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OCTOBER 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-10 No:166    *   OCTOBER 2000 / RAJJAB 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

NEWS FROM ISLAMIC WORLD


First Islamic Trade Fair in March
Israelis Dig Tunnels under Aqsa Mosque
New Umrah Rules
'Tehran Metro is Operational Now'
Registration of US Muslim Voters
Professor Detained in US for 3 years
Literacy Dips Further in Afghanistan
Muslims in Spain
Saudi Crown Prince Meets Islamic Heads in US
Science Clubs for Arab Women
OIC Directory of Scholars
Study on Zubaidah Canal
Iraq-Syria Rail Link Restored
King Fahd Mosque, Centre in Bosnia
Institute for Inter-religious Dialogue
Ali Mian Scholarship
Iran Commissions Nuclear Submarine
New Mosque
Kuwait Wakf Website
New Jeddah Mayor Appointed

First Islamic Trade Fair in March

Jeddah : The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) will organize the First Islamic Trade Fair here from March 18-23, 2001, in cooperation with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and it would be in the framework of the IDB's 25th anniversary celebrations that began in May 1999. The aim of the fair would be to increase trade exchanges and investments between member countries by giving each country an opportunity to put up a stall, and thus be able to meet with businessmen from more than 50 countries.

A joint press conference was held at the IDB headquarters here by the IDB President, Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali, during which a call was made to businessmen and industrialists from all parts of the world, particularly from the 53 Muslim countries, to participate in this fair. This is the first fair of its kind that is organized by the bank, in its desire to strengthen intra-Islamic trade and investment.

The IDB President said that at the moment trade between Muslim member countries is only 10 per cent, and that this was not enough, adding that as per the resolution of the Eight Islamic Summit that was held in Tehran, trade exchanges between Muslim countries should be increased.

Dr. Ali said each country would be able to showcase its products, be they agricultural, industrial or other, at its stand at the exhibition.

For his part, Arm Dabbagh, chairman of the Jeddah Marketing Council and the chairman of the Jeddah's Marketing Council, an offshoot of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (and the entity that has been charged with the responsibility of organizing the fair) said that it would also be possible to organize on the fringes of the fair seminars dealing with business and investment opportunities in the Muslim countries, and also to arrange face-to-face meetings with the various representatives of the countries concerned.

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Israelis Dig Tunnels under Aqsa Mosque

Amman : The Israelis have dug up a web of tunnels beneath the Al-Aqsa mosque and other Islamic sites and monuments in Jerusalem. This was stated by engineer Raif Najm, a member of the committee for Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Raif Najm said Israel has ignored the verbal protestations of Muslims and Arabs. He said the digging is being done in the name of excavations and some of the tunnels are upto one kilometre long.

He said the sole purpose of all these excavations is to look for what they call David's City, knowing very well that even the previous excavations did not come up with any indication that there is such a city. The only thing they found were Yebusite and Roman walls. He said the present excavations would, therefore, yield nothing new that could add to what previous archeologists had discovered, and the only motive that could be ascribed to the present diggings is to weaken the foundations of the Islamic historical and religious landmarks in the areas, making them vulnerable to the slightest earth tremor.

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New Umrah Rules

Riyadh: The new Umrah regulations that allow pilgrims to visit all parts of Saudi Arabia will come into effect from safar 1422 (i.e., April 2001). The duration for the Umrah will be for 30 days. The manual of new rules has been issued by the Ministry of Haj. The Umrah can now be performed between the month of safar and shawwal. The Saudi authorities expect nearly one million pilgrims for Umrah under the new rules.

The Umrah visits would be organised by 230 corporations and tourist offices. The pilgrims will have to obtain special permission for visit to parts of Saudi Arabia other than holy sites. Transit visas will also be issued for the purpose.

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'Tehran Metro is Operational Now'

Rahmotallah Khosaravi, Chairman, Tehran City Council

New Tehran Metro

Maqbool Ahmed Siraj

Tahmotallah Khosravi, Chairman, Tehran City CouncilBangalore: Tehran Metro, the city rail for the Iranian capital is now operating on 47 kilometre length. On completion it will have a total track length of 140 kilometres. Of the already operational 47 kms, 30 km track is above ground and 17 km underground. This was stated by chairman of the Tehran City Council, Rahmotallah Khosravi in an interview with Islamic Voice.

