Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

Thousands take part in Qur’an competition

The Jeddah-based International Organization for Holy Qur’an Memorization (IOHQM), an affiliate of the Muslim World League (MWL), is playing an important role in spreading the message of the Holy book all over the world through educational programs. To this end, it organized a Qur’an memorization and recitation competition in India in collaboration with Jamia Islamia Isha’atul Uloom, Akkalkuwa, Maharashtra. The final of the competition, was attended by IOHQM Secretary-General, Abdullah bin Ali Basfar, who gave away the prizes to the winners. Addressing the audience, Ali Basfar, who himself is a famous reciter of Qur’anic verses, said that the secret of success for Muslim Ummah is actually no secret at all. It is unity and the Qur’an that lead us to success here and hereafter.

PHILIPPINES

Peace deal can be saved

Philippine President, Benigno Acquino, said that he could still secure a peace deal with Muslim rebels before standing down next year, after a botched anti-terror raid nearly derailed the purpose. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Philippines’ biggest rebel group, signed a peace-pact last year aiming to end their four decade separatist struggle that has claimed an estimated 120,000 lives. A peace deal to end decades of fighting in the south would be a key legacy for Acquino, but he said he was prepared for the possibility that it would not be fully implemented under his term.

QATAR

Population soars to record

Qatar’s population reached a record 2.35 million in February, boosted by new foreign workers needed for massive investment linked to the Gulf state hosting the 2022 football world cup. Just ten years ago, less than one million people lived in Qatar, and the need for even more workers means the tiny country will break even this new record in the very near future, the Qatar National Bank said. Qatar’s rapid population growth is a result of the large influx of expatriate workers that are being hired to implement the infrastructure program, the bank said. The number of people living in Qatar is predicted to rise by 7% by the end of 2015.

SAUDI ARABIA

Islam forbids unjust excommunication

Islam forbids Muslims from declaring other non-believers known as takfir, without backing from the Qur’an because this causes unnecessary bloodshed, the Council of Senior Scholars said in a statement. Countries in the region have taken action against certain groups involved in this behavior because they are spilling the blood of innocents and destabilizing the region, said the council. The Kingdom which has come under attack from these violent extremists, has called on the international community to act against them, the council stated. The council said it had issued various statements over the years condemning these actions in the Arab and Islamic world. Determining and defining non-permissible Islamic behavior should be based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, the council stated.

Boost efforts to tackle challenges to Muslims

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, has urged the 57-member organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to continue its efforts to strengthen Islamic unity and set out strategies to confront challenges facing the Muslim world. Speaking to the OIC delegation, King Salman said, “The Organization should work to unify the rank of Muslims and get rid of division and extremism.” He instructed the OIC, the second largest international organization after the UN, to effectively deal with challenges and issues facing Muslim countries in a way that would benefit them and their peoples.

Those not well-versed in Qur’an should not issue Fatwas

Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, chairman of the Council of Senior Scholars, has urged government officials, contractors, journalists and scholars to be honest in their dealings with the public. The grand Mufti said scholars must not issue Fatwas, or religious edicts, if they are not well-versed in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him. If he does not know, he should not issue any Fatwa.

73% of expansion work completed

Construction work at the Grand Mosque in Makkah is in full swing and the projects are expected to be completed before the Holy month of Ramadan. The projects administration director said 73% of the work has been completed.  The mega projects, ordered by the late King Abdullah, include expansion of the Grand Mosque, which is in the third and final stage. The work is being carried out in coordination with Abdul Rahman al Sudais, Chief of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques affairs.

Brought glory to the Islamic world

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Two Holy Mosques, said the Kingdom’s efforts to defend the oppressed and deter the oppressors have added prestige, power and glory to the Arab and Islamic nations. In an interview with Saudi TV Channel 1, the widely respected religious scholar said Saudi Arabia has taken action which is supported by a number of Shariah laws. He said any threat to the kingdom and any evil intention toward the two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah cannot be tolerated. According to Al-Sudais, there is need to protect Saudi and Yemeni interests. Under Islam, you are obliged to support your neighbors if they seek help, said Al-Sudais. Al-Sudais said that Decisive Storm came after the Kingdom exhausted all efforts to contain the crisis through dialogue.

TURKEY

Islamic world risks disintegration

The Islamic world is at risk of ‘disintegration’ due to the current conflicts in the region between the Sunni and Shite strands of the Muslim faith, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in comments recently. Erdogan, who is increasingly presenting himself as a leader of the Muslim world, said he would take steps to calm the tensions by meeting Islamic leaders. The Turkish President, who is a devout Muslim, made the comments in a closed briefing to Turkish reporters. “You can have a different denomination (of Islam), but if you seek to impose one denomination on another, you will break up the Ummah,” he said. Erdogan said international organizations including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should show they are sincere about halting the violence in flashpoints like Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

BANGUI

Ten mosques reopen in Central African Republic

Ten mosques have reopened in Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, as Muslims began to trickle back home after months of sectarian violence. The country exploded into violence in December 2013 that left at least 5,000 people dead and forced tens of thousands, mostly Muslims, to flee.

FRANCE

Islam progress in France

Books on Islam are selling out in France after the deadly Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. A special magazine supplement focused on the Qur’an has flown off the shelves, and shops are selling more books on Islam than ever, after the Paris attacks in January that left seventeen dead. The French are asking more and more questions, and they feel less satisfied than ever by the answers they are getting from the media, said Fabrice Gerschel, Director of Philosophic magazine, which published the supplement. Sales of books on Islam were three times higher in the first quarter of 2015 than this time last year, according to the French National Union of Bookshops. Mathilde Mahieux, of La Procure chain of bookshops that specializes in religion, said people want a better understanding of Islam. French academics, too, are becoming more interested in Islam, with a chair in the study of the Qur’an inaugurated recently at the Prestigious College de France in Paris.

UNITED KINGDOM

Election: Muslims feel the heat

With the political debate about Islam heating up ahead of Britain’s general election next month, the impact is particularly keenly felt in Birmingham, a city where a quarter of the population is Muslim. “The politicians are using Muslims as a punch bag,” said Abdul Rashid, head of the city’s main mosque. “The politicians look for cheap and easy ways to popularity, and at the moment, the cheap and easy way of gaining popularity is immigration and Islamophobia.” Birmingham is Britain’s second biggest city with 1.2 million residents – almost half of them from ethnic minorities – and is often singled out when fears are expressed about a growing terror attack. According to the 2011 census, three areas have a Muslim population of more than 70% – Washood Heath, Bordesley Green and Sparkbrook. Around 4,000 faithful come out for Friday’s prayers at Birmingham’s main mosque.

UNITED STATES

Islam fastest growing major faith in coming decade

Over the next four decades, Islam is expected to grow faster than any other major religion worldwide, with the Muslim population nearly matching Christians in both number and share of the global population, according to projections released. Muslims will reach 2.76 billion, making each faith group about 30% of the world population, analysts from the Pew Research Center said. Much of the growth of both Christianity and Islam will occur in Africa. But Muslims will also grow to make up 10% of Europe’s population and will outnumber Jews in the US by mid-century.

[Compiled By: Syed Nehal Zaheer]