Flashes from the Muslim World
Teaching Arabic to Chinese Muslims
The Chinese Islamic Relations Council have signed an agreement with a Saudi company specialized in distance education for teaching Arabic to Chinese Muslims to help them understand and enhance their knowledge of Islamic civilization. Dr. Ding Hui, chairman of the Board of Chinese Islamic Relations Council said it is a ground breaking agreement made to promote and disseminate the culture of the learning of the Arabic language in China, a country with a population of 1.4 billion people of whom 50 million are Muslims. The Chinese Muslims will not only learn the Arabic language and its sciences but also read the Qur’an in the language it was revealed in.
Ningxia Chinese to perform Haj for the first time
This year an estimated 14,000 Chinese Pilgrims will be performing the annual pilgrimage. For the first time, Chinese pilgrims from Ningxia, an autonomous region will be performing the Haj this year. A total of 2,833 pilgrims are scheduled to arrive from this part of China. Around half of China’s 20 million Muslims live in Ningxia, where the people identify their ethnic group as Hui, a recognized minority in China.
6,700 Filipinos to Perform Hajj
The Filipino pilgrim delegation totaling 6,700 people will be headed by the Secretary of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF). He expressed his thanks to the Saudi leadership for the hospitality accorded to Filipino pilgrims in the past, as well as the intensive efforts exerted at making the pilgrimage successful. The annual religious ritual, as far as Filipino pilgrims are concerned, has been orderly and convenient, he said.
Manila–MILF Peace Talks
As many as 4,000 religious scholars, including graduates from Saudi religious institutions, have come together to fight the psychological war waged against Islam and Muslims, who are being exposed to alien doctrines that have nothing to do with Islam. The conference which was concluded recently was held under the theme, “The Role of Religious Sectors in Bringing about Peace,” stressed the need to tackle issues concerning Islam and the Muslim world. It recommended the use of classical Arabic language as an official medium of communication and understanding at various meetings and special events. The summit also lauded the ongoing efforts taken to restore peace in the region and to unite the ranks of scholars.
Trains Staff to Help Hajis
Indonesia sent the highest number of Haj pilgrims to the Kingdom. Around 168,000 pilgrims from Indonesia will perform Haj this year. More than 200,000 would typically come yearly, but the number has been axed in line with reduction quotas to make way for the Grand Mosque expansion. Many of these pilgrims have waited for up to 10 years to perform Haj. Over 3,000 personnel from various ministries including the minister of Health are being deployed by the Indonesian government to assist pilgrims. A three-day orientation program was conducted for these personnel to get them acquainted with their tasks.
No Celebrations This Year
Malaysia will not hold festivities in Jeddah for its 57th national day celebrations out of respect for the victims of Malaysians flights MH 370 and MH17, which perished scarcely four months apart. Malaysia is still growing strong despite numerous challenges faced this year. This year’s theme focuses on national building. This year around 22,320 Malaysian Haj pilgrims will be performing the pilgrimage.
Madinah Branded as the Ancient Religious City of the 21st Century
A report issued by the Global Agenda Council on Competitiveness at the World Economic Forum has branded Madinah the most sacred and ancient religious city of the 21st century. Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah literally means the ‘City of Light’ and was historically a center for both spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. After prayers, students would gather around various pillars of the holy mosque as global scholars taught them. It were the bricks-and-mortar Internet of its day. This intellectual vocation fell by the wayside, but may now be on the rebound, said the report. Madinah is uniquely positioned to attract Muslim talent from all over the world, eager to live, work, retire or make extended visits to the second most sacred city in Islam. Madinah’s expanding economy is driven by a growing number of Haj and Umrah pilgrims. More than five million visit the city every year and the number is expected to exceed ten million within a decade.
Humanitarian Efforts Lauded
Abdullah Al Turki, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, has highlighted Saudi Arabia’s humanitarian efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the victims of natural calamities and civil wars around the world. Addressing a meeting of the International Islamic Relief Organization Saudi Arabia’s (IIROSA) General Assembly in Jeddah, Al Turki said the Kingdom’s relief efforts were inspired by the teachings of Islam. IIROSA’s main concern is to reach out to the poor and victims of calamities and disasters to provide them with helping hand and reduce their suffering, the IIROSA chief said. The organization plans to employ special staff to monitor activities of all the mosques that were built recently.
The Month of Dhul Qa’ada
Dhul Qa’ada is the eleventh month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is the first of the four sanctified months (al-Ashhur al-Hurum) in which battles were prohibited in the days of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). It is also one of the months of Haj as explained in the discussion about Shawwal. However, no specific rules are prescribed for this month, except that the persons performing Haj are required to follow the rules of Haj.
Western Media Attacks on Islam
Secretary General of King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND), Faisal Muammar, has said that linking Islam to the event s of September 11, 2001, by some Western politicians and media was unfair and obviously aimed at projecting Muslims as terrorists and extremists. The goal of these critics was to fight Islam, not terrorism, and, instead, this gained them (i.e., the terrorists) more supporters and sympathizers globally, he noted. KACND’s top priority is to confront extremism and terrorism and to work through partnerships with other agencies, organizations and institutions to promote the values and virtues of Islam, he added.
Mosque Officials should Promote National Values
Imams and preachers have a major responsibility to promote a sense of national loyalty, the Kingdom’s values and a proper understanding of Islam at the nation’s mosques, said Riyadh Governor, Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. Prince Turki made the comments at the Riyadh Forum on the Role of Mosques, which concluded in Riyadh recently. The three-day Forum brought together prominent scholars, imams and preachers to revive the historical role of mosques as places for spreading knowledge of Islam as a religion of moderation and wisdom.
Sick Pilgrims Coming with Wish to Die
Saudi Arabia has expressed concern over the increasing number of pilgrims arriving with chronic or serious health problems. Such pilgrims are posing a health hazard for others and also putting pressure on the health facilities in the holy cities. Haj is mandatory for Muslims if they are physically and financially able, said Abdallah Al-Asiri, the deputy minister for preventive health. He urged scholars in different countries to promote Islamic teachings, which clearly specify physical ability as a condition for performing Haj.
Impressed by Saudi Students’ Friendship, Briton Embraces Islam
A simple act of kindness can do wonders. A Briton embraced Islam after he witnessed a fellow Saudi patient being bombarded with moral and financial support from two Saudi scholarship students, who had regularly visited their compatriot at a hospital in Brighton. The number of Britons converting to Islam has nearly doubled in the past decade. A new study by the inter-faith think tank, Faith Matters, suggests the real figure could be as high as 100,000 with as many as 5,000 new converts nationwide each year. This report is the best intellectual guestimate using census numbers, local authority data and polling from mosques, said Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters.
[Compiled by: Syed Nehal Zaheer]
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