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2014: A TIME FOR REAL CHANGE Issue: 70
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Woolwich: Foreign policy must change to ensure the safety of all
We hope that the Woolwich incident can give us pause for thought about the driving factors behind such actions. All parties interested in achieving peace and safety ought to realise that revising British foreign and domestic policy is essential to achieving lasting social harmony. However, for the last 12 years the government has systematically adopted policies that have eroded the basic liberties of the Muslim community, especially. Specifically, British security services have repeatedly engaged in the harassment, torture complicity, rendition and arbitrary detention of young Muslims, only reinforcing their sentiment of disaffection. These policies have not only failed to reduce the threat of violence, they have directly bred further
enmity and aggression. The Muslim community also has an important role to play by refraining from embracing narratives and policies designed to further criminalise Muslims and Islam. Championing such policies only makes organisations and individuals part and parcel of the problem; being silent about them can make one complicit. Apologising on behalf of the community can also play into this narrative by suggesting that the whole community is somehow responsible for the actions of the few. Rather, Muslim community leaders interested in peace should voice the real causes of disenfranchisement and violence. In this particular instance, it is important to recall that a Muslim convicted of a crime remains a part of the community with mutual
rights and obligations kept intact. To embrace language that says otherwise is extremely detrimental to the entire community. Asim Qureshi, Research Director at CagePrisoners said: â€œAs with similar incidents in the past, British foreign policy has again been shown to be the fundamental grievance. If the government are serious about protecting British citizens, its first step should be to radically reform British foreign policy.â€?
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MI6 turned a ‘blind eye’ to U.S. renditions and torture www.pi-media.co.uk
I January 2014
British intelligence agencies turned a “blind eye” to the torture of detainees in foreign jails, according to a report about the UK’s involvement in the rendition of terror suspects, The Guardian reported. The creation of the 115-page report, aimed at investigating Britain’s involvement in the extrajudicial abduction of terror suspects, was led by Sir Peter Gibson, a former appeal court judge. While the report stated that individual intelligence offices had concerns over the abuse, which included sleep deprivation and waterboarding, they did not pass on their reservations in fear of damaging relations with U.S. intelligence agencies. The original investigation began 2010 after evidence was brought forward of British officials allowing the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) to imprison UK citizens in Guantanamo Bay. However, the Gibson inquiry was abruptly halted last January after a case involving the MI6’s controversial rendition of two Libyan rebels, Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi, took precedence. The recently released report shows that Britain’s security and intelligence organizations were unprepared for how the U.S. chose to respond to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in which the Bush administration secretly rendered suspects and frequently used abuse. Jack Straw, former British foreign secretary, admitted that in 2002 he said that the UK should not hinder U.S. efforts to detain British nationals. However, he also tried to impart context on his previous position, saying the detainment and
torture came in the “aftermath of the world’s most appalling terrorist atrocity ever” – in reference to the Sept. 11 attacks. The Gibson report also questions whether MI5 and MI6 became “inappropriately involved” in the “actions of the CIA.” Over 20,000 documents covering 200 reported cases of the UK’s alleged participation in the neglect of detainees were reviewed in the inquiry, 40 of which were said to deserve special attention.
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I January 2014
Muslim Brotherhood an “entirely” legal organisation in UK: FCO spokesperson
The United Kingdom’s government is “assessing” the implications of announcing Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, yet has continued to recognise the Brotherhood as “an entirely legal organisation in the UK,” according to a Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson. The UK’s FCO statements follow the listing of the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation by Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi’s cabinet. The cabinet also ordered the Foreign Ministry to notify Arab countries which signed the 1998 Arab Convention on Suppression of Terrorism with the decision. The FCO expressed the UK government’s belief that bringing all Egyptians “into the mainstream political process” would help achieve stability and security in the Arab state. “We support an inclusive political system which represents all groups in society,” the FCO’s statement said. “The UK continues to support the Egyptian people to choose their government in elections next year. We urge the interim government to undertake an inclusive political
process to allow Egypt a prosperous and stable future.” Groups are designated as terrorist groups in the UK as per the Terrorism Act of 2000. Fifty-two organisations are already listed as terrorist organisations, including two Egyptian organisations: Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya and the Islamic Jihad Organisation. The main office of IKhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s only official English website, is located in London. The FCO said that the UK’s government is discussing the implications of Egypt’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation with international partners. Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs announced to Arab countries which have signed the 1998 Arab Convention on Suppression of Terrorism of the cabinet’s decision to list the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation. The convention, signed by 17 Arab states, mandates that all signatory states engage in preventive measures, measures of suppression, exchange of information and expertise and investigation in order to combat terrorism in the Arab world. Article 3 of the convention also prevents signatory states from organising, financing or committing terrorist acts. Article 4 obliges signatory states to extradite terrorist convicts to the states which request their extradition.
Chilcot to unmask Blair-Bush talks on Iraq war A report into British involvement in the Iraq war and its aftermath is set to disclose secret conversations between former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President George W Bush. A decade after Britain’s controversial role in the USled invasion of Iraq, the Chilcot inquiry, led by Sir John Chilcot, will finally publish a fuller account of communications between Blair and Bush. According to The Independent, the long-awaited report into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war will publish a cache of notes from Blair to Bush, records of telephone conversations and meetings, as well
as up to 200 minutes of cabinetlevel discussions in the new year. A Whitehall source said that “good progress” had been made towards declassifying many of the records, adding that, “There will be a lot more than people were expecting.” He also noted that some of the contents of the documents will be blacked out for national security reasons and to prevent damage to US-Britain relations. According to government sources, the papers are likely to be published within three months, clearing the way for the publication of the final report. The inquiry is expected to
issue its final report by the end of 2014, five years after it was set up by former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The US and Britain invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law in 2003 under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) allegedly stockpiled by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. No WMDs, however, were ever discovered in Iraq. According to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored, more than one million Iraqis were killed as a result of the invasion and subsequent occupation of the country. www.pi-media.co.uk
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UK secretly revoking citizenship of Syrian fighters www.pi-media.co.uk
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say revoking citizenship while individuals are overseas could put them at risk of torture and abuse A Home Office spokesman was quoted as saying: “The government will take all necessary steps to protect the public “Citizenship is a privilege, not a right, and the Home Secretary will remove British citizenship from individuals where she feels it is conducive to the public good to do so.” By Courtney Trenwith
The UK is secretly stripping the citizenship of Brits with dualnationality who fight in Syria, an investigation has revealed. Twenty people have had their passports revoked this year for being involved in the Syrian civil war, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), which spoke to a former senior Foreign Office official The figure is more than the total of 17 revoked during the previous 2 ½ years, after Home Secretary Theresa May came to office in May 2010. “This [deprivation of citizenship] is happening,” the former senior Foreign Office official told the BIJ. “There are somewhere between 40 and 240 Brits in Syria, and we are probably not as quick as we should be to strip their citizenship.” The Home Secretary has the power to revoke British citizenship
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of those with dual-nationality if they believe their presence in the UK is “not conducive to the public good” or they have obtained it through fraudulent means. The decision can be made without judicial approval and take immediate effect. According to The Independent, in all but two known cases, the orders have been issued while the individual was overseas, leaving them stranded abroad facing legal appeals that can take years if they try to return UK security services are concerned that Syria’s close proximity means jihadists are more easily taking violent extremism back to the UK. Two UK nationals are believed to have had their passports revoked while fighting against Bashar Al Assad’s regime, including a British doctor. But human rights campaigners
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British soldier, detained under Terrorism Legislation
Ryan McGee a 19 year old UK soldier was, detained under the Terrorism Act following the discovery of a nail bomb at his family property in Salford. The soldier was taken into military custody in Germany , where he is serving. Mr McGee was flown back to the UK, handed over to Greater Manchester Police and arrested under Section 57 of the Terrorism Act. He has now bailed until January. It is understood that extreme right wing leaflets were also discovered in the house in Mellor Street during a raid which led to 30 residents being evacuated.
