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JUNE 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-07 No:163    *   JULY 2000 / RABI-UL-THANI 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

NEWS FROM ISLAMIC WORLD


Abdelouhed Belkziz is New OIC Chief
Umrah Visas with New Conditions
CAIR Moves to its New Hqrs.
Threat to Zabid Monuments
Historic Model Of Madinah
Prayers Relieve Pain
College of Islamic Studies at Portsmouth University
Dances Banned in HotelsH
'Recognise Islam'
Azhar's Girls College in Lebanon
"No Basis for Meelad Celebrations" : Saudi Grand Mufti
Islamic Society opens Home for the Aged in Cairo
Islamic Investment Website
Jerusalem Essay Contest
Islamic Website
Mosque in Greece
12 Lakh Muslims in Italy
News in Brief
People...

Abdelouhed Belkziz is New OIC Chief

Kuala Lumpur : Abdelouhed Belkziz, Morocco’s former foreign minister has been elected the new secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), the apex body of the Muslim world with 66 member-countries. He will succeed the current secretary general Azeddin Laraki. Belkziz was elected here on June 29 unanimously at the annual meeting of the 56-member Committee comprising foreign ministers of the OIC. The 61-year old Belkziz will take charge of the office in Jeddah on January 1 next year for a four-year term. Laraki also belonged to Morocco. Earlier, Habib Al-Chatti from Tunisia, Sharifuddin Pirzada from Pakistan and Dr. Hamid Al-Gabid held the office of the Secretary General. Belkziz holds a Ph.D. in law and had been the foreign minister of Morocco between 1983 and 1985. He has held several diplomatic and educational portfolios and is currently the chairman of National Conference of Moroccan Universities Deans. It was decided that the next term of office of the Secretary General will go to the Asian block. IINA

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Umrah Visas with New Conditions

Will these apply to Indians too?

Cairo : The Saudi Consulate in Cairo has began issuing Umrah visas, with new conditions, namely that the visa is valid for a duration of three months for entry and instead of just one month. Secondly the duration of stay in Saudi Arabia would be for a month, instead of 15 days, plus the fact that the Umrah visitor could visit other parts of the country. This was disclosed to IINA’s representative in Cairo by the Saudi Consul-General, Abdullah al-Issa, who went on to say: “We have agreed with Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism to do away with the requirement that only 30 per cent of the total applicants should be women, and also with therequirement that only women who are over 45 years of age could travel to Saudi Arabia without a Mahrim.” He added that the Consulate is poised to issue 100,000 visas during the current Umrah season. IINA

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CAIR Moves to its New Hqrs.

M. Kay Siblani

Washington (iviews.com) : The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) inaugurated its new headquarters in the heart of Washington, D.C. At the dedication, CAIR officials unveiled a first-of-its-kind Leadership Training Center, which will function year-round to train and enhance leadership skills among Muslim community leaders in North America. Among the guests were Dr. Salah Bin Humed, Imam of the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah; and Shaykh Hussein Al-Sheikh of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. “ The Muslim Community has long needed a formal leadership training program,” said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad as he introduced the center.” As the North American Muslim population and political influence continue to grow, so does the need for effective leadership.” The three storey, 33,000 square feet building, purchased by CAIR sits majestically on the corner of New Jersey Ave., just a few block south of the Capitol building. “The move of CAIR to Capitol Hill is an indication that the Muslim community is engaging itself at a very high level of political participation,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad at the grand opening. Ambassadors of Muslim countries, representatives of Muslim organizations were among the guests. Several members of Congress, including Republican Congressmen Tom Campbell and Democrat James Moran also came to lend their support. “Your voice needs to be here, close to the Capitol on a continuing basis, where you can be sharing your concerns as they relate to civil rights and human rights,” said Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Stabenow, who currently represents Michigan’s 8th District in the House. CAIR was founded in 1995 in a small office in Washington just one month before the release of the hollywood film True Lies. Cair founders went right to work combating the negative images of Islam portrayed by the filmmaker. A few months later, a greeting card defaming the Shi’a community appeared in Washington, D.C., The get-well card showed a Muslim woman with a face veil on the cover. On the inside the card read, “So you’re feeling like Shi’ite. Don’t Mecca deal out of it.” And CAIR was back at work on another major national campaign which eventually led to a settlement with the greeting card company. It were these early cases that helped CAIR’s staff establish a formula for dealing with major corporations. The new address of CAIR is 453, New Jersy Ave, Washington D.C.

