By Muhammad Haitham
BERLIN: Newly elected German president Gerhard Schroeder has promised that he would improve the conditions of foreigners in Germany. At a meeting with his close advisers just before the success of his Social Democrats party, he said he wanted to study the question of giving recognition to Islam, adding that it is not proper to ignore the existence of Islam in Germany. When IINA’s correspondent in Germany asked him whether his prospective Foreign Minister would consider establishing a special desk for Islamic affairs at the ministry, he said that the proposition should be considered.
Some members of the Green party object to Muslim women wearing the Hijab and put many impediments to the construction of a new mosques for Muslims in Achen city, saying that it would be “harmful to the environment.” The present Bilal mosque was becoming congested with worshippers and the Muslims thought of building another mosque to reduce the congestion there. Just before the elections, the Supreme Council of Muslims in Germany had called upon Muslims holding German citizenship to participate in the elections, so that they don’t give an opportunity to the extreme rightist parties that are antagonistic to foreigners entering the Bundestag, the German parliament. The Council also called upon Muslims to elect parties which are less antagonistic to the legitimate rights of foreigners. (IINA)
DUBAI: An Islamic Satellite Television Channel was launched with the aim of countering the dominance of decadent western TV programmes in the Gulf.
The channel ‘Iqra’ is owned by the Arab Radio and Television Company and is the brainchild of Saudi millionaire Saleh Kamel. It will be telecasted free to dish-owners in the Middle-East, Africa and Europe. “We aim to present entertaining programmes that are devoid of vulgarity and obscenity and are appropriate for viewing by Muslim families,” said a company statement.
The statement said that ‘Iqra’ wanted to combat corruptive television fare and remains a binding force for unity among Muslims. Iqra, which means read in Arabic, was the first word that the archangel Gabriel spoke to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). Iqra’s director, Abdul Qader Tash, said that the channel hoped eventually to reach all of the world’s one billion Muslims.
WASHINGTON: The Prison Muslim Organization in the United States started its activities in 1981 and is a Da’awa organization which focuses its activities in US prisons, with the aim of turning criminals into useful Muslims by calling them to Islam.
The organization also aims at propagating the Islamic Da’awa in US prisons, in addition to teaching Muslim prisoners who have embraced Islam while in prison. In an interview with the Saudi-based Dawaa, the Muslim Da’awa worker, Muhammad Bashir, founder and president of the Prison Muslim Organization, said the first step in Da’awa work in American prisons starts by gaining credibility and the confidence of the authorities. They later want to ensure that those who visit the prisons fully respect the law. Over the years, he said, this has opened the door to many Da’awa workers and enlisted the cooperation of prison authorities.
The comprehensive Da’awa programmes in prisons also includes lectures and personal conversations whose aim is to cultivate relations with the prisoner concerned and to get to know his problems and try to provide solutions. They are also handed books and other presents. Bashir pointed out that the organization is building mosques in some of the US prisons, after obtaining permission from the concerned authorities. He said this has become possible as a result of establishing rapport with the government authorities in the state of Colorado, which is the headquarters of the organization. Bashir added that his organization is presently concentrating on the large prisons, because the majority of the new Muslims are Afro-Americans, and they represent 80 percent of the Muslims there.
Muhammad Bashir said the organization, in cooperation with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), has established a project called “The Muslim Prisoner Library.” The project started over a year ago when ISNA declared its intention to make available 1000 Islamic libraries, one each for 1000 inmates, each at a cost of $100, with each library consisting of seven books in English, in addition to selected audio cassettes and a copy of the translation of the meanings of the Holy Qur’an.
He said so far 60 such library have been readied, as a result of donations which the society had received, and one of the donor was a Muslim lady in the state of Virginia, who alone donated ten such libraries that cost a total of US$1000.
