Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

IDB Signs SR200m Rural Health Plan

The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has signed a SR200 million agreement with an Indian non-governmental organization (NGO) to provide medical care for poor rural people. The money is part of a SR 1 billion donation which was given by a Saudi benefactor to be utilized for the benefit of poor people across the globe. The benefactor earmarked SR200 million for India, thereby funding fifteen mobile health clinics, which the IDB will maintain for the first five years. The Mumbai-based NGO, the Rashtriya Institute of Skill and Education (RISE), led by Chairperson, Dimple Kapani, is engaged in promoting high quality medical care for India’s rural poor. It is very active in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The aid and assistance from IDB will help RISE buy sophisticated mobile health units that are custom made for countries such as India.

BANGLADESH

Hold Rally to Keep Islam as State Religion

Thousands of people have rallied in Bangladesh’s capital to denounce a court petition seeking to remove Islam as the country’s official state religion. Constitutional changes dating back over three decades have put Bangladesh to the unusual position of being officially secular while still having Islam as the state religion. More than 90% of the population is Muslim, with Hindus and Buddhists the main minorities. “Sixty countries in the world have state religions; why is there a problem for us to have one?”asked Noor Hossain Quashemi, one of the group’s leaders.  Bangladesh was declared officially secular after a deadly liberation struggle against Pakistan in 1971.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES          

Thou Shalt not Steal Wi-Fi

Stealing Wi-Fi from your neighbor would not be proper Islamic conduct, says a Fatwa from Dubai’s Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department. It says, “There is nothing wrong in using the line, if your neighbor allows you to do so, but if they don’t allow you, you may not use it.” It is available on the department’s website as a response to a reader’s question. The Fatwa matches others issued by other regional clerics. The department answers a variety of online questions ranging from religious matters to cosmetic surgeries and illegally down loading movies.

Compassion at a New High

A kind-hearted Etihad pilot allowed an elderly couple to get off a plane moments before takeoff to they could visit their dying grandson in hospital. They had boarded the Abu Dhabi bound jet at Manchester Airport when they got a message about their relative’s condition. The flight, which had been taxiing toward the runway, returned to the gate so the couple could rush to their grandson’s bedside, reported BBC. He died later on the same night. The couple’s travel agent, Becky Stephenson, said the 30 March incident was very unusual.

Launches USD1.14bn Educational Fund

A billionaire businessman from the United Arab Emirates launched the Arab World’s largest educational fund,setting aside USD1.14 billion (AED4.2 billion) in grants for underserved youth from the region. The Abdulla Al-Ghurair Foundation for Education said it plans to provide scholarships for 15,000 Middle Eastern students over the next ten years. The recipients will be students in need of financial assistance who also qualify for entrance to the region’s top universities. Fund Chairman Abdul Aziz Al-Ghurair said his family has allocated a third of their wealth for the initiative. He said the endowment is likely to grow over the coming years as the family’s business revenues increase, with the scholarship fund intended to continue well beyond its initial ten-year mark. It has to be significant in size. It has to make an impact in the region, Al-Ghurair told the Associated Press, describing the foundation as a perpetual endowment.e d

SAUDI ARABIA

Ka’abaRegains its Majestic Look

The removal of the temporary Matafhas allowed for a direct majestic and spiritual view of the Ka’aba. The ongoing operations revealed an impressive view of the Ka’aba for the first time since the expansion project of the northern and western sides began, allowing for a beautiful view of the Ka’aba. Elderly and disabled visitors, women and children have all been able to enjoy the direct view of the Ka’aba without entering into the crowded Mataf area.

Restored Qur’an Copies Distributed Abroad

More than 40,000 used copies of the Holy Qur’an are restored for distribution monthly at the Charity Center for Caring for the Holy Qur’an in Al Kharj, 60 km from Riyadh. Riyadh Governor made a familiarization tour of the complex where the copies of used Holy Qur’an are restored and re-distributed to countries at their own request. The center was established fifteen years ago and has a stock of two million copies kept for restoration. The Center has been using the latest techniques of restoration which include spine repairs. The center receives requests for copies of the Holy Qur’an from more than 60 countries around the globe.

Need to Bolster Muslim Economy

The Islamic chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA) stressed the need to strengthen economy of the 57 Muslim countries, at its meeting of the General Assembly and the Board of Directors. Islamic Chamber of Commerce President, Saleh Kamel, said that there is a need to work together to develop economies of the Islamic states at all levels. He recalled the vital role that King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz played in creating OIC and his call for the establishment of an Islamic market and the Jeddah Islamic port. While the Muslim world facing terror scourge, the OIC, he said, stands by the Muslim communities to restore the prestige and power of the Islamic nations. He said that ICCIA has decided to establish the Halal Center in Qatar. It has been noted that the total value of OIC’s trade amounted to a cumulative USD25 billion in  2015.

More Women Now Throwing Divorce Parties

An increasing number of Saudi divorcees are throwing divorce parties, a matter that has drawn the attention of social researchers due to these so called “freedom parties” being in direct contravention of customs and traditions of the Saudi society. These women post on social media photos and invitations to their divorce parties. Women who help organize such parties say the costs could be as high as at a wedding party due to their extravagant nature. Ibrahim bin Hussein Al-Sanba, a social and academic researcher, said such divorce parties have not yet become a phenomenon in the Kingdom, but are visible.

