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JANUARY 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-01 No:157    *   JANUARY 2000 / Shawwal 1420H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

NEWS FROM ISLAMIC WORLD


Jews Digging Tunnel near Al-Aqsa Mosque
Millennium Dome: Muslims to Get Separate Niche
Hijab Protests in Senegal
Sanaa University Women's Study Centre in the Eye of Storm
German Muslims Seek Equal Rights, Recognition of Islam
Mankind Beholden to Islam, says Austrian Political Scientist
Jerusalem Demography & Israeli Jugglery
Historic Exhibition on Islam in Hanover World Fare
Nigerian States to Implement Sharia
Seminar : 'Khomeini Led Iran on Path of Dignity'
Dagestan: A Thorn in Russia's Flesh
Now Abkhazia Muslims Demand Independence From Georgia
Headscarves War: UK School Isolates Muslim Girls
Ugandan Tribes Taking to Islam
Kuwait Plans to Tax Expat Workers
New Mosque in North London
Muslims' No to Manila' Plebiscite Plan
Exhibition of Rare Copies of Qur'an
Historic Bosnia Mosque Restored
King Faisal Prize for Al Azhar
Local Body Polls in Bahrain
News in Brief

Jews Digging Tunnel near Al-Aqsa Mosque

Jerusalem: The Al-Aqsa Mosque is facing the imminent danger of demolition or collapse due to tunnelling operations underneath the mosque by the Jewish extremists who are bent upon constructing a temple. Sheikh Raid Salah, mayor of Ummah al-Fahm, has disclosed that a long tunnel is being dug under the mosque. He said the tunnel begins at the south-western corner of the mosque and goes upto 100 metres. The work is on to take it further.

Shaikh Salah was speaking at the Shaikh Mazuz al Masri Mosque in Nablus recently. He said 120 Jewish extremist groups were engaged in excavations to rebuild the temple which was demolished by Roman emperor Titus in 70 AD.

Shaikh Salah said 40 hostile actions were taken by the Israeli authorities and Jewish fundamentalists and terrorists between 1967 (when Jerusalem was occupied by the Israelis with the connivance of the US) in 1990. Between Oslo Accord (1993) and now 72 such actions were reported.

Shaikh Salah called for formation of a committee of archeological experts from the Islamic and Arab world to examine the excavations. The Shaikh disclosed various plans by Jewish agencies to rebuild the temple. He quoted a high ranking Palestinian official as saying that the Barak government has stressed that there would be no final solution unless the Jewish Temple was rebuilt.

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Millennium Dome: Muslims to Get Separate Niche

London (IINA): The organising committee of the millennium celebrations in Britain has responded to the demands of British Muslims that their faith should be shown its due respect during the celebrations. They were referring to the new dome, which is to be built by the British government for this purpose, at a cost of more than a billion pound sterling. The committee has agreed that a special prayer area should be set aside for the Muslims, because they have said that they would not be saying their prayer in the millennium complex. This is because the complex has been partly financed and built with sweepstake money. According to the Daily Telegraph, the Muslims, who have refused to perform their daily prayers within the Millennium Dome would have a special place set aside for them, which will be carpeted and provided with all the other services, including the appointment of an Imam who would lead their daily prayers.

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Hijab Protests in Senegal

Dakar (IINA): One of Dakar’s Cschools expelled a girl students simply because she put on the Hijab. The moment she arrived at the school the headmaster asked her to take off the Hijab, but she refused, saying that she was a Muslim and was proud to wear it. She added: “I don’t think this inconveniences anyone.” This caused an uproar in all circles, not just because Senegal is a secular state or because 95 per cent of its population is Muslim, but because it occurred at a time when the election campaign is at its height. The politicians want to make capital out of the issue, so that they are able to topple the incumbent president, Abdi Diouf, who is now serving his fourth term. Fifteen of the Islamic organisations in the country issued a joint statement criticising the expulsion, and said that it was an anti-Islam move, and condemned the silence of the authorities on the issue. They also sent a letter to the Senegalese Church organisation in which they said that they are watching the developments in this issue, and advised them to intervene in order to ensure co-existence between Muslims and Christians in the country. Observers say that the wearing of the Hijab in Senegal has taken phenomenal proportions, and an increasing number of Senegalese women and school girls have taken to wearing this Islamic mode of headgear. Regardless of the fact that Islam requires that a girl who comes of age should don the Hijab, in Senegal now the women wear it as a symbol of respect and are, indeed, respected in the society, even by those who would otherwise tease women in the streets. Previously, due mainly to Western education, the Hijab was regarded as a sign of backwardness. But with the new Islamic awakening and awareness in the minds of the youth, the Hijab has now assumed its rightful place as a sign of chastity.