LONDON: The first phase of Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in West London locality of Kensington was completed last month. The MCHC would fulfil the cultural and spiritual needs of the Muslims and would provide educational needs and vocational training to the Muslim students. The Local Authority supported the Centre. Councillor Lain Hanham said the Centre would provide a focal point for the cultural identity of the 8 to 10,000 Muslims of the community. Acting Director Dr. Abdul Karim Khalil, said the Centre would raise two million sterling pounds for the waqf for various activities.
LONDON: The British Muslims have welcomed the rejection of the report on “combating fundamentalist groups in Europe”, according to the monthly, The Muslim News.
It said without quoting sources, the European Parliament rejected the report by 308 votes to 158 votes and objected to “Islamic fundamentalism” being singled out by the report. The report had been prepared by the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs on a recommendation from the European Parliament made in July 1996.
The report agreed that the term fundamentalism was originally used to describe a Protestant movement in the US which adovcated the strictly literal, acontextual reading of the Bible. However, the definition offered by the report is: “comprising those ideas and practices that conflict with fundamental values and principles which typify the Western social order.”
The Muslim News said the report was first titled “Dangers of Fundamentalism” but was later changed, according to Arie Oostlander, its rapporteur, to “Fundamentalism and the challenges to the European Legal Order”.
Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim council of Britain, said the rejection of the report was a victory for the civil liberties.
WASHINGTON D.C.: The American Islamic Open University started here in 1995, for the purpose of teaching Islamic Shari’a in Arabic to the children of the Muslim community and others through distance learning process, proposes to go online. The University having over 1000 students implements the same academic syllabi which are followed by other ordinary Islamic universities, taking into consideration the special circumstances as to time, situation, and the type of students. It uses the syllabi followed by Saudi Arabian universities and the Al Azhar University in Egypt, in view of the fact that these universities enjoy good reputation in the Muslim world.
The Islamic Open University uses different advanced methods in enabling its students to obtain the study curricula, such as the self-teaching programme by which the student carries out self-tests right away and later refers to the tutor to verify and confirm the answers. The university is now in the process of placing its multimedia lectures on the Internet, to which its students throughout the world would be able to gain access. It is said that the distance learning method used by Islamic Open University is a very flexible one administratively, in that the student does not have to physically attend the lectures on a regular basis. It is a method that is very close to actual attendance, but is far better, because it uses modern technological means of communicating the lessons to the students. These include television, video and audio cassettes, the computer, e-mail, and other means of sophisticated communication for conveying learning material to the students. On the other hand it is not necessary for the student to sit for the exam at the university’s headquarters. To facilitate matters for the student, the exam can be taken at any of the numerous educational centres of the university that are to be found in various regions.
BEIRUT: The 7th Islamic Trade Exhibition was held in the city of Tripoli during October. Participants at the six-day exhibition were mainly members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
Organized by Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy and Trade, in conjunction with the Islamic Center for Trade Development and the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it was aimed at increasing co-operation between Islamic countries and projection of their existing economic opportunities, as well as to encourage active participation in the development and growth of trade exchanges between member countries.
The exhibition area covered a total of 40,000 square metres, of which 10,000 square metres were the indoor area. Apart from the countries, there were several companies and corporations from the private and public sectors taking part. (IINA)
Kuwait: A scientific seminar on the topic "Heredity, Genetic Engineering, Human Genes and Genetic Treatment - the Islamic Perspective" was held here on October 14. It was organized by the Islamic Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), in conjunction with the Islamic Organization for Medical Studies.
Participants in the three-day seminar included doctors and scholars who discussed the topics, issues and the juridical ways of adapting to the problems that emanate from genetic engineering and genetic treatment, and other issues that demand an Islamic opinion and Islamic attitude on their various aspects and dimensions.
ISESCO had previously organized in Doha a seminar on the moral connotations of advanced research in the science of genetic engineering. (IINA)
COLOMBO: The Minister of Culture and Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka, Mr. Lakshman Jaya Kud said that his Government has allocated a large piece of land in Colombo for building an Islamic Center. He said in a press statement made after a visit to Saudi Arabia. He said when the center would be completed it would have atleast five Islamic departments which are now scattered throughout Colombo.
