Flashes from the Muslim World

INDIA

Alif Global School Logo Launched

The logo of Alif Global School, which is located at the Markaz Knowledge City in Kozhikode, Kerala, was recently unveiled by a former Union Minister and Punjab Cabinet Minister, at a special session of Markaz Youth Summit held in Kozhikode, Kerala. The event was attended by Dr. Abdul Hakeem Azhari, Managing Director of Markaz Knowledge City and other high ranking officials and directors. Alif Global School is a joint venture of the Alif Educare groups, which has a presence in Saudi Arabia, and Jamia Markaz.

PHILIPPINES

Makes Historic Visit to Military Camp

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman, Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, as a Muslim rebel, once envisioned destroying military camps in the Philippines. But recently, for the first time ever, he visited Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo – the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) main camp, where he was even accorded military honors. MILF is the Philippines Muslim rebel group which, for more than 40 years, has sought autonomy for the Moro people in Mindanao Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary – General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen has officially affirmed his support of the ongoing peace process in the southern Philippines.

Step Closer for Islamic Banking

The Philippines has moved a step closer to opening the country to the wide range of banking and other financial services available through Islamic banking and finance. The country’s first Islamic bank, according to the lawmaker, was created in 1972. With this imminent new law, there will be more Islamic banks not just for Mindanao, but also for the rest of the country, said Ong, who is Chairman of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries. Ong noted that the establishment of more Islamic banks, especially those based here in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East, will greatly benefit the ten million plus Filipino Muslims, many of whom are unbanked.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Traders Attend Halal Expo Dubai

The 10th Halal Expo Dubai was just concluded at Dubai Crowne Plaza Convention. The two-day exhibition was attended by over 4,000 people mostly buyers and sellers of halal products and services – from 40 countries. More than 75 companies from fifteen countries including Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Spain, Pakistan, Switzerland, India, UK, Brunei, Thailand, China and the UAE participated in the show. The UAE is home to 5,000 importers, manufacturers and stockists of halaal products. The GCC countries import USD50 billion worth of halaal products, according to the latest research by Farrelly and Mitchell, a food and agri-business specialist. Of this, the UAE’shalaal import bill is USD 20 billion or about 40% of the GCC’s halaal products imports. Halaal foods are considered to be healthy and hygienic. A growing number of non-Muslims consumers prefer halal foods. As a result, the distribution of halaal foods has expanded beyond traditional markets in cities such as Shanghai, which has 80,000 Muslims.

Abu Dhabi Hosts Inclusive Citizenship Forum

The three-day Wilton Park Inclusive Citizenship Dialogues forum concluded in Abu Dhabi gathering religious, intellectual and political figures from across the Middle East. It is wrong to accept from individuals or institutions any justification that threaten national unity, said Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL). It is also essential to protect legitimate freedoms, especially ones that promote and support citizenship, he added. The media should not be allowed to sacrifice national values, which protect everyone, for the sake of partisan, ideological, ethnic, or financial interests, he said. Followers of religious and ethnic minorities have sacrificed a lot to show their loyalty to the countries that welcomed them and their parents, he added. Al-Issa called on national integration programs to address segregation, whether educational, religious or ethnic.

SAUDI ARABIA

Visit by Russian Islamic Vision Group

The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, received the coordinator of the Russian Islamic World strategic vision group, Dr. Veniamin Popov, and his accompanying delegation in Riyadh recently. The Russian Islamic World Strategic vision group was established in 2006, in response to Russia joining the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as an observer. The group currently consists of over 30 officials and prominent public figures from 27 Muslim countries. Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “I would like to stress that the Islamic world can fully count on Russia’s help and support.”

Serving Hajj and Umrah is a National Responsibility

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Mohammed Saleh Bentin, said that all sectors of the country are keen to invest their potential, services, and workforce in serving pilgrims. Serving Hajj and Umrah is a national responsibility shared by all, he said. Bentin was speaking at a workshop organized by the Ministry in cooperation with the new emirate of Makkah. He also underscored the importance of providing information, using technology and preparing quality initiatives that reflect the attention and care accorded by the Saudi leadership to pilgrims and visitors. The number of Umrah visas issued this year has reached1,176,746, of which 868,239 have arrived in the Kingdom, according to data provided by the Hajj and Umrah Ministry. There are 327,631 pilgrims still in the Kingdom,with 227,770 in Makkah and 99,861 in Madinah.