Former Imam of Prophet’s Mosque Laid to Rest in Madinah

Sheikh Mohammed Ayub, former Imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, was buried in Baqihal-Gharghad in Madinah. The scholar’s son announced his death on Twitter. Thousands of people attended his funeral prayer after the Dhur prayer at the Prophet’s Mosque. A renowned Holy Qur’an scholar, Sheikh Ayub was born in Makkah. The late King Fahd instructed Sheikh Ayub to recite Qur’an in the Hijazi manner at King Fahd Complex of the Holy Qur’an Printing in Madinah. He was appointed imam of the Prophet’s Mosque in 1980.

EGYPT

Tourist to Egypt will Rise by 500%

The proposed new King Salman Bridge between Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would likely see Saudi tourists travelling to the country rise by 500%. This is according to an Egyptian tourist consultant on the Kingdom and Gulf states, Ahmad Ismael, who said that there has already been a rise in the number of Saudi citizens heading to Egypt. A total of 433,000 Saudis visited Egypt in 2015, a 14% increase from 2014, he was quoted as saying by a local publication.

TURKEY

OIC to Tackle Extremism

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit meeting which concluded in Turkey recently aimed at tackling extremism and Islamophobia. This is according to IyadMadani, Secretary General of the OIC, who said in a speech that the only way this could be successful was for all member countries of the organization to work together. This has been the demand of people living in these countries.

GERMANY

Party Threatens to Ban Minarets and Burqa

The anti–immigration Alternative for Germany (AFD) threatened to press for bans on minarets and burqas at its party congress in two weeks’ time.The AFD punished Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats in three regional elections last month. “We are in favor of a ban on minarets, on muezzins and a ban on full veils,” added Storch, who is a member of European Parliament. Merkel’s conservatives have also called for an effective ban on the burqa, saying the full body covering worn by Muslim women should not be worn in public.

FRANCE

Hijab Day Sparks Bitter Debate

Students at an elite Paris university sparked bitter debate by inviting classmates to wear the Muslim veil for a day in a bid to ‘demystify,’ a practice viewed as highly divisive in France. Students at Sciences Po urged women to take part in Hijab Day,“if you, too, think all women should have the right to dress as they wish and have their choice respected.” France is grappling with rising Islamophobia after a wave of terror attacks and the students Facebook page said that those agreeing to put on the veil would experience the stigmatization experienced by veiled women in France. France has banned the full face veil in public places, and the Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, said that the headscarf was being used by some as a challenge to France’s prized secular society.

UNITED KINGDOM

“No One Told Me I was Going to be Interviewed by a Muslim”

Even a Nobel Peace Prize isn’t enough to curb the rising Islamophobia among the rank and file of global leadership. Forget Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and other assorted right wingers from the Republican Party. This time it’s the Lady of Burma who has raised the hackles for Islamophobes the world over, according to a Daily Mail report. Suu Kyi recently won a land slide recently concluded general elections in Burma, had made a grossly offensive statement about being interviewed by BBC presenter,Mishal Husain. She was pressed by Mishal Husain to make her stance clear on the thorny issue of Burma’s Rohingya Muslims, a minority oppressed by the country’s majority Buddhists went like this, “No one told me that I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.” The controversy is likely to dent Sui Kyi beatific image, that of a champion of human rights, exactly where it hurts the most.

SWITZERLAND

School Defends Muslim Students Handshake Exemption

A school in Switzerland’s Basel Country stood behind its decision to allow some Muslim students not to participate in a ritual of shaking their female teacher’s hand before and after class. The school reached the decision after two male students aged 14 and 15, complained that the Swiss custom of shaking hands with the teacher is counter to their religious beliefs if the teacher is woman. They argued that Islam does not permit physical contact with a person of the opposite sex, with the exception of certain immediate family members.

Politician Quits After Refusing to Shake Woman’s Hand

A Swedish Green Party politician, who ignited a storm of controversy after refusing to shake hands with a female reporter on grounds that it violated his Muslim faith, announced recently that he was quitting politics. Yasri Khan is the second Muslim Green Party politician to resign in acrimony this week. During an interview with a female reporter from TV4, Khan placed his hand over his heart instead of shaking her hand in greeting. “People can greet each other in different ways. The most important thing is to show respect by seeing each other, to meet each other to respect each other,” Khan said during an interview with state broadcaster, Swedish radio. Earlier former housing minister, Mehmet Kaplan, a Muslim of Turkish origin, resigned from government after media published old footage of him making controversial remarks about Israel’s politics toward Palestinians.

UNITED STATES

Stigmatizing Muslims Plays into Hands of Terrorists

US President Barack Obama urged Americans not to stigmatize Muslims following the deadly attack in Brussels saying that doing so is counterproductive in the fight against radicals. In his weekly media address, Obama said Muslim Americans are out most important partners in the nation’s fight against those who would wage violent Jihad.“That’s why we have to reject any attempt to stigmatize Muslim Americans and their enormous contributions to our country and our way of life,” Obama said.

[Compiled By: Syed NehalZaheer]