Flashes from the Muslim World

MALAYSIA

Hotdogs Set for Name-change

Food outlets in Muslim-majority Malaysia must rename hotdogs or risk being refused halaal certification, a government religious authority said recently. The ruling, which also includes other food items, whose name includes the word ‘dog,’ has garnered much ridicule on social media. It follows complaints by Muslim tourists from overseas, said Sirajuddin Shuhaimee, Director of the halaal division from the Department of Suhaimee, Director of the halaal division from the Department of Islamic Development. “Any halaal product that makes consumers confused, we have to change,” he said. “In Islam, dogs are considered unclean and the name cannot be related to halaal certification.”

PHILIPPINES

OIC Committed to Peace

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recently held talks with Philippine officials and other stake-holders as part of its efforts to seek peace in southern Philippines. The Philippine presidential adviser noted that the Philippines is dedicated and fully committed to the peace process in southern Philippines. The OIC delegation held separate talks with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to ascertain their views on the peace process.

SAUDI ARABIA

Maqam-e-Ibrahim Shines

Maqam-e-Ibrahim, also known as the Station of Ibrahim, the rock on which Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) stood while building the upper walls of the Holy Kaaba, receives special attention by the authorities concerned – for cleanliness and as a sign of veneration for the place. Maqam-e-Ibrahim is cleaned and its brass fixtures are polished thrice a day, its surroundings are refreshed with Oud and perfumed with amber, just like the Black Stone and the doorstep of the Ka’aba. The symbolic impression of Prophet Ibrahim’s feet on the brass case at Maqam-e-Ibrahim evokes keen interest of pilgrims and visitors.

Grand Mufti: Defeat Enemies

Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Asheikh, has warned Muslims against enemies who use young Muslims to sabotage the Kingdom. He told the youth to be aware of the fact that those who conspire against them and misguide are their enemies as well as enemies of their faith and security. He stressed the importance of performing Fajr (pre-dawn) prayers following the Prophet, peace be upon him, who said, “Whoever prays Fajr is under God’s protection.”

Citizenship Suggested

A Shoura Council member has called for recruiting scientists in several disciplines and attracting them to work in the Kingdom through state guarantees of free housing, Saudi citizenship and permanent residency. Shoura member, Hani Khashoggi, stressed that they will add wealth to the Kingdom and be a scientific and economical addition to the country. The recommendations  involves a study about attracting dozens of Muslims scientists and researchers from around the globe to live and work in the Knowledge Economic City (KEC) in Madinah in various sciences and disciplines including engineering, physics, geology, mathematics and information technology within specialized research centers. He said that there are hundreds of Muslim scholars across the world with various specialties in various a lot of fields of science who dream of coming to the city of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and to live and work in it for the rest of their lives.

Consuls Congratulate for Organization of Haj

Makkah Governor, Prince Khaled Al Faisal, adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Chairman of the Central Haj Committee, has emphasized that Saudi Arabia’s leadership, government and people consider serving the Two Holy Mosques and the pilgrims a national duty and source of pride for every Saudi citizen. Prince Khaled was speaking during a reception for consuls of seventeen Arab, Islamic and friendly countries, at his office in Jeddah recently. The consuls congratulated him for the successful organization of this year’s Haj. He said during his meeting with the consuls that Islam is a systematic approach of life for people and urges coexistence. “Hence,” he said,“we hope that the world lives in peace and that all the spirit of peaceful coexistence prevails among all peoples.”

Madinah – Capital of Islamic Tourism

Madinah is witnessing a flurry of activities in preparation for hosting the most important event at the beginning of the next year, “Madinah, the Capital of Islamic Tourism 2017.” Madinah was selected for the honor at the end of a meeting held by tourism ministers of the member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on 23rd December 2015, in the Niger capital of Niamey. Madinah is home to more than 200 sites and tourist places, including historical buildings and archaeological sites of religious importance. Madinah will be the capital of Islamic Tourism for 2017. The Iranian city of Tabriz will be bestowed the honor in 2018, as per the decision of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

