Flashes from the Muslim World

BANGLADESH

Regulates Friday Sermons after Attacks

Bangladesh moved to regulate weekly sermons in hundreds of thousands of mosques as part of a stepped-up campaign to combat extremism, officials said. Authorities have shut down a television channel and decided to monitor the social media and Friday sermons of local mosques in a bid to prevent radicalization. As part of the drive, the state run Islamic Foundation, which works as a watchdog for mosques and religious establishments, has prepared a sermon for the main national mosque which it has asked other mosques to follow.

MYANMAR

Village Tense as Muslims Flee for Safety

TScores of police have been deployed to guard a village in central Myanmar where religious tensions area are running high after a Buddhist mob destroyed a mosque. It is the latest flare up of anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar which has seen sporadic bouts of religious bloodshed since 2012, with a surge of Buddhist nationalism presenting a key challenge for Aung San Suu Kyi’s new government. The most recent violence erupted when an angry mob of around 200 Buddhists rampaged through a Muslim area of a village in Bago province following an argument between neighbors over the building of a Muslim school.

SAUDI ARABIA

Rise in Umrah Pilgrims a Challenge

In four years, in 1442H, the Kingdom will host fifteen million pilgrims for Umrah as per statistics released by the Ministry of Haj and Umrah. Now six million pilgrims have come from abroad for Umrah. The data itself reveals the volume and nature of the huge challenges facing security agencies in the Kingdom, and their efforts to render an excellent service and ensure safety and security. The same is the case for visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque.The matter of increasing the number of pilgrims and visitors with a ratio of eight million per year is very important. But it is not easy. There are challenges. Experience is needed to control such big numbers.

33.6 Million Use Makkah Transport

More than 33.6 million Umrah pilgrims were transported in two million vehicles to, and from, the Grand Mosque, an increase of 26% over last year. In a press statement, the Makkah governorate said there was also an increase in passenger numbers during Ramadan over last year. The number of vehicles that transported Umrah pilgrims last year reached 1.7 million, transporting around 26 million passengers.

Selfie Snappers Obstructing Tawaf

Pilgrims taking selfies and recording video clips were obstructing others performing the Tawafaround the Ka’aba, according to a report by an online publication. This was particularly troublesome in Ramadan because of the large number of pilgrims circumambulating on the Mataf in Makkah’s Grand Mosque, the report said. Naifal-Hamd, a judge at Riyadh’s appeal court, said the Qur’an prohibits people from engaging in activities that divert their attention away from their devotions, as outlined in Surat Al-Zumar, verse 11. This applies to photography, he said.

Organized Campaign against Muslims and Africa

The Muslim World League (MWL) blamed several groups and individuals for campaigning against Islam, as also for dividing the Muslim community. Welcoming preachers and scholars from Africa at the 25th Forum of the Committee for Call in Africa in Makkah, MWL Chief, Abdullah bin Mohsen al-Turki, said Islamic teachings emphasized the importance of unity and working to help the less fortunate. The African continent and Muslim countries are being targeted by organized campaigns to shun Muslims and keep them away from their religion, he said.

Tourism Abroad Not Advisable: Grand Mufti

Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, has stressed the need for supporting domestic tourism instead of travelling abroad. The Mufti was answering a question from a listener during his radio program when he said that, from a religious point of view, an excess of freedom in some of these countries could impair moral values. However,he noted that those who are already abroad should work to maintain their Islamic spirit by performing prayers and adhering to other religious obligations.

SR 4,132 Fee for Low-Cost Haj this Year

Local pilgrims using low price categories will be paying a maximum of SR4,132 for this year’s Haj, compared to a maximum of SR5,250 last year,the Ministry of Haj and Umrah announced recently. Saleh Al-Asheikh, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, called for reducing the cost of pilgrimage at a meeting he held in the capital last month. According to the Ministry, the package includes transportation by the Masher train. The Ministry has launched six low-price categories for this year’s pilgrimage. This year’s Haj is expected to fall in September. Pilgrims usually arrive one month before the ritual starts. Saudi Arabia receives yearly two to three million pilgrims from all over the world, and this needs systematic planning and optimal utilization of resources.

164 Expatriates Convert to Islam Everyday

The number of foreigners working in Saudi Arabia who converted to Islam over the past year, stood at 46,000 males and females, at the rate of 164 per day. Males accounted for 65% of the total. Riyadh had the highest number of new Muslims 25,642 (i.e., 56%). The Eastern province with 8,424 new Muslims came second, followed by Makkah with 7,495 converts. Hail had 892 new Muslims during the same period. With thirteen, Jazan recorded the least number. The data came from the Organization of Islamic Call, Guidance and Foreign Communities, which has 45 centers across the Kingdom.

