Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

November 2004
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Giant Holy Haram Project
Work on a giant project for expanding the areas surrounding the Holy Haram in Makkah will start shortly in order to accommodate millions of pilgrims who come from around the world to perform Haj and Umrah. An announcement on the project is likely to be made in the last 10 days of Ramadan. The project includes expansion of the mosque's northern courtyard by 1.2 million square meters. The new expansion comes on the heels of a multi-billion-riyal Jabal Omar residential tower project on the western side of the mosque. Six designs have been prepared by international companies for the project, which is to cover the area between the mosque and the second ring road to the north, Masjidul Haram Street to the east and Jabal Al-Kaaba Street to the west. Arrangements will also be made to bring some 10,000 pilgrims near the mosque in an hour. The project includes construction of new multi-story buildings for residential and commercial purposes. The area will also house headquarters of the Haj Research Center, a center for Islamic sciences and conference halls. The Jabal Omar real estate project, which is estimated to cost SR12 billion, will change the face of Makkah. Spread on an area of 230,000 square meters, the project includes five-star hotels, commercial centers, and prayer facilities for 200,000 worshippers. The project will have 4,500 shops and 3,000 showrooms, a central transport station and parking facility for 12,000 vehicles.
Saudis to Grant Citizenship to Foreigners
In what is considered a major step towards inducting foreign talent into an expert-starved country, Saudi Arabia is moving towards bringing laws whereby foreigners having scientific expertise and residing in the Kingdom for nearly 10 years could be granted citizenship. The law is likely to be passed soon by the Council of Ministers. However it will have to be passed by the Shoura Council first and then reviewed by the Interior Ministry and Cabinet's Committee of Experts. First priority would be given to those who possess scientific qualification and rare specialisation. Applicants whose father or mother or most brothers are Saudis would also be given high priority. Next in line would be children of naturalised Saudi when they reach adulthood. Foreign woman whose Saudi husband has died and has given birth to his children would also be given citizenship. The Shoura Council had passed the relaxed laws which allow foreigners who have been living in the Kingdom continuously for at least 10 years to apply for Saudi citizenship. They must not have served any jail term exceeding six months and furnish proof that they have been earning their livelihood through legitimate means. Muhammad Al-Zalfa, a Shoura council member said: "We now have some seven million foreigners living here. We had to make it tougher to acquire citizenship in order to make sure that those who apply for it are loyal to the country and have integrated well with the Saudi society,"
Israelis uproot 3,30,000 Olive Trees
By Staff Writer
Qalqiliya: (IINA)
A trade magazine that is concerned with matters relating to the olives sector in Palestine, has revealed that in the last three years, the Israeli occupation forces have uprooted not less than 3,38,251 olive trees, causing a loss of more than US $16 million.

