Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

Islamic website with extensive library launched

A major Islamic website (www.najeebqasmi.com) was launched to spread the message of Islam. The promoter of the site is Najeeb Qasmi, a graduate of the India based Darul Uloom Deoband and Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi. The website has been launched to form an electronic library, where we can upload thousands of authentic Islamic books, easily available to the readers. The site showcases educational subtitles on the explanations of the Qur’an and hadith. It covers topics on ablution, prayers, Ramadan, Zakat, Hajj and Umrah.

IQMO backs Qur’an contest in Kerala

An All Kerala Qur’an recitation competition will be held in Chalakkal near Alwaye with the support of the Jeddah based International Qur’an Memorization Organization (IQMO), an affiliate of the Muslim World League. IQMO agreed to support the competition following the talks between the secretary general of the organization and the representatives of the Islamic Center in Chalakkal. This is the second time the center is holding the competition. Around 200 contestants are expected to take part in the competition. The center has been involved in promoting Islamic education in Kerala for the past 31 years. The center runs a School of Qur’an and Science where education is given free of charge.

PHILIPPINES

8,000 Filipinos to perform Hajj this year

A total of 8,000 Filipinos will perform Haj this year, said the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF). Last year, only 6,000 pilgrims came to perform Haj with a further 2,000 having requested visas. It has been reported that there is a 12,000 visa quota for the Philippines. All arrangements are in place here for a smooth Hajj this year.

BAHRAIN

Expects economic growth 6.2%

Bahrain’s economic growth is expected to pick up sharply this year on the back of a stronger oil sector, large industrial investments and a robust regional economy, the government said recently. Bahrain has been recovering gradually since it was hit hard in the first quarter of 2011 by protests. Saudi Arabia had last month set a plan to send USD 448 million to Bahrain, to be spent on housing, education and other projects.

KUWAIT

Seeks review of France Hijab-ban

Kuwait called on France to reconsider its ban on wearing Islamic face veils in public during a speech at the UN Human Rights Council, Kuwait news agency reported (KUNA). France ban on full face veils – a first in Europe – came into force in April 2011, and anyone wearing the Muslim hijab or burqa in public faces a fine of USD216, or lessons in French citizenship. Widely criticized by Muslims abroad as impinging on their religious freedom, the law has provoked a limited backlash in France where a strict separation of church and state is seen as central to maintaining a peaceful civil society. In September, France also banned praying in the street and later that month the Dutch government followed suit and banned Muslim women from wearing face covering veils.

Better Islamic finance oversight

Islamic financial institutions in Kuwait should hire enough personnel to ensure they comply with Shariah standards and work with the personnel in a transparent way, the country’s market watchdog said recently.  The statement by the Capital Market Authority (CMA) appeared to be in response to concern about uneven self-regulation by the institutions. The number of Islamic financial firms, which obey religious principles such as ban on the payment of interest, has increased substantially in Kuwait and elsewhere in the gulf over the past decade. There are five Islamic banks and around 30 mostly Islamic investment companies listed on Kuwait’s stock market, as well as fifteen Takaful Islamic insurance companies.

SAUDI ARABIA

New Prayer mats for Two Holy Mosques

The head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, has signed a SR 41.6 million contract with a local company to supply 70,000 new prayer mats for the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah. The Haram Mosque in Makkah will have green mats while the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will have red mats, he said. The company will supply the mats within 18 months. The deal comes at a time when the two mosques are witnessing massive expansion projects. The two expansion projects are expected to cost more than SR 150 billion and double the capacity of the two mosques.

