Islamic Voice
Rabi-ul-Akhir 1422H
July 2001
Volume 15-07 No:175

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NEWS FROM ISLAMIC WORLD


Hijab Option for London Cops
Islamic Trade Fair: Call to Forge Economic Unity
Charles Opens Muslim Culture Centre
Al-Rajhi Investment Fund for Women
Saudi Arabian Banks: 70 % Deposits Held by Women
Church Opened in UAE
'Discover Islam' Channel on Internet
10 Million Street Children in Arab World
2 Muslim MPs in House of Commons
Social Service Award
Talibans Ban on Opium
Quran Translation in Hebrew Planned
Azhar Academy: Qur'an Not a Panacea for all Diseases
Borno State Adopts Sharia
IDB to Fund Kazakhstan
Islamic Games in 2005
Oman's First Coop. Bank
Largest Arab Publisher Moving Base to Dubai
Protest Over Negative Media Portrayal
Canadian Law Against Charities
Study on Muslim Minorities
World's Refugee Problem Getting Worse

Hijab Option for London Cops

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London: The Metropolitan Police in the city of London has accepted Hijab as a uniform option for Muslim women serving in police. The announcement was made previous month at a conference on the theme of “Protect and Respect: Everybody’s Benefit”. The move is seen as a further sign of British administration accepting Britain as a religiously diverse society where faith related accommodations should be made for all individuals.

The Muslim media in Britain had argued for accepting Hijab as a uniform option just as turban was accepted as a part of the uniform for Sikh policemen and the exemption from helmet wearing for Sikh two-wheeler riders. The Muslim women police cops would now be allowed to wear headscarf and the ankle length gown. As part of accommodations, Muslim cops will now be allowed to pray on duty, demand halal food and have altered meal schedule during Ramadan.

In the above picture two models Shahnaz Shashudin and Syria Hussain are modeling hijab uniform for women police constable in front of New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police.

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Islamic Trade Fair

Call to Forge Economic Unity

Jeddah: Nearly 190 firms from 36 Asian, Arab and African states attended the First Islamic Trade Fair held here between June 9 and 14 jointly organized by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). The products on display covered agriculture, food, textiles, industrial machinery, household appliances, carpets, furniture, traditional products and wood industries.

Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali who spoke to the press at the end of the Fair, said the IDB had embarked on a plan to raise trade dealings by three per cent annually to 13 per cent by the year 2003 between Muslim countries. It has allocated $ 2 billion to finance trade operations among its member states during 2001. The current volume of their collective trade does not exceed $39 billion or 10 per cent of overall OIC trade with the rest of the world.

The fact that the majority of OIC member states attended the fair despite the huge logistical and procedural obstacles was in itself an achievement, they said.

The fair was opened with a call from Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guards, on Muslim states to forge economic unity in order to face the challenges of globalization.

Some countries like the Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan, which wanted to exhibit heavy machinery including power-generating units, could not bring in their equipment for logistical considerations and had to settle for distributing literature. The Israeli occupation authorities prevented Palestinian businessmen from attending. One delegate from the Comoro Islands complained that businesswomen from his country could not make it to the Kingdom because of visa regulations since they needed a mahram, or a close male relative, to accompany them. Some 400 economists from the Muslim world also participated in the Fair.

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Charles Opens Muslim Culture Centre

Naushina M Somji

London: Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre (MCHC) in west London was inaugurated by Prince Charles on May 17.

The Centre, which was formerly a British Rail siding, has today been transformed into a two-storey building with facilities for both men and women, and addresses a variety of needs such as social care and welfare, culture and heritage, education and training, as well as spiritual care and welfare. MCHC’s Deputy Director Bashir Ebrahim-Khan, said : “Through social care, the MCHC aims to involve women and men over 55 years of age, by offering them counselling and advocacy in relation to youth work , and offering information on health issues.” “The culture and heritage of the Muslims is to be retained and enhanced through reference libraries, supplementary schools, conference and multi-purpose halls, in addition to landscape garden areas”, Ebrahim-Khan added.

The Centre will also offer the community career guidance, information technology and computer training facilities, help for children through the homework club which is already established, as well as croche facilities. According to the local leader of the Council. Richard Walker-Arnott the “greatest contribution came from UAE. and Morocco. Abdulkarim Khalil is the director of the center.

