Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Dhu'l Qadah 1424 H
January 2004
Volume 17-01 No : 205
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News From Islamic World


Iraqis Want democaracy, dislike Osama bin laden
World's Tallest Candles
Muslim-run Food Pantry Feeds Body and Soul
Islam does not slow Economies
Germany Supports Headscrves
Fact File
Sixty Lashes for Accusing Writer
Ban on Music Education
Christmas Greetings from Malaysian PM
Jewish Attorney exposes US Double Standards

Ten Thousand Tales of Lost Childhood

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Iraqis Want democaracy, dislike Osama bin laden

American journal survey

Washington D.C.:: Sixty seven per cent Iraqis feel politics, not economics, will be the most difficult part of the re-building of Iraq. This is revealed in a public opinion survey conducted by the 'American Enterprise' magazine and published in the September 10, 2003 issue of the magazine. Nearly 37 per cent of Iraqis favoured the US model of Government for Iraq while 28 per cent favoured the Saudi model. The pollsters had given them five models which included the US, Saudi, Syria, Iran and Egypt. The total number of those who favoured Iran, Syria and Egypt, were less than 37 per cent. The survey was done on 600 Iraqis in the cities of Basra (dominated by Shii people, Kirkuk(oil centre of Iraq), Mosul(with sizeable Kurdish population) and Al-Ramadi (in the troublesome Sunni triangle). 57 per cent of Iraqis expressed an unfavourbale opinion of Osama bin Laden (whom the US administration linked with Saddam Hussein during its build-up to war. About 50 per cent of Sunni respondents and only 27 per cent Shia respondents favoured an Islamic government in Iraq in response to a question whether Iraq should have an Islamic government or 'people should be allowed to practise their own religion'. It may be noted that 'American Enterprise' is a magazine representing the neo-conservative opinion, the lobby which currently determines the US foreign policy. Current US vice president Dick Cheney was on its Board earlier. Asked if democracy will work in Iraq, five among the 10 respondents said democracy will not work in Iraq as it was a Western political concept. More Sunnis were opposed to the democracy than Shias. The survey concludes that most Iraqis are highly secular as 43 per cent of the Iraqi respondents who were contacted for the purpose of survey said they had never attended a Friday congregational prayers during the past month. About 70 per cent of Iraqis believed their lives would be better off in the next five years. Sixty per cent of the Iraqis said they wanted the US and England to allow them to form their own government. American Enterprise magazine editor, Karl Zinsmeister said several things from Iraq were misreported in the media. For instance, he said, the media reported that the pilgrimage in April in Shia holy sites in Iraq were manifestation of anti-Americanism, while in reality there was no iota of truth in it. Pollster John Zogby conducted the poll with the help of 17 researchers, including Iraqi nationals.

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World's Tallest Candles

Jeddah: Thurayya Hafni, an enterprising Saudi woman, is hoping to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by making the world's tallest candles. She is also seeking to patent her range of decorative and scented candles. "Decorating my house and keeping things in order has been my hobby since childhood," Hafni said. She travels a lot and noticed how popular decorative candles in all shapes and sizes are elsewhere. "I thought of making special candles to be put at the entrances of rooms," Hafni said. "I'm also perfuming them." The lack of candle factories in the Kingdom initially presented a problem. "This meant I had to buy huge amounts of candles from shops," she said. Dissolving the candles and adding perfume to them, she also suffered burns as some of them contain inflammable chemicals. Her family was not enthusiastic initially, but Hafni said they came round when they saw the results.

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Muslim-run Food Pantry Feeds Body and Soul

Chicago: Ghaemi abruptly stops his taxi in the Loop, jumps out and offers a bag of bread to a homeless man, the first words he often hears above the din of angry horns are "God bless." As a Muslim, Ghaemi believes the expression of gratitude will come true: For every gift he gives to another, Allah blesses him a hundredfold. But that's not why this Iranian immigrant takes time out of his route to feed the hungry. "It doesn't matter what religion you are," he said. "It's everyone's responsibility to help others." That belief is at the heart of the Sabeel Food Pantry, the first Muslim-run pantry in United States that is open year-round to serve the needy. Founded this year by the Chicago-based Islamic Food and Nutrition Council, the pantry caters to customers of all faiths and backgrounds from the surrounding Avondale neighborhood. Rabiah Ahmed, communications coordinator for the Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations, said the pantry also is a way to educate others about Islam. "Feeding the poor has always been a big part of our faith," Ahmed said. "But it's always been part of something you do in your own community. In America, you can't live like that. You have to go beyond your borders. These types of concerns affect people of all different faiths," he adds.