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FCO failure to represent British Muslims is norm - IHRC www.pi-media.co.uk
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FCO failure to support Dr Abbas Khan not unusual
The Islamic Human Rights Commission finds entirely plausible the criticism being made of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that it failed to do enough to support and secure the release of British doctor Abbas Khan who died in Syrian custody. Dr. Abbas had travelled to Syria to treat civilian victims of the country’s civil war but was arrested within 48 hours of entering and had been imprisoned for 13 months. His family have denounced the FCO’s failure to provide any meaningful assistance to Dr. Khan saying this was instrumental in his death. The case is not a oneoff. IHRC has come across many other instances where the FCO has failed in its duty to assist British Muslim victims of injustice
overseas. One of these involved a British nuclear scientist who endured torture and abuse in a US jail without any intervention by the FCO despite numerous requests. Dr. Amir Sanjari was jailed in Indiana in 2010 for failing to pay child support following a custody dispute with his divorced wife. During that time he repeatedly asked the FCO for assistance only to come up against a closed door. Dr Sanjari says that at the time of his arrest in California, he was told by the British consulate in San Francisco that it would pass his case to the FCO in London. It didn’t. Whilst in custody, he was tortured, stripped and put in solitary confinement. When he contacted the British consulate in
Chicago for help, he initially got a warm reception. He says he wanted the Chicago vice-consul who came to meet him to carry out a fair and honest investigation into his allegations of torture and provide legal assistance. But after a while she too became frustrated by the failure of her bosses to intervene. Dr Sanjari claims that she eventually told him that the FCO did not want to help or get involved in his case. His family back in the UK also lobbied the FCO to take an interest in his plight, even via their local MP, but had the door
slammed in their faces. Dr Sanjari is now back in the UK after being released on parole last August. IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “We got involved to help Dr Sanjari but we too got frustrated at the British government’s lack of interest. The FCO has consistently failed to do its job and support a British citizen, not only in this case but in countless others we have been approached to help with. It shows that there is a two-tier system being operated in the FCO - one for Muslims and another for everybody else.”
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‘Tougher sentencing needed to tackle Islamophobic crime’
Hate crimes against Muslims have soared this year, with the Metropolitan Police recording 500 Islamophobic crimes alone, new figures have shown. Hundreds of anti-Muslim offences have been carried out across the country in 2013. Many forces reported a surge in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in Woolwich, south-east London. And it is feared the figures could be much higher after nearly half of
the 43 forces in England and Wales did not reveal how many hate crimes had targeted Muslims - with some forces admitting they do not always record the faith of a religious hate crime victim. Freedom of Information requests were sent by the Press Association to every police force in England and Wales. Of the 43 forces, 24 provided figures on the number of anti-Muslim crimes and incidents recorded. Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents,
Saudi Grand Mosque Imam denied entry to the UK
One of Islam’s highest ranked imams has claimed he was refused entry to the UK and prevented from boarding a plane. The former imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah – the religion’s holiest mosque - Sheikh Adel Al Kalbani said he was stopped at King Khaled International Airport in the capital Riyadh despite having a UK visa issued in October by the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia. “I was stopped at the door of the plane and told that the authorities received a message from the British Embassy saying that I was not allowed to enter Britain,” Al Kalbani told Arab News. “I don’t really know why they denied me entry. I was in Britain
about four years ago and other countries.” Al Kalbani said he received no explanation why he was no longer allowed to enter the European country He had planned to visit the British Muslim community, which had arranged a series of events for him to meet people in various UK cities, including London. “I was told that other Muslim scholars have also been denied entry and had their visas cancelled. My gut feeling is that they don’t want to see me interacting with the Muslim community there,” he was quoted as saying He said he would not re-apply for a UK visa.
said it had dealt with some 840 cases since April - with the number expected to rise to more than 1,000 by the end of March. This compared with 582 antiMuslim cases it dealt with from March 2012 to March 2013. Tell Mama has called for police forces to introduce a system which improves monitoring of Islamophobic crimes, after some forces admitted officers do not always record the faith of a religious hate crime victim. The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has previously said 71 incidents were reported to its national community tension team (NCTT) over five days after Fusilier Rigby was murdered on May 22. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “These are despicable crimes that devastate lives and communities. “The courts already hand out tougher punishments where race or religion are found to be aggravating factors. “The number of people receiving a custodial sentence for these appalling crimes is higher than ever before.”
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Yemeni parliament in non-binding vote against drone attacks Yemen’s parliament called for a stop to drone attacks in a symbolic vote that reflected growing public anxiety about Washington’s use of the unmanned aircraft to combat Al Qaeda in the impoverished country. Motions passed by the Yemeni parliament are not binding and can be struck down by the president, and are seen as no more than recommendations to the government. “Members of parliament voted to stop what drones are doing in Yemeni airspace, stressing the importance of preserving innocent civilian lives against any attack and maintaining Yemeni sovereignty,” the state news agency SABA said. The United States has stepped up drone strikes in Yemen as part of a campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network. Stabilising the country, which is also struggling with southern separatists and northern rebels, is an international priority due to fears of disorder in a state that flanks top oil producer Saudi Arabia and major shipping lanes.
The United States says its drones programme has been successful in eliminating Al Qaeda in various countries. Some Yemenis say had it not been for such strikes, AQAP could have seized more territory across Yemen. Yemeni foreign minister Abu Bakr Al Qirbi told Reuters in September that the drone strikes were a “necessary evil” and a “very limited affair” that happens in coordination with the Yemeni government. However, other Yemenis, and some US politicians, say the strikes
and civilian casualties are increasing sympathy for AQAP and resentment against America. AQAP, which has scattered across the country, is now targeting local police and security officials, who have only tenuous control in Yemen. Fifteen people were killed in an air strike while on their way to a wedding in the central Al Bayda province, according to local officials. The government said senior Al Qaeda militants had been targeted in the attack, and made no mention of civilian casualties.
Saudi King Abdullah appointed his son Prince Mishaal as governor of Makkah Province, one of the most prominent jobs in the country, the latest move in a rolling reshuffle of senior ruling family members over the past two years. He replaces Prince Khaled al-Faisal, who has been made education minister, a move that may revive stalled educational reforms aimed at reducing the influence of religious conservatives, Saudi analysts said.
