Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

Indian pilgrim says all Muslims love Madinah

Mohammed Zainuddin Ansari, an Indian pilgrim, expressed his appreciation at the Kingdom’s efforts aimed at facilitating the Haj season as well as providing pilgrims with all means of comfort while performing Haj. A pilgrim could sense the amount of efforts the government provides from the moment of their arrival in Saudi Arabia. He expressed happiness of being in Madinah, the city where Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him lived. Performing Haj and visiting Madinah has been one of his dreams come true.

BANGLADESH

60% of remittances are from Saudi Arabia

An economic report revealed that 60% of Bangladeshi remittances come from Saudi Arabia, according to the Bangladeshi Financial Express. According to the report, the remittances are from around 1.3 million workers in the Kingdom,at SR13 billion annually. It said the Kingdom presents the most prominent façade to Bangladeshi working abroad. At present, more than 10 million expat work in the Kingdom from dozens of countries.

SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi student makes it to front pages of Canadian newspapers

Photographs and articles on Saudi student Maaz bin Nabil Abu Aisha were prominently displayed on the front pages of Canadian newspapers for one of his most important innovations. He has designed and made artificial limbs for children who are victims of wars and conflicts. Many Canadian newspapers interviewed the 23 year old Abu Aisha, who is studying computers and intelligent systems. He produced these artificial limbs with the use of 3D printing technology. Abu Aisha, who is studying at Ontario’s Western University, said that he opted for this path to help children who are victims of war.

Pokemon mania near Holy Kaaba slammed

Even the holiest of all places is not spared by the Pokemon Go craze. The mobile game has taken the fight between its characters to the Holy Kaaba, and points of collection are being found on the gates of the Grand Mosque. Opinons are rife about the game saying it is a violation of the sanctity of the Grand Mosque in particular and all other mosques, because some of its characters are inside mosques and the game spies on users. NawafShaheen,a gaming expert said, Pokemon Go has also used a data ban from another game called Ingress. It wants the players to determine important locations in their cities. Among these places are hospitals, mosques and markets. He said that some people do not even know the content of the game and its subject.

Hamper movement outside Prophet’s Mosque

Vendors have taken over the sidewalks and pathways in the central area near the Prophet’s Mosque and are hindering pedestrian movement and causing a traffic crisis. Despite the allocation of stalls for vendors to display their products, most of them refuse to rent these stalls and told Al Madinah that the high prices of those stalls made a lot of vendors leave. The transportable stalls on moving wheels usually increase during the Haj and Umrah seasons in the markets and on the sidewalks near the Prophet’s mosque.

No Mosque sermon without permission

A forum entitled Fiqh of Loyalty and Citizenship, organized by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance in Taif over a span of two days with the participation of imams and preachers, recorded varying knowledge of some of the participants on familiar challenges that threaten all societies, including facing takfirist thought, the promotion of citizenship, belonging and obedience and other issues. The forum was designed to encourage community members to maintain the gains of the Kingdom and activate the role of preachers and employees of mosques.

OIC condemns France Killing

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has denounced the seizure of hostages in a church near the French city of Rouen and the murder of an old priest. It reaffirms the barbarity and brutality of the perpetrators of this act who attacked innocent civilians and assaulted the sanctity of a place of worship, the organization said. OIC Secretary General IyadMadani strongly condemned the heinous attack and expressed the OIC’s solidarity with the French government.

To host 1,000 Palestinian Haj pilgrims

Saudi Arabia will host nearly 1,000 Palestinians this year for Haj under the Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques Haj Visitors Program. Most of them are relatives and family members of those who have been martyred. The visitors’ program directorate has mandated early training as a way to provide best services to the pilgrims in coordination with the authorities concerned. Under the program, the Kingdom has hosted 13,000 Haj visitors from Palestine in the last seven years.

Don’t delay salaries: Grand Mufti

Delaying the payment of employees’ salaries will cause problems, which will affect their efficiency and lead to disruptive thoughts, the top Saudi Scholar has warned. Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh said the job contract requires the employers to pay them the monthly pay. It is an injustice to delay them and it will affect them and their families. He warned officials against taking bribes, and it is a betrayal of trust, calling on them to fight it. He mentioned that the bribery is fighting the true faith, explaining that the Prophet (PBUH) cursed those who pay and accept bribes. He asked Muslims not to be callers of misguidance and corruption, describing those who spread immorality as criminals who seek to harm Islamic communities.

