TURKEY MOSQUE SERVIVES EARTHQUAKE: Golcuk's mosque that
remains intact with its tall Minaret, while the surrounding resdential
buildings have all been razed to the ground in the recent earthquake.
ISTANBUL: Sources at the Directorate for Religious Affairs in Turkey have reported that the latest earthquake destroyed many mosques and Qur'an schools, with some of the affected villages now without a single mosque. The worshippers are now praying in the open, while some of the Imams and Muezzins met their fate during the earthquake. The quake affected more than 400 square kilometres, and left nearly 14,000 dead, and more than 30,000 injured, while thousands of homes and utilities have been destroyed. However, reports also indicate that some of the historical mosques in the quake zone were not destroyed, and this is an indication of the firmness of their foundations, while almost all the mosques that were destroyed were those that were built during the era of the Turkish Republic.
The Directorate of Religious Affairs in Turkey also reported that after last week's Friday Prayers, funeral prayers in absentia were said in various parts of Turkey for those who died under its impact, and supplications were made for the quick recovery of those who were injured.
The Directorate of Religious Affairs called upon the Turkish people to continue helping the victims of the earthquake, by collecting more donations, so that the living victims can be taken care of and the mosques and schools that have been destroyed can be repaired or restored.
The Emergency Center, which comes under the office of the Prime Minister, has announced that all the schools and hospitals in the affected areas have become inoperative, because they have been adversely affected, particularly in the city of Izmit. Many of these hospitals were completely destroyed and buried with everything that was in them, including their inpatients, and therefore have to be built anew, said the report.
A spokesman for the Emergency Centre told IINA correspondent that hundreds of primary and secondary schools in the affected areas have been destroyed, and this would affect on the next academic year, which is supposed to begin in September.
The Director of Education in the Istanbul region said she was prepared to put up temporary schools, by using tents which the Turkish Government has made available to the victims.
The Turkish Government has also issued an appeal to various international organs and governments for help in the reconstruction of the destroyed cities, particularly schools, hospitals and residential quarters.
The Arab-Cypriot-Turkish Solidarity Committee is leading a relief campaign for helping the quake victims in Turkey, and, in conjunction with a number of Turkish charitable societies, has initiated a project for helping the orphaned, displaced and other affected families.
The earthquake has left behind 4,000 orphaned and homeless children, in addition to nearly 200,000 Turkish nationals living in the open after the quake had destroyed their homes.
The secretary-general of the committee, Muhammad Adil, has said that some Western organizations are suspected of colluding with church organs in initiating a project for providing refuge for the orphaned children. He said this has prompted some Turkish charitable Muslim organizations to take quick steps in saving the childrens' potential adoption by the Christian missionary zealots.
He said it has been possible to find refuge in residences provided by charitable organizations for a large number of the orphans, while others have been distributed to other Muslim families. Adil revealed that the committee is conducting an international campaign in the Muslim world, aimed at collecting donations for the construction of a special shelter for the orphaned children, so that they can be educated and brought up on Islamic principles. (IINA)
ISTANBUL: The strong earthquake that hit the coastal region of Turkey in August demolished thousands of buildings. But surprisingly all the ancient mosques survived the wild shocks. Wait! Do not attribute any divine design to the phenomenon. Man has more to do with planning his own disaster than the heavens.
According to architects, greedy contractors who did not care for the safety regulations and bribed the officials were responsible for the disaster much more than the quake. But most buildings, built during Ottoman period, survived the quake. Mosques built during the age remained intact. Famous Turkish architect, Sinan, constructed the buildings to resist earthquakes. Most of these mosques used two very narrow columns made of breccia verde, a special type of marble. These acted as earthquake gauges.
MAKKAH (IINA): The Muslim World League has urged all Muslims to extend emergency aid to their brethren in Turkey, so as to ameliorate their suffering following the recent earthquake which has killed close to 15,000 and left nearly a million homeless.
The International Islamic Relief Organisation (IIRO) has already dispatched 300 tonnes of medical and food supplies in 15 containers, and its office in Turkey has devised a swift plan for the distribution of the aid to those who need it most. This is done in coordination with the Turkish Red Crescent Society and other relief agencies now working in Turkey.
US AID: A group of US citizens of Turkish origin has formed an organisation for collecting donations for the victims of the recent earthquake, and have appealed to all Americans, of all religious persuasions to help in this effort. Nihad Awad, President of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has said that Muslims are duty-bound to help their brethren in Turkey.