International Islamic Fiqh Academy

Madinah Governor, Prince Faisal bin Salman, opened the 23rd session of the conference of International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA). The five-day event was being held in collaboration with the Islamic University in Madinah, under the patronage of King Salman. It serves as a platform for religious scholars and researchers to present their research and studies based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Based on the research findings, scholars will suggest ways to eradicate social and economic issues facing the Muslim world. The aim of the event was to promote the true understanding of Islam and its tolerant nature. The conference also highlighted the role of scholars in educating the masses and in enlightening the Islamic world.

The Farasan Islands

The Farasan Islands comprise 84 coral islands that form an archipelago in the Red Sea, about 50 kilometers off the shore of Jazan in southwestern Saudi Arabia. Although lacking in vegetation and greenery, the islands are beautiful nonetheless. Originally inhabited by fishermen and pearl divers, they are now a protected area that serves as a natural reserve for Arabian Gazelles. With its historical sites, remote, unspoiled beaches and rich marine fauna, the Farasan Islands are now a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

Role of Technology in Improving Service to Pilgrims

The role of technology in improving Hajj and Umrah experiences for pilgrims was discussed on the sidelines of the Saudi National Security and Risk Prevention Expo in Riyadh, along with the importance of building a Saudi workforce capable of making the Kingdom more self-sufficient in the technology sector. It has been reported that a firm announced a new partnership with the Ministry of Haj and Umrah to launch a new electronic application designed to assemble a huge database of information about pilgrims. A new electronic application will help the authorities to predict potential problems and deal with them more quickly and easily, before they get worse.

OIC Seminar to Highlight Success against Terror

The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) represented by the Sawt Al-Hikma (Voice of Wisdom) Center for Dialogue, Peace and Understanding concluded a seminar in which Saudi Arabia reviewed its experience in combating terrorism and violent extremism. Sawt Al-Hikma is carrying out a series of initiatives within a project through which the OIC will highlight member-states’ efforts against violent extremism and terrorism committed in the name of Islam. Sawt Al-Hikma is working to unify those efforts. The seminar, which was attended by specialists and delegates from OIC member states, will enable them to learn from the Kingdom’s experience, OIC Secretary-General, Dr Yousef Al-Othaimeen said.

70,000 Students Graduated

70,000 is the number of students who graduated from the Islamic University of Madinah during the last 20 years since its establishment. Hundreds of Muslim students across the globe come to the university every year to receive degrees in Islamic sciences. Further, on the other hand, Madinah Governor, Prince Faisal bin Salman, inaugurated the Library of Obaid bin Abdullah Madani at the central library of the Islamic University in Madinah. Named after a Saudi historian and author, the library contains 7,045 books, 365 authentic manuscripts and 502 scientific and literary magazines. Madani, who died in 1976, is considered a pioneering figure in the history of Saudi art and literature.

MWL Praised for Global Efforts

Makkah Governor, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, has honored Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) who was awarded the second version of the Moderation Prize 2018, at a ceremony at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. KAU President, Abdulrahman Al-Youbi, also thanked Al-Issa for his global efforts in highlighting the role of the Kingdom in the area of moderation. Guests watched a biographical documentary about Al-Issa and his efforts to combat intellectual extremism and promote the values of moderation from religious teachings.

Fight Extremism with Lofty Values, Forum Told

A three-day national conference for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice has called for strengthening of ideological security in Saudi Arabia to enhance a sense of community and discourage extremism. The conference participants recommended that the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) prepare comprehensive scientific material about Saudi Arabia’s attention to rituals as decided by the Imams. Participants also underscored the influential role of the General Presidency of the Committee through the promotion of lofty values and high morals among community members.

