Flashes from the Muslim World

HONG KONG

Support for Muslims Everywhere

Saudi Arabia supports Muslims in the spirit of tolerance among people all over the world, according to Grand Mosque Imam, Dr. Mahir bin Hamad Al-Muaiqli. Dr. Al-Muaiqli said this as he attended the celebration of the 45th founding anniversary of Islamic KasimTuet Memorial College in Hong Kong. He added that the world would be a better place to live in if all people all over the world are bound with love, respect and brotherhood regardless of religion. He said that under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, the Kingdom observes tolerance with the benefit of everybody in mind.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

USD 4bn to help Egypt’s Economy

The UAE has allocated USD 4 billion to support Egypt whose economy is struggling, WAM said recently. It said USD 2 billion will be allocated for investment in a number of developmental fields in Egypt, while the other USD 2 billion will be deposited at the Central Bank of Egypt to support the Egyptian cash reserve. This support comes in the frame work of strategic cooperation and coordination between the two countries. It also stems from the UAE’s firm stand in support of Egypt and its people to promote the reconstruction and development process.

Dowry: A Cup of Coffee, a Date…

An Emirati father of six daughters has asked grooms for just a cup of Arabic coffee and a date as a dowry, in a country where pre-marriage payments can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. A much shared post on social media says the man from Al-Ain took the step in order to ease the financial burden on grooms. He said wedding costs in the UAE are too high, preventing many Emirati men from marrying or pushing them toward marrying non-local women.

SAUDI ARABIA

King Abdul Aziz Holy Qur’an Contest

Minister of Islamic Affairs, Saleh Al-Asheikh, has approved the holding of the 38th King Abdul Aziz Holy Qur’an Competition from Muharram 21 to 25, 1438 at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. The contest remains the focus of attention of young Muslims from different countries all over the world since it will be held in Makkah, which is the heart of Islam, Al-Asheikh said. He said that Makkah is a beacon of faith and contributes in guiding young Muslims in thought as well as in deed. It guides them on the right path so they could avoid deviant ideas and extremism. He explained that the four branches of the competition will include the recitation of the Holy Qur’an and its interpretation.

RCJ Honors 99 Students

A total of 99 students, representing the 18th group of the Al-Imam AsemIntermediate School for Qur’an recitation, where honored in a graduation ceremony which was concluded recently in Jubail Industrial City, under the patronage of Adnan bin Ayesh Al-Alonai, Chief Executive of the Royal Commission for Jubail (RCJ).  Memorizers, orHuffaz, are highly respected within the Islamic Community. They are privileged to use the title ‘Hafiz,’ before their names. They are tested on their knowledge. In one test, they are asked to continue the recitation of a passage taken randomly from the Qur’an. In another test, a would-be hafiz might be asked to recite verses containing a specific word or phrase. The Qur’an is the only book, religious or secular, that has been memorized completely by millions of people.

Wins Five Medals at Balkans Math Olympiad

Saudi Arabia won two gold and three bronze medals at the Balkans Olympiad in Mathematics held in Albania recently. Saudi Arabia secured eighth place among nineteen countries, ahead of France, England, Italy, Macedonia and Kazakhstan, said Adel Al–Qaeed, Deputy Secretary General of King Abdul Aziz and his Companions Foundation for Talent and Creativity (Mawhiba). The Olympiad is an annual competition organized by the Balkans and Cyprus zone countries since 1984, with its first contest held in Greece. It is one of the most prestigious competitions in the world. Saudi Arabia took part in 2010 winning two silver and fourteen bronze medals.

KFF Gets Top UAE Award

The King Faisal Foundation has been honored with the Sultan bin Al-Owais Cultural Award for its social and scientific efforts across the world. It recognizes the pioneering role played by the charity in aiding needy communities worldwide. During the selection process, the board screened some 226 applications received for the award. The winner was chosen based on the scientific and cultural footprint left by the organization in society. It was founded by Sultan Al-Owais in 1987,a poet. Founded in 1976, the King Faisal Foundation sponsors King Faisal International Prize, given to prominent scholars for outstanding achievements in their fields.