The appointments were announced in a royal decree carried by state media in the world’s top oil exporter, where moves among senior princes are closely watched for theiar impact on the country’s opaque succession process. Since 2011, a series of deaths, retirements and promotions mean most top government positions held by princes, plus the three top provincial governor jobs, have switched hands after decades with little change. Analysts have said the changes reflect a desire by King Abdullah, who is thought to be 90, to establish his sons and other allies in key positions for the future. “Appointing a son of the king to one of the major governorates in the kingdom is noteworthy. He is giving his sons a big chance to have a place in the succession process,”
said Khaled al-Dakhil, a Saudi political scientist. He has appointed his son Miteb as minister of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, his son Abdulaziz as deputy foreign minister and his son Turki as deputy Riyadh governor. Mishaal, the new Makkah governor, was previously governor of Najran province on the border with Yemen. The job of Makkah governor carries big administrative responsibilities because the province has a large population, as well as symbolic importance through its guardianship of Islam’s holiest site and hosting of the annual Haj. Unlike in European monarchies, the Saudi succession does not pass directly from father to eldest son, but has moved along a line of brothers born to the kingdom’s founder King Abdulaziz, commonly known as Ibn Saud.
Saudi king appoints son as governor of Makkah
Netanyahu leading Israel to sanctions www.pi-media.co.uk
I January 2014
CIMB Islamic Bank gets Global award
A senior Israeli official has blasted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for directing Tel Aviv towards sanctions through unwillingness for progress in talks with the Palestinians. “Netanyahu’s conduct is leading to sanctions, boycotting,” said the unnamed official, Israeli website Ynet News reported. The premier had adopted the attitude, while, ‘Today Israel is in a more poor and sensitive condition than it was in 1948,” the official said, referring to the year of the occupation of Palestine by Israel. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not really willing to move forward with the negotiations.” Palestinian and Israeli negotiators began a fresh round of talks in July. Previous talks broke down
in September 2010 after Tel Aviv refused to freeze its settlement activities in the occupied West Bank. Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip and are demanding Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories. Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds. Even days before the start of the talks, Israel announced plans for more than 2,000 new settler units in East al-Quds and the West Bank, which angered Palestinians. Netanyahu “only wants to preserve his status in his party and everyone knows what it looks like,” the Israeli official noted.
CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd has won the “Leading Islamic Bank” award at the Global Islamic Economy Award, held in conjunction with the inaugural Global Islamic Economy Summit 2013 in Dubai. “As a global thought leader in Islamic finance and pioneer in many innovative deals and structured products, CIMB Islamic emerged as the only Asean-based bank honoured for its effort in demonstrating significant business impact using the Islamic economic ethos,” CIMB said in a press statement. The award was managed under the patronage of vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Thomson Reuters independently oversaw the integrity and credibility of the award while Deloitte audited it.
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Saudi to set 18 as minimum age for marital consent 14
Fines of $136 for smoking shisha in public areas
Saudi’s minimum age for marital consent will be set at 18 under laws that regulate family relationships and decide the rights of women and children, it was reported. Legal sources quoted by Saudi media said under the new law any girl under 18 will not be allowed to marry without a court decision - even if her male guardian has given his consent. They said the Shoura Council would soon discuss the law before it is sent to the Council of Ministers for final approval. The sources said the law, which will be issued in the coming few weeks, includes chapters on marriage, separation between husbands and wives, maturity of men and women and inheritance. It aims to achieve parity between
men and women in all aspects of life, the Saudi Gazette reported Sources quoted by the newspaper said the law would cancel the right of guardianship of men over women - except in marriages - where Islamic Shariah law allows for this right However, it is understood the law will allow a wife to ask for a stipulation in the marriage contract indicating her right to divorce if her husband married another woman. She will also have the right to stay in the marital home in the case of a divorce not being made final. According to the sources, the new law will describe the relationship between married couples as a “partnership” and not qiwamah (supremacy of men over women) as it used to be.
Dubai residents and visitors caught smoking shisha in public areas, such as parks or beaches, will be fined AED500 ($136) and 23 inspectors have been put in place to make sure the ban is adhered to, officials said. “We are intensifying our efforts in prohibiting smoking shisha in all public parks, beaches and other recreational centres across Dubai. We have formed a special team of 23 inspectors who have been assigned to fine people on the spot if they are caught violating the health rules,” Talib Julfar, director of Public Parks and Horticulture Department at Dubai Municipality, was quoted as saying by Gulf News. The fines came into effect this week, the report added. Notice boards detailing the new rules have been put in place in public areas. It is part of a wider clampdown on smoking shisha in public. Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi also banned the serving of shisha along its corniche area.
Qatar gives Morocco $1.25bn in aid Qatar and Morocco have signed an aid deal worth $1.25 billion, part of a five-year package of financial assistance extended by wealthy Gulf states to the North African kingdom to help it weather ‘Arab Spring’ protests. Four Gulf states - Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates - agreed in 2012 to provide aid worth a total $5 billion to Morocco in the period 2012-2017 to build up its infrastructure, strengthen its economy and foster tourism. Each of the four countries has committed $1.25 billion to Morocco
for the whole five year period. The aid is very welcome to King Mohamed - who signed the accord late on Friday with the visiting emir of Qatar - as he seeks to quell the kind of social discontent that helped to oust rulers elsewhere in North Africa, including Tunisia and Egypt. Morocco is under heavy pressure from international lenders to reduce its budget deficit after spending heavily on food and energy subsidies and higher public sector salaries in 2011 and 2012 to help defuse social tensions. Morocco has budgeted to receive
a total $1 billion in aid from the Gulf states for 2014. It hopes to cut its budget deficit to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product next year from an estimated 5.5 percent in 2013. Qatar was the last of the four Gulf states to sign the aid accord with Morocco. It was not immediately clear whether Qatar would disburse the aid installments for both 2012 and 2013, each worth $250 million, together. The Gulf states have agreed a similar package of aid, also worth a total $5 billion over a five-year period, for Jordan.
I January 2014
Saudi Arabia to give Lebanese Army 3 billion dollars www.pi-media.co.uk
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Saudi Arabia is giving the Lebanese army $3 billion in aid, Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman said, calling it the largest grant ever to the country’s armed forces. Some of the money was likely to be spent on weapons from France, Suleiman indicated in a televised address. One of the few institutions not overtaken by the sectarian divisions that plague the country, Lebanon’s army is ill-equipped to deal with
internal militant groups, particularly the Shi’ite Muslim guerrilla and political movement Hezbollah. The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia may be seeking to bolster the army as a counterbalance to Hezbollah, seen as the most effective and powerful armed group in Lebanon and funded by the regional Shi’ite power Iran. “The king of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is offering this generous and appreciated aid
of $3 billion to the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities,” Suleiman said. “His Highness suggested that weapons would be purchased from France, and quickly.” French President Francois Hollande, currently on a visit to Saudi Arabia where he met King Abdullah, said France would supply weapons to the Lebanese army if it was asked to do so. He told a news conference in Riyadh: “France has equipped the Lebanese army for a while up until recently and we will readily answer any solicitation ... If demands are made to us we will satisfy them.” Lebanon’s armed forces have been struggling to deal with violence spreading over the border from Syria’s civil war. The country, which is still rebuilding after its own 15-year civil war, has seen clashes between gunmen loyal to opposing sides of the Syrian conflict, as well as militant attacks on the army itself.
