BATLEY (ENGLAND): Prince Charles opened the Al-Hikmah Centre in this West Yorkshire town in March this year. The Centre has been built by Indian Muslim Welfare Association and was funded by a grant of half a million sterling pound by the Kirklees city council, the biggest ever grant by the council. Prince Charles said he was pleased to hear that there were ten mosques in the Batley area. He unveiled a gold plaque to mark his visit to the Centre.
The vice chairman of the Association Ebrahim Dockrat welcomed the prince and said there were 1.4 million Muslims and 900 mosques in the United Kingdom. He said none of this would be possible if Britain was not a multicultural and tolerant country.
Indian Muslim Welfare Asssociation has been active in the Batley area for the last 40 years and set up the first mosque and Muslim schools in the north of England. The Association intends to focus this year on targetting the high level of unemployment in Batley, health and low educational achievements amongst school leavers in their local community.
CAIRO: The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Government of Egypt is holding its 11th General Conference at Cairo between 22-25th June 1999 under the theme “Towards a Civilized Project for the Renaissance of the Muslim World”, Nearly 200 delegates from more than 70 countries of the world are expected to participate in the conference to be held under the auspices of His Excellency Muhammed Hosny Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The theme of the conference has been sub-divided into three. The Cultural Domain, The Social Domain and the Economic Domain.
Moulana Mohammed Shihabuddin Nadvi, General Secretary, Furqania Academy Trust, Bangalore is representing India in the conference and shall be presenting his paper on. The cultural domain under the heading “Strengthening the cooperation with the cultural establishments of scientific research inside the Muslim world such as academies of scientific research and the like.” He told Islamic Voice that incidentally the theme of the conference coincides with his just published research book in Arabic “Renaissance of Islam in the Light of Holy Qur’an” He proposes to release the book during the conference and ensure its distribution among the delegates, and reach through out the world.
BERLIN: For the first time Friday prayers were performed in a German Parliament, in the framework of the seminar on Islam being held in that venue, whose theme was “Islam in Germany.” A Muslim member of the parliament, Jamal Karsali, who is of Syrian origin and belongs to the Green Party, organized the seminar. A number of Muslims joined the prayers in the parliament premises in North-Rhine Westphalia.
Jamal Karsali said this was a historical event and is happening for the first time in German history.” He said this is clear indication that the Muslims have started to play an important role in the affairs of Germany and the political parties in Germany have started opening up to the Muslims and recognize their importance in the German society.
All the Islamic organizations in Germany were invited to the seminar and over a hundred individuals attended it from all the various Islamic communities, including indigenous Germans who have embraced Islam.
Jamal Karsali, MP said that the purpose of the seminar was to bring closer the Germans and Muslims and to correct the wrong notions on both sides. It also aimed at the creation of conditions that are conducive to co-existence between all the Heavenly religions in the country, adding that religion has an important role to play in bringing about co-existence between Germans and Muslim immigrants in Germany.
Talking about Islam in Germany, Karsali said: “Muslims in Germany numbered more than three million.” He said Islam is the second largest religion in Germany, after Christianity, and 150,000 indigenous Germans had embraced Islam. Karsali said it is therefore imperative that a media campaign should be launched to acquaint people with Islam in Germany, so the word “Muslim” is not equated with extremism, and added that this seminar is the first step in that direction.
WASHINGTON: After an attack on an Islamic center in Ilinois, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on the law enforcement authorities there to investigate this as a “possible hate crime.”
Representative of the Islamic Foundation of Villa Park, Illinois, one of the largest mosques in the country, report that some time early Saturday morning one or more vandals threw a one foot chunk of concrete through the mosque’s tempered glass front door. A window near the door was also smashed.
