Flashes from the Muslim World

AFGHANISTAN

Talks with Indonesian Muslim Leaders

Taliban Chiefs have held a series of talks with Indonesian Muslim leaders over the future peace process for Afghanistan, it was revealed recently. Delegates led by the Taliban’s political deputy, Mullah Baradar Akhund, held discussions with leaders of Indonesian’s largest Muslim organization Nahdat-ul-Ulama (NU), and the country’s highest authority on Islamic affairs, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) at their headquarters in central Jakarta. The Taliban delegation also met with scholars from the MUI. During talks the council agreed to assist with peace-making efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban and help advise on ways to address various problems in Islamic society.

BANGLADESH

Inspects Projects for Rohingya Refugees

A team from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KS Relief) inspected relief and accommodation projects serving Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Projects include the water and environmental sanitation initiative in the district of Cox’s Bazar, which benefits over 136,000 Rohingya refugees.

IDs Offer the Rohingya Hope

More than half a million Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar have received identity cards to ensure better access to humanitarian aid in refugee camps. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Bangladeshi government initiated the procedure in June 2018 to store necessary information about the Rohingya people in one database.On an average, about 5,000 refugees are registered every day on seven different sites. UNHCR has engaged a number of community representatives including Imams, elders and teachers to explain the benefits of registration among refugees. The registration cards record Myanmar as the country of origin. This establishes the right of the refugee to return home when they feel the conditions are safe.

SINGAPORE

Launches Inter faith Summit in Colombo

The Muslim World League (MWL) launched an interfaith summit in Colombo in the presence of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. Participants included Islamic, Christians, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu religious leaders, as well as more than 2,000 religious scholars, politicians, intellectuals and media professionals. Sirisena delivered the opening speech. He thanked the MWL for holding the summit, and for donating USD5 million to a support fund for families of victims of terrorist acts and injured people.In his address, Sirisena said: “We are pleased to present the highest honor in Sri Lanka to the Secretary-General of the MWL for his role in promoting inter-religious peace.” MWL Secretary-General, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, also delivered a speech.

PHILIPPINES

MILF’s Transition into Political Outfit

From 7thSeptember, nearly 12,000 former members of the Philippines largest insurgency group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are going back to normal life. “We are set to decommission the first 30% of our combatants, scheduled on September 7, tentatively. This will involve around 12,000 combatants, and the next 35% will be decommissioned after the regional security structure is set up,” Murad Ibrahim, Chairman of MILF, said in an exclusive interview with Arab News. “The first challenge we are facing is that we have been a revolutionary organization and so we have to transform from the revolutionary organization to governance.”

Duterte Urges Muslims to Deepen Faith

Thousands of Filipino Muslims gathered throughout the country to celebrate Eid al-Adha of the Feast of the Sacrifice, one of the most important holidays of the Islamic calendar. The celebration took place as President Rodrigo Duterte called on Muslims in the country to deepen their faith and strengthen their resolve to bring about a society that is worthy of Allah’s continued blessings and protection. He said that Ibrahim’s complete willingness to offer the life of his beloved son, in obedience to Allah’s divine command, is one of the most memorable demonstrations of faith of all time.

INDONESIA

Muslims Urged to Go Green

Indonesia is urging Muslims to use eco-friendly packaging when distributing sacrificial meat on Eid al-Adha this year, as the country fights to reduce the amount of plastic waste it produces. Indonesia is second only to China when it comes to dumping plastic waste in the ocean, and with a Muslim majority population, the use of plastic bags to package sacrificial meat could lead to tens of thousands of tons of additional waste. The Indonesian Council of Ulema is backing the nation-wide green initiative. “We can take this Eid moment to start a new habit using eco-friendly bags and to change our society’s dependence on plastic bags,”Council official, Hasanuddin Abdul Fattah, said in a statement.

MALAYSIA

Hajj Pilgrims Make Most of Makkah Route

Malaysian Hajj pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia via Kuala Lumpur International Airport as part of the Makkah Route Initiative were spending only ten minutes at both Malaysian and Saudi immigration countries before boarding. The Makkah Route Initiative will process 30,200 Malaysian pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj. Malaysia was the first country to implement the initiative in 2017. Indonesia followed suit in 2018. This year it has been expanded to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Tunisia, and 250,000 pilgrims are expected to be processed. “The Makkah Route Initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision Reform Plan,” says Saudi envoy to Malaysia. “Malaysia was chosen as the first pilot program for the initiative because they are very cooperative and organized.” This year 30,200 Malaysians performed Hajj.