He said that these departments included the Department of Islamic Culture, Endowments Committee and Court, an Islamic library, and a lecture hall. The complex would also include institutes of Arabic language and Islamic studies, plus a youth hostel.
The center will cost US$ 3,000,000, and it is expected that the center will fulfil many of the needs of the Muslim community in the country. It is noteworthy that the Muslims of Sri Lanka constitute 18 per cent of the 18 million total population.
ISLAMABAD : Pakistan's President has inaugurated the International Conference on Imam Abu Hanifa which has been organized by the Institute of Islamic Research at the International Islamic University.
The President called upon Muslim scholars and intellectuals to urge their followers and students to respect the differences of opinion between the various Islamic schools of thought and sects. He appealed to them to copy the example of the ancient scholars in Islamic history and the factional Imams who differed with, yet respected one another's, opinion and the efforts made that differed from theirs.
He said it is a pity that some elements exploit such sectarian differences by using violence and creating tensions, and even killing. He said it is such things that slur the image of Islam.
Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari, Director General of the Institute, said that the conference on the life and work of Imam Abu Hanifah was aimed at acquainting ourselves with the Islamic intellectual and legal heritage. "We want to bring into limelight the formative period of Islamic thought," he pointed out.
Dr. Ahmad Assal, Acting President of University, said that such conferences could help bring the people of different schools of thought together. He called upon the scholars to redouble their research work in order to apprise the Muslim Ummah of the achievements of their ancestors. (IINA)
OSLO : Norway’s Ministry of Education had approved the request of the Norwegian Muslim Association to open the first ever Muslim secondary school in the country.
This important achievement by the Norwegian Muslim Association comes after long research and protracted negotiations with the Ministry of Education in Norway, dating back to 1991.
The President of the Norwegian Humanitarian Society, Eric Jorgenssen, said that approving the establishment of an Islamic school was regarded as the right thing, based on equality and freedom of religion. (IINA)
PENANG : An International Conference will be held here on November 24-25, 1998 under the auspices of University of Science Malayasia. The theme of the conference is "Lunar Calendar Practices- A common heritage in Islamic, Chinese, Hindu, and other civilizations." Professor Mohd. Ilyas is the convenor. Nearly 200 scientists and Astro-Physicists including those from Indian Institute of Astro-Physics, Bangalore are participating in the conference.
STOCKHOLM: The Muslim community of Sweden has succeeded in obtaining government permission to build the first mosque in
Sweden. This comes after 20 years of continuous efforts to secure such permission.
The Muslim community in Sweden had faced impediments from municipal officials, who had been labouring under the impression that the construction of a mosque would lead to changes in the architectural landscape of the city.
It is estimated that the number of Muslims in Sweden is about 300,000, out of a total population of 8.5 million. This makes Islam the second largest religion in the country. (IINA)
JEDDAH: The concept of globalization promotes the interests of the developed countries and their corporations which possess advanced technology. These huge corporations have immense savings and they must invest them, otherwise there would be a fall in the GDP of those countries if the savings were not invested.
This opinion has been expressed by the President of the Kuwait-based International Islamic Charity Organization, Sheikh Yusuf Jassim Al-Hajji. He said that globalization did not care about the interests of the poor countries and nations. He said their sole purpose is to buy out on-going projects in developing countries at very low cost and then control the prices of their products, without any control or authority over them by the concerned governments.
In his article on economic globalization, Sheikh Al-Hajji said that thousands of transnational corporations produce about 45 per cent of the world’s goods. They control about eight per cent of world trade, but provide only seven per cent of the world’s employment, and only nine per cent of the world’s taxes and duties. He pointed out that the top management personnel of these corporations are spread over three continents only viz, the United States, the European Union, and Japan.