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Sanaa University Women's Study Centre in the Eye of Storm

Sanaa (IINA): The University Council of the University of Sanaa in Yemen has decided to dissolve the Centre for Women’s Studies and Applied Research at the university, which was a target of attacks by Sharia scholars in the country.

The centre was founded by Dr. Raufa Hassan, with financial assistance from Holland, and the main reservations which the scholars had about it concerned its ‘Gender Program’ which the scholars said was not in keeping with Islamic norms, particularly when it comes to man-woman relations.The other reservation the scholars had was on the conference that was convened in Sanaa by the centre and attended by participants from various Arab countries, some of whose interventions were clearly not acceptable to the scholars. Some Imams and preachers said some of the interventions were un-Islamic, such as those by the Moroccan researcher, Abdulmuuty Al-Diyalmy, who advocated the free mixing of males and females, and this aroused the ire of scholars.The university council said that in place of the dissolved centre there should be created another national centre, to be called the Centre for Woman’s Study. The council appointed a committee of ten members of the academic staff to prepared the draft of the rules and regulations of the new center, as well as its schedules and terms of reference.

The council also decided that the centre would offer a diploma to the students who graduate from it, and the committee has been given until the end of Eid-ul-Fitr holidays to complete its work. The services of the head of the dissolved center were terminated, and she has since left for Holland.

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German Muslims Seek Equal Rights, Recognition of Islam

Cologne (IINA): Dr. Nadim Ilyas, President of the Supreme Council of German Muslims, has sent a congratulatory telegram to the Christians in Germany on the occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him). In the cable, Dr. Nadim said that after 2000 years since the birth of Christ and 1420 years since the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) migrated to Madina, humanity is hoping that a more humane and respectful order would be initiated. He added that the religious minorities in Germany, particularly the Muslim minority, are still expectant that their rights would be granted to them. He said the Muslim community in Germany has received several promises that they would be treated equally with the Christians and Jews, and the government even promised that Islamic studies would be included in the school curricula, but nothing much has happened. The Muslims were even promised by the Interior Ministry that the Islamic centres in Germany would be accorded equal treatment with those of other religious denominations, yet nothing has so far happened. Dr. Ilyas urged the German government to abide by the promises it made to the Muslims.In another development, Jamal Qarsali, appealed to the German President, Johanns Rau, to urge the government to recognise Islam. Qarsali, is a member of the Bundestag (German Parliament) representing the Green Party reminded the President had personally promised him that he would grant German Muslims their due rights, once elected.Qarsali said the Muslims are hoping that President Rau, who had himself studied comparative religions, to put pressure on the government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to recognise Islam.

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Mankind Beholden to Islam, says Austrian Political Scientist

Vienna: Austrian scholar Professor Heinz Naussaumer has stressed that Islam has brought immense blessings to humanity, and its civilisation, illuminated Europe for more than a millennium, at a time when the Church led Europe to an era of darkness. Naussaumer, who is an expert on religions and a political scientist, said it was the Christian West that had invaded the Islamic East in the first millennium and the beginning of the second millenium, as represented by the Crusades. He added that it was the same case again toward the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th as represented by Western colonialism. He said the West is still harbouring the same old mentality about Islam and Muslims that existed during the Crusades and during the colonial period, and added that it was high time that the West shunned that mentality.

