Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

Pilgrims Provided with Best Facilities: Indian official

A top Indian official said that Saudi Arabia has made the best and most elaborate arrangements for pilgrims this year with a slew of measures, including security arrangements, medical facilities and traffic system. Around 135,000 pilgrims – 100,020 through the Haj Committee and the remaining through private operators – have performed Haj this year. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is implementing a multimillion dollar expansion project at the holy sites. It has already spent more than USD125 billion to expand pilgrimage facilities since the 1950s.

CHINA

Haji Pedals his way to Makkah

Riding his bike for 8,150km, crossing several countries, a Chinese Haji has reached Makkah and just performed   annual Haj this year. Mohammed Bama Chun from Xinjiang took four months to reach Makkah despite extreme difficulties and hilly terrains. In Taif, he was accorded a warm welcome by the local cycling club. Following a brief stay in Taif, Mohammed was accompanied by members of the Taif cycling club to the holy city in order to perform the Haj.

SAUDI ARABIA

New Kiswa for Holy Ka’aba

On 9th of Dul Hijjah, the Holy Ka’aba got a new Kiswa cover, which has been made of pure silk and embroidered with gold and silver threads. More than 240 people work in the Kiswa factory. It has the largest computerized tailoring machine in the world with a length of sixteen meters. Skilled craftsmen use a combination of the latest technology, ancient looms and artistic calligraphy to produce a work of exotic beauty. Usually the new cloth is ready two months before Haj. A Kiswa consumes about 700 kg of silk and 120 kg of golden and silver threads. It consists of 47 pieces of cloth and each piece is fourteen meters long and 101cm wide. The Kiswa is wrapped around the Ka’aba and fixed to the ground with copper rings.

Governor Calls for Peaceful Existence

Madinah Governor, Prince Faisal bin Salman, has welcomed the heads of this year’s Haj delegation from Arab and Islamic countries. He called on all Muslim scholars everywhere in the world to emphasize the values of tolerance, harmony and peaceful coexistence which true Islam symbolizes and calls for. He also pointed out when establishing the nascent Islamic State in Madinah, which was the first capital of Islam, the first step of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was to issue a charter defining and organizing the relationship between the individual and society. Prince Faisal explained that since the dawn of Islam, Madinah has embodied the application of Islamic teachings as regards coexistence with others and has been living proof that Islam is a religion that accepts differences and respects them, and values diversity without discrimination on the basis of shape, color or creed.

Foreign Remittances See 35% Drop

The remittances sent by foreigners to their families fell by 35% or SR 5.5 billion during July, down from SR 15.8 billion in June to SR 10.3 billion in July. July marked the lowest volume of remittances in 41 months since February 2013. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said there are 8.7 million foreign employees in the private sector, besides 720,000 household workers. Around 72,000 foreigners work in the public sector, bringing the total number of foreigners employed in the Kingdom to 9.4 million. The average monthly amount remitted by foreign workers in July was SR1,096 compared to SR1,685 during the month of June.

Top Three Safest Places in the World

Saudi Arabia has been ranked among the top three safest places in the world, thanks to fewer natural disasters and constant efforts by the government in terms of health, security and infrastructure. The Institute for Environment and Human Security at the UN University has, in its recent report, placed the Kingdom as the third most safe and secure country after Malta and Qatar. The US ranked 116th, while the most dangerous countries in the world included Vanautu and Tonga, the Philippines, Guatemala and Bangladesh.

Hajis Eat One Kilo ton of Fruits

Approximately 1,000 tons of fruits and vegetables were being supplied from Jeddah to Makkah and Madinah daily for Haj pilgrims, traders and suppliers in the central market in Jeddah had said. They also felt that the roughly three million pilgrims from abroad and home in the holy cities had all their daily needs met satisfactorily. Makkah’s share of vegetables had reached 250 tons per day of oranges and 200-250 tons per day of Chinese, Chilean and American apples and almost the same quantity of Philippine bananas. Around 200 tons of tomatoes were consumed per day and almost the same amount of other vegetables, such as onion, and potato.

Grand Mosque has a Capacity of 1.8m Pilgrims after Expansion

The Grand Mosque can accommodate up to 1,790,850 worshippers and enable 107,000 people to perform Tawaf per hour. Escalators and lifts operate around the clock in addition to air-conditioning systems, lighting and sound system,TV surveillance and fire-control systems. There are 16,300 toilets and places of ablution.

