JEDDAH: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has regretted the return of 18,000 Iraqi Haj pilgrims who entered the Saudi territory in 70 buses. In a press note by the Saudi government, that says it had decided to host the pilgrims at the expenses of the Saudi Government but still the Iraqi Government ordered them to return to Iraq. This was announced by the Saudi Minister of the Interior, HRH Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, who expressed his sorrow at this sort of conduct on the part of the Iraqi Government, that is, stopping the Iraqi pilgrims from performing the Haj duty.
He said it is saddening that the Haj duty is being exploited for political ends, and confirmed that the Kingdom’s doors will remain open to any Muslim who wishes to perform this sacred duty. The Interior Minister went on to say that there are at the moment 6,933 Iraqi pilgrims in the country, and that the Iraqi plaines which had broken the flight sanctions were allowed to land at Jeddah airport, so as to bring in the pilgrims coming by air.
He went on to say, “When the Iraqis informed us that 18,000 of their nationals were interested in entering the country so as to perform the Haj, and that they didn’t have any money to spend, we welcomed them and let them enter the country,” adding that King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz even agreed to host them. But when they insisted that the expenses to be borne by the pilgrims should come from their accounts in Saudi banks, which are frozen according to the UN resolutions and they are not large sums anyway, we agreed to look into the matter.” He said it was agreed that the matter would be looked into, because the Saudi authorities did not want to place any impediment in the way of the arrival of the pilgrim in the holy sites. But the Iraqis ordered their pilgrims to turn back and leave.
Prince Naif added: “But if they do return, we will again welcome them all the same.”
LONDON: British Prime Minister Tony Blair attended the Idul Fitr function in the House of Commons on February 3 and paid tributes to the Muslim contributions to the British life and development. It was for the first time that a British prime minister attended the Idul fitr function. Blair was accompanied by Home Secretary Jack Straw. The function was got up by Labour Middle East council and Dr. Zaki Badawi, the principal of the Muslim College. SHARJAH ; SNTTA Earns ISO 9001 - First in UAE Sharjah National Travel and Tourist Agency (SNTTA) has become the first travel agency in the UAE to obtain the ISO 9001 certification. SNTTA is the largest travel agency in sharjah and is owned by Sheikh Khalid bin Abdul Aziz al Qassimi. It was set up in 1975. It has seven branches in Sharjah, three in Dubai and one in Ras Al Khaimah.
JEDDAH : Muslims in 27 countries will benefit from 440,000 carcasses of goats, in addition to 8,000 head of camels and cattle, representing sacrificial meat offered by the pilgrims in Mina during Hajj. This is done through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s project for benefiting Muslim with the sacrificial meat during this year’s Haj, and the program is implemented by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), which has been doing so since its inception in 1403 AH. At a press conference held here on March 22, the IDB President, Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali, first outlined the bank’s achievements since its formation in 1975. The aim of the IDB has been to support economic and social developmental efforts in its member countries, and in Islamic communities in non-member countries, as enjoined by Islamic principles and precepts. He revealed that in a few months’ time the bank would be celebrating its 25th anniversary, and said that at the bank’s inception there were only 22 member-countries, whereas now the total membership is 53 countries which are members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).
The IDB President outlined the programmes and organs which are offshoots of the bank, and said the total spent by the bank in financing infrastructure projects since its inception has now exceeded US$20 billion, and includes the financing of trade and commerce between member countries. This, he said, is over and above the assistance and scholarships which the IDB has granted to Islamic communities in member and non-member countries.
RABAT: A special exhibition was held of the Mimbar of the Kutbiyya Main Mosque in Casablanca, after its repair, which was a unique undertaking of its type.
This Mimbar (pulpit) is one of the most ancient one, having been built in the sixth century of the Islamic calendar, in cooperation with the Moroccan authorities and the American Art Museum of Metropolitan New York. A number of American and Moroccan architects, engineers and traditional craftsmen participated in the project, in view of the complex nature of the repair work.