He said to do this, the media have a big role to play, particularly in view of the fact that Islamic civilizations had played a role in the European renaissance. He went on to say: “To link Islam with terrorism is unreasonable, and the violence that prevails in some Muslim countries has nothing to do with Islam...rather it is the effect of economic, social, and political problems that were inherited from Western colonialism itself.” Prof Naussaumer said violence in the name of religion is prevalent in Christianity, Hinduism, Bhuddism, and Judaism also. Naussaumer told the Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh that the socio-economic gap between the Christian West and the Muslim East was big, and that this was not, in the interest of the former, because this is precisely the reason for migrations from the East to Europe. He said the Islamic Eastern states are the traditional markets for Western goods, and therefore the rise of standards of living in these countries will ensure the survival of these markets, and, by extension, provide job opportunities in the West. He added that economic prosperity can only come about if the gulf between the West and the East is narrowed.

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Jerusalem Demography & Israeli Jugglery

Jerusalem (IINA): The successive Israeli governments have followed an agreed plan for the Judaisation of Jerusalem, so that in the long run there should be three Jews to every one Arab, that is 75 per cent of the population should be Jewish. In 1995, Israeli statistics showed that the proportion of Jews had gone down to 70 per cent, according to report published by the Jerusalem Institute for Israeli Research. This caused consternation and anxiety in Jewish circles, and for this reason the Israeli government is doing its best to see to it that the planned quota of 75 per cent is maintained. This is done through either building new houses for Jews in Jerusalem or by throwing out the Arabs of Jerusalem from their homes. The Israeli government takes swift action when it thinks that the number of Jews in Jerusalem is going down, but the fact is that the 1995 census showed that there were wives or husbands who were non-Jewish among the immigrants from the former Soviet Union. That is why Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics decided to change the categorisation from the previous one of “Jews and Non-Jews,” to a new one that categorises the citizens as “Jews, Arabs, and Others.” That was why they counted a few thousand under “Others” and that made the proportion of Jews come down to 70 per cent. On the other hand, the report of the Palestine Statistical Council, which is an organ of the Palestine Authority, shows that the number of Arabs in Jerusalem in 1998 was 217,000, and not 196,000, as maintained by the Israelis. If this is the case, then it means that for every two Jews there is an Arab in Jerusalem. But the Palestinian statistics depended on the 1995 data that was produced by the Israelis, because the Palestinians were not allowed to conduct their own separate census. But the fact remains that in spite of Israel’s attempts to increase the number of Jews in Jerusalem, by building more settlements and connecting them to the city, the Arabs still outnumber the Jews.

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Historic Exhibition on Islam in Hanover World Fare

Hanover (Germany) (IINA): The Supreme Council of German Muslims has succeeded in getting a Wing reserved for Islam at the Hanover International Exhibition 2000. This is the result of negotiations that started in 1995, and the church also will have its Wing at the show. The council has been allocated an area measuring 700 square meters in the main exhibition hall, plus a prayer area and an area to be dedicated to folkloric arts and festivals. The theme of the exhibition would be “Man, Nature, Technology,” and eminent Muslim scholars would man the Islamic Wing, and there would be close cooperation with museums in Europe and the Muslim world. It is estimated that the Islamic Wing would cost something in the region of US$7,000,000, which amount the council and the Heritage Commission are in the process of collecting in various parts of the Muslim world and from philanthropic organisations. This is a very important project for projecting Islam, says the Wing’s organisers, because this is a well-attended exhibition in which not less than 190 countries and international organisations are participating, and the show is slated to continue for five months, i.e. from June to October, 2000. It is expected that more than 40,000,000 will visit the exhibition, and at least a million of them are likely to visit the Islamic stand. The Supreme Council of German Muslims has already submitted plans for its Wing to the Expo’s administrators, and technical approval has been granted to them, and now await implementation of construction work. The council and the Heritage Commission plan to make the Islamic Wing a permanent but mobile feature, the purpose being to project Islam in its true essence, its past achievements, and its proffered solutions for contemporary and future challenges. The Islamic Wing of the Hanover Exhibition will try to conform as closely as possible to the show’s theme of “Man, Nature, Technology,” and in this connection a section of its Wing would be focused on the environment and nature. It would explain Allah’s creation of the universe, the role of man as Allah’s regent on earth, and how Allah has provided man with all the means for his survival and benefit. There would also be multi-media presentations that would use 3-D films and photographs for the purpose. The second section of the Islamic Wing would be dedicated to what would be known as “The Creation and the Creator,” and would focus on explaining the meaning of this expression. The third section would focus on life in a Muslim society, and would deal with the Muslim intellect and its influence on the life of the society. A presentation would be made of the projected Islamic solutions to such problems as poverty and backwardness, which solutions might also be applicable to other parts of the world that are afflicted by such and similar problems. The fourth section of the Islamic Wing would focus on “Islam and Science” and would project the contributions made by Muslim scientists to human civilisation, and how they acted as bridges on which modern human civilisation was built. Living and practical examples on how even 20th century medical sciences, engineering, and mathematics are benefiting from work done by Muslim thinkers would be presented. Section Five would be confined to “Islam: A Faith and A Worship,” and it would focus on the spiritual dimensions of Islam.

