Flashes from the Muslim World

AFGHANISTAN

Meets Foreign Minister

The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef al-Othaimeen, received Afghan Foreign Minister, Mohammed Haneef Atmar, in Jeddah recently. They discussed developments in the Afghan peace process and reviewed the OIC’s support to the country. Al-Othaimeen noted the resolution passed by the OIC summit, ministerial meetings and the July 2018 Makkah Declaration from the International Ulema Conference on Peace and Security in Afghanistan. Atmar praised the support from the OIC and its institutions in carrying out development projects in Afghanistan.

BANGLADESH

Envoy Lauds IMCTC’s Works

Dr. Mohammed Javed Patwary, Bangladesh ambassador to Saudi Arabia, recently visited the headquarters of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Collition (IMCTC) in Riyadh. The envoy lauded the IMCTC’s role in establishing strategic partnerships to enhance coordination in the global fight against all forms of terrorism. The IMCTC is an alliance of 41 countries that forms a pan-Islamic unified front in the global fight against terrorism and violent extremism. It also aims to assist member countries to enhance their military capabilities to fight terrorism.

Refugees Moved to a Remote Island

A second group of Rohingya refuges in Bangladesh were recently taken to an island in the Bay of Bengal to start new lives, despite UN concerns for their welfare. The Bangladesh navy provided transport for 1,804 Rohingya Muslim refugees – members of an ethnic and religious minority group who have fled violence and persecution in Myanmar – to the isolated Bhashan Char island from overcrowded makeshift camp in Cox’s Bazar. However, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said it had not been involved in the relocation operation and expressed concerns over the vulnerability of the island – which only emerged from the sea 20 years ago – to severe weather and flooding.

MALAYSIA

Hopeful for more UAE Coronavirus Cooperation

Malaysia is anticipating more cooperation with the UAE in fighting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic after its king’s visit to Abu Dhabi, officials and experts said. Abu Dhabi donated 500,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to the southeast Asian country. The vaccine donation and the special visit, reflect a strong and close relationship between the two countries. The UAE has been donating medical equipment  and test  kits to Malaysia since the beginning of the outbreak in March.

BAHARAIN

Edifice of Religious Harmony

Bahrain will inaugurate the largest Catholic Cathedral in the Gulf region, the latest testament to its longstanding tradition of openness and tolerance. The Cathedral of our Lord Lady of Arabia, expected to open in May, sits on  a complex of approximately 9,000 square meters in the expatriate populated municipality of Awali, about 20 km away from the capital of Manama. 1.5 million is the population of Bahraini citizens. 1,000 Native Christians who hold citizenship, 9% Christians as proportion of total population. The Gulf’s region’s largest Catholic cathedral will embody Bahrain’s commitment to tolerance when it opens in May 2021.

OMAN

Challenges Facing Economy

Lower crude revenues have left Oman’s finances in a precarious position and while spending-cuts and additional taxes will help narrow its soaring budget deficit, the sultanate could require support from its Gulf neighbors unless oil prices rebound. The Coronavirus disease (COVID 19) pandemic has rolled Oman’s economy, with real gross domestic product (GDP) poised to shrink 5% this year, according to S&P Global Ratings. The country’s fiscal deficit will double to 18% of its GDP in 2020, from 9% in 2019, according to S&P and Fitch Ratings.

SAUDI ARABIA

5m Perform Rituals at Grand Mosque

Saudi Arabia has received five million Umrah pilgrims and worshippers since the resumption of the rituals, said Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten. He said that no cases of COVID 19 infections were reported among pilgrims and worshippers. The Kingdom is getting back on track after earlier lockdowns while adhering to strict health protocols. On September 22, the Kingdom announced a gradual resumption of Umrah pilgrimage in four phases.

Universities Group Welcomes OIC Endorsement

The League of Islamic Universities has blessed the endorsement of the ‘Makkah Declaration’ by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM). The League’s statement said that the decision by the CFM confirms the legitimacy of this historic charter, signed and endorsed by 1,200 muftis and 4,500 Muslim scholars representing different schools of thought under the umbrella of the Muslim World League (MWL) and the patronage of King Salman.

Save the Date

In a bid to promote the economic benefits of dates and their production, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has approved the Kingdom’s campaign to declare 2027 as the International year of Dates. The proposed superfruit is set to provide financial and economic gain for millions of rural businesses. The date palm is probably the most ancient cultivated tree, dating back to 4,000 B.C. It has been linked to ancient populations, including Sumerians, Akadians and Babylonians. The world production of dates in 2016 was valued at about USD8.4 billion, while the global date trade amounted to about USD1.2 billion. With over 100 types of dates to choose from, Saudi Arabia is the second leading date exporter and producer in the world, making up 17% of global production. About 31 million trees dispersed across the various regions of the Kingdom’s territory produce more than 1.5 million tons of dates annually. Last year, about 184,000 tons of dates were exported with a value of SR 860 million (USD230 million).

Ministry Launches New Smart Cards

New smart cards will be provided for pilgrims in the coming Hajj season as part of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s efforts to ease services for worshippers using advanced tech features. The smart ID cards will contain barcodes holding personal, medical and residence information and will also help guide pilgrims to their residences in Mashaer through kiosks distributed throughout the area. The smart card will be managed via a unified control center for all services with the participation of government and civil agencies.