US sending missiles, drones to Iraq: Report
The United States is sending Iraq dozens of missiles and surveillance drones to help it combat a recent surge in Al-Qaeda-backed violence, the New York Times reported. The weapons include a shipment of 75 Hellfire missiles purchased by Iraq, which Washington delivered to the country, the Times reported. The daily wrote that 10 ScanEagle reconnaissance drones -- smaller versions of the larger Predator drones that once were frequently flown over Iraq -- are expected to be sent by March. Administration sources told the Times that the delivery comes as the Iraqis had virtually run out of Hellfire missiles. The shipments are being sent as Baghdad confronts the worst wave of Islamic militant violence in half a decade. Recent attacks, including the
bombing of a market near a church in Baghdad, have killed at least 44 people across Iraq, in the worst bloodletting since 2008 when the country was just emerging from a brutal period of sectarian killings. Militants frequently attack places where crowds gather, including markets, cafes and mosques, in an
effort to cause maximum casualties. Experts say widespread discontent among Iraq’s minority Sunni Arab community is a major factor fueling the surge in unrest. More than 6,700 people have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of 2013, according to AFP figures.
Bosnian police arrest further Seven war crimes suspects 16
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Bosnian police have arrested seven former army soldiers on suspicion of killing 20 Bosnian Serb civilians during the 1992-95 war. According to a statement from the war crimes prosecutor’s office
of Bosnia, the suspects attacked a group of civilians, mainly women, children and elderly people, as they were fleeing fighting in 1992. The statement describes the killings as the worst wartime killing of
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Serbs in eastern Bosnia. Bosnia set up a war crimes prosecutor’s office and court in 2005 to help the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague by dealing with lower-level cases on a national basis. The inter-ethnic war in Bosnia left about 100,000 people, most of them Muslims, dead and half of the country’s population of 4.3 million became refugees or internally displaced persons. In July 1995, Serb forces attacked Srebrenica, a town located near the border with Serbia, and a designated “safe area” protected by UN peacekeeping troops, killing more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
Palestinian prisoners suffer lack of heating and winter clothing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails complained of Israeli brutal practices and violent search operations despite the winter storm that has doubled their suffering due to the shortage of blankets, winter clothing and heaters. The prisoner Ahmad Freihat, detained in Negev prison, said that rainwater has leaked into their cells and damaged their belongings. “The prison administration deliberately takes no action during such emergency situations to increase our suffering,” he charged. He pointed out that Israeli prison authorities ignored the prisoners’ demands to allow the entry of winter clothing and covers, saying that Israeli jailers enjoy warmth while absolutely ignoring their need to similar warmness. For his part, the liberated prisoner Fady Salama, who was recently released from Israeli jails, said that Palestinian prisoners suffer extreme bad detention conditions especially due to the low temperatures, pointing to the lack of winter clothes and
heating. Following his visit to Ashkalon prison, the lawyer Karim Ajwa confirmed the prisoners’ miserable detention conditions where their cells’ windows are only covered with plastic. Meanwhile, Israeli prison administration in Ofer prison refused to allow the entry of 1,500 winter blankets as part of the Israeli punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners in Ofer jail. The Palestinian prisoners in
Megiddo prison said that they suffer from a severe shortage of blankets and winter clothing, and they lack effective heating, leave alone being deprived from hot water. Sources in Israeli jails charged that Israeli authorities had deliberately escalated night raids into their rooms, conducting search operations in spite of the cold weather, where they were forced to stand outside in freezing conditions for several hours at a time, often at night.
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I January 2014
Islam to be Ireland’s Second Religion by 2043
Singapore firm launches Travel site for Muslims
Based on birth rate and immigration alone, the population of Muslims in Ireland is expected to rise from 49,000 to 100,000 by 2020. As construction work begins on Ireland’s biggest mosque in the capital Dublin, statistics have shown that Islam will become Ireland’s second biggest religion after Catholicism by the year 2043. The Central Statistics Office confirmed that Islam is currently the fastest growing religion in Ireland, noting a 10-fold increase between 1991 and 2011 in which the Muslim population increased from 0.1% to
1.1% of the overall population. Not including conversions to the religion, the census claimed that just based on birth rate and immigration alone, the population of Muslims in Ireland will rise from 49,000 to 100,000 by 2020. Meanwhile, the census showed a dramatic decrease in adherents to Catholicism, down to 84% from 91% in 1991. Currently Orthodox Christianity is the second largest faith group due to immigration from former Soviet countries, but Islam is expected to surpass this.
A new website for Muslim travelers which includes a global directory of halal restaurants and dedicated city guides launched in a bid to capitalize on the growing number of Islamic tourists. Specialist Singapore-based firm Crescentrating said the site, which is called HalalTrip.com, offers a wide range of features for tourists wishing to travel in accordance with the rules of Islam. “It is the world´s first fullyfeatured travel booking website for Muslim travelers,” Crescentrating chief executive Fazal Bahardeen said, adding that the industry had been lacking a dedicated travel booking site catering to the needs of Islamic tourists. Spending by Muslim travellers is estimated to reach $200 billion by 2020, up from $126 billion in 2011, according to the company´s chief operating officer Dany Bolduc.
France should reverse decades of strict secularism to integrate its immigrant population better, allowing Muslims to wear headscarves in schools and promoting Arabic teaching, according to an iconoclastic report commissioned by the prime minister. The document, part of a government review of integration policy, sparked an outcry among conservative opposition politicians and unease among the governing Socialists. It said France, with Europe’s largest Muslim population, should recognise the “Arab-oriental dimension” of its identity, for example by changing street and place names, rewriting its history curriculum and creating a special day to honour the contribution of immigrant cultures.
