Flashes from the Muslim World


Creating Investment Bridge

India is working with Saudi Arabia on creating an investment-bridge to accelerate bilateral projects and facilitate investments, with the measures expected to catalyze greater economic interconnectedness.  During his recent trip to Riyadh, Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Secretary-in-Charge of the Gulf region at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs held talks with Saudi officials.

Cross border investments have become a major tool for progress and development for nations. He said that Saudi investments in India have consistently grown, presently reaching USD3 billion, and Indian businesses have invested more than USD2 billion in the Kingdom.


Many Afghan Families Struggle

The just-concluded holy month of Ramadan, is a time of celebration and unity, but with Afghanistan’s economy in near collapse, families were resorting to desperate measures to buy food, with many surviving only on bread and tea.

Since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021, living costs and food prices have skyrocketed, while most adult Afghans are jobless. The United Nation estimates that 28 million people, or nearly 70% of the population, now depend on aid to survive. But even that assistance is limited as major international organizations have stopped operations in Afghanistan under its new rulers.


Combat Ramadan Food Waste

Bangladeshi civil society organizations are trying to prevent food wastage during the just-concluded month of Ramadan. They organized special collections of unsold items for orphanages and poor communities.  Bidyanondo Foundation, one of the largest social welfare organizations in the country, is operating a special Iftar Car to collect and distribute unsold leftover items as well as raise awareness about food security.


Celebrate Unity as Communities Together

Thousands of people from several communities in Sri Lanka came together for Iftar over a weekend in the just-concluded holy month of Ramadan, an occasion they say conveyed unity and optimism in a country that faced economic collapse and political upheaval in the past year.

Muslims make up less than 10% of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people, who are predominantly Sinhalese Buddhists. The gathering, which was organized by the Sri Lanka Muslim Civil Society, the Soup Kitchen Sri Lanka and the Torrington Walkers Team aims to show the unity in this country. This joint initiative by all communities is a good signal that the country will forge ahead in the future.


Seeks Deeper Ties with Saudi Arabia

Malaysia is looking forward to closer ties with Saudi Arabia, officials and experts have said after the Kingdom’s Hajj and Umrah Minister’s visit to Kuala Lumpur.

Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, and Muslims make up two thirds of its 34 million population. This year, about 31,600 of them will arrive in the Kingdom to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. Malaysians are now more and more interested to go to Saudi Arabia, not just for Umrah but also for leisure.

No Longer Required to Pay for Hajj in Forex

Sri Lanka is expecting to use its full Hajj quota this year after the government lifted a 2022 policy that required pilgrims from the nation to pay their travel costs in foreign currency. About 2,200 people have already registered with the Ministry of Religious Affairs to perform Hajj. Muslims make up almost 10% of the country’s population of 22 million, which is predominantly Buddhist.


Clinch Labor Deal with Morocco

The Philippines is looking to forge a labor cooperation deal with Morocco, Manila’s envoy in Rabat said recently, as officials work to bolster opportunities for Filipino professionals. Around 4,600 Filipinos live in Morocco, where more than half are employed as household service workers while others make a living working in beauty salons and the electronic industry.

Relations between the Philippines and Morocco have been strengthened since Manila reopened its embassy in Rabat last year. The mission had been closed for around three decades due to budget constraints.

Seeks Prayer Rooms

A new bill seeking to establish Muslim prayer rooms in public and private facilities across the Philippines is aimed at attracting more tourists from the Middle East, a Filipino lawmaker told Arab News recently. In the predominantly Catholic Philippines, Muslims constitute roughly 5% of its nearly 110 million people.

Most members of the sizable minority live on the island of Mindanao and Sulu archipelago in the country’s south, as well as in the central western province of Palawan. Many Middle Eastern visitors choose to go to Malaysia and Indonesia because of the availability of prayer rooms and they also have a strong halal industry.


World’s Longest Iftar Table

Saudi Arabia hosted what appears to be the world’s longest Iftar table spanning 1,200 meters, attended by more than 8,000 Indonesian citizens in the country’s West Sumatra city of Padang. The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Da’wah and Guidance represented by the religious attache in Jakarta, has been hosting Iftar in several cities in Indonesia, according to a report by the Saudi Press Agency.

Blind Children – Learning Qur’an Offers New Lease on Life

Sweeping his small fingers over the white pages of a thick book, Rohman carefully pronounces invisible Arabic words, as he gets better, day by day, in reading the sacred scripture of Islam. The fifteen-year-old lost his sight due to an undiagnosed illness when the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc in Indonesia in 2020.