Historic Hira Cave

Just outside the holy city of Makkah lies one of Islam’s most important historical sites – a cave where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) spent time in seclusion, contemplation and self-reflection. It was here, inside Hira cave located near the top of a steep hill called Jabal-un-Noor (Mountain of Light), where Allah revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) the first verses of the Qur’an through the angel Jibreel. Each year, Muslims deepen their prayers and supplication in the final ten nights of Ramadan, during which time, some 1,400 years ago, the miraculous revelation took place on Jabal-an-Noor. The hill is not part of the annual Haj pilgrimage, but its location so close to the holy city of Makkah and its significance as a place of enlightenment draws thousands of pilgrims every year.

History of Mihrab of Prophet’s Mosque

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah is like a magnet pulling Muslims from across the world who come to pray there and salute Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and two of his close companions. Historians were quoted by local media as saying that the Mihrab facing the first Qibla was at the end of the mosque, from the northern side opposite the Othman gate and next to the fifth column, and to the north at Ayesha’s column. After the Prophet (pbuh) was ordered to change the direction of the Qibla to Ka’aba, he placed the Mihrab from the north of the mosque to the south, and prayed at Ayesha’s column for two or four months. The Prophet (pbuh) later moved forward and prayed for a few days at another column, where he subsequently placed the Mihrab.

Net Gain for 95% Homes

Ninety five percent of homes in Saudi Arabia are connected to the Internet, following, Singapore (98.8%) and Qatar (96%). This has been revealed by a report of the United Nations Broadband Commission. Iceland retained the highest percentage of Internet users at 98.2%, followed by Luxembourg (97.3%) and Norway and Denmark (97%).  The report indicated that China is the largest Internet market in the world with 721 million users, followed by India, which beat the United States for second place, with 333 million users. Globally, it is estimated that 3.9 billion people do not use the Internet, and China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria contain 66% of the world population connected to the Internet.

TAIWAN

Taipei Grand Mosque

You will be walking a lot in Taiwan;and, hence, it is always interesting to note the differences in Islamic architecture. The Taiwanese capital’s largest mosque is Taipei Grand Mosque. It was first built in the 1940s, but the number of Chinese Muslims immigrating from mainland China increased, and a need for a bigger mosque was imminent. The current building was inaugurated in 1960 and declared a historic building in 1999.

MYANMAR

Muslim Rohingya Minority

Members of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority have expressed hope that an independent panel led by former UN Chief, Kofi Annan, will help end the discrimination and violence they face at the hands of the country’s Buddhist majority. Some 125,000 people are living in camps, the vast majority members of the Rohingya minority who are denied citizenship in Myanmar. Muslim religious leader,KyawZan La, told the commission during a meeting in the ThetKePyin camp, home to more than 5,000 people, that his community wanted peace.

INDONESIA

Consumer Groups Court Muslims with Halal Products

Some of the world’s biggest consumer groups are making halal face creams and shampoos for Indonesia ahead of a new labeling law, part of a broader push to cater to growing Muslim populations as sales in many western markets slow. Indonesia could influence other countries such as Malaysia where halal products made locally or by small, niche companies are also popular. Halal certification is official recognition that a product was manufactured in keeping with Sharia law. There is a trend that the halal products are being requested more and more, and the importance of being able to supply them is increasing. More than 1.5 billion people around the world are Muslim, accounting for about a quarter of the global population.

Seeks Higher Haj Quota

An Indonesian lawmaker has urged his country’s government to ask Saudi Arabia to further increase the country’s annual Haj quota. AchmadMustaqim called on the Jakarta government to take advantage of its good relations with the Kingdom, and to lobby the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for a larger Haj share as of next year.  Otherwise, he said, Indonesia will have to wait up to fifteen years with the current quota.

JAPAN

Tokyo Governor Speaks Fluent Arabic

Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike, described the Saudi Vision 2030 as ambitious, saying it considers the people with the most important wealth in the country, an approach that is highly respected given that oil was for a long time deemed the foundation for development. Koike, 64, is a former TV anchorwoman. She speaks fluent English and Arabic – the latter acquired as a student in Cairo. Koike said that she feels a spiritual connection with the Arab world and that her role to focus on common points between the Japanese and Arab people will not stop.

BAHRAIN

Islamic Finance Proposition

In strategic partnership with the Central Bank of Bahrain, World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) 2016 is set to gather over 1,300 leaders on to a single platform to chart new areas of growth, address economic uncertainties and unlock opportunities available for the global Islamic finance industry. The event will be held at the Gulf Hotel in Bahrain from 5-7 December, under the theme, Economic Uncertainties: Vigilance and Growth. Central bankers, ministers and other dignitaries will attend this event. WIBC is also known for its emphasis on ethical and values based business in the context of Islamic finance.

