Volume 15-05 No:173
London: The three principal political parties in United Kingdom are putting up nearly 60 ethnic minority candidates for elections due later this year. Currently, the 659-member House of Commons has 10 MPs from the ethnic minorities. Of the 50 minority candidates, 25 are Muslims but not more than three are likely to win as two million Muslims, just like other minorities, are thinly spread over the country. Currently, just one Muslim Labour member Mohammad Sarwar is an MP from Govan seat in Scotland.
Labour Party is fielding 23 minority candidates, of which 8 are Muslims. Conservative Party is putting up 15 minority candidates, eight among them are Muslims. Liberal Democratic Party has chosen 24 ethnic minority candidates. Out of this nine are Muslims. The number of minority candidates set up by all parties has gone up considerably.
The Muslim Council of Britain has devised a strategy to mobilize Muslim votes during the forthcoming elections and has published charts of such MP constituencies where Muslim votes are concentrated and can make a difference. The charts provide the margin of victory of the sitting MPs and urge the Muslims to use their franchise with utmost care and caution in order to elect such candidates who recognize that British society is a racially diverse and multi-faith society and that legitimate defence of human rights and resistance against persecution should not be dubbed terrorism by the Government. It also lays stress on adopting a law against religious harassment and discrimination and ensures justice for suffering Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya and Iraq.
VoteSmart Website Launched: A website named VoteSmart has been launched which makes available all information on candidates collected through varied sources, their views on key issues affecting race relations, discrimination, Palestine, Israeli terrorism against Palestinian youth etc. It also involves local Muslim groups in having a face-to-face meeting with their candidates. The sites also record pledges by the candidates and build up record of their parliamentary tenures.
London: Iqbal Sacranie, the founding secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain has been chosen for the Alija Izetbegovic Award for Good Citizenship. The award is instituted by The Muslim News, an English monthly from here. The Izetbegovic Award was presented to Sacranie by British prime minister Tony Blair at a function on March 21.
The Ibn e Sina Award for excellence in health was given to Iraqi-born doctor Ms. Bayan Alaraji who organizes medical assistance through World Wide Welfare. Imam Hasan and Husayn children’s award for excellence was bagged by 15-year old Yusuf Sidat of ‘Desert Hawks’ martial arts team of Leicester.
Ibne Batuta Award for excellence in media was given to journalist of Indian origin Dilip Hiro who has played a leading role in combating the media distortion against Islam and Muslims. Salim Al-Hassani, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester and expert in Impact engineering and Monzur Ahmed an gastro enterologist and lunar calendar expert has been adjudged the winner of Fazlur Rahman Khan award for excellence in engineering, science and technology. Al-Biruni Award for excellence in community relations has gone to an organization in Leeds known as Faith Together in Leeds. Ummul Mumineen Khadijah award for excellence in enterprise has been taken by Nazir Jessa, the founder of Watford Electronics, one the Britain’s largest mail order firm. The Uthman Dan Fodio award for excellence in community development has been awarded to The Muslim Directory (London), which is considered to be the Yellow Pages for Muslims. Faezah Hashemi Award for excellence in sports has been awarded to Hafez Ismail Saleh, a coach in martial arts in Leicester.
Iraqi-born Mayathem Ridha, filmmaker has been adjudged the winner of Alhambra Award for excellence in art. Mayathem’s work is said to be building bridges between cultures. Ruqqaiya Waris Maqsood has been declared winner of the Allama Iqbal award for creativity in Islamic thought. Ruqqaiya developed the GCSE course on Islam and is a prolific writer on Islam.
Nahida Qureshi, head teacher of the Tayyibah Girls School in Stamford Hill has been given the Iman wa Amal special award.
The Preparatory Committee is headed by Egypt’s Minister of Endowments.
Cairo: Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy has issued an edict (fatwa), forbidding surrogate motherhood because it is un-Islamic.
The Academy said it had ruled last month that carrying another woman’s baby or becoming pregnant through a sperm donor contradicted Islamic law.
The academy also ruled it was un-Islamic for a woman to use her husband’s frozen sperm to get pregnant after his death.
The academy is Islam’s highest religious authority said Reuters. This was the first time the academy’s assembly reviewed the issue of (surrogate motherhood). “It was brought up in the meeting after we received a number of inquiries on this subject,’’ the academy’s Secretary General Sayyed Gargour told Reuters.
Note: Surrogate motherhood or “Renting the Womb” is a Western phenomenon and has been possible due to latest scientific methods. Under the method fertilized eggs from a couple could be incubated in the womb of other (and unrelated) women. In some cases even grandmothers have acted as surrogated mothers of their daughter’s children. Islam prohibits this because it can lead to confused relationships.
Washington, IINA: The Canada Chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has launched a media and political campaign against the proposed law which, if passed by the Canadian Parliament, would give the government powers to use secret evidence to indict charities that it is, directly or indirectly, aiding a terrorist group.
Although the government seeks to preserve the credibility of humanitarian and charitable work in Canada, CAIR fears that the law might threaten freedoms, because of the secret nature of the evidence to be used against any such organization, as happened in the US when a similar law was passed. Now there is a strong move to repeal that law in the US, because it is regarded as unconstitutional.
The secret evidence could at times be no more than a political allegation made against a given organization by another organization, foreign or local, that has an axe to grind against the accused Canadian organization.