ISTANBUL: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited areas of northwestern Turkey hit by a massive earthquake on August 17, the first foreign head of government to visit the stricken zone. Mr. Sharif said on arrival at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, ‘We want to be with our Turkish brothers and we want to help them.’ A Pakistani cargo aircraft carrying 20 tonnes of relief - mostly medicine, blankets and sleeping bags - accompanied Mr. Sharif. He said Pakistan would send medical teams to establish field hospitals for the treatment of the affected people.
Pakistan has already sent six plane loads of aid and its effort will continue, Mr. Sharif said before flying by military helicopter to Yalova, one of the worst hit cities in the quake that has so far claimed more than 13000 lives.
WASHINGTON (USIS) : M. Osman Siddique, a Muslim of Bangladeshi origin has been sworn in as US ambassador to Fiji, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu. These are small island republics in the Pacific Ocean. Ambassador Siddique, who was nominated by President Clinton on May 27 this year and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 5, 1999, is the first Muslim to be appointed to represent the United States abroad as an Ambassador. Following his swearing-in ceremony, Siddique said he believed he was the first American ambassador of the Islamic faith to take the oath of office with his hand on the Holy Qur’an. The Christian Bible is traditionally used to swear in US officials and Siddique said his wife, Catherine Mary Siddique, provided one for the ceremony.
Ambassador Siddique was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was the former President and Chief Executive Officer of ITI/Travelogue, Inc., a corporate travel management company he founded in 1976. ITI/Travelogue, Inc. is currently one of the top minority-owned businesses in Washington D.C., area and one of the largest travel management companies in the US. Siddique has served on several Presidential delegations and was a member of the National Democratic Institute’s International Observer Delegation to the Bangladesh Parliamentary Elections in 1996.
ISLAMABAD: A 10th standard student has excelled as a computer enthusiast by acquiring the coveted status of MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer). Bilal Iqbal of Islamabad Model College has become the world’s youngest MCSE. He started taking interest in computers like any other child a few years ago. It gradually developed into a passion. For about three years he has been the system operator and administrator of his own Bulletin Board Service (CompuCraze BBS).
He later bought and placed his own PC at Illinois, USA , and started providing Internet service from there while sitting here in Islamabad. He has grown into a web developer and programmer. During the recent summer vacation, he started preparing for the MCSE course which is a hard-strived certificate for the IT community.
He completed all six certification papers in 25 days (it usually takes six months to one year for an average person to qualify), which is considered a record.
SALE: Morocco started releasing thousands of prisoners, including foreigners and some Islamists, following an amnesty decreed by the North African country’s new king, officials said. “We began setting free detainees following the royal amnesty which was announced recently”, an official at the Sale prison said. Sale is the twin city of the Moroccan capital Rabat. He said about 700 inmates of the prison were benefited by the royal pardon. Officials said thousands of other pardoned prisoners were being freed elsewhere across the country.
MANAMA: India’s Birla Institute of Technology has established its first overseas training facility in Bahrain with the maiden academic session commencing in October this year for the local and regional students. Called Birla Institue of Technology International Centre (Bitic), the Bahrain-based institute offers training and educational programmes that are designed to provide the skills and experience to supplement the growing demand for trained manpower and to help the industrial development in the Gulf region.
The establishment of Bitic is in line with the policy of the government of Bahrain to develop the country as a regional hub for training as well as human resources development for the region.
Bitic has been established under the auspices of the ministry of education and the ministry of labour and social affairs, and in collaboration with Mohammad Jalal and Sons, one of Bahrain’s leading business houses. According to Nevin Meghchiani, general manager of Mohamed Jalal and Sons.
Technical and Automotive services, students who have completed their secondary school (12th Grade) or any other equivalent examination of a recognised board, with subjects physics, chemistry and mathematics, will be eligible to apply for the Modular Technical Education and Training Programmes offered by Bitic. A two year educational programme at Bitic will qualify the students to obtain a higher diploma in technology in computer science and engineering, or electronics and telecommunications engineering or industrial/production engineering. Students who successfully complete the first module will have the option to continue the second module of two years, leading to a B.Tech degree on the main campus in India.
GENEVA: Dr. Fawziya Al-Shafi’i, a professor at the University of Switzerland, warned against the distortions about Islam that are contained in educational syllabi in Europe.
In her research paper entitled “The Other Perspective in History and Geography Books on North and South of the Mediterranean Sea, “she said the worst part of it is that the syllabi are taught to young children in primary schools, adding that what enters the mind at that formative age is difficult to eradicate later on. For her research, Dr. Fawziya chose Spain, France, and Greece, as representative of Christianity in Europe, and said that the history and geography books written in Europe portray Muslims in a very unreasonable way, and they even deny that the Qur’an was God’s revelation. In another development, participants at the Muslim-Christian Dialogue in Switzerland, to celebrate 900 years since the beginning of the Crusades, confirmed that the educational syllabi uses followed in European schools completely distort the image of Islam.