Listening to Qur’an on radio, blind boy, 5, memorizes it

Five year old Hussein Mohammed Tahir, visually impaired since birth, managed a feat few able bodied people can. He memorized the Holy Qur’an just by listening to the radio. The story of the Burmese child began in Jeddah, where his father knowing that he would not be able to watch TV, bought him a radio. The father, Mohammed Tahir, said he fixed the frequency on a station, which broadcasts the Qur’an 24/7 so that his son can develop the habit of listening to Qur’an’s teachings. After they moved from Jeddah to Madinah, the child asked his father to take him to the Prophet’s Mosque. The condition for taking him there, said the father, was to recite a few verses from Surah Al-Baqarah. The child recited the entire surah, which surprised the father to no end.

Iron bars to protect Hajis

Volunteers planted small iron bars around a big rock in Makkah to prevent it from rolling down on pilgrims converging for the annual Haj in September. The Sada newspaper published a picture of the rock which it said is awkwardly placed on Jabal Al-Rahma (Mountain of Mercy) in the plain of Arafat in Makkah. It said the bars were planted around the rock by volunteers. Standing in the plain of Arafat and on Jabal Al Rahmah is a fundamental part of the Haj ritual. Muslims spend the whole day on the mountain and the plain surrounding it to pray and to supplicate to God to forgive their sins on the 9th of DulHijjah.

Mosque dating back early years of Islam found

The province of Al-Kharj, which lies around 80 kms south of the Saudi capital, tells an important story of Saudi culture and heritage. The Saudi-French Joint Mission for archaeological excavation is continuing its work in a number of sites in the area, namely Al Yamamah, in order to learn more about its important historical sites. The team members discovered a large mosque dating back to the early Islamic era in the area from the first century to fifth century AH. The mosque appears to have been the largest in the Arabian Peninsula.

Ranks lowest in suicides

“I feel glad that my children will have very less chances of having suicidal tendencies since they are growing up in the Kingdom.” This was the reaction of Noora, a Saudi woman, to a recent report that the Kingdom has the lowest suicide rate. Her remarks came as a World Health Organization (WHO) study stated that Saudi Arabia ranked the lowest among top 10 countries in terms of suicide, with an average 0.4 cases per year per 100,000 people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-25 years old. Yazeed Mohammed Al Shehri, assistant professor of mental health at King Abdulaziz University, said the main cause of suicide is depression and lack of happiness. One of Islam’s great wisdoms is prayer and their timings, which could help against the early stages of depression. In addition, Islam forbids a person from harming himself or herself, let alone commit suicide, he said. Religion generally helps in keeping off depression. The more spiritual a person is, the more happy he, or she, is.

KUWAIT

Fuel price up by 83%

Beginning September 01, Kuwait is raising its subsidized gasoline prices for the first time in years, following its Gulf neighbors as low global oil prices continue to gnaw away budgets across the region. Kuwait’s Cabinet announced the decision by increasing prices by 83% for its premium grade gasoline. Kuwait’s cheapest gasoline will increase in price by 41% while its mid-range will increase by 61%.

SRI LANKA

2,240 to perform this year’s Haj

Sri Lanka has send 2,240 to perform this year’s Haj. Ferrying of the Colombo pilgrims to and from Jeddah will be shared by the Sri Lankan Airlines, the Saudi Arabian Airlines and other airlines.Four teams have been formed in Makkah, Jeddah, Mina and Madinah to assist the pilgrims. A medical team also arrived with the pilgrims to look after their health needs.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

USD1bn fund for advanced technology

Alabbar Enterprises, led by Emirati businessman Mohammed Al-Abbar, along with a number of private investors from the region, is set to launch the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) largest technology fund. The fund aims to collect investments worth USD1 billion to drive Arab tech entrepreneurship and create a sharing economy business model that will be considered the first in the region, says a report by Al-Arabiya. The fund is expected to search for opportunities in acquiring technological projects operating in high growth sectors, such as retail, fashion, transportation, media and others.

