9th Islamic Summit on Nov. 12-14
Mahathir calls for News Agency
Afghans Revert to Illiteracy
Khula' on the Rise in Dhaka
Sanctions Ruining Iraq
Encyclopedia on Saudi Culture
Firday Sermon for Deaf
International Calligraphy Contest
Saudis Open Real Estate for Investments
US Courts Endorsing Sharia Laws: Imam Wahaj
Israel returns Islamic Relics
UK Envoy's Wife Embraces Islam
ISESCO to Tap Brain Drain
International Bank of Bosnia
News in Brief
Doha : The Ninth Islamic Summit would be held in the Qatar capital of Doha between November 12 and 14, at the Conference Center of the Sheraton Hotel.
Preceding the Summit would be a meeting of senior officials on November 8. The preparatory meeting of the Islamic Foreign Ministers will be held on Nov. 9.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, in coordination with other government organs in country, are making intensive preparations for the Summit, and the senior official overseeing these preparations is Abdurrahman bin Hamad Al-Atiyyah, the Deputy Minister at the Foreign Ministry, who is the Chief Coordinator for the Summit.
The Government of Qatar will accommodate the heads of state and Government in villas specially prepared for the purpose, while ministers would be accommodated at the Doha Sheraton. Qatar would host 25 persons from each participating nation. The Summit is likely to discuss contemporary issues such as the question of Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, drought in eriteria Somalea and Ethiopia, ongoing conflicts in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, peace in Afghanistan and mutual cooperation among Muslim countries in the field of education, science, technology, culture, media and industrial and trade relations.
Kuala Lumpur : Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad said Muslim nations should set up an international news agency to counter what he called the Western media’s distorted portrayal of the Islamic world.
The national Bernama news agency quoted Dr. Mahathir as saying that Muslim nations should exchange news reports and remain informed of what was happening in their respective countries.
“If we don’t have any faith in our own news agencies, we tend to publish what is distributed by the Western wire services. As a result, we don’t get at least an alternative view.” He said at international seminar on enhancing understanding of Islam for the media.
He called for a revival of the International Muslim News Agency and asked all Muslims nationals to subscribe to it to make it a success. Dr. Mahathir said Muslims were not asking the media to be biased but just be given an opportunity to tell their side of the story. “The media is powerful. When they act together they are even more powerful. And power as we all know corrupts.
The almost absolute power of the Western media corrupts almost absolutely”.
He also accused the media of linking terrorism to Islam. He said non-Muslims involved in terrorism were not linked to their religious beliefs even though they were perpetrated in the name and interest of their religion. Terrorism was not a Muslim invention but learnt from non-Muslims, he said. “If one looks around, one would see that everywhere the Muslims are oppressed, are being ejected from their own lands, are in fact the modern diaspora.” Dr. Mahathir said.
Peshawar : The sources of the United Nations have estimated that over 95 per cent Afghan children do not go to school, which depicts the total collapse of the education system in the war-ravaged country.
According to reports as a result of 21 years of war an entire generation of Afghan children is growing without education.
Girls are most affected as they are prevented from going to school while boys have also suffered as a significant proportion of qualified teachers, in major cities such as Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, used to be women.
Until 1996, 70 per cent of the teachers in Kabul were women, 8,000 women were enrolled at Kabul University, 40 per cent of the children enrolled at the Afghan capital’s 63 schools were girls but as a result of the prolonged civil strife things have turned upside down.
Now teachers are unable to work and are gradually leaving Afghanistan. Thus, experts say, the outlook in a country which had one of world’s worst literacy rates the situation has turned extremely bleak.
The United Nations has estimated female literacy to be at 15 per cent and 32 per cent for males. Both Afghan experts and those of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees describe the bleakest possible prospects of improvement for the future generations of Afghanistan, which is one of the world’s poorest, most devastated and least developed nations with no visible signs of improvement in the prevailing situation as fighting is continues between the Taliban militia and forces of Afghan commander Ahmed Shah Masood.
Dhaka: A survey complied by the Dhaka City Corporation indicates that more women are resorting to Khula’ (divorce sought by wife). The survey said in 80 per cent of the cases dealt by the Corporation, it were the women who sought final separation from husbands.
The Corporation registered 2895 cases of divorce during 1999 while in 1993, there were only 1320 cases of divorce. About 1000 cases were settled by Salisi Board (Mediation Board) of the corporation.
Social workers and psychologists blame higher divorcee rates on an increasingly liberal society, awareness by women about legal matters and second marriages becoming a way of life, side-tracking previous social taboos of shame.
Per Capita Income down to $450, Infant Mortality Rises
London: UN Sanctions against Iraq have left a devastating impact on the Iraqi people. “The per capita income has come down from $ 3500 (in 1988) to $ 450 today. Infant mortality and under-5 mortality have doubled leading to the death of 1.5 million children since the sanctions were imposed 10 years ago. Diseases like TB, polio, have resurfaced. 70 per cent of Iraqi women have become anaemic due to malnutrition and 35 per cent of new born babies are under two kgs.”
