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APRIL 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-04 No:160    *   APRIL 2000 / MUHARRAM 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

NEWS FROM
ISLAMIC WORLD - I


Commemoration of Islam's Entry into Egypt
UK Sends Haj Delegation
Muslim Presence being Felt in Australia
Missionaries Preying on Muslim Tribes in Africa
'Extensive Da'awah is Solution'
Rich Muslims urged to aid Da'wah work
German Leader Defends Teaching of Islamic Studies
Jordan Witnesses Spurt in Killing of Women
French Document On Ties with Muslims
French Football Players Won by Islam
Austrian Muslims Urged to Join Mainstream to Counter Ethnic Campaigns
Saudis Invite Tourists
West African Nation for ECOWAS
OIC Relief for Mozambique Flood
IDB Relief Team in Chechnya
Burger King to Withdraw Offensive Ad
Jigawa all set to implement Sharia
Mosque Relics found under Cathedral
800th Anniversary of Ibn Al-Abbar in Spain
US Muslims Urge Media to be Objective
Malaysian government issues 'guidelines' to mosques
Qur'an Reader for Mosques
OIC Working for Peace in Afghanistan
Czech Muslim Students Union's Camp
Tashkent Conference on Muslim Heritage
Limits of Human Knowledge
Philippines: Budget slashed for Muslim Province
Canada Muslims Sue Scribe
17 Lakh Perform Haj this Year

Commemoration of Islam's Entry into Egypt

Cairo (IINA): Egypt is celebrating 14 centuries of the advent of Islam. Among the functions to be held on the occasion will be a 3-day international conference on “Egypt’s Contribution to Civilization After the Muslim Conquest,” and more than 400 international personalities are expected to take part. In the meantime, Cairo University is also commemorating this event and there would be a seminar that would be organized by the Institute of African Studies and Research. The seminar’s theme would be “Egypt and the Progress of Islam in Africa in 1400 Years.” Dr. Sayyid Filefil, Dean of the institute, told IINA that the seminar would deliberate on nine topics, among them the geographical spread of Islam, Egypt’s role in the spread of Islam and Arabic culture in Africa, and Islam in North, West, Central, and East Africa.

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UK Sends Haj Delegation

London: The United Kingdom became the first Western nation to send an official delegation to oversee Haj arrangements for the 20,000 pilgrims, which performed Haj this year. India had been following the tradition for long despite being a Hindu-majority, secular country.

The British delegation was headed by Lord Ahmed, a member of the house of Lords and Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

A foreign office spokesperson said the delegation will supplement the arrangements for the British Haj pilgrims. But more than this the move is seen as the official recognition of Islamic pilgrimage and the conferment of official status to the welfare of those undertaking the pilgrimage every year. The UK Haj pilgrims, however, still do not have something like the Central Haj Committee in India. All pilgrims travel to the holy places through private Haj tours.

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Muslim Presence being Felt in Australia

Sydney (IINA): Muslim presence in Australia is high-profile, and the number of mosques has grown from 20 in 1980 to 127, including Islamic centers, says Shaikh Tajuddin Hamid Al-Hilaly, Mufti of Australia.

He said Australian government recognizes only Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Bhuddism.” Sheikh Tajuddin went on to say that with the prevailing freedom of worship in the country, it has become possible for the Muslim Da’awah activist to preach and spread the word of Islam among the people. He said this is more so in view of the fact that there is cohesion between all Muslims in the country.

Al-Hilaly said the danger facing Muslims in Australia relates to the second generation of Muslims in the country. He informed that according to Australian law a child on reaching the age of 16, is given a monthly stipend that enables him to lead a life that is independent of his or her parents.

Sheikh Tajuddin told the Jordanian journal ALSHARIA that the Ifta office in Australia involves itself in Da’awah activities, in addition to the authentication of marriage formalities, inheritance, divorce proceedings, visits to schools and universities. He said the office also counters any adverse propaganda against Islam, and expressed gratitude to the Australian Government for setting aside a cemetery for Muslims, so that they are able to bury their dead according to Islamic Sharia requirements.

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Missionaries Preying on Muslim Tribes in Africa

Lagos (IINA): Christian missionary organisations in Africa have devised a programme under which they intend to proselytize members of the Fulani tribe in 14 countries. These are Sudan, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon, Central Africa, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Ivory Coast. Fulanis are predominantly Muslims, and they use the Arabic script in their writing. The immediate aim of the missionary organisations is to get rid of the Arabic script, and for this purpose they have financed a number of organisations, in such countries as Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Senegal, to adopt the Latin scripts instead. They also print the Bible in the script that is commonly used by the Fulanis, namely the Arabic script.

