Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

November 2006
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The Muslim World

'Tash' or Not to 'Tash' Critics Launch Website

Since it started 14 years ago, the sitcom “Tash Ma Tash” on Saudi Television Channel has become an institution of sorts. But like all satire, the show has critics as well as supporters. And both sides of the debate are watching intently either to laugh or to be outraged. A group of the show’s detractors have now launched, hosted by Saudi lawyer Farraj bin Ali Al-Okalaa, who is calling for a boycott of the programme on the basis that it is making fun of Islam and of religious people. This year the show has broken new ground in Saudi satire and the show’s two best-known actors, Nasser Al-Qasabi and Abdullah Sedhan, have become national stars with comedy sketches that have boldly lampooned social issues related to gender, the justice system, and even the moral police.

World Heritage Sites

Saudi Arabia has selected three sites as the first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites in the Kingdom. The sites are the ancient Nabatean city of Madain Saleh, Jeddah’s historic center and Riyadh’s Al-Dirriyah neighbourhood. The elevation of any cultural or natural wonder to the status of World Heritage Site is a source of national pride. The Kingdom is working hard to promote tourism. For towns and heritage sites, tourism provides jobs and brings in foreign currency. Madain Saleh and Al-Dirriyah are largely undeveloped. The World Heritage status might earn them a large number of tourists. In the event of such an occurrence, very carefully considered and researched conservation measures will have to be implemented in order to preserve the essence of the sites.

Iranian Researchers Produce New Gasoline Additive

Researchers at the Iran Petrochemical and Polymer Research Institute (IPPRI) have produced a new metal-free additive for gasoline that can increase the gasoline’s octane, according to Tehran Times. Dr Morteza Ehsani, head of the Polymer Technology Growth Center of IPPRI, said that this discovery has the advantage over all other additives in that it is added to gasoline in a lower density. He went on to say that current conventional gasoline additives, that is MTBE (methyl-tert-butyl-ether) is added to gasoline at a concentration of 5 per cent to 10 per cent. In contrast, by adding some 0.06 percent of the new additive more satisfactory results can be achieved. Dr Ehsani also noted that its ability to decrease environmental pollution, increase the efficiency of car engines, economy and easy-to-produce qualities are other advantages of the new gasoline additive.

He concluded by saying that the Polymer Technology Growth Center has 30 technology units which welcome new ideas regarding polymer engineering, petrochemistry and pharmaceutics.

Haj, Umrah College

The Ummul Qura University here has set up the foundation of its new Umrah and Haj College, which will award bachelor, Masters and doctorate degrees in Haj and Umrah services. The University aims to graduate trained personnel who specialise in Umrah and Haj services and later work in the sector. It is expected that 1000 students will enroll in the college in the first year of its opening. Naser Bin Abdullah Al Saleh, rector of Ummul Qura University, has already ordered the formation of a committee to pursue the foundation of the new college besides working out a curriculum for it. He pointed out the college is set to receive the first batch of students in the year 2007 stressing that boys and girls will be allowed to enroll in the college.

World Islamic Economic Forum

The second session of the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF), will begin here on November 5, and will discuss the major challenges facing the Muslim World. The three-day event is being organised by the WIEF Foundation in cooperation with the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade.

About 800 delegates from within Pakistan and several other countries are expected to take part in the forum, which will be held at Islamabad’s Jinnah Convention Center. The main objective of the Forum is to provide a platform for healthy interaction between rulers, businessmen and the public for the benefit of the Muslims throughout the world. The Forum will also provide an opportunity to promote business and investment opportunities and exchange of ideas with Muslim and non-Muslim entrepreneurs.

US Muslim Candidate Defended
Los Amigos

Religious, civic and ethnic leaders rallied on the steps of City Hall on October 13 to express support for a Muslim candidate for Anaheim City Council who was vilified by state Republican leaders as being “anti-American” and a “supporter of extremist groups”, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Bill Dalati, an insurance agent taking his first run at elective office was endorsed by about a dozen supporters, most of them community leaders who urged politicians, candidates and their supporters to condemn what they described as an attack that played to race and religion. “We detest the kind of elements that have been injected into this race,” said Amin David, head of Los Amigos, an Anaheim-based Latino advocacy group. “It’s disappointing that a person’s faith and heritage are still an issue.” The allegations against Dalati, a moderate Republican, emerged last month in a letter to local Republican leaders from former state Republican Party Chairman, Shawn Steel. Steel claimed that Dalati’s relations with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which he described as an extremist group, his support for a Democratic Congresswoman and his involvement with a demonstration against the recent Israeli offensive in Lebanon could make him unfit for public office.

