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DECEMBER 2011 ISSUE 52 VOL 6

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December 2011 Issue 52 Vol 6

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ing Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has topped a list of 500 most influential Muslim personalities in the world, for the third time in a row. The list was issued by the Royal Center for Islamic Research and Studies, in cooperation with Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at George Town University in the United States. Also Forbes Magazine recently listed the King as the sixth among 70 influential personalities in the world for his unique leadership qualities and his social, political and economic reforms. It praised his decision to grant women the right to be members in the Shoura Council, to vote and nominate themselves for municipal councils. Senior officials in Islamic organisations also praised King Abdullah for his work in supporting Islamic work and solving Muslim issues. “The Muslim nation respects King Abdullah as a sagacious political leader, a pioneer of inter-civilizations dialogue and advocate of fairness,” they said. They praised his work in initiating the interfaith dialogue, which has created a culture of moderation and tolerance. His balanced policies which support global peace and security have made the Kingdom an important partner in global decision-making process. “King Abdullah has a sharp vision and insight and is very keen on reinforcing solidarity between Muslim countries. He also supports the expectations and ambi-

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tions of the Muslim nation,” they added. The 500 Muslim personalities on the list have influenced events not only in the Arab world but across the globe. Therefore, their role is very important because the entire world shares mutual interests and the future of one nation is linked with that of others. As a result of the study, King Abdullah has been awarded an international certificate in recognition of the role he plays in global affairs. King Abdullah’s policies, which are based on tolerance, peace and dialogue, have great influence in the affairs of other nations, es“King Abdullah’s policies, which are pecially those that are based on tolerance, peace and troubled by internal difficulties. dialogue, have great influence in King Abdullah’s polithe affairs of other nations” cies have helped correct often-distorted dullah has earned the honor of benotions about Islam. ing named among the most influential The King has supported inter-faith diapeople in the world. Forbes Magazine logues to foster understanding and corecently listed him as sixth out of the existence among nations. 70 most influential personalities in the The Custodian of the Two Holy world. Mosques reinforces the value of mutual The magazine praised the King’s decision understanding and stability in Arab and to grant women the right to vote and run Muslim countries and supports projects for elected positions in municipal counaimed at spreading peace. These endeavcils and to be members of the Shoura ors are transparent and are clearly unCouncil. Senior officials in Islamic orderstood by the citizens themselves. ganizations have praised King Abdullah This is the second time that King Ab-

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The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz issued a royal decree appointing Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz as Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

Prior to the announcement, King Abdullah held a meeting with the Allegiance-Pledge Commission, which was established as part of a new law of succession announced in 2006 to formalize the royal succession and to ensure a smooth transfer of power.

Prince Nayef began his political career as Deputy Governor, and later Governor, of Riyadh Province during the lifetime of his father, King Abdulaziz. Prince Nayef was appointed Deputy Minister of Interior in 1970, and in 1974 he became Deputy Minister of Interior with the rank of Minister. In 1975, Prince Nayef was appointed Minister of State for Internal Affairs, and later that year he was named Minister of Interior, a position he will continue to hold. In 2009, King Abdullah appointed Prince Nayef Second Deputy Prime Minister. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a royal decree naming Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as Crown Prince, and appointing him as Saudi Deputy Prime Minister. This represents the first time that the Allegiance Council – set up in 2006 – has played a role in the choosing of a Saudi Arabian crown prince. Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz succeeds Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz as Saudi Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Min-

ister; he will also continue in his role as Saudi Interior Minister. The Saudi Royal Court issued the following statement: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud met with members of the Allegiance Council at his palace in Riyadh. During the meeting, Chairman of the Allegiance Council, Mr. Khalid Bin Abdulaziz al-Tuwaijiri swore in Prince Abdullah Bin Faisal Bin Turki al-Awwal Bin Abulaziz Al Saud and Prince Bandar Bin Musaed Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as membres of the Allegiance Council in the presence of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz. The King instructed the princes to pledge allegiance to Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as Crown Prince. Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received the pledge of allegiance from the princes who wished him every success in assisting the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and to protect the Kingdom’s security, stability and national unity.

SAUDI AMBASSADOR

CONGRATULATES

CROWN PRINCE NAIF Saudi Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Hassan Bin Talat Nazer, has expressed his congratulations to Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, on the occasion of a royal decree on his selection as a Crown Prince and appointment as Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior. In his own name and on behalf of the staff of the Embassy, the Cultural Attaché Office and Saudi Consulate in Auckland, Nazer has pledged allegiance to Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as a Crown Prince, and renewed his allegiance to the wise leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