Last year, he enrolled in the Raudlatul Makfufin madrasah for the blind in Serpong, near the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, where he learns to read the Qur’an in Braille – by touch. Established in 1991, Raudlatul Makfufin Islamic Boarding School is run by the Raudlatul Makfufin Foundation.


OIC Chief Praises Role in Religious Tolerance

A delegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recently attended the just concluded annual Ramadan Iftar reception hosted by Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh. The event was attended by dignitaries from the region’s countries, including the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the former Vice President of Indonesia, and members of the diplomatic community.

OIC Secretary-General, Hissein Brahim Taha, said that he acknowledged Cambodian government’s promotion of peaceful integration, coexistence and harmony among various communities provided an example for other countries to follow.


Visitors Numbers Cross Three Million

Dubai’s tourism sector is on course to rebound strongly from the negative impacts as the emirate welcomed 3.1 million visitors in the first two months of 2023, according to Emirates NBD.

India was the largest source of tourists during the months of January and February with 401,000 visitors, followed by Russia with 229,000 visitors, Oman with 201,000 visitors and the United Kingdom with 196,000 visitors. Hosting events like Gulf Food and IDEX helped emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi to deliver a formidable performance in 2023.


Pushes Tourism and Culture after World Cup

After twelve years of preparation to host the prestigious FIFA World Cup last year – twelve years that transformed the tiny rich Gulf nation of Qatar – the country is focusing on maintaining its momentum and boosting its tourism and cultural industries.

“The World Cup, to us, was a bonus on top of what we were already doing in the cultural realm,”Sheikha Reemal-Thani, acting Deputy CEO of exhibitions and marketing for Qatar Museums, tells Arab News.  “The World Cup gave us enormous exposure on a global level. We are already feeling its impact with the increase in regional tourism.”

Global Halal Economy

Qatar’s halal economy has been witnessing massive growth, with the country encouraging core sectors with high growth potential to develop products and services prescribed by Islamic law, a state agency said.

A report highlighted Qatar’s role in developing the global and national halal accreditation ecosystem by establishing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The state is developing as the halal economy hub in the region.


Restoring Oldest Mosques in Jeddah and Baha

Two of the oldest mosques in Jeddah and Baha, Al-Khidr Mosque and Al Safa Mosque, will be renovated under the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Project for Developing Historical Mosques. For over 700 years, Al-Khidr Mosque has been an integral part of Al-Balad historic district, and is considered one of the 30 most important historic mosques across Saudi Arabia.

Built 1,350 years ago, Baha’sAl-Safa Mosque will be restored with natural materials from the stones of the Sarawat Mountains. The project launched in 2018  and has an extensive restoration program for 130 mosques in 13 regions  across the Kingdom.

The Muezzins and the Minaret

They have been reverberating through the Grand Mosque in Makkah for centuries – the soulful and soothing voices of Muezzins calling the believers and Imams leading prayers five times a day.

The first call to prayer, at noon, was delivered from the roof of the holy Ka’aba by Prophet Muhammad’s companion, Bilal bin Rabah (ra). This was on the order of the Prophet on the day of the conquest of Makkah in the year 630CE (8 AH). Minarets appeared for the first time in the year 754 (137 AH) during the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Abu Jafaral-Mansour, who built the first minaret, known as Bab Al Umrah, in the western corner from the northern side of the Grand Mosque. Loudspeakers in the Grand Mosque were introduced for the first time in 1947 during the reign of King Abdulaziz.

Enriching Pilgrims Experience

They have been reverberating through the Grand Mosque in Makkah for centuries – the soulful and soothing voices of Muezzins calling the believers and Imams leading prayers five times a day.

The first call to prayer, at noon, was delivered from the roof of the holy Ka’aba by Prophet Muhammad’s companion, Bilal bin Rabah (ra). This was on the order of the Prophet on the day of the conquest of Makkah in the year 630CE (8 AH). Minarets appeared for the first time in the year 754 (137 AH) during the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Abu Jafaral-Mansour, who built the first minaret, known as Bab Al Umrah, in the western corner from the northern side of the Grand Mosque. Loudspeakers in the Grand Mosque were introduced for the first time in 1947 during the reign of King Abdulaziz.

Museums in Makkah

Museums in Makkah house rare antiquities that are more than 1,400 years old, highlighting the rich history of the place. The role of public and private museums is very large. Many visitors go to these museums to learn about the heritage of the region.

