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104Sharia News Watch 104

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  • Enzo Picardie
    Feb 16, 2004
      Sharia News Watch 104 : a collection newsquotes on Sharia, for
      research & educational purposes only. [*] Shortcut URL:

      The Sharia Newswatch provides a regular update of news quotes
      on Sharia (Islamic Law) & related subjects, as appearing on the major
      news searchengines. All editions :


      Bahrain quietly pushes reforms, democratisation as new order emerges
      in the region - 13 Feb 04


      Muslims awaiting approve for mosque construction - 12 Feb 04
      The Muslims of Cuba are still awaiting approval for the construction
      of a mosque in which they could perform their worship, notwithstanding
      the fact that permission for the construction of a number of churches
      has already been given during the last few years. So far, the Cuban
      Government has turned down all such requests from the Makkah-based
      Muslim World League (MWL), as well as from the Latin American Islamic
      Organization. At present the Muslim are meeting for prayers at the
      Arab House, an Arab cultural center in the capital, Havana, or in
      their homes. There are around 1,000 Muslims in Cuba, out of a total
      population of 11,000,000.


      Saudi warlord leads Russian bombers - 08 Feb 04
      Abu-al-Walid al-Ghamidi, 36, has been identified by the FSB, the
      Russian intelligence service, as one of the most powerful figures in
      the Chechen rebel leadership. As the commander of several hundred
      Arabs fighting alongside the rebels, he is thought to have been
      responsible for a wave of suicide bomb attacks that have killed more
      than 200 people in just over a year.
      Amir Abu al-Walid and the Islamic component of the Chechen war
      http://www.religioscope.info/article_88.shtml - 26 Feb 04


      Unwanted life - 11 Feb 04
      On 6 January, Al Azhar released a fatwa which said that "it is
      impermissible for the mother to induce abortion if it is proven that
      the fetus is deformed or suffers from mental retardation... It is not
      a justifiable excuse." This fatwa only adds to the already existing
      religious doctrine that forbids abortion. However, these religious
      rulings, compounded by cultural traditions, have not stopped
      abortions. They have only made them unsafe.
      Another study by the Population Council, an international public
      health research group, extrapolated the rate of post-abortion
      treatment in Egyptian public hospitals to find the overall abortion
      rate. After studying over 22,000 admissions to hospital gynecology
      departments, the researchers found that out of every 100 pregnancies,
      15 were ended by induced abortion. Nearly all of these abortions are
      done illegally. Egypt's prohibition on abortion stems from a verse in
      the Quran that forbids parents from killing their children. It is
      reinforced by a hadith that details the stages of pregnancy.
      The hadith says that 120 days after conception, God sends an angel to
      breathe life into the fetus, giving it both a heartbeat and soul.
      "The legal position on abortion is very clear," says Makram Nasif, a
      lawyer with the Court of Cassation. He says they are illegal from the
      moment of conception and are only permitted when the woman's life is
      in immediate danger. The illegality of abortion in Egypt is a
      relatively recent phenomenon, however. According to the authors of the
      landmark book Planning the Family in Egypt, medieval Muslim texts
      contain "descriptions of female contraceptive methods and
      abortificants," suggesting that the practices were once widespread. In
      addition, there was popular acceptance of abortion in Egyptian society
      until it was outlawed by Muhammad Ali in the 1830s in order to
      increase the male population available for his armies.
      The rate of post-abortion treatment in hospitals shows just how
      dangerous these [illegal abortion] methods can be. More than half of
      all admissions to gynecology wards in Egyptian public hospitals are
      for post-abortion care.
      In addition to health problems, unwanted pregnancies and abortions
      bring shame to the family name. In the case of unwed mothers, the
      father of the household is often blamed for not properly raising or
      controlling his daughter. .. Unwanted pregnancies are often the
      result of rape or incest. But even in these cases, abortion is not
      permitted. If a woman has an abortion after being raped, "she will be
      responsible for this crime before God," says Nasif.
      Only education about contraceptives and reproductive health, she says,
      can reduce abortion rates. Breaking through the religious and cultural
      barriers is not easy, however. "Virginity belongs to the family," she
      says, not to the woman. "The key question is 'who controls a woman's
      body?' " According to Islam, the human body belongs to God, and
      according to tradition, a woman belongs to her father before marriage
      and her husband after marriage. "It is this sense of family honor,
      which comes from our blend of Islam and Arab and African culture that
      prevents women from understanding their own bodies," says Bibars.
      "The problems we have with abortion, the problems with promoting
      contraception and women's health, these are all symptoms of this
      obsession with honor. It's so stupid," she adds under her breath.
      There are no groups in Egypt that currently deal specifically with
      abortion. "It is impossible for NGOs to take on the issue," says
      Bibars. "There will be too many obstacles. You would be terrorized by
      everyone, and probably shut down in the end." Instead, groups like
      ADEW [Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women] focus
      on educating women about contraceptive methods as a way to reduce
      unwanted pregnancy and the resulting abortions.