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Labayk Allahuma Labayk Labayk. La shareeka laka Labayk. Innal hamda wannimata laka wal mulk. La shareeka Lak (Here I am at your service, oh Lord, here I am - here I am. No partner do you have. Here I am. Truly, the praise and the favor are yours, and the dominion. No partner do you have.) These are the words chanted by some two million people from across Saudi Arabia and throughout the world heading, as if pulled by a magnet, to one single spot on Earth. As has happened every year for 14 centuries, Muslim pilgrims gather in Makkah to perform rituals based on those conducted by the Prophet Muhammad during his last visit to the city. Performing these rituals, known as the Hajj, is the fifth pillar of Islam and the most significant manifestation of Islamic faith and unity. Undertaking the Hajj at least once is a duty for Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey to Makkah. The pilgrimage is the religious high point of a Muslim’s life and an event that every Muslim dreams of undertaking. Hajj is performed during a five-day period from the ninth through the thirteenth of Dhu Al-

Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. In the past, and as late as the early decades of this century, few people were able to “make their way” to Makkah for the pilgrimage. However, the circumstances of the Hajj began to improve during the time of King Abdul Aziz Ibn Abdul Rahman Al-Saud, the founder of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Major programs were introduced to ensure the security and safety of the pilgrims, as well as their well-being and comfort. Steps were also taken to establish facilities and services aimed at improving housing, health care, sanitation and transportation. Today, though the rituals at the holy sites in and near Makkah have remained unchanged from the time of the Prophet, the setting for the pilgrimage and the facilities available to the pilgrims are a far cry from those that existed at any time in history. Muslims today undertake the pilgrimage in ease, receive a warm welcome on their arrival in Saudi Arabia, and are provided with the most modern facilities and efficient services possible. Without the distractions that their forebears had to contend with, today’s

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pilgrims are free to focus solely on the spiritual aspect of the Hajj. “It is truly amazing,” said Rajeeb Razul, a journalist from the Philippines, as he stood on the roof of the Ministry of Information building near the Nimera Mosque in Arafat watching a column of pilgrims that stretched to Mina almost eight miles in the distance make their way past the mosque toward the Mount of Mercy. “To organize a gathering of humans this large, for housing them, for feeding them and for meeting their every need year after year must be a monumental task,” he observed. Saudi Arabia considers serving the guests of God an honor, and dedicates vast manpower and financial resources to the proper conduct of the pilgrimage. Over the past four decades, it has spent billions of dollars to expand the Holy Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, as well as establishing modern airports, seaports, roads, lodging, and other amenities and services for the pilgrims.

Performing the Hajj is the spiritual apex of a Muslim’s life, one that provides a clear understanding of his relationship with God and his place on Earth. It imparts in a Muslim not only the assurance that he has performed the fifth pillar of Islam by following in the footsteps of the Prophet, but also the realization that he is part of an ummah (nation) that is more than one billion strong and spreads across the globe. The pilgrim begins to shed his identity as he stands amidst a sea of people in Ihram, the two seamless pieces of white cotton that men wear and the simple, generally white, attire that women wear. Here no one can tell a person’s social or economic status, or his national origin based on the clothes he wears. Suddenly the pilgrim is simply, and above all else, a Muslim, and the realization slowly sets in that he is now focusing more than ever on other people’s faces rather than their clothes. These faces represent almost every race or nationality on Earth.

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Contact with people from such diverse races and nationalities over the days and weeks spent in the Kingdom engenders in the pilgrims a sense of understanding of and trust in total strangers simply because they are performing the Hajj together. Walking through this vast city that has been established for use for only a few days a year, the pilgrim is struck by the orderliness of the place. Food is prepared in hundreds of kitchens spread throughout Mina and distributed among the tents. Thousands of drinking fountains and wash areas are located throughout the tent city. There are hundreds of medical clinics that supplement the hospitals in Makkah and Arafat. Security personnel and traffic police guide and help pilgrims. Throughout the Hajj, the largest annual gathering of people on Earth, the pilgrimage is marked by a total absence of any disagreements or altercations among the pilgrims. Courtesy and helping others are the norm. Peace, serenity and piety pervade the entire pilgrimage and the pilgrims. At the conclusion of the Hajj, the pilgrim has a profound feeling of having gone through a life-transforming spiritual experience. He comes away with pride in having successfully performed a ritual dedicated to God and in belonging to a huge family of people that shares the same religious beliefs. And he has acquired a sense of humility, inner calm, brotherhood and strength that lasts a lifetime.

