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FEBRUARY 2001

MONTHLY    *    Vol 15-02 No:170    *   FEBRUARY 2001 / ZIL-HIJJA 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

NEWS FROM ISLAMIC WORLD


Queen Sheba's Kingdom Dug Out
Prayer Rights at Work Recognised
Nuclear Power for Jordan
Indonesia Setsup Dept. for Scrutiny of Foods, Drugs
Canadian Daily Apologizes
Religion Demography : Muslim, Hindus Up, Christians Decline Slightly
Network of Islamic libraries to be set up
Oman's Private University to Open in 2004
Saudi Stewardesses
Women Conductors in Karachi
Largest Carpet
Juma at Washington Airport
Threats to Candian Muslims
Anti-Zakath Campaign by Turkish Secularists
Fire-Fighting Network at Haj Sites
Women-Only Taxis in Iran

Queen Sheba's Kingdom Dug Out

Kingdom of Queen of Sheba

Maarib (Yemen) : The ruins of the legendary kingdom of Queen of Sheba, Malika Bilquis, are being etched out of sands in the North Yemen. Almost 3000 year old Kingdom buried in the sands of Rub-ul-Khali(the empty quarter) is being excavated by several team of archaeologists from the Western countries. The Quran describes her meeting with Prophet Sulamian of Palestine and his conveying of message of God to her.

The teams have dug out huge limestone columns and a circular enslosure replete with artifacts, pottery, inscriptions etc. It is said to be Mahram Bilquis (or temple of moon god). Scholars say the temple was built around 950 BC. It was abandoned four centuries later with the people converting to either Judaism or Christianity around 380AD, renouncing polytheism. The destruction of Maarib dam in 572 AD completed the desertion.

The 15-metre (or 50-foot) temple has a podium, a courtyard, high wall and an irrigation canal. Six columns mark the entrance to the site. The teams of archaeologists are excavating another site, the Awam temple which should provide more insight on the Sheba civilization. The experts anticipate that the site would be as important as Egypt’s pyramids or Acropolis of Athens. Some even say that these monuments have the potential to emerge as the “8th Wonder of the World”.

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Prayer Rights at Work Recognised

Minneapolis, (CAIR): A Minnesota manufacturer has agreed to accommodate the religious practices of its Muslim employees by constructing a “quiet room” in which workers may offer Salath.

Advantek, Inc. of Minnetonka in the state of Minnesota , built the room to help resolve a dispute between Muslim workers and a supervisor who reportedly refused to allow breaks for prayer and forced workers to pray in a locker room.

The agreement was negotiated by the Minnesota chapter of the Washington- based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). As part of the settlement, Advantek managers completed sensitivity training and company officials promised to enforce existing policy that lets employees practise their religion without discrimination.

The dispute began last summer when some 35 Muslim employees walked off their jobs in protest over what they said was a lack of religious accommodation. CAIR-MN met with the Advantek representatives several times to negotiate the employees’ return to work.

There are an estimated 75,000 Muslims in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

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Nuclear Power for Jordan

Amman : Jordan will start operating a small nuclear power reactor in early 2000 for scientific research and other non-military purposes, Jordan’s energy minister was quoted in daily Al-Arab Al-Youm as saying.

The energy ministry, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), began construction in 2000 of the reactor in Amman’s northern suburbs, “which will be operational in 2002,” said Energy Minister Wael Sabri.

The $ 1.7 million reactor, financed by the IAEA, will have a capacity of 27 kilowatts, Sabri said. Jordan decided in June to create a government agency charged with setting up the reactor.

Amman has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which bars signatories from converting their atomic power facilities into arms manufacturing units.

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Indonesia Setsup Dept. for Scrutiny of Foods, Drugs

Jakarta : The Indonesia set up a special section to apply Halal and Haram dietary restrictions in food and drug supervision and to augment the services provided by the Food and Drug Standards General Directorate.

An official of the ministry said that the main duty of the new section would be to cooperate with the relevant institutions, both official and non-governmental, in doing its work of controlling the distribution of food and drugs for Muslims.

