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NOTHING NEW

Issue: 34

January 2011

Prime Ministers hidden New Year’s message fails to address the real issues

Prime Minister David Cameron New Year’s message was nothing new but old, re packaged and bottled up in fancy ribbon. He put terrorism as one of the key threats for 2011 in his speech and said that the Muslim community should work together in combating it, but he forgot to mention key things in his speech like how the Israeli government have killed thousands of innocent Palestinians, the illegal raid on British flotillo, how control orders have ruined life’s of individuals and families, how British Guantanamo detainees have been tortured and the barbaric cruel drone attacks which has killed hundreds in Pakistan by the American government (see Passion column page 2) and how he would make all this much better in 2011, well that would be wishful thinking. Press TV reported that The wealthy Jewish lobby in Britain working under the title of the Conservative Friends of Israel

(CFI) has been tipped as the Conservative Party’s paymaster. The CFI as described by British political analysts is beyond doubt the most wellconnected and probably the best funded of all Westminster lobbying groups. It works in support of the interests of the Israeli regime. The CFI’s finances may be legal but they are hardly transparent as the lobbying group is an unincorporated association. This is how the British media report about CFI’s financial transactions. The register of MPs’ interests shows that CFI board members and their businesses gave the Conservatives over 2 million pounds in the last 8 years. The reports also say more than 30,000 pound from CFI members went to campaign funds of the members of Prime Minister David Cameron’s team when he was first elected as the party leader in 2005.

Also in 2005, Cameron himself had received 15,000 pound from a proIsraeli lobby facilitator. The facilitator had also donated 50,000 pounds to the Conservative Central Office. Here’s an example of how the proIsraeli lobby works in the UK. After the 22-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip a fact-finding team was appointed to conduct an inquiry into the war and identify the culprits. A few weeks since the UN was to vote on a resolution following judge Goldstone’s report who condemned Israel for abusing human rights in Gaza, the CFI ran up to now foreign secretary William Hague office and after consulting with David Cameron, he gave them this quote: “Unless the draft resolution is redrafted to reflect the role that Hamas played in starting the conflict we would recommend that the British government vote to reject the resolution”.


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I LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

the Passion

Passion Islam

I January 2011

By Mehdi Hasan

Journalist - Senior Editor New Statesman

US drone attacks are no laughing matter, Mr Obama

The president’s backing of indiscriminate slaughter in Pakistan can only encourage new waves of militancy Speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in May, Barack Obama spotted teen pop band the Jonas Brothers in the audience. “Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but, boys, don’t get any ideas,” deadpanned the president, referring to his daughters. “Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.” The crowd laughed, Obama smiled, the dinner continued. Few questioned the wisdom of making such a tasteless joke; of the US commander-in-chief showing such casual disregard for the countless lives lost abroad through US drone attacks. From the moment he stepped foot inside the White House, Obama set about expanding and escalating a covert CIA programme of “targeted killings” inside Pakistan, using Predator and Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles (who comes up with these names?) that had been started by the Bush administration in 2004. On 23 January 2009, just three days after being sworn in, Obama ordered his first set of air strikes inside Pakistan; one is said to have killed four Arab fighters linked to al-Qaida but the other hit the house of a pro-government tribal leader, killing him and four members of his family, including a five-year-old child. Obama’s own daughter, Sasha, was seven at the time. But America’s Nobel-peaceprize-winning president did not look back. During his first nine months in office he authorised as many aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W Bush did in his final three years in the job. And this year has seen an unprecedented number of air strikes. Forget Mark Zuckerberg or the iPhone 4 – 2010 was the year of the drone. According to the New America Foundation thinktank in Washington DC, the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan more than

doubled in 2010, to 115. That is an astonishing rate of around one bombing every three days inside a country with which the US is not at war. And the carnage continues. CIA drones fired six missiles at two vehicles in a “Taliban stronghold” in north Waziristan, on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, killing 18 “militants”. Or so said “Pakistani intelligence officials”, speaking under condition of anonymity to the Associated Press. Whilst i write another round of drone strikes is thought to have killed at least 15 “militants” in the same area. These attacks by unmanned aircraft may have succeeded in eliminating hundreds of dangerous militants, but the truth is that they also kill innocent civilians indiscriminately and in large numbers. According to the New America Foundation, one in four of those killed by drones since 2004 has been an innocent. The Brookings Institute, however, has calculated a much higher civilianto-militant ratio of 10:1. Meanwhile, figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities suggest US strikes killed 701 people between January 2006 and April 2009, of which 14 were al-Qaida militants and 687 were civilians. That produces a hit rate of just 2% – or 50 civilians dead for every militant killed. The majority of Pakistanis are against the use of drones in the tribal areas on the Afghan border. Their own government, however, despite public opposition to the bombings, has in private expressed support for America’s drones. “I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people,” Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is quoted as saying, in a 2008 cable released by WikiLeaks. “We’ll protest in the National Assembly

and then ignore it.” This is not a left/right issue; criticisms of the drone strikes have come from figures as diverse as Sir Brian Burridge, the UK’s former air chief marshal in Iraq, who has described the aerial slaughter inflicted from afar by unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft as a “virtueless war”; and Andrew Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert and former adviser to General David Petraeus, who says that each innocent victim of a drone strike “represents an alienated family, a new revenge feud, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially as drone strikes have increased”. Kilcullen is spot on. The coldblooded killing of Pakistani civilians in a push-button, PlayStation-style drone war is not just immoral and perhaps illegal, it is futile and selfdefeating from a security point of view. Take Faisal Shahzad, the so-called Times Square bomber. One of the first things the Pakistaniborn US citizen said upon his arrest was: “How would you feel if people attacked the United States? You are attacking a sovereign Pakistan.” Asked by the judge at his trial as to how he could justify planting a bomb near innocent women and children, Shahzad responded by saying that US drone strikes “don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody.” But the innocent victims of America’s secret drone war have become “unpeople”, in the words of the historian Mark Curtis – those whose lives are seen as expendable in the pursuit of the west’s foreign policy goals. Killed via remote control, they remain unseen and unremembered. Forgive me, Mr President, for not seeing the funny side.

Write to: Editor, Passion Islam, PO Box 159, Batley, West Yorkshire, WF17 1AD or email: info@passionislam.com - www.passionislam.com This Magazine contains Ayaat of the Qur’an and Hadith of the Prophet (SAW), please ensure you handle it with respect & care - Sukran -

Views expressed in the Passion column are of the contributers and not Necessarily of Passion Islam


I January 2011

NEWS

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UK Govt sought to aid Afghan Mujahideen after Soviet invasion Passion Islam

British cabinet secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, was negotiating how to channel covert military aid towards the ‘Islamic resistance’ within weeks of the Soviet invasion in December 1979, according to embarrassing secret documents released to the National Archives. Classified cabinet documents show how swiftly clandestine weapons routes were opened up to aid the mujahideen amid extensive military and diplomatic efforts co-ordinated with western allies to defeat the Russians. ‘The Russians are resorting to the big lie by saying that they intervened at the invitation of Afghan authorities,”