LONDON: A public limited company, Halal World Plc., was floated here last month to raise three million sterling pounds to fund the slaughtering, manufacturing of meat products and its sale through retail outlets throughout the UK and Europe. Joint managing director Zahid Yaqoob said : “Keeping the entire production, distribution and marketing chain in-house, Halal World can guarantee that not only is the meat prepared according to strict Islamic shariah, but that it also meets the best practices in the industry with regard to animal welfare, hygiene and temperature control distribution.”
According to The Muslim News, the Halal World Plc has five retail outlets- two in Birmingham, and one each in Nottingham, Manchester and Kingsbury and are planning to open 50 more shops.
The company would establish its own abattoirs and would market the meat under the brand of “Mr. Halal’s Kitchen”.
The halal meat would meet two objectives of doing the slaughter (zabah) in the name of God and draining the meat of all the blood which carries organisms of disease.
PARIS: The Ibn Sina Medical Association in France held its annual conference in Limoge, under the theme “The Muslim Patient in the Hospitals and the Use of Forbidden Components in the Medicines Used.” The previous conference dealt with organ transplantation.
The association was formed in 1988 and its members are Muslim expatriate doctors residing in France. Among the objectives of the association is to bring together Arab and Muslim doctors in France and contribute toward the solution of some of their problems. Another aim is to impart medical enlightenment on the Muslim youth living in France, particularly the second generation French Muslims, so that they can be protected from some of the prevalent diseases in Europe. Also it is the aim of the association to project the Islamic medical heritage in a simple and contemporary way. The association also strives to defend the Islamic medical ethics, and to present the Islamic viewpoint on the contemporary medical issues (such as mercy killing, organ transplantation, and the like), and it also coordinates with other organs in providing medical relief where and when it is needed.
LONDON: The Islamic Cultural Center in London has announced its aid programme for prisons in Britain in appointing staff from among the Muslim minority communities in the country. Dr. Hamad Al-Majid, the Director of the center said that the Prisons Commission in Britain has become an executive agency of the Ministry of the Interior since 1993, and has a staff complement of 32,000, among them 1,900 of them occupying senior positions. The Prisons Commission, he said, offers good salaries and prospects for promotion are good, and it encourages members of minority groups to join the service. There are openings for various officer grades in the prison service, as well as administrative, medical, and other personnel.
PRISTINA (IINA): Dr Abdullah bin Saleh Al-Obeid, Secretary-General of the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) has visited a number of towns and villages in Kosova and inspected several institutions, schools, mosques, libraries etc. that were damaged by the Serb aggressors.
Accompanying Dr Obeid on the visit were representatives of various Islamic organisations who were attending the 21st meeting of the Relief Committee of the International Islamic Council for Da’awa and Relief. They visited such places as the town of Prizren, Pija where they saw for themselves the destruction wreaked by the Serbs. They also met Najmuddin bin Khoja, chairman of the Islamic Trust, an offshoot of the Islamic Sheikhs’ Council. He gave them a detailed explanation of the Serb atrocities.
Educational Survey: A report on the state of education in Kosovo indicates that in 1990 the Serbian authorities expelled all the students who were of Albanian origin, and terminated the services of all the teachers who were Muslims and of Albanian origin. The survey has found that there were 452 primary schools, 27 secondary schools, and the total student population in both levels was 336,972. There is only one university in Kosovo, and there are 14 colleges, with a total enrolment of 27,000 students. The field survey reveals that 25 percent of those schools have been destroyed or razed to the ground by fire. Some of them were looted, while others were used as police units for the Serbian aggressors.
Consumerist Practices Condemned
RIYADH: The consumerist practice of increasing sales through fixing of prizes has been condemned as un-Islamic. The competitions organised by business houses that entail either the drawing of a number or the purchase of some product(s) and then getting a prize, violate the spirit of Islamic teachings, said Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan, member of the Ifta Committee of Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Fawzan, a member of the Supreme Commission of Scholars, said the method is tantamount to winning something using the wrong means, and a sort of gambling, which the Qur’an totally forbids. “First of all you make someone buy something that he does not need, but buys only in the hope of getting a prize. Having bought such unneeded goods, one is then either forced to throw them away or distribute them,” said the Sheikh. Such an activity harms the other business houses that do not make such offers. Such harmful ruses are forbidden in Islam, said the Sheikh.