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Threat to Zabid Monuments

Sana’a : The Grand Mosque of Zabid, the ancient cultural and economic capital of Yemen, is threatened with erosion and possible ruin, because in the last two decades Zabid has been falling apart, according to experts. But luckily, is now on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. A researcher at the French Center for Yemeni Studies says: “Zabid was a shining light in the Arab and Muslim world for centuries, thanks to the Al-Shair University and Grand Mosque whose reputation was on par with that of Cairo’s Al-Azhar. Founded in the 9th century, “it was also a major trading center because of its location as an international axis between Aden and Makkah, through which goods transited from India to the Mediterranean,” he adds. The brick-built town with its reputation as the birthplace of algebra has been disfigured by apartment blocks, while ancient ornaments lie abandoned or were being swamped by the reinforced concrete of modern development. A town of 20,000 inhabitants, Zabid remains an education center for two schools of Islamic thought, namely the Shafi and Hanafi, as well as religious sciences and grammar. UNESCO has commissioned a technical study on ways to protect the town and finance archeological, architectural and ethnological assignments. Among dozens of action plans, the study has called for monuments to be restored and the preservation of ancient manuscripts. The researcher said: “Every day another treasure dies in Yemen. Gulf donors must know this,” adding, “after all it’s part of their history, too.” IINA n

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Historic Model Of Madinah

Madinah : The Center for Research and Study of Madinah Al-Munawwara has developed a model of the city of Madinah as it would have looked like during the life of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and later during the reign of the Abbasid, Mamlukes and Ottoman era. The Center has also created a database for Madinah as it has developed since the dawn of Saudi era, including the mosques, roads, souqs, gardens and other infrastructure. The Center has also collected 2270 documents, 185 pictures, films and other documentary material on Madinah. The Center is headed by Director Abdulbasit Abdulrazzaq. He recently told the Al-Jazeera Arabic daily that the Center will compile an encyclopedia on the Prophet’s city detailing its history, expansion etc. IINA

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Prayers Relieve Pain

Washington : A study conducted by the Maryland University in the US, has confirmed that prayer and spiritual healing do lead to the reduction in pain felt by the afflicted person, and even to completely cure. The research was carried out by a team of researchers who studied 23 patients to observe the effect of prayers and other non-conventional type of healing on them, and the result was that 57 per cent of the patients were cured. The results were more effective on those patients who were touched by the healers. Dr. Astead, who is assistant professor in the Alternative Medicine Section of the university, and who conducted the research, said that he personally did not believe in such things, but had an open mind towards them. But he described the results as “exciting curiosity,” and that it is impossible to deny the effect of prayer and spiritual healing. Out of the 23 cases that were observed, 11 were put under the healing touch, three were subjected to prayer and invocation, while seven were subjected to other non-conventional methods. IINA

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College of Islamic Studies at Portsmouth University

Leicester : The University of Portsmouth in Britain has approved the setting up of a College of Islamic Studies, under the auspices of the Islamic Society of Leicester. This disclosure was made by the Director-General of the society, Dr. Muhammad Manazir Ahsan who said that the project would be under the supervision of Muslim professors. The university offers under-graduate, post-graduate, and doctoral degrees, and the Islamic Studies course would start in December, 2000. Talking about the society’s activities in Leicester, Dr. Ahsan said that among its services are facilities for researchers, and it has one of the largest Islamic libraries in Europe, with all the electronic facilities of a modern library. He said in 1994 an agreement was concluded with the British University of Loughborough, under which Islamic economics and Islamic banking would be taught at the Leicester University. Dr. Ahsan said that since its inception in 1973, the Islamic Society of Leicester has been striving to hold dialogues with members of other religious denominations, such as Christians, and has in this connection formed a unit known as the “Dialogue Between Religions,” unit.

