Flashes from the Muslim World

AFGHANISTAN

Praises OIC for Promoting Peace

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen in Jeddah recently. He noted the continuous support provided by the OIC for his country and its active role in promoting peace and security. Ghani said his country sought to develop ties with the OIC to carry our cultural and social projects to combat extremism, hatred and terrorism. Meanwhile the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Afghan Ministry of Finance signed an agreement to establish and equip a 100-bed cardiac center in Kabul to provide high quality cardiac health services in Afghanistan.

SRI LANKA

Shoura Council Speaker Pledges to Increase Hajj Quota

The Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council, Dr. Abdullah Al-Asheikh,said that he would look into resolving issues faced by Sri Lankans in Saudi Arabia and the possibility of increasing the Hajj quota for the island nation in the near future. Al-Asheikh was leading a delegation to Sri Lanka on a three days official visit. Al-Asheikh stressed the need to strengthen ties between the two nations. He also suggested and stressed that economic cooperation between the two countries could be developed through the trade sector and mutual investments.

USD50 Million for Medical Faculty

Saudi Arabia provided a concessional loan of SR 187.5 million (USD50 million) to Sri Lanka to establish a fully-equipped faculty of medicine at the Sabaragamura University at Ratnapura. The funds will be used to construct infrastructure facilities and to provide undergraduates with state-of-the-art teaching and learning facilities that will help provide them with a world class medical education. Further, the Muslim World League (MWL) recently donated USD5 million during Secretary-General, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul karimal-Issa’s visit to Sri Lanka to help the victims of the Easter Sunday bomb blasts.

INDONESIA

Gifts Qur’an to Thousands at Global Book Fair

Thousands of copies of the Holy Qur’an have been gifted to visitors flocking to the Kingdom’s pavilion at the just concluded International Book Fair in Indonesia, the Saudi Press Agency reported. More than 10,000 copies of the Qur’an printed in Indonesian by the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an were handed out. The King Fahd Complex seeks to teach, print, and distribute the Qur’an to Muslims through various cultural forums around the world. The participation of the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and  Guidance in the book-fair aims to share experiences with the various participating publishing houses and scientific centers, and to support everything that serves Islamic work in general and advocacy in particular.

PHILIPPINES

Meets Saudi Shoura Council Speaker

Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, received the Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council, Dr. Abdullah al-Asheikh, and his accompanying delegation. Duterte conveyed his regards to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, underscoring strong bilateral relations. He welcomed Saudi businessmen and investors to contribute to the development of the Philippines, and expressed his country’s readiness to motivate Filipino businessmen to contribute and participate in Saudi mining projects. Al-Asheikh reiterated his government’s care for the Filipino community working in the Kingdom. During the meeting, bilateral relations were reviewed and issues of common concern discussed.

Steps Up Islamic banking to Foster Growth

Filipino Muslims will have access to a wider range of Islamic banking services under a new law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. The expansion of the Islamic banking system in the country will be carried out under the supervision of the Philippines Central Bank and its Monetary Board. Under the new law, conventional banks also will be allowed to engage in Islamic banking arrangements, providing they segregate the transactions from conventional business. The legislation is also expected to pave the way for the entry of foreign Islamic banks into the Philippines.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The Aga Khan Awards

The Aga Khan Awards for Architecture was established in 1977 by Aga Khan, the Muslim spiritual leader, to celebrate projects that successfully address the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence. The six front runners of the 2019 edition were announced this week with projects from two Gulf Cooperation Council countries – the UAE and Bahrain – in addition to Bangladesh, Palestine, Senegal and Russia being picked as winners. It is first time that the UAE and Bahrain have won recognition.

KUWAIT

The Real Friends of War-torn Syria

Kuwait and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations have teamed up to help farmers and herders in Syria recover from the setbacks dealt by war. This month, Kuwait contributed USD 3 million to benefit about 20,000 highly vulnerable people and their extended families by boosting their food security and nutrition situation. Kuwait is working with FAO to fight hunger and malnutrition and assist disaster-stricken communities in theNear East and North Africa (NENA) region and beyond, in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria.

SAUDI ARABIA

OIC Reiterates Status of Al-Quds and Holy Sites

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has renewed its support for the State of Palestine’s right to full sovereignty over Al-Quds City, the capital of Palestine, protect its Arab identity, preserve its Arab heritage, defend the sanctity of its holy sites and ensure inalienable rights in the city. The OIC, in a statement issued on the 50th anniversary of the arson attack on the Holy Mosques of Al-Aqsa, said that it comes while Israeli violations continue escalating against Al-Aqsa Mosque, restricting the freedom of access of Muslims to the mosque, continuous attacks on Muslims, worshippers inside its yards, closing its gates and enabling extremist settlers to storm its yards. The OIC called on the international community to work to bring Israel, the occupying power to abide by the principles of international law and resolutions and end its occupation of all the land of the occupied Palestinian state.