The Kutbiyya Mosque Mimbar is one of the most important antiques, according to the Director of the American Art Museum, Philip Montenbleau, and has no peer in the world of Muslim artists and craftsmen. It was made in Cordoba in 532 AH/1137 AD. The significance of this Mimbar is that it is a pioneering work, in that new methods of embroidery and engraving were introduced for the first time and were subsequently to be widely used over the centuries in the Islamic west. (IINA)
WASHINGTON: Violence against US Muslim has come down, says a study titled Patterns of Discrimination by the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR). It said that violence against Muslims in America has gone down by more than 50 per cent this year, compared to last year, and that this trend was in evidence since 1997. The study indicates that this reduction in anti-Muslim violence is mainly due to the fact that such incidents as the explosion that occurred at Oklahoma, or the TWA flight 800, have not taken place. It was such incidents that gave rise to anti-Muslim feelings, says the study. But the study says that while incidents of violence have gone down, it is sad to note that Muslims, particularly the womenfolk are subjected to ill treatment at the work place, in schools, at airports and other places. Such incidents have gone up by as much as 60 per cent over the previous year. Most of the incidents of discrimination related to employers forbidding their Muslim employees from wearing the Muslim head-dress, the Hijab, or of managers asking their Muslim subordinates to shave off their beards. Other similar incidents against Muslims take place at airports where Muslim travellers are subjected to unjustifiably thorough searches, particularly those of Arab origin.
Muhammad Nimr, director of CAIR’s Research Department, said that documented evidence in the study indicates that discrimination has become part of the daily life of American Muslims, and that this phenomenon is not confined to only crisis periods. Muslims are of the unanimous opinion that they often treated unfairly, but they also admit that such incidents are on the decline.
DUBAI: Seekers of job in Dubai can now look at the vacancies available in the Emirates by browsing through the website UAE Job Link, by clicking at www.uaejoblink.com. The site brings together vacancies advertised by all recruitment agencies, classified job columns of Dubai newspapers such as Khaleej Times. It also provides information on tourism, accommodation in hotels, business directory, travel etc. Visitors can even book stay on 23 major hotels, tickets on airlines and cabs by tour operators or cab companies. Mr. Nestor D. Guzman of the Comintrex, a web technology solutions company, is the website master for Joblink.
CAIRO : The first volume of an encyclopedia written by the Arab doctor who discovered the circulatory system 700 years ago will be published in April, the project’s researcher said.
Al-Shamel medical encyclopedia, written by Alaa Eddin Abul-Hassan Ibn an-Nafis, who was chief physician for Egypt and Syria in the 13th century, is being compiled and edited by Egyptian researcher Yussef Zeidan.
The project, which cost 700,000 dollars, “will show the advanced level of Arab science in the fields of medicine and pharmacology during the golden age of Arab civilization,” Zeidan said.
“The encyclopedia is the largest work on Arab scientific heritage,” added Zeidan, 41, whose entire 10,000-page set will be completed in two years.
In an earlier work published in 1992, Zeidan proved with authentic manuscripts that Ibn an-Nafis had discovered the circulatory system centuries before Briton William Harvey (1578-1657).
Ibn an-Nafis, who practiced in Cairo, had written a draft encyclopedia in 300 volumes but only managed to publish 80 of them before his death. Two of the 80 volumes remained in Egypt while the rest found homes in various libraries around the world.
Zeidan spent the past 10 years assembling the manuscripts from libraries in Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Cambridge, Oxford and Stanford, and is publishing them in 40 volumes. The first volume will be published in Abu Dhabi.
DHAKA : The group of eight developing countries comprising Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and Iran met here in early March to discuss the creation of a common market between these Muslim countries which are geographically apart. Though they together have 78 crore people, 13 per cent of the world population, they contribute only four per cent of the world trade. The conference was attended by only four heads of the states, viz, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Turkey.
Setting the tone for the agenda before the group of eight countries, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad said the direction of the world trade was being determined by the developed countries due to their well-established economic and technical prowess and the developing countries were being subjected to accept their dictates. He said unless there emerged a trade and economic relationship based on equality, the economic disparities between the developing and developed countries cannot be removed.
LONDON: Britain’s first Islamic investment company, Al-Safa Investment began operations from March 4, according to a report in The Times.
It will invest in companies that do businesses approved by Islamic sharia and will shun companies that deal with interest. It has been started by a Muslim partnership firm, STZ which is based in West London. STZ has convinced three Islamic scholars from the UK, Canada and Egypt to team up with Greig Middleton, a city stockbroker and a fund manager to offer Britain’s two million Muslims a unique investment opportunity. Tan Thomson, a partner at STZ and an independent financial advisor who converted to Islam 13 years ago, said: “we have launched this for fairly selfish reasons really. We had nowhere else to put our money on deposit and not take any interest.”