TURKEY

Allows Policewomen to Wear Hijab

Turkey has for the first time allowed policewomen to wear Hijab (headscarf) as part of their uniform, according to a ruling published in the official gazette. Women serving in the police force will be able to cover their heads under their caps or berets so long as the headscarf is the same color as the uniform and without pattern, said the ruling published in the official gazette. Turkey lifted a ban on the wearing of the Muslim headscarf on university campuses in 2010.

SPAIN

Wins Fight to Study with Veil

A Spanish Muslim student whose ban from a training institute for wearing the headscarf caused controversy said she had finally been allowed to study with the hijab after regional authorities weighed in. The exclusion of TakwaRejeb from class generated unease in a country where Muslims represent around four percent of the 46.5 million strong population. “I am more than happy because the only thing I wanted was to exercise my right to study,” said Rejeb, 23, born in the eastern city of Valencia from Tunisian parents.

RUSSIA

16,000 Performed Haj this Year

The number of Russian Haj pilgrims has been multiplying since the end of the Soviet Union and the figure will rise once Saudi Arabia increases the quota, said a Russian diplomat. Russian pilgrims came to perform Haj, the sacred rituals in Makkah, 400 years ago, but their number was very low. Between 20 and 40 Haj pilgrims came each year during the time of the Soviet Union. This year 16,200 Hajis came from Russia, Russian Consul General BahauddinAliyev told local media.

FRANCE

New Chapter in Muslim Relations

France’s government sought to open a new chapter in relations with the country’s Muslims following a summer scarred by militant attacks and a ban on burkinis that ratcheted up communal tensions. Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, met with senior Muslim representatives and agreed that efforts to foster good relations will include the creation of an Islamic foundation, funded solely with money from within France. But Prime Minister Manuel Valls, speaking later, urged a fight to defeat what he termed ‘Islamist totalitarianism,’ which aimed at ‘fracturing democracies,’ stifling individual liberties and installing a new social order in which men dominate women. There are 4.15 million Muslims in France and there are 2,500 places of worship. The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) is the official representative body set up in 2003. It is a non-profit association.

Made to Leave Beach

An Australian Muslim woman who wore a burkini to a French beach said she was asked to leave despite a ban on the controversial full bodied swimsuit recently being overturned. Sydney born, ZeynabAlshelh, a 23-year-old medical student, told Australian Channel 7 that she travelled to Europe to show solidarity with French Muslims by wearing a burkini – invented by an Australian designer –on the beach. We were threatened by locals to leave the beach and if we didn’t they were going to call the police, Alshelh said.

NETHERLANDS

Dutch Party threatens to Ban Mosques

The political party of Dutch far right politician, Geert Wilders, which is leading polls ahead of parliamentary elections next year, has vowed to close mosques and ban the Qur’an in its manifesto. All mosques and Islamic schools will be closed, and a ban on the Qur’an will be put into effect, said the document outlining the electoral program of the Freedom Party, ahead of the March 2017 legislative elections which was posted on Wilders Twitter feed. It also wants to ban migrants from Islamic countries and stopping Muslim women from wearing the headscarf in public. The immigrant crisis has polarized the Netherlands, a nation of seventeen million people, leading to heated debate and some attacks on refugee centers.

AUSTRALIA

Ban Boosts Burkini Sales

The Australian designer of the burkini said she has enjoyed increased sales of the body-covering swimwear for Muslim women since three French cities banned it. Aheda Zanetti said online sales were up by 200%. “Our sales have increased and the more they actually ban it, or the more they actually reject it, it doesn’t mean a woman will stop wearing it,” Zanetti told Reuters. I think they have misunderstood, I think that when we produced the swimsuit, it was part of integration, it was part of combining cultures. The burkini debate is particularly sensitive in France, where the full-face Niqab and Burqa veils were banned in 2010. Zanetti, who has lived in Australia for more than 40 years since moving from Lebanon, designed the burkini in 2004 after struggling to find sporting garments suitable for Muslim women. Zanetti estimated that 40% of her sales go to non-Muslim women, with cancer survivors, body-conscious mothers or women who want to protect their skin from the sun among the buyers

CANADA

Won’t Ban Burkini in Canada

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, defended individual rights and freedoms while touting cultural diversity and tolerance when asked about a controversy swirling in France over a burkini ban. “We should be past tolerance in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters after meeting with his ministers to plan the government’s legislative agenda. “In Canada, can we speak of acceptance, openness, friendship, understanding? It is about where we are going and what we are going through every day in our diverse and rich communities,” he said.