Ex-Haj Minister Nominated to Head IDB

Former Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar has been nominated by the government to head the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) at a meeting of the board’s governor’s in Jakarta recently. IDB President Ahmad bin Mohammed Ali thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman, for his support of the bank and wishes Hajjar all the best in his new post. Hajjar has a degree in economics and political science from King Saud University in Riyadh with first degree honors, a master’s degree in economics from Indiana University in the United States and a PhD in economics from Loughborough University in England.

Mataf Bridge Removed

The temporarymataf has been completely dismantled and removed, providing much more space for worshippers to perform the congregational prayers near the Ka’aba on Friday. A total of 10,489 pieces of the matafand connecting bridges were removed within 35 days. Wael Al-Halabi, a member of the technical committee for projects of the Two Holy Mosques was quoted as saying by local media. More than 580 individuals from the group participated in the removal of the bridge in addition to 80 engineers from the technical committee, he said.

Top Donor in the World

Saudi Arabia, which has carried out massive humanitarian and relief operations across the globe, helping people reeling from the effects of natural disasters of civil wars, ranks first, among donor nations. The total Saudi humanitarian and development assistance worldwide exceeded a whopping SR 54 billion in 2014, Abdullah Al Rabeeah, General Supervisor of King Salman’s Center for Relief and Humanitarian aid said recently in Riyadh. This figure of SR 54 billion place the Kingdom first among all nations in terms of donations as a proportion of national income, and fourth, in the total amount donated, he added. He further said that Saudi Arabia provides immediate response and rapid intervention wherever humanitarian crisis occur.

Wife Seeks Divorce overFace Veil

A Saudi woman has sought divorce after her husband told her she must unveil her face in front of his brothers, a newspaper reported. The woman from the capital Riyadh sent a letter to Sada newspaper telling it that her husband insists on breaking tribal traditions by making her take the Niqab, or face veil, off. He ordered her to take her face veil off many times in front of his brothers on the grounds his brother’s wives unveil their faces in front of him, the paper said. But she refused his request every time his brothers came to visit him. She finally decided to go back to her parent’s home and seek divorce.

Lands Key UN Job

Saudi woman diplomat, Sarah Baashan and Jo Tyndall, New Zealand’s former climate ambassador, were named co-chairs of UN global climate talks. The six most influential positions within the UN are now all held by women, Climate Change News Reported. A UN official said the appointment of the pair as co-chairs was spontaneous, but others eye a desire by the 196 countries at the negotiations to start implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement.

JORDAN

Poll Shows Wide Differences in Muslim Views

A survey in ten countries with significant Muslim populations released recently, found striking differences in the extent to which people believe the Holy Qur’an should influence a nation’s laws. Possible reasons for these differences include a nation’s history and religious composition as well as personal factors such as intensity of religious observance, age and level of education, said the Pew Research Center, which conducted the survey among more than 10,000 Muslims and non-Muslims a year ago. Error margins ranged from 3.4 to 4.3 percentage polls. The poll found that half or more of the respondents in four countries, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Malaysia – said laws should strictly follow the holy book. Pakistan, a declared Islamic republic, scored highest with 78% supporting the statement.  In Turkey, also overwhelmingly Muslims but founded as secular country, only 13% percent agreed. In Nigeria, Turkey, Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Lebanon and Senegal, people with secondary school education were less likely to say national laws should strictly follow the Qur’an than those with fewer years of schooling.

GERMANY

First Muslim Woman Speaker

Muhterem Aras, a member of the Green Party, has become the first Muslim woman to become the speaker in a German state, Parliament media sources said. Aras, 50, was elected as a law-maker in the state legislature in Baden-Wurttemberg. She is the first immigrant to hold the most powerful position in the state, sources said. In her maiden speech after the election, she said her victory sends a message of openness, tolerance and successful integration. Aras, an accountant by profession, had previously worked as a financial affairs spokeswoman for her party.