Muslims make up 85 percent of Indonesia’s population of 204 million. They are very sensitive when it comes to buying and eating food products or medicines containing any element that is forbidden in Islam, such as pork products like monosodium glutamate. (IINA)

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Canadian Daily Apologizes

Washington, D.C. (CAIR): A Canadian newspaper apologized publicly on January 16 for a weekend article titled “Islam Allows for No Other Faith” that claimed the religion of Islam is “false” and that the growth of Islam is an “ominous threat to our western way of life.”

The commentary by J. Craig also claimed that Islam is merely the “deification of seventh-century Arabian culture.” Craig also wrote that Allah is really an “Arabian moon god.” (Arabic-speaking Christians also use the word “Allah” when referring to God.”)

The Winnipeg Free Press in Winnipeg, Manitoba, published its apology after receiving “hundreds” of complaints from Muslims in Canada, the US and around the world. Those complaints followed the distribution of a CAIR Action Alert. In his apology, headlined “Offence to Islam Not Taken Lightly,” Free Press editor Nicholas Hirst admitted that the commentary “was condemnatory and, had I been Muslim, I should have found it offensive.” Hirst wrote: “In retrospect, the standards of debate to which we would hold ourselves were breached. Like others, we learn from our mistakes. The views expressed are not the views of this newspaper. The letter, however, crossed the normal bounds of acceptable debate within this newspaper. I am responsible for what appears in this newspaper and I offer my apology for the offence caused.” The newspaper also published a number of letters critical of the inaccurate information presented in the article.

Shahina Siddiqui of the Manitoba Islamic Association wrote: “You cannot imagine the pain you have caused our people and especially our children who were born in this country and who naively believe that Canada is a country where their faith is respected and protected and that they are free to practise their religion.”.

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Religion Demography

Muslim, Hindus Up, Christians Decline Slightly

New York, (CAIR): Christianity remained the world’s biggest religion while Islam and the non-religious population posted notable increases in the 20th century, according to a major religious reference book The World Christian Encyclopedia (Oxford University Press).

The trends are reported in the second edition of the Encyclopaedia, a compilation of statistical estimates and descriptions for each religious group in each nation.

Islam ranks second, and during the last century grew from 200 million or 12.3 per cent of population to 1.2 billion or 19.6 per cent. In the United States, while there is considerable disagreement over numbers for non-Christian religions, the encyclopedia lists 5.6 million Jews, 4.1 million Muslims - a more than fourfold increase in 30 years, 2.4 million Buddhists and 1 million Hindus. There are 192 million people in U.S. Christian groups.

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Network of Islamic libraries to be set up

Islamabad : Work is underway for the establishment of a library network between Islamic countries, via the Internet, with the object of setting up a database of cultural, scientific, and technological facts and figures of Islamic countries, according to Pakistan’s Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ataurahman.

He said that Pakistan is quite advanced in science and technology, and that Muslim countries have been benefiting from this, adding that his country has the largest scientific library in the Muslim world, consisting of not less than 600 magazines of various scientific disciplines.

The minister said that the library network project would also help in the exchange of knowledge and experience between Muslim countries, and also the exchange of specialist scholars in various branches of scientific and technological know-how. (IINA)

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Oman's Private University to Open in 2004

Muscat: Oman’s first private university, to be built in Nizwa, the Sultanate’s old capital, at a cost of Omania Riyal 27 million will start functioning in 2004, according to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Dr Ahmed bin Khalfan Al Rawahi.

The state-run Sultan Qaboos University, which was set up in 1985, is the only university in Oman.

The proposed university in Nizwa, said Dr Al Rawahi, will include, to begin with, colleges for law, engineering, arts, economics, commerce, medicine, in addition to a centre for energy and environment and another for marine science and water resources.

He said the university, which would accommodate 15,000 students, would go a long way to reducing the burden of Omani parents who send their wards abroad for higher education.