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Dances Banned in Hotels

Kuala Lumpur : The government of the state of Terengganu in Malaysia has disallowed any form of entertainment shows in hotels forbidden under Islam and demeaning the women such as folklore and ballet dances and fashion parades. The state is one among the two controlled by the Parti se Islam Malaysia (PAS) while Malaysia is ruled by United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) comprsising the Chinese and Indian Congresses. IINA

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'Recognise Islam'

Sabiha Arbakan pleads for official recognition of Islam in Germany

Berlin : Mrs Sabiha Arbakan Al-Zayyat, neice of Necmettin Arbakan, former Prime Minister of Turkey, has urged the church in Germany to prod the German government into recognizing Islam and giving German Muslims their legitimate rights. Ms Arbakan is a member of the Muslim Women’s Scientific Center in Cologne, Germany. In a lecture she delivered, she said Muslims in Germany now constitute four per cent of the population, and therefore there is no denying the fact that their religion aught to be recognized as one of the minority religions in the German society. She said the assertion that Muslim in Germany are merely guest workers no longer applies. Arbakan went on to say that the Muslims who came to Germany after the 1950s, not have their future and that of their children intertwined with the future of Germany, while they feel that they are now strangers in the very countries in which they were born. Arbakan called upon the Church in Germany to cooperate positively with the Muslims, and appealed to the German media to remove the stigma of allegation that link Muslims with terrorism. IINA

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Azhar's Girls College in Lebanon

Cairo : The Al-Azhar University will set up a Girls’ College of Education in the village of Tamai Zahaira, in the Dakhila Region, as a branch of the Azhar University. The college will occupy an area of 9,900 square metres, on a piece of land that is valued at nine million Egyptian Pounds. This was disclosed to IINA by Dr. Taha Abu Karisha, deputy rector of Al-Azhar, who added: “The piece of land was donated by the residents of the village, while the construction cost has also been donated by philanthropists from the same village and businessmen.” He said the college would absorb over 4,000 girl students, among them students from various other parts of the Muslim world. IINA

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"No Basis for Meelad Celebrations" : Saudi Grand Mufti

Jeddah : Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Alsheikh has said that the celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, that is usually held on the 12th of Rabi Awwal every year, is an innovation that has no basis in the Qur’an, and that it resembles the Christian type of such celebrations. He went on to say that in some countries, some unwholesome things do happen to the celebrations, such as profusely excessive praise for the Prophet (Pbuh), some of which have elevated him to the divine status. He said some of those who are staunch supporters of such celebrations go to the extent of asserting that those who do not hold such celebrations, or who are opposed to them, are blasphemous. Sheikh Abdul Aziz said celebrating the Prophet’s Birthday is an innovation that has no basis in the Holy Qur’an or the Sunnah, nor was it ever commemorated by the rightly Guided Caliphs (Khulfa Rashideen) who came after the Prophet (Pbuh). The Grand Mufti said this innovation came during the fourth century and was devised by the Bani Obeid Al-Qaddah (known as the Fatimids), who, it transpired to the Muslim scholars, to have been related to the Ismaili Sect. They were known to have a lot of blasphemous beliefs, in addition to the innovations and immoralities. They are, therefore, not worthy of emulation, concluded the Mufti. IINA

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Islamic Society opens Home for the Aged in Cairo

Cairo : Dr. Muhammad Shawqi Al-Fanjari, chairman of the Managing Committee of the International Islamic Charitable Society, inaugurated here the Dar-el-Aman Home for the Aged, which is situated in the Sayyid Zainab locality of Cairo. The Home can accommodate 380 inmates, and for the first time ever 30 per cent of the inmates are foreigners who have been living in Cairo. Muhammad Al-Fanjari told IINA that the Home is considered the first of its kind in the Middle East, in that it has all the requisite facilities and amenities. It occupies an area measuring 4000 square meters. IINA

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Islamic Investment Website

Kuala Lumpur: A Malaysian woman banker Haseena Hashem has launched an Islamic website to provide comprehensive information on Islamic investments, Islamic calendar, important dates, festivals, Hajj schedule etc. www.Islamique.com provides safe and halal investments for millions of investors who would like to invest in companies that do not deal with interest, liquor or pork or other items restricted by Islam. According to Hashem, the Islamic investors invest nearly $150 billion annually and these investments are growing by 150 billion. Nearly 75 Islamic equity funds are currently under operation worldover. Growing acceptability of Islamic funds has made Dow Jones Co. to introduce first international stock Benchmark last year. The Islamic Market Index is now applied to 660 companies in 34 countries through out the world. Dow Jones has excluded airlines and hotels where liquor and pork are served. Hashem said more than half the investors in the Islamic investment companies were non-Muslims.