BANGLADESH

Being a Woman has not Constrained her Career

As one of the only female architects in the country, Marina Tabassum was an unconventional choice to design Bangladesh’s new BaiturRouf Mosque, which has just won a prestigious international prize. But there is little of the conventional about the 45-year-old Tabassum on her design, which eschews traditional minarets and domes in favor of a single story terracotta brick structure that is suffused with light and remains cool even in the scorching summer months. The 45-year-old, who emerged as one of Bangladesh’s top architects after designing Dhaka’s Museum of Independence, says being a woman has not constrained her career.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

To Respect Islam’s True Message

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousufzai, giving a speech in the United Arab Emirates, urged Muslims to respect the true message of Islam, and unite against wars in their countries. The 19-year-old, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 after she had publicly advocated education for girls, urged the world’s Muslims to come together and follow the true message of Islam as they join hands in the struggle for peace. We must not forget that the majority of those suffering because of these conflicts and wars are Muslims, said Malala, referring to conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Malala, who moved to England where she received medical treatment after the shooting, is both admired and hated in her native Pakistan, where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to share her country. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 jointly with India’s Kailash Satyarthi, a fellow education activist who made similar calls at the Sharjah conference.

EGYPT

Deposit Confirms Strong Ties

Sheriff Ismail, the Egyptian Prime Minister, has announced that Egypt received USD 2 billion from Saudi Arabia in September. Earlier in October, Egypt’s central bank announced that the country’s foreign exchange reserves rose from USD 16.564 billion in late August to USD 19.582 billion by the end of September, after receiving the deposit from the Kingdom. Economists said that the role played by the Kingdom helped Egypt and its economy to stand on its feet again after the deteriorating situation that hit the Egyptian economy in recent years. They pointed out that this deposit confirms that the Kingdom will not abandon Egypt and will support it in all eventualities.

RUSSIA

Apologized for Dancing

A singer has apologized for dancing in front of a mosque in Tatarstan, one of Russia’s largest Muslim regions, after criticism from religious leaders. Rezeda Ganiullina filmed a music video in front of the White Mosque in the town of Bolgar, performing her song. Commenting on the issue, the Mufti of Tatarstan, Kamil Khazrat Samigullin said, “A mosque is not a place of dancing.” An Imam at another mosque called for the video to be removed, while the region’s deputy Mufti, Rustam Batrov, said, “Unfortunately, some representatives of Tatar pop-culture have heads full of confusion.”

UZBEKISTAN

OIC Meet Focused on Education

The 43rd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was just concluded in Tashkent. The meeting was attended by OIC’s 57 member countries. The meeting titled “Education and Enlightenment– Path to Peace and Creativity,” discussed various issues including the smear-campaign against Islam. The issue of terrorism was also discussed during the meeting. The meeting paid special attention to the role of education, science and technology in the development of the member states. Various resolutions concerning the Islamic world were adopted during the session.

AZERBAIJAN

Pope visits Mosque

Pope Francis visited a mosque in overwhelmingly Muslim Azerbaijan and told leaders of all faiths that God should never be used to justify fundamentalism. “God cannot be used for personal interests and selfish ends. He cannot be used to justify any form of fundamentalism, imperialism, or colonialism,” the Pope said in an address to Muslims, Christians, Jews, and members of other faiths at the mosque, named after Azerbaijan’s late President, Heydar Aliyev. Pope Francis has made similar appeals before and also has visited mosques on his world travels. But his visit to Azerbaijan, whose population of about nine million people are mostly Shi’ite Muslims, was the first time he had made such an appeal from inside the main prayer hall of a mosque in the presence of representatives of other religions.

FRANCE

Lifts Travel Ban

A French Muslim won a court order lifting a travel ban she says was imposed due to her Salafist beliefs. The nineteen-year-old who was raised Catholic and converted to Islam two years ago, said she had wanted to go to the Middle East to study, but the mother alerted the authorities, suspecting her daughter had fallen into the hands of the militants. “I am a Salafist, but I am not Daesh,” the teenager told an administrative court two weeks ago. “There is a big difference.” The case highlights France’s struggle to deal with many of its five million Muslims, the largest such population in Western Europe, especially since a wave of deadly attacks inspired by Daesh and involving militants born on French soil. This court ruling said the young woman was a rigorous Muslim, but that was not enough to prove she supported terrorism.

