Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

April 2006
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The Muslim World

Shariah Compliant National Bonds

The sale of National Bonds drew a strong response from subscribers looking to invest in a Shariah Compliant savings opportunity. Available to both UAE nationals and residents, the bonds can be subscribed and redeemed by holders at their convenience. “This is an additional investment channel for people to save and earn money. If this scheme is successful in the UAE, it may be replicated in other Muslim countries,” said Faisal Aqil, general manager of retail banking at Emirates Islamic Bank. “We had a great demand for applications at our 12 branches. We collected big money,” he said.

Al-Resalah Islamic Channel Launched

Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal, CEO of Kingdom Holding Company, launched an Islamic satellite channel to project Islam as a religion of moderation and tolerance. “Al-Resalah” (The Message) Channel made its debut last month. Prince Alwaleed said the 24-hour channel would target the Arab audience, especially the youth, by projecting Arab heritage through a modern medium. It will be the fore -runner of an English-language Islamic channel for the Western audience at a later stage. Pointing out that the channel would seek to project the true message of Islam and its teachings, the prince said it would provide a platform for a dialogue on a range of religious, social and economic issues that affect everyday life. But its priority would be to counteract the misconceptions of Islam in other societies. Tarek Alsuwaidan, the channel’s general manager, said that 40 per cent of the programmes would be youth oriented, 30 per cent would target women and families, and 10 per cent would focus on children.

Drawing Water from the Desert

In an unprecedented move to quench the country’s growing water requirements, Saudi Arabia launched a SR400 million project that will pump potable water from Al-Rub Al-Khali (the Empty Quarter) to the southern Najran region. Minister of Electricity and Water, Abdullah Al-Hussayen, who signed a contract with Al-Suwaih Agricultural Trading Company for the purpose, said the project would be ready within 36 months. He also spoke about plans to construct an underground dam in Najran to block the sub-terranean flow of water.

The two projects will have a combined capacity of 100,000 cubic meters and will play a big role in solving Najran’s water problem to a great extent. Al-Rub Al-Khali showed indications of considerable groundwater resources, said Prof Muhammad Sultan of Western Michigan University, after visiting the area which is the biggest continuous desert in the world. Saudi Arabia consumes 230 liters per capita daily, compared with 150 liters in Europe.

Arab Women Power List

Bahrain-based, Gulf One Investment Bank chief executive officer, Dr. Nahed Taher has been voted the fifth most powerful business woman in the Arab world. Dr Taher, the first Saudi woman to head a bank in the Gulf region, was listed fifth out of 50 Most Powerful Businesswomen in the Arab world in the latest issue of Forbes Arabia magazine. Forbes Arabia is the Dubai-based Arabic edition of the business and financial magazine Forbes. “Part of our task at Forbes Arabia is to translate the concept of Forbes to the region, to recognise and promote successful business experiences in the region,” said Forbes Arabia editor-in-chief, Dr Sulaiman Al Hattlan. “ The listing, Dr Al Hattlan said, is compiled based on a power score card that takes into account both title and resume, the size and importance of the woman’s business, her influence and career path, cultural and social impact, and the number of regional and international media mentions.

Indonesia Porn Bill Protects Women

Indonesia’s Porn Bill, which has caused uproar in the world’s most populous Muslim state, has been principally proposed to protect women and children against abuses and exploitation, said one of the country’s top scholars. “People must understand that this draft law is being deliberated because we are trying to protect women and children, not to criminalise them,” Amidhan, the chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), told the Jakarta Post in an interview. He said the bill was of high necessity to protect the morals of the young people in the country. In its original form, the draft bill, initially proposed in 1999 and officially titled the Anti-Pornography and Pornographic Acts Bill, imposes fines on women who refuse to cover “sensitive” body parts, such as hair, shoulders, midriffs and legs. Another article legislates a seven-year jail term for people caught kissing in public. The motion has drawn fire from many rights groups, including artists and liberals, arguing that the bill encroached on personal freedoms and could scare away tourists in multi-cultural Indonesia.

Campaign for the Prophet (Pbuh)

The global controversy over the publication of Danish caricatures lampoon-ing Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) has aroused the curiosity of people around the world, prompting Muslims in many countries to champion local campaigns to promote awareness of the merits of the Prophet. “We have decided to launch this campaign after a torrent of phone calls from curious Ukrainians from across the country seeking information about Prophet Muhammad,” said the Federation of Social Organizations (ARRAID). ARRAID, the Muslim umbrella body in the Eastern European country, said it will start, printing and distributing 200,000 brochures about the Prophet in various Ukrainian cities. The brochures will feature detailed information about the life, values, ethics and deeds of the Prophet. ARRAID will also circulate leaflets with the web addresses of the Islamic centres in different Ukrainian cities.