TEHRAN: Iran’s first women only police station opened on August 22 in the city of Mashhad in the north east of the country. The papers did not say how many women had been taken on. The Iranian parliament gave permission last September for the police to recruit female officers, whose tasks will include supervising driving exams, body searches of women, issuing passports to women, managing women’s prisons and dealing with crimes against morality. They will also enforce the Islamic dress code. The policewomen themselves will wear the long black Chador with a band in Green. The Iranian authorities have said that women-only stations would be opened in at least five of the country’s major cities, including the capital. Mandana Hosseini , as an adviser to the chief of the Iranian police, told the press recently that the recruitment of women was an experiment.
JEDDAH : The committee constituted for the study of the issue of establishment of a branch of the Al-Azhar University in the United States of America has completed its work.
The committee headed by Dr. Ahad Umar Hashim, Chancellor, Al-Azhar University, has asserted in its report that the government of USA has no objection in having a branch of the university on its lands, particularly in view of the need of the Muslims there in understanding Islam from its authentic sources and the existence of a branch of Al-Azhar there would go a long way towards improvement of relation and initiating an indepth dialogue between religions and fighting the divergent currents and those opposed to Islam.
At the sametime Dr. Mahmood al Sawi, Director, Department of American Open University for Ulama studies in Cairo, has asserted in his release “Ash-Sharq al-Awsat” that a delegation from Al-Azhar would visit the headquarters of the university in Washington to acquaint itself with the curriculum and syllabus and to deliver some lectures. This visit is to undertake the task of evaluation of the curriculum of American university and that of the Al-Azhar university.
Dr al-Sawi has indicated that the American university is working on the issue of opening a number of overseas centres which specialised in the study of Islamic science for Arab and European countries. This will be in arrangement with the Al-Azhar university and Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for preparing necessary curriculum and syllabus.
JAKARTA (IINA): The President of Al-Azhar University, Dr. Ahmed Omar Hashim, will shortly finalise an agreement on the opening of a branch of Al-Azhar University in Indonesia. Indonesia’s ambassador in Cairo, Dr. Qureishi Shihab, said that a delegation from Al-Azhar would visit Indonesia in September, for this purpose.
Al-Azhar had accepted Indonesia’s offer to set up primary, intermediate and secondary streams in Indonesia. It will also establish a College of Islamic Studies in the country. Al-Azhar was founded over 1000 years ago, and is one of the largest Islamic educational and Da’awa institutions. It also has academic links with Western universities, such as Cambridge, Sorbonne, and Harvard.
LONDON (IINA): An international conference will be organised here in October to discuss possibility of holding a dialogue between the two civilisations, namely Islam and the West.
Among the main movers of this idea are well known figures, such as Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi and Abdulwahhab Al-Masiriy, while from the West are such figures as John El Esposito and Charles Butrot, two well-known Orientalists. Touring the Middle East in preparation for the conference is Dr. Antoine Silivan, one of the sponsors of the conference project.
The purpose of the dialogue would be to respond to the theory of “Clash of Civilisations,” a theory propounded by Samuel Huntington, and prove that there is a lot of common ground between the two civilisations that can lead to peaceful co-existence.
RIYADH: Liberian President Charles Taylor will convert to Islam on a forthcoming trip to Makkah, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported. Mr. Taylor was influenced by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi over a lunch at Sirte, on the Libyan coast, the daily said quoting informed sources.
Col. Gaddafi reportedly invited Mr Taylor to Islam and the Liberian President reacted by saying he was enamoured of “Islamic values and was studying deeply the precepts of the religion,” Okaz said. The newspaper’s editor was also present at the lunch on, the daily said. Mr. Taylor would announce his conversion at the holy city of Makkah on his visit to Saudi Arabia, which Okaz claimed, would take place very soon.
JEDDAH : The Islamic community in Sweden has succeeded in getting approval from the government for the construction of first Mosque in Sweden after continued efforts stretching upto over twenty years.
The Islamic community in Sweden was confronted with various steps taken by the authorities in the civil administration who considered the construction of a Mosque would lead to changes in the construction norms in the city. This approval is considered a step towards correcting such trends and will help the Islamic community and grant them the right to practise religious rites in the country.
MELILLA: The small Spanish enclave of Melilla on Moroccan coast in the Mediterranean Sea elected its first Muslim mayor, Mustafa Aberchan, 39, last month. The victory was a surprise as the enclave has only 40 per cent Muslims among its 60,000 and is believed to have come through an alliance.