The mosque’s custodian reported seeing a white van drive up and park outside the building some time after midnight. The van drove away and the custodian went home. When worshippers came to the mosque for morning prayers, they found broken glass. A similar incident of vandalism occurred while the mosque was under construction. A security camera recorded part of the attack, and the video was shown on local television stations. Police confirmed the community reports, and the local leaders also notified the Chicago office of the FBI about the attack. This was not a random attack, but one directed against the Muslim community, said CAIR’s National Communications Director, Ibrahim Hooper.
Hooper said only the previous week a would-be terrorist was arrested after fleeing from the areas of a mosque near Denver, Colorado. The suspect’s car was found to contain loaded weapons and bomb-making materials. When arrested, he allegedly shouted: “I am an enemy against the Islamic nation and I was going to take care of the business.”
Other violent incidents have been reported in the past by Islamic institutions in the United States. As early as 1994, a nearly completed mosque in Yuba City, California, was burnt to the ground, in what was ruled as an arson attack. An Islamic center in Springfield, Colorado, was also destroyed in 1995, while in 1996 a suspect was charged for involvement in an arson attack on a Greenville mosque. Acts of vandalism have occurred in Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey, Colorado, and Georgia. There are an estimated 400,000 Muslims in the Chicago metropolitan area and some six million nationwide.
TIRANA: The Sheikh Eid bin Muhammad Al-Thani Humanitarian Foundation of Qatar has sent a second relief and Da’awah delegation for work among the Kosovar refugees in Albania. The delegation is headed by Dr. Muhammad bin Eid Al-Thani and has ten doctors, a number of Da’awah workers and media personnel and several volunteers. The Foundation had also organised relief in places such as Chechenya, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Sudan and Lebanon.
The secretary-general of the Foundation, Ali bin Abdullah Al-Suweidiy, said the Christian missionaries were very busy in the refugee camps trying to lure the refugees away from their Islamic beliefs by offering them food and medicine. He said the Foundation’s Da’awah workers would provide the spiritual guidance to bring the Kosovars back to the fold of Islam. The workers would distribute copies of the Holy Qur’an and other literature, plus thousands of headscarves to the women refugees.
Suweidiy said, “The extreme cold that has set in, coupled with lack of clean water and a proper sewerage system in the areas which are housing the refugees, has led to the death of a number of children and others who were weak and rendered others sick and vulnerable.”
ISLAMABAD : Information and Sports Minister of Pakistan, Mushahid Hussain Sayed has said the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the West, have shared goals on Kosovo crisis as both are interested in bringing an end to the Serbian aggression.
OIC and Western countries are keen to end, "the Serbian regime's policy of genocide, ethnic cleansing as well as dealing with gigantic humanitarian crisis of the refugees which is mounting with each passing day," he told APP at Pakistan Air Force base at Chaklala airport here.
Mushahid said, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to Albania, sent, " a very clear and resounding message," to the oppressed Muslims of Kosovo at the highest level. OIC too has sent its Contact Group to Moscow, Rome, Bonn and Tirana at the initiative of Nawaz Sharif to express its support, solidarity and convey the feelings of the Muslim world over the Balkans crisis.
He said Nawaz Sharif was not only the first head of state to visit Albania and Kosovo refugees but also the first in sending four plane-loads of relief goods, he Said.
WASHINGTON DC: The President of the American Muslim Council (AMC), Dr. Nazir Khaja, joined an American inter-religious delegation which included Christian and Jewish religious leaders in pursuing a humanitarian mission to Belgrade.
The Delegation led by Rev. Jesse Jackson left from Washington DC on April 28, 1999. Dr. Khaja met the leaders of the Muslim community in Belgrade especially after the news reaching American Muslims about the recent attack against Bayrakli Jami, the only mosque in Belgrade. He also voiced his concerns regarding the conditions of the half Million Muslims of Montenegro and Sanjak.
The Director of the American Muslim Council, Aly R. Abuzaakouk reemphasized AMC's support of peace, freedom, dignity and security for all citizens in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in particular in Kosova. AMC reaffirmed its support to the NATO demand of the safe and immediate return of the Kosovars, the withdrawal of the Yugoslav Army from Kosovo, and the introduction of an international force to secure the safety and security of the Kosovars.