Enjoy Feast of Sacrifice

In a country where about 60% of the population is Muslim, the Feast of the Sacrifice day holds a significant meaning for the community in Malaysia. The mosque takes center stage as locals perform their ritual sacrifice and gather for special prayers. One example is the Mosque ofJami’l Huda Kampung Melayu Ampang, situated in one of the few Malay enclaves in the capital city. At dawn, hundreds of Muslims flock to the mosque for special morning prayers.

KUWAIT

Receives USD270 Million in War Reparations

The UN has announced that Kuwait has received another USD270 million in compensation for Iraq’s 1990 invasion as it aims to wrap up reparations more than a decade after Saddam Hussein’s death. The United Nations Compensation Commission was set up in 1991, the same year that a US-led coalition drove former Iraqi ruler, Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait. With the latest payment, the Commission said it had paid out a total of USD48.7 billion, leaving USD3.7 billion left to be distributed.

SAUDI ARABIA

Ka’aba Kiswa Raised for Hajj

Following the annual custom, the lower part of Ka’aba Kiswa was raised three meters in preparation for the Hajj session and was replaced with a white cotton cloth of about two meters across its four sides,the Saudi Press Agency reported. The procedure is done every year before the Hajj season in order to protect the Kiswa, as some pilgrims touch and pull on the black cloth when they circle the Ka’aba. Every year, the old black silk cloth that covers the Ka’aba is removed and a new one is draped on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah.

Steeped in History: Ka’aba’s Kiswa

In a tradition dating back centuries, a new black curtain, or Kiswa, is draped around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque in Makkah once a year. The fabric is made of high quality silk, with verses of the Qur’an woven into it in the form of gold and silver thread running across the Kaaba’s belt. The curtain is fabricated at the King Abdul Aziz Complex for Holy Ka’abaKiswa in Makkah. Before the establishment of the Complex in 1926 by King Abdul Aziz, theKiswa was supplied by different countries, most prominently Egypt. Some of the facts in numbers are as follows:

  • Five Kiswa pieces, each covering a side of the cube-shaped Ka’aba, with the fifth covering the door.
  • 47 meter length of the gold belt around the Ka’aba,
  • 95 cmswidth of the gold belt,
  • Sixteen ornamental decoration pieces,
  • 670 Kg weight of silk, dyed in black,
  • 120 Kg weight of gold wires used, and
  • 100 kg weight of silver wires.

Hosted 1,000 Sudanese Pilgrims

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has hosted 1,000 Sudanese pilgrims to perform Hajj, the Saudi Press Agency reported. According to the directive, the 1,000 pilgrims performed Hajj within the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for Hajj and Umrah, implemented and supervised by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance. The King also hosted 1,000 Palestinian Pilgrims who are family members of martyrs to be hosted while they performed Hajj.

Omar ibn al-Khattab Mosque

It is one of the archaeological mosques found in the al-Jouf region. It was built in 16AH in the classical design style of the early Islamic age. The mosque is affiliated with Omar Ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph of Islam, because it was built while he was travelling to Jerusalem.

Grand Mosque Cleaned Four Times a Day during Hajj

Sanitation and perfuming of the Grand Mosque is highly important – the permanent cleanliness and the pleasant odors remain engraved in the memory of the mosque’s visitors. But it isn’t an easy task – over 4,000 people work around the clock to provide a pleasant and clean place for worshippers to perform their prayers. Over 3,000 liters of cleaning products and 600 liters of rosewater are used daily,and the mosque and its grounds are washed four times a day during Hajj. More than 4,800 tools and machines are also used to provide the finest service.

Eight Million Copies of the Qur’an Distributed

The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, has provided eight million copies of the holy Qur’an in several languages. It has so far distributed four million from the King Fahd Complex for Printing the Holy Qur’an among the mosques of Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites. The remaining numbers are destined for international pilgrims when they leave Saudi Arabia as a gift from King Salman.

