Flashes from the Muslim World

AFGHANISTAN

To Rebuild Birth Place of Famous Poet

Afghan authorities are planning  to rebuild a thirteenth century Islamic teaching complex in Balkh province that once was home to one of the world’s most famous mystics and poets, Jalaluddin Rumi. Rumi was born in the Balkh complex in 1207. The learning site, which comprised a mosque, monastery and madrasa for hundreds of disciples, belonged to his father, the theologian Bahuddin Walad, known by Afghans as Sultan al-Ulema.

BANGLADESH

What Next for the Rohingya?

Four years have passed since Myanmar’s military crackdown drove more than 742,000 mostly women and children of the Rohingya minority over the border into Bangladesh – a mass displacement that UN investigators say amounts to genocide. Now, in the wake of the 1st February coup, the Rohingya are again left wondering what lies in store for them. The chances of Rohingya refugees returning any time soon are low. It has always been the case that when the military’s popularity declines, it increases campaigns against these minority groups. When they were driven over the border into Bangladesh, the Myanmar military swiftly mined the border to make sure none could come back.

Dhaka Launches Project

The Bangladeshi government is to open 170 new mosques this year as part of a major project to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, often referred to as the Father of the Nation. In all, 560 mosques will be built throughout the country under the USD1 billion construction program. This is the largest mosque project for any government in the world where a large number of mosques are being constructed at a time, Shafiqur Rahman Talukder, Deputy Project Director of the Model Mosque Project (MMP) told Arab News. There are more than 300,000 mosques in Bangladesh, according to data provided by the Bangladesh Islamic Foundation (BIF) which was established in 1975 by Rahman and is the central government body to protect and promote Islamic values in the country.

PHILIPPINES

1st February as National Hijab Day

In a milestone move the Philippines House of Representatives has approved a bill declaring the first day of February as National Hijab Day every year to promote a deeper understanding of the Muslim practice, as well as tolerance for other faiths across the country. The legislation seeks to promote a greater understanding among non-Muslims about the practice and value of wearing the hijab as an act of modesty and dignity to Muslim women and encourage Muslim and non-Muslim women to experience the virtue of wearing it. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are more than ten million Muslims in the Philippines out of a total population of 110,428,130 based on the latest UN data.

SAUDI ARABIA

Kiswa Maintenance

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has been supervising maintenance of the Ka’aba’s Kiswa. The work forms part of a comprehensive year-round repair, maintenance, and cleaning program for the Kiswa. Under an operational plan, a technical team of specialized Saudi cadres inspects the Ka’aba on a daily basis in line with precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID–19).

The International Exhibition and Museum

The International Exhibition and Museum of the Life of the Prophet and Islamic Civilization aims to achieve the objectives of the Kingdom’s vision with regard to enriching the experience of visitors. Some of the facts related to this exhibition are as follows:

i. Size is 5,000 square meters,
ii. it is located next to the Prophet’s Mosque, Madinah,
iii. it has two floors.
iv. There are 25 main pavilions.
v. 500 antique items from the Prophet’s era.
vi. A main screen to feature the masterpieces found in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
vii. A movie-theater showing a film about the Prophet’s life.
viii. A presentation of the efforts of Saudi Arabia in serving the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
ix. Languages offered are: French, English, Urdu, Spanish, Turkish, Indonesian and Arabic.

Ancient Madinah Artifacts Exhibit

An exhibit showcasing rare manuscripts of the Prophet’s Mosque has revealed the rich history of the city and the work of scholars that once called the holy city their home. The King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah) has revealed a large number of rare artifacts, some dating back 800 years. Some inscriptions in Madani script found in valleys and mountains near the city are among some of the pieces to be showcased on the side lines of the permanent exhibition of rare manuscripts in the Prophet’s Mosque. The exhibition will highlight the history of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah’s codification in Madinah to understand the importance of the scientific endowment to the Prophet’s Mosque and library. The exhibit is also expected to be available online in several languages.

Madinah Joins World’s Healthiest Cities

The Saudi city of Madinah has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO) as among the world’s healthiest city. The holy city gained the accreditation after a visiting WHO team said that it met all the global standards required to be a healthy city. Madinah is believed to be the first city with a population of more than two million to be recognized under the organization’s healthy cities program. According to WHO, a  healthy city is one that is continually creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources which enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential.