He said that the move toward economic globalization has compelled the European states to forge a union among themselves and they have devised a single currency that would compete with the dollar. He said Europe and Japan have entered into dialogue with the United States with the objective of protecting their own interests. (IINA)
JEDDAH : The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has given aid and grants for the benefit of the Muslims of Sri Lanka, by pledging to finance of nine educational projects at a total cost of US$1.7 million. This sum was allocated for the construction and equipping of a number of schools and colleges in Sri Lanka.
The IDB also granted 175 scholarships as part of its scholarship programme for the benefit of Muslim communities in countries which are not members of the bank. To date 87 students have graduated in such disciplines as medicine, engineering, pharmacology, and agriculture. (IINA)
SANA'A : The Yemeni market is open to Indonesian products, which are relatively cheaper than those of other countries, the deputy chairman of the Yemeni Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said.
Speaking to Indonesian news agency, Antara, here last month on his recent 10-day visit to Indonesia, Mohamad Al-Zubeiri said he had explored the possibility of importing various Indonesian products which are in demand in Yemen.
While in Indonesia, he said, he also attended a seminar organized by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) in Jakarta and met with his Indonesian partners. He said he has also signed a business deal to import computers, food products and 20 units of Kijang family van from a number of Indonesian companies.
Al-Zubeiri said he will return to Indonesia to attend the Indonesian Product Expo '98 scheduled to be held on October 21-25 at the Jakarta Fair grounds. During the visit, he will be accompanied by prominent Yemeni businessmen.
Islamabad: The Kuwait Fund will provide $30 million for laying transmission lines from the Ghazi Barotha Hydro-electric Station projects. Deputy Director general, Kuwait Fund Abdul Wahab Al-Bader said recently that the Fund would continue extending financial assistance and support to Pakistan for different projects of national economic importance. Al-Bader said Kuwaiti Fund so far provided financial assistance of $ 222.3 million under 13 loan agreements to Pakistan including current agreement.
Referring to the projects assisted by the Fund in financial terms, he said Kuwait Fund was providing 100 per cent foreign currency components adding negotiations were also going on with Pakistan for financial assistance to some other project. He said during the last 37 years, the Kuwait Fund, provided loans worth around $ 9 billion to various developing countries in different sectors.
Earlier the agreement was singed by Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Zaheer Sajjad, and Deputy Director General of Kuwait Fund, Abdul Wahab Al-Bader. Under the agreement, the Fund will provide Kuwaiti Dinar 9 million ($ 30 Million) for the construction of the Rewat-Lahore transmission segment of the Ghazi Barotha Hydro Electric Power Station Project.
The loan will be for a period of about 21 years including six years grace period and will be amortized in 30 semi-annual instalments, the first of which will be due on May 15, 2004 and the last one will be due on November 15, 2018. The loan bears marks up at 2.5 per annum in addition to 0.5 per annum to cover administrative and other expenses incurred in the implementation of the Loan Agreement.
CAIRO : Indonesian State Minister for Investment Head of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), Hamzah Haz, has invited the member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to invest in Indonesia.
“The Minister clarified in detail the potential and climate of investment in Indonesia and invited OIC member States to invest in the largest Islamic country in the world,” said the Indonesian Embassy in Beirut in a statement.
According to the statement, the invitation was conveyed by the minister when speaking at a seminar on the theme, “Economic and Trade cooperation”, held in Tripoli (a trading city and free trade zone in Lebanon) by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the OIC recently.
The statement further said the minister was especially invited by the federation to be one of the speakers at a seminar on “the vision of OIC countries in the next millennium”. Held in conjunction with the 7th OIC Trade Exposition and the 5th Meeting of the OIC Private Sector for one week in Lebanon, it was attended by 29 out of 53 OIC member countries, said the embassy statement.
Hamzah Haz emphasized the importance of the private sector to cope with the economic crisis in Indonesia at present. The seminar, exposition and meeting were opened by the President of Lebanon. (IINA)
GAZIPUR : Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has called upon the Muslim scholars, scientists and academicians to prepare themselves to face the challenges of the new millennium and revive the lost glory of the Muslim Ummah.