British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington said shortly after KGB special forces seized control of Kabul. “We should take every opportunity to make them uncomfortable and bring home to them the consequences of their actions,’ he said. By mid-January 1980, Armstrong sent a ‘secret, personal’ note to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on a meeting in Paris between senior US, French, German and British officials, saying that there was “discussion of support for Afghan resistance to the invading Soviet troops’ and that he was circulating details separately from the rest of the discussion. Zbigniew Brzezinski,

the US national security adviser, recommended providing Afghan fighters in ‘forward positions’ just inside the Pakistan border with ‘surface to air missiles to defend themselves against air attack’. The French proposed channelling military aid via the Iraqis. The aim of the west, they said, should be to keep the Islamic world ‘aroused about the Soviet invasion that would be served by encouraging a continuing guerrilla resistance’. Armstrong sent a note to Thatcher, Carrington and ‘C’ (the head of MI6) arguing the case for military aid to ‘encourage and support resistance’. He said the west could “hardly refuse to provide support where it could do so with suitable discretion’. Intervention ‘would make more difficult the process of Soviet pacification of Afghanistan and [ensure] that process takes much longer than it would otherwise do,” he said. Without having the benefit of hindsight, he

argued that “the existence of a guerrilla movement in Afghanistan would be a focus of Islamic resistance which we should be wanting to continue to stimulate’. The release of the secret documents also reveal the lengths to which the British prime minister went to discourage participation in the 1980 Olympics, including government attempt to prevent sportsmen and sportswomen attending the games. ‘It (the invasion) is a political move which needs to be countered by whatever means at our disposal, political or otherwise. If this means that we have to embrace the use of sport for the first time as a political weapon, I feel that the end would justify the means,” former defence secretary Michael Heseltine was quoted saying. The UK government also considered stepping up broadcasts from the free world to the Soviet Union and the Muslim world. IRNA


Police demand stop and search power 4

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LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

Passion Islam

I January 2011

The British police have demanded that the government allow them more power by law to stop and search people even without suspect evidence. Senior police officers in Britain have suggested that a new ‘stop and search’ bill as a counter-terrorism measure should be approved by lawmakers for them to be able to better protect the public. The Home Secretary Theresa May ruled out Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows counter-terrorism stops without suspicion, after European judges issued a verdict about a related case that was deemed against human rights. However, the Metropolitan force officers who lead the UK fight against terrorism, say that a more powerful ‘stop and search’ legal permission is necessary, especially during specific periods when the public is in greater danger from terrorists. They have mentioned that such periods concern events such as the 2012 London Olympics, state occasions such as trooping the colour, and major summits such as the G20 when held in the UK.

Currently, section 43 of the Terrorism Act allows searches, but an officer must have reasonable suspicion for the stop to be lawful. The ‘stop and search’ power issue is a very controversial one since it could breech the rights of ethnic minority Britons, which in turn would boost racial discrimination in the UK. It is believed that Section 44 fell into disrepute because it failed to lead to the capture of a single terrorist after 100,000 stop-andsearches, and it was used in some cases against protesters and photographers, the Guardian writes. “Where officers have the maximum discretion that is where you have the greatest racial discrimination in the way the police have used their powers. We would want to be absolutely certain that police are not targeting ethnic minority communities for unfair stops and searches,” said Ben Bowling, a professor of criminology at King’s College of London and founding member of Stopwatch, which campaigns against alleged police abuses of stop and search powers. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the civil liberties pressure

group, said, “It must target specific places, not classes of people, on the basis of intelligence and risk for narrow windows of time, with adequate authorisation and transparency. Then it will satisfy proportionality and equal treatment whilst providing a rational, flexible aid to anti-terror policing.” But senior police officers have said that they are hopeful to win UK ministers’ support on the issue.

The British government announces plans to upgrade the status of the Palestinians’ diplomatic representation in London. The move would confer an automatic right to future Palestinian representatives to call on the Foreign Secretary after their first arrival in the country, British media reported. However, it would have no practical impact on the day-to-day work of the Palestinian representative in London - currently Professor Manuel Hassassian. But it would probably allow the delegation to call itself a “mission”. The British move would not, however, confer an equivalent right

that ambassadors of actual states enjoy, namely the authority to present credentials to the Queen. Ecuador became the latest of a series of Latin American countries - including Brazil and Argentina - to recognize the statehood of Palestine within the borders that existed before the 1967 Six Day War. Israeli regime is not happy with such moves that come in the wake of the United States’ decision earlier this month to abandon efforts to persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to renew a moratorium on settlement-building in return for resuming direct negotiations between the two sides.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that he would not take part in such talks without a settlement freeze. The British government has no intention of following the Latin American example. Its decision with regards to the Palestinian diplomatic presence comes after similar moves by France, Spain and Portugal since the summer. In July, the US upgraded the status of the Palestinian representation in Washington - though only up to “general delegation” level, which has long prevailed in most European countries, including Britain.

UK to promote Palestine diplomats status


Report highlights growing violence against Muslims Passion Islam

I January 2011

A new report spells out the growing demonisation of and violence against Muslims. A report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime in the UK from the European Muslim Research Centre confirms much of what was intimated in its first, slim report in January last year. The new report, over 200 pages in length, concludes that anti-Muslim hate crime is rife and Muslims face a threat of violence and intimidation from both politically-motivated attackers and gangs and individuals not aligned to extremist groups. In fact ‘the influence of mainstream political commentators poses a threat of political violence’. The majority of attacks are carried out by those with no allegiance to the British National Party or the English Defence League (EDL) against Muslims, Islamic institutions and mosques. They appear to have been incited by the very negative portrayal

LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

of Muslims in the media. Specific areas of concern are underlined in this report (authored again by Robert Lambert and Jonathan GithensMazer): mosques in isolated communities are vulnerable to attack; abuse of and assaults on women have increased; street violence is prevalent; demonstrations by the EDL spread fear and anxiety; there is serious under-reporting of violent attacks by victims. The report goes on to examine the demonisation in the media of Muslim leaders, what it terms ‘institutional Islamophobia’, and political discrimination against Muslim organisations.

EDL claim 78 got whiplash in crash but only 25 were on coach Almost 80 far-Right extremists are Maria Caris, of Caris Coaches in trying to claim for whiplash injuries after a coach crash – when there were only 25 people on board the vehicle and just 57 seats. Supporters of the English Defence League have been accused of attempted insurance fraud after dozens sought compensation for neck injuries. The claims were lodged after the coach carrying members to a rally was in a collision in which it sustained minor damage. Driver Christopher Cartwright said he would be amazed if any of those on board were hurt, adding: ‘There was not much more than a scratch on the back corner.’ But days after the accident during a journey from Gateshead to Preston last month, the claims for injuries allegedly caused by the crash began to flood in from EDL supporters. Coach firm bosses said only 25 people were on the vehicle, but more than three times that many claims had been made.

Gateshead, said she is considering legal action amid fears that EDL members are trying to cheat her company. She said: ‘They must think we’re idiots. There are 78 claims in so far and the phone is still going with people asking for our insurance details. They are all saying they were on the coach.’ The rally in Preston ended in violent clashes with the police, who arrested 14 people for public order offences and drunk or disorderly behaviour. Mrs Caris said: ‘These ‘‘whiplash injuries’’ could have been caused when they were fighting with the police in Preston.’ A senior police source said: ‘Making a false statement to seek financial benefit following a road traffic accident is a criminal offence. ‘We would urge the owners of the coach company to supply us with the details of any of those who may have wrongly made such claims against their insurance.’

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It asks the government as a matter of urgency to tackle antiMuslim hate crime and to fund community groups already having to support its victims. It calls ‘Islamophobia and discrimination’ the coalition government’s ‘litmus test’ of fairness and social justice and urges it to promote inclusion via dialogue with ‘community representatives’.

Doctors present case for inquest into Kelly death Doctors in Britain campaigning for a full inquest into the 2003 death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly said they had put forward an “unanswerable” case. They have released the arguments that they presented to the government’s chief law officer, Attorney General Dominic Grieve, and their lawyer urged him to make his decision on legal grounds and resist political pressure. The five doctors have set out their case in a 33-page document which Grieve has been considering since September. He is expected to announce early 2011 whether he will ask the high court to order an inquest. Kelly was found dead in woods near his home in Oxfordshire.