In addition to all the above, CAIR is of the opinion that the proposed law would be harmful to the Muslims of Canada specifically, including their humanitarian and charitable organizations, because it would introduce elements that are negative, such ethnicity, in the decision making process of the Canadian Government visa-a-vis the relief and charitable organizations. The end result would be that the Islamic charitable and humanitarian organizations would bear the brunt of wrong decision, particularly in view of the erroneous impression that has been created in the West about Islam.
Nairobi, IINA: The FM Iqra Islamic Broadcasting Station set up here recently is providing Islamic programmes within a diameter of 150 kilometres around the Kenyan capital.
The station is run by the Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims (SUPKEM), with Ahmed Khalifa, a well-known broadcaster, as its Director. Programmes are broadcast in four languages, namely Swahili, Somali, Urdu, and English, in addition to a number of local vernaculars. They include news bulletins, press reviews, religious enlightenment, translations of the Holy Quran and Hadith, Islamic Fiqh, and other related programmes.
Hussein Shariff, the executive secretary of the SUPKEM, said that the station has been funded from the Islamic Solidarity Fund of the of the Jeddah-based OIC and the Islamic Daawa Society of Libya, as well as the philanthropists in Kenya.
The Iqra Islamic Broadcasting Station is the first such station in East Africa, surrounded by not less than seven Christian stations of various denominations.
SUPKEM says it intends to set up several such stations in Kenya. The station receives hundreds of letters from its listeners, most of them seeking Islamic rulings on various issues of concern. Furthermore, even Christians have been writing to the station, seeking Islamic literature as many of them say that they do not receive convincing replies to the queries they present at their churches.
The Iqra Radio can be contacted at phone: (254) 2-442476 or fax number (254) 2-443979, Nairobi, Kenya.
Male (Maldives): A dawah seminar here has called for carrying out the dawah through the latest media of communication and addressing the non-Muslims in the modern idiom and employing the latest logic and reasoning. The call was given at the conference on the topic of “Islamic Propagation in South Asia” on April 25-26. It was organized by the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs of the Republic of the Maldives.
It also urged unity among the various dawah organizations and avoiding the path of extremism and virtue of following the middle path. The seminar was attended by nearly 40 delegates from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Libya, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines
The seminar was inaugurated by the President of the Maldives Mr. Mamoon Abdul Qayyum. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Maldives Sheikh Mohd Rashid Ibrahim welcomed the gathering. The topics d in the seminar included ‘Islamic Dawah in South Asia-Challenges faced in the work of dawah, ‘The role of semantics and culture in cross-cultural dawah’, ‘The importance of presenting Islamic dawah in modern medium’, ‘The Christian missionaries onslaught and the Muslim communities response’ etc. The speakers who addressed the gathering included Mr. Abdur Raoof Hibatul Hakim, the Minister for Commerce and Islamic Affairs from Sri Lanka, Former Minister Raja Zafrul Haq of Pakistan, Dr. Mustafa Umar Attir of Al-Fateh University, Tripoli, Libya, Dr. Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari of Quran Society, Maldives, Mr. Abu Baker Mohiuddin, President Muslim Missionaries Society Singapore, and Mr. Mohamed Abdul Azeez Abduldayem of Cairo.
Montreal, IINA: The media in Canada has improved its stance toward Islam and Muslims, according to the head of the Islamic Congress of Canada, Dr. Muhammad Al-Masry. He said this is the result of contacts made by Muslims with the media people, to whom they passed on the accurate facts about Islam and Muslims and also by consistently writing to the press whenever they publish anything that is inaccurate or disparaging to Islam.
Dr. Masry said his congress is keen to introduce Islam and the Islamic Daawa to those who are not aware of its tenets, and also to teach Muslims matters relating to their faith.
Kuwait City, IINA: The General Council for the Islamic Banks and Finance Institutions would set up a professional body for auditors, prepare an encyclopedia of comprehensive fatwas on banks and banking operations. This was disclosed by Secretary general of the Council Ezzedine Khoja while addressing the opening session of the 26th meeting of the Operations and Investment Managers in Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions that was held here. He also announced the initiative taken by the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in setting up an Endowments Fund, whose revenue would be utilized for the operations of the council.
Toronto: In a rare display of unity, Canadian Muslims and Jews have joined together to fight an attempt to ban the circumcision of baby boys, according to reports in Canadian press. Muslims and Jews, roughly one million Canadians, are urging the federal Court Challenges Program to deny public funding to a group that wants to outlaw the post birth removal of the foreskin. The challenge is spearheaded by the group called the Association for Genital Integrity. Circumcision “is supported by mainstream medical evidence,” argues the Canadian branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Limiting the practice “would impose undue hardship on both faith communities who see circumcision as a requirement of their religion, and should not receive public blessing,” the group stated in its own letter to the federal programme.
Jakarta, IINA: The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is expected to buy Indonesian Mandiri Syariah Bank’s shares to the tune of 75 billion Rupiah (about US$7.15 million), according to the latter bank’s director general, Nurdin Hasibuan. The Indonesian Shari’a bank was set up just two years ago, and the acquisition of shares by the IDB will give it an added boost to its capital base, and it would also reduce the state’s stake in the Mandiri Syariah Bank, which would be based on profit-sharing.