King Faisal Prize Winners Honored

A software chief whose company developed programs updating the Qur’an, Hadith and Islamic jurisprudence information archive has won the 2021 King Faisal Prize for service to Islam. Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Sharikh, Chairman of Sakhr Software Company, was honored along with four other winners in the award categories. The service to Islam award represents the King Faisal Prize’s primary objective of incorporating Islamic ideals and concepts into society and stressing their central role in enriching knowledge and human growth. It aims to support Muslims by recognizing and honoring the distinguished contributions of individuals and organizations that have excelled in serving Islam. Previous winners in this category of the King Faisal Prize have included rulers, heads of state, thought leaders and social scientists, as well as many distinguished institutions.

MWL Reveals New Logo

The Muslim World League revealed its new logo during a meeting chaired by the organization’s Secretary General, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim al-Issa. Al-Issa said the new visual identity aptly represent the MWL’s vision, mission and goals. He said the league, as an institutional umbrella of Muslim scholars and thinkers, has launched several key initiatives to enhance cultural communication and end rifts among different communities. The new logo shows an image of the Holy Ka’aba, which is a symbol of Muslim unity, al-Issa said. The Muslim World League is an international non-governmental Islamic organization based in Makkah. It aims to present the true message of Islam and its tolerant principles, provide humanitarian aid and extend bridges of dialogue and cooperation with all. It aims to promote a culture of dialogue and discourage all forms of extremism at all levels.

OIC and UN Discuss Rohingya Plight

Officials from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the UN discussed the humanitarian situation of Rohingya refugees during a virtual meeting, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees briefed members of the OIC’s contact group on development. Ibrahim Khairat, who is the OIC’s envoy to Myanmar, stressed the organization’s efforts and strategy in resolving the humanitarian, political, and human rights situation for Rohingya Muslims.

To Send 200 Tons of Dates to 24 countries

The Kingdom is sending 200 tons of dates to 24 countries. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance said it had completed preparations to launch King Salman’s gifting program of dates. They will be distributed to Muslims from minorities, communities, institutions as well as to Islamic personalities during Ramadan, in coordination with the offices of the religious attaches in the Kingdom’s embassies and the Ministry’s Islamic Centers.

Fund Approves New Aid Projects

The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef al-Othaimeen, has approved new financial assistance for social, development, educational and cultural projects in six member states. Jordan, Gabon, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and Somalia are the beneficiaries of the development aid. Al-Othaimeen emphasized that the OIC continues – through the Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF), one of the organization’s subsidiary organs – to provide assistance to and support for the sectors of emergencies, universities, hospitals and schools in the member states.

Appreciating Arabic

In celebration of International Mother Language Day, we have rounded up some interesting facts about the Arabic language. If you are unfamiliar with the lingo, these could surprise you.

Arabic speakers: Arabic is the official language of the 22 countries that form the Arab League. There are over 200 million Arabic speakers in the Middle East and North Africa.

A Semitic language: Arabic is a Semitic language – other Semitic languages include Hebrew and Syriac.

English words: Many English words are of Arabic origin. Examples include Algebra, ghoul, sherbet, coffee, and more. Spanish also has words of Arabic origin, such as sugar and pillow.

No Capitals: The Arabic alphabet does not comprise any capital letters. However, Arabic letters come in different forms depending on whether the letter comes in the beginning , middle, or end of the word.

Arabic Dialects: There are many varieties of Arabic dialects. Speakers from different countries and areas may struggle to understand each other’s dialects.

Wordsmiths: There are more than eleven words for love and hundreds of words for camel, including “al-Jafool,” meaning a camel that is frightened by anything and “al-Harib,” a female camel that walks far ahead of the others.

EGYPT

Hosts Emergency Meeting

Egypt hosted an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss regional developments, the policies of the new US administration, and the structure and functioning of the Arab League. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said the organization was keen to find a comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian issue. He told a meeting of the Arab League Council that any threat to Arab land was a threat to the entire nation, and that the region was on the threshold of a new phase. He stressed the need for the international community to make this issue its priority.

UNITED KINGDOM

First Woman Elected Head of MCB

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has elected Zara Mohammed as the first female Secretary-General in its history. The 29-year-old Scot replaced Harun Khan following the end of his four year term, after a poll of the MCB’s affiliate organization. Mohammed won 64% of the vote against her rival for the role, politician and Imam, Ajmal Masroor. Mohammed, who has a master’s degree in human rights law and is from Glasgow, had previously served as Assistant Secretary-General of the MCB. “My vision is to continue to build a truly inclusive, diverse, and representative body, one which is driven by the needs of British Muslims for the common good,” she said. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, one of the UK’s most prominent Muslim politicians and the capital’s first Muslim leader said, “I wish the very best of success to Zara Mohammed. May she continue to lead this organization to greater heights for the betterment of our communities across the country.”

[Compiled by: Syed Nehal Zaheer]