Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

King Faisal Award

Dr. Zakir A. Naik, President of the Islamic Research Foundation of India, won the 2015 King Faisal International Prize (KFIP) for Service to Islam. The award for Islamic Studies went to Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Kaki, a consultant at Madinah Development authority. Each prize consists of a handwritten Arabic certificate summarizing the laureate’s work, a commemorative 24 carat, 200 gram gold medal and a cash award of SR750,000/-.

Hajj Quota for 2015

A delegation led by Gen V. K. Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, visited Saudi Arabia for signing the annual agreement for Hajj 2015 (1436H). The Hajj quota for India for 2015 is 136,020 pilgrims. Of them, 100,020 pilgrims will come through Hajj Committee of India (HCI) and the remaining 36,000 through private tour operators.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Halal Food Market is worth USD1.1 Trillion

The international Halal food market, considered one of the fastest growing segments of the world-wide food industry and currently worth USD1.1 trillion globally, occupies an integral part of Gulfood 2015 – the twentieth anniversary of the food and hospitality trade show. In all, more than 1,000 international halal food brands and companies displayed their products in the just-concluded exhibition at Dubai World Trade Center. The global halal food market now accounts for a fifth of the world’s food trade.

QATAR

Population Jumps More than 10%

Qatar’s population grew by more than 10% last year, fueled by the country’s massive spending on infrastructure projects. The Qatar National Bank (QNB), in its monthly report, said the number of people moving to live in the Gulf state rose by 10.1% during 2014. Around 2.2 million people live in Qatar, with some 90% of the population made up of people from overseas.

SRI LANKA

Subsidy for Hajj Pilgrims

A leading Sri Lankan Muslim politician plans to propose that the newly elected government of the island nation subsidize citizens going for Hajj. Speaking from Makkah, Azath Salley, the former deputy mayor of Colombo said that the Hajj scheme in Sri Lanka does not benefit lower middle class families. The Hajj package shot up last year to RS650,000 (SR18,508) which average Muslims cannot afford, he said. He said that the scheme would possibly be implemented this year and benefits half of all pilgrims from Sri Lanka. He would also urge the government to increase the Hajj quota, which was cut from 6,700 to 2,200 last year.

BANGLADESH

Dhaka to supply two million workers

Bangladesh is ready to send two million trained workers, including 500,000 maids, to help the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia meet its labor requirements, a diplomat from that country said recently. This includes engineers, nurses, maids and drivers, said Consul General, Shahidul Karim, in comments published in Arab News. Karim said his country has set up 64 centers to train workers. We have prepared a database of some two million qualified workers.  A high level Saudi Labour Ministry delegation is expected to visit Dhaka in a few days to iron out a labour agreement, he said.

SAUDI ARABIA

Distortion of Islam worries citizens

Citizens have raised concerns about the distortion of Islam by terrorists and stressed the importance of addressing persons who practice Islamic rituals which are misconstrued and commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam. They emphasized that Islamic scholars should take the lead in making people aware of true Islam and highlight the danger of militancy and extremism. An Imam of a mosque in Dammam, said that most terrorist groups aim at spreading chaos through biased views. He observed that preachers and Imams should guide them to the right path.

Expansion Projects in Makkah and Madinah on track

The government has recently accelerated the work on the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. The SR 80 billion Makkah project will increase the mosque’s capacity to 2.5 million worshippers while the Madinah mosque expansion will accommodate more than 1.5 million. The Finance ministry has identified 10,000 properties surrounding the mosque that has to make way for the project. Further, the General Presidency for the Holy Mosque Affairs has set up 46 screens outdoors to broadcast educational information to pilgrims in several languages. There are fourteen giant screens and 32 medium ones (of 154 x 100 cms size) on light poles in the courtyards at the Grand Mosque, said the director of operations at the mosque.

Population is 30.8 Million

Saudi Arabia’s population stood at 30.8 million at the end of 2014, a 2.6% rise from 2013, according to data released by the Kingdom’s Central Department of Statistics and Information (CDSI). There were 20.7 million Saudis making up 67% of the population, while the number of foreigners stood at 10.1 million or 33%. The CDSI said the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at SR2.82 trillion at the end of 2014, while per capita GDP was SR91,700/-.

MoH Islamic Program

Nearly 200,000 patients have benefitted from the religious education program conducted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) last year. Under this program, the officials of the Health Ministry meet the patients and help them fulfill their religious rites within the hospital facilities. During these visits, the team distributed 49,673 Tayammum kits to enable patients to perform their ablutions easily without the use of water. Apart from the reading materials, the officials have also distributed some 90,000 gifts to the patients.