Muslim Brotherhood Office in US
Washington DC

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB), in alliance with the ex-vice- president of Syria, Abdul Halim Khaddam, a staunch Ba’athist, have opened an office in Washington DC. The aim of the office is to infiltrate the US government and influence its apathy towards political Islam. Ammar Abdul Hamid, a Syrian intellectual who works at Brookings Institute, will be running the office for the National Salvation Front. His duties are to sell political Islam and Ba’athism to reluctant US government officials and to give the Muslim Brotherhood a platform in the Think Tank community of Washington from which they can preach democracy.

Quran Tops Google's Book Search List

The Quran, a guide to tropical flowers, a robot-building manual and a text on interest rates have topped an eclectic list of the most popular English titles found, using Google’s growing book search tool. This is the first time the web search leader has disclosed a weekly snapshot of what users are viewing since it launched a controversial plan to digitally scan all the world’s books two years ago. Timed to coincide with the largest gathering of publishing executives at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Google list reveals an interest in lesser-known backlist titles, a stark contrast to those featured in the closely watched New York Times bestseller lists and’s sales rankings. The compilation could provide fresh regular insights into what the world is reading online, though Google said it has no plans to launch such a service.

Libyan Tops in International Quran Award Competition

Abdul Hamid Abdul Omer of Libya won the first place in the 10th Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) Competition. Ibrahim Bumelha, Chairman of DIHQA Organizing Committee, said that more than 80 young Muslim men from several countries, including Iran, Iraq and the U.S took part in the Dubai International Holy Quran Award, one of the most prestigious recitation competitions in the Muslim world. The annual competition, open to males 21 years and younger, gives the contestants a chance to display their talent in reciting the Quran from memory. Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, sponsors the contest and offers the equivalent of $700,000 in prize money, including a top prize of almost $70,000.

Fifth Minaret for Al Aqsa Mosque
Amman: (IINA)

Jordan’s King Abdullah II announced the launch of a competition to design a fifth minaret for Al Aqsa Mosque. “Jordan will build a fifth minaret at the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque,” King Abdullah II said while chairing a meeting of the senior Islamic Scholars’ Committee that has continued to oversee the maintenance of the shrine since Jordan’s 1948-67 administration of East Jerusalem. Jordan retained custodial responsibility for the mosque compound, even after it gave up all claims to the West Bank in 1988, and coordinates its work with the Palestinian Authority. Jordan first announced the plans for a fifth minaret in 2004. There are currently four minarets at the mosque - Bab Al Asbat, Al Fakhria, Al Ghawanmeh and Bab Al Silsilah. The fifth minaret will be situated near the Golden Door and Bab Al Asbat.

Super Heroes Series on TV

In Saudi Arabia, a gawky teenager is transformed into a hulking creature. In Paris, a historian chases legends about mystical gemstones. In South Africa, a boy discovers a sparkling rock with healing powers. The characters are from a new genre of super heroes endowed with Muslim virtues and aimed at young Muslims in a comic book series called “The 99,” which is being billed as the world’s first superhero project drawn from Islamic culture. Its creator, 35-year-old Naif Al-Mutawa, admits the series, based on 99 heroes who embody the 99 attributes of God in Islam , is tricky in a religion where attempts to personify God’s power can spark protests and even death threats. But the Kuwait-born and U.S.-educated Al-Mutawa hopes to create a new Islamic pop culture. He recently won the crucial blessing of Muslim clerics who manage a Bahrain investment bank. It approved $25 million to help finance his company, Teshkeel Media Group, and pay for plans to launch an animated “The 99” series for television.

BBC's Farsi Channel

The BBC is to launch a Farsi-language television channel for Iran with funding from the British government. The news and information channel will be available from early 2008 to anyone in the region with satellite or cable television. The channel is designed to operate alongside the existing BBC World Service Farsi radio and online services. BBC World Service is funded by a grant from Britain’s foreign office and the new channel will cost 15 million pounds a year to operate. “The BBC’s Persian radio and online services are well respected by Iranians, especially by opinion-formers,” said, Nigel Chapman, director, BBC World Service. BBC Farsi television will broadcast from London seven days a week initially for eight hours a day, featuring accurate, impartial, balanced news and analysis from a global perspective.

Banker to Poor, Gets Nobel

Muhammad Yu-nus, the 65-year-old economist who has been dubbed the “banker to the poor”, and his Grameen Bank that he founded in 1983 will share the $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, Yunus said he would use the prize money to develop high-nutrition low-cost food for the poor. “Every single individual on earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life,” the Nobel Committee said in its citation. “Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development.”

“Yunus has helped Bangladeshi women to live with dignity by engaging them in lucrative projects,” said Mohammed Shaheed Mohammed Hussein, principal of the Bangladesh International School (English section) in Riyadh. Yunus lives modestly in a two-bedroom apartment at Grameen Bank’s headquarters in Dhaka with his physicist wife, Afrozi, and their daughter Deena.