Makkah Successfully Reduces Heat in Pedestrian Pathways

The Makkah Municipality has implemented a project to apply a heat-blocking coating to pavement surfaces on pedestrian pathways at holy sites. The first phase of the project included coating the pedestrian pathways in Mina all the way to the Jamarat facilities, a total area of about 3,500 square meters. The Director-General of the holy sites and seasons, Ahmed Manshi, said that the project is being implemented in cooperation with the Japanese cooperation with the Japanese corporation Sumitomo. The project aims to reduce the temperature of the pavement surface in the Shaiben area, and there is a possibility to include the Jamarat facilities and coat several pedestrian pathways at holy sites.

Two Holy Mosques Architecture Exhibition

The Two Holy Mosques Architecture Exhibition, one of Makkah’s most popular landmarks,occupies 1,200 square meters near the King Abdul Aziz Complex for the manufacturing of the Ka’aba’s cover (Kiswa) in the Umm al-Joud district. The exhibition’s design is content with the unique Islamic style and the distinctive architecture of the Grand Mosque in Makkah. The Two Holy Mosques Architecture Exhibition comprises seven halls. The Reception Hall, the Grand Mosque’s Hall, the Ka’aba Hall, the Photography Hall, the Manuscripts Hall, the Hall of the Prophet’s Mosque, and the Zamzam Hall. The exhibition offers a number of services during the holy month of Ramadan, such as the distribution of the Qur’an and Zamzam water. The exhibition hires 30 qualified employees, who provide knowledge and guidance services to all visitors and introduces them to the different parts of the exhibition.

Insights of a Pilgrimage Veteran

As a child of Makkah and a regular visitor to the Ka’aba since before he was ten years old, no one knows the grounds of the Grand Mosque, better than Zakaria Murshid. He told Arab News that he has performed Hajj maybe 40 times, but probably more. Growing up in the city, Murshid volunteered with various organizations over the course of many Hajj pilgrimage. He has been a volunteer, paramedic, a Mutawwif (someone who leads pilgrims in the traditional rites and prayers of Hajj and Umrah). But 86-year-old Murshid says that visitors should immerse themselves in the experience.

Launched Two Smart Apps to Help Pilgrims

Hajj authorities have launched two interactive apps to help pilgrims with a range of services on smart devices including help in finding emergency service centers, holy sites, currency exchanges, restaurants and accommodations. Available in nine languages including English, Urdu, and French, the Manasikana App was launched by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in cooperation with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage. It provides geographical coordinates to pinpoint exact locations in Makkah, Madinah, and other cities, even without an internet connection. Prayers for different Hajj rituals are also available with detailed guides and dos and don’ts on performing the pilgrimage.

The Prophet’s Sacred Chamber

Pilgrims and visitors in Madinah are eager to visit the Sacred Chamber and the graves of Prophet Muhammad (saws) and his two companions, Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra) and Omar ibn al-Khattab (ra).The name ‘Sacred Chamber’ refers to the Prophet’s house, where he lived with his wife, Aisha bint Abu Bakr (ra). It is located in the southeastern section of the Prophet’s Mosque. When the Prophet died in the room of Aisha (ra), his companions deliberated about where he should be buried. Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra) said that he heard the Prophet say, “Prophets are buried where they died.”So he was buried in the south of the Sacred Chamber.

Famous Faces in Makkah

Many well-known Muslims from the worlds of sports and entertainment have visited Makkah to perform either Hajj or Umrah:

  1. Muhammad Ali: The late boxing champion, born Cassius Clay, performed Hajj in 1972. He converted to Islam after the black power movement ignited in America.
  2. Ibtihajj Muhammad: The American sabre fencer, who was the first woman to represent the US in the Olympics while wearing a hijab,performed Hajj in 2018.
  3. Kristiane Backer: The former MTV Europe presenter’s first Hajj was in 2006. She wrote a book called From MTV to Makkah: How Islam inspired my Life. Backer performed the pilgrimage again in 2018.
  4. Akon, American-Senegalese music producer and song-writer: During his visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this year, Akon told Arab News that he was going to perform Umrah after his music concert in Dammam.
  5. Jemima Goldsmith: The British-born journalist and ex-wife of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Jemima converted to Islam in 1995. She performed Hajj in 2007.
  6. Aamir Khan: In 2012, Aamir Khan became the first Bollywood actor to perform the pilgrimage. He traveled to Makkah along with his mother.