SR153 Billion in Remittances

The volume of money remitted by expatriates working in the Kingdom registered a new record of SR153.3 billion in 2014, local media said, quoting a report released by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA). According to SAMA, the remittances averaged SR19,000/- per expat during the year. Although foreign workers have the right to send their salaries back home, but officials have voiced concern that the volume of remittances might be too high compared to their real income.

Volunteers Renovate Mosques in Asir

More than 60 Asir residents have volunteered to clean and renovate mosques in the area as part of a group calling themselves the “Servants of the Mosques.” Group supervisor, Ahmed Saeed al-Asmari, claimed the volunteers came up with the idea after many residents in the area complained that some mosques needed repair and a facelift especially in the coastal region. The supervisor said that the group believes that places of worship are far more important than their own houses. One of the group’s core statements declares that they do not collect donations, since members themselves shoulder all the work and expenses during renovations. Some of them are specialized in the construction field as well as in electricity and plumbing, which are ideal qualifications for the task, al-Asmari explained.

Preserving Ethnic Identity

The head of the Riyadh-based Princess Nora University stressed the need to teach Arabic to children at an early age so as to strengthen the language’s role in the region. Huda bint Mohammed al-Ameel, the University’s Dean, also pointed out that Arabic is the language of Islam and part of the Saudi culture and heritage. It is the symbol of the country’s identity and a medium of communication in the Arab nation.

Promote Values: Grand Mosque Imam

Imam and Khateeb at the Grand Mosque, Sheikh Saleb Bin Humaid, called on the believers to employ the new media to promote virtue, humanitarian sentiments and values, love for others and encourage good and charitable deeds and cooperation in good deeds and piety. The new media has the potential to open the doors of virtue, making the path to righteousness easy, enabling a man to be obedient to Allah and engage in charitable deeds, he said.

Fighting Terror is Islamic Duty

Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, has stressed the importance of rallying all efforts from media and educational institutions to combat terrorism. The misuse of the religion by extremists is greatly damaging the image of Islam, he said. Such actions severely distort the image of Islam, he said. He declared that combating terror is a religious necessity to Islam.

JORDAN

IIROSA Launches Umrah Trip

The International Islamic Relief Organization, Saudi Arabia (IIROSA), recently arranged an Umrah trip for 200 orphans from Jordan. Ehssan Saleh Taieb, Secretary General of IIROSA, said such trips enhance and develop positive behavior in children who have been deprived of basic physical and emotional necessities. IIROSA not only ensures that the orphans receive food, shelter, health and educational assistance, but also tries to address their needs through a variety of cultural activities and occasional leisure trips, he said.

SPAIN

Marbella, King Abdul Aziz Mosque

The building architecture of the King Abdul Aziz Mosque in Marbella, Spain, is an example of Andalusian-inspired contemporary Arabic architecture. Built by Cordoban architect, Juan Mora, it is said that the mosque houses a selection of 30,000 books focusing on Qur’anic studies and that it can accommodate more than 800 people at a time. Besides the library and a stunning iconic garden, it also houses the Imam. The stunning mosque built by King Salman of Saudi Arabia is the first mosque to be built after the Christians recaptured Spain in the fifteenth century and the subsequent expulsion of the Moors from the Spanish continent.

FRANCE

Muslim Party to Take Part in Polls

A Muslim party that aims to promote Islamic finance and overturn France’s ban on wearing the veil in schools will take part in regional elections due next month. Led by Najib Azergui, the Democratic Union of French Muslims (UDMF) also aims to promote the use of Arabic in schools and fight against dangerous stigmatization that equates Islam with terrorism. The party which has 900 members and 8,000 supporters is to put up two candidates in the election. France has struggled to integrate its Muslim community, Europe’s largest estimated at between 3.5 to 5 million, although figures are difficult to come by as secular France does not collate religious data.

NORWAY

Muslims Form a Human Shield

One group of Muslims in Norway plans to form a “Ring of Peace” around a synagogue in Oslo. On a Facebook page promoting the event, the group explained its motivations. Here’s a translated version of the invite: “Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other. Muslims want to show that we deeply deplore all types of hatred of Jews, and that we are there to support them. We will, therefore, create a human ring around the synagogue. Encourage everyone to come.”

‘If someone wants to attack the synagogue, they need to step over us first,’ posted another of the event’s organizers on Facebook.

[Compiled by: Syed Nehal Zaheer]