Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

August 2005
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African Catfish a Health Risk

As the catfish continues to pamper scores of tastebuds of fish-eating Bangaloreans, the acquatic fauna still struggles for a cure. Considering the adversity and the risk involved in this foreign fish culture, the department of forests, ecology and environment recently issued instructions to destroy the entire stock of the African catfish. Reason: “ It is highly carnivorous and a voracious predator. It feeds on other fish, waste from slaughter house and dead animals-affecting our native fish fauna and impairing the bio-diversity of natural water bodies. Human consumption of this fish could prove deadly,” says P. Krishna, joint director (inland), fisheries department. The market for this fish has now grown from West Bengal to the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Orissa. A survey conducted in Uttar Pradesh has shown that the African catfish is being cultured in 419 ponds in the rural areas covering 23 districts n the state. The data indicates that 32 per cent of the ponds are used for culturing only this exotic fish. “ The worst thing is that people are ignorant about its consequences and have not realised the damage it can cause to the environment and their lives,” says Krishna.

If You Don’t Destroy Catfish, Then…

1. Imprisonment up to five years or a fine of Rs I lakh or both in the first offence.

2. If continued, seven years of imprisonment with additional fine of Rs 5000 every day.

3. If persons come across illegal farming, rearing and marketing of the African catfish, they may notify the department of fisheries immediately for further action.

Address: Directorate of Fisheries # 8, Mahaveer Complex, K.G. Road,
Bangalore - 9. Ph.: 22258391

(WISE WORDS) Be Alert For the First Signs of Change

Change descends on everyone equally. It is just that some realize it faster. Some changes are sudden, but many others are gradual. While sudden changes get attention because they are dramatic, it is the gradual changes that are ignored till it is too late. You must have all heard the story of the frog in boiling water. If the temperature of the water is suddenly increased, the frog realises it and jumps out of the water. But if the temperature is very slowly increased, one degree at a time, the frog does not realise it till it boils to death. You must develop your own early warning system which warns you of changes and calls your attention to it. In the case of change, being forewarned is being forearmed.

Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro Corporation on “The Changing World”

(HEALTH TIP) Honey for Heart

Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, apply on bread or chapatti, instead of jelly and jam and eat it regularly for breakfast. It reduces the cholestrol in the arteries and saves the patient from a heart attack.

Madressa Noor For The Blind

An Islamic Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, P.O.Box 4444, Willowton Pietermaritzburg 3200 KZN Republic of South Africa, 71, Royston Road Mountain Rise Pietermaritzburg 3200 South Africa. Ph:(27-33) 3979673. Fax: (27-33) 3979331.
Help us lead the Blind from Darkness to Light

The World-Class University of Sankore
By Zulkifli Khair

Known for its high standards, the Sankore University had over 25, 000 students in a city of 100,000 people in the 12th century.

Sankore’s achievement in higher education is important to Islamic civilisation even though it was less known compared to Al-Azhar, Al-Qairawan, Al-Qarawiyyin and Qurtuba Universities.

It is also a pride among the whole black community around the world as it was a great intellectual institution of the black civilisations of Mali, Ghana and Songhay particularly during 12th to 16th centuries.

The University of Timbuktu is often referred to, as the ‘University of Sankore’, as there are two other universities in Timbuktu, ‘Jingaray Ber’ and ‘Sidi Yahya’ universities. The University of Sankore is located in the north east district of Timbuktu and housed within the Sankore Mosque.

The Sankore Mosque was founded in 989 by the erudite chief judge of Timbuktu, Al-Qadi Aqib ibn Mahmud ibn Umar. He had built the inner court of the mosque in exact dimension of the Kabah in Makkah. A wealthy Mandika lady, then financed Sankore University making it the leading centre of education. The Sankore University prospered and became a very significant seat of learning in the Muslim world, especially under the reign of Mansa Musa (1307-1332) and Askia Dynasty (1493-1591).

The University of Sankore had no central administration; rather, it was composed of several entirely independent schools or colleges, each run by a single master (scholar or professor). The courses took place in the open courtyards of mosque complexes or private residences. The primary subjects were the Qur’an, Islamic studies, law and literature. Other subjects included medicine and surgery, astronomy, mathematics, physics, chemistry, philosophy, language and linguistics, geography, history and art. The students also spent time in learning a trade and business code and ethics. The university trade shops offered classes in business, carpentry, farming, fishing, construction, shoe making, tailoring and navigation. It was claimed that the intellectual freedom enjoyed in Western Universities was inspired from universities like Sankore and Qurtuba (Muslim Spain) universities.

Memorising the Qur’an and mastering Arabic language were compulsory to students. Arabic was a lingua franca of the university as well as the language of trade and commerce in Timbuktu. Except from a few manuscripts, which are in Songhay and other a’jami language, all the remaining 70,000 manuscripts are in Arabic. (Al-Furqan Heritage Foundation-London publishes a list of the manuscripts just in Ahmed Baba library in 5 volumes.) The highest “superior” degree (equivalent to PhD) takes about 10 years. During the graduation ceremony, the graduates had to wear the traditional turban to represent the name ‘Allah’ and the graduates had to demonstrate excellent character and care for Islamic values and education.

Like all other Islamic universities, its students came from all over the world. Around the 12th century, it had an attendance of 25,000 students, in a city of 100,000 people. The university was known for its high standards and admission requirements

The most famous scholar of Timbuktu was Ahmad Baba as-Sudane (1564-1627), the final Chancellor of Sankore University. He wrote more than 60 books on various subjects including law, medicine, philosophy, astronomy and mathematics. He was a matchless jurist, professor and Imam of his time. In 1593, during the Moroccan invasion, he was deported to Fez, while most of his work was destroyed.

Other eminent names from Sankore include: Mohammed Bagayogo as-Sudane al-Wangari al-Timbukti (Conferred an honorary Doctorate from Al-Azhar University during his visit to Cairo en-route to Haj), Modibo Mohammed al-Kaburi, Abu al-Abbas Ahmad Buryu ibn, Ag Mohammed ibn Utman and Abu Abdallah and Ag Mohammed Ibn Al-Mukhtar An-Nawahi.

The University of Sankore is still functioning, but with little resources. The Muslim world and UNESCO need to preserve, maintain and to support what used to be a great institution of learning, which contributed to our present Civilisation.