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Jerusalem Essay Contest

Washington DC: The Jerusalem Foundation here will hold a contest on the topic of “The Refugees” in context to the city of Jerusalem. First prize in the category of poems, essay and short stories will carry $3000. The prize for photography will be $1000. Submission should be sent to the Oragnisation at P.O.Box: 832390, Richardson City, Texas 2390-75083, USA. IINA

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Islamic Website

Riyadh: The website at http://www.al-islam.com/site.htm is a comprehensive website on Islam which puts on display Qur’anic text, recitation of the Quran by Sheikh Huzaifi and Sheikh Hasari, translation in six languages of the world. It also provide a zakat calculation programme, Islamic dictionary, Islamic penal code, Islamic dos and donts. All information carries sources in standard research footmoles. It also facilitates procurement of fatwas from eminent ulema of various maslaks. IINA

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Mosque in Greece

Athens: For the first time since its independance Greece has agreed that a mosque and an Islamic Centre could be built in the capital. Greece’s minister of culture has presented a porposal before the Parliament in this regard. IINA

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12 Lakh Muslims in Italy

Rome : The Muslim population in Italy now stands at 12 lakh and is set to grow to six million by 2020. This was stated by Mario Challuia, Italian ambassador to Saudi Arabia at a function to hand over a cheque of $ one million by Saudi crown prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz for the setting up of Supreme Islamic Council in Italy. The Council will act as the umbrella organisation of all Islamic bodies in Italy. IINA

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News in Brief

Newsweek in Arabic

Kuwait: The American newsmagazine Newsweek has brought out its Arabic edition from Kuwait in the second week of June. It put new Jordanian Queen Rania on the title over under story on “New Face of Arab Women.” An interview with Jordan’s King Abdullah, who is half American, was also carried by the weekly. The Arabic edition is published by Dar Al Watan, the Arabic daily from Kuwait. Mr. Mohammed Al-Jassem, is editor-in-chief. He is also the editor-in-chief of Al-Watan. IINA

Seminar on Coexistence

Berlin : An international seminar to discuss “Dialogue and Coexistence of Civilizations” will be held here from July 5. Organizing the seminar are the Islamic Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), in league with the Muslim World League (MWL), and the Imam Khui Charitable Foundation. The main objective and major topic of the seminar would be to reinforce the concept of dialogue and coexistence among cultures and civilizations. IINA

Symposium on Dialogue

Rabat : An international Islamic symposium will be held in the German capital, Berlin, under the aegis of the Islamic Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL) and the Imam Khoei Charitable Foundation. The inaugural ceremony will be held on July 5, 2000, and the theme of the symposium will be “Dialogue and Co-existence Among Civilizations and Cultures.” IINA

Conference on Islamic Common Market

Tehran : The Institute for Trade Studies and Research, an affiliate of Iran’s Ministry of Commerce, in conjunction with the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB), will organize a conference in September 2000 under the theme “The Conference on Ways and Means to Establish the Islamic Common Market.” The conference will be held in Tehran, on September 27-28. The conference will explore the possibilities for establishing the Islamic Common Market, and would focus its deliberations on trade facilitation and market access, trade of services and the available possibilities, joint investment possibilities, trade financing, and technology transfer. The Institute for Trade Studies and Research invites papers on the topics that would form part of the proceedings, plus any paper on any other relevant topic for discussion. The closing date for the full text of the papers is August 6, 2000. IINA

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People...

Honoured :Turkey has bestowed the First Class medal on Dr. Ekmelesdin Ihsanoglu, Director-General of the Istanbul-based Center for Research in Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), an offshoot of the Jeddah-based OIC. The medal was granted to Oglu for his services in the fields of scientific research, conferences, lectures and academic publications. Dr. Ihsanoglu has guided the Center over the last two decades and was instrumental in conducting several researches published by the center. The Center’s work in the field of publishing the compendium of tafsirs of the Qur’an, organizing seminars such as the one on carpets, glass work etc. won wide acclaim. Ihsanoglu was earlier honoured by the governments of Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Senegal and Bosnia. In fact IRCICA had been one of the most dynamic institutions under the OIC.

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