MPs denounce Israeli Imprisonment of children 8

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Passion Islam

I January 2011

Islamic finance mayfund major projects

MPs are calling on the British government to take immediate action against Israel over the prosecution of 700 Palestinian children every year in military courts. “Children as young as 12 are brought to these courts in shackles and cuffs and denied a fair trial,” said shadow international development minister Ian Lavery. “Most of these children are charged on the basis of confessions under interrogation,” said Lavery, who has just returned from a parliamentary visit to the West Bank, citing widespread reports of Israeli torture and abuse of Palestinian children. “32 per cent of all confessions are written in Hebrew, a language they do not understand,” he said in an Early Day Motion, supported by more than 20 other MPs. The motion also accuses Israel

of breaching the International Convention of the Rights of the Child by treating Palestinians from the age of 16 as adults compared over 18 for Israeli children. “Whilst Israeli settler children in the same area have to see a judge within 24 hours, Palestinians may not see a judge for eight days,” Lavery said. He accused the Israeli regime of adopting a “dual legal system based on race” and said it was a “grave and serious breach of international law.” According to the Israeli human rights group, B’tselem, in Jerusalem al-Quds, Palestinian children under 12 have included a five-year old. The motion called on the government “to demand immediate action from the Israeli government to bring its behaviour in line with international law.” passionislam.com

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The Scottish Government is looking again at using Islamic finance to bankroll major infrastructure projects. The Islamic Finance Council, a UK-wide body based in Glasgow, says it held talks with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International on December 10, describing it as “a joint round table with the IFC exploring opportunities for renewable energy sector investments using Islamic finance”. Meanwhile, leading financial lawyer Graham Burnside, a member of the IFC, has said Islamic bonds could be used fund major projects including the £2.3 billion Forth road crossing. Mr Burnside, chairman of Edinburgh law firm Tods Murray, said: “We are going to be pretty short of sources of funding for development, we have got to raise our eyes as to where solutions can come from – whether you look at the private or public sector it’s going to be pretty tight around here.” He added: “The biggest source of liquidity to be tapped is the petrodollar world and the Gulf. It may well be that the bigger projects in the UK can be funded in part by a sovereign (wealth) fund from one of the Gulf states, and if so, they may well want an Islamic structure.” Two years ago First Minister Alex Salmond targeted Qatar as a funding source for some of his government’s biggest infrastructure ambitions. Scottish Enterprise said it was “actively looking at potential investors” in renewable energy, but it was “too early” to comment on Islamic finance.


UK court rejects appeal for single inquiry into Iraq abuse Passion Islam

I January 2011

In a lengthy judgment the High Court in London refused to order that a Public Inquiry be established into the hundreds of allegations of mistreatment of Iraqi civilians in British detention and internment facilities in Iraq. The court ruled to allow more time for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to carry out its own recently set-up internal investigations to be carried out by the so-called Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) led by military police. Lawyer representing the Iraqi victims, Phil Shiner, said he was

LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

bitterly disappointed by the verdict but would appeal as the court has not ruled that a public inquiry is unnecessary. “Their accounts detail 1000s of instances of sexual, physical and psychological abuse, abuse that clearly had systemic causes which cannot be investigated by an internal MoD investigation manned by the Royal Military Police,” Shiner said. “In our view this decision only postpones the independent and effective investigation that must surely take place,” he said in a statement obtained by IRNA.

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The High Court granted permission for a judicial review in July after ruling there was “an arguable case that the alleged illtreatment was systemic, and not just at the whim of individual soldiers.” But since then, the government proceeded to launch the IHAT internal investigation, which is expected to take two years, in what was seen as an attempt to hijack the case. The High Court confirmed earlier findings that the allegations do require an investigation compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights and that together they give rise to systemic issues which also require investigation. A second inquiry is due to start its oral hearings next year into the deaths of 20 Iraq prisoners, who are alleged to have been murdered after being detained by British troops at Camp Abu Naji in 2004. Shiner, who represents over 140 Iraqi civilians, has said that Iraqi victims complain of many practices and techniques, including sexual abuse and forced nakedness, sleep deprivation and mock executions, which are not being examined.

BBC chief demands biased journalism BBC’s Director General Mark Thompson is calling for regulations which would allow prejudiced broadcasting of news as is done in outlets like Fox News. Thompson said British broadcasters need such regulations as the age of internet breaks the “monopoly” of a few TV news channel like the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 on the airwaves, which he said, follow the current regulations on impartiality. “Why shouldn’t the public be able to see and hear, as well as read, a range of opinionated journalism and then make up their own mind what they think about it?” Thompson said. “The BBC and Channel 4 have a history of clearly labelled polemical

programmes. But why not entire polemical channels which have got stronger opinions? I find the argument persuasive,” he added. Thompson then claimed the BBC is now impartial though he said there is good reason for the channel to broadcast what is deemed as “extreme” standpoints. Thompson said the BBC will make room for “extreme and radical perspectives” in the future including those on immigration and Europe. He also claimed “a broader range of channels” would help impartial

journalism across the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, insisting they “would continue to be trusted”. His comments come just a few months after he accepted his corporation has instilled ‘massive’ left-wing bias into its audience.


University bosses axe Islam course 10

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Manchester Metropolitan University has pulled the plug on its Islamic Studies course after just four students signed up. It has run a two-year course on the religion and Middle-Eastern societies for the past two decades. But managers are now calling time on the subject, arguing that the numbers are unsustainable. More than 400 lecturers and students have now signed a petition arguing for the course to keep going. Lucinda Lavelle, a fourth-year student, said other universities were seeing a boom in Middle Eastern studies amid renewed interest in world affairs. She argued MMU bosses should give the course more time, saying: “At a time when all other institutions in the UK and Europe are expanding and encouraging teaching of the culture and the politics of the Islamic world, MMU is planning not to recruit new students on this programme

Passion Islam

from September 2010. “The courses on this programme are unique and they encourage young Muslims and nonMuslims to study together to promote tolerance and understanding and respect for Islamic culture at a time when it is under attack.” The cuts come after vice-chancellor John Brooks warned that higher education institutions could not afford to ignore market forces. An MMU spokesman said there had been single-figure demand for the course for many years. He said: “It is very disappointing that this course has not been more popular.

I January 2011

“We do offer Islamic studies elements as a part of other politics courses but the demand for a single subject qualification is extremely low.” Existing students on the course will be allowed to finish their course next year.

Muslim Aid cleared of funding terrorist organisations

British charity Muslim Aid has been cleared of allegations led by Israel and the US of channelling funds to terrorist organisations. The Charity Commission watchdog vindicated Muslim Aid’s position that it did not unlawfully fund the AlIhsan Charitable Society. It also chose not to even bother to investigate seven other allegations made in the Daily Telegraph that are no longer online. In a new report, the commission said “it found no evidence of irregular or improper use of the charity’s funds or any evidence that the charity

had illegally funded any proscribed or designated entities.” ‘By publishing this report, the commission has given a public assurance that public allegations of links between the charity and terrorism are unsubstantiated,’ it said. Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Muslim Aid, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, expressed his satisfaction with the process of the investigation and its final conclusions. ‘We are immensely grateful to our supporters and partners across the world for their steadfast trust in the integrity of the Charity and the belief that

Muslim Aid complies fully with the national laws, including counter-terrorism laws,’ Sacranie said. Muslim Aid, which works in over 70 countries, said the investigation had been prompted by “defamatory articles” published by the right-wing Daily Telegraph and its sister paper, the Sunday Telegraph, earlier in the year. The commission only investigated allegations linked with Al-Ihsan Charitable Society, which was designated in the UK in June 2005 under the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2001, making it a criminal

offence to fund it without a licence from HM Treasury. On the other allegations, which are in line with Israeli attempts to starve funding to Palestinian organisations, it said it was “not provided with sufficient evidence to support the allegation.” Last year, Britain’s top Palestinian charity, Interpal, was cleared by the Charity Commission for the third time of any alleged links with so-called terrorist organisations. Previous inquiries in 1996 and 2003 also found insufficient evidence to support allegations that have been blamed on the Zionist lobby. IRNA