INDONESIA

Internet, TV fanning sectarianism

One of the main factors behind the rise in extremism in the Islamic world is the sectarian activity being promoted by the enemies of Islam through TV channels and the Internet, said Abdullah Al Turki, secretary general of Muslim World League. He was speaking during an international conference held under the title, “Islam’s moderation to combat terrorism and sectarianism,” at the Lombok island of Indonesia recently. The event organized by the Muslim World League (MWL) in collaboration with Indonesian scholars was attended by President Joko Widodo. The President urged the scholars, thinkers and preachers to exert all possible efforts to fight the deviant thoughts and ideology, asserting that Islam calls for moderation and rejects extremism and violence.

MALAYSIA

Avoid playing Pokemon

Islamic leaders in Kuala Lumpur said that Muslims should avoid playing Pokemon Go because the popular mobile game was harmful and could lead to gambling. Senior religious official Zulkifil Mohammed Al-Bakri said the city’s Islamic Legal Consultative Committee had taken into consideration top scholars opinions on the cartoon creatures. While Pokemon Go has been praised as a fun way to get people outdoors,it has also attracted safety warnings about not walking into oncoming traffic, straying into restricted areas or becoming victims of crimes. Last month Indonesian civil servants were ordered not to play Pokemon Go at work in a bid to protect “state secrets”.

TURKEY

Nearly 60,000 Turks to perform Haj this year

A total of 59,200 Turkish pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom for pilgrimage this year, said Turkish Ambassador YunusDemirer. Turkish airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines will be mainly flying pilgrims from my country said Ambassador Demirer. He said that an official Turkish delegation comprising religious officials will also travel to the Kingdom. Ankara will also make an exception on the ban on leaving the country imposed on civil servants after the July 15 failed coup attempt, if the employees can demonstrate they will perform Haj in September.

MALAYSIA

Avoid playing Pokemon

Islamic leaders in Kuala Lumpur said that Muslims should avoid playing Pokemon Go because the popular mobile game was harmful and could lead to gambling. Senior religious official Zulkifil Mohammed Al-Bakri said the city’s Islamic Legal Consultative Committee had taken into consideration top scholars opinions on the cartoon creatures. While Pokemon Go has been praised as a fun way to get people outdoors,it has also attracted safety warnings about not walking into oncoming traffic, straying into restricted areas or becoming victims of crimes. Last month Indonesian civil servants were ordered not to play Pokemon Go at work in a bid to protect “state secrets”.

TURKEY

Nearly 60,000 Turks to perform Haj this year

A total of 59,200 Turkish pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom for pilgrimage this year, said Turkish Ambassador YunusDemirer. Turkish airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines will be mainly flying pilgrims from my country said Ambassador Demirer. He said that an official Turkish delegation comprising religious officials will also travel to the Kingdom. Ankara will also make an exception on the ban on leaving the country imposed on civil servants after the July 15 failed coup attempt, if the employees can demonstrate they will perform Haj in September.

NIGERIA

Film village plans halted

Nigeria has shelved a plan to build a USD10 million film village outside the mainly Muslim northern city of Kano, bowing to virulent opposition from Muslim clerics. Abdurrahman KawuSumaila, an adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the cancellation answered the wishes of the local population. The people have had their say and the government has heeded them, he told reporters recently after months of discord. The project to be built on a 20 hectare (nearly 50 acre) expanse near Kano,planned for a film center,a 400 capacity auditorium, a hostel, a sound stage, a restaurant, a three star hotel, a shopping mall, a stadium and clinic.

MAURITANIA

Arab summit slams killings in name of Islam

A 22 nation Arab summit tackling the region’s crises, despite splits over Iran and Turkey, was cut back to a single day due to the absence of the heavyweight leaders. Opening the talks, Egypt’s premier Sherif Ismail called in the name of El Sisi for an Arab strategy of struggle against terrorism. We must recast the religious language that terrorist elements exploit to their own ends to sow terror, death and destruction. Terrorists were defecting Islam’s message of peace, he added. Mauritania’s head of state Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is hosting the summit, also slammed the blind violence of terrorists as well as foreign interventions that feed instability in the Arab world. It is the first Arab League Summit hosted by Mauritania since it joined the organization in 1973.

