Doha, (IINA): Eminent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi has asked Muslims to avoid Nafil Haj or Umrah and to divert these funds to support the poor. He said this was more rewarding. He said Muslims across the globe are facing acute hunger, yet you see millions of Muslims offering voluntary Umrah every Ramadhan and during other months, while many others repeat the Haj scores of times. He added that billions of dollars were being spent on such voluntary worship.
“Yet,” said the Sheikh, “we cannot collect enough funds for humanitarian organisations like the Islamic Charitable Foundation in Kuwait, for which we have not been able to collect even a fraction of the US$ one billion that is needed.”
He said if one were to ask those who perform the voluntary Haj and Umrah to donate their travel expenses to the causes like humanitarian relief and anti-Christianisation in Asia and Africa, the response would be negative. He added: “I believe this is an ancient disease that has been plaguing the Ummah from time immemorial.” Sheikh Qaradhawi said Islam encompasses beliefs, articles of worship, morals, manners, social norms and other sterling qualities, but not all of them are on the same level. They differ in their priorities and should not be mixed up with one another, such as by dealing with subsidiary matters the way the central issue is dealt with, or considering Sunnah (voluntary) on the same level as Farz (mandatory), or regarding what is loathsome as something that is completely forbidden, and so on. The Sheikh said “there cannot be a structure without a foundation.” Sheikh Qaradhawi said a supererogatory performance cannot take the place of what is mandatory, and what is absolutely mandatory on each individual cannot be equated with what is mandatory only if some individuals carry it out. He said: “By the same token, what is necessary should take precedence over what is not.”
GROZNY, (IINA): Chechenya is a Muslim country, and its total land area is 19,000 square kilometres, with a population of 1,253,000. It is divided into 12 regions and four main cities, and is situated north of the Caucasus mountains, some of which reach a height of over 4,000 meters.
It has numerous rivers and forested mountains. Apart from its huge oil reserves, Chechnya is also an industrial country and produces electrical appliances, medical equipment, building material, cement, and other industrial goods. As for agriculture, the country produces fruits and vegetables, wheat, grains, rice, sugar cane and sunflowers, and additionally it has a thriving livestock industry.
Huge pipes convey the country’s petrol and petroleum products to the capital, Grozny, from various parts of the country where there are oil wells. In Chechnya there are several areas that are suitable for medical purposes. Chechnya is bordered in the north by Russia’s Stavropol province, Georgia in the south, Dagestan in the east, and by North Ositia in the west. The capital, Grozny, was founded in 1818 as a fortress to guard Russia’s borders, and in 1922 Chechnya became self-governing, and in 1934 Ingushetia was included in it. In 1936 it became the self-governing Republic of Chechnya and Ingushetia, within the Soviet Union.
However, in 1944, during World War II, dictator Joseph Stalin, dissolved the republic, and started to expel its Muslim inhabitants to Siberia, on the pretext that they had colluded with the Nazi occupiers. But during the era of Nikita Khurushchev, the republic was restored to it’s former status in 1957. In October 1991, a decree was issued to dissolve the Soviet Council in the republic, on the pretext that the council had supported the coup attempt against Gorbachev. In its place another council was set up under the leadership of Johar Dudayev, who then went on to be elected president, in elections that were not recognised by Russia and were considered illegal.
On November 1, 1992, Dudayev declared Chechnya’s independence from Russia, but Boris Yeltsin declared a state of emergency and sent Russian forces into Chechnya. However, Russia retreated from the war with Chechnya, and the Russian Parliament repealed the state of emergency. In June of the same year, the Supreme Soviet declared the cessation of Ingushetia from Chechnya in the Russian Federation, and Chechnya’s fate was left in abeyance.
The war that ensued in Chechnya caused immense damage and destruction to the tune of US $ four billion. Thousands of Chechens were killed during that armed conflict, including Dudayev. Chechens comprise numerous ethnic nationalities, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims. Of these, 735,000 are indigenous Chechens, 394 are of ethnic Russians, 164,000 are ethnic Ingushetians, 15,000 ethnic Armenians, and 12,600 ethnic Ukrainians. However, thousands of ethnic Russians left the country and returned to Russia.
Although Chechnya was among the last countries to embrace Islam, it people are among the staunchest Muslims, mainly because the experience of expulsions that they went through and the oppression under Stalin served to reinforce their faith in Islam. In March 1992, the Chechen Parliament resolved that the country should use the Latin alphabet in place of the Russian script.