On the other hand the missionaries also pay the fees for students and offer them scholarships to such countries as France, the United States, and Britain. They also finance the setting up of schools that would follow their syllabi, and they help in such other things like the setting up of hospital and health centres. The missionaries also help Fulani livestock farmers with veterinary services, and help them during drought or any other natural calamity. The missionary message is broadcast in the Fulani language in seven broadcasting stations, and special training sessions are held for the local people, during which they are taught the ways and means of putting the Christian message across to the Fulanis. In the drought-stricken areas, the missionaries help the farmers with seeds and distribute cows and other animals to help them along in standing on their own feet.

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Muslims Threatened by Missionaries, Poverty

'Extensive Da'awah is Solution'

Jeddah (IINA): The well-known Muslim author and intellectual, Dr. Muhammad Abdu Yamani, has called upon Muslims in general and the Da’awah organisations in particular to support external Islamic Da’awah activities, in view of the challenges facing Muslims, such as Christian missionary activity and acute poverty. He said the missionaries are forcing many to retract from the path of the truth, particularly when the faith is not deep-rooted in the heart.

Speaking at the College of Da’awah at Al-Azhar University, Dr. Yamani called for the utilisation of modern technology and media apparatus in the service of Islam, stressing that this is no longer an option, but rather a pressing necessity. He said: “Otherwise, we would not be doing justice in serving our religion.” He said the modern Da’awah activist must be able to interact with the computer, the Internet, and be adept in one or the other of the contemporary languages for putting across his message.

Dr. Yamani told his listeners that this is not the world of the slack and the lazy, and nor for those who cannot decide on their objectives.

Dr. Yamani called upon scholars to counter the diabolic campaigns that are mounted against the Qur’an and the Sunnah, saying that the enemies have discovered that it is these two that are the basis of Islam. He said they have therefore concluded that once doubt about the two is instilled in the minds of the Muslims, their faith would be shaken.

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Rich Muslims urged to aid Da'wah work

Cairo (IINA): The Secretary-General of the International Islamic Council for Da'awa and Relief, Dr. Kamil Al-Sharif, has said that the greatest number of poor people are in the Muslim world, mainly due to the political factors, internecine wars, decertification, and drought. Then there are external factors that are deliberately imposed on the Muslim world to serve the interest of colonialism, he said. Sharif said the aim of his organization is to coordinate the charitable and Da'awah activities between the various Islamic organizations, and to unify stands, in both of which it has succeeded quite remarkably.

The organization is closely concerned with saving Muslim children and women from poverty and diseases, but the problem is that some Muslim countries cast doubt on the aims of the organization while others do not give it adequate support. He said another reason is the lack of enthusiasm on the part of some wealthy Muslims when donating for charity and relief purposes.

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German Leader Defends Teaching of Islamic Studies

Berlin (IINA): The German Federal President, Johannes Rau, has defended said that that ruling of the Supreme Court in Berlin with respect to the teaching of Islamic Studies in German schools. At a press conference Rau said those who came to Germany thirty years ago as guest workers are no longer guest workers, but have become German nationals. He went on to say: “They might have forgotten many of their old customs and traditions, but they have not forgotten their True Religion.” He told the conference that Germany ought to follow the example of the Muslim countries in which schools are free to teach Christian Studies, adding that Islam gives rights to its minorities. The German president went on to say that in addition to Islamic Studies, schools should also teach philosophy and comparative history, both of which are not taught in German schools at the moment. The forthcoming Hanover Exhibition 2000 will have a special Islamic Wing, which would be sponsored and supervised by the Supreme Islamic Council of Germany, which is headed by Dr. Nadim Ilyas. On the other hand, Ms Anischa Schavan, Minister of Culture in the State of Baden-Fortenbridge, has said that the Fourth Clause of the German Constitution, which was promulgated after the formation of the German Federal Republic, grants freedom of religion in the country. In a lecture at the Catholic Academy in Berlin, Schavan said that her government held a dialogue with the Muslims for the last 20 years, focused mainly on the teaching of Islamic Studies in Germany. But she added that the Muslims in Germany have not agreed upon choosing a committee that would represent them “in any serious discussion with us.” She went on to say that there are now over 700,000 Muslim children attending German schools, and that this figure represents a third of all school children in Germany. But they are denied the right to be taught their own religion, simply because the Muslims in Germany cannot agree on the nationality of the teacher who would explain to them matters related to their religion, she added.

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Jordan Witnesses Spurt in Killing of Women

Amman (IINA): Jordan has of late witnessed an increase in the number of killings of women suspected of adultery, without even investigating the veracity of the accusation or taking the matter to the law courts. Family members carry out the executions, in the name of honour, and the culprits are often acquitted without any punishment. The Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar University has denounced such actions, saying that killing, or even assaulting, a woman just because of hearsay that she had committed adultery was not allowed in Islam. Last week, the Jordanian capital saw a huge procession led by some members of the royal family, some tribal chieftains and students. The demonstrators called upon the country’s parliament to rescind the penal law that calls for light punishment for a husband who has killed his wife or one of his female family members, on the basis of an allegation.