These observations form part of the report by 3-member delegation of members of European Parliament (MEPs) that visited Iraq between May 26 and June 4. The delegation had Bashir Khanbahi, the only British Muslim member of European Parliament, Italian MEP Luisa Morganatini and Irish MEP Niall Andrews.
The report was presented to the European Parliament Intergroup “Initiative for Peace” on June 8 in Strasbourg. The report said Iraqi women were being forced into prostitution and were selling personal belongings to survive.
The report said the indiscriminate bombing on Iraq has destroyed water treatment plants, sewerage systems, sewerage treatment plants, dams, irrigation channels, airports, ports and other essential facilities.
It said educational institutions lack even the basic stationery, textbooks, etc. The report said the victims of the sanctions were ordinary people of Iraq and pleaded for immediate lifting of sanctions.
Riyadh: Encyclopedia of Folklore of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a 12-volume compendium in Arabic language of Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage is ready for distribution. It has been compiled by Prince Khalid bin Sultan, the former co-commander of military coalition against Iraq in 1990 Gulf War.
Printed in Belgium, the encyclopedia carries 5000 drawings, illustrations, graphs and maps. 75 leading Saudi scholars and writers contributed to the encyclopedia.
In an interview with New York Times, Prince Khalid bin Sultan said: “The widespread ignorance about Saudi Arabia and its cultural heritage, not just among foreigners, but among younger generations made me determined to try and document and preserve our tradition before it was too late.
The prince, who is a media baron too, decided to break the shell of silence and ignorance about Saudi Arabia soon after the Gulf War. He found that the country needed exposure in the outside world in order to build bridges.
According to the New York Times, the encyclopedia may stir controversy from literal-minded clerics who may feel offended by pictures and sketches. As one scholar put it: “The conservatives may not like discussions on un-Islamic traditions and beliefs, or the book’s many representational photographs and drawings, which they say is prohibited in Islam.”
Cairo : Three Egyptian mosques have introduced Friday sermon for the deaf. Friday sermons at the Cairo’s Sayyeda Zeinab Mosque were also delivered into the sign language meant for the deaf last June. This was for the first time in the world that a mosque has started this facility. Sign language interpreter Alaa Eddin Ismail stood at the foot of the preacher’s pulpit gesturing to about 500 deaf worshippers.
Ahmad Yunes, head of the Egyptian Organisation for rights of the Disabled said no one should come in the way of a person wanting to be closer to God. It was Egypt’s Ministry of religious Endowments that gave the green signal to start the sermon in sign langauge in three of Cairo’s mosques.
Istanbul : The Center for Research in Islamic History, Art, and Culture (IRCICA), a subsidiary of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), has announced that it would hold two contests. The first one is the 5th International Competition for Calligraphy, and the second one is for the IRCICA Award for Distinction in Handwriting. The contests are held as part of the center’s celebration of its 20th anniversary.
The International Contest in the Art of Handwriting aims at preserving the values and methods of Islamic calligraphy, and to reactivate the art by encouraging the calligraphers of the present generation and future ones, so that there is a common ground for calligraphists in the Muslim world. The contest carries a prize of US$3,500 for the outright winner in all the three classes of calligraphy.
The address of the International Committee for the Preservation of Islamic Cultural Heritage is: Center for Research in Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), P O Box 24, Besiktas, 80692, Istanbul, Turkey. (Tele: 212-90-259184249 and the Fax Number is 2584365.
Jeddah: Saudi Arabia has passed a law allowing foreigners to buy and own land and real estate in the country. A bill to this effect was passed by the ministerial cabinet last month and is awaiting publication in the royal decree. So far only the citizens of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states were eligible to invest in real estates in the Kingdom. According to reports from the Saudi newspapers, the seven million expats in the kingdom are likely to share 10 per cent of the dealings in the real estate market of the Kingdom which may involve an annual amount of Saudi Riyals six billion.
Tourism promotion : Several tourism promotion companies have set up offices in Jeddah and other cities in the Kingdom after the cabinet passed a bill to open the country for tourists on April 3. The companies have invested Saudi Riyal 300 million and are in the process of printing promotion literature to attract the tourists to centres other than the pilgrim centres such as Riyadh, Dammam, Dhahran, Tabuk, hill resorts of Jizan and Abha etc. At least six Saudi companies in travel business have formed an alliance known as Travel Masters which is currently having a turnover of $ 213 million each year. According to the company executives, nearly two million tourists are likely to visit Saudi Arabia per annum during the coming years. The Saudi Arabian Airlines is preparing a new schedule in keeping with the new tourism policy.
It may be recalled that the Saudi government has allowed the Umrah pilgrims a month’s time within the Kingdom and can visit cities other than the ones on the traditional pilgrims routes, viz. Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah besides the environs of Makkah.