FRANCE

Respect Hijab of Muslim Women, Pope tells France

Pope Francis has urged France to respect the right of Muslim women to profess their faith and wear the hijab just like Christians are allowed to wear the cross. People must be free to profess their faith at the heart of their own culture, not merely at its margins, Francis told the French Catholic newspaper La Croix according to The Guardian. France is home to a Muslim community of nearly six million, the largest in Europe. French Muslims have been complaining of restrictions on performing their religious practices. In 2004, France banned Muslims from wearing hijab, an obligatory code of dress, in public places and schools. France also outlawed the wearing of face veil in public in 2011.

BULGARIA

Town Bans Islamic Face Veil

A Bulgarian town that is home to a Roma minority practicing Islam banned Islamic face veils in public, a first in the country. The town council of Pazardzhik in southern Bulgaria voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ban in all administrative buildings, schools, shops, and on the street. Driving with a full face-veil, or Niqab, was also outlawed. The council tried to justify the measure by saying that a veil impeded identification. Muslim women in Bulgaria generally wear a scarf to cover their hair.

BOSNIA

Bosnians Reopen Mosque

Over 10,000 people turned out for the re-opening of a mosque in Bosnia that was blown up by Christian  Orthodox Serbs during the 1992-1995 war and that became a symbol of the effort to destroy Bosnia’s  centuries long multi tire religious fabric. The Ferhat Pasha Mosque also called Ferhadija – was a master piece of the 16th century Ottoman architecture and one of the sixteen mosques in Banja Luka – or one of the  534 throughout the country – that were destroyed, or damaged, by Bosnian Serbs in order to erase and traces of those they were expelling or killing. Their aim was to make that part of Bosnia a part of neighboring Serbia.

SCOTLAND

Politician Who Took Oath in Urdu

In a strong show of British multiculturalism, a Muslim politician elected to Scottish Parliament delivered his oath of allegiance in Urdu while wearing a kilt. Humza Yousaf, a member of the Scottish National Party who won a seat from the city of Glasgow,  spoke first in English and then in Urdu, swearing that he “will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth,” and concluding with “so help me God.” Yousaf was not the only politician to take the oath in another language. Other members of Scottish Parliament spoke in local tongues such as Doric, Gaelic and Scots.

UNITED KINGDOM

Elected Muslim Mayor

Opposition Labor lawmaker,Sadiq Khan, became the new mayor of London and the first Muslim leader of an EU capital, despite attempts to link him to extremists. The son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, he had a 12 or 14 point lead over Zac Goldsmith,  his multimillionaire rival from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party. In a final campaign stop in street market in a multicultural district of South London, Khan joked with stallholders and their customers and posed in the warm spring sunshine for selfie pictures. But he condemned the divisive nature of the campaign that has seen him repeatedly forced to defend himself against claims that he has failed to condemn Muslim extremists.Labour politician,Sadiq Khan, says he has fought extremism all his life.Sadiq Khan is not the Europe’s first. Ahmed Aboutaleb of Moroccan origin is mayor of Rotterdam, Holland, since 2007. ErionVeliaj of Tirania and ShpendAhmeti of Pristina are other current mayors. Muslim majority Sarajevo elected Ivo Komsic, a Christian in 2013.

UNITED STATES

Anti-Muslim Comments Cost School Official Job

A New Jersey school board member resigned after drawing fire for anti-Muslim Facebook posts, including one saying, “America needs to get rid of people like you,” the board president said.Elmwoods Park Board of Education member, Gladys Gryskiewicz, had come under pressure to step down after attention was drawn to the posts on her personal Facebook account. Board President, Jeanne Freitag, confirmed the resignation which was reported by New Jersey’s Record Newspaper.

[Compiled by: Syed Nehal Zaheer]