POLAND

Pope defends Muslims: Islam not terror

Pope Francis said he won’t label Islam as “terrorist” because that would be unfair and not true. While in Poland, Pope made an unscheduled stop at a church in Krakow to implore God to protect people from the devastating wave of terrorism in many parts of the world. Pope replied, It’s not right to identify Islam with violence, It’s not right and it’s not true. He added, “I believe that in every religion there is always a little fundamentalist group. Noting he has spoken with imams,” he concluded, “I know how they think, they are looking for peace. As for the Daesh, he said it, presents itself with a violent identity card, but that’s not Islam.”

FRANCE

Ban on Foreign funded mosques

France’s Prime Minister said that he would consider a temporary ban on foreign financing of mosques, urging a new model for relations with Islam after a spate of terror attacks. Manuel Valls, under fire for perceived security lapses around the attacks, also admitted a failure in the fact that one of the terrorists who stormed a church and killed a priest had been released with an electronic tag pending trail. In an interview with a French daily Le Monde, Valls said that he was open to the ideal that for a period yet to be determined – there should be no financing from abroad for the construction of mosques. The Socialists Prime Minister also called for imams to be trained in France, not elsewhere. France has just over 2,000 mosques, for one of Europe’s largest Muslim population which numbers around five million.

GERMANY

Islam channel to remove misconceptions

Huda TV channel, a global broadcasting satellite service with its headquarters in Riyadh, has launched a channel in the German language to present the correct image of Islam in the West. The channel is targeting 145 million people who speak the language around the world, local media reported. Hamad Al-Ghammas, chairman of the board of directors of Huda TV Channel said that Islam is being projected among non-Muslims in a distorted manner. This has compelled us to communicate with people in their mother tongue and present the right image of the religion, expressing optimism that the move will be beneficial in a big way.

UNITED KINGDOM

Ignorant murderers harming Islam

Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, said Islam needs understanding and in depth comprehension at a time when some Muslims are ignorant of the facts of Islam. Al Sudais was delivering a lecture at the Islamic Cultural Center in Britain. He said Muslims need to understand the basics of the faith, as well as moderation and consideration for the contemporary application of its tenets. All this should contribute to the correct understanding of Islam. Al Sudais told the audiences, which included scientists, intellectuals and thinkers. He lamented the demonization of Islam today by groups who do not know the facts about this sacred religion and its purposes and have taken to violence as a way to express this ignorance, and have sought to shed the blood of innocents by bombings and killings.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Wears Hijab in Olympics

American Ibtihaj Muhammad looked like all the other fencers when she stepped on the piste, save for the non-descript black scarf covering her head. With that small gesture, Muhammad made history. Muhammad became the first American athlete to compete in the Olympics with a hijab, which she wears to adhere to the tenets of her Muslim faith. “I feel like it’s a blessing to be able to represent so many people who don’t have voices, who don’t speak up,” Muhammad said, “it is just a remarkable experience.” Muhammad, a new Jersey native and three time NCAA All American from Duke, became an instant star when she qualified for her first Olympics this year.

Fights hatred with humor

The Muslim American comedian, Dean Obeidallah, has spent 15 years fighting hatred and bias against Islam, armed only with his sense of humor. Now the bitter tone of the US presidential campaign have added urgency to his mission. Obeidallah life, like the lives of many Muslims changed forever one September morning in 2001. “Pre 9/11, I identified as a white guy,” he told AFP. But after the terror attacks of that day, he said he converted to become a minority. Obeidallah, the son of a Palestinian father and an Italian mother, could pass for any of a variety of ethnicities. No one had ever guessed from his appearance that he was Arab or Muslim, said the talkative New Jersey native, a former lawyer. Still, he decided to spotlight his Muslim identity. He also founded a New York festival for Muslim comedians, the Muslim Funny Fest. Muslim Americans right now feel a sense of being alone, we’re under siege, Obeidallah said: “We feel like no one really cares about our community.”

Sues Chicago police

A young Muslim woman has sued Chicago police who mistakenly identified her briefly as a potential “lone wolf” terrorist as she was leaving a city subway station last year wearing a headscarf, face veil and carrying a backpack. Itemid Al-Mattar said officers violated her civil rights by pulling of her religious garb as they arrested her on subway station stairs, then strip searched her later at a police station, according to the federal lawsuit filed in Chicago on her behalf.

Compiled By: Syed Nehal Zaheer