Grand Mosque Extension Nears Completion

A project to add more than 3,000 square meters of courtyard space near the Grand Mosque to Makkah is almost complete. The extension to the area will help control the movement of crowds near the mosque, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said. The expansion work involves the removal of a number of places designated or ablution and installing them under the stairs of the courtyard. The project aims to increase the capacity of the mosque and its surrounding coutyards to provide the best services to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.

Buraidah Date Festival

Buraidah is the capital of Al-Qassim region in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula. The region is known for its agricultural value to Saudi Arabia. In Buraidah, agriculture is still the cornerstone of the economy. Saudi Arabia has the highest number of date palm trees in the world, roughly accounting for 25% of the world’s date production. The Qassim region hosts more than eight million palm trees, which produce 205,000 tons of luxury dates annually that are exported regionally and internationally. The annual date festival is an important place to source products including syrup, paste and gift boxes that are used throughout the year.

Dar Al Madinah Museum

Dar Al Madinah Museum offers visitors the opportunity to view historical pieces associated with the Prophet’s life. It features artifacts that capture the history, heritage, social life, and culture of Madinah. The Museum’s Executive Director, Hassan Taher, said that it aims to promote the noble values of the Prophet Muhammad, encourage a sense of belonging and capture the history, culture and heritage of Madinah. The exhibit starts with the Prophet’s life and end with the Saudi era. The Museum has secured many important achievements,including the King Faisal International Prize for the service of Islamic studies and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Award on Studies and Research of the Arabian Peninsula History.

Mosque Construction Code Workshop

The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance concluded recently the Mosque Construction Code Workshop. It was held under the patronage of Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance. More than 150 construction specialists and academics from across the Kingdom participated. Themes discussed included urban planning and techniques for building mosques, architectural designs, operation and maintenance, and provisions and regulations regarding construction.

Donates USD2 million for Food Security

Saudi Arabia is to pump USD2 million into efforts to improve agricultural output and food security among Islamic states. Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Abdul rahman Al Fadhli, who is also Chairman of the General Assembly of the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS), said the contribution was aimed at enhancing the organization’s work and the adoption of food security strategies by all its member countries.

Discuss Ways to Promote Co-existence

The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Mohammed binAbdulkarim Al-Issa, met Joel Rosenberg, head of a delegation of evangelical Christian leaders in Jeddah. The meeting was held on the anniversary to discuss ways to promote international co-existence and harmony. In a joint statement, the MWL and the delegation stressed their common values and pledged to promote cooperation in this context. They stressed the need to renounce all forms of extremism and hatred, and work together to build bridges between peoples from all religions and cultures. The two sides agreed to establish and encourage programs and initiatives to combat hunger, poverty and disease.

Officials Urged to Promote Moderate Islam

The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdul Latif Al-Asheikh received the Bangladeshi Minister of Religious Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, in Jeddah. Abdullah was head of a delegation arriving in the Kingdom to participate in the 41st King Abdul Aziz International competition for memorizing, reciting and interpreting the Holy Qur’an. The Saudi Minister highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts to serve Islam, spread moderation, reject and fight extremism, and work for the unity of Muslims of all ranks throughout the world.

2019 Moderation Award

The General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, has been named the winner of the 2019 Moderation Award. Makkah Governor, Prince Khaled Al Faisal, made the announcement at a ceremony held in Jeddah. The award, in its third year, is considered one of the most important in promoting the values of moderation and combating extremism, both internally and externally. Al-Rabeeah has held thirteen positions that contributed to his selection for the Award, most notably Minister of Health, and pediatric surgery consultant, a role in which he performed 47 operations for conjoined twins from 20 countries. After taking over as General Supervisor of KSRelief, Al Rabeeah oversaw 176 projects in 37 countries including key areas such as food security, health, water, sanitation, education, women, children, vaccination and shelter.

OIC States Renew Call for Action

Members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have condemned Israel for its continued plans to annex more parts of Palestine. Speaking at an emergency meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Foreign Minister, Ibrahim al-Assaf, called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities regarding the ongoing Israeli violations against the Palestinian people. He also said that any announcements or actions on the matter by Israel were null and void.

