Flashes from the Muslim World

MALAYSIA

Haj Bodies Rap Iran

A league of eighteen religious, cultural and academic organizations in Malaysia has condemned Iran for politicizing Haj and depriving its citizens of the pilgrimage this year. The league has expressed its full support and trust in the measures taken by the Kingdom for Haj this year and those in the future,as it has been successful over the last several decades, local media reported. The reaction against Iran’s continuous refusal to accept the Kingdom’s plans to ensure safety and security of pilgrims has started trickling in from various quarters. The Malaysian organizations are the first among them to condemn Iran’s actions.

PHILIPPINES

Targets Halal Global Tourism Market

The Philippine halal tourism project has become a lynchpin of the country’s travel industry as it has been drawing numerous visitors from the Gulf and other Middle East countries. The Department of Tourism has set its sights on seeking a larger slice of the global halal tourism market,citing a recent Crescent Rating Data that sees the 117 million travelers rise to 168 million by 2020. The Philippines is one of the countries in Southeast Asia that is determined to partake 20-25% of the USD200 billion global halal tourism market.

SAUDI ARABIA

Preachers to Keep Up with Social Changes

Imams should have their full responsibility over the selection of their Friday sermons in a way that suits the community, said Dr. Azab bin Saeed AalMisbel, member, Committee of Islamic and Judicial affairs branch in the Shoura Council. The sermons should take into account the social changes and events in Saudi Arabia and be seen as awareness messages for the new generation to protect them. He said, “The Ummah that does not take care of its youth will lose a great treasure.” He said that Saudi Arabia and all of its institutions have been concerned for a long time with the protection of youth.

Zamzam Production Increased

The National Water Company (NWC), the main operator for the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Project for Zamzam Water raised the Zamzam water production to meet the demands because of the expansion at the Two Holy Mosques and more visitors this running month of Ramadan. The company said that each family would be allowed to get two cans of Zamzam water. There were additional bottles provided in the last fifteen days of Ramadan, the report said.

Do Good Deeds during Ramadan

The LajnaIlmiya (Education Society) in Riyadh organized its seventh workshop, entitled Istiqbal-e-Ramadan, to highlight the duties and responsibilities of Muslims during Ramadan. Maulana Abdul Bari Qasmi, who presided over the workshop, said that Muslims have been called to do good deeds during the holy month of fasting with an emphasis on reading the Qur’an as much as possible. He said that Islamic education was particularly important for children, who are often not aware of their religious duties because of current education system.

12% Fall in Remittances

Foreign remittances fell by 8.3% to SR11.9 billion in April this year,compared to SR11.9 billion in April last year, the lowest level recorded since 2014. Reports indicate remittances declined on an annual basis in April 2016 by 12% or about SR 1.6 billion from SR 13.5 billion in April 2015. The Kingdom’s population was 31.52 million people at the end of 2015, growth of about 2.4% from 2014, according to the General Authority for Statistics. Saudi nationals account for 67% of the population at 21.1 million people, while expatriates account for 33% at 10.4 million people.

Avoid Human Catastrophe in Fallujah

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has expressed concern at the ongoing developments in Iraq and the killing and displacement of innocent civilians in the war to liberate Fallujah. Stressing the OIC’s stand in support of the Iraqi government in its war against Daesh,OIC Secretary General,IyadMadani, said that the Makkah Document agreed to by Iraqi scholars provides for the protection of Muslims and the unification of all sects including Shi’ites and Sunnis. The Organization called for solutions to be found that would ensure people return to their homes.

Musaharati: Linking Past and Present

Muslims from around the world celebrate Ramadan in their own often unique ways. Every community welcomes the holy month with its distinctive traditions and practices. In Al-Ahsa, everybody waits for the Musaharati, the man who roams the roads, beating drums to wake everyone up for the pre-dawnSuhoor meal after which all fast until sunset. Thanks to the Musaharati,people are able to sleep peacefully, knowing that they will not miss their Suhoor. The man has a remarkable voice that fills the air before dawn. His chants are religious as he calls people to get up, have Suhoor, prepare for Fajr prayer and start a new day in Ramadan

Hate Mongers at Mosques likely to Face TenYearsin Jail

The Shoura Council has taken up for discussion the anti-discrimination and hate mongering bill which proposes ten years jail for anyone found guilty of spreading hatred through mosques. Once the bill is cleared and becomes law, discrimination by individuals and groups based on color, gender, ethnicity and sect will be treated as crime. The bill specifically says that places of worship should be protected from any act that is regarded as discriminatory.