Although ethnic statistics are officially banned, an estimated 5 million Muslims, originating mostly from former African colonies such as Algeria and Morocco, live in France. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who will chair a ministerial meeting on improving integration based partly on the report, told reporters there was no plan to drop the headscarf ban and distanced himself from the study. “Just because I receive a report doesn’t make it government policy,” Ayrault said after the daily Le Figarodrew attention to the document, which was posted on the prime minister’s official website last month. Among the proposals presented by senior civil servant Thierry Tuot and a group of experts was to forbid
authorities and the media to refer to people’s nationality, religion or ethnicity, and the creation of a new offence of “racial harrassment”. They also recommended promoting the teaching of Arabic and African languages in French schools. Ayrault said the aim was to recommend ways to fight discrimination and inequality to “get the republican model of integration working again because it has broken down”. France experienced a wave of youth riots in 2005 in poor, high-rise suburbs where many immigrants are concentrated, prompting calls for greater government action to improve the social and economic integration of young people of immigrant origin. www.pi-media.co.uk
France urged to allow headscarves report finds
Japan Airports in Muslim friendly approach
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www.pi-media.co.uk I January 2014
In Case You Missed It
International airports in Japan are striving to become friendlier to Muslims amid a steep increase in visitors from the Islamic world following the Japanese government’s relaxation of regulations for issuing visas. An increase in private prayer rooms for Muslims, who pray five times a day, and availability of meals in compliance with Islamic rules are among efforts taken by airports. Airport officials stress that they will show the heart of Japanese hospitality at the thresholds into Japan as Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture put up a new sign saying “Prayer Room” for Muslims in front of private rooms in its first and second terminals. Each room is covered with a carpet and a direction to qibla. The rooms, called Silence Rooms, could be used for prayer in the past but had no Prayer Room sign. In the past, there were Muslims who performed prayers on the terminal building floor after arriving at Narita as they did not know of the existence of the private rooms, according to a 35-year-old Muslim in
Japan. Japan relaxed the rules for issuance to visas to visitors from Indonesia, Malaysia and three other Southeast Asian nations in July. Muslims account for an estimated 90% of Indonesia’s 240 million
population and 60% of Malaysia’s 29 million. A total of 28,000 people visited Japan from Indonesia and Malaysia in October, up 40% from a year earlier. A public relations official at Narita Airport said the operator of the airport near Tokyo should have done more to publicize the presence of prayer
rooms for Muslims and make facilities there friendlier to them. The company has already started taking necessary steps by installing washing equipment in the prayer rooms for Muslims to purify themselves before performing prayers. By summer, furthermore, two prayer rooms will be built in the area. Kansai Airport, which created a prayer room in 2006, announced a plan in August to open two more rooms by next spring. The airport in Osaka has also started joint efforts with tenants in its passenger terminal building to better receive visitors from the Islamic world by serving halal food. Haneda Airport in Tokyo will open a prayer room by next March. Airports in Japan have begun earnest efforts at last to become friendly to Muslims, said Ken Fujita, head of a project at the ASEAN Promotion Center on Trade, Investment and Tourism in Tokyo to provide information on Islam to airports. More Muslims should visit Japan if the efforts are recognized widely in the Islamic world, he added.
Russia Muftis Council meet to discuss Halal Industry in Russia A meeting between representatives of Russia Muftis Council and extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Iraq in Russian Federation Ismail Shafiq Muhsin took place in the embassy of Iraq. Russia Muftis Council was represented by the director of the international department Ildar hazrat Galeev, chairman of Eurasian Center of Standardization and Certification “Halal” Aydar hajji Gazizov and a number of business partners of the Center. During the meeting, Ildar hazrat Galeev has conveyed the greetings of mufti sheikh Ravil Gaynutdin to the ambassador and told of the recent activity and current projects of Russia Muftis Council.
Chairman of International Center “Halal” Aydar hajji Gazizov, in his turn, told about the structure that he presides and about the international exhibition Moscow Halal Expo that brought together more than 150 companies from around the world this year alone. Russian entrepreneurs and business partners of the center asked Iraqi ambassador to assist them in coming to Iraqi market. Extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Iraq in Russian Federation Ismail Shafiq Muhsin
recognized an impressive contribution of Russia Muftis Council into the development of halal indsutry both in Russia and abroad. He also added that Iraqi embassy is ready to help and assist programs and projects of Russia Muftis Council.
I January 2014
Australia’s Aborigines Turning to Islam
Increasing numbers of Aborigines leaving Christianity are turning to Islam via the writings of Malcolm X. A report recently released from an Australian source has noted that more and more indigenous Aborigines are leaving Christianity for Islam. According to Adam Possamai, a professor in the sociology of religion, the number of Aborigine and Torres Strait Islander Muslims increased from 600 to 1000 between 2001 and 2006. This figure indicates a 70-80% increase in the conversion rate and correlates with the increased conversion of Aborigines to other religions as well, as more and more leave Christianity.
Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service quoted Prof. Possamai saying that many Aborigines who ‘convert’ to Islam don’t actually see their religion change as a conversion, but rather a reversion, because they hold the belief that they are going back to the faith of their ancestors, who had been in contact with Muslim Indonesian and Afghan merchants since the 1700s. He also noted that the conversion rate corresponds with the increase of ideas origination from the American Black Power Movement of the 1960s, especially those of Black Muslim activist Malcolm X, many of whom are inspired to convert via his writings. www.pi-media.co.uk
ISESCO calls on Muslim countries to respond to UNICEF’s call to protect children in Syria The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) has invited the competent authorities in the Member States along with Islamic charities to respond to the appeal launched from Geneva by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to save Syrian children through contribution to the funding of the efforts aimed at providing care for more than 4 million children in need of humanitarian aid in Syria, and another million or more who have fled to neighboring countries. For the record, the Baku Declaration adopted by the 4th Islamic Conference of Ministers in Charge of Childhood has called for closer cooperation with UNICEF for monitoring the situation of marginalized children in urban areas, and improving the conditions of children in general, in coordination with the Member States and partner organizations.
University to Launch Centre for Research on Qur’an and Science The International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) would soon commence work on a centre for research on scientific aspects of the Quran and Sunnah.This was said by President IIUI Dr. Ahmed Yousif Al-Draiweesh being chief guest during a lecture on “Quran and Science” held at Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU). Key speaker of the lecture, Judge Federal Shariat Court Justice Shehzado Shaikh, Vice Chancellor AIOU Nazir Ahmed Sangi and prominent scholars were also present in the lecture. Dr. Al-Draiweesh said Quran must be read in the light of Sunnah and
IIUI would keep striving for work on this important subject. He also invited Justice Shehzado Sheikh to head the centre for research on scientific aspects of Quran and Sunnah, at IIUI. He urged the participants to work for the cause of promoting knowledge while terming it an ultimate source of maintaining a welfare and peaceful society. Justice Shaikh said Quran is complete knowledge which reveals the secrets of science and various other subjects but for its proper comprehension we must utilize the ability of observation. He said Islam is the pioneer of
scientific research and now Muslims should uphold the past prestige of their religion by working for revealing the secrets of universe in the light of Quran. He also discussed Big Bang theory and Expanding theory of universe in detail. Nazir Sangi said Quran is the text which reveals realities and we should observe new advancements in the light of Holy book which would open new horizons for eternal success. He also paid thanks to President IIUI for providing Arabic language books to AIOU while saying that mutual cooperation among both universities would help in raising the standards of higher education.
