Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

Businessman Wins Community Award

An Indian businessman and philanthropist who has spent 15 million dirhams (USD4 million) paying off the debts of more than 10,000 prisoners in the UAE has been awarded the country’s prestigious Community Service Medal.  Firoz Merchant, 59, the Founder and Chairman of Pure Gold Jewellers, is the first expatriate to receive the award.  Since 2008, he has settled the financial obligation of 10,940 people held in UAE jails, often after they had completed their sentences, because they could not clear their debts. Merchant dedicated his award to his countrymen living in, and outside, the UAE. He also stated thus: “Whatever I have done, and will continue to do, is for the love of the UAE and India.” Merchant said that he was helping people who were the victims of circumstances.

MYANMAR

Inaction Haunts Myanmar Muslims

Religious tensions are on the rise again in Myanmar, after masked assailants attacked young Muslims, and nationalists, led by Buddhist monks, set up protest camps in major cities. While the  Muslim minority is  buffeted by outbreaks of mob violence and places of worship have been shuttered, a small but vocal group of nationalists say the fledgling government of Aung San Suu Kyi is failing to stand up for the Buddhist majority. In a letter to Suu Kyi, 20 groups working on human rights in Myanmar said the government needed to do more to protect Muslims, who make up 4.3% of the population. The Burma government must not appease the ultra-nationalists who are utilizing hate speech, intimidation and violence to promote fear in Muslim communities across the country, said the letter.

JAPAN

International Summit on Religion

Saudi Arabia has always called for peace and coexistence between mankind, the Muslim World League (MWL)’s Secretary-General said at the 30th International Summit on Religion in Kyoto, Japan. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa stressed the responsibility of religious leaders in promoting civilized and humanitarian concepts to spread the values of love and peace. Al Issa added that the MWL, not only bears the concerns of the Islamic world, but of humanity at large as Islam’s message is global.

SAUDI ARABIA

Pilgrims Given 32,000 Cubic Meters of Zamzam Water

The King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Project for Zamzam Water, in July, supplied the Grand Mosque with 21,229 cubic meters of water and the Prophet’s Mosque with 11,229 cubic meters, said project Director, Ahmed bin Omar Ballamash. More than 169,870 beneficiaries were served at the main distribution center in Kaddi with a total of 1.35 million bottles of Zamzam water, he added.

MWL Delivers Health Insurance

The Muslim World League (MWL) recently delivered health insurance cards to 15,000 Sudanese orphans and their families at a cost of about SR2,365,000 (USD630,557). The MWL is the parent organization of the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) with Hassan Shaabar as Secretary-General. Shaabar said that his organization has paid great attention to orphans, with the organization currently sponsoring more than 78,000 orphans in 35 countries, supervised by its offices around the world.

NASA Naming an Asteroid

Fatima bint Abdul Moneim Al-Sheikh, 19, has gone down in history as the second Saudi woman to have an asteroid named after her. Arab News has confirmed with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) that the asteroid is called Al-Sheikh 33535, and is registered with the official international governing body for naming celestial objects.  In recognition of her achievements in science, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) published a two part report headlined “NASA Names One of its Asteroids after Talented Saudi, Fatima Al-Sheikh.

Hajj Terminal in Jeddah Can Handle 175,000 Pilgrims at a Time

The Hajj terminal in Jeddah can accommodate 175,000 pilgrims a time – 91,000 at the arrival lounge and 84,000 in the departure lounge. Under new arrangements, the airport facilities and personnel will be able to clear 3,800 arriving pilgrims and 3,500 departing ones in an hour. The waiting areas can accommodate 7,000 pilgrims at a time. The Hajj and Umrah Complex covers 510,000 square meters. There are 26 aircraft parking spaces, 10 skyways, 18 travel gates and 143 counters for immigration formalities.

750 Water-Spray Fans

The Makkah Region Development Authority has begun implementing a cooling project in the western area of the Jamarat complex, as well as the Jamarat-Mina road with 750 water-spray fans. The project covers an area more than 10,000 square meters long with water-spray fans supplied via two main stations. The spray fans along with other cooling ventilation methods, was operational throughout the Hajj season which gave pilgrims respite from the heat.

Qassim Date Festival

Qassim, which hosts the world’s largest date festival in Buraidah every year at this time, is swirling with activities with date-farmers expecting high sales figures during this year’s 45-day event. Saudi Arabia has the highest number of date palm trees in the world, roughly accounting for 25% of the world date production. The Qassim region alone has around 7 million date palm trees, the highest among all regions in the Kingdom. The annual date festival is an important event to source products to be used for date derivatives including date syrup, date paste and date gifts boxes to be used for all occasions throughout the year.