SWITZERLAND

Approve Steps towards Burqa Ban

Switzerland’s lower house narrowly approved a draft bill on a nation-wide burqa ban, the ATS news agency reported, but the measure remains far from coming into force. The proposal by lawmaker, Walter Wobmann, of the populist right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) won 88 votes, with 87 against. ATS quoted Wobmann as saying that the goal of the national burqa-ban was to maintain public order and respect for the dignity of women. An initiative has been launched to collect 100,000 signatures needed to hold a public vote on a burqa ban. Polls says Swiss voters overwhelmingly support a ban, but a vote could still be two years away.

HUNGARY

Feel the Hate Ahead of Referendum

Maja is no immigrant: she’s a Muslim convert. But in the febrile atmosphere in Hungary ahead of referendum on refugees, she says her religion has made her a target for abuse. “We, Hungarians, are normally kind, friendly people. I don’t know what is happening to us, but something is really not right now,” the 33-year-old financial services employee told AFP. This experience is not shared by all Muslims in Hungary, but groups representing the 40,000-strong minority community say discrimination and race-hate are on the rise. Zolten Bolek, another convert and head of Hungary’s oldest Muslim group, the Hungarian Islamic Community, set up in 1990, said this has further soured the ugly atmosphere. The prayer room in the Budapest Mosque – a large but nondescript building devoid of nameplate or minaret so as not to attract attention – has space for 2,000 worshippers, by far the largest of the city’s handful of mosques. It gets 200-300 for Friday prayers, but is full on festivals like Eid.

NORWAY

Seeks Ban on Burqas

Norway’s right-wing government announced plans to ban the full-face Islamic veil from classrooms and university lecture halls. Muslim women are rarely seen wearing such veils in Norway, let alone in schools. But the issue has come up recently in political debates, with less than a year to go before parliamentary elections. The Norwegian move comes as several European countries have moved a ban the face covering Niqab and full-body Burqa.

BULGARIA

Bans Islamic Veils

Bulgaria’s Parliament approved legislation outlawing face-covering Islamic veils in public, joining a small number of EU countries as debate rages across Europe about religious freedoms. The law bans wearing, in public, clothing that partially, or completely, covers the face, referring to the Burqa of the more common Niqab. Infringements carry fines of 200 leva (103 euros, USD114), rising to 1,500 leva for repeated offenses. Bulgaria’s mostly centuries-old Muslim community makes up around 13% of the population, mostly in the Turkish minority. The legislation was approved despite opposition from the MDL Turkish minority party which accused the other parties of sowing religious intolerance.

UNITED STATES

Hijab-clad Model Sparks Row

Playboy magazine, once famous for bunnies, is for the first time featuring a Muslim woman wearing a hijab in a spread that is drawing both praise and criticism. American journalist, Noor Tagouri, appears in the magazine’s October ‘Renegades’ edition, a series that focuses on men and women, who risked it all even their lives – to do what they love. The 22-year-old journalist who works as a reporter for Newsy, a video news network, is featured wearing a black leather jacket, jeans, sneakers, and a hijab, or headscarf in the publication that describes her as a badass activist. Tagouri, who is of Libyan descent and whose goal is to become the first hijabi anchor on commercial US television, says that her struggles as a Muslim woman growing up in the United States have helped her move ahead in her career.

Giant Pages from Ancient Qur’an on Display

Books come in all sizes, but one fifteenth-century Qur’an was so enormous, it’s said that a wheelbarrow was needed to carry it. Two consecutive pages of this Qur’an are being displayed at the show ‘The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts,’ which opened recently at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington. The sprawling pages, each measuring 5 feet by 7 feet, have rows of calligraphy standing 8-9 inches high. They date from about 1400, and have been on long-term loan with the Smithsonian museum. The passage on display is from a chapter explaining that “signs of God and evidence of His goodness are all around,” according to Simon Rettig, Assistant Curator of Islamic Art. “If anyone does a righteous deed, it ensures to the benefit of his own soul. If he does evil, it works against his own soul,” one passage reads.

[Compiled by: Syed Nehal Zaheer]