The magazine "The Olive" that is published by the Olive Association, in Qalqiliya, in the West Bank, said that the total land area under olive cultivation is 9,36,000 Donums, or 80 percent of the total land under cultivation, and 50 per cent of all the cultivable land in Palestine as a whole. The magazine added that the contribution of this sector to the agriculture revenue is between 15-20 percent, around US $700-800 million annually.
Guinness Honour for Smallest Quran
The Guinness World Records has recognised Dr. Muhammad Karim Beebani's miniature Qur'an as the world's smallest. "The world's prestigious institution of world records has recognized my entry and am awaiting a formal certificate to this effect," said Dr. Beebani. Printed in Cairo in 1292 H (1875), the 571-page Quran measures 1.7 cm long, 1.28 cm wide and 0.72 cm thick. Each page has 18 lines. The name of the calligrapher written on the opening page is Ali Usman. "I bought it through a collector friend in London," Dr. Beebani said, adding that it is printed in the obsolete Maghrabi font style with its pages numbered both in Arabic and English. Dr. Beebani, a Pakistani physician who is a resident of the Kingdom for 32 years and is associated with King Abdul Aziz University for the last six years, acquired the miniature Quran from the UK last year. Until Dr. Beebani's claim, the Guinness Book recorded a 572-page miniature Quran owned by Narendra and Neera Bhatia of Faridabad, India, as the smallest.
largest Mosque
By Staff Writer
Ashgabat: (IINA)
The largest mosque in Central Asia has been inaugurated in the town of Kiptchak, on the outskirts of the capital, Ashgabat, the birthplace of Sabir Murad Niyazov, the President of Turkmenistan. The mosque is adorned with Qur'anic verses on the inside walls. Attending the opening ceremony was a crowd of around 6,000 residents of the area, with the President Niyazov, ministers and members of the diplomatic corps from the Muslim world. The mosque has a capacity for 10,000 worshippers, and cost US$100 million to build.
Road to Kabul
By Staff Writer
Following the decision of the Qatari and Jordanian television stations not to broadcast the new Ramadan serial "The Road to Kabul", the controversial drama has gained in popularity among Saudi audiences. The Jordanian-made serial, featuring Jordanian and Syrian actors, tells the Afghan story, from the Soviet occupation in the 1980s to the US invasion in October 2001. Here in Saudi Arabia and after three days of the broadcast of "The Road to Kabul" Saudi viewers had nothing to talk about for this year's Ramadan programs but the Jordanian drama and most of them are eagerly waiting to watch the rest of the episode. The serial probably will cause some problems to the United States and therefore, the American government has interfered with the Qataris to stop it because the upcoming episodes will feature the US invasion of Afghanistan.
Saudi Fights Poverty
Saudi Arabia has made rapid strides in fighting poverty, according to a report issued by the United Nations Development Program. The report ranked Saudi Arabia 30th among 95 developing countries with its development indicator showing 15.8 percent. The Kingdom is ranked 77th with a Human Development Index (HDI) value of 0.768 among 177 countries around the world in the Human Development Report (HDR) of the United Nations on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
The HDI focuses on three measurable dimensions of human development - living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. Thus it combines measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy and income.
No Smoking Around Harams
By Staff Writer
One of the many benefits of Ramadan is that not only does the sale of cigarettes go down, but many Muslims find it a help in giving up smoking. Studies in Saudi Arabia have shown that cost was not an important factor in the decision to kick smoking. "Ramadan does not cost a person anything, instead it gives him a lot, including a chance to give up the habit," said Muhammad Ali, who used to smoke two packets a day. The Council of Ministers has introduced a legislation to ban smoking in public places, especially in facilities near mosques, as well as around ministries and in health, education, sport and cultural institutions and public transport. It is prohibited to smoke near and around the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and Madinah has been declared a non-smoking city.
Festival of Poems
By Staff Writer
(IINA) Local television stations in Indonesia beam special Ramadan programmes every year, but this year they are also taking part in beaming a festival of religious poems homilies, and Quran recitations. The poems that are presented in this festival are in three languages, namely the Indonesian language, Malayu, and Arabic. The poems are so popular that one group made an album that sold 200,000 copies.
By Staff Writer
Mel Levin, an Israeli lobby activist has been named as top Middle East Advisor by the Democratic Party Presidential candidate John Kerry. A member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Levin is said to be the most vocal supporters of Israel. He ran for House seat in 1992 and lost to Sen. Babbara Boxer despite heaviest pro-Israel contributions which totalled upto $ 108,000. He recently resigned from American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the chief Israeli lobby organisation in the US.
Inherited Diseases
By Staff Writer
The Ministry of Health has revealed that 8,903 new cases of hereditary blood diseases were diagnosed as a result of implementing the mandatory pre-marital blood test. Dr. Mansoor Al-Hawasi, deputy director of executive affairs at the Ministry of Health, said that the ministry’s laboratory conducted 125,559 tests in 34 centers around Saudi Arabia during the first five months of mandatory pre-marital blood tests imposed at the beginning of this year. The results of the tests showed 5,324 cases of sickle cell anemia and 3,579 cases of thalassemia. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest percentages in the world of people who are either carriers of sickle cell trait or with sickle cell disease.
Oman Issues Commemorative Stamp
(Reported By Sameen Ahmed Khan)
The "white cane" is now recognised as the blind person's mobility aid world over. Universally, the white cane is recognised as an indication that the bearer is totally or partially visually impaired. It was only in 1970, the "International Federation of the Blind" declared 15 October as the "International White Cane Day". Since then this day of the year is used to publicise the needs and achievements of the blind people everywhere. According to the World Health Organisation, there are 180 million persons with disabling visual impairments. In recent years, there have been efforts to incorporate technology into the white canes to make them more useful. The Sultanate of Oman issued a postage stamp on 15 October 2004, of an unusually large size (8X9cm). Apart from the Arabic and English, the stamp has the embossed writing, the Braille, enabling the blind to read it. This feature makes the stamp unique. Besides, it has the emblem of the Al Noor, the Association for the Blind (Sultanate of Oma
Glasgow's Newest and Oldest Citizen
By Staff Writer
Lord Provost Elizabeth Cameron has welcomed Glasgow’s newest citizen-100 year-old Niaz Ahmad by presenting him with his official British Citizenship certificate. Ahmad, born in Ludhiana, India, has been a regular visitor to the city since 1981. He was given full residency rights in 1999. Cameron said, “ Glasgow has a long tradition of welcoming people from all over the world. Ahmad has been living in the city for a long time and it is only appropriate he can now call Glasgow his home”.

Shakespeare's Sufi Links
By Staff Writer
The Shakespearean question is no longer "to live or not to live" but "sufi or not sufi"? It is now being claimed that Shakespeare's work resembles the teachings of the Islamic Sufi sect. The argument is to be put forward at the famous Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London in November as part of a week of events focussing on Islam. The theory is to be explained by respected academic Dr Martin Lings, 96, in his lecture next month. "Shakespeare would have delighted in Sufism," Dr Ling argues that the guiding principles of Sufi thought are evident in Shakespeare's writings. His plays, Ling says, depict a struggle between the dawning modernist world and the traditional, mystical value system. The lecture is scheduled in the middle of Islam Awareness Week on November 22-28. The banks of the Thames will be illuminated with scenes of Islamic culture.