www.pai-media.co.uk I January 2014
Muslims and the Concept of Integration in the UK
The Munich speech delivered by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 marked a watershed in respect of the ongoing debate surrounding the merits of multiculturalism, identity and integration within the United Kingdom. Cameron’s discourse addressed an important point in that he asked a fundamental question of British Muslims in respect of whether they have embraced the social and national fabric of the nation and whether this vision remain a distinct dream as far as the nation’s policymakers are concerned. This article shall attempt to look at this issue to see whether Muslims have integrated into British society. Before we analyse the very crux of the manner, it is important that we understand the dynamics of the term ‘integration’. The term integration is defined as the bringing of people of different racial or ethnic groups into unrestricted and equal association, as in society or an organization;
desegregation’. Having established the definition of the term ‘integration’, let us now examine whether Muslims have integrated into British society in the last 70 years. One should remember that Muslims in the UK have a come a long way since the 1950’s and have made considerable achievements as far as establishing businesses, religious and cultural institutions. However, commendable progress has been made in the intervening period, but considerable work is still required in respect of the identity conundrum. The identity question is particularly revealing, especially, if we compare the community here to the Muslim community of South Africa who have been in that country for over 200 years now. Many a Muslim in South Africa today identify themselves as South African opposed to being an Indian Muslim from the perspective that they have embraced South African values and traditions simultaneously
keeping their Islamic beliefs intact. This point is exemplified by the fact that South African Muslim cricket fans are frequently seen flying the Proteas flag at international cricket matches when South Africa play India or Pakistan in Johannesburg! There are a number of Muslims in the UK who are third, fourth and indeed even fifth generation who identify themselves as Indian or Pakistani Muslims today rather than being a British Muslim. One can ask the question has something fundamentally gone wrong in our communities over the identity issue or is there a deep stigma that prevents us from identifying ourselves as ‘British Muslims’? In recent days and months, one has heard a number of voices in the Muslim community stating that the UK is not ‘our home’ and or refer to the term ‘back home’ in regular discussions that take place in our homes and communities up and down the country. The first
I January 2014 generation of Indian and Pakistani Muslims are the only group of people who naturally had a right to call India or Pakistan ‘home’ as it was their birthplace. Moving back to the present, one asks the question can a fifth generation Muslim in reality argue that India or Pakistan is home or identify themselves as anything other than ‘British’. Those of us who have frequented India or Pakistan a few times in our lives hardly qualify us to be Indian or Pakistani. Many Muslims born in this country to a large extent are conversant with the English vernacular and have made and are continuing to make an immense contribution to the British way of life. It would be fair to say that Muslims have integrated well into the British way of life based on the points made above, but there are groups within the Muslim community even today who possess the idea that we are only here for a short duration of time before we hark back to the motherland. This narrative has been played over numerous years by various individuals but is yet to bear any fruit in the grand scheme of things. In respect of the charge levelled against Muslims by certain sections of the media, establishment and the politicians that Muslims do not integrate with other communities or faiths, one has to understand that progress has been made in recent
... One can ask the question has something fundamentally gone wrong in our communities over the identity issue or is there a deep stigma that prevents us from identifying ourselves as ‘British Muslims’?...
times through a variety of mediums such as inter-faith circles. It is therefore unfair to say that it is only Muslims that have not integrated into the British way of life as there are other communities in the UK who prefer to keep their identity and culture intact by refusing or being hesitant to interact with other constituencies. The former leader of the EDL Tommy Robinson argued that Sikhs and Hindus have integrated into British society based on the premise that they regularly frequent the pub a few times a week whereas Muslims are missing from this equation, so therefore are found guilty of not having integrated into the cultural fabric of UK society. Mr Robinson fails to recognise that UK Muslims will never pass his integration test as it is forbidden for Muslims to consume alcoholic beverages! Multiculturalism has indeed in some ways woven the fabric of British society that is the envy of the world over the last few decades, but at the same time contributed to the phenomenon of polarized communities coupled with the emergence of ‘ghettos’ across the UK. The latter has in reality created a situation where some people have never interacted with people of other faiths and cultures apart from the time when they may have been at school, college or work for that matter. Integration is very much a different proposition to assimilation
... In respect of the charge levelled against Muslims by certain sections of the media, establishment and the politicians that Muslims do not integrate with other communities or faiths, one has to understand that progress has been made in recent times through a variety of mediums such as interfaith circles. in that the former allows an individual to retain one’s own unique cultural and religious values and traditions and at the same time participate in British social and cultural life. Assimilation is the one area that wherein lies the problem as this concept undoubtedly expects one to abandon one’s own religious and cultural DNA at the expense of a ‘British’ cultural ideology. Therefore, integration is a positive force for change but the same cannot said for assimilation for that matter as it is likely to be source of friction as far as cultural and religious communities in the UK are concerned. In conclusion, there are many shining and countless examples of British Muslims having successfully integrated into the ‘British way of life’ and is a concept that Muslims need not fear. Muslims have been living in this country for over 70 years now and the message to the community is that is perfectly possible to retain one’s own religious and cultural values and at the same time make a major contribution to British society. By Abdul B Shaikh Deputy Editor of PI Magazine and Lecturer at Leeds University
Boro supporters’ group stage anti-racism protest
www.pi-media.co.uk I January 2014
“zero-tolerance policy” towards all forms of discrimination and is a strong supporter of football’s pledge to “eradicate racism in all its forms”. Anyone with information relating to the allegations at Birmingham should call Cleveland Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Middlesbrough fans held an antiracism protest march prior to their ‘Season of Action’ game against Brighton & Hove Albion on 14 December 2013. The protest came after the Police began investigating claims a minority of Boro fans ripped up copies of the Qu’ran during the team’s 2-2 draw with Birmingham City at St Andrew’s. A number of supporters have had their memberships suspended by the club as the Police investigation continues. Ahead of the home game against Brighton, Boro supporters’ group, the Red Faction, staged an antiracist protest march to the Riverside
Stadium. More than 100 fans took part in the protest, chanting anti-racist songs. Protester Darren Wardell, 41, from Acklam, said he felt a “bit ashamed” when he heard of the allegations and wanted to “come out and make up the numbers”. As reported, two Middlesbrough fans have now been suspended from matches while police continue to investigate the claims of what West Midlands Police described as a “hate crime”.A spokesman for Boro said the club would ban anyone convicted of the crime from the Riverside Stadium for life. He added the club operates a
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Sonny Bill Williams loses boxing titles
Former All Black Sonny Bill Williams has been stripped of his professional boxing belts after the
dual code rugby international failed to defend his world and New Zealand heavyweight titles. Williams is eyeing a return to rugby union in 2015 hoping to be part of New Zealand’s World Cup defence and also feature in the national sevens team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. His new goals have forced the 28-year-old to suspend his boxing career during which he won all of his six professional heavyweight bouts. This has prompted the World Boxing Association to declare the
heavyweight title, which Williams won over South African veteran Francois Botha in February 2013, vacant. New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) has also stripped Williams of his heavyweight belt after he failed to respond to challenges. A World Cup winner with New Zealand in 2011 and Super Rugby champion with Waikato Chiefs, Williams opted to stay with the National Rugby League champions Sydney Roosters for 2014.
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Saudi Airline Sponsorship Ditched by German Club
A professional football club in Germany has terminated a sponsorship agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines over the Gulf carrier’s refusal to sell tickets to Israeli citizens. A recent article in Berliner Morgenpost reported that second tier side Frankfurt FSV scrapped its advertising deal with the airline
following criticism from German Jewish residents and a rival club with Jewish origins. “Despite the request of FSV for a statement to the allegations, Saudi Arabia’s airline as a state owned airline, referred the matter to the Saudi Arabia embassy in Berlin. For this reason, both sides decided to cancel the contractual relationship,”
a statement from FSV said. Saudi Arabian Airlines, known as Saudia, does not permit Israeli passport holders to purchase tickets or board its aircraft. The airline does not fly to any destinations in Israel, as the country and Saudi Arabia do not enjoy diplomatic relations. The only Arab carrier that flies to Israel is Royal Jordanian, owing to a peace treaty between Jordan and the State of Israel. Last year, New York City’s mayor elect Bill De Blasio called for Saudi Arabian Airlines to be banned from the US city’s airports over its antiIsrael policy. “No city in the world has closer ties to Israel than we do, and yet Israeli citizens are being discriminated against right here at JFK. It’s not only illegal; it’s an affront to who we are,” he was quoted as saying. A spokesperson for Saudi Arabian Airlines could not immediately be reached for comment.
