Flashes from the Muslim World

SAUDI ARABIA

Over 600 embrace Islam in Riyadh

The Office of Call and Guidance in north Riyadh said 618 people from France, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar and Ghana have embraced Islam. Deputy Director, Sheikh Abdul Hakim Al-Jasser, said the reversions occurred only in the first quarter of this year. The reversions were made because of special programs carried out on a regular basis. At least 800 internal and external lectures and lessons were carried out in several languages which were attended by more than 29,000 people both male and female, according to Al-Jasser.

Islamic world needs to fight poverty, corruption

Terrorism is not linked to any religion or region and can only be defeated by a coalition of moderate forces across the world, Muslim scholars said in a declaration issued at the Muslim World League (MWL) conference in Makkah.  The elimination of terrorism and religious extremism will not be achieved by the spread of Islamophobia or fighting against Islam. It can only be achieved by cooperation with Muslim countries, scholars and their institutions, the declaration said at the end of the three-day event. The declaration also appealed to Muslim youth to follow the teachings of Islam based on the Qur’an and the Prophet’s traditions. They should promote human lives and eschew sedition, extremism, violence and conflicts and follow the advice of scholars, it said.

Heritage sites in holy cities need protection

There should be further measures taken to punish those who destroy the country’s archaeological sites in Makkah and Madinah, a top Saudi official said recently. Abdul Aziz Kaki, winner of the King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies, said there have been several important landmarks destroyed over the years in the two cities. Kaki, who is also adviser to the Madinah Development Authority, said the city had been home to many ancient communities, dating back to the Prophet’s time. Kaki made the comments during his lecture at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, which focused on Madinah’s landmarks, architecture and history.

Swedish antics condemned

Shoura Council President, Abdullah Al-Sheikh, denounced the irresponsible statement by Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, against Saudi Arabia, adding that it was a clear interference in the Kingdom’s internal affairs and goes against international charters and diplomatic norms. Saudi Arabia has every right to review its relations with Sweden, the Shoura chief said. “Abusing the judicial system in the Kingdom will be considered an insult to Shariah which is followed by more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. Islam is a religion of mercy, justice and equality,” he said.

New Irhal Mobile App

Irhal, an Arabic/ English mobile App, has been launched for Muslim travelers. The App not only guides users to tourist attractions and shopping places in 90 cities around the world, but also lists the nearest halal restaurant and mosque. Prayer timings and a compass showing the direction of Makkah are also included in the App, which can be downloaded free from the Apple or Android store by searching for the word, Irhal. Irhal aims to become the must-have resource for all Muslim travelers.

Should Cell-phones be Jammed Inside the Haram?

The government should ban worshippers from using social networking sites or other applications on their smart phones at the country’s holy sites so that they can concentrate on the prayers, a senior security officers proposed recently. People should only use the call functions on their phones. Many worshippers think they are on a picnic and get busy taking themselves photographed with well-known individuals. Pilgrims taking their selfies in front of the Holy Ka’bah is a common sight.

MALAYSIA       

Muslim Traveler’s Top Choice

Malaysia is the most preferred global destination in the fast-growing Muslim travel market, despite two catastrophic air disasters that hit the country’s flag-carrier in 2014, a survey showed. Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Indonesia followed Malaysia in the ranking of choice holidays destinations for Muslim travelers, said a report by Islamic travel specialist, CrescentRating, and payments giant, MasterCard. For Muslim travelers, Malaysia still remains the top choice simply because it is a great holiday destination for families while offering a very Muslim-friendly environment. Malaysia has one of the best infrastructures for the Muslim traveler. It is reported that 5.9 million Muslim visitors visited Malaysia in 2014.

EGYPT

Arab Investment in Egypt

Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab investor in Egypt with their investments reaching USD 5.7 billion, or 27% of the Arab totals invested in that country, Egyptian Commercial Attache in Riyadh, Ahmed Zaki said. Total Arab investments in Egypt are reaching USD20 billion. The UAE was the second largest investor at USD 4.5 billion (21.4%) followed by Kuwait USD 2.7 billion, he told local media.

CANADA

MP Apologizes for Anti-Niqab Remarks

A legislator with Canada’s governing Conservative party apologized for saying Muslim women who do not want to remove their face coverings when taking the citizenship oath should stay the hell where they came from. It was the second embarrassing back track this month by the Conservatives as they gear up for an election that they have signaled they will centre around what they call ‘Jihadist terrorism.’ (Reuters)

UNITED STATES

Religious Groups Back Muslims in Scarf Case

A Muslim woman denied a sales job at an Abercrombie and Fitch Co. clothing store in Oklahoma because she wears a head-scarf, has won the support of Christians, Jews, Sikhs, and fellow Muslims as the US Supreme Court prepares  to hear her case. Various religious and civil rights organizations have filed friends of the court briefs backing Samantha Elauf, who was denied a sales job at the store in Tulsa in 2008 when she was seventeen. The Supreme Court is due to hear a one-hour oral argument in the case, with a ruling due by the end of June.

COMPILED BY: SYED NEHAL ZAHEER