Palestinian gets Faisal prize for Islamic work

A prominent Palestinian Islamic worker, Shaikh Raid Salah Mahagna, was given the prize for service to Islam. The announcement was made by the Makkah governor and the Secretary General of KFIP. Mahagna, who is also the chairman of Al-Aqsa Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Revered Islamic Places, has been a founding member of the Islamic movement in occupied Palestinian territories since 1948. He is one of the pioneers who has led many projects in al-Aqsa mosque in collaboration with the Islamic Endowment Organization in Al Quds. He was also the first to discover the tunnel dug under al-Aqsa Mosque by the occupiers. His endeavor has been reinforced by his profound knowledge of Islamic heritage and the principles of Islam that he follows.  King Faisal Foundation was established in 1976 by the eight sons of the late King Faisal. The ongoing memorial to a great king has revitalized the traditions of Arabic and Islamic philanthropy. The King Faisal Foundation has given 223 prizes since its inception so far. The US tops in terms of the number of KFIP winners, followed by Egypt, the UK and Saudi Arabia.

OIC demands seat on top UN body

The 56-member Organization of Islamic Conference, the largest Muslim organization in the world, should have a seat on the UN Security Council, said its Secretary-General. Speaking about the challenges facing the Islamic Ummah, he said they include poverty, lack of economic integration, Jewish settlement in occupied Arab territories and Judaization of Jerusalem (al-Quds). He said more diplomatic efforts are required to mobilize international support for recognition of Palestine as a state by the United Nations. UNESCO has recognized Palestine as a full member. This is a big achievement.

Islam forbids practicing sorcery

Justice Minister met recently a delegation from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to discuss the Saudi judiciary system among other topics. The delegation talked about the sorcery related issues in detail, seeking answers on the concept of witchcraft and the way the Saudi judiciary handles them. The minister said that Islam forbids practicing acts aimed to harm community, and magic is one of them. He said that Saudi judicial system guarantees all rights and freedom in accordance with the Kingdom’s constitution and regulatory arrangements and documents.

KAU plans Qur’an contest

King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah is studying prospects of conducting a Qur’an contest for students of all universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The President of the University made the comments at the concluding ceremony of a Qur’an competition at KAU. More than 450 students took part in the contest, which was organized by the university’s Department for Qur’anic Studies. The Qur’an is a complete record of the exact words revealed by Allah through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It’s the principal source of every Muslim’s faith and practice.

OIC channel to confront Islamophobia

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation emphasized its plan to establish an effective satellite television channel to confront Islamophobia and strengthen economic ties between member countries. The objective is to have a strong and effective media that can address the needs of the Muslim world having different languages with various cultural backgrounds. The new channel will present its programs in English, Arabic and French. Its main objective is to project the true picture of Islam and confront the challenge posed by Islamophobia especially in the West. The channel project was first proposed by a meeting of OIC information ministers in Gabon last year.

SPAIN

New Muslims in Spain

Islam in Spain has a remarkable presence. Muslims in Europe, in general, and Spain in particular have always been categorized as immigrants. In recent years, however, there is notable number of native Spaniards who have converted to Islam in Spain and they are recognized publicly as new Muslims. It is important to note that Islam is considered to be the fastest growing religion in the world. But Spain, in specific, maintains very unique historical and cultural linkages to Islam that never existed within any of the other European countries. The current growth of new Muslims in Spain is a direct result of this historical and legislative context. The Islamic Communities Union of Spain is responsible for more than 65% of the mosques in Spain. It is estimated that the estimated number of all the mosques in Spain is more than 1,200 mosques. The converts are not only Spanish, but also Romanians and Latin Americans.

CANADA

Muslims must change perception about West

Muhammad Heft, a Canadian convert to Islam, who became famous through his ‘Stop Terrorism’ online campaign, is urging Muslims living in Western countries to make substantial contributions to their neighbourhoods. “I have never heard of a Muslim group building a hospital in Canada, he said. We should be living the message. Not just giving the message,” said Heft, who is President of P4E: Paradise Forever support group. “We should also think about how others look at us, and change ourselves to become good citizens and role models.” He called upon Muslims not to treat people in the West as their enemies. There are many Abu Talebs among them, they stand by us and do not support some of their government foreign policies, he said.