French footballer sues Qatar club after financial dispute The French footballer who said he was left stranded for 17 months in Qatar because of a financial dispute with his club has filed a lawsuit against the side, his lawyer said. The complaint on behalf of Zahir Belounis, of which Reuters obtained a copy, alleges “fraud, inhuman working conditions, forgery and aggravated extortion of money” against Al-Jaish. Belounis, 33, who joined the Qatari club in 2007 and signed a new five-year deal in 2010, alleged he had been denied an exit visa after bringing a court case against Al-Jaish over two-and-a-half years of alleged unpaid wages. The player said he was being prevented from leaving Qatar because his employer would not grant an exit visa - which is required
in Qatar - unless he dropped the case. He eventually left the country last month after agreeing to sign a backdated resignation letter stipulating that he will not be paid for the two remaining years of his contract, estimated to be around 120,000 euros ($164,800). The Belounis case was taken up by the international players union FIFPro who said it hoped
publicity would help to change the sponsorship system that linked a working permit to a single employer, a system criticised by human rights groups and the United Nations. His plight is another controversy dogging 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar following an outcry over the treatment of migrant workers in the Gulf state’s construction industry. The club could not be reached for comment.
Social functions have always been considered integral and significant elements in all nations, societies and faiths. It allows people to share in the satisfaction or gratification of a particular cause that unifies them. It signifies an event or an episode that draws the community or society together to celebrate the particular auspicious occasion. The union of two individuals – man and a woman and the subsequent unification of two families is one occasion that draws great celebration and rejoicing in all communities. Thus, every faith or community has a distinctive feature that symbolises the joyous occasion of a matrimonial ceremony. Hence, the most striking feature that symbolises the Islamic wedding is simplicity and efficiency. The beauty of the Islamic wedding lies not in pomp and glory but in straightforwardness and simplicity. It promotes fairness and discourages discrimination against the weak and poor. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: ‘The most blessed Nikah is the one with the least expenses.’ (Bayhaqi) Yet, the notion of simplicity that
is the emblem of Islamic wedding has been crushed by the adoption of non Islamic customs, practices and traditions. Over the years, Muslims have adopted or assimilated new customs and practices that are devoid of prophetic teachings. These rituals are totally devoid of any spirituality and actually have become an opportunity for abundant vices to be committed to the extent that so called religious people have abandoned their piety during these periods. The most alarming and distressing aspect of these occasions is that Muslims have completely disregarded the command of Allah without fear of repercussion and openly and unashamedly ignored the teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It’s as if Allah has granted dispensation on these occasions to commit sins. Ma’azAllah. Over the years Muslims have immersed themselves in the non Islamic practices and customs during weddings that generation after generation have grown up believing it as integral part of Islamic weddings. The social pressures have dictated it that these rituals are carried out irrespective of the origin
I January 2014
of the acts and the sinful nature of the practices. Anyone challenging these conventional practices has been deemed rebellious, disloyal and insensitive. The Holy Qur’aan states: When it is said to them, ‘Follow what Allah has revealed’. They say: ‘Nay! We shall follow the ways of our fathers.’ What! Even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance? (Al Baqarah 170) Thus, generation of Muslims have been brought up on a diet of misguided, erroneous and certainly devious customs that have not an iota of association with the name of Islam. These rituals are practiced with so much vigour and dedication as if there is an abundance of reward in its fulfilment. Marriage ceremony is a blessed occasion that brings about happiness and joy for all involved. Yet this blessed occasion that is a major Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is marred and blemished with rituals and practices that draws the wrath of Allah. In fact these occasions become devoid of the mercy of Allah which is essential if a marriage is to be prosperous and successful. The more elaborate the wedding the more vices are
I January 2014 committed. Essentially, weddings have become opportune occasions to showcase one’s wealth, bloated pride and status. The adopted practices may have evolved over the years and taken on new shapes, colours and forms, but inherently they are vices that are associated with other traditions. For instance, pre nikah ceremony; some Muslim women – old and young would partake in rituals of singing and dancing as part of the joyous occasion. During Mendhi parties’ music would be booming out and the obligation of Salaah would be totally disregarded. Nowadays, stag/hen nights have become an integral part of the pre Nikah customs. An abundant of money is wasted for these futile activities that cause more harm than good – all in the name of entertainment. Plentiful of expensive cars and sometimes other modes of transportation are hired to exhibit one’s riches and pride. Allah says: But waste not by excess: for Allah does not love wasters. (Al An’am 141) Moreover, other self compelled rituals are adopted post Nikah. The exhibiting of bride and groom to the public, the blessing of the bride by guests and relatives; women would stroke their fingers over the heads and faces of the couple, reciting some words over them and then cracking their fingers against their own heads. This is a Hindu tradition that has prevailed in Islamic weddings. Other activities which are have been essential in our weddings and hold great importance include: using flowers, carnations, photography, the closing of the house door to the groom, hiding the shoes of the bride, welcoming speeches and honeymoons. In fact, if we analyze other rituals partaken in Islamic weddings such as the wedding cake, the white dress, the tiara, the wedding ring originate from Pagan/ Christian traditions. All these rituals have Pagan/Christian connotations that are associated to shirk and bid’ah (innovations). Yet, knowingly Muslims carry them out and question those who object and challenge them. What’s wrong with it? We are not imitating them. We are just having fun. What’s wrong with having fun? These are
the kinds of sentiments that are expressed by people typifies sheer ignorance that exist in relation to this matter. We have taken this issue so lightly that that we are willing to sacrifice the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to ensure that we don’t upset our friends and family. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has stated that ‘three men will incur the wrath of Allah: One of them is the one who adopts the rites and practices of Pagan.’ (Al Bukhari). Furthermore, the Prophet (pbuh) has stated that ‘the worst affair is the affair which is innovated and every innovated matter (attached to religion) is going astray.’ (Muslim) Nonetheless, we fail to heed on the above warnings and continue to justify them by creating a legacy that future generations will preserve. The Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Do not put any hardship on yourselves; otherwise Allah will put hardship on you. Any nation which followed the path of hardship was put to hardship by Allah.’ (Abu Dawud) It is embarrassing, but we seem to be grabbing at everything that is going in the market of customs without thought or consideration. It’s a kind of assertion we are making that Islam is devoid of culture, richness and colour. Hence we are compelled to adopt other customs. Far from it, Islamic culture is full of richness and virtuosities. Islam does not discourage anyone from celebrating an auspicious occasion like a wedding. However, the enjoyment must be proportionate, within one’s mean and affordability, free from resemblance of other traditions due to its origins and free from unashamed vices. Our weddings should focus around the main features that are the symbol of the Islamic weddings - the blessed Nikah ceremony and the Walima. Emphasis should be placed on these two facets of the wedding. Encouraging all men to attend the Nikah ceremony and educating our children about the blessed occasion. The Nikah ceremony is simple, yet it holds great weight. It is blessed by the supplications of our beloved Prophet (pbuh). Furthermore, great weight should be placed around the Walima – the sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) advised Sayyidona