GLASGOW: The first and the only Muslim member of British Parliament Mohammad Sarwar was acquitted by High Court of Edinburgh of charges of bribing another candidate on March 25. The Labour Party restored his membership of the parliamentary party soon after. The overjoyed Sarwar said he was delighted that the charges against him were thrown out. Sarwar represents the Govan constituency of Glasgow region. He had been suspended soon after he was elected to the House of Commons in 1997 general elections. He said he would continue to sue the News of the World which published a mischievous and libellous story about the charge which later became the basis of the "conspiracy" against him. He said the conspiracies against him started the day he announced his Labour candidacy for Govan by people who had vendetta against him. He said his first priority would be to concentrate on unemployment, homelessness and drugs in his constituency.
Senior Glasgow councillor Bashir Maan said the way this affairs "has been handled has undermined the confidence of the community in the political parties, the legal ;system, civil administration and the media" and he believes "few Muslims would now be ambitious enough to aspire to become MPs."
KUWAIT : Kuwait’s government approved a draft law which would grant women full political rights for the first time, following an order from the Amir, His Highness Shaikh Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah. With parliament dissolved ahead of elections in July, the government said it had approved a decree which would allow Kuwaiti women to run for public office and to vote in municipal and parliamentary election due in 2003. The cabinet was informed of the order of His Highness the Amir to grant Kuwaiti women full political rights to vote and run for legislative councils, a weekly government statement said. It said the Amir decided on the move ‘in appreciation of the effective and important role played by Kuwaiti women, adding that a legal committee would now work to implement his request, which it described as a civilised step. Foreign Minister Shaikh Sababh Al Ahmad Al Sabah told the official news agency Kuna that cabinet approved the measure in a decree which will come into force only in 2003 when the next parliamentary elections are scheduled.
The cabinet was very pleased when the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Shaikh Saad Al Abdullah Al Sabah, informed it of the Amir’s will to recognise the efficient role of women in building society and the responsibility women have shown in their service to the country, the foreign minister said.
DUBAI : For the first time in its 106 years of history, India's Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is starting its full-fledged off-campus international centre in Dubai by initially offering three regular under graduate courses in Business Administration, Computer Science and Commerce from September, visiting Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof. H.A.S. Jafri has said.
The centre is the result of joint collaboration with Al Ghurair Academy for Higher Education which has been setup by the Al Ghurair Group under the leadership of Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Ghurair.
It has been approved by the Indian Government which fund the university founded by a prominent Muslim educationist and reformer, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, during the British rule.
Addressing a Press conference Prof. Jafri and M Riazudding General Manager of ETA Learning centre, said the academic administation of the Bachelor of Business Administration, B.Sc Computer Science, B. Com will be under the control of the AMU.
Initially 60 students will be admitted in each discipline. A senior professor from the AMU will be the director of the centre whose faculty members will be deputed from the AMU as well as locally recruited.
This is the first time that the Indian government has allowed a university to open a centre abroad he explained.
Prof Jafri said there had been demands from the Indian expatriates to open AMU centres in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but the Dubai project could see light of the day due to the interest shown by the Al Ghurair Academy for Higher Education.
Mr. Riazuddin said an agreement has been signed with the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, to start engineering courses in Dubai next year. A hotel management school with the collaboration of Swiss and Indian institutions has also planned.
He said ETA Learning centre has been offering several specialised training courses in Dubai and plans to enlarge the scope of its operations in the near future.
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM : For the first time in the history of the state of Israel, an Arab woman is due to sit in the Knesset as a deputy for the left-wing Meretz party.
I am delighted to be the first Arab woman to enter the Israeli parliament where I will do my best to represent the interest of Arab citizens and of the Palestinians because I also think of myself as being Palestinian, Husaina Jabara the new deputy told Israeli public radio.
Jabara, 41 who is from the Arab town of Taibeh east of Tel Aviv has three children and is director of the Middle Eastern studies department at the left-wing Beit Berl university.