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Saudi Stewardesses

London : The Saudi authorities have allowed Saudi women to take up jobs as air stewardesses in Saudi Arabian Airlines, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia in the air. According to Daily Al-Hayat these women will be allowed to operate only within the aerial territory of the country. Though the Saudia earlier employed women, they were non-Saudi nationals.

The women nationals of Saudi Arabia were confine to jobs in education and medical fields. Saudi women are yet to be allowed licenses for car driving, said Al-Hayat.

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Women Conductors in Karachi

Women Conductors in KarachiKarachi : Karachi Transport Authority has introduced women conductor on luxury bus service known as New Shaandar-Majestic Bus Service. The service is a collaboration between Sindh government and a private enterprise owned by Haji Mohammad Iqbal. But this has led to protest from Islamists who argue that it is degrading for women to be used as bus conductors and that they should be given jobs as teachers or in other noble professions.

Haji Mohammad Iqbal pleads that the bus service is a luxury one and charges more than the average fare and the passengers will be less. Therefore it is conductive for women to work, 2. women conductors would attract women passengers to the bus, 3. it encourages women to travel in an uncongested bus without being victims of eve-teasing and 4. the employment of women is a step towards restoring their self-esteem by encouraging them to be economically independent. (IINA)

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Largest Carpet

Tehran : A team of 500 Iranian weavers has created what is reportedly the world’s largest hand-made carpet, a 22-ton masterwork valued at $ 5.3 million, a newspaper said.

The weavers took three years to fashion the gigantic work, which measures more than 5,000 square metres - the equivalent of 25 tennis courts - and comprises more than 1.7 billion knots, the Iran Daily said.

The carpet was sent to Oman, where it is destined for the Azam mosque in the capital, Muscat.

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Juma at Washington Airport

Dulles (Virgiania): Dulles Airport which serves the US capital Washington D.C. held the first Juma (Friday) congregation on January 16. A public address system announced that the Friday prayers would be held at the chapel in Terminal B. A number of the airport’s and airline Muslim employees and travelers gathered for the prayer. This was the first time prayer was held with the airport authority’s approval. The Friday prayer at the airport is organized by Adams Center and will be held regularly insha Allah, said the sponsors.

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Threats to Candian Muslims

British Columbia : The Muslims of the Sari location of British Columbia in Canada, performed their Eid Prayers in a tent pitched near the mosque that was set ablaze, in suspicious circumstances during Ramadhan.

Just before the Eid, the police in the area received an anonymous call threatening to bomb the mosque, when the Muslims perform their Eid Prayers.

The Canada office of CAIR has requested the security authorities to investigate the matter, both the fire and the bomb threat and also provide adequate protection for the Muslims of Canada and their places of worship. (IINA)

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Anti-Zakath Campaign by Turkish Secularists

Istanbul : Turkish secular organizations have called for stopping endowments organizations and Islamic societies from collecting Zakat from the Turkish people.

They are also warning the Turkish people against cooperating with Islamic endowment trusts, describing any such cooperation as reactionary and calculated to undermine Turkey’s secularist system.

These secular organizations have requested the government to pass new laws that would forbid Islamic organizations from collecting Zakat and Ush’r on agricultural production from the people, and would, in fact, punish people who pay their money as Zakat to such organizations. (IINA)

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Fire-Fighting Network at Haj Sites

Arafat : A 120-kilometer fire-fighting network Has been set up in the holy sites this year. In this connection, 170 water sprinklers have been put in place, in addition to 3,600 boxes of water hoses, and 83 fire extinguishers.

Work is now going on to set up a fire-fighting network that would cover the whole of Mina, and will include water reservoirs on hilltops, each one with a capacity for 100,000 cubic meters of water. (IINA)

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Women-Only Taxis in Iran

Teheran : Taxi agencies run and serviced exclusively by women will shortly be introduced in Iranian cities, said the Iranian Daily Iran quoting Massumeh Abovan, director-elect of the Women Taxi Service Agencies’ Guild Association.

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