in propagating the message of Islam in the country, he added.  The MWL chief had earlier visited the Bosnabi Mosque, the first mosque in Oakland, which was established in 1979.

[COMPILED BY: SYED NEHAL ZAHEER]