Tony Blair recalled to Iraq War Inquiry Passion Islam

I January 2011

LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS

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Scots raise voices against racism

The Iraq War Inquiry has recalled former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to give extra evidence to the Inquiry, according to the news. The former prime minister will answer more questions about Britain’s involvement in the conflict at a public session early next year, the Chilcot Inquiry said in a statement carried by British media. Ex-foreign secretary Jack Straw will also appear as a witness again, while former attorney general Lord Goldsmith will also be asked to provide further written evidence, reports said. The inquiry will hold a further round of public hearings in the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster, central London, between January 18 and February 4. Admiral Lord Boyce, chief of the defence staff from 2001 to 2003, and Lord Turnbull, the cabinet secretary from 2002 to 2005, are also being recalled. Blair mounted a vigorous defence of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when

he gave testimony to the inquiry on January 29, insisting he had no regrets over removing Saddam Hussein and would do the same again. Anti-war campaigners and families of British troops who died in the conflict, however, have condemned his appearance, saying he evaded the panel’s questions and refused to admit his mistakes. “As we draft our report, it is clear that there are some areas where we need further detail. We will, therefore, be seeking further evidence on those matters. I am committed to taking the majority of this evidence in public,” said Inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot. “In some cases, we will be writing to witnesses or government departments asking them to provide a written statement of events, responding to specific questions set out by the committee. In other cases, we will be taking oral evidence,” he said. passionislam.com

Thousands of Scots, including trade unionists, community groups and politicians have joined in Glasgow in a protest march against racism and fascism. The protest gathering was part of the Scottish Trade Union Congress (TUC) annual St Andrew’s Day march attended and led by Sofi Taylor of Scottish TUC Black Workers’ Network, Glasgow Labour MP Anas Sarwar and Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ann McKechin. The marchers carried a banner reading: “An injury to one is an injury to all.” “We want to speak to and for the alienated communities who would suffer most from the increased inequalities arising out of the Con-Dem cuts”, Collette Williams of the Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts group in Lancashire told the rally on Rose Street. Civil rights lawyer Aamer Anwar told the crowd that “silence is not an option” when it comes to defeating far-right groups. “We must organise in our thousands to inflict defeat and humiliation on those, who see themselves as the ‘master race,’ and we should give support and confidence to the black and Muslim communities,” he said Edinburgh and Lothians Race Equality Council speaker Professor Geoff Palmer added: “We must not allow the cuts agenda of the coalition {government} to divide our society and the many cultures that exist within it.” The STUC said it had organised the demonstration to “remind people of the dangers of allowing prejudice and discrimination to go unchallenged.”


Indian doctor wins compensation 12

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Passion Islam

An Indian doctor wrongly detained on terror charges by Australian police three years ago raised the prospect of moving back to the country, after winning compensation from the government. Mohammad Haneef accepted what his lawyer described as a “substantial” but confidential settlement for his 2007 ordeal in which authorities incorrectly linked him to failed car bombings at airports in London and Glasgow. “I’m very pleased and happy with the resolution of this matter,” Haneef told reporters after emerging from two days of talks. “My wrongful arrest and detention in 2007 was a very traumatic experience and my settlement is a chance to end that part of my life and move on with my family.” Haneef, who was arrested by police in July 2007 at a Queensland airport as he waited to fly to India on a one-way ticket, said he would consider returning to live in Australia one day.

“My family and I are enjoying our visit in Australia, especially seeing our dear friends here, and we look forward to possibly returning to Australia one day,” he said. The medic, who was held for 25 days and not charged for the first 12, had been working as a doctor at Queensland’s Gold Coast Hospital at the time of the failed bombings on airports in the United Kingdom. He was detained and eventually charged with recklessly giving support to a terrorist organisation after his mobile phone SIM card was linked to failed attacks on airports in the UK. He was later found to be innocent and the victim of bungling by prosecutors but by then the government had cancelled his work visa and he had returned to India.

Israeli shoot Palestinian’s A Palestinian farmer was shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers north of Gaza Strip, while Israeli forces bombed east of Gaza city. Palestinian medical sources said that the farmer was injured by Israeli fire while he was working at his farm in Beit Lahya, north of Gaza Strip Meanwhile, Israeli artillery bombarded Palestinian agricultural lands on the southerneastern outskirts of Gaza, apparently targeting Palestinian farmers in the region.

However, none of them was injured, and they fled the area fearing further attacks. A Palestinian shepherd died after being shot by Israeli

forces while attending his herd in Beit Lahya as well as Israeli raids and shootings in which six Palestinians were killed and several others were injured.

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Haneef launched his compensation claim earlier this year, seeking damages for lost earnings, emotional stress, the interruption to his medical career and damage to his reputation. “Part of the agreement is that the parties not discuss the details of the settlement,” his lawyer Rod Hodgson said. “Although I can say that Dr Haneef will receive a substantial compensation.” Haneef had said ahead of the mediation talks that he still liked Australia.

1000-Year Old Holy Quran Copy Discovered in China An old manuscript copy of the Noble Quran has recently been discovered in northwest China’s Gansu Province. The oldest of its kind known in China, the handwritten copy of the Noble Quran is estimated to be written around 9th century A.D. or earlier, according to the People daily. Experts say that the book was brought to China from Central Asia. Given its cover style, the technique used for illustration, calligraphic model, and the paper, the newly-discovered copy of the Holy Quran is supposed to be one of the world’s oldest.


Hamas ‘committed to truce’ with Israel Passion Islam

I January 2011

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In Case You Missed It

Gaza’s Hamas rulers signaled that they wanted to defuse tension with Israel that has surged over and reiterated their desire for a mutual cease-fire. Israel and Hamas fought a devastating three-week war in the Gaza Strip two years ago and there have been frequent exchanges of fire across the tense border since, with incidents recently spiking. An Israeli airstrike wiped out a five-man rocket squad and a Palestinian shepherd was shot dead near the border.

In front of a crowd of supporters in southern Gaza after Friday prayers, senior leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar said Hamas would be committed to a cease-fire if Israel abided by it. Al-Zahar said Hamas and other factions were committed to an agreement they had reached last year to stop rocket firing into Israel, although smaller groups continued to launch attacks. “We are committed to selfrestraint as long as there is no oppression and no aggression,” said

WikiLeaks to publish ‘sensitive’ Israel cables WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said his whistleblowing website plans to publish hundreds of “sensitive” US diplomatic cables on Israel, Al-Jazeera television reported. “Sensitive and classified documents” on Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon and January’s assassination in Dubai of Hamas militant Mahmud al-Mabhuh would be released, Assange

told Al-Jazeera in an interview. Assange said WikiLeaks had 3,700 US documents on Israel, including 2,700 originating from the Jewish state, but denied the website had any agreement in place to spare the country of leaks. “We do not have any secret deals with any country,” he said according to an Arabic translation of remarks he made in English which were posted on

Al-Jazeera’s website. “We do not have any direct or indirect contacts with the Israelis,” Assange is quoted as saying, adding no more than two percent of available documents on Israel have been released so far. Some of Israel’s neighbours, most notably Turkey, have expressed unease at the lack of leaks the whistleblowing website has released on the Jewish state.

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Al-Zahar. The United Nations said both sides had indicated they wanted to reduce tension around the eastern Mediterranean coastal enclave. Hamas also mocked a Fatah claim it could retake Gaza. The organization said any attempt to recover the strip which it has controlled since ousting Fatah from the densely populated territory in 2007 was doomed to fail. “Fatah has a strategy to deal with the division if the (reconciliation) dialogue fails,” Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in an interview. “We are capable of recovering Gaza. The people there will support us and there are measures which are more effective than weapons,” he said, without elaborating. The Hamas Interior Ministry dismissed Ahmad’s comments and warned that “Fatah and its leadership will be held responsible for triggering any unrest” in Gaza. The exchanges came after Hamas and Fatah held two rounds of fruitless reconciliation talks in Damascus.