PALESTINE

Postpone Eid to Protect Masjid al-Aqsa

Muslims in Jerusalem took the unusual step of postponing important religious and family traditions to protect al-Aqsa Mosque from potential infiltration of extremist Jews. The Islamic Waqf Council said that Eid prayers will take place at 7.30 AM and called on all Jerusalem mosques to close in order to encourage their members to attend Eid prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque. Imad Abu Kishek, the President of Al-Quds University and a member of the Jerusalem Waqf Council, told Arab News that the decision was taken to thwart attempts of extremists. There is genuine worry that extremist Jews wanted to use the event to control certain parts of al- Haram al-Shariff Aqsa Mosque. This is the first time that Israeli police have abandoned their natural practice during the most important Islamic holiday of unilaterally showing respect to the Muslims of Jerusalem.

EGYPT

The Mahmal, when the Kiswa came from Egypt

For centuries, every year during Hajj, the Kiswa for the Ka’aba arrived on a camel’s back all the way from Cairo to Makkah, following a precarious journey inside a ceremonial litter known as the Mahmal. The camel carrying the Kiswa was accompanied by a caravan of camels lugging supplies and pilgrims luggage, alongside soldiers who guarded the procession all the way to Hijaz. Once Hajj had been completed, the Mahmal returned to Cairo bearing the Ka’aba’s used Kiswa. The fabric was typically cut into pieces and distributed to nobles and princes.

Tradition of Painting Hajj Pilgrims Homes Lives On

An Egyptian tradition of painting the homes of Hajj pilgrims with religious verses and images continues to withstand the passage of time. The pilgrimage season sees calligraphers and painters busy sketching the journeys of worshippers on the front walls of houses in villages, towns and cities throughout the country. Each artist uses their own unique style to portray modes of transport such as camels, planes and ships, holy sites, like the Grand Mosque in Makkah and passages from the Qur’an. Ahmed Sayed Ahmed, 30, is one of the most well-known calligraphers in the Ghouria area of central Cairo, where he has worked for more than fifteen years. He told Arab News that the decoration process began with painting walls white to create a clean canvas for the artwork which usually included the name, gender and age of the person performing the pilgrimage.

SUDAN

Sends 540,000 T of Wheat

Saudi Arabia and UAE have sent 540,000 tons of wheat to Sudan to cover the basic food needs of its people for three months. The shipment forms part of a USD 3 billion Saudi-UAE joint aid package, announced in April this year, to support the North African country’s economic and financial stability. As part of the USD3 billion relief program, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have deposited USD500 million in the Central Bank of Sudan, evenly split between the two countries, to strengthen its financial position. The reminder of the aid package will be allocated to meet the urgent needs of the Sudanese people for food, medicine and seasonal agricultural products.

TURKEY

Economic Hardships Reduces Hajj Applications

An estimated 80,000 Turks are entitled to perform Hajj following a protocol signed between Ankara and Riyadh last year. The economic turbulence in Turkey has made pilgrimage more challenging for Muslims from poorer backgrounds. The Turkish Lira lost about 30% of its value against the dollar last year due to economic and geopolitical turmoil in the country. Many people interviewed by Arab News said they had to make sacrifice to perform their Hajj duty, sometimes by selling cattle in the village, or through taking on debts. Travel agencies offer various packages for pilgrims depending on their economic means.

LEBANON

Help Ease Escalating Sectarian Tensions

Christians and Muslims gathered for a spiritual summit in Lebanon amid concerns about a growing sectarian divide in the country’s politics. The crisis escalated after two aides to Minister of the Displaced Saleh Al-Gharib were killed in Mount Lebanon. Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri asked the Council of Ministers to focus on finding a peaceful resolution to a crisis that has exposed renewed divisions between the political forces in power. Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Latif Durian, spoke at the summit of a need to find solutions to the crisis in line with the rules of national unity and coexistence and through adherence to the constitution and Taif.

MOROCCO

King Praises Saudi Efforts

Morocco’s King Mohamed VI praised his Saudi counterpart’s efforts to serve Hajj pilgrims and provide services that allow them to perform their rituals with comfort and ease. The King urged the Moroccan pilgrims to abide by the rules and regulations while performing Hajj.

SENEGAL

Relief and Development Projects

The Muslim World League (MWL) has launched a raft of urgently needed relief projects – including medical facilities. Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim al-Issa, the MWL Secretary-General, explained that the organization has distributed more than 1,500 food baskets in Malika, on the outskirts of Dakar, and truck loads of food aid to Kolda – the site of the recent fire. Al-Issa said that the MWL’s cataract treatment program at a Dakar hospital has so far treated hundreds of poor patients, while in Tiyas, the Secretary-General laid the cornerstone for the Al-Afiah model dispensary. Al-Issa also gave the green light to resume construction of the Dar al-Hikma Center for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Tiyas. Al-Issa stressed that Islam dictates that its followers offer aid and services to those in need regardless of their nationality, race or culture.