      Ban on Religious Apparel Advances in France - 10 Feb 04
      The vote [in parliament] by a 494-36 margin, with 31 abstentions, came
      hours after Minister of National Education Luc Ferry said that the law
      will stretch much further than religious symbols and require all
      students to attend physical education classes and accept what is
      taught on the Holocaust and human reproduction.
      The draft law bans "ostensibly" religious signs that have been defined
      by President Jacques Chirac and a blue-ribbon governmental advisory
      commission as Islamic head scarves, Christian crosses that are too
      large in size and Jewish skullcaps. Sikh turbans are also likely to be
      included. But the legislation also includes a lengthy preamble that
      demands that public schools must be "protected" and guarantee total
      equality including "coeducation of all teachings, particularly in
      sports and physical education." Schools, it said, are "the best tool
      for planting the roots of the republican idea." Today, Mr. Ferry made
      clear that religious beliefs could not be used as an excuse to avoid
      gym or biology classes and that questioning the veracity of the
      Holocaust would not be tolerated.
      The law does not specifically deal with the issue of students'
      behavior, but Mr. Ferry said that the preamble would require students
      to follow the official curriculum that is used throughout France.
      In the Europe 1 interview, Mr. Ferry did not single out Muslims for
      censure, but he did not have to. Most Orthodox Jewish schoolchildren
      who would object to mixed-sex gym and biology classes, for example, go
      to private Jewish schools that are already sex-segregated, keep kosher
      kitchens and teach the Torah. The first -- and only -- private Muslim
      high school in all of France opened last fall in Lille.
      Former Education Minister Francois Bayrou, head of the small,
      center-right Union for French Democracy, abstained, as did most of his
      party, saying it would be difficult to enforce. As minister, Bayrou
      wrote an advisory ruling for school principals urging them to deal
      with Muslim headscarves on a case-by- case basis. Alain Madelin, one
      of the few members of Mr. Chirac's governing Union for a Popular
      Movement, to vote no, said in an interview published today in the
      popular Tablois Le Parisien, "At best it's a useless law; at worse
      it's a dangerous law."
      in a telephone interview, Dalil Boubakeur, the head of the Paris
      Mosque and an umbrella organization of Muslim groups in France,
      praised today's vote as "impressive" and a "buffer" against Muslim
      fundamentalists intruding into French secular institutions. "Those who
      wanted to Islamize the institutions like schools or hospitals have
      been stopped," he said. "Those who wanted to import a non-secular
      vision will now bump against this secular law. It's a buffer."


      [Hesse] German State Proposes New Hijab Ban - 12 Feb 04
      The dominant party in a German state has proposed a ban on Muslim
      civil servants wearing hijab, claiming that the covering is a
      political rather than religious statement, according to a press
      report. The conservative Christian Democrats' leader in the state
      legislature, Franz-Josef Jung, argued that the headscarf is a
      political rather than a religious signal and a symbol of repression,
      The Guardian reported Wednesday, February 11. The party, which has a
      majority in Hesse, hopes to push its so-called "bill to secure state
      neutrality" through by the summer. The measure, the paper said, goes
      further than three other states' proposals to outlaw hijab for public
      school teachers.


      [Mumbai] Muslim priest bans music in marriages - 14 Feb 04
      [Zafar Ahmed, the imam of Juma Masjid, Cheetah Camp] has clout that
      very few imams can boast off in the metropolis. Reason? He gave a call
      six months ago to ban music in Muslim marriages in the Cheetah Camp
      area. Other maulvis in the area have also issued similar fatwas though
      they are from different sects of Islam, -- Deobandi, Barelvi, Shahfi
      and Al Hadees. Result: For the last six months, music has been absent
      at all Muslim marriages in the area and no one is complaining. Cheetah
      Camp is located in northeastern Mumbai and has a population of around
      150,000 people, nearly 80 per cent of who are Muslims working as
      either artisans or daily wage workers. "We found that our Muslim
      brethren were creating too much of noise by playing music on
      loudspeakers. This is un-Islamic and at the same time disturbs the
      entire neighbourhood. So we issued a fatwa stating that maulvis from
      our area won't conduct Muslim marriages if they play music," says
      Asked didn't he feel that this was Talibanisation and a threat to
      Muslims who want to celebrate their marriages with music, Ahmed says,
      "We are not like the Taliban. We are not boycotting such families
      socially. We only boycott their marriages. This is mentioned in our
      hadith and shariah (Islamic law) that music should be not played
      during marriages, which are supposed to be very simple affairs and
      without wasteful expenditure. So, we are only propagating the view of
      our religion." A staunch follower of the Deobandi school of thought,
      which does not believe in playing music or watching television, Ahmed
      has never watched television and prevents his six children also from
      doing so.
      Ahmed believes the media has blown their diktat out of proportion and
      is misreporting the entire event. "They wrote that we are giving
      instructions like Al Qaeda to our Muslim brothers. This is not true.
      The change at the ground level has been tremendous in the last six
      months ever since the ban was imposed. We have small lanes and bylanes
      in our area. The houses are very close to each other. People don't
      quarrel with their neighbours at the time of weddings as they used to
      do earlier. So in our locality is peaceful during weddings," he adds.


      U.N. Team, Cleric at Odds Over Iraq Vote - 12 Feb 04
      U.S. officials say they're willing to adjust the caucuses plan but
      oppose any delay in the handover [of power]. Al-Sistani calls the
      caucuses undemocratic and says it's possible to properly organize a
      ballot before the deadline. Officials in al-Sistani's office refused
      to comment on Wednesday's meeting. The Arab newspaper Al-Hayat cited
      sources close to al-Sistani saying that if experts feel elections can
      be properly organized within 10 months, he is willing to delay the
      handover of sovereignty--or to carry out just a partial handover--long
      enough to allow the vote to take place. If 10 months were not enough
      for a fair vote, al-Sistani proposes a system of proposing candidates
      to be put to a referendum, Al-Hayat said.