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Al-Rajhi Investment Fund for Women

Riyadh: Rajhi Banking and Investment Corporation has launched the Saudi Arabia’s first investment fund for women, targeting some 215,000 businesswomen in the country. The move reflects the trend of 10 Saudi commercial banks to increase their services for women.

Al-Rajhi said the new fund named Al-Jowhara was a solution to the problems faced by women investors as the fund would help promote their assets “in a way that suits their expectations, in complete privacy offered by our women-only branches.” The fund will conform to Shariah in its transactions.

Abdul Rahman Al-Eidan, manager of banking services at the company, said the new fund would be a mix of existing funds that cover various business sectors such as trading in goods and currencies, and investments in stocks.

Sixty-three branches of Al-Rajhi out of a total of 160 across the Kingdom are women’s only - the largest for any commercial bank in the Kingdom. The number of female workers in the Kingdom rose from 55,000 in 1993 to 215,000 in 1999. The figure represents only 5.8 per cent of total Saudi women in the working age whose number has reached 4.7 million. Women accounts for 49 per cent of the country’s population and contribute three per cent of the gross domestic product.

There are 130 investment funds in the Kingdom which invest in various businesses including trade, stocks, bonds, and currencies. A total of 91,000 people have so far invested in these funds. The total assets of these funds jumped from SR12 billion in 1994 to SR38 billion, which is eight per cent of total bank assets in the country.

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Saudi Arabian Banks

70 % Deposits Held by Women

Riyadh: Women hold bank deposits worth $11.5 billion in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, or 70 per cent of the total value of current accounts, newspaper Al Watan reported last month.

Researcher Ms. Amal al-Teejani, an economics professor at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, found that Saudi women also hold 20 per cent of equity in shareholding companies, 15 per cent of individual establishments and 10 per cent of land.

The professor told Al-Watan that 34 per cent of private businesses in Riyadh, 25.6 per cent in Jeddah and 5.58 per cent in Makkah, were owned by women. Jeddah alone has 4,000 businesswomen, she said.

Although their job prospects are restricted mainly to the health and education sectors because of a strict segregation of the sexes, some openings have emerged in recent years.

Saudi women observe Hijab in public and are not permitted to travel without the approval of a husband or father or eat alone in a restaurant, but they are allowed to run their own businesses.

Under Islamic law, most women in Saudi Arabia make their wealth from inheritances but they are not active on the work or investment fronts, keeping their money in bank accounts.

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Church Opened in UAE

Jebel Ali: The new church complex of Mar Ignatius Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church in Jebel Ali Village was consecrated by Moran Mor Igantius Zakka I Iwas, the Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church at a two-day ceremony in June.

The patriarch thanked the Dubai government for allotting the land for the parish free of cost. The work on the church complex, dedicated to the late Moran Mor Ignatius Elias III, was started in October last year. The double-storeyed complex houses the church hall on the first floor and a multi-purpose prayer hall, parsonage and utilities room on the ground floor. The hall has a capacity to accommodate 1,200 people.

The consecration ceremony was attended by church leaders from India and Syria including Thomas Mar Dionysius, Catholicate-designate of the Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church, Abraham Mar Clemis, chief metropolitan of the East; Joseph Mar Gregorios, metropolitan for Cochin diocese and the UAE; Bennyamin Joseph Mar Osthatheos, metropolitan of Simhasana Church; and Kuriakose Mor Julious, first secretary of Syrian Orthodox Patriarch.

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'Discover Islam' Channel on Internet

07discoverislam.jpgBahrain: Discover Islam Centre, a Bahrain based Islamic organization has announced the trial launching of its English speaking Live TV transmission service.

This transmission over the internet will be the first of its kind in the Islamic world with the aim to present Islam with a variety of programmes like scientific miracles of Quran, historical documentaries, debates and interviews with renowned scholars from the Western world.

Launching of ‘The Discover Islam TV’ comes as a fulfilment of a long-felt need in this field worldwide and with the help of various institutions in the field of media and computer software development.