FRANCE

Once a Rapper, Now a Pilgrim

She had money, fame, influence and the power. By the age of twelve, she had millions of fans, sold more than four million albums and won numerous awards. Melanie Georgilades – better known by her stage name – Diam’s seemed to have it all, living the life that many dreamt of. Yet, despite her success, she felt unfulfilled and deeply troubled about her life: something that made her search for answers, finding new hope and happiness in life in converting to Islam. In 2017, she was able to move to Saudi Arabia along with her husband, a former Franco-Tunisian rapper. For the past two years, they have made their home in the Kingdom, away from the Islamophobia and disdain she suffered in France. Georgiades and her husband have traveled to Makkah and have performed Haj this year.

RUSSIA

Halal Market Sees Growth

The manager of a sausage factory near Moscow, Arsian Gizatullin, says his halal business has been feeling  the pinch – not so much from Russia’s sluggish economy but competitors vying for a piece o f a growing Islamic market. Even more producers are catering to the domestic Muslim community, which accounts for around 15% of Russia’s population and is set to expand, and in some cases, are also setting their sights on export. The halal economy, worth more than USD2.1 trillion globally, is far from limited to meat. Cosmetics firms and services such as halal hotels have received licenses from the body that oversees Islamic productions in Russia, while state-owned Sherbank is looking into creating an Islamic finance entity. The halal food market accounted for around seven billion Rubles a year (USD110 million) or just over 3% of the region’s gross agricultural output.

Award to MWL Secretary General

The Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences has awarded the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim al-Issa, an honorary doctorate in recognition of his efforts to strengthen the relationship between the Islamic world and Russia. Prof. Vitaly Naumkin, the Director of the Institute, who represents one of the most well-known academic institutions in the world over the past 200 years, talked about al-Issa’s career, noting that he has contributed to the promotion of cultural rapprochement among nations through his visits to countries and his connections with different cultures and religions. Naumkin said that the principles of moderation adopted by the MWL and its Secretary-General contributed to the establishment of security in the world. Al-Issa said that the Institute has contributed to changing the stereotype of Orientalism in the Muslim world and has encouraged cultural communication.

Deal Signed to Promote Intercultural Dialogue

The Muslim World League (MWL) and the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia signed an agreement to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue, as well as a culture of peace and constructive coexistence. The agreement, which also rejects all forms of extremism and hatred, was co-signed in Moscow by the MWL’s Under secretary of Relations and Communication and the Head of the Department for External Church Relations. The Orthodox Church is considered the largest independent Eastern Orthodox Church, with more than 250 million followers. The Orthodox Church has a great network of relations with Islamic societies and communities.

BELGIUM

To Promote Tolerance, Moderation Lauded

The rector of the Islamic University of Brussels hailed Saudi efforts to promote moderate Islam, reject extremism, fight against terrorism, serve the religion and its followers, and respond to aberrant ideologies that have harmed the Muslim world. Dr. Mustafa Khader Donmez also praised the programs carried out by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance. “The Kingdom is keen to promote international peace and communication between cultures and the followers of different religions through calling for inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, a domain in which the Kingdom has been a pioneer,” he added. “Saudi Arabia has taken the lead in spending for this purpose as it is in line with its high status on the Islamic and international levels,” he said.

UNITED KINGDOM

British Pilgrims Feel the Pinch as Tour Costs Jump

British Muslims are struggling to keep up with a dramatic jump in the cost of travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. More than 20,000 people make the pilgrimage from the United Kingdom every year, but spiraling air tickets and hotel prices have ramped up prices in the past five years. This year, pilgrims from the United Kingdom are paying somewhere between British Pounds 5,000 (USD6,028) and British Pounds 11,000 to perform the pilgrimage, according to tour operators. Hajj packages in the United Kingdom vary according to hotel star ratings, how close hotels are to the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, whether flights are direct or not, and whether packages are shifting or non-shifting.