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Nigerian States to Implement Sharia

Lagos (IINA): It is likely that 19 states in Nigeria would institute the Islamic Sharia within two years, following such a declaration by the State of Sanfara. The Yoruba tribe is in the process of convening a conference, the purpose of which is to set up a home state of their own. Fifty per cent of them are Muslims while the other half is made up of Christians and other minor faiths, but those behind the move to set up a Yoruba state are mainly Christians. Among the many matters that are foremost in the minds of the Nigerians at the moment is the government’s decision to put the sale of oil in the hands of the private sector, something that would definitely cause the price of fuel to go up in the new budget. Government schools have been on strike for the last seven months, though the private schools are open. Sheikh Muhammad Mansur Al-Mansur, the President of the Islamic Progressive Party of Nigeria, said the security situation in the country is very bad, with murders and theft very common, except in the Sanfara State that has applied the Islamic Sharia. A declaration to the effect that an Islamic political party has been formed in Nigeria, and one of its demands is the implementation of the Sharia in the whole country, in order to deal with the security and economic problems. The Christians have already presented a memorandum to the Islamic Party calling for a study of the possibility of changing the country’s Constitution, and basing it on the principles enunciated in the Quran and the Bible. But the party has turned down the request, in view of the fact that it considers the Quran as the highest Constitution devised for humanity as a whole. Consultations are now going on with various state governors, with the aim of seeking the implementation of the Islamic Sharia, particularly in view of the fact that in such states the majority are Muslims. Plans are now afoot to establish a College of Sharia in Nigeria, with the aim of teaching the Nigerians how to implement the Sharia.

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Seminar : 'Khomeini Led Iran on Path of Dignity'