FEATUREDI 25 Abdur Rahman ibn Awf (RA) that; ‘May Allah bless you (in your marriage), perform a Walima, even if it is only with a goat.’ (Al-Bukhari) Another aspect of marriage that is totally forgotten and neglected due to obsessions with innovations and customs is the couple’s post Nikah lives. We spend an abundance of time and money beautifying them for the blessed occasion but ignore to prepare them for the rigors of married life. Hence, the married couples on most occasions are ill equipped to deal with all the different facets of married life. Sometimes, they are financially in debt following the extravaganzas of the weddings. They are totally unaware of each other’s rights and lack the basic knowledge of dealing with marital problems that occur in all marriages. These problems result in divorce, separation or abuse - misery for one or both. Unfortunately, divorce rate in the Muslim community has increased markedly. No research has been done by the Muslim community on the causes of divorce rates. However, time, money and energy has been used in futile and vain things and not enough on ensuring that we don’t continue to have children brought up in broken families. The wedding customs and traditions adopted by Muslims may not directly be the cause of the problems occurring in Muslim homes, however, they attract the curse and wrath of Allah which causes His mercy and blessings to be removed from these weddings. There is a great need for prospective couples to be educated and counseled on marital matters before they commit themselves to marriage. A comprehensive programme should be initiated to ensure that couples are given adequate education pre Nikah and post Nikah. Our focus and attention has always been on ‘the big day’ – wedding day, without realizing that ‘the big day’ will only be remembered fondly if the marriage is prosperous and successful. May Allah protects us from all other customs and traditions that draws Allah’s wrath and guide the Ummah on matters related to marriage. Ameen
By Aslam Seedat
I January 2014
Dealing with Debt: An Islamic approach
‘If the debtor is in difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew’ (Qur’an 2:280) Debt is an obligation owed by one party (debtor) to another (creditor) and is usually created when a creditor lends money to a debtor. The Islamic view is that the creditor and debtor can lend or borrow but must do so ethically and fairly. This means the creditor is not obliged to lend to the debtor but does so at his own free will. If the debtor is struggling or unable to repay then the creditor must be willing to allow more time or in the worst case write off the debt; this is the risk he takes. Of course the debtor must make every effort to repay the debt as no doubt he would be accountable in this life or the next. Unfortunately these values have been forgotten and instead replaced with the notion that the creditor must benefit from this transaction and secure his risk and profit before lending. Should the debtor default or refuse to pay, the creditor would have a right of recovery and be able to charge for late payment. This practice is what we call usury or riba and is strictly prohibited in Islam for reasons which we will discuss further below. If we consider some of the most leading and developed nations in todays world; UK, USA, Japan, China, Russia, France and Germany, we will find that all these countries, regardless of their economic standing, are heavily indebted and all because of riba. They have borrowed huge loans from the banking system with extortionate repayment terms and high interest charges which they cannot possibly repay. As a result they have defaulted and been forced to take out further loans from the banks. Inevitably this has led to a nation in debt and enslavement for the masses. This is why today the US dollar has collapsed and the pound has lost its strength whereas the price of oil and gold has sky rocketed. By accepting such unreasonable loans, every government has made its people pay by way of increased taxes, bills and living costs. While most economists would argue that
haram. Today almost every loan only the principal portion of the debt should be repaid and not the interest is encumbered with interest and extortionate repayment terms and portion, which should be written off, penalty fees making it difficult for us the banks insist on full repayment to tell the difference between riba and have taken measures to safeguard their returns. and trade as if we are looking at a So while the bankers take home black ant on a black stone on a black huge bonuses for a job well done, night. It is high time we wake up and elderly people are having to choose stamped out riba. between a good meal or keeping We should therefore take all immediate steps to get out of riba warm in the winter, families are having to work extra hard in order and debt and there are many ways to meet their living costs and young in which we can do this. To begin people are having to graduate with, we can choose to review our existing loans and really ask whether with huge debts. The end result is an increase in petty crime and we need them. For example, if we have a mortgage we can ask unemployment. All this because of interest based lending or riba. for the terms to be changed from The Holy Quran prohibits riba interest payments only to capital in the following verse: ‘O ye who and repayment which is the principal debt. believe! Fear Allah, and give up what remains of your demand for interest, We could also consider whether if you are indeed believers. If you do having additional homes on buy to not, take notice of war from Allah and let mortgages is a necessity, after his Messenger, But if ye turn back, all we are all accountable for how ye shall have your capital sums; deal we earn our living. Do we really not unjustly and ye shall not be dealt need a high end luxury vehicle which requires more maintenance and with unjustly’ high insurance or can we do with a (Qur’an 2:2278-279). So severe is the warning not cheaper alternative. Where we cannot make changes to deal in riba that Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) have declared war to our existing loans or way of life, then perhaps we can look to on us and now we know why. Aisha consolidate all debts and freeze the (RA) narrated that Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) used to invoke Allah in the interest so that we are only paying prayer saying, the actual debt as opposed to the compounded interest portion. ‘O Allah, I seek refuge with you If the situation is rather grave from all sins, and from being in debt.’ then perhaps we may want to Someone said, O Allah’s Apostle! (I see you) very often you seek refuge consider bankruptcy rather than with Allah from being in debt. He suffering in silence. replied, ‘if a person is in debt, he tells There are other legal ways in which we can help. To find out lies when he speaks, and breaks his more or to discuss your matter at promises when he promises.’ (Sahih length in confidence, please do not Bukhari Volume 3, Book 41, Number 582).Debt has destroyed many lives, hesitate to contact our specialist debt forced some to steal while others solicitors on 020 8509 1681 or email have had to sell their body to make email@example.com. ends meet, it has caused undue By Naheem Razwan financial hardship and breakdown in marriages, it Need Legal Advice? has led to stress, anxiety, misery, lies, Services for Individuals Services for Businesses deceit, high crime, Asylum and Immigration Arbitration & Mediation unemployment the Bankruptcy Business Immigration list is endless. Civil Litigation Commercial Property Change of Name Deed Commercial Litigation The banking Conveyancing Debt Recovery system has led the Debt Employment Employment International Business way on riba based Family Transactions Landlord & Tenant Licensing & Planning lending and made Power of Attorney Property Disputes ‘halal’ what Allah Wills & Probate Wills & Probate and His Messenger (pbuh) declared Call: 020 8509 1681 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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> Editorial -: Woolwich: Foreign policy must change to ensure the safety of all > Chilcot to unmask Blair-Bush talks on Iraq war > British s...
Published on Dec 31, 2013
> Editorial -: Woolwich: Foreign policy must change to ensure the safety of all > Chilcot to unmask Blair-Bush talks on Iraq war > British s...