Although the fund plans to invest on a global level, it will initially focus on the UK’s top 350 quoted companies. However, only 200 of these are likely to be eligible as the fund is banned from buying shares in companies involved in tobacco, alcohol, pornography or who sell non-halal food. Brian Tora, head of Greig Middleton Asset management, the fund’s investment adivsor, expressed enthusiasm for the project but is expecting to heed Islamic scholars.
Hitherto, only a few offshore Islamic investment companies were offering the interest-free option in investments. The United Bank of Kuwait began offering Islamic mortgages 18months ago, where the bank purchases a property and sells it on an inflated price to the homeowner who then pays by investment. This attracted 14,000 inquiries.
New fire-resistant tents have been installed at a cost of US $ 640,000,000.
At the time of departure every pilgrim would be handed a gift of Zamzam water plus a copy of the Holy Qur’an.
8000 workers are busy in Makkah cleaning the streets and other public areas.
In Makkah alone, a million cubic meters of water have been reserved in 19 huge reservoirs.
The Masha’ir in Muzdalifa has been rebuilt, and after its latest expansion is now 6,000 square meters in size.
The custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, hosted 100 Bosnian and 110 from Ukraine Pilgrims and to send 200 tons of sacrificial meat to Bosnia.
All the pilgrims are to stay in 5,600 housing units, having a total of Rs. 197,000 rooms in Makkah, and their health will be taken care if by 109,000 health centres in Makkah and in the other holy sites.
A total of four million sachets of cool water will be distributed in Madina and other places.
As for telephone communication, a total of 30,300 lines have been allocated to the holy sites, while there are 14,000 public all boxes available.
As on March 26, the pilgrims have made 62,000,000, international telephone calls to their families and loved once back home.
The Muslim World League (MWL) in this year hosting about 500 pilgrims from various Islamic Countries. The Government of Saudi Arabia gives a grant to the organisation every year to the tune of SR 100,000,000 for this purpose.
On Friday March 26th the Holy Ka’abah Kiswa was replaced with the new one. The Kiswa is manufactured at Umm Aljoud Kiswa Factory in Makkah.
The total number of pilgrim who have come from various parts of the world this year is 1,056,000 of which 57 percent are males and 43 percent females.
The road network has so far costed SR 6.7 billion
Moscow : The first mosque was opened in the northern most part of Russia, in the Norelsk city, on March 22. Among those who attended the opening ceremony was the head of the Religious Affairs Department of Russian Muslims, and a large number of prominent Russian Muslims and government and civic officials. The new mosque is among the most beautiful mosques in Russia and took four years to build. It cost a total of US $ four million.
DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates has instituted the Zayed International Prize for Environment which will be presented in 2001 for the best environmental project and will carry one million dollar. The prize will be presented on the World Environment Day to the best project on environment including marine and land protection, water safety, agriculture and improving human hygiene.
Dubai Police has been appointed the in-charge for the supervision of the prize with a preparatory committee. The prize has been instituted in the honour of the UAE emir Sheikh Zayed bin sultan al Nayhan by crown prince Rahid Al-Maktoum.
DOHA: Qataris elected an all male municipal council yesterday ( 09/03/99) in the country’s first real elections, rejecting six female candidates, according to official results. The winners included Abderrahman Mohammed Al Jufairi, secretary general of the appointed consultative council formed in 1992. A total of 227 candidates including six women, vied for the 29 council seats in the nationwide elections, held on International women’s day.
LONDON : The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is holding an art exhibition in which there are a number of Islamic antiques will on display. These include rare jewellery, ancient weapons, and art works of various styles.
Officials at the museum said this exhibition is celebrating the passage of 300 years since the founding of the Islamic state in Kashmir and Punjab by the Maharajas. (IINA)
As we Muslims know the West is heavily committed to supporting a variety of repressive regimes in the Ummah, at the same time it continues to see itself as the advocate of liberty and equality. The contradiction in such a position is apparent to most Muslims, but seems to escape the notice of most of the eagle-eyed mainstream. It is interesting to note the difference in the media coverage of three young tourists in Yemen, who seem to have been found guilty by the press even before their trial and compare this to the situation of the British nurses in Saudi Arabia, who were regarded as innocent by the British media, even after found guilty by Saudi courts. Aparently a British citizen in an Arab country is more likely to receive sympathy and support if they do not happen to be Muslims. Rahida on “Islamophobia in the Ummah”
In The Muslim News, London, February 1999