Kiswa Artisans are Given Special ID

Artisans working in the Kiswafactory are listed in the national register of artisans and craftsmen by the National Handicraft Program (Bari), which aims at achieving a sustainable and balanced development in the handicraft sector: Kiswa is the cover of the Ka’aba. Each artisan registered is provided with an ID, updated periodically, that can be used in various events inside and outside the Kingdom. The registered artisans will be the focus of every event, workshop or handicraft investment project.

KUWAIT

Stop Fanning Sectarian Hatred Online

Kuwait’s ruler warned against the abuse of social media to stoke sectarian tensions in the Gulf Arab country,which has a mixed Sunni and Shite population. Historically, relations between Kuwait’s Sunnis,who make up between 70 and 85% of the country’s 1.4 million citizens, and its minority Shite community have been mostly amicable according to Reuters.

QATAR

To Pay Gaza Salaries

Qatar has pledged to pay one month salaries for public sector employees in Gaza to help alleviate the suffering, caused by the Israeli blockade, state media said. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, has ordered paying a total of 113 million Rials (USD31 million), which is the total wage bill for one month in the strip ruled by Hamas. QNA state news agency said recently. This is to alleviate the sufferings of the brothers in the Gaza Strip and ease the severe financial hardships they are facing due to the unjust blockade imposed by the Israeli occupation. Gaza has been subjected to a stringent Israeli blockade since 2006, with constructions materials tightly controlled for fear that militants could make use of them to forge arms or build fortifications.

SUDAN

Parliament Allows Kingdom to Raise Crops

The Sudanese Parliament recently approved a new law that will allow Saudi Arabia to plant and develop an area of one million acres in the northeastern parts of the country. The project will require a USD10 billion investment from the Kingdom in the first phase of the agro project for the construction of the requisite infrastructure, for which the total implementation period will be ten years. After the completion of the first phase, Saudi Arabia will embark on the development of the land for farming. There are currently more than 395 agro projects in Sudan with a capital value of more than USD11 billion.

CUBA

Muslims Yearn to Learn, Defy Odds

They speak little Arabic and don’t have a real mosque, but Cuba’s small Muslim community practices the faith and quietly marked the end of Ramadan as best as they can. In Havana’s old quarter, one can see a green and white minaret atop an old colonial style building. It is here where Cuban Muslims have gathered for the past year to pray. The copies of the Qur’an have been translated into Spanish. There as as many as 10,000 Muslims in Cuba, making up less than 0.1% of the island nation’s population. According to experts, Islam was introduced to Cuba by Muslim students who came from countries such as Pakistan in the 1970s and 80s. Cuba’s Muslims have been clamoring for their own house of worship for 25 years.

UNITED KINGDOM

Al Sudais Opens Mosque in UK

Head of the Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques and Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, has opened the Mosque and School of Al-Salam (Peace) in the city of Preston, United Kingdom. He stressed the importance of the mosque in disseminating the message of Islam and its impact on enhancing security, peace and love being cherished by all nations and peoples.

UNITED STATES

US Professor Memorizes Part of Qur’an in Jeddah

An American academic recently travelled all the way from Virginia to Al-Thanian Al-Masani Mosque in Jeddah so that he could start the process of memorizing the Qur’an. Omar Khashmoon, a 53-year-old dermatologist, said that he wanted to learn more about the Qur’an after spending many years studying medicine and working at New York and Maryland University in the United States. He said he was following the injunction of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who said, “The best of you are those who learn and teach Qur’an. I have memorized certain chapters and pray Allah (swt) helps me to memorize all of it,” he said. He said there are many Qur’an teaching centers in Virginia, but it was much better in the Kingdom because of the spirituality of the place. Muslims in Virginia enjoy Ramadan, attending Taraweeh prayers and reciting the Qur’an, which has a soothing effect on them, he said.

NYPD to Review Beard Policy

The New York Police Department says it will examine its policy banning beards after a federal class action lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of a Muslim officer who was suspended for “violating the rule.” Officer Masood Syed, who was suspended during Ramadan for refusing to shave his inch long beard, has been reinstated. City attorney, Michael Fleming, had said the limit on facial hair is necessary for gas masks to fit tightly on officers’ faces. Police legal officials say a review of the rule should take about 120 days. The NYPD will also examine how it handles disciplinary cases and exemptions involving the rule.

US Muslim Girls Fighting Off Stereotypes with Poetry

Four girls from Vermont are using their voices and powerful performance poetry to get their message out about being Muslim in America, stereotypes and other issues near to them. Five months after forming their slam poetry group, Muslim Girls Making Change is completing this week in the Brave New Voices international youth poetry slam competition in Washington D.C. “We write poems about things that we can’t keep inside of us anymore, so things that we care so much about,” said Kirin Waqar, 16, of South Burlington. The girls said that they talk about common stereotypes and like Muslim countries and culture versus religion, almost anything it was wide range, she said. With titles like ‘American Dream,’‘Welcome,’ and ‘Chameleon,’ the girls address their parents expectations coming to this country, the Syrian refugees and their own challenges balancing their American identity with where their family is from.

Compiled By: Syed Nehal Zaheer