Makkah Charity to provide medicine across Arab world A Makkah-based charity is planning to launch an initiative to provide free medicine to needy patients across the Arab world, a charity official said. The Medicine for All Charity Organization has been the result of a strategy to make medicine accessible to all Arabs, said Anas Ashour, the chairman of the organization. The charity will start pharmacies across the Arab world to provide the medicine for needy patients with valid prescriptions, he said. The charity will set up an Arabwide campaign to educate the public on the proper use and disposal of medicine. The charity hopes to collect unused medicine from the public to redistribute to the needy, he said. The charity will also determine which Arab regions are most in need of help, in coordination with local health centers, he added.


Think tank plans study of how US treats detainees 16

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A nonpartisan legal think tank plans to study U.S. treatment of terrorism detainees, partly out of concern that the country’s policies lack clarity and can be manipulated to permit abuse or torture in dangerous times, members of a task force appointed to conduct the study said. Eleanor J. Hill, one of three chairpersons on The Constitution Project’s new panel, said events after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks such as the abuse by American troops of inmates at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and complaints of detainee torture will be one focus of the study. Former FBI Director William Sessions, former Arkansas U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, a retired Army general and a retired appeals court judge in Washington are among 11 people selected for a task force that will meet for the first time in January, said Virginia Sloan, a lawyer and president of The Constitution Project. Sloan said the task force will try to reconcile the lack of clarity and consistency in U.S. detainee treatment policies to ensure public confidence in future policy decisions. Its work should produce a final report in a year to 18 months, she said. She said the policies must be clear because civil liberties are undermined in times when national security is threatened. “We’ve seen it throughout history,” she said. “When there’s some sort of

crisis, we do curtail civil liberties.” Hutchinson, a Republican who served as Department of Homeland Security undersecretary under George W. Bush, said in an interview that he joined the panel because he was convinced the study was “something important for our national security and our war on terrorism.” Sloan said the group decided to study the issue after others tried unsuccessfully to persuade President Barack Obama or Congress to initiate their own studies. Hill said she understood that other looming issues including the war in Afghanistan and the economy likely took precedence. The task force was formed just weeks after the first Guantánamo

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detainee to be tried in a civilian court was acquitted in federal court in Manhattan on all but one of more than 280 charges that he took part in the al Qaeda bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998. Just before the start of Ghailani’s trial, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan excluded the prosecution’s most important witness on the grounds that the government learned about him only after Ghailani was subjected to harsh interrogation tactics at a CIA-run camp overseas after his 2004 arrest. None of the statements Ghailani made to authorities after his arrest were used at the trial. By Larry Neumeister

First Islamic bank opens in Germany Germany’s first Islamic bank, a unit of Kuveyt Turk Bank of Turkey, opened its doors in the southwestern city of Mannheim, offering financial products which are compatible with the Sharia, the press reported. Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) has granted a restricted banking license to Kuveyt Turk to operate the bank in Mannheim which has a sizeable Turkish community. German financial experts think that around 15 percent of Germany’s four

million Muslims would be interested in Sharia banking, indicating a market potential worth 1.6 billion euros. The transparent business dealings of Islamic banks and their reluctance to engage in risky investments could attract many new customers, financial analysts argue. Kuveyt Turk whose assets are reported to stand at around 3.18 billion US dollars, plans to inaugurate other Sharia banks throughout Germany as Islamic banking is witnessing an international boom.


Rahul Gandhi warned US of Hindu extremist threat Passion Islam

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Rahul Gandhi, widely seen as an Indian prime minister-in-waiting, believes Hindu extremists might be a greater threat to his country than Islamist militants, a leaked US diplomatic cable showed. Gandhi, scion of India’s NehruGandhi political dynasty, told US Ambassador Timothy Roemer last year that there was “some support” among Indian Muslims for militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba – blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. However, Gandhi warned, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community,” said the cable released by website WikiLeaks. There was no immediate reaction from Gandhi or the Congress party to the leak.

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Gandhi stoked a political firestorm in October when he compared a right-wing Hindu group with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, saying both preached hardline fundamentalist ideologies. Gandhi has long been viewed as a premier-in-waiting, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hinted to reporters in May that he could one day step down in favour of the 40-year-old politician. Since India’s independence from Britain in 1947, power in Congress has passed from Gandhi’s greatgrandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, to his grandmother Indira Gandhi and later to his father Rajiv – all of whom were prime ministers. It now rests with his Italian-born mother Sonia, the party president and seen as India’s most influential politician. – AFP

Netherlands’ biggest mosque opens doors in Rotterdam

The Essalam mosque, largest in the Netherlands and one of the largest mosques in West Europe, has opened its doors in Rotterdam after seven years of construction. The construction of the Essalam

mosque which offers space for 1,500 worshippers, cost reportedly four million euros. The striking building, which features two 50-meter minarets towering above a 25-meter dome,

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Australia Unveils Islamic Finance E-Learning

Ethica Institute, leader in Islamic finance training and certification, and La Trobe University have launched Australia’s first ever Islamic Finance e-learning program. This will be the first time ever that a 100 per cent online course in Islamic finance is offered as part of an on-campus course. Enrollment for the awardwinning Master of Islamic Banking and Finance (MIBF) program is now open and online classes begin on January 10, 2011. The international education industry is Australia’s largest services export, contributing over 550,000 students and $12 billion annually to the country’s economy. Moreover, the Australian government actively began promoting Islamic finance in recent years by exploring tax neutrality for Shariah-compliant products. This year, La Trobe’s Islamic finance program won numerous awards including the prestigious Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Award for excellence. ‘E-learning is the best way to address Australia’s growing demand for certified Islamic finance graduates. La Trobe is already a pioneer in the field with one of the world’s only Master’s programs in Islamic banking and finance, and now with an elearning component, they scalably grow their campus across the globe,’ said Ethica’s managing director, Atif Khan. will serve around 2,500 Moroccan Muslims living in Rotterdam’s South district. The new mosque houses also an Islamic school and a conference center.


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Italy ups prison terms for ex-CIA men An Italian court has extended the prison terms of 23 CIA agents convicted in absentia of kidnapping an Egyptian imam in a move seen as a blow to the American rendition program. The Milan appeals court meted out harsh sentences to the CIA officers, the heaviest of which nine years in prison was given to the former head of the CIA’s Milan station, Robert Seldon Lady, who initially had received eight years in the court’s ruling in 2009, AFP reported. Other agents who were sentenced to five-year prison terms in November 2009 are now facing up to seven to nine years on appeal, and under the new ruling they will have to pay $2 million in damages to Egyptian-born cleric Osama Hassan Mustafa Nasr and his wife for the 2003 abduction. Osama Hassan Mustafa Nasr, better known as Abu Omar, was abducted from a street in Milan in 2003 in a joint operation by the CIA and the Italian military intelligence agency. In 2003, the Egyptian cleric was allegedly taken to the Aviano US air base in northeastern Italy, from where he was kidnapped and allegedly later tortured in Egypt. Washington has refused to hand over the convicted agents, who remain at large in the United Sates but may be apprehended if they

travel to Europe. The agents took advantage of diplomatic immunity and were absent in court in 2009 when the first order was issued. The court also exonerated the then head of Italian military intelligence Nicolo Pollari and his aide Marco Mancini on grounds that revelation of any sensitive documents against them would be in breach of state secrecy rules. Meanwhile, the agents’ lawyer Alessia Sorgato criticized the tough ruling issued by the Milan court, adding that “it’s a shocking blow for the Americans.” The disputed “extraordinary rendition” program, which the former George Bush administration used after the 9/11 events, was harshly criticized for its practice of

extraordinary rendition, with human rights advocates charging the CIA with outsourcing torture of prisoners to countries where it is a permitted practice. Meanwhile, Amnesty International hailed the ruling but lashed out at the Italian government for taking advantage of “state secrecy” to put a lid on human rights abuses. “The Italian government and its officials should not be able to use ‘state secrecy’ as a shield to cover up human rights abuse,” stated Amnesty’s counter-terrorism expert Julia Hall. “The government must engage in a full and fair accountability process even if its official are embarrassed or even vulnerable to criminal charges for their actions,” she concluded. passionislam.com