Despite Chechnya’s oil, mineral and agricultural wealth, it still depends on Russia for its electricity and gas supplies.
Washington DC, (IINA): The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, is calling on President Clinton to demand that Russia withdraw its forces from Chechnya and stop attacks on civilians in that country.
A letter sent to the president today by CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad read in part: “Since Russia began its recent attacks on Chechnya, hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed and almost 200,000 have been forced out of their homes. Many of these refugees are without shelter and now face hunger and disease.
“This campaign exposes the hypocrisy of Russian officials who condemned NATO’s actions against Serbian forces in Kosovo. Just as NATO used every means to avoid civilian casualties, Russia seems to be targeting the entire Chechen population with what amounts to state terrorism by a rogue nation.
“For some 200 years, the Chechen people struggled to determine their own fate free from the dictates of Russian and Soviet colonial masters. It is time the world community offered its support for the freedom and independence of Chechnya. This is reasonable and consistent with your stance on other local and regional conflicts such as in Kosovo and East Timor. It is always in America’s interest to help save innocent lives and end conflict.
“America’s Muslim community supports a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Chechnya that will result in freedom for the Chechen people. Anything less will inevitably lead to endless conflict and suffering.”
Khartoum, (IINA): Sudan’s Minister for Foreign Relations, Dr. Mustafa Othman Ismail has warned that a scheme is being hatched in some Western capitals to divide Sudan. He said while some Western capitals are involved, the United States’ role is pre-eminent, adding that the latest developments indicate that the scheme has entered its implementation stage.
In a letter, a copy of which was received by IINA, he said that the extremist rebel movement in the country, calling itself the Popular Army for the Liberation of Sudan, is bent upon opposing anything that has a semblance of Arabism and Islam. He added that this rebel movement is being used as a tool with which foreign powers penetrate the country. He said the aim of the neo-colonialists is to redraw the geographical and cultural map of the Sudan, and that is why they give credence to such rebel movements and recognise them as representative of the people of Southern Sudan.
The minister said the displaced people of Southern Sudan who are presently given refuge in the north have been victims of the war that is waged by the rebels in the south. He said there has also been a concerted media campaign to tarnish the name of Sudan by accusing it of oppressing the minorities, trading in slavery, and supporting terrorism, and such other deplorable accusations. He said these are the very same people who aid and abet the rebels and give them arms and ammunitions. At the head of such entities is the International Christian Fellowship Union that has its headquarters in Geneva, and whose political aims are linked to the Zionist agenda. Among its priorities is the dismemberment and Balkanisation of Sudan, because they believe that its continued existence as a single entity would be a bridge through which Islam would reach Africa south of the Sahara, and would therefore endanger its strategic interests. The Sudanese Minister for Foreign Relations went on to say that the recent resolutions passed by the US Congress against Sudan, which are in themselves a violation and threat to the integrity of Sudan, have coincided with the first anniversary since the bombing of a pharmaceutical factory by the US.
Clinton’s New Advisor on Sudan
He said the American administration has so far failed to justify that bombing. He said the appointment of a special envoy for Sudan to represent the US President is clear indication of the US intentions toward Sudan. He said the envoy, former Congressman Henry Johnson, is one of the staunch supporters of the rebellion in the South, and his terms of reference raise doubts about his suitability. The foreign affairs minister concluded by saying that the various other recent actions by the US indicate the sinister aims, while the long -term strategy is to deal a blow to the Sudan, because it perceives it as an Arab, African and Islamic united entity that has all the components of awakening and progress.
Washington, DC, (IINA): In the conclusion of a long legal battle watched closely by the American Muslim community, a Palestinian immigrant detained for 18 months on the basis of “secret evidence” was freed on October 27.
The release of Hany Kiareldeen came after the Justice Department decided not to block his release, which was first ordered in April by federal judges but fought by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. Last week, a federal judge in Newark, New Jersey, called his continued detention on secret evidence a violation of constitutionally guaranteed due process.
Many American Muslims believe that the practice of secret evidence, under which immigrants are jailed without the right to confront evidence used against them, has scapegoated Muslim and Arab immigrants, while chilling free speech in the community as a whole.
The American Muslim Council congratulated Mr. Kiareldeen, his family, and lawyers on this release, but urged that the Secret Evidence Repeal Act in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2121) be passed so that the right to confront one’s accusers be universally restored.