Tanaqqol App helps 15k Pilgrims

More than 15,000 people have benefited from the Tanaqqol app provided by the General Presidency for the Affairs of Two Holy Mosques since the Grand Mosque reopened its doors for Umrah. The application allows electric vehicles and carts to be reserved via smartphone to perform Tawaf and Sae’ei. Services provided by the application are: Full Umrah, Tawaf, Sae’ei, free driving service and free service for people with special needs.

Six Million Umrah Pilgrims

Six million is the number of Umrah pilgrims and worshippers who visited the Grand Mosque in Makkah between 4th October,2020 and 9th January 2021, said a statement issued by the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques. It said a total of 1,654,000 pilgrims performed Umrah and 4,640,000 worshippers prayed at the Grand Mosque during that period. The Presidency is taking all measures to ensure the safety of visitors to the mosque and check the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID 19.

From Kufa to Makkah – Zubaida Trail

Darb Zubaida, or the Zubaida Trail, is one of the most important humanitarian and social projects of Islamic civilization. It stretches from Kufa, in Iraq, to Makkah, covering 420 km inside the Kingdom alone, and was once known as a route for pilgrims and traders. The trail was named after Zubaydah bint Ja’far, wife of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, who contributed to its construction and revival for convoys and passersby. The road has an important historical dimension, which tells of a rich culture lived by our ancestors. The trail shows only a small part of the Islamic civilization and its wonderful legacy.

Exhibition of Rare Manuscripts

Madinah Governor, Prince Faisal bin Salman, inaugurated the exhibition of rare manuscripts in the library of the Prophet’s Mosque. The inauguration was attended by the President of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman al-Sudais, and the Secretary-General of the King Abdul Aziz foundation for Research and Archives (Darah), Dr. Fahad al-Samari. Prince Faisal inspected the contents of the exhibition, which includes the most famous and rarest manuscripts and books in the library of the Prophet’s Mosque in addition to many other historical artifacts. The exhibition aims to bring to light the history of the codification of the Holy Qur’an, the educational wealth in the Prophet’s Mosque and its library, and the history of the Kingdom.

JORDAN

Offers Jobs to 12,000 Garment Workers

More than 12,000 Bangladeshi garment workers are to be recruited by Jordan to help revive the ailing industry sector, Dhaka’s envoy in Amman revealed recently. Around 90,000 Bangladeshis currently work in Jordan, some 53,000 of whom are employed in the garment sector, according to the Bangladeshi Embassy. Several factories are interested in bringing Bangladeshi skilled workforces into the country. Job opportunities in Bangladesh had decreased due to the COVID 19 outbreak, with many garment workers losing their livelihoods.

Egypt

Virus Cuts Tourist Revenues

Egypt’s tourism revenues fell to about USD4 billion in 2020,down from USD13 billion the previous year, amid the global pandemic that severely damaged the sector worldwide. At present, the goal is not to measure the number of tourists, but to say that Egypt is a safe tourist destination even amid the Coronavirus crisis. Egypt closed its hotels in March when the outbreak began, but reopened them after two months with about 25% capacity and, later, 50%. The largest number of tourists Egypt recorded was in 2010, when the country had 14.7 million visitors and revenues reached USD12.5 billion.

BRAZIL

Conference for Muslims in Latin America

The 33rd International Conference of Latin America and Caribbean Muslims concluded recently, with the participation of scholars and academics from 35 countries focusing on jurisprudence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two-day conference, which was held virtually this year, was organized by the Islamic Call Center in Brazil in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance. Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, Sheikh Dr. Abdul Latif al-Asheikh, said that Muslims must take into consideration the recent changes, and precautionary measures must be respected and not ignored, whether in matters of worship or in daily and social habits. Muslims must abide by the rules and norms of the society they live in. Further, he added that today the world is different due to the coronavirus. The current situation has affected our economy, social relationships and people’s movement and activity. Therefore, it is no wonder that it affects jurisprudence.

Muslims Keep Arabic Language Alive

Out of all Arabs and Arab descendants in Brazil, those who profess the Muslim religion boast the highest rate of mastery of the Arabic language, at 82%. Only 10% of Arab Catholic and 4% of Evangelical Arabs in Brazil speak Arabic. The numbers are from a survey commissioned by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) that showed that 6% of Brazil’s population, some 11.6 million people are either Arab, or of Arab descent. The survey was conducted by Ibope Inteligencia and H2R Pesquisas Avancadas, and it was made public in July 2020.

UNITED KINGDOM

UK Mosque Becomes Vaccination Center

A mosque is among dozens of new vaccination hubs that have opened in the United Kingdom to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to the nation’s most vulnerable people. By partnering with the National Health Service (NHS) and local pharmacies, the Al-Abbas Islamic Center in Birmingham has become the first mosque in the UK to provide its premises as part of the country’s vaccination drive. Sheikh Nuru Mohammed, the mosque’s Imam told Arab News that he and his congregation are delighted to be taking part in the UK’s vaccination drive. “It means a lot to us. It has presented us the opportunity to contribute to the fight against Coronavirus,” he said. NHS engagement lead, Claire Deeley told Arab News that the mosque has the advantage of already being a trusted community hub. “It is very busy. It is fully booked for the next few days,” she said. “It is an ideal space right within the community. We are really pleased.”

[COMPILED BY: SYED NEHAL ZAHEER]