Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

March 2007
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The Muslim World

Islamic Attire for Malaysian Sports Women
Kuala Lumpur:(IINA)


Malaysia’s northern state of Kelantan has offered to sponsor an Islamic attire for Malaysian women taking part in the upcoming Malaysian Games. “The sports attire will be an alternative to the ones worn by Muslim athletes presently,” said State Women, Youth and Sports Committee chairman, Abdul Patah Mahmood. He added that the outfits will encourage more Muslim women to take part in sports. Kelantan’s chief minister, Nik Abdul Aziz said Islam encourages women to practice sports. “As long as navels are not exposed and they are clad in decent Islamic attire, there is no issue,” he said. “I want women here to become torch-bearers for Muslim women globally,” said Abdul Aziz. “If Kelantanese women can qualify for the Olympics, why not? We should encourage it. However, if they are Muslims, they must don the proper attire,” he said. Kelantan recently hosted the first Malaysian All-Women Games and 1,200 women athletes participated in the events.



Flags on Mosques
Sydney


Senior Muslim leaders have called for the Australian flag to be flown outside the nation’s mosques as an expression of the Muslim community’s “loyalty” and commitment to the country. Muslim clerics urged Australia’s 300,000 Muslims to back the idea as a symbol of “integration” and pride. “Even in Muslim countries in the mosque, they fly the national flag, such as in Pakistan. If that can be done in a Muslim country, why not in Australia?”, said former chairman of the Prime Minister’s Muslim reference group, Dr. Ameer Ali. “We are Australian Muslims,” he said. “And it (the flag) is a symbol of our national identity.” Muslim leader Keysar Trad said some community members would consider the idea of displaying the flag as “politicising a place of worship”. “I have no problem with the flag being at Muslim schools, but a place of worship is for all people to be equal and as such I believe places of worship should maintain the tradition of not raising the national flag,” he said.

Iraqi Children Get “Survival” Lessons
Ramadi: (Iraq)


Along with maths, science and geography, Iraqi children are now required to learn a vital subject that could save their lives in the war-torn country: hiding and taking precautionary measures when a bomb hits their seats of learning. The raging violence and sometimes indiscriminate bombings have made such lessons a must. A report published by UNICEF says: “The current insecurity is making the choice for families to send their children to school a life-threatening one in some areas.” “Children need more protection, both within and outside of school walls,” the report said, warning that “Iraq’s school system is now dangerously vulnerable. Many children have been killed, traumatized or maimed for life. More than 2,00,000 children have left school in Iraq since 2004.

First Tamazight Translation of Quran
Algiers


In an effort to promote Islam among the sizable Berber community, Algerian authorities have released a new translation of the Qur’an in the Berber language, Tamazight. The Algerian Religious Affairs Ministry funded the printing of 6,000 copies of a full translation carried out by its experts, while Saudi Arabia financed the printing of 5,000 more copies. All copies were distributed for free and the ministry plans to print more. Berbers form around 20% of Algeria’s 33 million population. Most live in the northern region of Kabylie. Berbers were the original inhabitants of North Africa before the arrival of Arabs in the seventh century. There are around 20 million speakers of Tamazight across North Africa. Algiers says the move came in response to the increasing need of the Berber community to fully understand the meanings of the Quran.

German Sculptor's Kabah Cube
Hamburg



German authorities have given the go-ahead to German sculptor Gregor Schneider to showcase a cube reminiscent of Kabah, in Hamburg. Schneider’s replica is 13 meters long and wide. “I wanted to introduce to people worldwide the oldest place of worship,” Schneider said, referring to it as one of the most breathtaking buildings worldwide. The sculptor said he made several attempts to take his cube to the Venice Biennale and St Mark Square in Italy, but authorities rejected his requests for “security and political reasons.” There are some 3.2 million Muslims in Germany and Islam comes third after Protestant and Catholic Christianity. Some German Muslims have hailed Schneider’s work and refused to call it offensive. “Islam is not against such pieces of art,” Chairman of the Higher Council for Muslims in Germany, Nadim Elias said. “Muslims will not consider this work offensive,” added Ahmed Yazgi, a member of the Federation of Muslim Communities in Northern Germany.
French Court Backs Muslim School
Lyon


A French court in Lyon has overturned a decision by the city’s top educational authority to close a Muslim secondary school. “Justice is served,” the school’s principal Nazir Hakim said. The school’s administration had decried the closure decision as indicative of rising Islamophobia in France. The school is to open three classes by March 2007 and will mainly teach state curricula in addition to Quran, jurisprudence, Islamic civilization and history. Private Muslim schools are an urgent demand by many Muslim families in France, especially after the state banned hijab and religious symbols at public schools. In July 2003, the French government approved the establishment of Ibn Rushd school in Lille, which became the first secondary Muslim school in France. France is home to some six to seven million Muslims, the largest Muslim minority in Europe.