UNITED KINGDOM

Envoy Comes into Fold of Islam, Performs Haj

British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Paul Collis, and his wife, Huda Mujarkech, performed Haj this year. It was known to some diplomats and journalists that he had embraced Islam, but there had been no official word. The confirmation came in the form of a tweet from Saudi writer and academic,Fawziah Al Bakr. Though the Ambassador refused media requests for interviews, he did say the following:“I have converted to Islam after being in Muslim societies for 30 years and right before getting married to Huda.” Collis speaks fluent Arabic. He joined the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1978 and, after studying Arabic, has served mainly in the Arab world. A father of five children, his first posting was to Bahrain. He served as British Ambassador to Iraq (2012-2014),Syria (2007 to 2012), and Qatar (2005 to 2007). He also served in New Delhi as First Secretary from 1991 to 1994. The number of Muslims in Britain reached 2.8 million according to 2011 figures, which is 4.5% of the total population.

Rejects Complaints over Muslim Reporter

Britain’s communications regulator, Ofcom, has rejected complaints that it was inappropriate for a Hijab-wearing Channel 4 News journalist to present reports of the Bastille Day attack in France that killed 84 people. A suggestion published in a column in The Sun that it was not right for a Muslim presenter wearing a Hijab to report the incident set off a storm and prompted hundreds of complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO). However, Ofcom received seventeen complaints about the channel using Fatima Manji to convey the news. Ofcom said that they won’t be taking the matter forward for investigation. According to the selector, “The appointment of a Presenter is an editorial matter for the broadcaster, and the way in which the presenter chose to dress in this case did not raise any issues under our rules.”Channel 4 News said that comments were offensive, completely unacceptable and arguably tantamount to inciting religious and even racial hatred. “Manji is an award-winning journalist,” said the Ofcom official,“We are proud that she is a part of our team and will receive, as ever, our full support in the wake of his comments.”

19,000 Nationals Performed Haj

19,000 British pilgrims performed Haj this year. The pilgrims came through 94 UK-based Haj operators which are licensed by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Haj and Umrah. The Haj mission was led by the Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) with volunteers from the Council of British Hajis (CBHUK) and the British Haj Medical team. Dr. Mohammed Jiva from the British Haj Medical Team said that British doctors were available during the Haj season to treat the pilgrims.

UNITED STATES

Nominates Muslim American for Federal Bench

President Barack Obama has nominated a Washington D.C. attorney for the federal bench. If confirmed, he would be the first Muslim American to serve as a federal judge. Obama has nominated AbidRiaz Qureshi of Maryland for the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Qureshi’s bio at Latham and Watkins LLP says he specializes in cases involving fraud and securities violations. An advocacy group called Muslim Advocates is applauding the nomination, saying that diversity helps ensure the fair administration of the law, and that it is vital for Muslims to be included.

11,000 Performed Haj this Year

Approximately 11,000 American pilgrims performed Haj this year. United States Ambassador, Joseph W. Westphal, expressed gratitude and appreciation to Saudi Arabia for hosting the US pilgrims, facilitating their travel procedures and exerting all efforts to maintain their safety. The United States has three million Muslims out of a total population of 307 million in 50 states. Thirty three percent of US Muslims are from South Asia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. African Muslims constitute 30% of the US Muslim population with Arab Muslims making up 25% and the rest of European and Turkish origin.

Celebrate Eid-ul-Adha in US

Muslims celebrated Eid Al Adha throughout the United States, with passion, prayers, and plates full of delicacies. The weather was perfect, sunny, and cool. Majority had taken Monday off making it a three-day weekend. Mosques made arrangements for Eid Prayers in four shifts from 7.30 to 11.45 AM to accommodate the ever-growing Muslim population. Meat shops and farms did roaring business with the average price of goat and lamb being USD 250. Most shops did not deliver the meat the same day. Imams and Sheikhs in the Eid Khutba reminded Muslims to remember many things like the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), where he abolished usury, reminded us that all were equal and none had superiority over another, and to treat women fairly.

Hijabs Dazzle NY Fashion Week

A collection presented at New York Fashion Week is the first time every model walked the event’s runaway wearing a Hijab. Indonesian designer, Anniesa Hasibuan, delighted crowds with her Spring-Summer ‘17 collection by D’Jakarta. Each model wore a Hijab in gold, pale-pink, or dove-grey silk. It is believed to be the first time a New York Fashion Week catwalk show has featured Hijabs on every model. Fans of the designer took to social media with praise for the collection, with one fan calling the show ‘absolutely breathtaking.’ Another wrote that ‘this was everything.’