      U.S. May Veto Islamic Law in Iraq - 16 Feb 04
      The top U.S. administrator in Iraq suggested Monday he would block any
      interim constitution that would make Islam the chief source of law, as
      some members of the Iraqi Governing Council have sought.
      L. Paul Bremer said the current draft of the constitution would make
      Islam the state religion of Iraq and "a source of inspiration for the
      law" -- as opposed to the main source.
      Bremer used the inauguration ceremony at a women's center in the
      southern city of Karbala to argue for more than "token" women's
      representation in the transitional government due to take power June
      Mohsen Abdel-Hamid, the current council president and a member of a
      committee drafting the interim constitution, has proposed making
      Islamic sharia law the "principal basis" of legislation. The phrasing
      could have broad effects on secular Iraq. In particular, it would
      likely make moot much of Iraq's 1959 Law of Personal Status, which
      grants uniform rights to husband and wife to divorce and inheritance,
      and governs related issues like child support. Under most
      interpretations of Islamic law, women's rights to seek divorce are
      strictly limited and they only receive half the inheritance of men.
      Islamic law also allows for polygamy and often permits marriage of
      girls at a younger age than secular law. In December, the council
      passed a decision abolishing the 1959 law and allowing each of the
      main religious groups to apply its own tradition -- including Islamic
      law. Many Iraqi women expressed alarm at the decision, and Bremer has
      not signed it into law.

      Iraqi Ulemma issue fatwa against violence - 14 Feb 04
      Several Iraqi Muslim clerics, from both the Sunni and Shi'ite sects,
      issued a collective fatwa against inter-Iraqi violence,
      asssasinations, and terrorist attacks.
      "Unity between all Muslims is a legal duty above all others, and that
      any statement or action which may result in weakening or dividing the
      Umma is absolutely prohibited legally, and that a Muslim's blood is
      haram (forbidden) on his brother Muslim, according to the honourable
      Hadith: "A Muslim is haram on a Muslim: his honour, his possessions,
      and his blood". Therefore, any attacks or aggressions against Iraqis,
      their scientists and intellectuals, their mosques and holy places are
      legal sins which no true Muslim should commit. It is our legal duty as
      Ulemma and heralds of the Umma to emphasize the spirit of tolerance,
      unity, and harmony, and to warn against division and dispersion, and
      any statement or deed which may lead to them, not taking into
      consideration the interest of the Umma.

      Shia Building Economic Power - 14 Feb 04
      Ahmed's friend and business partner, Mahmoud Khozai, 40, explained
      that the Shia business community must rely on good relations with
      leaders of the sect's religious hierarchy. "The businessman needs the
      religious powers to support him," said Khozai, who is starting work on
      setting up an airline for ITI. "They need the ayatollahs. For people
      to trust these business people they need good relations with the
      ayatollahs." Iraq's powerful Shia clergy have something to gain from
      the businessmen, too: Shia tradition holds that a man must give 20
      percent of his income to the poor, usually through the clergy. One
      Shia imam in Baghdad was cagey about whether the 20-percent donations,
      known as khoumous, have increased since the end of the war but implied
      that they have. "When there is little money, there is little
      khoumous," said Sayed Muslim Sayed Taher al-Haidar, of the Husseinia
      Albu Jumaa mosque in the Karada neighborhood. "When there is a lot of
      money, a lot of people will pay khoumous." During the Hussein years,
      the regime expelled Shia businessmen, seized their property and
      divided up the most lucrative businesses among members and friends of
      Hussein's family and tribe. Now many of those regime-era Sunni
      businessmen have fled the country or are no longer able to divvy up
      the Iraqi economy as they once did. Into that gap are stepping Kurdish
      and Shia businessmen who are beginning to take advantage of the newly
      open market and the large reconstruction projects under way in Iraq.

      Unemployed plan Protests - 12 Feb 04

      Al-Zaman reports that the Union of Unemployed Workers has decided to
      begin its demonstrations outside the headquarters of the Coalition
      Provisional Authority and the Interim governing Council again on the
      coming Sunday. These demonstrations were common last fall, and
      sometimes turned a bit violent. Although estimates for Iraqi
      unemployment have fallen, the rate is still extremely high. (In the
      Great Depression in the US, 25 percent of workers were unemployed. In
      Iraq now it is probably 45 percent). In the meantime, the Iraqi
      ministry of labor has issued a report saying that 5 million Iraqis, or
      20 percent of the population, are living in dire poverty.

      [weblog] Where is Raed ? :: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 ::
      I walked thru Karada street [Bagdad] last night only to be surprised
      by men standing in the middle of an intersection giving away sweets
      and candy to people in cars and a couple of kids with what was
      supposed to be fireworks. Karada (which is a predominantly Shai
      neighborhood) was full of signs congratulating the Shia nation on the
      occasion of the Eid al-Ghadeer (Eid is a religious celebration). Not
      wanting to look like an idiot I took the candy, shook hands with the
      nice gentlemen and ran home to my in-house Shia expert, my Mom. She
      gave me the strangest answer ever: "oh yes, Ghadeer, of course. You
      have to go find and kiss 7 [illwiya]s. It will bring you good luck" –
      illwiya is a female descendant from the family of the prophet.
      They were the people who have and are still trying to assert the right
      of the Prophet's descendents to lead the Muslim community. And Eid al
      Ghadeer is a big thing because they plaster the streets that bit from
      Muhammad's speech "Man Kuntu Mowlahu fa haza Aliyun Mowlahu - this Ali
      is the mawla of all those of whom I am mawla".
      On the long list of things that I have not seen or experienced before
      the fall of Saddam I can now add a new item, Eid al-Ghadeer. Happy Eid
      al-Ghadeer to you all.
      Every year right after the Haj ceremonies the Saudi Government make
      sure that the pilgrims from Shia nations are on the move and not
      anywhere near the Ghadeer where that speech took place. Just imagine
      it, A celebration of Shia legitimacy in a Sunni country;

