Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

Halal Income in India

JanSeva, a cooperative credit society registered with the Indian government is promoting the concept of ‘halal income’ by using interest-free financial mechanisms to promote Islamic finance. Javed Zulkharnain, director of the JanSeva said, “JanSeva takes inspiration from economic guidelines given by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. We practice an interest-free model, where risk and reward are both shared by donor as well as benefactor, who in essence, are also cooperative society members.” He further underlined the fact that JanSeva’s services are available to all Indians irrespective of caste, creed, gender and worship. He clarified that JanSeva is not a charitable organization but a social business built on a self-sustaining model based on the ethics of profit and loss to be shared.

 

Navigation App Boon for Hajj Pilgrims

A new state-of-the-art navigation system is being introduced to help Indian pilgrims to find their way to their places of accommodation in Makkah during Haj, Indian Consul General, B. S. Mubarak told Arab News. Pilgrims will wear identification tags on their wrists that will be connected to the mobile phone devices of mission officials and volunteers, he said. The consulate is the first foreign mission in the Kingdom to come up with this innovative GPS App, which will be available for use by both Indian pilgrims and expats in the western region. More than 136,000 pilgrims from India are expected to perform Haj this year.

Government Funds Madrassa Reform

India’s new government announced USD16.7 million in funding to modernize traditional Islamic schools in its maiden budget. India is home to an estimated 140 million Muslims, a group that has fallen behind in education, employment and economic status, according to a 2006 landmark government report. Indian madrassas are mostly funded by Islamic charities.

MALAYSIA

Second Prize for Saudi at Qur’an competition

Saudi Arabia bagged the second place award at the 6th International Qur’an Memorization and Recitation Competition, which was organized by the Malaysian government in Kuala Lumpur. The competition marks the celebration of Muslim youth, who have memorized the Qur’an. Abdullah Mohammed al-Khairy represented the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs in the competition and received the second prize from the Malaysian Federation King Tuanku Abdul Halim. Al-Khairy thanked the Saudi government for supporting the youth and bestowing special attention to those who memorize the Qur’an.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

New Book Features Kiswa

The Kiswa, or covering of the Ka’aba, has been featured as one of the most important symbols of Islamic society in a new publication launched in Sharjah. The book is entitled: Islamic Textiles from the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. The publication has pictures of the textiles created through the generations for Islam’s holiest places in Makkah and Madinah. This beautiful and scholarly book is the first comprehensive guide to these magnificent textiles, which have been collected over a 20 year period by Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates, the ruler of Sharjah, and President of the American University of Sharjah, said Manal Ataya, Director-General of the Sharjah museum. It is reported that the textile collection featured in the book ranges from the17th century to the 21st.

SAUDI ARABIA

Qur’an Available in 72 Languages at Grand Mosque

The Kingdom has almost completed elaborate and comprehensive arrangements for Qur’an recitation at Makkah’s Grand Mosque. The Qur’an is now available in72 different foreign languages. “We have developed a state-of-the-art technology system that any smart phone user with barcode reader application can use to download the Qur’an software inside the Grand Mosque in the language of choice,” a senior official at the Presidency of the Grand Mosque Affairs told Arab News.

USD 2.5 bn Fund: IDB, Gates Declare War on Poverty

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and billionaire entrepreneur, Bill Gates, plan to set up a USD2.5 billion fund for the poor. The fund will start with USD500 million, which would be collected as grants from donors and countries, an IDB statement said. During a meeting with IDB, Gates emphasized his organization’s desire to establish a partnership, especially to fight Malaria and Polio. Gates also told the media that IDB President, Ahmad Mohammed Ali, and a host of other partners in the Middle East had been hugely helpful in fighting challenges such as Polio and Malaria. “It’s amazing what they’ve (IDB) contributed to global development over the last 40 years and we’re proud to be a partner,” Gates remarked.

King Pledges USD 500M for Crisis-hit Iraqis

Saudi Arabia pledged USD500 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq to be disbursed through the United Nations to those in need regardless of sect or ethnicity, said a source at the Foreign Ministry. The United Nations says hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced by the recent three-week old militant offensive that has swept up a swathe of territory north of Baghdad. The United Nations chief, Ban Ki Moon, expressed deep gratitude to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its generosity in contribution of USD500 million to the United Nations life-saving humanitarian assistance to people in Iraq. So far this year, an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have been displaced by fighting including from Anbar and Ninewa governorates, according to the United Nations Refuge Agency.

Qari Jalandhari Received Award

Qari Muhammad Hanif Jalandhari, the Secretary General of the Wafaq-ul-Madaris al-Arabia that runs at least 12,000 madrassas in Pakistan has received the award for producing the most huffaz of Qur’an in the world in the year 2013-2014. He was in the Kingdom at the invitation of the Muslim World League. Located in Multan in West Pakistan, Wafaq-ul-Madaris al-Arabia is the largest federation of Islamic seminaries in the world. Some 12,000 madrassas and about 8,000 Iqra schools across Pakistan are affiliated with the federation.