Round the clock trial live transmission televised though the INET, would continue for a specific time period until the official launching is announced. The new channel can be seen on : www.discoverislam.net

For further inquiries please call Discvoer Islam Centre, Chairman, Ishaq Rashid Kooheji, Ph: 00973 9624962, Fax: 00973 533244, Bahrain.

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10 Million Street Children in Arab World

Cairo: Between seven and 10 million children live on the streets of Arab cities, making their living through begging or selling small items, a Cairo-based non-governmental organization has revealed in a survey.

The Arab Council for Children and Development (ACCD), which is chaired by Saudi billionaire businessman Prince Talal ibn Abdel Aziz, said in a statement that it plans to organize fundraisers to finance NGO projects that support street children. Arab governments offer no official statistics on what percentage of their 266 million inhabitants are street children — those who have no fixed address nor under parental care — let alone on child labour.

In Egypt, street children survive on begging or selling knick-knacks, often under the direction of gang leaders.

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2 Muslim MPs in House of Commons

London: Only two out of 27 Muslim candidates were elected to the British House of Common in June 10 elections. Former MP Muhammad Sarwar was returned from Govan seat in Scotland with an increased majority while Khalid Mahmood has become Britain’s second Muslim MP after successfully defending the seat vacated by former Social Security Minister Jeff Rooker. Mahmood is a former city councilor, who originally hails from Jammu and Kashmir.

Council of Britain (MCB) prepared a document entitled Electing to Listen which presents the concerns and demands of thetwo-million-strong British Muslim community. The issues raised involve the family, the institution of marriage, open funding for Muslim schools, which would raise their educational level. The MCB asked Muslim voters to extract some commitment from their prospective MP.

Amir Bhatia in Lords: Noted businessman and philanthropist Amir Bhatia figures in the list of 15 new peers nominated for the House of Lords by the British Queen. A former trustee of Oxfam, Bhatia is from Tanzania and is the co founder of Ethnic Minority Foundation. He is also involved in health and education in London as a trustee of St. Christopher’s Hospice. He was earlier conferred the Order of British Empire(OBE).

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Social Service Award

Abu Dhabi: An Abu Dhabi based Indian businessman has won an award in Kerala for his contributions to society. P. K. Abdul Kalam, managing director of Scheme Establishment, an oil field supplies and projects company, has won Kerala’s prestigious Umm Al Maumineen Award for the year 2000-2001 as the best social worker.

The selection to honour the 58-year old businessman was made through a poll conducted among expatriate Keralites. He was selected for the award, not only as a successful businessman, but also for his remarkable contributions to the common cause of the society. The award comprising Indian Rupees 10,001 and a certificate of commendation.

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Talibans Ban on Opium

Washington D.C.: The Talibans ban on opium farming has reduced the three-fourths of the opium supply into the world market. This has been stated in a report by the team of experts from the US Department of Drugs Control. The Talibans had slapped the ban on opium farming early last year. It may be recalled that 75 per cent of the world opium was cultivated in Afghanistan which is supposed to offer the most suitable climate and soil for opium cultivation.

The report by the two-member team headed by Department’s Administrator for Intelligence Steven Castell says that the world’s largest crop of opium has at once been eliminated with a single stroke decision of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.

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Quran Translation in Hebrew Planned

Madinah: The King Fahd Quran Printing Complex here is planning to publish a translation of the Holy Quran in Hebrew. Hebrew is the ancient language of Jews and one of the three official languages of the state of Israel. The complex’s higher council decided to bring out the new translation after media reports that Israel was printing and distributing distorted translation of the holy book.

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Azhar Academy

Qur'an Not a Panacea for all Diseases

Cairo, IINA: Sheikh Sayyid Wafa, secretary-general of the Azhar’s Academy for Islamic Research, has said that the academy flatly disapproves of the assertion that are made in cassettes and books to the effect that the Holy Qur’an is cure all for diseases.

He said these publications are of doubtful veracity, and their authors are merely out to dupe the simple-minded people and make a quick buck in the process.

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Borno State Adopts Sharia

Maiduguri, IINA: The Borno State of Nigeria adopted the Islamic Shari’a on June 1. All hotels and entertainment centers have made preparation for the full implementation of the Islamic legal code, the agency added. But the Shari’a would not apply to the non-Muslim sections of the state’s population, according to an official of the State Shari’a Implementation Committee.