Restoration of 130 Historical Mosques

Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has ordered the restoration of 130 historical mosques within the National Program for the Restoration of Historic Mosques supervised by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) in partnership with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance. The support he provided to develop historical mosques covered, in the first phase, the restoration of 30 mosques in ten regions, at a cost of more than SR50 million. Prince Sultan bin Salman is President of the SCTH and Founder of Al-Turath Charitable Foundation, as part of his efforts to preserve Islamic architectural heritage. The Foundation has undertaken to document and restore a number of mosques of historical value since 1998.

Organization’s Emergency Center

The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, inaugurated the Emergency Center of the International Organization for Relief, Welfare, and Development (IORWD) at the organization’s headquarters in Jeddah. The Center will provide the latest updates and reports issued by specialized bodies such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and other agencies working in the emergency sector.

Five Historic Mosques to be Restored in Asir Province

Five mosques in Asir have been added to the first phase of a SR50 million (USD13 million) project to restore historic places of worship in the Kingdom. The mosques have been added to the ‘Mohammed bin Salman Project for Developing Historical Mosques,’ project, which includes 30 historic mosques in ten of the Kingdom’s regions. The historic Asir mosques will be restored and renovated so that they can receive worshippers again. They have been abandoned in recent years as worshippers became used to visiting modern mosques in the light of urban development in the Kingdom. Some older mosques have been neglected and destroyed despite their historical value.

OIC, AOAD Discuss Ways to Boost Agriculture Sector

The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, met the Director General of the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD), Dr. Ibrahim Adam Al-Dakhiri in Jeddah. The two officials discussed ways to boost cooperation in various areas of mutual interest. Keeping in view the role of agriculture in the region’s economy, the AOAD was established in 1970 with the aim of increasing cooperation between regional countries and boosting the agriculture sector. It is a specialized organization working under the umbrella of the Arab League.

MWL Launches Health, Civil Projects in Africa

The Muslim World League (MWL), represented by the International Association for Relief, Care and Development (IARCD) has launched a series of civil, humanitarian and health projects in African countries as part of its special program for the continent. MWL recently carried out a heart surgery program for the elderly, distributed allocations for 14,000 orphans, and implemented a program to fight disease in Sudan’s eastern state of Kassala.

Forum held for Better Services for Haj and Umrah

The Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Abdul Fattah Mashat, said that Jeddah was the gate to Makkah and the first destination to the holy sites. Pilgrims feel comfortable when they arrive in Jeddah on their way to sacred places. Jeddah combines originality, modernity and cultures in a city that is also rich in knowledge. He added that one of their tasks is to facilitate pilgrims’ entry procedures and not only to work on the comfort of the guests of Allah, but also to try to make their visit to Saudi Arabia an unforgettable experience.

PALESTINE

Jerusalem Old City Cable Car Plan

An Israeli plan to build a cable car to Jerusalem’s historic Old City has united architects and Palestinian activists in opposition to a project they say is both an eyesore and a ploy to entrench Israeli control over the city’s contested eastern sector. The cable car would run 1,400 meters, launching from the First Station, a popular food and cultural center in West Jerusalem, sailing over the city’s ancient valley, stopping at Mount Zion, a hill just outside the Old City walls, and proceeding through the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwanbefore alighting at the tourist center.

TURKEY

Mosques Seek Twitter Ban

A body representing 144 Turkish mosques in the Netherlands has asked Twitter to block the account of anti-Islam politician, Geert Wilders, for inciting hatred. The Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation (TICF) sent the letter seeking a permanent ban of the Twitter account of Mr. Geert Wilders… “due to continuous publications on his Twitter account of messages, images, and other content which is a display of hateful conduct.”  It said Wilders’ tweets breached Twitter’s guidelines, adding that “his hate messages are being spread worldwide, thanks to the platform and abilities Twitter provides him.”

JORDAN

Gulf Money is Essential

Gulf money is absolutely essential to support budgetary and financial stability in Jordan, a conference in London recently concluded. Jordan is struggling to bring the ration of its debt to GDP ratio down from 94% to 75%, as well as trying to tackle unemployment of 18%. In the summer, three Gulf States – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait – pledged USD2.5 billion in aid to Jordan to help Amman contain anger over austerity that had triggered protests across the country. King Abdullah says combating corruption is the priority.