RIYADH : Saudi Arabia will impose an airport tax on international flights from 01st June'99, in the third move in a month aimed at increasing state revenues, officials said. The 50 Riyal tax is to be imposed on nationals and foreigners. Airline crews , diplomats, infants, transit passengers, pilgrims and funeral parties are exempted from the tax.
LONDON : A British charitable Muslim organisation will build residential units on 10,000 square metres of land for Muslims in Britain.
The Muslim Building Society in London is trying to collect Sterling Pounds 50 million for the project, and the contributions are expected to come from donors in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and from British Muslims themselves. So far the organisation has built 400 such dwelling units.
KHARTOUM : Ms Suzan Bali, Deputy Principal of one of the Islamic schools in Sweden, who attended a conference of the World Assembly of Muslim Women held recently in Khartoum, Sudan, said that the present Muslim population in Sweden is 350,000. She said they have come to Sweden from various parts of the world, and that the indigenous Swedes who are Muslims number 50,000.
Ms Bali said she is a Deputy Principal of an Islamic school in Sweden, where there are now 15 such schools. She said these schools help the families teach their children about Islam and to preserve their Islamic identity and family values, and a correct understanding of Islam. She said these schools are aided by the state and a student is allowed to pursue any other studies after completing the normal school curriculum.
Ms Bali said there are some problems within the Muslim community in Sweden.
She said as an indigenous Swedish Muslim she is well received by all factions, but Muslims coming from various other parts of the world as refugees are faced with many difficulties, because Muslims live communally, though there is some degree of cooperation among them. (IINA)
DUBAI : Twenty one students of Dubai’s Al Ittihand Private School travelled to Germany on a trip sponsored by Germany based Stegmann Technology International (STI), a company which promotes environment awareness programmes in Dubai and Germany.
The students included toppers from each class selected by the school, in addition to three winners of an environment awareness art competition organised by STI in Dubai last year.
Aged between 10 and 17 years the students, accompanied by their teacher Hamad Abu Hilal, left for the trip to Gotha on April 24 and returned on May 4. Shaiman Hussain Gargash, a grade 10 student of the school whose work on environmental protection had won the top award at an art competion last year, won an award in Germany. The award winning design had also been chosen as the logo for Nofa International Environment Prize for Students, an association to be registered in Germany by Nobert Stegmann of STI and Farouk Kamber, a Dubai - based businessman.
VIENNA: The Arab and Muslim communities in the Austrian capital, Vienna, recently celebrated the inauguration of an Islamic academy. The academy was the result of efforts of some Arab and Islamic diplomatic representatives in Austria.
The reception that was organized by the community in Vienna was attended by Egypt’s Minister for Endowments, Dr. Muhammad Zaqzouq, the Deputy President of Al- Azhar University, Dr. Ahmed Omar Hashim, and the Director of the Religious Affairs Department of the Austrian Ministry of Culture and Education. It was also attended by a large number of diplomats from the Arab and Islamic countries who are accredited to Austria, as well as other members of the Muslim community of Austria.
ABU DHABI : The Zayed bin Sultan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation has constructed the Sheikh Zayed Mosque built at a cost of US $ 4 million recently. The Foundation also built the Zanzibar Hospital in Tanzania at a cost of US $ 1.3 million, according to Director General of the Foundation Abdullah bin Sultan Al-Dhahiriy.
In the Arab world, the Foundation has taken up the Sheikh Zayed Central Library Project at the Al-Manar University, in Tripoli. This project is about to be completed at cost of US $1.5 million. Very soon a delegation from the Foundation will sign agreements relating to this project, while another delegation will soon leave for New Zealand to follow up the Sheikh Zayed Girls’ School Project, considered among the pioneering projects of the foundation.