Makkah’s museums are part of prominent archaeological museums, not only in the Kingdom, but also around the world. Visitors to Makkah also go to every spot where the Prophet Muhammad (saws) passed by to become acquainted with these historical treasures. Makkah itself is an open museum.

Dates: Beloved Jewels of the Desert

Dates are an iconic symbol of Saudi Arabia. The fruit represents an integral part of the Kingdom’s hospitality as one is always offered dates and Arabic coffee at home, in the office and at events of all kinds.

Dates come in a range of flavors, textures, colors, and levels of sweetness. Date palms are mentioned 22 times in the holy Qur’an, and the Prophet Muhammad (saws) once said that that a home with dates is never poor. The most popular date varieties in the Kingdom are:

  1. Ajwa: The Ajwa date, considered one of the most expensive in the Kingdom, is produced mainly in Madinah, the second holy city of Saudi Arabia, the black or dark brown Ajwa date has a distinct flavor profile.
  2. Khalas: Khalas dates are also considered one of the Kingdom’s premium varieties. It is dark brown with a sweet bitter caramel flavor. The Khalas date is mostly associated with the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia.
  3. Sokari:The Sokari date has a sweet caramel taste. The variety is popular in the region and the fruit is often referred as royal date.
  4. Segai; TheSegai are two-toned dates that hold different textures. Its taste is similar to brown sugar.
  5. Raziz date: The Raziz date is usually served with date molasses and sesame in a traditional dish named Safsif.

Smile Brighter with the Magic of Miswak

Many Muslims use Miswak during the day to maintain freshness, oral hygiene and to protect overall dental health. In the Islamic tradition, using Miswak is a well-known Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (saws).  In Saudi Arabia, Miswak is typically sourced from the Salvadora Persica trees known as Arak in Arabic. This variety is also found in Sudan, Egypt and Chad. Miswak can be sourced from various trees except for those known to cause harm, such as pomegranate and myrtle trees.

There is now increasing scientific evidence that Miswak has medical properties and helps fight plague, recession of gums, tooth decay, bleeding gums and deep periodontal pockets.

Makkah Hosts the World

Pilgrims from around the world arrived in Makkah to perform Umrah during the holy month of Ramadan, with many staying in neighborhoods known for accommodating people from their country of origin.

Ahmed Saleh Halabi, Hajj and Umrah Services adviser, said: “The number of Hajj and Umrah performers we are witnessing today is higher than ever. Providing several services, such as food as well as workers speaking the same language for Hajj and Umrah performers, attract pilgrims to reside in the region.” Pilgrims usually divide themselves across the city depending on their country of origin.

New Section at Madinah Museum

There have been several new sections added to the Prophet’s museum in Madinah, including publications, films and interactive displays,the Saudi Press Agency reported. Madinah Governor, Prince Faisal bin Salman, launched the new additions to the International Fair and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization.

Among those in attendance was, Mohammed bin Abdul karim Al- Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League and Chairman of the Muslim Scholars Association. The museum is opposite the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. The museum is managed by the League with the support of the region’s development authority.

Creates Unique Prayer Rosaries

A Saudi teenager is making a name for himself in one of the Kingdom’s centuries’ old traditional crafts – creating unique strings of rosary prayer beads from precious stones, wood, horn and ivory.

Mohammed Al Obaida, 17, has been active in the family business since he was nine, and has been creating his own designs for four years. In Islam, rosaries are called misbaha or sibha. They comprise a rope and prayer beads and are used to help memorize verses from the Qur’an or keep track of the recitation of the 99 names of God.

Makkah’s Marble: How Cool is That?

For centuries, the Grand Mosques at Makkah and Madinah have enthralled pilgrims from across the world. To the pleasant surprise of visitors, the glistening white marble floor that surrounds the Ka’aba in Makkah remains cool beneath their feet, even during the hottest days.

While some have claimed that hidden cold water pipes under the floor are responsible for its coolness, the real reason lies in the mosque’s unique choice of building material. Marble from Thassos, an eastern Greek island near Kavala in the Aegean Sea, has one of the rarest characteristics ever found in the stone. Thassos marble – sometimes called ‘Snow White,’ marble has one of the lowest heat absorbancies of any marble.


To Display Four Unique Artifacts

Egypt’s Museum of Islamic Art has announced it will display four unique artifacts, all of which date back to different Islamic eras, from the 10th to the 15th centuries.