      Advertising boards spring up in Baghdad - 13 Feb 04
      A panoply of advertising boards have sprung up in Baghdad in recent
      weeks, a sign of the growing liberalisation of the economy after
      decades of state control under Saddam Hussein's Baath party.
      Another source of revenue comes from the abolition of the ban on
      advertising tobacco, alcohol and women's garments that were imposed by
      the ousted regime.
      The old regulations also stipulated that Arabic should be the main
      language used in ads, said Ibrahim, whose office is full with posters
      of trade-mark signs and projects for shop-front advertising in
      English. "Every street corner or building wall is now used," while in
      the past the location was subject to specific approval. "I'm ready to
      print anything," he said. Contracts are also flowing into his office
      because local television and press advertising is still embryonic.
      The four local television companies, run by the Kurds, Christians,
      Islamic groups and the US-led coalition "don't have the means or the
      will to relaunch small-screen advertising," he said.

      Basra's musicians fight Shiite radicals - 10 Feb 04
      Famous across Iraq for their mesmerising sea shanties, musicians in
      southern Iraq's Basra port who have endured conflict and poverty under
      Saddam Hussein are facing a new threat from Islamic radicals who want
      to silence their instruments. Grenade attacks blamed on Shiite
      extremists have already targeted the cluster of shops crammed with
      drums, lutes and trumpets in the backstreets of old Basra's Semar
      district, where musicians meet to practice and take bookings. Concert
      halls and clubs in the city have also been shuttered by religious
      leaders in the city, which lies in Iraq's Shiite Muslim heartland,
      flexing their muscles after years being held back by Saddam's largely
      secular regime.
      Denied public performances, Nasrir's 15-man Al-Suror, or Happiness,
      band and some 130 other singers and musicians in Basra must now rely
      for business on weddings and birthday parties held in private homes.
      Although there have been no official proclamations to stop their work,
      the performers fear the worst, with several closing down their
      Dozens of Shiite movements have sprung up in and around Basra, which
      has remained largely free of the violence still gripping much of Iraq.
      The Shiite political groups have taken much of the credit for
      maintaining law and order, with several deploying their own militias
      to deter criminals and ensure the will of the newly-powerful clerics.
      Abdullah al-Faisal, general secretary of the Organisation of Islamic
      Bases, one of the most feared Shiite political militia groups in
      Basra, denied that intimidation tactics were being used, blaming
      "enemies of Iraq" for attacks on musicians and minority Christian
      alcohol vendors.


      No extra roles for Kadhis courts - 13 Feb 04
      Kadhis courts will not be entrenched in the new Constitution if the
      Bomas Constitutional Conference accepts the recommendations of the
      drafters. According to the drafters and the Final Technical Committee,
      who have been meeting in Mombasa, Kadhis courts should retain the
      legal status they enjoy today. Their recommendations are, however, not
      final and will be tabled before the Bomas plenary on Thursday for
      further deliberations. Named Draft Zero, it has been prepared by the
      convenors and drafters who concluded their work at Leisure Lodge in
      the South Coast yesterday. The suggestion that there be Kadhis Courts
      of Appeal has also been removed from the final draft. Similarly
      omitted from this document, are suggestions by Muslims that those to
      be appointed to the Kadhis courts be graduates with higher Islamic
      education. According to the recommendations, the Kadhis courts will
      remain subordinate courts, dealing only with issues of personal status
      such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and succession among Muslims.
      There have been suggestions that the jurisdiction of Kadhis courts be
      widened to include issues such as crime among Muslims. But the draft
      proposes the creation of a Supreme Court, which will be the highest
      court in the land.


      Writer jailed for private lecture on Islamic Studies - 12 Feb 04
      A one-year prison sentence was handed down to writer, journalist and
      researcher Yasser al-Habib on 20 January 2004, when he was reportedly
      convicted of 'questioning the conduct and integrity of some of the
      companions of the prophet Muhammad' in a lecture he had delivered.
      Al-Habib, who has worked for several Arabic-language newspapers,
      including the monthly al-Menbar (The Pulpit), was abducted in Kuwait
      City on 30 November 2003 by unknown individuals and taken away in an
      unmarked vehicle. His family was not informed that he had been
      detained by security forces until the following day. Al-Habib was
      reportedly arrested in connection with an audio cassette recording of
      a lecture he gave to a small audience in a private lecture on Islamic
      historical issues. His research is believed to have relied heavily on
      Wahhabi references and texts, and is said to have angered hardline
      Wahhabi groups who have used their influence within the establishment
      to bring about the maximum punishment against al-Habib. .. Al-Habib
      has reportedly been subject to several orchestrated violent attacks in
      prison by Wahhabi inmates.