The Jordanian Parliament had earlier declined to amend the law (Clause No. 340) that gave a husband a light sentence in such cases. For this reason, Dr. Himdy Murad, the Assistant Secretary-General at Jordan’s Ministry of Endowments, called for joint efforts to be made by scholars and media people, in every possible way, to spread public awareness, so that the blind copying of negative traditions is minimized. He said in this way this criminal phenomenon would be dealt a blow.

Dr. Murad said if everyone was free to act by the whims of his emotions and sudden reactions, there would have been chaos in the world. Furthermore, he said, a man has no right to commit a crime on grounds of jealousy.

Dr. Ahmed Al-Awaisha, head of the Department of Religious Fundamentals at the Jordan University, said the Islamic Sharia deals with such crimes as murder and adultery in a firm and specific manner. He said it does not differentiate between a man and a woman when it comes to punishment, which it leaves to the judiciary. Dr. Awaisha said in such matters as adultery, Islam has given equal treatment to both the man and the woman, and therefore killing on suspicion or fabrication alone is not permissible in the Sharia.

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French Document On Ties with Muslims

Paris: French interior minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement and 16 Muslim organisations of France have signed a new declaration heralding a new chapter in mutual relations. The declaration has been titled “ Legal Principles and Foundations Governing Relationships between the Public authorities and Islamic Worship”. Though not much different from a declaration that was rejected last November, it has been accepted by 16 Muslim organisations for being “ a shade better” than the previous. A passage related with right to change religion has been deleted but in matters of food, clothings, charitable institutions, educational institutions etc. the new document remains almost as before. It may be recalled that the dresses (read headscarves) worn by Muslim girls had led to a controversy in France leading to expulsion of the girls from school. The new document says: “ The users of certain public services, particularly schools, should not exhibit sign of religious adherence, in line with the legal conditions laid down by the Council of State.

The new policy allows Muslim employees to take holidays on three Muslim festivals.

The 16 signatories include diverse array of Muslim organisations from ‘ Union of Islamic Organisations in France’ to Turkish Islamic Union for theological Affairs. However, Ad-Dawaa Mosque in Paris did not join the signatories. France nearly five million Muslims are of North and Western Africa.

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French Football Players Won by Islam

Paris (IINA): A number of football players in France have embraced Islam, and the local press has given prominence to the topic. France Soir carried an interview with Dr. Daleel Abubaker, the Imam of the Paris Mosques, in which he said: "Islam provides for such people the spiritual and moral values and corrects the concept of fame and fortune, and it also affirms the brotherly and family ties."

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Austrian Muslims Urged to Join Mainstream to Counter Ethnic Campaigns

Vienna (IINA): The official Islamic Commission in Austria has said that the Muslim youth in the country also bear part of the responsibility for the campaigns that are waged against them, because they keep aloof and do not join the mainstream of the country’s cultural and political life. The commission has therefore called upon the Muslims to join the mainstream of life in Austria, and said that that was the only way they can reduce the occurrence of such adverse campaigns against them. This advice came in the wake of campaigns waged against the Muslim community by some elements in the country, who called upon the authorities to issue special identity cards to the foreign communities in the country. This is considered one form of discrimination, particularly in the wake of what a former Austrian Minister of Justice, Harad Ofter, had done. He had mounted an intense campaign against the Muslims, describing them as a threat to the country.

Speaking on Austrian television, Ofter had said that 300,000 Muslims in the country pose a threat to its security.

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Saudis Invite Tourists

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia is opening itself for tourists and is considering tourism companies to set up units with a capital base of atleast Five lakh Riyals. Muslim pilgrims for Umrah will be treated as tourists besides being pilgrims and will be allowed to visit spots such as Madain Saleh, Taif etc. These relaxation come into effect following end of Haj 2000 season and beginning of the new Hijrah year. The umrah visas are likely to be issued for a month against current 15 days.

The new Tourism policy is part of expanding non-oil sector of the economy and reduce dependence on oil. Currently 3.6 million people visit Saudi Arabia annually, mainly for Haj or Umrah purposes.

The policy is likely to attract more domestic tourists too. In 1998, Saudis spent 65 billion dollars on overseas tourism and less than a third of this amount on domestic tourism. However, there has been no word whether umrah visas will enable the relatives from the South Asia to visit cities like Riyadh, Dhahran etc.

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West African Nation for ECOWAS

Dakar: Eigh West African nations have formed a Customs Union called ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) to promote mutual trade through low tariffs. They include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissan, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. The Union covers 70 million consumers and a total gross domestic product of $ 25 billion.

The ECOWAS promotes mutual trade through lowering of tariffs, preferential treatment of each others product and common external tariffs for third country goods.

As a result meat from Burkina Faso and Mali is replacing the South African meat in Cote d’Ivoire. The Union is working out tariffs for industrial products in all ECOWAS countries.

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