Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA 

Makkah is the Real Paradise on Earth

A visiting Indian journalist has described Makkah as the “real Paradise on earth.” Masoom Moradabadi, a well-known and respected Urdu language editor from India, recently performed Umrah along with his wife and 300 other pilgrims of different nationalities. Their ten-day trip was organized by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance following an invitation issued by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman. He said that praying Fajr in the Prophet’s mosque was a beautiful experience. He said that he was pleasantly surprised by the efforts of the King Fahd Qur’an Printing Complex to print and translate the holy book in 63 languages, which as aimed at propagating the message of Islam across the world. He was also impressed with the skilled work done to prepare the Kiswa, the cover of the Ka’aba, with Qur’anic verses in gold thread.

SRI LANKA

Gets 250 tons of Dates as Gift

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has gifted 250 tons of dates to Sri Lanka for distribution at mosques in the country during the holy month of Ramadan. Minister of Posts and Islamic Affairs, M. H. Abdul Haleem, has told Arab News from Colombo that he received the consignment from the Saudi Ambassador in Colombo. Around 3,500 mosques are spread throughout the country and 8% of the island’s 22 million population is Muslim.

BANGLADESH

Prayers on Chairs Sparks Outrage

A ban on using chairs in mosques has provoked outrage in Muslim majority Bangladesh, with critics saying it will exclude the elderly and infirm from prayers. The Islamic Foundation, an autonomous government agency, issued the fatwa recently, saying devotees must, instead, use prayer mats. But the move has attracted criticism both from within the government and Muslim clerics. Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, told a weekly Cabinet meeting that she was “stunned,” according to media reports, while pro-opposition Islamic groups reacted with fury. Muslims in the conservative nation traditionally kneel on the floor to pray. But in recent years, most of the country’s half a million mosques have allowed elderly and infirm worshippers to sit on chairs.

INDONESIA

Jakarta gets USD50m from Doha

Qatar pledged USD50 million to help Indonesia shelter Muslim Rohingya migrants from Myanmar, the official QNA news agency reported. Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have all prevented vessels overloaded with starving migrants from Bangladesh and from Myanmar’s ethnic Rohingya minority from landing on their shores. Myanmar’s government sees its 1.3 million Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

SAUDI ARABIA

Cleanliness Campaign for Prophet’s Mosque

Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, launched a program to clean the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. The program was aimed at enlightening the worshippers and visitors on the need to keep the mosque neat and tidy. The campaign included installation of a number of signboards inside the mosque in different languages in order to encourage the public to ensure the mosque’s cleanliness.

Shoura Calls for Head Counts

The Shoura Council has asked the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques to count worshippers in Makkah and Madinah so that accurate statistics can be compiled for a new database. The proposal was made at the 45th ordinary session from the Presidency for the year 2013/2014.  The members recommended that all future reports of the Presidency should contain detailed information on delayed and incomplete projects, its propagation plan and payment of allowances to field workers. They also said that the presidency must report on its performance based on agreed indicators.

KSA Leads Gulf states

Foreigners working in the Gulf state sent home more than USD100 billion in remittances last year, an economic report showed recently. The figure was twice as high as remittances in 2010, an indication of strong growth, the Head of economic research at Kuwait Financial Center, said in the report. Around 25 million expatriates live in the six Gulf States – equal to the native population. Saudi Arabia topped the list with its estimated 10 million expats sending home USD44 billion followed by UAE with USD29 billion. The majority of Gulf expatriates originate from India, Egypt, the Phillipines, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, as well as Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Yemen.

UNITED KINGDOM

Sudais Tells Students: Shun Extremism

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, has called upon Saudi Scholarship students in the United Kingdom and other foreign countries to become the true ambassadors of Islam and the Kingdom. Addressing a forum at King Fahd Academy in London, he urged Saudi students to be cautious about deviant and extremist ideologies that promote violence, racial hatred and conflicts between various schools of religious thought. “You have to concentrate on enhancing your knowledge in science, technology and other vital subjects for which you have left your country,” said Al-Sudais, who also leads prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. He invited the Forum’s outstanding winners, including women, to perform Umrah, visit the Two Holy Mosques and meet with the Imams.

AUSTRALIA

Aussie Hit for Defending Hijabi Women

An Australian man was attacked as he defended three Muslim women after they were verbally abused in a train in Melbourne. Police are investigating the incident that started when two men verbally abused the group of women with heads covered, Al Arabiya website reported. Australia’s The Age newspaper claims one of the men criticized the women for their headscarves whey they sat next to them saying, “You shouldn’t be wearing that expletive in Australia.”

FRANCE

Hate, Extremism, not Islam

French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, stressed that there was no link between extremism and Islam, as he opened a conference aimed at improving ties with France’s largest Muslim community. “We must say all of this is not Islam,” said Valls, “The hate speech, the self-proclaimed Imams in our neighborhood and our prisons who are promoting violence and terrorism.” The first forum – to be attended by 120 to 150 Muslim leaders as well as top government officials and ministers will debate security at religious sites, the image of Islam in the media and the building of new mosques. There are some 2,500 mosques in France, with another 300 projects under way.

UNITED STATES

US Top Court Backs Muslim over Headscarf

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Muslim woman who sued for discrimination after being denied  a sales job at the age of seventeen at an Abercrombie and Fitch Company, clothing store in Oklahoma because she wore a head scarf for religious reasons. In an 8-1 decision in the important religious rights case, the court backed Samantha Elauf, who had been rejected under Abercrombie’s sales staff “look policy” after coming to her job interview wearing the headscarf, or hijab, used by many Muslim women. The decision marked a victory for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Compiled by: Syed Nehal Zaheer