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IDB to Fund Kazakhstan

Jeddah, IINA: The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has signed an agreement for financing a commercial complex in Kazakhstan from the Islamic Banks Fund, which is run by the IDB. The Fund was set up under a Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) that was singed by 20 Islamic Banks in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1987 with an initial capitalization of US$ 100 million. The capital was later raised to US$ 380 million. The Fund started to operate in 1988, and has to date financed 206 projects to the tune of US$ 2.7 billion.

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Islamic Games in 2005

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia will host the first Islamic Games in 2005, according to Prince Sultan bin Fahd who acts as the country’s sports minister.

Sultan, speaking at a press conference, said the aim of the new Games was to raise the level of sporting ability througout the Islamic world. He added Iran would organize the 2009 event and Syria the following one in 2013.

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Oman's First Coop. Bank

Muscat, IINA: The first bank specifically meant for the poor has been set up in Oman, and its objective is to extend loans to the poor, to enable them to build their own houses.

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Largest Arab Publisher Moving Base to Dubai

Dubai: world’s second largest publishing house and largest pan-Arab publisher has announced that it is moving its operational base from Saudi Arabia to Dubai Media City.

Saudi Research and Publishing Company, which brings out the leading daily newspapers Asharq Al Awsat, Malayalam News and Urdu News among others, will move its entire printing and publishing operations to Dubai Media City, Abdul Rehman Al Rashid, Chief Editor of Asharq Al Awsat,.

We believe our presence in Dubai, the centre of media activity, is essential to promote our growth and stay ahead of the competition. The cosmopolitan environment in Dubai is ideal for a company representing multi-language publications with varying markets.”

He said he foresaw a 100 per cent increase in circulation and a jump in advertising revenues because of the move, adding Dubai’s highly developed shipping facilities would allow ease of distribution and give the dailies a much advantageous deadline. Asharq Al Awsat is shipped from Dammam to Bahrain and then flown to other Gulf countries. Dubai’s flexibility, the supportive infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology provided by Dubai Media City, easy access to information, will all benefit us tremendously,” he said.

He said the company had no plans to base the operations of their popular English daily published from Saudi Arabia, Arab News, in Dubai, and planned printing an edition of Asharq Al Awsat in London. “We will also have editions modified for our readership in Jeddah and Riyadh, Jordan, Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, Morocco and other Arab cities.”

Helmi Zahid, Executive Director of SRPC, said the company had successful sister companies based in the UAE such as Emirates Printing and Publishing and Al Khaleejia and their expansion plans in the UAE would accommodate several other key projects.

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Protest Over Negative Media Portrayal

Dar-es-Salaam, IINA: The Muslim Students Association of the University of Dar-es-Salaam (MSAUD) has protested over the negative portrayal of Muslims in radio and TV dramas here. In a statement issued here, MSAUD said the media was linking witchcraft with Muslims even though witchcraft was contrary to the teachings of Islam.

The statement added that the practice of witchcraft has also been associated with the usage of Arabic words related to Islam. The Muslim students have further urged the stations to stop portraying conmen as actors with Muslim ways of dressing.

According to the statement, the dramas have also been showing actors with Muslim names as uncouth and uncultured people.

Muslims form more than 50 per cent of the Tanzanian population and over the recent times they have increasingly complained on being marginalized in the public affairs in favour of Christians. In another development, Muslim institutions in this Muslim city have cautioned over the gradual trend of Christianizing Muslim funerals. The Secretary General of the based Muzdalifah International Islamic Charitable Organization (MICO), Sheikh Jumanne Athumani Kasonso told IINA here that his organization plans to build three mortuaries for Muslims here, in order to check the trend of mixing Muslim funerals with non-Muslim ones.

Sheikh Kasonso, mentioned the growing trend of paying last respects to the dead person, unnecessary preservation of the dead body before burial, making speeches at the burial place and the free mixing of men and women at the funeral places were imitations from Christians.

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Canadian Law Against Charities

Washington, IINA: The Canada Chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has launched a media and political campaign against the proposed law which, if passed by the Canadian Parliament, would give the government powers to use secret evidence to indict charities that it is, directly or indirectly, aiding a terrorist group.

