Flashes from the Muslim World

INDONESIA

Huge Demand to Perform Hajj

There is a huge demand from Indonesians to perform Hajj, since they form the largest Muslim population in the world, but to be able to go on is not an easy matter. Most of those who want to go have to endure tedious years of waiting, and much also depends on where they live. Residents in Bantaeng, a regency in Southeast Sulawesi, have to wait the longest – until 2050. Western Southeast Maluku regency has the shortest wait, with 57 people on the list to depart in 2020. The Hajj quota for Indonesians in 2017 increased from 168,000 to 221,000. That means Indonesia had a quota increase of 52,200.

SAUDI ARABIA

Pilgrims Numbers 24% More Over Last Year

The number of pilgrims who arrived by air, land, sea, entry points in the just concluded Hajj season reached an increase of 24% compared to last year. In another development, Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Aseikh strongly criticized Doha for its handling of air-transport for Qatari pilgrims to perform Hajj. Al-Sheikh described Doha’s prevention of pilgrims from being transported to the Kingdom by air as “wrong and dangerous,” Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

Largest Umbrellas to be Installed

Folding umbrellas will be installed at the Grand Mosque’s courtyards and roof next year to protect pilgrims from the sun and heat, said commanders of Hajj security forces. The umbrellas will cover 53 x 53 meters, making them the largest in the world. The umbrellas will provide comfort for pilgrims in the courtyards and on the roof.

OIC Condemns Abuses against Rohingya

The independent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has strongly condemned human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, Myanmar. The IPHRC called on all OIC member states, especially neighboring countries, to urge Myanmar to uphold its obligation to promote and protect the human rights of its Rohingya minority, and to voice their concerns at all appropriate international forums including the UN Human Rights Council and the Security Council. The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) has suspended aid work in Rakhine, citing safety concerns. The suspension will affect 250,000 people, it said.

Proud to Create Partnerships

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Saleh al-Asheikh said the Saudi government and people are proud to communicate and create partnerships with Muslims all over the world, notably Latin American, in serving Islam and strengthening the moderate approach of Islam. He said that the Kingdom used to support the moderate Islamic approach which combines preservation of originality and constant Islamic teachings, promotes good-dealing with Muslim and non-Muslim, irrespective of their sects and religions, strives for positive interaction in serving the security, stability and coexistence of societies, and face all risks that could distort the good image of Islam or stir up divisions and spread hatred among communities.

Muslim-US Conference Calls for New Strategy

A major conference on cultural communication between the United States and the Muslim world has called for a long term strategy to spread the spirit of tolerance and equality between peoples. Delegates also called for sustainable development programs to create a secure and stable environment for young people to protect them from extremist ideas. The conference in New York, organized by the Muslim World League, recommended the establishment of an Islamic-American communication forum to bolster ideological, cultural and scientific communication between the Islamic and American peoples. The two-day conference was attended by scholars, thinkers and religious, political and social leaders from all parts of the world.

Senior Cleric Banned from Preaching

Asir Governor has banned Sheikh Saad Al-Hijri, a senior cleric, from preaching, leading prayers and other religious activities. The ban follows Al-Hijri’s claim that when they go shopping, women who he said only have half a brain to begin with, end up with only a quarter. His comments caused uproar on social media. The spokesman for Asir governorate, Saad bin Abdullah Al-Thabet said the ban is aimed at limiting the exploitation of preaching  platforms to  spread controversial ideas that diminish the value of humans. He added that anyone using preaching platforms to disseminate ideas that do not serve the national interest will be banned.