Massive Wastage Unacceptable

The problem of food wastage in Ramadan has again surfaced with Makkah municipality having to gather 5,000 tons in the first three days of Ramadan. According to one report, Saudis spend SR20 billion on Ramadan shopping compared to SR6 billion they spend in other months. At the beginning of Ramadan, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry expressed concern that 45% of the waste in Ramadan consists of food. An estimated 4,500 tons of food is wasted every day in Saudi Arabia according to a study conducted by King Saud University. Wasted food globally is reportedly estimated at 1.3 billion tons worth SR 2.8 billion.

Haram Security a Red Line None Can Cross

Security forces deployed at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and surrounding areas are well-prepared to confront any situation, said commanders of various forces. The security of the Grand Mosque is a red line that nobody will be allowed to cross, said a high-ranking officer. It is reported that 750 cameras have been installed to monitor the movement of the pilgrims and worshippers. Around 320 cameras will be installed in the newly expanded area. All parts of the Grand Mosque and its courtyards are monitored via CCTV cameras.

‘Sound’ System Covers Haram Prayers up to Nine Kilometers

Authorities at Makkah have installed 4,000 loudspeakers all over the Grand Mosque and surrounding areas to ensure first class sound quality during the peak Ramadan and Hajj seasons when hundreds of thousands worshippers flood into the holy city to perform their religious rituals. Authorities installed 656 speakers in the mosque’s eastern corridor and in the newly opened floors for circumambulation during the just concluded holy month of Ramadan. The most effective sound system has been used and it is reported that prayers can be heard up to 9,000 meters.

Quba – the First Mosque in the History of Islam

Quba Mosque to the south of Madinah is the second largest and prestigious mosque in the city after the Prophet’s Mosque, but claims the first place owing to its importance in Islamic history having been built in the first year of the Islamic calendar. Quba Mosque witnesses an influx of worshippers and visitors throughout the year, but the numbers have increased these days. The modern day Quba Mosque is an architectural feat equipped with the latest facilities while maintaining its Islamic identity. The mosque has been expanded to accommodate more than 20,000 worshipers. The mosque now has four minarets and 56 domes and adjoined to it is the residence of Imams and Muezzins, a library, lodging for the guards in an area of 112 sq. meters and a commercial center with twelve shops covering an area of 450 sq. meters. The mosque has seven main entrances and twelve subsidiary ones.

 

Miswak: Sticking with Tradition

Millions of Muslims across the world, especially in Arab countries, swear by the Miswak as the ideal tooth-cleanser, with no need for mouthwash, tooth brushes and visits to the dentists. The Prophet, peace be upon him, reportedly said, ‘Miswak cleanses the mouth and pleases Allah.’ According to Islamic tradition, it is Sunnah to use a Miswak.  There is now increasing scientific evidence that Miswak has medicinal properties and can fight plague, recession of gums, tooth decay, bleeding gums and periodontal pocket depths.

Attacks on Muslims denounced

The attack on Muslims in Sri Lanka, China and Myanmar by extremists Buddhists and religious fanatics backed by the governments is a matter of ‘serious concern’ for the Muslim world and international community, said Saleh S. al-Wohaibi, Chief of the Riyadh-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). He voiced deep concerns over the systematic persecution of innocent Muslim minorities in these three countries. He also expressed WAMY’s inability to help Muslims overseas or extending financial aid, saying that the regulatory agencies have imposed curbs on WAMY’s overseas transfer of funds. Muslim communities in Sri Lanka which account for 9% of the country’s 20 million population, are being subjected to attacks by unruly mobs of Buddhists extremists.

EGYPT

SR 2.8bn IDB loan for Egypt

The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) announced loans worth USD752 million (SR2.82 billion) to finance development projects in Egypt. Egypt is the founding-member of the IDB and enjoys close ties with the banking group. IDB’s total finance for Egypt is now USD 9.6 billion in several sectors, including power, agriculture, education, healthcare, industry, mining and water supplies.

MOROCCO

Mosque – in Memory of his Mother

Prince Sultan bin Salman, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), opened a mosque in Fez, Morocco, which was reconstructed with Prince Sultan’s support in memory of his late mother.   Prince Sultan opened the Bab al-Ajeesah mosque in Fez and prayed there at the mosque after breaking his fast. The mosque was built in the late 16th century and spans an area of 11, 300 sq. m. Morocco has become Saudi Arabia’s sixth largest trading partner, while the Kingdom is the third largest foreign investor in Morocco.

FRANCE

No Halal Food for Muslim Prisoners

France’s highest administrative body has suspended a plan to provide Halal meals for Muslim inmates in one prison. The council of state said that providing Halal meat at Saint-Quentin-Fallavier prison in Grenoble, eastern France was impractical owing to its financial cost and high needs for organization. France’s highest appeals court will have the final say. The plan, which could have proved a test case, was being considered after the request of a Muslim inmate last November.

UNITED STATES

Muslims Reject Militancy

A US study has found that “concern about extremism is high among countries with substantial Muslim populations.”  Lebanese, Tunisians, Egyptians, Jordanians and Turks are all more worried about the extremist threat than they were a year ago, the Washington based Pew Research Center found in the poll released recently, based on surveying 14, 244 respondents in fourteen countries. The poll was conducted from April 10 through May 25, before the Islamic State seized Iraq’s northern city of Mosul and surged toward Baghdad.

Compiled by: Syed Nehal Zaheer