EGYPT

Economic Reboot on Track

Egypt’s government deserves credit for rebooting the economy and introducing difficult economic reforms – but there is still work to be done, analysts told Arab News. In the wake of the IMF agreeing to release another USD2 billion to Cairo, following mutually agreed loan programs in 2016, the economy is recovering and the external and fiscal deficits are narrowing despite rising oil prices and globally tightening monetary conditions. The latest trenches of money from the IMF to Egypt will bring total disbursements to USD10 billion under an agreement worth USD12 billion in total.

Struggles to Restore Cairo’s Historical Past

Workers perched on scaffolding repair Cairo’s 13th century Al-ZahirBaybars mosque in the Egyptian capital’s Islamic Quarter. On the other side of the Quarter, similar work on the 14th century Al-Maridani mosque has just begun. The capital’s Islamic Quarter – a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 – often referred to as historic Cairo, boasts 600 listed monuments. Egyptian authorities are struggling to come up with the cash after unrest and extremist attacks have driven away tourists and slashed crucial income. Islamic Cairo is packed with ornate monuments, mosques, and mausoleums and its narrow streets are punctuated with trinket shops, cafes, and traditional old homes. Kazakhstan is putting up USD5.5 million to finance work on the Baybar’s mosque. Meanwhile, the EU is contributing 1.2 million Euros for the Al-Mardani mosque, in tandem with the Aga Khan Foundation which has put forward 133,000 Euros.

MOROCCO

Warns Europe about Fortress Mentality on Migration

Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, has warned Europe against developing a ‘fortress’ mentality to immigration from Africa, while promising his country is doing everything possible to control its borders. Morocco, which nationals of many African states can visit without visas, has become a major gateway for sub-Saharan migrants into Europe, with 47,000 entering Spain from the North African coast in 2018, four times the number for the whole of last year. The European Union has put forward a migration strategy that includes increased development aid to tackle poverty in Africa.

Fastest Journey by Train in Arab World

French President, Emmanuel Macron, was in Morocco recently to take part in the inauguration of a high-speed railway line that boasts the fastest journey times in the Arab world. The French leader, who was invited by King Mohammed VI, attended a grand ceremony at Tangiers’ newly renovated train-station, with heavy security measures put in place. The service between Tangiers and Casablanca, via the capital, will slash journey times between the North African country’s economic hubs to just over two hours from nearly five. Trains will zoom along the newly laid tracks at up to 320kph (200mph) –faster than the speeds of up to 300 kph boasted by the new line opened by Saudi authorities last month linking Islam’s holiest cities, Makkah and Madinah, via the Red Sea port of Jeddah. Morocco wants to position itself as an African hub for foreign investors. The Moroccan government put the cost of the project at 23 billion dirhams (USD2.4 billion) nearly 15% more than initial estimates, but well below average European prices. Loans from France helped to cover half of that amount.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

US Muslim Community

A mass shooting occurred at a synagogue in Pittsburgh during Sabbath religious services on a recent Saturday. Through an online crowdfunding campaign, the Muslim community has raised more than USD70,000 to help those affected by the attack. NBC News tweeted part of the speech, Leader of Islamic Center of Pittsburgh announces Muslim community has raised more than USD70,000 for synagogue attack victims and their families. Tweeting in Arabic, it said that Islam is the religion of love and humanity. It said that “we need to see more instances of human kindness in the world and less of hate. Sometimes it feels as if hate is winning, but not today.”

[COMPILED BY: SYED NEHAL ZAHEER]

SOMALIA

OIC Pledge Support for Peace

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will continue supporting efforts of the people and the government of Somalia to build a strong future for their country, said Hesham Youssef, OIC Assistant Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs. He was speaking on behalf of OIC Secretary-General, Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, at a ministerial meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Somalia in Mogadishu. Somalia Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khayre, opened the meeting, which was attended by sixteen representatives from OIC member states. The meeting was held to explore ways and means of enhancing national reconciliation and achieving political stability, lasting peace and economic development in Somalia.