British Council Official Lauds Wonderful Pilgrimage

The head of the British Council in Saudi Arabia has praised authorities for successfully running this year’s Hajj. “Authorities have done a wonderful job in providing services and facilities to more than two million people to ensure the pilgrimage went smoothly,” the British Council’s Country Director for Saudi Arabia, Amir Ramzan, told Arab News. Ramzan, who was performing Hajj with his family, said he had an amazing experience and had the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. For Ramzan, Hajj is an opportunity for spiritual renewal and refreshment. Ramzan said an average of 1,00,000 British Muslims traveled to Makkah for Hajj and Umrah every year. This year, 26,000 UK pilgrims came to perform Hajj.

Britons Choose Pedal Power for Hajj Pilgrimage

As if the trials of the Hajj were not physically taxing enough, one brave group of cyclists from London decided to cycle their way to the city of Makkah to perform the pilgrimage, pushing themselves to their limit to make the  journey. Led by Junaid Afzal, the Tour de Hajj team not only managed to complete their ride to Makkah to make it in time, but also managed to pass by Madinah and offer prayers at the Masjid al-Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque as well). The goal of their journey was to raise funds for charity to build wells, schools and mosques in countries such as Pakistan, South Africa and Uganda. The group managed to raise USD66,927 by the time they reached Makkah. The group consisted of eight cyclists and their support driver, taking 58 days via seventeen different countries on their journey. They left London on 7thJune, offering Jum’uah (Friday Prayers) at the East London Mosque, before setting off.

AUSTRALIA

Envoy Lauds Services Provided to Pilgrims

The Australian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia,RidwaanJadwat, has praised the services provided by the Kingdom to serve pilgrims and its keenness to deliver facilities that contribute to their comfort. He also commended the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for enabling pilgrims to perform their rituals in a convenient and secure manner. This praise followed Jadwat meeting with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guides Foundation of Pilgrims of Turkey and Muslims of Europe, America and Australia.

NEW ZEALAND

Muslim Community Leader Praises Hajj Services

The President of the International Muslim Association of New Zealand expressed gratitude, on behalf of the families of those killed in the Christchurch Mosque massacre in March, for the invitation extended to them by King Salman to perform Hajj this year. Tahir Nawaz also praised the services provided by the Kingdom each year to serve pilgrims. Police superintendent, Naila Hassan, was giving an emotional speech at a vigil in New Zealand for the 51 people murdered in the Christchurch mosque terrorist attack. Now Hassan, New Zealand’s most senior Muslim police officer is in Makkah and has performed Hajj this year and her dream has come true.  “As a Muslim, you just dream about seeing the Ka’abah and going to Makkah and Madinah,” she said in a video thanking King Salman for hosting the Christchurch pilgrims. The Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister, Sheikh Abdul Latif al-Asheikh, said that hosting the Christchurch pilgrims was part of Saudi efforts to confront and defeat terrorism, in all its forms.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

US Census Opens Old Wounds for Arab-Americans

Every two years, the US census not only counts how many people live in America but also identifies their interests and national origins. It determines how more than USD600 million in federal funding is dispersed to communities to address their concerns. Arabs remain unlisted as an ethnic group – an oversight that is limiting their political influence and share of funding. Lebanese-Americans constitute a greater part of the total number of Arab-American living in most states. Egyptian-Americans are the largest Arab group in Georgia, New Jersey and Tennessee. Illinois has the greatest concentration of Palestinians. There are almost as many Iraqis living in Michigan as there living in California. At least 1.9 million Americans are of Arab descent. Census Bureau estimates show. The Arab-American Institute says the figure is close to 3.7 million. Two-thirds of Arab-Americans are concentrated in ten states, with one-third of the total living in California, New York or Michigan. About 94% of Arab-Americans live in cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit, New York/NJ, Chicago and Washington D.C.

US Muslims Embrace Hajj Heart and Soul

Thousands of Muslims Americans have paid at least USD 6,000 each to make the journey to Makkah in Saudi Arabia as part of the Islamic ritual of Hajj. Hajj is more than just a physical journey. You will give up everyday comforts for a few short days as you purify the soul. Muslims in the United States, including Arab-Americans, are among millions worldwide who had arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage, which recently ended on 14thAugust, 2019. SufianNabhan, Director of the Detroit Islamic Center, said:“Our hearts and souls will live the Abrahamic journey of sacrifice, struggle, worship and surrender to God’s commands.” Many from Detroit’s Muslim community have travelled to Makkah to perform Hajj.

[COMPILED BY: SYED NEHAL ZAHEER]