Washington : The American Muslim preachers and Dawah activist, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, has said that the implementation of the Islamic Sharia in the US on Muslims appears to be approaching fast. He gave the example of several Court cases that had come up in some US Courts, only to be referred to the Muslims for solution. These included cases relating to divorce, and other cases relating to personal issues.
Wahhaj said in many instances the Courts have referred such matters to the Muslim community concerned, such as the case in Brooklyn in which a Muslim was not happy with the Sharia ruling and referred the matter to the civil Court. However, the judge in the civil Court compelled him to agree to the Islamic ruling. He said such instances are many.
Wahaj said that it is imperative for the Dawah activists to be sensitive to the American people and understand their feelings, so as to impart the right kind of advice and guidance.
Sinai : After protracted negotiations over a period of ten years between Egypt and Israel, the latter has agreed to return 20,000 pieces of Egyptian relics, of which 10,000 are Islamic, which it had stolen away during its occupation of Sinai before the 1973 war. The returned objects were put on display by Egypt last week at an Islamic museum. But the non-Islamic items were put on show at the Science Center at Qantara, east of Sinai.
Dr. Muhammad Abdul Maqsoud, Director of Heritage in Sinai, told IINA that Israel amassed the items from 35 different archeological sites in Sinai, and added that Israel still refuses to return some of the Islamic relics that it had taken away.
Sanaa: Mrs. Victor Henderson (55), wife of British ambassador to Yemen has embraced Islam, according to Arabic daily Sharq-al-Awsat. The daily said Mrs. Henderson took the decision to join Islam after profound study of Islam over long years and exchange of views with several women organisations in the country.
Butsdam, Germany : The Islamic Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) will evolve ways to tap the brain drain to benefit from the scientific expertise that is available in various countries of the world, and to establish links with them so as to give a boost to the comprehensive development projects in the Muslim world. The meeting was held here on July 7-8 in collaboration with the Makkah based Muslim World League. The experts also called for the institution of a prize for Muslim inventors who have emigrated to other countries, and also called upon such brains to strengthen the message of dialogue and coexistence between civilizations, cultures, and religions.
Sarajevo : The International Bank of Bosnia is expected to be inaugurated next September. First meeting of its founder-directors was held at the headquarters of the Islamic Development in Jeddah. They declared that the capital of the bank is US$ 300 million, of which US$60 million has been paid up, with the Islamic Development Bank contributing US$ 10 million. Other Islamic banks, such as the Islamic Bank of Abu Dhabi, the Islamic Bank of Dubai, and the Islamic Bank of Bahrain, have also contributed to its capital, in addition to the contributions of a number of other private sector investors.
The President of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank, Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali, has met with Bosnia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Hussein Zivalic, who was a special emissary of the Bosnian President. Zivalic told the IDB President that his government was very appreciative of the IDB’s contribution, in the country’s efforts toward reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Islamic Film Library
Cairo : The new production section of Egypt’s Radio and Television Union has set up a library of Islamic films. Among the films in stock are those dealing with ancient Islamic mosques in the country.
Midhat Zaki, head of the production section, told IINA that 450 episodes have been recorded, each one dealing with one of the mosques in Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, and other provinces of Egypt.
He added that at present his section is involved in the production of special episodes dealing with the life of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, and Imam Shafie. These will then be aired on Egypt’s television channels, and would be distributed to other Arab television channels, and would also be heard on radio.
Riyadh : The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Endowments will soon start shooting a documentary film on and about the Holy Qur’an in eight languages.
The Supervisor of the Center for Islamic Research and Studies, Musaid Al-Hidethy, told Al-Riyadh that the film would project the greatness of the Holy Qur’an and its place in the life of a Muslim. It will also show how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cares for the Holy Book, not only through teaching it in its schools, but also by giving support to Qur’an memorization societies, organizing international contests, and printing volumes upon volumes of the Holy Book. The 75-minute film also will show the period during which the Holy Qur’an was revealed, and how it was recorded and preserved. The film will have three sound tracks, Arabic, English and a French one, plus 20-minute copies in Turkish, Urdu, Chinese, Indonesian (Bahasa), and Spanish.
"Faith in the Future" Project
London: The North London Muslim Housing Association (NLMHA) launched a project last month to regenerate the cities spiritually. Named “Faith in the Future”, the project is funded by the Housing Corporation.
The aim of the project, according to the Chief Executive of NLMHA Saif Ahmed, is “to bring people together from different backgrounds to agree on shared common values, vision and a conduct to create, sustain and enhance the neighbourhoods towards social inclusion for all.” He pointed out that drug abuse in East London was on the rise and the project would arouse awareness not only on health grounds but faith grounds too.
The Housing Corporation chairperson Baroness Brenda Dean praised the NLMHA initiative as “a unique project.”
Ajman - Unesco Tie-up
Ajman : The Ajman’s University of Science and Techology and the Unesco have signed an agreement to establish a chair on environment and Water Research. Dr. Saeed Salman, President of the University, said the agreement would help promote cooperation between Arab and European academic institute.