By Malika B. Mistry

Iranian spiritual leader Imam Khomeini’s services and teachings were lauded at an international seminar held here in the last week of October. Iranian scholar Sayyad Ali Pour in his paper on Iranian foreign policy said Imam challenged the might of the United States of America which was exploiting the third world nations and helping Israel and causing bloodshed in the West Asian. He said Islamic ideology directly confronts the arrogant powers. Iranian sociologist Mohammad Hussain Panahi held that Imam Khomeini was the pivotal point of unity among all groups of Iranians. Muhammad Tajic said Imam was innovative and rooted in traditions. Moroccan professor Idris Katani said Iranian revolution was the only one that was not materialistic. Minhaj Al Hussain of Pakistan pointed out that the Shia school was the only school that preaches revolt against unjust rulers. Kazem Qazizadesh elaborated that Imam wanted all people to participate in the affairs of the state and the political process. Haddad Adel said Imam had a unique personality and was candidly admitted his mistakes. Abbas Manuchehri said Imam urged the clerics to play an active role in all walks of life and to act in an orderly manner. Daniel Bromberg from the Congress Institute of Peace Research, Washington D.C. said Imam was successful in re-establishing the collective will of Iran. Italian professor Leonardo Clerici held that the Islamic revolution in Iran was nothing short of a miracle. Prof. Shamsher Ali from Bangladesh advised Iranian government to invite the non resident Iranian technocrats to return to Iran and benefit from their skills in order to modernise the country. He said this presupposed forgiving their past. Prof. Eric Hogland from the United States of America presented a statistical profile of the new Iran and said while during Shah’s regime only 3,000 villages were electrified, now 39,000 of Iran’s villages were electrified. Similarly, against 8000 kms of metalled roads during Shah’s regime, today’s Iran had 67,000 kms of metalled roads. He said he made a comparative study of village Guyum near Shiraz in 1978 and 1994 and found a sea of difference. He said the village had a road link with Shiraz now and agricultural produce was not being transported to the city’s markets. Brick houses had replaced the mud houses. He said the villagers were taking their grapes directly to Shiraz for export to Dubai. On social front, the girls were demanding dower (Mahr) from husbands and insist that they have their own houses. Most teenagers now complete high schools and living standards of the Iranians had improved. Iranian political scientists Ali Farmand, who is now resident in the USA, pleaded for making the bureaucratic apparatus more efficient. Ms. Popek, an Iranian sociologist settled in the USA, said the perception of Americans towards Islam had markedly changed in recent days and this process could be helped by improving the US-Iran ties. Sudan representative Hasan Makki wanted the Muslim countries to form a common market on the lines of European Common Market. Palestinian representative in the US Gadah Ramahi wanted the ulema to be trained as technocrats and scientists. Emgrad Pinn, a German sociologist, said several Muslim countries were only rich because of their raw material but were economically and politically weak. She observed that Islam was not being considered as a rich source of ideas. While on the other hand, the Islamic traditionalists were trying to isolate science and technology from religion. She wanted empirical study of network of power and influence, debate on westernisation and transnational finance corporations in the Muslim world. She said Muslims must empower themselves economically, politically and culturally. Hujjatul Islam Sayyad Hasan Khomeini, grandson of Imam Khomeini, and Hujjatul Islam Nasrullah spoke of the West’s double standards in dealing with Israel and Muslim countries. Dr Habibie, the first vice president of Iran concluded the Congress by saying that in Imam Khomeini’s view, religion and politics are inseparable. He said Imam adhered neither to capitalism not to socialism. He advocated that Muslims should develop independent system based on Islamic values.

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Dagestan: A Thorn in Russia's Flesh

The Republic of Dagestan is situated on west coast of the Caspian Sea, in a region known as North Caucasus, and has an area of 50,000 square kilometers. It has a population of nearly two million, the majority of whom are Muslims, and its capital is Makhtashkala. Economically, it is one of the poorest of the Russian Republics, notwithstanding the fact it has a lot of natural resources, such as gas, oil, coal, iron, and other rare metals. This is because the Russians are controlling all these resources. The word Dagestan means “mountainous,” and the country is really surrounded by mountains, just like a number of other countries in the Caucasus. Russia declared Dagestan a republic in 1920, after it had been part of the Czar’s Empire during the 19th century. Russia lost nearly a million soldiers in its attempts to subjugate the Caucasian countries. Thus Dagestan and its neighbouring state of Chechnya has always been a thorn in Russia’s flesh. Dagestan has more than 20 ethnic groups, and over 80 nationalities, but the majority of them are Sunni Muslims, with a sprinkling of Orthodox Christians, who were settled there by the Russians in exercise of their control over the country. Under Russian hegemony Dagestan has always been poor, and the average per capita income is about US$20, with unemployment at a staggering 32 per cent, whereas the average per capita income in the rest of Russia is around US$120. Though nominally Dagestan enjoys a measure of self-rule, the fact remains that Russia has the upper hand and even decides on the choice of the country’s president and the leadership. She also has the power to declare a state of emergency in the country, and also oversees the border security. There are several Islamic organisations in Dagestan, but the one in the forefront of political activism is the Islamic Revival Party, which was formed in 1990, and is headed by Dr. Ahmed Qadhi Akhtayev. In Dagestan, as well as in other Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union there is a perceived sense of awakening, with most of them desiring end of Russian hegemony. There are in Dagestan 1,680 mosques, 25 Islamic schools, with 3,500 Imams and Muezzins serving the mosques. There are 1,230 Muslim students from Dagestan pursuing further studies in universities in various parts of the Muslim world. Also the number of pilgrims coming from Dagestan to perform Haj is increasing year by year.

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