JORDAN

Women Plumbers Fix Pipes as Men Leave Puddles

Israa Ababneh was skeptical when her uncle signed her up for a plumbing course at a vocational center in North Jordan. The 27-year-old is one of a growing number of women taking up plumbing in Jordan, raising eyebrows in local communities where social norms prevent many women form working, particularly in roles traditionally occupied by men. Some 81% of women in Jordan are unemployed, according to a report by UNHCR. The country ranks 134th out of 142 in terms of women’s economic contribution, according to a 2016 study by the Jordan Strategy forum. Jordan has an annual supply of just 150 cubic meters per person, well below the official UN threshold for “absolute scarcity” set at 500 cubic meters. Water is a highly sensitive issue in Jordan. People from Syria, Iraq and Palestine are all living in this country and sharing the water, which is putting additional pressure on Jordan’s limited resources created by a refugee crisis.

KAZAKHSTAN

Islam is an Intellectual and Scientific Religion

The ministerial meeting preparations for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for Science, Technology and Innovation Summit were held in Kazakshtan’ s capital of Astana. OIC Secretary-General, Yousef Al-Othaimeen, said that the Summit is unique, since it emphasizes that Islam is an intellectual and scientific religion seeking to liberate people from delusion sand fantasies and fight against extremism. He further announced the development of the organization’s document, following intensive discussions with 157 scholars and technical experts from 20 member states. Al-Othaimeen emphasized that the success of the organization’s work has been due to the cooperation and collaboration among the member states, and he called for replacing national programs with collaborative and complementary activities.

TUNISIA

Muslim Women Can Marry Non–Muslims?

Tunisia lifted a ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslims on the recommendation of the President, who said the country needed to modernize. Muslim men were allowed to marry non-Muslims, but not vice versa.  The plan has drawn the ire of clerics, who consider marriage rules unquestionable in Islamic Shariah law.

ITALY

Cooperation for Coexistence Reviewed

The Muslim world appreciates Pope Francis’s stance on false claims linking  Islam to extremism and violence, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL), told the pope during a meeting at the Vatican. The two men exchanged views on a number of topics of mutual concern, notably cooperation between the Vatican and the Islamic world on issues related to peace and coexistence. Pope Francis has said in the past that violence is not directly related to Islam, and that all religions have some extremist followers. The MWL chief gave the pope a religious symbol representing Islamic civilization and its communication with other civilizations.

SPAIN

Rally against Terrorism

Two hundred Muslims rallied in the streets of Granada, southern Spain, in protest against a surge in anti-Daesh crimes following deadly attacks in the country. The protest was called after the city’s main mosque was attacked with flares by a handful of members from a far-right group, Hogar Social, who also unfurled a Spanish flag outside the building, according to images on Spanish TV. “It is very important for us to affirm our values as Muslims which are the same as those of all other human beings on this planet,” said Nizar Liemlahi, Director of the Dar Loughat Muslim Cultural Association, one of the co-organizers of the rally. “Only 0.1% of the world’s Muslims commit attacks and these people do not represent our values or our principles,” added Liemlahi, a psychologist who moved to Spain from Morocco in 2010. The protesters brandished banners with slogans such as “I am a Muslim and I want to live in peace,” and “We are also victims,” as they gathered outside Granada City Hall.

BRAZIL

Sao Paulo Conference

Participants at the 30th session of the international Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Muslims in Sao Paulo recommended the establishment of Islamic media broadcasting to Latin American countries including visual, audio-visual and printed means. They also called for the importance of adhering to international Islamic and professional disciplines to spread virtue and values, preserve the Islamic identity and correct misconceptions about Islam. The conference was organized by the Islamic Call Center in Latin American and the Caribbean countries in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, The statement stressed the need to establish Islamic schools because it is an important means of preserving the Islamic identity. It also stressed the importance of promoting the Arabic language and spreading it among the Muslim community as it serves as the main tool for preserving the Islamic identity. The participants recommended that the Islamic center in Latin America should hold scientific courses and create websites to deal with the provisions of the family in Islam in terms of jurisprudence. The statement also stressed the importance and prestige of the mosque in Islam and its role in preserving the Islamic identity. It urged Muslim communities in Latin America to pay attention to mosques and to maintain prayer in them.

[Compiled by: Syed Nehal Zaheer]