‘India accused of torture in Kashmir’ Fresh revelations by the WikiLeaks have disclosed evidence about torture and abuse of civilian detainees by Indian security forces in Kashmir. The facts were revealed to US diplomats in Delhi in 2005 in a briefing session by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Different methods of torture, including the use of electric shock treatment, beatings and sexual humiliation, have been used against hundreds of detainees in an attempt to elicit information from them. Of the 1,296 detainees interviewed by the Red Cross, 681 claimed that

they had been tortured. Most of them had been electrocuted. It is not the first time that the Indian government has come under severe criticism from human rights groups for violation of the people’s undeniable rights in the disputed Muslimmajority region. But the government of India has always overlooked the claims. Hundreds of Kashmiris staged demonstrations to protest against the mass human rights violations in the disputed Himalayan valley. The Indian-controlled Kashmir has either been under curfew or shutdown

over the past four months. Residents have been complaining about the shortage of food, medicine and other supplies across the valley. Several regional and international rights groups, including Amnesty International, have called on India to take immediate steps to protect and respect human rights in Kashmir. More than 110 people have been killed in clashes between Indian security forces and protesters during the past six months. Thousands have lost their lives in volatile Indianadministered Kashmir since 1989.


US school sued over denial of Haj leave

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The US federal government sued a suburban Chicago school district for continually refusing permission to a Muslim middle schoolteacher to take unpaid leave so she could perform Haj. The federal government says the school violated the teacher’s civil rights and has brought the case on behalf of Safoorah Khan, claiming that it is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The government asked the court to order the school district to adopt policies that reasonably accommodate its employees’ religious practices and beliefs, and to reinstate Khan with back pay and also pay her compensatory damages. It is also seeking additional damages for pain and suffering. Khan started as a middle schoolteacher for Berkeley School District 87 — about 15 miles west of Chicago — in 2007. In 2008, she asked for almost three weeks of unpaid leave to perform Haj. After the district twice denied her request, Khan wrote to the board,

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saying that “based on her religious beliefs, she could not justify delaying performing Haj,” and resigned shortly thereafter. She then filed a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the lawsuit filed at a federal court in Chicago. The commission found reasonable cause that discrimination had occurred and forwarded the matter to the Justice Department. The Board of Education said it denied Khan’s request because the purpose of the leave was not related to her professional duties as an employee and was specifically set forth in the professional negotiations agreement between the Board of Education and the teachers’ union, the lawsuit stated. The lawsuit filed by the United States of America claims the Board of Education and the Berkeley

“Quran Scientific Miracles” Conference in Marseille A conference on Scientific miracles of the Holy Quran is set to be held in the second largest city of France, Marseille, on Saturday, January 15, 2011. The conference, which is organized by French Muslim Students Association (EMF), will be attended by Adnan Oktar, a Turkish high profile writer and researcher. Adnan Oktar, Known as Harun Yahya, will deliver a lecture featuring

various aspects of miracles mentioned in the Noble Quran. He has also arranged to give explanations over Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, Darwinism, regarded as a doctrine in discordance with the Islamic teachings. Harun Yahya was born in Turkey’s capital of Ankara in 1956. He studied in the fields of art and philosophy, writing his first book at the age of 24. He categorically rejects Darwinism which claims

that creation results from a progressive evolution occurring by accident. He also attempts to prove the existence of a purposeful conscience in the creation of the universe. “Perished nations”, “Signs of the End Times in Surah Al-Kahf”, “Wonders of Allah’s Creation”, and “Miracles of the Quran” are a number of Quranic books by Harun Yahya that have been translated into Persian.

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School District failed to provide Khan with reasonable accommodations and made her choose between her job and her religious observance. Nihad Awad, national executive director at the Council of American Islamic Relations, praised the decision and told Arab News: “We appreciate the government’s intervention in the support of reasonable and legally-required workplace accommodations that many take for granted. No worker should be forced to choose between his or her faith and continued employment.”

Islamic Calligraphy by Japanese Sells for $50,000 A work of Islamic calligraphy by a Japanese artist sold or $50,000 via a Sotheby’s auction in Doha, the auction house said. The work was created by Koichi Honda, 64, a professor at Tokyo-based Daito Bunka University who is known as an Islamic calligrapher. The calligraphy depicts a phrase from the Quran in a round shape against a green background, according to Sotheby’s and Honda. Islamic calligraphy, dating back to the 10th century, depicts passages from the Quran instead of images prohibited as iconolatry under Islam.


Israel: Next Gaza war will be extensive 20

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Israeli army chief Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi has proclaimed that the next ‘big’ Israel onslaught on the Gaza Strip will determine the victor, reports say. “The next round (of fighting) will be extensive and it should end in such a way where there is no doubt as to which side triumphed,” Ynetnews quoted Ashkenazi as telling Israeli troops based near the coastal sliver on Wednesday. He also underpinned the Israeli military’s preparedness for wider action against the impoverished strip. Ashkenazi made the remarks on the heels of Israeli airstrikes on several places across Gaza. Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes near the city of Khan Younis in the south, bombarding a chicken farm on Wednesday. The warplanes also attacked the city of Rafah, also in the south, targeting the tunnels beneath Gaza’s border with Egypt. Israeli media confirmed the air raids on the blockaded coastal strip but reported no casualties.

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The last time Israel launched an all-out war on Gaza was at the turn of 2009. The offensive claimed the lives of over 1,400 Palestinians -most of them women and children. The coastal enclave has been under the Israeli siege since June

CIA shields waterboarding suspects

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2007 after Hamas took control of the region following a democratic election. The illegal Israeli-imposed blockade has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the enclave.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has paid millions of dollars in legal fees to shield its employees accused of using waterboarding on suspects. The agency agreed to cover at least $5 million in legal fees for Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, former US officials said. The contractors, now facing a federal investigation over the harsh interrogation technique, are considered the main architects of the program and have conducted dozens of waterboarding sessions themselves. The deal, confirmed by former CIA officials, is

part of the agency’s secret protection agreement. It is aimed at defending two guilty contractors. According to a report, the agency agreed to pay the legal bills for the psychologists’ firm, Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, directly from CIA accounts. It is the first time those who carried out the waterboarding have been publically identified. Waterboarding is a tactic used by interrogators that simulates drowning. The torture includes putting a rag in the mouth of a victim and pouring water on his head, giving the impression of drowning.


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I January 2011

Kuwait’’s football team to build mosque in Yemen

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Kuwait’s national football team donated a sum of money they earned after their recent win in GCC 20th competition to build a mosque in Yemen. The initiative was in appreciation

to the warmth hospitality they received during GCC 20th Cup, which concluded earlier this month, Kuwait’s Football Association (KFA) said in a statement. The statement noted that such

Qatar celebrates World Cup bid win

Massive celebrations erupted on the streets of Doha, Qatar’s capital, after Fifa, football’s world governing body, announced the tiny Gulf country will host the sport’s biggest tournament in 2022. The decision came as a surprise to many around

the world, but for Qataris, it represented a chance for others to know them better. Sepp Blatter, president of Fifa, announced on Thursday that Russia and Qatar won their bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup respectively. “Never has the World Cup been in Russia and

donation will be coordinated with Kuwait’s Zakat House whose going to be in charge of building the mosque there. The sum was not disclosed.

Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Arabic world have been waiting for a long time so I’m a happy president when we talk about the development of football,” Blatter said after a vote of his executive committee at the Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s bid chairman, told Fifa executives in Zurich: “Thank you for backing us and expanding the game. You will be proud of us and you will be proud of the Middle East.” Qataris and expatriates in Doha shared his joy. “We are really crying from our hearts. This is like a dream. It means everything to us,” Khalifa Khalaf, an employee in the country’s energy industry, said. “We will prove to the world that good things come from small places.” Widespread traffic jams were witnessed across Doha following Fifa’s

announcement as crowds of Qataris and expatriates took to the streets. “It’s hard to speak, we’re so happy. You cannot believe how happy we are. We’re celebrating because we are so proud of Qatar,” Ismail Taymour, a lifelong resident of Doha, said. The choice of Qatar and Russia as host nations is Fifa’s ultimate recognition to emerging markets. Both new hosts are major energy producers and both had planned larger and costlier investment in infrastructure and new stadiums than all their respective rivals. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, flew in to Zurich after the ceremony to meet and thank Blatter and Fifa. “We are honoured to win in this tough and fair fight,” he told reporters. “Thank you for supporting Russia. Together let us make sure football supports fair play, tolerance, honour.” passionislam.com


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ISLAMIC MONTHS

Rabi ul-Awwal From Superstitions into Light Rabi’ul-Awwal is the most significant month in the Islamic history, because humanity has been blessed in this month by the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Before the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, not only the Arabian peninsula, but also the so-called civilized nations of Rome and Persia were drowned in the darkness of ignorance, superstitions, oppression and unrest. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came with the eternal truth of Tawhid (Oneness of Allah), the only faith which provides a firm basis for the real concepts of knowledge, equity and peace. It was this faith which delivered humanity from ignorance and superstitions and spread the light of true knowledge all over the world. Islamic Celebrations Thus the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was the most significant and the most remarkable event in human history. Had there been room in Islamic teachings for the celebration of birthdays or anniversaries, the birthday of the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam, would have undoubtedly deserved it more than the birthday of any other person. But that is against the nature of

Islamic teachings. That is why, unlike Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism, there are very few festivals in Islam, which provides for only two Eids (Eidul-fitr and Eidul-Adha) during the whole year. The dates of these two Eids do not correspond to the birthday of any of the outstanding persons of Islamic history, nor can their origin be attributed to any particular event of history that had happened in these dates. Both of these two Eids have been prescribed for paying gratitude to Allah on some happy events that take place every year. The first event is the completion of the fasts of Ramadan and the second event is the completion of Hajj, another form of worship regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam. The manner prescribed for the celebration of these two Eids (festivals) is also different from non-Islamic festivals. There are no formal processions, illumination or other activities showing formal happiness. On the contrary, there are congregational prayers and informal mutual visits to each other, which can give real happiness instead of its symbols only. No Birthdays On the other hand, Islam has not prescribed any festival for the birthday of any person, however

great or significant he may be. The prophets of Allah are the persons of the highest status amongst all human beings. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, or his noble companions never observed the birthday or anniversary of any of them. Even the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, which was the most happy day for the whole mankind was never celebrated by the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam, himself, nor by his blessed Companions. The Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, remained alive after him for about a century, but despite their unparalleled and profound love towards the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam, they never celebrated the birthday or the death anniversary of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Instead, they devoted their lives for promoting the cause of Islam, for bringing his teachings into practice, for conveying his message to the four corners of the world and for establishing the Islamic order in every walk of life. The Origins of Christmas In fact, commemorating the birth of a distinguished person has never been prescribed by any religion attributing itself to divine revelation. It was originally a custom prevalent in pagan communities only. Even


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Christmas, the famous Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ finds no mention in the Bible or in the early Christian writings. It was only in the 4th century after the ascension of Jesus Christ that Christmas was recognized as a regular Christian feast. To quote the Collier’s Encyclopedia: “It is impossible to determine the exact date of the birth of Christ, either from the evidence of the gospels, or from any sound tradition. During the first three centuries of the Christian era there was considerable opposition in the Church to the pagan custom of celebrating birthdays, although there is some indication that a purely religious commemoration of the birth of Christ was included in the feast of Epiphany. Clement of Alexandria mentions the existence of the feast in Egypt about the year A.D. 200 and we have some evidence that it was observed on various dates in scattered areas. After the triumph of Constantine, the Church at Rome assigned December 25 as the date for the celebration of the feast, possibly about A.D. 320 or 353. By the end of the fourth century the whole Christian world was celebrating Christmas on that day, with the exception of the Eastern Churches, where it was celebrated on January 6. The choice of December 25 was probably influenced by the fact that on this day the Romans celebrated the Mithraic feast of the Sun-god, and that the Saturnalia also came at this time.” (Collier’s Encyclopedia 1984 ed, v. 6, p. 403). A similar description of the origin of Christmas is found in-the Encyclopedia Britannica with some more details. Its following passage will throw more light on the point: “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church, and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on Jan. 6, March 25 or Dec. 25. The earliest identification of Dec. 25 with the birthday of Christ is in a passage, otherwise unknown and probably spurious, of the philos of Antioch (c.180), preserved in Latin by the Magdeburyg centuriators (i, 3, 118), to the effect that the Gauls contended that since they celebrated the birth of Lord on Dec. 25, so they ought to celebrate the resurrection on March 25. A passage, almost certainly interpolated, in ‘Hippelates’ (c. 202) commentary on Daniel iv, 23, says that Jesus was born at

SPECIAL FEATURE

Bethlehem on Wednesday, Dec. 25, in the 42nd year of Augustus, but he mentions no feast, and such a feast, indeed, would conflict with the then orthodox ideas. As late as 245, Origin (hem. viii on Leviticus) repudiated the idea of keeping the birthday of Christ “as if he were a king Pharaoh”. (Britannica, 1953 ed. v. 5, p.642) These two quotes are more than sufficient to prove the following points: 1. The commemoration of birthdays was originally a pagan custom, never recognized by a divine scripture or prophetic teaching. 2. The exact date of the Birth of Sayyidna ‘Isa is unknown and impossible to be ascertained. 3. The commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ was not a recognized practice in the early centuries of the Christian history. 4. It was in the 4th or 5th century that it was recognized as a religious feast, and that, too, under the influence of the pagans who worshipped Sungod. 5. There was a strong opposition against the commemorating of the birthday by the early Christian scholars like Origin, on the ground that it is originally a custom of pagans and idolaters. Original Islamic Resources In original Islamic resources, also we cannot find any instruction about the celebration of birthdays or death anniversaries. Many Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, passed away during his life-time. His beloved wife Sayyidah Khadijah, Radi-Allahu anha, passed away in Makkah. His beloved uncle Sayyidna Hamzah, Radi-Allahu anhu was brutally slaughtered during the battle of Uhud. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, never observed their birthday or their death anniversaries, nor did he ever advise his followers to celebrate his own birthday in Rabi’ul-Awwal. What is Wrong with These Celebrations The reason for abstinence from such celebrations is that they divert the attention of people from the real teachings of Islam towards the observance of some formal activities only. Initially, these celebrations may begin with utmost piety and with a bona fide intention to pay homage to a pious person. Yet, the experience shows that the

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celebration is ultimately mixed up with an element of merrymaking and rejoicing and is generally confused with secular festivals and the secular, and often sinful, activities creep into it gradually. The Transformation of Christmas The example of Christmas will again be relevant. This Christian feast was originally innovated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and, of course, to remember his teachings. But once the occasion had been recognized as a feast, all the secular elements of public festivals crept in. The following quotation from the Encyclopedia Britannia is worth attention: “For several centuries Christmas was solely a church anniversary observed by religious services. But as Christianity spread among the people of pagan lands, many of the practices of the winter solstice were blended with those of Christianity because of the liberal ruling of Gregory I, the great, and the cooperation of the missionaries. Thus, Christmas became both religious and secular in its celebration, at times reverent, at others gay.” Then, what kind of activities have been adopted to celebrate Christmas is mentioned in the next paragraphs of which the following quote is more pertinent here: “Merrymaking came to have a share in Christmas observance through popular enthusiasm even while emphasis was on the religious phase. ... In the wholly decked great halls of the feudal lords, whose hospitality extended to all their friends, tenants and household, was sailing, feasting, singing and games, dancing, masquerading and mummers presenting pantomimes and masques were all part of the festivities.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1953 v. 5, p. 643) This is enough to show as to how an apparently innocent feast of reverence was converted into a secular festival where the merrymaking and seeking enjoyment by whatever means took preference over all the religious and spiritual activities. Being fully aware of this human psychology, Islam has never prescribed, nor encouraged the observance of birthdays and anniversaries, and when such celebrations are observed as a part of the religion, they are totally forbidden.