KARACHI: The Pakistani Minister for Islamic Affairs, Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq, has supported the idea of placing a ceiling on the age of anyone wishing to perform the Haj, in view of the fact that the lives and wellbeing of many who are advanced in age are threatened. (IINA)
DOHA: A Qatari businessman’s daughter has offered to pay $ 137,000 for the headscarf which led a Turkish Islamist deputy to lose her seat in parliament and her citizenship, newspapers reported recently. Maryam bint Ali bin Sultan al-Ali told the Arabic press that she wanted to help Merve Kavakci, 31, a deputy from Istanbul of the Islamist Virtue Party. She has put up a price of $ 137,000 saying the scarf had become a “symbol of Sharia,” or Islamic law. Kavakci defied the anti-Hijab majority in parliament and caused an uproar by showing up for the swearing-in ceremony on May 2 wearing her Islamic-style headscarf, a garment banned from Turkish schools, universities and public offices.
LONDON : A Saudi woman is suing the distributor of the anti-impotence drug Viagra claiming that the drug has caused her husband to want to marry a second woman, said The Muslim News from London.
The woman complained to an Islamic court in north-western Saudi Arabia that she had been her husband’s only wife for 35 years and it was not until he started taking the blue pill that he wanted to marry a second woman. The woman demanded compensation from Viagra’s distributor in Saudi Arabia and asked the judge to stop her husband taking the drug and block his moves to marry a younger woman. The judge ruled that Islam allowed the man to take up to four wives, so long as they are all treated equally , but also made the man promise not to take viagra except under a prescription from a Muslim doctor, the monthly reported.
RABAT: An agreement has been signed here between Morocco and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), under which the bank will give a grant of US $ 260,000, as the IDB’s contribution to the rescuing of manuscripts at the Qarawain Main Mosque Library in Fez. There are about 2,300 manuscripts in the Qarawain Library, and this agreement will make it possible to use the latest technology in the preservation of the manuscripts, in order to preserve Arab and Islamic culture.
CAIRO: Ismailia, in Egypt, witnessed the opening of a huge Islamic complex, the Abubakar Al-Saddiq Islamic Academy. It is the third such Islamic complex in the country, after the Fat’h and Noor Mosques in Cairo. Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments contributed to its construction to the tune of Egyptian Pounds 12 million. The opening ceremony was attended by, among others, the Minister of Endowments and the Governor of Ismailia, as well as the Mufti of the republic, Dr. Nasr Farid Wasil. (IINA).
JEDDAH: The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is celebrating its 25th anniversary since its establishment, and the celebrations will continue right up to the time when the annual meeting of the bank’s Board of Governors would be held. The meeting will be held in Jeddah from November 2-3, 1999. The Chairman of the IDB’s present session of the Board of Governors, who is also Pakistan’s Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Muhammad Is’haq Dar, said it has been decided that the celebrations would be held in various capitals of the member countries. They would be in the form of seminars and exhibitions in which the bank’s achievements and its role in preparing the Ummah for the next century should be focused upon.
The President of the IDB, Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali, said since its inception 25 years ago, the bank has contributed to the financing of more than 3000 projects and operations, to the tune of a total of US$22 billion, for the benefit of 52 countries and 63 Muslim communities in non-Muslim countries.
The IDB President said the bank also has a scholarship programme for students of Muslim minorities in non-member countries, and to date about 4000 such students have benefited from the programme. Over 1,300 of them have graduated with flying colours, the majority in medicine and engineering.
RIYADH : Saudi Arabia’s top religious leader, Grand Mufti Sheik Abdulaziz bin Baz died on 13th May’99 aged 89, the royal court announced. Blind since the age of 20, Sheikh Bin Baz held the rank of minister after the king appointed him in 1993 as grand mufti of Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Bin Baz was also chairman of the higher council of ulemas and the Islamic studies and jurisprudence department .
The Sheikh died at Taif , near the holy city of Makkah. Bin Baz ruled on many social aspects of daily life in the Kingdom and had the final say on religious issues. The mufti wrote several works on Islam and issued thousands of fatwas or religious decrees.