Volume 15-10 No:178
Jeddah : Prince Sultan ibn Salman, secretary-general of the Supreme Commission for Tourism in Saudi Arabia, has said the new Umrah system by the Haj Ministry would improve services for pilgrims. He disclosed that the Commission’s plan to organize special tourist programmes for Umrah pilgrims.
“The commission will provide all the facilities for pilgrims wanting to visit various historic places in the Kingdom after performing Umrah,” the prince said.
Madani said the ministry has licensed 204 companies and establishments to serve Umrah visitors. “These companies have been linked with their agents abroad and the ministry by a computer system,” he added.
It may be recalled that Umrah pilgrims can now visit other parts of Saudi Arabia such as Riyadh on production of a sponsorship letter and copy of the Iqamah of their sponsoring relatives. The Umrah visas have also a validity of one month.
The Iron curtain society that Saudi Arabia is, had so far barred entry of pilgrims to places others than strictly associated with the pilgrimage i.e., point of embarkation Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah, and the holy sites on the Haj trail. However, dwindling oil income, increasing security budget due to stationing of the US forces in the Western region etc. have forced the Saudi regime “to open the tourism sector”. South Asian expats who were so far restrained from seeing their relatives working in the Eastern region are therefore being allowed to visit those areas.
Skopje, IINA: Muslims make up about a third of Macedonia’s population of 2,141,000, and apart from the indigenous ethnic Albanians, there are other ethnic groups, such as Turks, and others. But the Muslims generally face a lot of social, economic, health and other life’s problems, mainly because they have not had any influence in the affairs of the country, and even in the civil service their presence is negligible.
In the field of education also they are denied any worthwhile educational opportunities, even at the secondary level, let alone at the level of higher education.
On the social level, there is a law in Macedonia that makes it illegal for an ethnic Albanian couple to produce more than three children, and should one beget a fourth child, the child’s birth is not registered with the Registrar of Births and there is denied all legitimate rights.
There are now in Macedonia about 145,000 ethnic Albanian Muslims who are without Macedonian citizenship - none of them has a passport, they don’t have the right to conclude a marriage, and they are not entitled to any medical treatment or other social services that are taken for granted by other compatriots.
The Muslims in Macedonia are living in a state where the constitution clearly says that Macedonia is only for Macedonians only.
Jakarta, IINA: The State Institute of Islamic Studies Syarif Hidayatullah here will soon be converted into State Islamic University. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has given a loan commitment for a total of 300 billion rupiah (around US$27 million) for financing such facilities as a student center, a business center, a university club, a research and development center, a language development center, a laboratory and a mosque. The orientation of the university is also being enlarged from merely Islamic education to religious studies integrated with contemporary technology and knowledge, said the Rector Dr. Sowito.
The institute has around 22,000 graduates of various graduation levels, from diploma to post-graduate. Besides locals, its students are drawn from countries such as Syria, Algeria, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
Dar-es-Salaam, IINA: The Muslim Students Association of the University of Dar-es-Salaam (MSAUD) has protested over the negative portrayal of Muslims in radio and TV dramas here. In a statement issued here, MSAUD said the media was linking witchcraft with Muslims even though witchcraft was contrary to the teachings of Islam.
The statement added that the practice of witchcraft has also been associated with the usage of Arabic words related to Islam. The Muslim students have further urged the stations to stop portraying conmen as actors with Muslim ways of dressing.
According to the statement, the dramas have also been showing actors with Muslim names as uncouth and uncultured people.
Muslims form more than 50 per cent of the Tanzanian population and over the recent times they have increasingly complained on being marginalized in the public affairs in favour of Christians. In another development, Muslim institutions in this Muslim city have cautioned over the gradual trend of Christianizing Muslim funerals. The Secretary General of the based Muzdalifah International Islamic Charitable Organization (MICO), Sheikh Jumanne Athumani Kasonso told IINA here that his organization plans to build three mortuaries for Muslims here, in order to check the trend of mixing Muslim funerals with non-Muslim ones.
Sheikh Kasonso, mentioned the growing trend of paying last respects to the dead person, unnecessary preservation of the dead body before burial, making speeches at the burial place and the free mixing of men and women at the funeral places were imitations from Christians.
Khartoum, IINA: Dr. Ahmed Bilal Othman, Sudan’s Minister of Health, has laid the foundation stone for the Makkah Charity Teaching Hospital, which would be builtby the International Basar Charity Organization. In his address to thegathering, the minister lauded the action of that organization in setting such a hospital in Sudan, and said his ministry would do everything possible to help in the implementation of this project. He said his ministry also intends to set up a satellite medical communication unit that would be hooked to other medical institutions in the world, so as to obtain the latest data and information about the developments taking place in the medical field, and in that way help in the training of Sudan’s medical cadres.
Cairo, IINA: Sheikh Ali Abul Hasan, head of the Fatwa (Islamic ruling) committee at Al-Azhar, has stressed that there should be witnesses to make divorce valid. He said Imam Ali ibn Abu Taleb and a large number of other companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) had the same opinion.
“There are evidences which prove that no divorce would be valid without witnesses,” Abul Hasan said, quoting a verse from the Holy Qur’an, which says “Persons of good reputation among you be a witness to it.”
Jamal Qutub, secretary-general of the committee, said divorce has become rampant in Muslim societies, threatening the very existence of families, for not following the Islamic principles and conditions of divorce.
Bangkok, IINA: The prime minister of Thailand has said his government will establish an Islamic bank to attract more investments from the Middle East.
He said the proposed bank will not carry out any activities that contradict with the Islamic teachings. “Many Muslim countries have expressed their readiness to invest in our country,” he added.
He said the bank will be established within a few months, but did not give more details. Six million of Thailand’s population of 62 million is Muslim.
Cairo, IINA: President Muhammad Husni Mubarak of Egypt has named Cairo University’s Dr. Mahmoud Fahmi Hijazy as Chancellor of Nur Mubarak University in Kazakhstan. His deputy will be Dr. Shamsuddin Karimov, a Kazakh.
The University would teach the Al-Azhar syllabus and draw most of its staff from the Azhar and will admit 2,000 students, boys and girls both for the first academic session beginning in September. This would obviate the need for CIS students to come to Al-Azhar for higher studies. Even the academic staff would be drawn from Al-Azhar, and the university’s recurrent budget would be borne by the Egyptian Government.