Khosravi was in Bangalore in early September to attend the inauguration of M.S. Ramaiah School of Advanced Studies.

Khosravi said Tehran Metro was planned to tackle the volume of daily commuters to Tehran whose population at night is 7.5 million but soars to 11 million during the day as 3.5 million people visit the city for work. He said the Iranian government is developing satellite towns of Pardis, Hashtgard, Damavand and Islam Shahar, all within 45 kms from Tehran to take away urban load on Tehran. He said Tehran has one-sixth of Iran's population and is spread over 755 sq. kms.

Tehran City Council BuildingKhosravi said the President Khatami's government believed in decentralization of power and had formed the Tehran City Council in order to ensure popular participation in the civic affairs of the Capital. He said President Khatami's party had promised formation of the City Council in its manifesto.

Khosravi said Iran's current economic growth rate is between 4 and 4.5 per cent and the country was into its third five-year plan. The Khatami government is going in a big way for foreign investment, tourism, export of non-oil items like carpets. He said Iran is poised to roll out its first passenger and transport planes which will be test flown by the next Persian new year. (This starts from March 21 every year.) He said Iran had progressed considerably in engineering and construction industry. Agriculture co-operatives are being organized under cooperatives.

Asked if the Islamic spirit of revolution is being diluted, Khosravi said there is general stress on empowerment of people and allowing more freedom to the press. He said women have been free ever since the Islamic revolution. Even now there were 16 women MPs in the Majlis and the country's vice president was a woman.

Khosravi said any turnaround in Iran's relationship with the United States can come about only when that country believes in equal and honest relationship between the two countries.

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Registration of US Muslim Voters

Washington: Muslims in the US registered themselves as voters at mosques nationwide during American Muslim Voter Registration Day on September 15. The effort is the culmination of a month-long campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group.

In August, CAIR sent voter registration guides to thousands of Muslim activists and leaders as part of the largest campaign of its type targeting American Muslims. The guides, prepared by CAIR's Research Centre, contained: 1) an explanation of why Muslims should participate in the political process in order to promote what is good and to challenge injustice, 2) instructions on how to conduct a voter registration drive, 3) a copy of the National Mail Voter Registration Form, and 4) sample voter registration fliers, candidate surveys and registration log sheets.

American Muslims are becoming increasingly involved in the political process at both the national and local levels. According to a CAIR poll of 755 eligible Muslim voters taken in June, almost a quarter of the respondents said they had not decided whom to vote for or were not satisfied with any of the candidates. Sixty-four per cent said they cast a ballot in the last election. (That figure is higher than the national average of about 50 percent.) Ninety per cent of respondents said they planned on voting in the November election.

American Muslim support for current presidential candidates was more or less evenly split between Al Gore (33 per cent) and George W. Bush (28 per cent). Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader trailed with 7 per cent and 5 per cent approval ratings respectively. CAIR will distribute a new survey this month to determine whether Muslim preferences have changed since the end of party conventions and the selection of vice presidential candidates.

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Professor Detained in US for 3 years

Washington : A Muslim professor at the University of Florida, has been detained since 1997, and the accusation is that his Residence Permit had expired. The police have declined to release him, on the pretext that he constitutes a threat to the national security of the US, on the basis of secret evidence that cannot be divulged to the judge or the accused person so that he defend himself. The Secret Evidence Act is applied only to Muslims and Arabs

Muslims are up against this law that does not allow an accused person to know what he is accused of, so that he could defend himself, and he therefore remains incarcerated.

A number of US judges have ruled against secret evidence, saying that it is not fair and goes contrary to the American judicial system. The IINA which circulated the news did not identify the professor.

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Literacy Dips Further in Afghanistan

Kabul : About 95 per cent of Afghanistan's children do not attend school, a clear indication that the educational system in the country is in shambles, due mainly to the continuation of the 12-year armed conflict. A whole generation of Afghans has grown up in a state of illiteracy, and girl's education has been worst affected. They are forbidden from attending even the few school that are left, while female teachers have been stopped from pursuing their career. Up to 1996, 70 per cent of the teachers in Kabul were women, and 8,000 girls were attending the Kabul University but were forbidden from continuing with their education. They made up 40 per cent of the student population.