      [Selangor] Sisters in Islam sets up legal clinic in PJ [Petaling Jaya]
      .. - 16 Feb 04
      Sisters in Islam (SIS) has set up a legal clinic to help communities
      who would be affected by legal and policy reform. Ever since SIS
      started a legal column in Utusan Malaysia in April 2002, they have
      received many enquiries and requests for assistance. "Women have been
      approaching us for help because we are active in promoting women's
      rights in Islam."
      "Some clients had gone to the religious departments or other bodies
      for assistance but they came back to us for further clarification,"
      said SIS legal officer Nora Murat at the launch of the clinic on
      Friday. She said SIS did not give counselling but focussed on telling
      their clients their rights and how they could obtain legal redress.
      The SIS office, which has moved from Kuala Lumpur to No 25, Jalan 5/31
      here, had handled 600 such cases last year. Nora said that most of the
      women seeking help were married and wanted to know their rights in
      cases of divorce, division of property, and custody and maintenance of

      [Perak] Do not celebrate Valentine's Day, Muslims warned - 13 Feb 04
      Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harrusani Zakaria has warned Muslims that they
      can be considered apostates if they celebrate Valentine's Day, Utusan
      Malaysia reported. Quoting Harrusani, the daily said those who
      celebrate Valentine's Day could be considered as apostates based on a
      hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad), which states that "one who
      follows the acts of another, would belong to the other group (Sesiapa
      yang melakukan perbuatan yang menyerupai sesuatu kaum itu, maka ia
      turut termasuk bersama golongan tersebut)." Harrusani also said the
      act of celebrating Valentine's Day was against Islamic teachings,
      particularly if it was related to commemorating, as stated in ancient
      Rome history, the death of a priest. "We Muslims do not need such a
      culture or practice, which is clearly against the teachings of our
      religion, Furthermore, the teachings of Islam is complete, perfect and
      credible," he added. Harussani was commenting on the attitude of many
      Muslims youths in the country, who are still inclined to celebrate
      Valentine's Day although many views had been given by the ulama on the

      [Terengganu] Imams can make political speeches in Friday sermons
      .. [New Straits Times] - 11 Feb 04
      An imam is allowed to make disparaging remarks on individuals who have
      sinned and can take to the pulpit to deliver political speeches in his
      Friday sermons, Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said today.
      He said a sermon was a medium to propagate a better understanding of
      Islam in its entirety and should not be restricted to the religious
      aspects. Hadi, who is Terengganu Menteri Besar, said this in an
      apparent reference to an alleged incident in Permatang Pauh, Penang,
      recently where a preacher ridiculed the death of rape-cum-murder
      victim Nurul Huda Gani in his Friday sermon.
      Hadi said Pas would not sack any imam who used Friday sermons to
      spread party influence or who made remarks on individuals. "Our guide
      is solely based on Islamic teachings. We know what is right and wrong.
      We are unlike the Federal Government who will sack an imam it believes
      had caused disunity," he added.


      Mali: Snippet on spread of Islam in cities - 13 Feb 04
      Timbuktu is among a number of cities in this country that have
      contributed to the development of Islamic civilization, and to the
      strengthening of the Islamic identity among the various communities
      and tribes of this country. It is recorded that Mali was among the
      countries that saw the dawn of Islam since the eighth century of the
      Gregorian calendar, when Arab caravaneers started to visit the
      country, many of eventually opted to settle in it. Islam first took
      root in some of Mali's important cities, such as Timbuktu, Janat, and
      others, which still bear Islamic characters and landmarks, but later
      it started to spread to other parts of the country. The Niger River
      was of great help in moving goods and people to various parts of the
      country, and this enabled Timbuktu, situated on the banks of the
      river, to transform itself from a point of rest and relaxation to a
      trading post of substantial significance, where goods of various kinds
      were exchanged. These included ivory, gold, hides and skins, and
      others, mostly destined for the Egyptian and Moroccan markets. This
      trade exchanging had been going on since 1322 AD, during the era of
      Emperor Kankan, the era in which Timbuktu prospered. Then Timbuktu
      went on to develop as a center for education and learning, to which
      many students, from various parts of West and North Africa came, and
      at one time there were 120,000 students and 180 Qur'an Madrasas in the
      city, says the historian Leon the African.
      There are a number of other cities in Mali that have, over the years,
      developed into centers of Islamic learning and bear landmarks of
      bygone Islamic eras and their cultural impact on their people.


      New Zealand: Snippet on Islam - 12 Feb 04


      [Bauchi] Nigerians charged with removing boy's eyes - 11 Feb 04
      Four Nigerian men have been charged with plucking out the eyes of a
      13-year-old schoolboy for use in witchcraft, the state news agency
      reports. They face charges ranging from criminal conspiracy to
      grievous bodily harm and permanent disfigurement for the attack on the
      boy, who was taken to hospital in the northeastern state of Bauchi.
      Police suspect the attack was commissioned by one of the defendants to
      make a charm believed to make people invisible. The case will be heard
      by an Islamic court in Bauchi on February 18, the News Agency of
      Nigeria said today (NZT). If found guilty, the defendants could have
      their own eyes removed under the Islamic sharia code, the agency

      [Bauchi] Sharia Commission Issues Ultimatum to Liquor Dealers - 11 Feb
      http://allafrica.com/stories/200402110645.html [P.M. News - Lagos]
      Bauchi Sharia Commission has given liquor dealers in the state a
      one-week ultimatum to either close their businesses or face the wrath
      of the law.
      The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that in spite of the several
      efforts made by the Commission to stop the liquor dealers from their
      trade they are still turning deaf ears to it. NAN also learnt that the
      dealers were recently given a soft loan of N25 million by the state
      government to undertake new businesses. NAN, however, gathered that
      most of those who collected the loan have continued with their liquor
      businesses, in spite of repeated warnings. More than half of the 300
      liquor dealers who benefitted from the loan had since fled the state.