LONDON (IINA) : An Islamic Educational Centre, estimated to cost 1. 5 million Sterling Pounds will be built in Derby, in Britain. This would be an expansion of the present mosque and the Islamic Centre. It is estimated that the project would take two years to complete. There are a few thousand Muslims living in this area of Britain.
MOSCOW: Four organisations of two crore Russian Muslims have joined to form a new coalition called Medzhlis (Russian equivalent of Majlis). Leader of the coalition, Leonard Rafikov, said it would seek support of other groups too. The Medzhlis claims itself to be a secular body which would attempt to attract a wide cross-section of the Muslim electorate.
It said it would strive to end discrimination against Muslims in Russia as, for example, urging army to respect Islamic dietary laws etc.
King Hassan’s (of Morocco who died on July 23) personal wealth was estimated at $ 40 billion. The country’s national debt stands at around $20 billion. Until about 10 years ago, King Hassan used to figure in the Fortune magazine’s annual list of the world’s wealthiest people. One third of Morocco’s budget is used to service foreign debts. The Opposition, in exile, has been asking questions about the King’s huge private fortune. Reports in Spanish papers after Hassan’s death said that the King had 20 bank accounts. He owned around 20 opulent palaces in Morocco, besides a mansion in a 400-hectare estate near Paris. There is considerable speculation regarding the source of his wealth. Hassan’s father, King Mohammed V, was not known to be very rich.
John Cherian in “A Transition in Morocco” In Frontline, August 27, 1999
BAGHDAD: Pope John Paul will make a pilgrimage to Iraq at the beginning of December this year and will meet President Saddam Hussain, according to the Chaldean Catholic Parrich Raphael Bidawid.
APPOINTED: Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Aal Shaikh has been appointed as the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Chief of the Council of Ulama and Directorate of Scientific Research and Ifta in the rank of a Minister. The royal decree has also decided that the Grand Mufti or his representative will preside over the sessions of the council of Ulama as per the contents of the royal decree.
AWARDED : US based Pakistani scientist Dr. Nabeel A. Raza has won prestigious scientific awards from international and American optics societies. Dr Riza , 35 has 165 publications and 25 patents to his credit. He holds a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
He was presented the fellow awards from the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) and the Optical Society of America (OSA). The fellow award is the highest general distinction honour in the international optics. It said the OSA fellow award cited Dr Riza for his pioneering inventions dealing with the use of light to enable high performance antenna/radar systems. Dr Raza is the inventor of the antenna controller using pocket - size liquid crystal displays (LCD). The SPIE fellow award cited Dr Riza for his invention and development of precision optical instruments can measure objects smaller than a billionth of a metre within a millionth of a second.
ELECTED: For the first time in the history of Britain, a Muslim has been elected to head a local government authority. Abdul Matin, who defeated the rival candidate, Ms Rosemary MacNeil in the Isle of White, said: “I will strive to uphold the moral values in our society, and will try to bring reforms to the electoral system.”
RELEASED: Saudi scholars Shaikh Safar al-Hawali, Shaikh Salman al-Awadh and Sahikh Nasir al-Umar who were detained five years ago for criticising the pro-US policies of Saudi monarchy in the wake of Gulf War were released in June, reported Impact International, London. However, there was no news yet about the release of many scores of Ulama, including Shaikh Saad Ibn Zubair who still remain under political detention.
APPOINTED: Five Muslims figured in the Queen Birthday Honours List last month: Naseem Fatima Khan for serving cultural diversity, Faizur Rahman Choudry for serving community relations in Birmingham, Ahmed Abdi Jama for medical service (He is assistant director, facilities, Preston Acute Hospital), Hossain Rezaie for service to ethnic minority, speciality bread sector (He is managing director, Price Valley Foods) and Mohammad Ishaque for serving patient care (he is general medical practitioner, East Sussex).
APPOINTED: Karnataka Administrative Services (KAS) officer Tahseen Ahmed has taken over as the secretary of the Karnataka Board of Waqfs which is an elected body. Mr Ahmed has positions in Home and several other departments of Karnataka government.
APPOINTED: Dr. Faheem Usman Siddiqui has been appointed as the new administrator of the Punjab Waqf Board which controls the waqf institutions in Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and is considered the most income yielding waqf board in the country. It is a centrally administered body. Dr Siddiqui was hitherto secretary Maulana Azad Educational Foundation under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Elected: Prof. Mumtaz Ali Khan, executive director of Khawja Gharibun Nawaz Welfare Centre has been elected as a member of the Vancouver based International Association for Religious Freedom at its recently held world congress. He has also been nominated as chairman of its coordinating council for South Asia.