First Arab Culture Centre in Baltic
Riga ( Latvia)

The first centre promoting Arab culture in the Baltic states is to be opened in the Latvian capital, Riga. “The aims of the centre will be to dispel commonly held stereotypes about the Arab world and to educate the Baltic public about the richness and diversity of Arab life,” said Centre director, Houssam Abou Merhi, who has lived in Latvia for 13 years. The centre, which is sponsored by Arab non-governmental organisations, will also offer language courses and translation services, as well as classes related to Arab culture. The centre is due to open in one month. The population is mostly Christian in Latvia with the largest section being Lutheran with smaller percentages of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. The Baltic states are three specific countries: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. All three countries were controlled by Soviet Union in 1940-1941 and 1944-1991. The trio joined the expanding European Union in 2004.

Technical Training Institute in Kinniya

The Kinniya Institute of Industrial Technology(KIIT), probably the first major tsunami relief capacity building project in the country, was inaugurated in Kinniya last month. Irfan Khurshid, executive Director of the funding organisation, Helping Hand - USA, a sister organization of ICNA Relief USA, was the chief guest at the ceremony. The project was implemented by the Social Service Department of Sri Lanka Jamaat- e- Islami. The Institute has already enrolled trainees to follow courses in Industrial Wiring, Welding, Plumbing, Motorcycle Repairing and Aluminium Fabrication. Courses in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration and Computer Studies will begin soon, said S.M.Hussain, director of the Institute. Irfan Khurshid also laid the foundation stone for a medical centre to be built by Helping Hand next to KIIT. For more information, contact: Social Services Dept, Sri Lanka Jamaat- e- Islami 77, Dematagoda Road, Colombo 00900, Sri Lanka, email: [email protected]

Bridging the Divide
Los Angeles

The Brookings Institution, a major think tank based in Washington, DC, embarked on a major initiative for global dialogue recently, by assembling government officials, political activists and leading thinkers in the political, religious, science, and cultural arenas during its fourth annual “U.S.-Islamic World Forum”. Distinguished leaders, scholars, activists and intellectuals discussed the common challenges faced by Muslims living in non-Muslim nations, during the seminar organised by Brookings - “Bridging the Divide Initiative”. Among the primary goals of the initiative is to involve the American Muslim community in improving US-Islamic world relations. More than 500 million Muslims live as minority religious populations, including 150 million Muslims in India and nearly 40 million in Europe and North America. Towards this end, they expressed determination to establish an alliance of minority Muslims that will work for their empowerment. Coordinated by Muqtedar Khan of Brookings Institution and Hady Amr of the Arab Western Summit of Skills, the sessions were chaired by M. J. Akbar, editor- in- chief of the Indian publication “Asian Age”, and Imam Feisal Rauf, author of “What’s Right with Islam”.

IDB'S Vision Commission
Kuala Lumpur

The Islamic Development Bank’s (IDB) 1440H Vision Commission has identified nine key strategic thrusts in its newly-launched report. Comm-ission chairman, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said these included the need to reform IDB, alleviate poverty, promote health and universalise education.The other points were to close the gender gap without breaching the tenets of Islam, expand the Islamic financial industry and the skills of financial management in accordance with Islamic teachings, facilitate the integration of IDB member countries and restore the image of the Muslim world. “These thrusts are critical as they can bring about development of our countries and the Ummah, to help restore the faith in Islamic teachings,” he said during the launch of the report, which was officiated by Malaysian Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Troops Unsure of their Mission

72 per cent of troops on the ground in Iraq think U.S. military forces should get out of the country within a year, according to a Zogby poll released last month. The survey of 944 troops, conducted in Iraq, said that only 23 per cent of service members thought U.S. forces should stay “as long as they are needed.” Of the 72 per cent, 22 per cent said troops should leave within the next six months, and 29 per cent said they should withdraw “immediately.” 21 per cent said the U.S. military presence should end within a year and 5 per cent were not sure. John Zogby, CEO of the polling company, said the poll was funded through Le Moyne College’s Centre for Peace and Global Studies, which received money for the project from an anonymous, anti-war activist. The poll also shows that 42 per cent of the troops surveyed are unsure of their mission in Iraq, and that 85 per cent believe a major reason they were sent into war was “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the Sept. 11 attacks.” Ninety-three percent said finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for the ongoing military action.