According to the UN, teachers and professors are leaving the country. Experts say that Afghanistan had the highest rate of illiteracy in the world, but now the situation has become even worse.

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Muslims in Spain

Madrid: It is estimated that there are 700,000 Muslims in Spain, 200,000 of whom born in Spain, with most of them living in the urban areas, such as Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, in addition to those who live in the twin Moroccan cities of Ceuta and Melilla, that are occupied by Spain.

About 30,000 embraced Islam during the last two decades, and there are now 300 mosques or prayer halls, three of the mosques in the capital, Madrid. The largest of these mosques is the Islamic Cultural Center that was set up by the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL), from a donation that was made by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz. The center serves needs of the Muslims in the area, particularly in the field of Fatwas, Dawah, and the conducting of Muslim marriages, plus the ceremonial washing of the dead and making other funeral arrangements.

However, in spite of the fact that following the demise of General Franco Spain has moved toward a democratic and secularist system, Muslims in Spain still experience some difficulties in their day-to-day dealings, particularly in view of the adverse publicity the linking Muslims to terrorism. For this reason, Muslims, particularly those of Algerian origin, face constant searches by the security entities and other forms of harassment, not only in public places but even in their homes.

Spanish Muslims also do not have slaughter houses which they could use for slaughtering animals in the Islamic way, though in the capital's abattoir two days a week are set aside for Muslims to oversee the slaughtering and make sure that it is done the Islamic way.

There is also only one Muslim cemetery, near the capital, Madrid, and in the twin cities of Ceuta and Melilla, due mainly to the large number of Muslims in those two cities.

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Saudi Crown Prince Meets Islamic Heads in US

New York: Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, who is also Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, met here heads of several Islamic societies in America, and during the conversation with them he welcomed the idea of sending American Muslim students to study in Saudi universities. He also welcomed any delegation of legal minds to come to the Kingdom and observe how the Islamic Sharia as being implemented in the Kingdom.

The Saudi Crown Prince suggested to the heads of Islamic societies in America to form endowments for supporting charitable and humanitarian deeds. He also stressed that Jerusalem is non-negotiable, because it is one of those Muslim sanctuaries that cannot possibly be given up.

Answering a question on linking Islam with extremists, Prince Abdullah said: "We owe it to ourselves to be truthful with ourselves."

He said terrorism knows no religion, but it is a pity that some Muslims have become enslaved to the Devil and they resort to such nasty things. He said Islam, its principles and direction utterly deprecates all forms of terrorism, adding that the very few who indulge in such things in the name of Islam are Muslims in name only.

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Science Clubs for Arab Women

Abu Dhabi : The AGFUND, an Arab Gulf Fund that supports UN development projects, has agreed to fund the setting up of scientific clubs for girls in the Arab Gulf countries.

The first such club would be set up in Abu Dhabi, as directed by the UNESCO's Regional Conference on the interaction of the Arab women with science and technology. The project is supervised by the Federation of Emirate Women.

The project aims at paving the way for an atmosphere that is conducive to the participation of women in scientific hobbies and to spend their leisure time in developing their scientific knowledge. It is also aimed at building up the required capacities and at encouraging the spirit of invention and research.

The Abu Dhabi model of the proposed clubs will cost in the US$ 165,000, and involves the UNESCO, the Ajman University of Science and Technology, and the UNDP.

Since the foundation of AGFUND in 1980, under the chairmanship of Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz, it has financed 27 educational, health and other development projects in the United Arab Emirates.

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OIC Directory of Scholars

Rabat : A 1466-page directory of scholars who are active in member countries of the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and their scientific theses has been published in Islamabad, Pakistan. The publication is in English and was made possible with the cooperation of the Islamic Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Permanent Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTEC), an offshoot of the OIC and is based in Islamabad.

ISESCO has previously published a statistical book that also included the Directory of Universities in Muslim States, the Directory of Women's Organizations, and the Directory of Islamic Organizations in the World, among several other directories.