“Keeping Hany Kiareldeen in jail on secret evidence was unjust and un-American,” Mr. Abuzaakouk said. “We hope that others like him will now also have the chance to exercise their fundamental right to confront the evidence used against them.”
In a letter sent this week to Attorney General Janet Reno, the American Muslim Council noted that the “continued use of secret evidence leads many American Muslims to wonder whether it is national security, or selective political or ethnic targeting, that is at issue,” and urged that secret evidence be repealed “in keeping with American ideals of due process and fair treatment.”
Since the introduction of the Secret Evidence Repeal Act in June 1999, the American Muslim Council and other groups in the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom have pressed members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill. There are now over 50 co-sponsors. In addition, hearings on secret evidence may soon take place in the House immigration and claims subcommittee.
By Hamad Ibrahim
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has entered into its 25th year of service. Coinciding with its silver jubilee, it has set up a Fund for Infrastructure Development, with a capital of US$1.5 billion which would be used in investing in infrastructure projects which are carried out by the private sector in Muslim member countries, in keeping with the Islamic principles of financing.
The IDB has also completed studies for the formation of an Islamic organisation for the development and enhancement of the private sector, and the capital for this fund is expected to be US $ one billion.
In order to tackle the challenges of the future, the IDB has decided to increase its working capital to US $ 8 billion at its inception the working capital was only US dollars one billion. In this connection, the banks have put in place medium term strategies that would lead to the discovery of better development methods and priorities in the bank’s financing activities.
The focus of this strategy would be in the agricultural sector and the provision of food security, support for small and medium sized industries, improvement of education and health, and supporting the communications and transportation sector.
The IDB was established on Islamic principles of doing business and has tremendous achievements to its credit, and has developed a good machinery for granting loans based on Islamic principles, such as loans that do not carry interest, sharing in profits, joint capitalisation, and other Islamically correct transactions.
By June 1999, the IDB had concluded 3000 transactions and project financing for the benefit of 53 member countries and 63 Muslim communities, at a total cost of US$22 billion.
Most of the loans were granted to member countries, without the element of interest, and with repayment periods ranging from 16 to 30 years, with grace periods of anything between three and ten years.
The IDB has also helped countries in the preparation of feasibility studies for their projects by making available to them the experts at the bank to supervise and give advice on the implementation of projects. The IDB also set up a special fund in 1992 with a capital of US$100 million for helping the least developed 21 member countries, and the fund has now been increased to US$150 million. Thanks to the IDB’s efforts the trade exchanges between Muslim countries have increased to 10 per cent, from a mere four per cent in 1976, and it has done this mainly through financing trading transactions between member countries.
The IDB is also running the Islamic Banks Portfolio, which was set up in 1987 with a capital of US$65 million, which was then increased to US$380 million, and its main purpose is to increase the cooperation between Islamic banks and other Islamic financial institutions.
As for grants and scholarships made by the IDB to Muslim communities of non-member countries, the IDB has spent over US$170 million in financing more than 285 educational and health programs, for the benefit of 63 Muslim communities in non-member countries. The bank has also recently set up Wakf Fund with a capital of US dollars one billion.
The bank’s scholarship programme has benefited more than 4,700 students of Muslim communities in non-member countries. The IDB also has a special fund dealing with the transfer of technology, while it also has a fund for offering scholarships to students who excel in science and technology.
The IDB, along with other Saudi government authorities, has been deeply involved in the Sacrificial Meat Utilisation Programme, under which the purchase, slaughter and eventual distribution of sacrificial meat to the needy and poor during the Haj is facilitated for the pilgrims.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is a multi-faceted Islamic financial institution that was founded by member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in October 1975. It main objective is to help Muslim countries, and Muslim communities in non-member countries in their economic and social development efforts, in keeping with the principles of the Islamic Shari’a. na
NEW YORK, (ANTARA/IINA): Indonesia organised the 14th Muslim Day Parade here bringing together Muslims from various countries in New York, with the aim of “introducing the true Islam to Americans.” According to H. Syamsi Ali of the Indonesian Mosque Board, the parade was participated in by 15,000 Muslims coming from Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Russia, Chechnya, Guyana, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the USA.
According to Ali, the parade under the theme of “Islam: Peace and Justice for All” aimed to show the true Islam, the religion which brings peace and prosperity, not terrorism, and armed and bloody conflict, as often portrayed by western countries.