Although the government seeks to preserve the credibility of humanitarian and charitable work in Canada, CAIR fears that the law might threaten freedoms, because of the secret nature of the evidence to be used against any such organization, as happened in the US when a similar law was passed. Now there is a strong move to repeal that law in the US, because it is regarded as unconstitutional.

The secret evidence could at times be no more than a political allegation made against a given organization by another organization, foreign or local, that has an axe to grind against the accused Canadian organization.

In addition to all the above, CAIR is of the opinion that the proposed law would be harmful to the Muslims of Canada specifically, including their humanitarian and charitable organizations, because it would introduce elements that are negative, such ethnicity, in the decision making process of the Canadian Government visa-a-vis the relief and charitable organizations. The end result would be that the Islamic charitable and humanitarian organizations would bear the brunt of wrong decision, particularly in view of the erroneous impression that has been created in the West about Islam.

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Study on Muslim Minorities

Jeddah, IINA: A scientific study highlighting the problems of Muslim minorities and the Islamic Daawa in Europe has been published, and one of its recommendations is that more attention should be paid to the setting up of Islamic schools, scientific institution for them, and the setting aside of a certain number of scholarships in the universities of Islamic countries for the Muslim minorities to take advantage of.

The study is by Dr. Tawfiq Abdul Aziz Al-Sudairy, and also recommends the setting up of social institutions in those countries where there are Muslim minorities, whose purpose should be to deal with the social and domestic problems confronting the Muslims in those countries.

The study also recommends the translation of suitable Islamic books and distributing them to those minorities, so that they are aware of the principles and practices of their faith. Dr. Sudairy also calls in his study for an increase in the number of visits made by Muslim scholars to those minorities, and activate the institutions that exist in the countries they visit, so that they could play their rightful and proper role in serving the Muslim minorities in their respective countries.

He also called for taking advantage of the existing channels of mass communication, and reach out to those minorities in the various European countries.

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World's Refugee Problem Getting Worse

Karachi, IINA: Wars, environmental disasters, tribal clashes, civil wars, and poverty are among the main reasons for the increase in the number of refugees in general, and Muslim refugees in particular, in the world. The Muslim refugees represent a humanitarian problem of immense proportions, in that they suffer from lack of proper accommodation, nutrition, clothing and an increase in the spread of diseases in their midst. Statistics show that 80 per cent of the world’s refugees are Muslims.

The refugees represent a tremendous problem to the countries they of their refuge, particularly when a country already lacks resources, such as Bangladesh which currently provides shelter to thousands of Muslims who were expelled from Burma.

The Muslims in the Balkans also represented such a problem, particularly in Kosovo and Macedonia, from where they were displaced by ethnic conflicts. Then there are the Chechen refugees who live outside their homes, due to the ongoing war in their own country. Furthermore, there are a number of other areas in which the Muslims are subjected to persecution and expulsion, such as in Kashmir and the Philippines. In the same vein, Yemen has a huge refugee problem, in that it is housing refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia and other countries from the Horn of Africa countries. According to statistics provided by the UN’s High Commission for Refugees’ Sanaa office, there are now over 70,000 refugees living in Yemen.

Of the total number, over 51,000 are from Somalia, 2,674 from Eritrea, 946 from Ethiopia, and 87 from Sudan, but all of them suffer from one problem or another, topmost of which are the various health problems. Cases of aids so far discovered number 1,250, but they also suffer from malnutrition and poverty in general, because what they get from internationalallocations is not more than US$50 a month for each, plus 3.5 kgs of flour, 600 grams of sugar, 180 grams of beans, and 670 grams of cooling oil each month.

A number of charitable organizations in Europe and in the Arab Gulf have been helping in extending humanitarian aid to the refugees. Take the war in Sudan. It has forces thousands to flee to the Ethiopia, while another 3,000,000 of its southern region nationals fled to the north of the country, because of the war.

In Pakistan, there are hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees, while Kurdish refugees can found in all parts of Europe. Iran is said to be the country with the highest number of refugees, in that there are hundreds of thousands of refugees from Iraq and from Afghanistan.

In Turkey also, there are refugees from Iraq, Kurdistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, while in Italy there is a very large of Muslim refugees, mostly from Albania, Kosovo, Iraq, Turkey, and Kurdistan.

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