      [Kano] Amnesty International told to 'stop interfering' - 11 Feb 04
      The warning by the Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the umbrella body for
      Nigeria's Muslims, followed Tuesday's report by Amnesty condemning the
      use of the death penalty in 12 northern Nigerian states where the
      Sharia legal system is in operation. JNI spokesperson Zubairu Jibrin
      told a local radio in a report monitored in Kano that the rights group
      is hiding under the guise of human rights to attack Islam or the
      Sharia legal system.

      [Katsina] Sharia: Hotels, Brothels Ordered Shut - 13 Feb 04
      The Katsina State Government has ordered all Local government chairmen
      to close down all hotels and brothels within their local councils in
      compliance with the full implementation of Sharia in the state. The
      order to close down hotels and brothels in the sixty four local
      councils in the state was given by the state acting governor, Alhaji
      Abdullai Aminchi following complaints received from local committees
      of sharia implementation during the monthly meeting of the committee
      chaired by the state deputy governor on Tuesday. According to the new
      order, the committees have been mandated to monitor the food vendors
      who usually use their abode to commit all sorts of atrocities which
      runs counter to sharia code in the state. The meeting agreed to set up
      a six-man committee to put into writing the sharia code in Hausa
      language and Aljemir Islamic words and to circulate it round the local
      councils to enable people to know all the offences the sharia code
      forbids. The meeting also condemned the playing of local cha-cha in
      which some of the players used money in exchange of such things which
      the meeting believed is contrary to sharia code in general.


      Loopholes in law helping honour killing' - 13 Feb 04

      Govt undecided on Hudood laws - 11 Feb 04
      With the controversial Hudood Ordinance completing 25 years of their
      enactment on Tuesday, the federal government is yet to adopt a firm
      stance on the fate of the laws. Five Hudood laws were introduced on
      Feb 10, 1979, by the then Zia regime that had enacted various other
      laws for "Islamizing the criminal justice system".
      These laws are: Offence Against Property (Enforcement of Hudood)
      Ordinance, 1979. It deals with crimes of theft and armed robberies.
      Offence of Zina Ordinance deals with the offences of rape, adultery,
      fornication, etc. Offence of Qazf Order relates to false accusation of
      Zina. The Prohibition Order deals with the manufacture, possession
      and use of intoxicants, including alcohol and narcotics. The Execution
      of Punishment of Whipping Ordinance prescribes the mode of whipping
      for those convicted under the Hudood laws. Though the laws remained
      controversial throughout their existence, yet none of successive
      governments, including those of PPP and PML-N, tried to either repeal
      these laws or to amend them for removing controversial provisions,
      said a local NGO activist.
      The issue has come under limelight again after the NCSW recommended
      recently repeal of these laws. The commission had set up a committee
      in 2002 after the famous case in which an additional district and
      sessions judge in Kohat had sentenced Zafran Bibi to death by stoning
      under the Zina Ordinance.
      Musharraf wants open debate on hudood law - 11 Feb 04
      President Musharraf also called for debate on the country's Hudood
      Ordinance, which mostly deal with crimes of adultery and rape and are
      widely considered discriminatory towards women. The laws were
      introduced by late military dictator general Ziaul Haq as part of an
      Islamisation drive during the 1980s and Islamists stridently support
      them as sacred laws. Under the laws, a rape victim has to produce four
      witnesses in court to testify that they saw the woman being assaulted;
      otherwise she can be tried on charges of wilful adultery while the
      rapist goes free. "It's not a question of violating the Quran and
      Sunnah, but there is a need for their correct interpretation. The
      Hudood Ordinance is our creation. It was created during the Zia
      regime," he said. He asked why Pakistanis were not willing to openly
      debate the Hudood Ordinance. "Why this taboo? We must show ourselves
      as a progressive Islamic society and develop consensus by following
      Ijma (consensus) and Ijtehad (reasoning)," he said urging female
      lawmakers to take up the matter at appropriate forums.

      LHC validates love marriage - 14 Feb 04
      Lahore High Court on Friday validated a marriage that took place
      without the permission of the wife's parents. Fatima Hasan and Ahmed
      married on December 13, 2003, but the parents of Ms Hasan lodged a
      criminal case saying the consent of the parents was necessary for the
      marriage. The court declared the marriage legal and directed Okara
      Sadar Police to quash the case registered under the Hudood Ordinance
      against the couple. In another case, the LHC on Friday validated the
      marriage of Gull Naz and Faqir Wasif who married each other on
      November 6, 2003 without the permission of the parents of Ms Naz. Her
      parents had lodged a criminal case saying the consent of the parents
      is necessary.


      Palestinian journalists protest attacks on them by "Fatah gunmen"
      .. [The Jerusalem Post web site on 8 February]
      Alarmed by a rise in the number of attacks on journalists, the
      Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate and human rights groups have once
      again appealed to the Palestinian [National] Authority to take stiff
      measures against perpetrators. The journalists are also planning a
      one-day strike later this week to protest against the attacks, all of
      which have been carried out by Fatah gunmen.

      Mufti shoulders Israeli authorities responsibility for road collapse
      .. - 16 Feb 04
      Sheikh Ikrima Sabry, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, who
      is also the head of the Supreme Islamic Commission, has said that the
      Israeli authorities should be held responsible for the collapse of a
      portion of the road that leaders to the Moroccan Gate, one of the
      pathways leading to the Aqsa Mosque. He attributed this to the
      unending excavations that are being carried out by the Israelis on
      that road. He said on several occasions he had issued such a warning
      about the dangers paused by these excavations, adding that the Israeli
      authorities and the extremist Jews do not hide their intention of
      wanting to demolish the Aqsa Mosque.