“Islam is the religion which teaches peace and justice for all without differentiating among nations, countries, sex, or race,” Ali said. Flags of 50 countries fluttered in the march and was represented by almost all components of Islamic groups here, including Imam Hezekil Pasha (Imam of Malcolm Shahbazz Harlem Mosque and chairman of a Muslim organisation in New York), Imam Al Amin Abdul-Lathif (leader of the As Shura council of New York) and Imam Sheikh Lathif Ali (secretary-general of Al Shura council).
The rally was attended by chairpersons of Islamic organisations in New York, such as the Council on American-Islam Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Circle for North America (ICNA), and some government officials. First Lady Hillary Clinton, who had previously pledged to attend the parade, cancelled her trip at the last moment.
BERLIN, (IINA): On the occasion of the German Unification Day, the Supreme Council of Muslims in Germany has called for the opening of the doors of all mosques, so that whoever wants to know more about Islam can do so. Dr. Nadim Ilyas, the council’s president, said at a press conference in Cologne that many Christians visited the 1000 mosques that were opened last year at this time, and this year it is expected that the number will increase to 1,200. He said this would not only enable the non-Muslims to know more about Islam, but would also contribute to better understanding between the various religions in the country.
IINA’s representative visited one such mosque in Bonn, the Muhajirin Mosque, between the Zuhar and Asr prayers and witnessed not less than 200 visitors who came into the mosque, and were curious to know a lot of things about Islam and Muslim minorities in Europe.
The Director of the Muhajirin Mosque in Bonn told IINA’s correspondent that they are observing moderation in all their affairs, so that they are not accused of indulgence in political matters. He said their approach encompasses the whole spectrum of public life. He said since the mosque opened its doors to non-Muslims last October, a number of people living in the area and its vicinity have embraced Islam. The director said though there are times when there are heated debates on one topic or another, the administration tries to calm things down in a wise and suave manner. The Supreme Council has said that all mosques and Islamic centers in Germany have this year registered a good response, saying that about 56,000 Christian Germans visited the mosques and observed worshippers at prayer, and later asked questions. Later still, scores decided to embrace Islam.
Jakarta, (Antara/IINA): President K H Abdurrahman Wahid reaffirmed before 16 ambassadors from Middle East countries that Indonesia will not change its policy over Israel.
Spokesperson of the Arabian diplomatic group, the Palestinian ambassador to Indonesia, Ribhi Y. Awad, told reporters here recently after meeting with the President that Indonesia has no plan to open diplomatic ties with Israel until the Palestinian people get their independence with the proclamation of a Palestinian country, with Jerusalem as the capital city.
Indonesia also has no plan to have a bilateral relationship with Israel before Tel Aviv returns all Arabian lands, including the Golan Heights, which was invaded and occupied by Israel, he said.
Awad also said Indonesia will always close its diplomatic door until Israel releases all Palestinian prisoners.
Paris: The Paris School of Social Science Higher Studies will be setting up an Institute for Studies on Islamic World Societies.
The Institute will train experts and provide researchers with reference material on Islam and studies conducted in the Muslim world. It will also be an open door to people to find out about Islamic culture. A network covering French territory and branching out abroad will connect scholars in France to research teams concerned with Islam all over the world.
Confiscation of Islamic Tapes
DAR-ES-SALAM, (IINA): The police in the Mtwara Region of southern Tanzania have confiscated tapes containing Islamic sermons, Islamic lyrics, and readings from the Holy Qur’an.
The police in Tanzania have in the past confiscated tapes containing such Islamic themes, particularly those that explain that Jesus was not God, something that is contrary to Christian beliefs.
Islam First Religion in Siberia
SIBERIA, (IINA): The Mufti of Siberia, Sheikh Taher Abdulrahmanov confirmed that Islam was the first divine religion ever known in the area, where Muslim Daawa activists coming from Bukhara and Samarkand went to spread the call to Islam. Siberia is the world’s first ice desert, covering more than 12 ,500,000 square kilometers. It is part of the Russian Federation.
Mosque at European Parliament Headquarters
STRASBOURG, (IINA): The Strasbourg City Council in France, which houses the European Parliament, has given the go-ahead to a plan for the construction of a mosque in the city, notwithstanding the objections of the extreme rightists, who maintain that soon France would become an Islamic republic. The ruling Socialist Party, which holds the majority of seats in the council, approved the mosque’s construction, with the extreme rightists opposing it.