‘One Day in the Haram’ Documentary

A 90-minute documentary titled “One Day in the Haram,” which details what it is like in the Grand Mosque in Makkah through the eyes of workers and clerics, is slated to debut in September. The film – by British writer, producer and director, Abrar Hussain – is set to be the biggest media project about the Grand Mosque in history. The official trailer was uploaded on YouTube last week and has gone viral. “The film is designed to attract a non-Muslim audience, to show them, how important Makkah is,” said Hussain. “We wanted to film Makkah because it is very important to show a beautiful side of Islam so non-Muslims can say, ‘Okay, this is how beautiful and peaceful this religion is!’” He added, “We want to convey this message to as many people as possible, especially in the West. After film festivals, we will speak to Netflix and different TV stations to screen it.” The Grand Mosque is the largest in the world and includes Islam’s holiest site, the Ka’aba. Muslims worldwide face in its direction when praying.

Expose Distortions by Daesh

Islamic scholars from Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Malaysia urged Muslim communities to combat religious extremism and societal division by spreading knowledge about moderate Islam. They explored the role of universities in strengthening moderate Islamic thought at a conference organized by the Muslim World League (MWL) and Al-Azhar Indonesia University. The Muslim World League Secretary-General, Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, said a small faction of the roughly 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide has a distorted understanding of Islam. “The majority of Muslims around the world understand the right conception about Islam, except a minority few who have no idea about the core of Islamic teachings.” Further, he said that “Daesh is just a small community in Islam, but it is widespread due to the proliferation of the Internet. It is our obligation including universities to set the record straight about the real Islamic teachings.”

Distribution of Zamzam Water

Distributing Zamzam water to two million pilgrims in Makkah is not an easy task. It is carried out by institutions established to provide water to pilgrims at their hotels every day. Abdul Jaleel Zamzami, Head of the United Zamzam Office, told Arab News that it will distribute three million bottles, or fourteen million liters of water, to pilgrims during their stay in Makkah. “The government provides financial and technical assistance to enable the United Zamzam Office to provide water to each pilgrim,” said historical writer, Saad al-Shareef.

EGYPT

Sets Religious Edict Booths

Egypt’s Islamic Research Academy of Al-Azhar, the Muslim world’s foremost religious institution, has set up booths in Cairo metro stations to give religious edicts to citizens in an attempt to “correct misconceptions and radical ideologies.” The Academy’s Secretary-General, Mohi El-Din Afifi, said the move comes to enhance the spirit of belonging to the country and to dispel misinterpretations of religious texts.

TURKEY

Muslims to Visit and Protect Jerusalem

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has urged all Muslims to visit and protect Jerusalem after violence broke out over metal detectors that Israel installed – and later removed – from Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the city.  “From here, I make a call to all Muslims. Anyone who has the opportunity should visit Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Erdogan said in Ankara, “Come, let’s all protect Jerusalem. They are attempting to take the Mosque from Muslims hands on the pretext of fighting terrorism. There is no other explanation.” Erdogan said in a speech to ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) law-makers in Parliament. “Israel, which shows no respect for Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, will see itself suffer the most damage,” Erdogan said.

KAZAKHSTAN

OIC Meeting in Astana

The first Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, from September 7th to 11th, will discuss scientific and technical issues and strategies for the next ten years. The event comes as the organization strives to focus on promoting scientific and technical industries. The leaders at the upcoming summit will confirm their support for including these priorities in their national policies and development strategies.

SCOTLAND

Muslims Gain ‘Fringe’ Benefits

As the renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe celebrates its 70th anniversary, one mosque is taking part to counter misconceptions on Islam. The event, organized over 25 days in the Scottish capital, annually attracts in excess of two million visitors attending 300 plus venues to witness some of the more than 50,000 performances, ranging from magic to music. The Edinburgh Central Mosque will host an exhibition offering respite from the Fringe’s famous raucousness. This year, the Islamic Festival will be an official part of the Fringe. Subhi Hashwa, with a long beard and Scottish accent, is the event’s Education Manager. He says the event has already fulfilled its aims for this year, adding that, at a time when events in the world have completely distorted people’s perceptions of Islam, sharing knowledge is the goal. The mosque is located in the heart of the city and every nook and corner becomes a Fringe venue.

UNITED KINGDOM

Yusuf Islam Channels Turkish Poet

British singer, Yusuf Islam, has channeled Turkish poet, Yunus Emre, for a song about divine love in his latest album. The ‘Laughing Apple,’ which will come out in September and mark Islam’s fourth album since he ended a three-decade retreat from music following his conversion to Islam. Islam sings of love as he looks at the miracles of nature and the force of the divine. In a statement, Islam said the lyrics were inspired by verses from Yunus Emre, one of the classical poets from Turkey. Yusuf Islam won a wide international following in the early 1970s but said he felt a need for a greater spiritual path. The singer, who turned 69, embraced Islam in 1977. He gave few concerts for the next three decades before returning with an album in 2006.

UNITED STATES

FBI Investigators Seek Suspects

FBI investigators are seeking suspects after an explosive device tore through part of a suburban Minneapolis mosque as people were preparing for  morning prayers, damaging a room but not causing any injuries, authorities and witnesses said. The blast occurred at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. Windows of the Imam’s office were shattered, either by the blast or by an object thrown through them. The mosque in Bloomington, just south of Minneapolis, serves as a religious center and community organizing platform for Muslim activists and leaders in the area, according to the society. The group is offering USD10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest or conviction.

[Compiled By: Syed Nehal Zaheer]