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n behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior expressed thanks to Allah Almighty for the ease and comfort with which pilgrims have performed Hajj rituals this year. Prince Naif also thanked the staff of all governmental and private bodies who participated in serving pilgrimage on their efforts which led to the success of the plans of this Hajj season. The Crown Prince said: ‘This is a great honor for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people which casts the responsibility on everyone to redouble efforts towards this great responsibility to serve the Two Holy Mosques, holy sites, pilgrims and Umrah visitors, reiterating that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will spare no effort in order to facilitate Hajj rituals for every Muslim.’ Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Abdul Aziz Khoja said the ministry has prepared all means to facilitate the work of local, Arab, Islamic and world media participating in the coverage of Haj. He added that this comes amid comprehensive services and large-scale projects carried out by the government of Custodian of the Two Holy

Mosques King Abdullah in the two holy mosques and holy sites including security, health, transportation and housing services for pilgrims to perform the rituals of pilgrimage smoothly. He described the message of the Ministry of Culture and Information as great and sublime conveying to the whole world the journey of pilgrims from Makkah to Arafat, Muzdalifah, Mina and Madinah. Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal urged all Hajj departments to consider the success of the present Hajj season as an incentive to offer better services in the coming years. “The directives and support of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah had the maximum impact in achieving a great success in this year’s Hajj,” the Prince said. “Reviewing the preparations made and steps taken for the Hajj in 2011 in order to benefit from its experience to make better preparations for the Hajj in 2012” is one of our goals, the prince said. Prince Khaled made this statement while chairing a meeting of the Central Hajj Committee in Makkah, the Meeting discussed the planning

and schedules for the projects and measures to be taken for next year’s Hajj so that they could be implemented well in advance. They include bringing more utilities to Arafat and construction of more water closets in other parts in the holy sites. The meeting also decided to develop pilgrim guide centers, installing more signboards in Makkah and holy sites and making final studies on the chain bus service between the holy sites.

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audi ambassador Hasan Talat Nazer has launched Hajj missions from Australia and New Zealand for this year’s Hajj season. Nazer is accredited as the Kingdom’s Ambassador to the two countries. In a statement to Saudi Press Agency, he expressed the pride and honor of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to assume the responsibility of (caring and looking after) the holy places in Makkah and Madinah and serving pilgrims. He reviewed the preparations and the services provided by the Saudi embassy

every year to achieve the directives of the Kingdom’s leadership and made intensive efforts to provide all that could ensure comfort and convenience to the Muslims who wish to perform Hajj, explaining that the Consular Section at the Embassy has completed all necessary visa procedures for the pilgrims of Australia and New Zealand. The Ambassador has expressed his thanks to the Kingdom for their efforts in ensuring the success of the 2011 Hajj pilgrimige.

PRESIDENT OBAMA

CONGRATULATES

2011 HAJJ SUCCESS The U.S. President Barack Obama sent a letter to the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, congratulating Muslims around the world on the occasion of Eid alAdha and congratulated all pilgrims on performing the Hajj rituals for this year. The U.S. President said that “many of the world’s Muslims have also chosen to show their readiness to be generous to those who are today in dire need, in-

cluding to those in the Horn of Africa who suffer from drought and famine.” President Obama expressed his best wishes to Muslims in America on this occasion, as well as to returning pilgrims from on the successful fulfillment of a central pillar of Islam. In this context, Obama said he was “proud that thousands of American Muslims have joined nearly three million Muslims to perform the

Hajj, whose rituals serve as reminders of the shared Abrahamic roots of three of the world’s major religions.” The American President noted that when so many people from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds overcome their differences in order to focus on something greater, it is a lesson that our diversity is a God-given source of strength that should be embraced.

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I Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd

n the presence of Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to Australia and the Dean of Arab Diplomatic Corps in Australia Hasan Talat Nazer and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, the work of the Arab-Australian Parliamentary Friendship Committee was launched in the Australian Parliament in the Australian capital Canberra. The Australian Foreign Minister delivered a speech in which he praised the Australian-Arab relations and hoped the Committee will contribute to promoting parliamentary relations between the two

NAZER WELCOMES 5TH SAUDI CULTURAL CELEBRATION AT

NATIONAL MULTICULTURAL FESTIVAL 2012 Ambassador Nazer has welcomed the 5th Saudi Cultural Celebration which will be held at the National Multicultural Festival 2012 in Canberra on Saturday 11th of February 2012. The Festival continues to grow, with around 240,000 people attending the 2011 event. “I would like to extend my sincere thanks to ACT Government and the Festival sponsors in staging this wonderful and important celebration of inclusiveness, mutual respect, harmony and goodwill”. Ambassador Nazer Said “I encourage people to come along to visit the Saudi Arabia tent and I commend and congratulate the Saudi Student Club in Canberra on the wonderful contribution they have made to this event every year to promote Saudi culture”.

sides in all fields. Then, Ambassador Hassan Nazer Nazer delivered a speech on behalf of the Arab ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps in Australia, highlighting the importance of establishing the committee in order to strengthen Arab-Australian relations in various fields, especially parliamentary relations in the interest of the two sides and peoples. The inauguration ceremony was attended by 45 members in the Australian House of Representatives and Senate and Arab ambassadors accredited to Australia.

Ambassador Hassan Nazer has met with the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Muhammad. During the meeting, they discussed the issues of Muslim community in Australia, also the Ambassador congratulated the Australian Mufti on the occasion of his selection as a Mufti.

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