Muslim Pilgrims' Club in Kazan
Kazan: (IINA)


A Club of Muslim Pilgrims has opened in Kazan, capital of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, with the well-known entrepreneur, Farit Miftakhov as its chairman. Leaders of the Tataristan Muslim Religious Board attended the first meeting of the club recently. The Chairman of the Board, Mufti Gusman Khazrat Iskhakov noted that about 19000 Russian Muslims performed Haj this year. The Club members plan to establish a Haj Centre in Tatarstan for organisation of pilgrimage to the sacred sites.

Charity Campaign to Save Al Aqsa Mosque
Doha: (IINA)


A charity campaign has been launched in Qatar to make people aware of what is happening to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Sheikh Eid Charity Foundation has released a brochure as part of the campaign. The brochure said that the Israeli authorities are digging a tunnel below the mosque thus endangering it. The Foundation hopes to collect signatures of at least a million Muslims from all over the world to help save the shrine. The petition will be forwarded to the United Nations.

14% of Madinah Residents Live in Poverty
Jeddah


About 14.2% of families in Greater Madinah, which includes villages surrounding the holy city, live below the poverty line, according to a recent report. The report pointed out that Madinah has one of the highest unemployment rates in the Kingdom, with the number of unemployed men reaching 16.7% and women 26.8%. 55.9% of people in the region live in rented buildings while 42.4% live in their own houses. The crime rate in the Madinah region has dropped to 1.8% against the national average of 3.6%. In divorce cases, Madinah still holds a leading position with 31.26%. Illiteracy among men in the region was 4.43% against the national average of 11.1%, and among women, 11.85% against the national average of 28.9% .The number of Saudi Arabia’s poor is estimated at about 1.2 million. As part of the efforts to fight poverty, King Abdullah has allocated SR10 billion to construct 64,000 low-income dwellings in the next four years for hundreds of Saudi families who live in makeshift buildings and slums in various parts of the country.

Culture of Hatred
Riyadh: (IINA)


Several Islamic scholars have called for the creation of a mechanism to advocate Islam and its tenets and respond to the allegations labeling Islam as a religion of violence and hatred. The scholars were speaking at a symposium titled, “The World and the Culture of Hatred” organised in Riyadh on the sidelines of the annual National Festival for Culture and Heritage, organised by the Saudi National Guard. In his paper, the Mufti of Mount Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammad Ali Al Jouzou said that hatred is not confined to a certain area of the world, but can be seen in almost all parts of the globe. He attributed this phenomenon to ignorance, misunderstanding and racial attitudes.

Islamic Trade Finance Corporation Launched
Jeddah


The official launching ceremony of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), an affiliate of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB), was held in Jeddah on February 24. Economy and Finance Ministers of the 56 IDB member countries and heads of financial institutions attended the general assembly meeting of the ITFC. ITFC has an initial capital of $300 million and will be headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It is aimed at boosting the economic development of member countries by enhancing regional trade. It will provide more resources to the IDB to finance exports and investments and secure necessary guarantees that will facilitate greater trade exchange regionally.

Two Million Afghan Refugees in Pakistan
Lahore


A four-month drive to officially register Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan ended with more than two million of them registering with the Pakistani government, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The newly registered refugees, numbering 2,161,984, now hold Proof of Registration cards which are valid until the end of 2009 and recognize them as Afghan citizens temporarily living in Pakistan. Three out of five registered were women and children under five years of age. Afghans without these cards, who are considered illegal migrants by the Pakistani government, will have a six-week time between March 1 and April 15 to voluntarily return to their homeland with UNHCR’s assistance.

Iran's Anti-AIDS Medicine
Tehran: (IINA)


Secretary of the Iranian Pharmacists Society, Saeed Vaqefi has announced that the newly discovered Iranian herbal medicine for HIV/AIDS is set to enter the domestic market within two months. The official revealed that the Iranian government was planning certain financial measures to give AIDS victims access to the medicine, free of charge. The medicine, called IMOD, was developed from locally grown medicinal plants by young Iranian scientists in 15 different research centres.


The drug, which has been tested on 200 volunteer patients, is effective in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS virus in the blood system and increases an infected person’s immunity.

Ahlat Nominated for World Heritage List
Istanbul


Turkey has nine historical sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Currently, work has begun, to add the Seljuk Cemetery, located in the Bitlis Ahlat province, to the list of properties on the World Heritage List. The cemetery is home to 8,000 four metre-high tombstones dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Ahlat Mayor, Mevlüt Gülmez said the ministry was carrying out work in the region for the world’s largest Muslim cemetery, now an open-air museum, to be included on the World Heritage List.