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Islam does not slow Economies

Is Islam a drag on economic growth? Economists have debated the impact of religion on economic performance for many years. A long line of scholars has blamed the relative poverty of Muslims today on their religious beliefs. But economist Marcus Noland maintains that this long-standing view is wrong. “There is nothing inherent about Islamic societies that they have to perform poorly,” says the economist with the Institute for International Economics in Washington. “If anything, Islam promotes growth. There may be undue pessimism about the prospects of these countries.” To reach his conclusion that Islamic views are not economically damaging, Noland compares economic performance of Islamic nations with other nations from 1950 to 1972. That period was prior to the quadrupling of oil prices that gave several Middle East nations a huge boost. Noland also compared regions or populations within religiously divided nations. The results, he finds, “provide no support for the notion that Islam is a drag on growth.” In India, for instance, with the world’s third-largest Muslim population, he finds no evidence that the level of the Muslim population in the various states impacts economic growth if other economic factors are taken into consideration. These include, for example, population density, road density, percentage of villages with electricity, annual rainfall, and so on. Neither has Islam had an economic impact in Malaysia, divided by three ethnic groups (indigenous Malays, Chinese, and Indians), and Ghana, with a significant Muslim population. (Source: Christian Science Monitor).

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Germany Supports Headscrves

Stuggart (Germany)Even while France has banned the donning of headscarves by Muslim women, a German court has ruled that Muslim women teachers should be allowed to wear headscarves. The ruling was issued by the Court rescinding suspension of an Afghan woman teacher Firishta Lorraine. Lorraine had insisted on donning the headscarves in school. The court said by banning the headscarves, the school violated the freedom to practise religion.

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Fact File


* Women constitute 72 % of student population in Kuwaiti universities.
* Nabila Al-Mulla is Kuwait's ambassador to the UN.
* Dr. Rasha Al-Sabah is Kuwait's Under-secretary for Education.
* Foreign investment in Israel has declined to $1 billion in Israel in 2002 from $ 11 billion before Intifada began.

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Sixty Lashes for Accusing Writer

Riyadh:In perhaps the first ruling of its kind in Saudi Arabia, a judge in the Rijal Almae Court in Asir has sentenced a man to 60 lashes for accusing a Saudi writer of being "secular". The ruling ends a case that lasted for months, with several parties involved trying to persuade the writer to drop the charges. But the writer only pardoned the man after obtaining a judgment against him, sparing the man the 60 lashes. Ibrahim Shahbi, a writer and novelist who won an award at the Abha cultural festival this year, was accused by another Saudi of being secular after Shahbi led a group of 40 people in Isha prayers. "I was surprised after finishing the prayer that someone started cursing me, saying 'secular', 'deviant' and other things. Perhaps he did so because he knew I was a poet, and he maintained it was not permissible to pray behind me," said Shahbi told a local newspaper several months ago. "So I went to the court in Rijal Almae province and filed suit against the man for throwing such accusations at me. The suit was accepted. But when he came to court he denied everything." The court then asked Shahbi for proof. But witnesses told him they did not want to testify. "Some of them said they did not hear what the man said and others said they did not understand," he told Al-Watan. But Shahbi persisted. Shahbi told the paper that in remote areas with a low level of literacy, gossip is rife and rumormongers find willing listeners in the community. He said his accuser most likely did not understand what "secular" meant bearing in mind he had only elementary education. Once the court found in his favor, however, Shahbi forgave his accuser. He said prominent members of the man's tribe and his own sat down together to discuss the matter. "The man's son also took part in the meeting and expressed his regrets," Shahbi added. He said what was important was "to get the message across that you cannot get away with making accusations against people that you know nothing about." Sahal Yassin, the imam of a mosque in Jeddah, told Arab News: "People's honor is not something to toy with. Unfortunately in our society, throwing accusations against people is too easy." "Secularism is a disease. And accusing someone of being secular is just like accusing him of being an infidel. Doubting people's intentions, and throwing accusations at others without knowledge is not the characteristic of Muslims," the imam added. Abdul Aziz Al-Gasim, the director of a firm of legal consultants, said Islam guarantees a person's dignity, adding it is not permissible to accuse someone without proof. "The ruling also shows that a writer is responsible for his writing and should be accountable for any deviant ideas in it. At the same time, the ruling deters others from hurting the pride of other people by throwing accusations at them," he said In such cases, the Shariah leaves the sentence to the judge's discretion, he added.