Islam Promotes Cultural Diversity

Saudi experts and scholars have said that Islam promotes inter-cultural diversity and understanding among various communities. At a discussion hosted by the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND) on ‘diversity,’ marking the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, participants stressed the importance of understanding the cultures of various communities. The KACND initiative aims to establish a culture of dialogue, diversity and dissemination among community members of all denominations in the public interest for promoting national unity.

TURKEY

Growth in population

Turkish President,RecepTayyip Erdogan, said that family planning and contraception were not for Muslim families, in his latest comments promoting population growth that angered women activists. Erdogan said it was the responsibility of mothers to ensure the continued growth of Turkey’s population, which has expanded at the rate of around 1.3% in the last few years. “I will say it clearly: we need to increase the number of our descendants,” he said in a speech in Istanbul. “People talk about birth control, about family planning. No Muslim family can understand and accept that! As God and as the Great Prophet, peace be upon him, said, we will go this way. And in this respect, the first duty belongs to mothers.” According to the statistics office, Turkey’s population rose to 78.741 million last year. The population in 2000 was less than 68 million.

GERMANY

Islamophobia on the rise

Islamophobia has risen markedly in Germany, a study published showed, underscoring the tensions simmering in German society after more than one million migrants mostly Muslims arrived last year. Every second respondent in the study of 2,420 people said they sometimes felt like a foreigner in their own country due to many Muslims here, up from 43 % in 2014 and 30.2% in 2009. The number of people who believe Muslims should be forbidden from coming to Germany has also risen, the study showed, and now stands at just above 40%, up from about a fifth in 2009.

NORWAY

Norway Muslims can follow Makkah Fasting Hours

Muslims in the Artic region and northern parts of Norway can follow the fasting hours of Makkah or the nearest Muslim country. The fasting time was described in a fatwa issued by Islamic scholars in light of very long gap between sunrise and sunset, Norwegian Ambassador Ralph Philly Hansen told local media. There is no indication of the end of the day and the start of iftar time in most Norwegian cities due to the midnight sun, a natural phenomenon between mid-June and mid-July, he said. Most Muslims in Norway originate from Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Syria, North Africa and the Balkans, he said. Out of a population of 5.2 million people, 2.7% are Muslims, he said.

UNITED KINGDOM

Launches Drive to help Migrant Children

British singer – song writer, Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, launched a campaign to highlight the fate of child refugees in Europe with the release of a new single and plans for a one-off charity concert. The single, He as Alone, was released with a video that follows a boy who loses his family before dying on the road with his grave stone bearing just one word, Walad, meaning ‘boy’ in Arabic. Yusuf, 67, best known for his 1960s and 1970s hits such as Moonshadow, and Wild World, said he had become involved after visiting a refugee camp in southern Turkey near Syria. Yusuf, who converted to Islam in 1977 after almost drowning and largely quit the music industry for nearly 30 years, said the single and London concert on 14thJune were part of a broader campaign ‘YouAreNotAlone.’

SCOTLAND

Muslims invite Trump to Scottish Mosque

Scottish Muslims have invited Donald Trump to visit a mosque and learn about their faith during his visit to Scotland later this month in the hope of changing his views. The presumptive Republican US presidential candidate,whose mother was Scottish, last year proposed a  temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States as a response to Islamist attacks in Paris and California, causing a furor in Europe. Accepting a visit to learn about the Muslim community might help show that he is not so extreme, Edinburgh Central Mosque, Imam Yahya Barry, told Reuters. I would say, “Hi Donald, we’re Muslims, welcome to our Mosque. Do you still see Muslims as a threat to Western civilizations?”

UNITED STATES

Major Qur’an exhibition

The Holy Qur’an, revered by Muslims, is the centerpiece of a first of its kind exhibition in the United States as the Smithsonian displays exquisitely decorated manuscripts from one of the top Qur’an collections. The Smithsonian’s Arthur M.Sackler Gallery announced recently that the Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, will bring 48 manuscripts and folios from the museum in Istanbul together with manuscripts from the collection of the Sackler and Freer Gallery.

Islam and the Qur’an will come up during debates and discussions. MassumehFarhad, chief curator at the Sackler and Freer and curator of the Islamic art, says this exhibition is a chance to present a different story. She calls it an opportunity to focus on the importance of this as a work of art and importance in art history.

Compiled By: Syed Nehal Zaheer