All these publications were in three languages, namely Arabic, English and French. Email: cid@isesco.org.ma

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Study on Zubaidah Canal

Makkah: Saudi crown prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has ordered a special study to restore Zubaidah Canal which brought water from several springs to the holy sites of pilgrimage. He has allocated Saudi Riyals seven million for the purpose.

Zubaidah, wife of Abbasid caliph Haroon Al-Rasheed, had ordered building of the canal in 149 AH to provide enough water for pilgrims. The water was drawn from Hunain mountains and directed to Makkah through a number of reservoir built in the route.

Prince Abdullah has ordered the study from his personal account in order to build strategic water reserves for Makkah.

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Iraq-Syria Rail Link Restored

Baghdad : Iraq resumed a rail service to Syria recently , 19 years after rail links between the two countries were cut off, the official Iraqi News Agency said.

INA said the train left the northern city pf Mosul, 420 km north of Baghdad, for the Syrian city of Aleppo carrying 30 passengers and goods. It said the train would undertake the 520 km 20 hour trip once a week. Relations between Baghdad and Damascus have improved in recent months after two decades of tension.

Syria, ruled by a rival branch of the Baath Party , backed Tehran in the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war and was a member of a U.S.-led 30 state coalition that drove Iraqi forces from Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf war.

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King Fahd Mosque, Centre in Bosnia

Sarajevo: The King Fahd Mosque and Cultural Center, were opened here on Sept. 15. Among the prominent participants were the President of Bosnia and Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the Governor of Riyadh, who is also the chairman of the Saudi High Commission for the Collection of Donations for Bosnia.

In his speech, Salman said he was pleased to see that peace and stability has returned to the country, and that the refugees have returned to their homes, adding that the clouds of oppression and aggression have passed away. He said he as well as all the Muslims who see the Minarets are happy at the spectacle, adding that this is due to the Blessings of Allah.

Prince Salman also opened the Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Mosque at Tuzla, 300 kms north of Sarajevo.

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Institute for Inter-religious Dialogue

Cairo : The Government of Egypt has acceded to the request by Sweden to set up a scientific institute that is specialized in matters dealing with dialogue between religions, with its headquarters in Cairo, though it is to be built by the Swedish Government.

Sheikh Mahmoud Abdul Ghani Ashur, Undersecretary for Al-Azhar, told IINA that the institute would be built on 1,500 square metres of land, and will cost around US$ One million. The objective of the institute would be to organize discussions and dialogues between the various religions, so that wrong notions and distortions about Islam could be corrected by the experts and scholars who would be accredited to the institute. It will also deal with some of the idea and many issues that affect other religions.

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Ali Mian Scholarship

London: The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies at the Oxford University has decided to institute scholarship in the memory of late Islamic scholar Maulana Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi of Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow. The decision was taken on September 4 at the 18th session of the Board of Trustees of the Centre.

The Board decided to jointly award the Sultan of Brunei International Award for the running year to three Islamic scholoars. One maong the scholars is Zia Akram Umri of Jordan.

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Iran Commissions Nuclear Submarine

Dubai: Iran has commissioned its first indigenous nuclear submarine in the Gulf waters. Called "As-Sabahat", the submarine can cope with diverse weather conditions and can operate in shallow as well as deep waters.

Iranian Majlis speaker Ali Shamkhani who commissioned the submarine at Bandar Abbas, said Iran has now developed the capability to manufacture all kinds of submarine.

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New Mosque

Kent (Ohio-US): A mosque and Islamic Center were opened her by Imam of Haram Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudeis last month. The mosque can take in 1500 namazis. 600 Muslims attended the inaugral Friday prayers.

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Kuwait Wakf Website

Kuwait City : Kuwait Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs has launched its Internet website, which can be visited at www.awkaf.net

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New Jeddah Mayor Appointed

Dr. Abdul Fattah bin Fouad Abdul Fattah has been appointed the new mayor of Jeddah. He replaces Dr. Nuzhaba bin Hassan Naseef. Abdul Fattah was hitherto director general of water and sewarage Authority of Madinah.

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