"Once the Muslim scholars had kindled the torch of knowledge when the entire world plunged into the darkness of ignorance and superstition," she said, recalling the past glory of scientific and technological achievements of the Muslims.
The Prime Minister was addressing the 12th convocation ceremony of the Islamic Institute of Technology (IIT) here.
"IIT is a shining example of joint Islamic action and it's a matter of great pride and honour that Bangladesh has been chosen as the location for such a prestigious institution," she told the function. This year 96 students of 15 countries were conferred graduate and postgraduate degrees from this international institution run by the OIC members.
Syed Siddique Hussain of Bangladesh bagged the OIC and IIT gold medals for his best academic performance in Master of Science in Technical Education. (IINA)
KUALA LUMPUR: A ruling that forbids the copying, selling, importing, or distributing of audio or video recordings
of recitations of the Holy Qur’an, except with the permission of the Ministry of the Interior’s Censorship Board for the Printing of the Qur’an, has been made in Malaysia.
Abdul Hamid Zain Al-Abidin said that the ruling became effective from October 1, 1998, and that the decision follows the special law concerning the printing of the Holy Qur’an which was passed by the Malaysian parliament last July. He said printed copies of the Holy Qur’an or audio/video copies of its recitation or translation should first be gone through and their veracity confirmed, before their distribution.
The aim of this ruling is to see to it that there are no typographical or other mistakes. (IINA)
CAIRO : About 26,554 children were born with birth defects in one of the coastal regions of Egypt, the reason being marriage between close relatives. This was said by Dr. Mahir Mahran, of the National Assembly on Population in Egypt during a seminar which was organized by its Cairo office, and attended by social scientists, doctors and population specialists.
Dr. Mahir referred to the rising number of intra-family marriages in many parts of the Muslim and Arab world, more particularly in the rural areas. He said: “In Egypt the rate is 39 per cent in the rural areas, 37 per cent in the towns, and 22 per cent in the large metropolises,” adding that the closer the relationship of the families are, the more the chances are of having children with birth defects. He said this has become a recurrent problem.
Dr. Mahir said the rate of deformities in close marriages is about one per cent, and it is possible for this figure to go up. He said though such defects also do occur in marriages between those who are not blood relations, the rates are variable. He advised people to marry from outside their families, because that way the chances of children having birth deformities are lessened. He said: “Though science has been able to correct some birth defects, the cost of doing so is prohibitively high, and certainly not within the means of every affected family.” For his part, Sheikh Mansoor Al-Rifaiy Obeid , the former Under-Secretary at the Egyptian Ministry of Endowments, said Islam does not forbid the marriage of relatives, but it is far better that one should get married away from his family circle or clan. (IINA)
JAKARTA: The Indonesian Ulema Council will hold a national Islamic conference from 4 to 8 November this year. The purpose of the conference is to contribute to the solution of the prevailing economic and social problems that are afflicting Indonesia.
It is expected that over 1000 scholars, Da’awa workers and those involved in the social field as well as other Islamic organizations will attend. This is envisaged to be the largest conference to be held in Indonesia since 1945. The President of the Indonesian Council of Scholars, Sheikh Ali Yafi, said that the problems that Indonesia is facing require the doubling of the collective efforts of all elements of Indonesian society. Also expected to attend the conference are the President of the Nahdhat al Ulema Association, the Minister of Defence, and the Chief of Army Staff.(IINA)
MONTREAL: The Association of Islamic Conference in Canada has asked the Vatican to admit the mistake of the church and the Christians against the Muslims during the Spanish Inquisition and during the Crusades in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon between 1095 and 1273 AD. Indications are that the Vatican is preparing an important document in connection with the passing of 2000 years from the date of Christ’s birth, in which the Catholic Church will be pleading for forgiveness for the mistakes of Christians in history.