      "Martyr" faces haunt West Bank print shop - 09 Feb 04
      The grimy, dimly-lit shop is one of two in Jenin that print what are
      known as "martyr" posters, which eulogise Palestinians who have killed
      or been killed in the conflict with Israel and cover almost every wall
      in town.
      Since then, Abu Hamza, 24, has printed posters commemorating the
      deaths of more than 100 of his neighbours, some of them friends or
      acquaintances. Fearing reprisals, he agreed to be interviewed only if
      an alias was used to hide his identity. He offers one-stop shopping, a
      necessity considering the posters have to be up within hours to meet
      Islamic rules for quick burial. "Sometimes gunmen call me out of bed."
      If the dead person is a militant, his faction commissions the work. Al
      Aqsa is his biggest repeat customer. It picks the photo. The family
      has no say. When a non-combatant is killed, a coalition of local
      Islamic charities pays for the print run.
      In his work, he draws no distinction between suicide bombers who
      target Israeli civilians, gunmen killed fighting Israeli soldiers and
      unarmed bystanders shot dead during tank raids. "Each one is a sacred
      'shahid'," Abu Hamza said, using the Arabic word for martyr, defined
      by Islam as one who dies during "jihad", or holy war, a guarantee of
      instant entry to paradise.

      [Gaza] Al-Aqsa explodes in bomb plotter's face - 08 Feb 04
      Shokeh was believed to be head of Hamas's military wing in Central
      Gaza. He was also the lover of suicide bomber who blew herself up at
      the Erez Checkpoint, killing three soldiers and one civilian and
      leaving behind two children. After Reem Salah al-Rayashi's husband
      discovered the affair, her erstwhile lover apparently supplied her
      with explosives and chose the place where she should kill herself and
      any Israelis she could take along with her. Hamas said that an Arab
      Israeli who had supplied Shokeh with an army uniform gave him a model
      of Al-Aqsa Mosque as a gift. A few hours later, the model exploded,
      killing its new owner.


      Saudi Arabia Says Valentine's Day Incurs God's Ire - 13 Feb 04
      Saudi Arabia's religious authorities have ordered Muslims to shun the
      "pagan" holiday of Valentine's Day so as not to incur God's wrath, the
      local al-Riyadh newspaper said Friday. "It is a pagan Christian
      holiday and Muslims who believe in God and Judgment Day should not
      celebrate or acknowledge it or congratulate (people on it). It is a
      duty to shun it to avoid God's anger and punishment," said an edict
      issued by Saudi Arabia's fatwa committee published in the
      Arabic-language daily. "There are only two holidays in Islam -- Eid
      al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha -- and any other holidays, whether to
      celebrate an individual, group or event, are inventions which Muslims
      are banned from," said the committee, headed by Grand Mufti Sheikh
      Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh.

      Saudi clerics discuss "martyrdom", jihad on TV talkshow - 12 Feb 04
      "The lawful shedding of blood" in Islam and how its relation to
      "martyrdom" operations was the topic of discussion on Saudi TV's "With
      the events" programme broadcast on 10 February. The guests were
      Ministry of Islamic Affairs preacher Shaykh Muhammad Ibn-Ahmad
      al-Fayfi and Riyadh's Khalid Ibn-al-Walid Mosque preacher and imam
      Shaykh Sultan Ibn-Abd al-Rahman al-Id. The presenter was Dr Muhammad
      al-Uwayni. [..]


      Azhar Shiekh Supports Singapore's Hijab Ban - 12 Feb 04
      Continuing a trend deemed controversial by many and one that exposed
      him to bitter criticism, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohammad Sayed
      Tantawi has said that Singapore has the right to force a ban on hijab
      in the country's schools. "Singapore has the right to impose a unified
      code of dress, which also bars students from wearing hijab," Tantawi
      said after a meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Tong in Cairo
      Wednesday, February 11.
      Tantawi, the head of the world's largest Sunni refrence, had earlier
      sparked outcry among world Muslims after saying in December that
      France had the right to ban hijab in state schools and Muslim women
      living in France can take it off if forced by the necessity.


      Scribes Welcome Supreme Ruling [The Monitor - Kampala]
      http://allafrica.com/stories/200402120133.html - 12 Feb 04
      The Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday that Section 50, which
      criminalises publication of false news, was inconsistent with the 1995
      Constitution. "Now it's official," Niju's Nabusayi said in a statement
      yesterday, "Section 50 of the Penal Code Act must be struck off the
      law books." The journalist said the media has jumped the first major
      battle and opened the way for professionals to unite and fight the
      restrictions to press freedom. Niju is the umbrella body for all
      journalists in Uganda. The secretary general of the Uganda
      Journalist's Association, Haruna Kanaabi, who was sentenced to a year
      in jail in 1995 under the law while editor of the Shariat newsletter,
      said: "It is a big achievement for journalists to challenge the law
      that Parliament had failed to remove from the law books."