Islamic antiquities specialist, Ahmad Qadri, told Arab News that among the artifacts are a copper candlestick inlaid with silver, believed to be from Egypt or Syria, and a glass lamp, both of which date back to the Mamluk era. The other pieces are a bronze lamp dating back to the Fatimid era and a copper lantern, also from Mamluk era.

Honors Young Qur’an Memorizers

A hall in an Egyptian village in the Menoufiagovernorate, north of Cairo, has just concluded with decorated flags in honor of more than 300 students who have memorized the Holy Qur’an. The celebration has taken place annually in the village for the past five years during the holy month of Ramadan.

The parents and families of the children are appreciative of the recognition. The goal of these events is to have the memorizers of the Qur’an celebrate what they have achieved. This initiative has achieved great success in encouraging children to memorize the Qur’an.

Approves Electric Train Project

The Islamic Development Bank has approved USD 403 million for different projects in member countries, the bank said in a statement. A big chunk of the funds USD344.5 million – has been approved for the first phase of Egypt’s electric express train project.

The 660 km railway project will connect the Egyptian port cities of Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea to Marsa Matrouh and Alexandria on the Mediterranean. It will benefit 25 million people annually and decrease carbon emissions by approximately 250,000 tons annually.


Iftar Programs in Kenya and Senegal

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Da’wah and Guidance, in cooperation with the Kingdom’s embassies, extended the King Salman Program that has seen the distribution of food to needy people in 60 countries around the world.

The religious attaché at the Saudi Embassy in Kenya concluded the dates and Iftar distribution project. The Islamic Higher Institute, in the Louga region of Senegal, has also concluded the Iftar project. Some ten tons of dates were distributed and the Iftar program reached more than 15,000 people.


Cuts of Water Supply at Night

Tunisian authorities have started cutting of drinking water at night in areas of capital and other cities, residents said, in what appears to be a bid to reduce consumption amid a severe drought.

Cutting of water supply without prior announcement, threatens to fuel social tension in a country whose people suffer from poor public services, high inflation and a weak economy. The continued lack of rain, however, appears to have prompted authorities to start doing so early in some places.


Mayor of Rome Attends Iftar at Great Mosque

Rome’s Mayor, Roberto Gualtieri, attended an Iftar at the Great Mosque in Italy’s capital,the first time such a visit had taken place in ten years. It is the largest Islamic place of worship in the country, and was built thanks to a donation from the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

Gualtieri was welcomed by Naim Nasrallah, President of the Islamic Cultural Center of Rome and members of the city’s Muslim community. He attended prayers and the joined the Iftar with city councilors and commissioners from all parties. Since his election as mayor last year, Gualtieri has established a close relationship with Rome’s Islamic communities.


Embassy Hosts Ramadan Event

The British Embassy in Riyadh hosted a Ghabga, a Ramadan event for female UK alumni to network, share experiences and celebrate Saudi women. Women’s networks anywhere in the world are incredibly important. The word ‘Ghabga’ translates to gathering in Arabic and is an event that takes place late in the evenings during the holy month of Ramadan.

The women’s event also served as a celebration of the Saudi Year of Poetry. Several discussions were held including on challenges in the work place. A talk on health was led by Dr. Amina Butt, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology.


Hollywood Scriptwriter Participates in Qur’an Recitation Contest

Palestinian – American contestant, Yasser Omar Shaheen, a Hollywood film and television scriptwriter, was participant in the latest episode of the International Qur’an recitation and Adhan competition.  Shaheen entertained the viewers with his melodic voice and distinctive recitation of the Qur’an. He enjoys teaching Muslim children the verses of the Qur’an and the rules of intonation in mosques in Dallas, Texas.

Shaheen also works as a faculty member at San Jose University in California. More than 50,000 entrants from 165 countries were whittled down to 50 for the final stage, which is held in Riyadh. Another selection process by the main jury then left 32 contestants – sixteen for each competition.

UN Sees Growing Islamic Donations

The United Nation said that its refugee operations were seeing swelling funding through a dedicated Islamic philanthropy platform aimed at collecting the charity payments required of Muslims under the religion.

Since it was first piloted in 2017, the UNHCR’s Refugee Zakat Fund has raised nearly USD200 million from Zakat – one of the five pillars of Islam, which requires Muslims to give 2.5% of their savings and wealth each year as obligatory almsgiving – and from voluntary charity funds known as Sadaqah. 




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