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The Religion is Complete The Holy Qur’an has clearly pronounced on the occasion of the last Hajj of the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam: “Today, I have completed the teachings of your religion.” [Al-Maida 5:3] It means that all the teachings of Islam were communicated to the Muslims through the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. No one is allowed after it to add any thing to them as a part of religion. What was not a part of religion during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam, can never become part of it. Such additions are termed by the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam, as Bid’ah or innovation. Thus, the observance of the 12th of Rabi’ul-Awwal as a religious feast is not warranted by any verse of the Holy Qur’an or by any teaching of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Had it been a part of the religion it would have been clearly ordered or practiced by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his blessed companions or, at least, by their immediate pupils. But no example of the celebration of the occasion can be traced out in the early centuries of the Islamic history. It was after many centuries [Albalagh Note: According to Maulana Yusuf Ludhinavi it was in the year 604 A.H.] that some monarchs started observing the 12th of Rabi’ulAwwal as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, without a sound religious basis, and the congregations in the name of Maulood or Milad were held where the history of the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to be narrated. Disagreement About the Date The observance of the 12th of this month as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is not only an innovation having no basis in the Islamic teachings, but the accuracy of this date as the real birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is also very much doubted. There are different dates suggested in different traditions, and the majority of the authentic scholars is inclined to hold that the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was born on the 9th of Rabi’ul-Awwal. This difference of opinion is another evidence to prove

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that the observance of the birthday is not a part of the religion, otherwise its exact date would have been preserved with accuracy. The life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, no doubt, the most important source of guidance for all the Muslims, and every Muslim is under an obligation to learn and study the events of his life, and to follow the practical example set by him in every sphere of life. The narration of his pious biography (the Seerah) in itself is a pious act, which invites the divine blessings, but the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah have not prescribed a particular time or method for it. This pious act should be performed in all the months and at all the times. The month of Rabi’ul-Awwal has not been designated by the Shariah as a special season for holding such congregations to commemorate the birth or life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is thus an innovation (Bid’ah) to restrict the Seerah meetings to the month of Rabi’ul Awwal only, or to believe that the meetings held in this month are worthy of more reward than the meetings held on any other date during the year. In fact, the Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to commemorate the life of the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam, throughout the year, not only by studying and conveying his message to others, but also by following his way of life and acting upon his teachings in each and every branch of their activities, and this is exactly what a Muslim is required and supposed to do. By this we do not mean that the Seerah meetings should not be held in the month of Rabi’ul-Awwal. The point is only that they should not be restricted to it, nor should it be believed that the Shariah has laid any kind of emphasis on holding such meetings in this particular month. Another point that should always be kept in mind while holding such meetings is that they must be in complete conformity with the rules of Shariah. A Muslim is supposed to abide by the rules of Shariah in all his activities. But at least the meetings held in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, should be free from all the acts forbidden by the Shariah. Contemporary Seerah Meetings

I January 2011

and Shariah It is often observed, especially in the Western countries, that the people hold the Seerah meetings where men and women sit together without observing the rules of hijab prescribed by the Shariah. The teachings of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are obviously against such mixed gatherings. How can a Seerah meeting bring fruits where such fundamental teachings of the Shariah are openly violated? In some meetings the Na’ts (poems) in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are recited by the women before the male audience, sometimes with music, which is totally against the instructions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is clearly prohibited by the Shariah to hold such meetings or to participate in them, because it is not only a violation of the Shariah rules, but it is an affront to the sanctity of the Seerah of the Holy Prophet, SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam. All other activities, often practiced on the twelfth of Rabi’ul-Awwal, like holding processions, constructing the mock tombs of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and illumination of the buildings and the roads are not warranted by any rule of the Shariah. Rather they are based on conscious or unconscious imitation of certain other religions. No example of such activities can be traced out from the earlier Islamic history. Real Message of Seerah What is really important with regard to the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, first, to follow his teachings, and second to make his pious Seerah available to every Muslim, to preserve it in the hearts of the Muslims from the very childhood, to educate the family members to run their lives according to it and to hold it as the most glorious example of the human conduct the universe has ever witnessed -- and all this with utmost love and reverence, not manifested by some formal activities only, but also through actual behavior of following the Sunnah. This cannot be done by merely holding processions and illuminating the walls. This requires constant and consistent efforts and a meaningful program of education and training. By Mufti Taqi Usmani passionislam.com


Coolness of the Eyes

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I January 2011

In a family life, every individual plays his or her role to make things run smoothly. The role this individual has to play is governed by rules laid down in the Holy Quran and shown to us by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam. In the Quran, Allah Taa’la says: “Verily, there is a perfect example for you in the Messenger for that person who is hopeful of Allah and the Last Day and he remembers Allah abundantly.” (Surah Ahzab: 21) It does not matter if it is the father, the mother, the son or the daughter, for each one of them is guidance and a brilliant example to follow in the life of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam. The role of the father starts right at the beginning of fatherhood. His job is to deny access to all the haraam things flowing in our society from reaching his family. This includes feeding his family with halal food and keeping them away from all types of haraam entertainment like television etc. He is encouraged to treat his wife in an excellent manner.

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The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wassallam has said: “The best of you are those that treat their wives the best”. Now a person can walk about in public and be nice to people and people may have a good opinion about him, that he is very pious etc, but at home he is a monster to his wife and she lives in fear of him. From the Hadith mentioned, we know that the best person to judge a man is his wife because if he is good to her, then she will mention it. The father should earn halal money and make sure that all his dealings are Islamically correct. He should avoid all types of interest dealings as much as possible. As soon as a person becomes involved in the smallest amount of interest dealings, the blessings are taken out of his earnings and Allah Taa’la becomes angry with him. This has a negative effect on their whole household, which results in arguments with his wife

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and disobedience on the part of the children. Another duty of the father is to Islamically educate all the members of his family. Secular education is also very important but this will help the child in a limited manner during his life. Islamic knowledge will help him live his life like a true human being every day. This will teach him the respect of his parents, elders and teachers. It will show him how to treat his youngsters and other family members. If the father deprives his family of Islamic education, then they become involved in haram, and then they are disobedient then he can only blame himself. The mother should recognise her role in the family. It is her job to please the husband and she plays an important part in creating a loving and caring environment in the house. She should be very vigilant in the nurturing of the children by attending to them according to the type of year and according to the age of the child. Due to her attention and care, the children will grow up to be upright and pious. They will be obedient and have excellent manners. The children, as they grow older, should show great respect for the parents. They should not speak to them harshly nor should they unnecessarily disobey them. This matter of obedience goes two ways; when the parents are fair and just to their children and they themselves have an honest and upright character, they will be listened to. Otherwise, disobedience will erupt amongst members in the family. The children should also stay away from bad company as this will, without a shadow of doubt, destroy the character of the individual and result in them falling short of their aims. If everyone plays their part correctly in the family and helps in the correction of others who are not fulfilling their part, then this family will become what is described in the Quran as “The coolness of the eyes” for the father, things will run smoothly Inshallah.


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I January 2011

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