      A mosque proposal frays interfaith relations in Illinois - 15 Feb 04

      [New Jersey] N.J. defers on defining halal - 13 Feb 04
      New Jersey has decided not to involve itself in a dispute over what
      type of food should be considered acceptable under Islamic dietary
      laws, leaving that decision to consumers. The state has reworked its
      regulations governing halal food by requiring businesses to complete
      disclosure forms outlining how they prepare and store their food
      products. Consumers then can decide whether those procedures are
      acceptable under Islamic dietary law. For many New Jersey Muslims, the
      issue is second in importance only to civil-rights concerns in the
      aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. New Jersey passed a halal food law
      three years ago, but critics said the bill lacked teeth, including
      criteria that could be used to enforce it. About a week ago, the state
      Division of Consumer Affairs disclosed its latest proposal. The Majlis
      Ash-Shura of New Jersey, the state's council of mosques, had wanted
      the law to spell out what could be labeled and sold as halal. Council
      chairman Yaser El-Menshawy said the compromise was probably as far as
      state regulators could go. .. The disclosure regulations will become
      effective this year.


      U.S. Working Paper For G-8* Sherpas - 13 Feb 04
      The Greater Middle East [i] (GME) region poses a unique challenge and
      opportunity for the international community. The three "deficits"
      identified by the Arab authors of the 2002 and 2003 United Nations
      Arab Human Development Reports (AHDR) - freedom, knowledge, and
      women's empowerment - have contributed to conditions that threaten the
      national interests of all G-8 members. So long as the region's pool of
      politically and economically disenfranchised individuals grows, we
      will witness an increase in extremism, terrorism, international crime,
      and illegal migration.
      While the U.S., the EU, the UN, and the World Bank have already
      undertaken numerous initiatives to promote legal and judicial reform,
      most are working at the national level in areas such as judicial
      training, judicial administration, and legal code reform. A G-8
      initiative could complement these efforts by focusing at the
      grassroots community level, where the true perception of justice
      begins. The G-8 could establish and fund centers at which individuals
      can access legal advice on civil, criminal, or Sharia law, and contact
      defense attorneys (which are very uncommon in the region). These
      centers could also be affiliated with law schools in the region.
      [i] The "Greater Middle East" refers to the countries of the Arab
      world, plus Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, and Israel.
      * G8: France, Canada, USA, UK, Germany, Russian Federation, Japan,

      Religion guides views of fertility treatment in Middle East - 4 Feb 04
      Inhorn, an associate professor of health behavior and health education
      and of anthropology, presents a talk titled "Finding 'Culture' in
      Science and Biotechnology: Perspectives From Medical Anthropology" at
      the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of
      Science Feb. 14. In qualitative, ethnographic interviews with nearly
      400 patient couples, Inhorn has identified major differences in
      cultural attitudes toward reproductive technologies between Shi'ite
      Muslims in Lebanon and Sunni Muslims in Egypt. Results of her work in
      Egypt are part of a 2003 book, "Local Babies, Global Science: Gender,
      Religion, and In Vitro Fertilization in Egypt."

      Egypt's first fatwa, or religious proclamation, on medically assisted
      reproduction came in 1980, not long after the first IVF baby was born
      in England. More than 90 percent of Egypt's citizens practice Sunni
      Islam. Sunni religious rules state that IVF is allowed, but that since
      marriage is a contract between a husband and wife, no third party
      should intrude into procreation, thus prohibiting such things as sperm
      or egg donation. Most leaders of Shi'a Islam, the minority branch of
      Islam found in countries including Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan
      and India, concur with Sunni religious authorities about the strict
      prohibition on third-party donation. But in the late 1990s, an Iranian
      leader issued a fatwa stating egg donation "is not in and of itself
      legally forbidden." Inhorn notes that Shi'ites practice a form of
      individual religious reasoning called ijtihad, in which various
      Shi'ite religious leaders come to their own conclusions.

      Shi'ites who are strict in their interpretation of a third-party
      donation in IVF believe the couple should get approval from a
      religious court first, and the husband needs to do a muta'a, or
      temporary, marriage with any egg donor so the child is not born out of
      wedlock. However, since a married Shi'ite Muslim woman cannot marry
      another man sperm donation from a man other than her husband is akin
      to adultery. Middle Eastern societies expect all married couples to
      produce biological children, since legal adoption as it is practiced
      in the West is prohibited in both Sunni and Shi'a Islam. In the
      absence of adoption and gamete donation, infertile Muslim couples in
      countries such as Egypt have no choice but to turn to in vitro
      fertilization using their own gametes.


      First timeshare property in Saudi on way - 16 Feb 04
      The first timeshare property in Saudi Arabia is being built in the
      holy city of Mecca, next to the Grand Mosque, it was reported. The Zam
      Zam Tower Complex will offer leases ranging from royal suite to studio
      for periods of one or two weeks over 24 years, Arab News said.
      The project, which enjoys official backing, is funded by Sharia-
      compliant finance based both on an Islamic bond, Sukuk Al Ijara, and
      on a Sukuk Al Intifaa or timeshare bond. Bondholders may trade their
      stake via the Internet, the daily said. Interest in the timeshares has
      been so strong that plans for similar projects in Medina are underway,
      it added. The Waqf religious authorities who own the land adjacent to
      the mosques in Mecca and Medina leased the land for 28 years to the
      giant Binladen Construction Group on a Build-Operate-Transfer
      agreement involving a shopping centre, four towers and a hotel.
      The Binladin Group in turn leased the project to the Kuwait-based
      Munshaat Real Estate Projects KSC. Munshaat in December issued a
      $390-million sukuk, which, according to Munshaat managing director
      Meshal Al Ameri was oversubscribed within the first two weeks.

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