JORDAN

MPs Call for Action to Defend Al-Aqsa

Jordan’s Parliament wants to scrap the country’s peace treaty with Israel, expel the Israeli ambassador, recall Jordan’s envoy to Tel Aviv and halt all normalization with Israel. Members held an emergency session to urge the government to take a  tough line with Israel, amid tension over Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.  Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told MPs the Israelis had been given a stern warning. The accepted status of Al Aqsa is that anyone may visit but only Muslims may pray there. However, there are growing demands for change by extreme right wing Jewish nationalists.

EGYPT

International Conference for Islamic Affairs

Sheikh Nafiullah Ashyrov, Grand Mufti and Head of the Central Religious Department of the Muslims of the Asian Section in the Russian Federation, called on Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister, Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, at his residence in Cairo. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 30th international Conference of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf. The Saudi minister affirmed the keenness of Saudi leadership in playing a role in uniting the ranks of Muslims. Al-Asheikh said the meeting aims to strengthen communication with influencers in the Muslim world to exchange views and increase cooperation.

TURKEY

Rolls Up the Welcome Mat

For eight years, Turkey has absorbed waves of refugees representing the full gamut of Syrian society. But in recent months, the Syrians who number 3.6 million have seen the government’s attitude toward them sour over falling popularity and election setbacks. In July, Ankara announced that all Syrians should comply with the Temporary Protection Regulation – which states refugees should live in the provinces they were officially registered. There are 370,000 Turkey’s non-Syrian refugee population. 400,000 Syrian children refugees are not going to school in Turkey.

IRAQ

Work on Landmark Mosul Mosque to begin in 2020: UN

UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, said that a landmark reconstruction of Iraq’s Al Nouri Mosque in Mosul, which was blown up by Daesh in 2017, will start at the beginning of next year. First launched in 2018, the mosque restoration plan will be the most eye-catching part of a USD100 million UNESCO-led heritage reconstruction of Mosul. Revive the Spirit of Mosul, is the largest restoration plan in Iraqi history, and comes two years after the old city’s destruction at the hands of extremists. Mosul is a city still very much in ruins with no meaningful international efforts to rebuild –one that is still struggling with basic services like electricity, water and health care.

ITALY

Islam Cannot be Reduced to Political Goals

The Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, inaugurated the Muslim World League’s pavilion at an exhibition held on the sidelines of the 40th edition of the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples in Rimini, Italy. The MWL is the first Islamic Organization to take part in the international fair, which registered more than one million visitors. In a speech, Al Issa underlined the dangers of political Islam, noting that some movements try to achieve their political objectives through exploiting the Muslim religion and playing on emotion, so as to deceive and encourage people, especially younger people, to commit harm.

FRANCE

Peace and Solidarity Conference

Religious leaders from more than 40 countries took part in an international “Peace and Solidarity Conference” in Paris, hosted by the Muslim World League (MWL) and the Foundation for Islam in France. The event, the first of its kind, brought together Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders from around the world.  Speakers at the Forum emphasized the need to challenge ideologies that threaten peace by provoking racial and discriminatory strife. MWL Secretary-General, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al Issa, told the conference that extremistshold on to imaginary ideas stemming from a misunderstanding of the past and present. The MWL is keen to raise awareness inside and outside the Islamic world, including urging Muslims in Europe to respect the laws of the countries in which they live, he said. All religious leaders agreed that they will encourage mutual understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims in France. The Organizations, in partnership with the Foundation for Islam in France, declared their commitment to the principle of freedom and to educating young people.

ARGENTINA

Visits King Fahd Center in Buenos Aires

Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General, Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Muajab, visited the King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Saudi Press Agency reported. He toured the Center and was briefed on its departments, activities and programs. He also visited the Center’s mosque and school and met a number of students of different nationalities. He expressed his thanks to those in charge of the Center, who are trying to spread the teachings of Islam and to renounce extremism, working to highlight the status and civilization of the Kingdom to visitors.

CHECHENYA

Meets the President for Opening of Mosque

Chechen President,Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov, received the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, at the Presidential palace in Grozny. The Minister was heading the Kingdom’s delegation at the opening of the Fakhr Al-Muslimeen Mosque, the largest in Europe.  Al–Asheikh praised the design and construction of the mosque, hoping that it will be a beacon of guidance to spread the moderate teachings of Islam. The marble decorated mosque has a capacity of more than 30,000 people. The mosque, which was built on the highest Islamic architecture consists of two floors and has been described by the Chechen authorities as the largest and most beautiful mosque in Europe, according to Reuter’s report. The mosque grounds, planted with flowers and sprinkled with fountains, can host an additional 70,000 worshippers, local authorities said.

COMPILED BY: SYED NEHAL ZAHEER