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Ban on Music Education

Kuwait:Kuwait: An Islamist parliamentarian has said he was coordinating with other MPs to ban music education at schools in Kuwait as “anti-Islamic and a waste of time”. MP, Daifallah Buramia al-Mutairi, in a statement said he could submit such a proposal to the parliament, which is due to start a debate on the emirate’s education policies. “Music lessons use up the students’ time without any benefit. Parents do not send their children to learn how to play music, but for useful scientific education that is good for them and for their nation,” the MP said. Mutairi was a medical doctor before he was elected to parliament for the first time in the general elections, backed by his tribe for his religious views. Arguing that music contravened Islam, Mutairi said he would propose substituting music lessons with Islamic education.

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Christmas Greetings from Malaysian PM

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi, has become the first leader of his Muslim majority country to send an official Christmas card. Some 1,500 leading members of Malaysia’s large Christian community have received season’s greetings from Abdullah. The prime minister’s card shows Malaysians of different races and religions holding hands and dancing. Abdullah Badawi, who became prime minister almost two months ago, is a respected scholar and has long made a point of promoting good relations among the country’s various religious groups. Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, but remains under secular rule. None of his four predecessors, who were all also Muslims, sent out official Christmas cards.

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Jewish Attorney exposes US Double Standards

Jeddah:Jewish-American attorney and civil rights activist, Stanley Cohen, who is defending several Muslims in the United States has said the American administration is ignoring its own acts of terrorism and harassing Arabs and Muslims. Cohen while speaking at the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) here on December 18, said, “Muslim leaders like Abdur Rahman Al-Amoudi (convener of American Muslim Council) are being harassed and arrested. (Al-Amoudi was arrested for traveling to Libya and accepting $10,000 from the Libyan government without a license.) In the past, most people were fined for such a violation, but Al-Amoudi was prosecuted and imprisoned,” Cohen said. Cohen said the US was highly selective and kept varying its definition of terrorism to suit its own needs. “Terrorism is terrorism, whether it’s carried out by individuals or by governments. Historically, more acts of terrorism have been perpetrated by governments, which kill more people than individuals do. The US changes its definition of terrorism singling out violence perpetrated by individuals or non-government groups, while ignoring acts of violence and destruction wrought by governments close to the US,” Cohen said. Cohen said, Ariel Sharon should be put at the top of the list of wanted terrorists for the acts of violence he has perpetrated against the Palestinian people, but the US turns a blind eye to his atrocities,” he added. When asked why a Jewish American is so ardently fighting for Muslim rights, Cohen said: “For more than a thousand years, Muslims have defended Jews throughout the world. They have the same beliefs and core values. Muslims and Jews are brothers. There is much more that unites us than divides us.” Cohen said the issue of Israel was only a few decades old, but Jews and Muslims have co-existed for 1,400 years. Cohen said, the American people are good, simple people. It is the American administration that is creating problems for Muslims and Arabs. I encourage Arabs and Muslims everywhere to take all legal, peaceful means of resistance. Vote for anyone but Bush, write letters, join protests, do anything you can, he added. Cohen said the exodus of over 100,000 Muslims from America after Sept. 11 is a sad commentary. “There has been a dramatic decline in the number of new immigrants to America. There has been a drop in the number of Asians, Africans and Arabs coming to the US. New immigrants always bring energy, dreams, hard work, growth and revitalization to the US. As an American Jew, I feel America needs Muslims.” (courtesy Arab News, Jeddah)

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News Community Roundup Editorial Letters to the Editor Features Reflections Appeal Transformations Shades Of Life Opinion Issues Children's Corner Globe Quran Speaks to You Hadith Guidelines Our Dialogue Dr. Zakir Naik- Question Hour Special Space Arab News The Other Side Men Missions & Machines Communal Harmony Bakrid Journey To Islam Matrimonial
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