March 8, 2000 will be declared a day of asking for forgiveness for the past mistakes made by the Christians. It is said that during the Spanish war against Muslims in Andalusia they compelled the Muslims to either convert to Christianity, or to leave the country, or face death. And during the Crusades also there were vicious massacres in Jerusalem, and in Palestine as a whole, perpetrated against the Muslims. The Islamic Council of Canada has asked the Secretary General of the UN to declare the first Friday in November every year as a Remembrance Day for the Muslim victims of the Crusades. The same should apply for the Christian misdeeds in Andalus, and for the Mongolian raids on the Muslim world, and in Bosnia, Palestine, and Africa. (IINA)
DAR ES SALAM: Tanzania has secured for itself a US$20 million loan from the Saudi Fund for Development, the Kuwait Fund for Development and the OPEC Fund, for building the largest mosque in East Africa.
Kuwait has helped in the construction of a 155-kilometer Road in Tanzania. (IINA)
PARIS: The Union of Islamic Organizations in France is one of the important and most active Islamic organizations in Europe, and under its umbrella there are nearly 200 organizations. It plays a prominent role in the educational, political, economic, social and feminist life of the country.
The president of the union, Dr. Al-Haj Altahami Abriz, said the union has ten central sectors and 15 other subsidiary sectors.
He revealed that relations which bind the organizations which come under the union’s umbrella are those of co operation, not relations based on affiliation or integration, because all of them share in the Islamic work, in spite of differences in some sectors in which these organizations operate.
Dr. Altahami said that the Muslim community in France recently was able to achieve a lot for Muslims, such as obtaining permission to have their own cemetery, permission to visit prisons and hospitals, in addition to the holding of an annual conference for the Union of Islamic Organizations in France. He said that had helped a lot in removing some of the misunderstandings about Islam and about the conduct of French Muslims. He went on to say that among the important activities of the union was the continuity in urging the Muslims to cooperate among themselves, pointing out that it had been possible to establish general coordination among French Muslims.
DR. Altahami affirmed that Islam had a promising future in France, if Muslims would seriously spread Islam in correct perspectives which was being distinguished for its tolerance, compromise, justice, and kindness. He said that there was a need for co-operation among Muslims, and it was not possible for an individual to claim that he alone represented Muslims, and also explained the need for communication and opening up to French society.
Dr. Altahami urged Muslims all over the world to support, both morally and materially, the Union of Islamic Organizations in France, saying that the union has many projects which it intends to implement. (IINA)
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) spent SR 5,151, 376 during the month of Jumad Awwal this year for helping the poor, the needy, refugees, displaced persons, orphans, the elderly, the infirm and the widows in 17 countries of the world.
Dr. Adnan bin Khalil Pasha, the Secretary General of IIRO explained that a sum of SR4,066,636 was spent in providing aid in the field of medical, educational, social and relief services. Thousands of poor people were benefited from that aid in some Asian, African and European countries.
IIRO spent SR 1,056,732 in India for orphans; SR 1,696,230 in Sudan to finance the first phase of the famine relief programme; SR29, 228 in Sierra Leone also for relief; SR 29,700 in Djibouti for various kinds of help; in Somalia SR 41,223 for miscellaneous kinds of help; in Tunis SR8,558 for orphans; SR47,999 for educational purposes; in Indonesia SR27,000 for the construction of a mosque; in Pakistan SR400,188 for health purposes; and in Jordan SR480,660 for orphans. (IINA)
LONDON: IINA’s correspondent in London says that new methods of memorizing the Qur’an and learning the Arabic language through video cassettes and computer CDs, have become available in Britain. One of the good features of such methods is that they give children the opportunity of learning the correct pronunciation of Arabic words and their correct usage in dictation, after they have seen them appear in both Arabic and English on the screen or monitor.
The CDs contain chapters from the Qur’an, translations of their meanings, and explanations in English. Another CD is for children under six years of age, and teaches them how to form simple sentences in Arabic.