89Sharia News Watch 89
- Dec 11, 2003Sharia News Watch 89 : a collection newsquotes on Sharia, for
research & educational purposes only. [*] Shortcut URL:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shariawatch/message/89 The Sharia
Newswatch provides an almost weekly update of news quotes
on Sharia (Islamic Law) & related subjects, as appearing on the major
news- searchengines. All editions :
US to boost non-military aid to Afghanistan - 10 Dec 03
[US deputy secretary of state] Mr Armitage played down suggestions
that the US was unhappy with the constitutional draft that the loya
jirga is likely to approve. Some have attacked it as Islamist and as
failing to enshrine the rights of women. "Fully 80 per cent of Muslim
countries mention the role of Islam or even, in some cases, the Sharia
law," he said. "We have not seen the details but we're pretty
confident there's nothing to be fearful about in the mention of the
word Islam or Sharia."
Australia grants two Bangladeshi gay asylum claim - 09 Dec 03
The Australian High Court has ruled that two Bangladeshi gay men
should be given the same asylum rights as political refugees.
The men, whose names have not been revealed, fled to Australia nearly
five years ago to seek asylum on the grounds that they would be
socially ostracised and possibly persecuted by the Bangladeshi
authorities because of their long-term relationship. The High Court
overruled lower court and immigration tribunal opinions that the men
would not suffer adversely if they returned to Bangladesh and lived in
a discreet manner.
Safe-houses on way for abused workers - 09 Dec 03
A plan to set up government shelters to house abused migrant workers
could come into effect in the next three months. .. Under the
proposals, the shelters would be funded by the Bahrain government and
provide temporary accommodation for expatriate workers who are
mistreated by their employers.
"At the moment we have some voluntary help from very kind people who
have opened up their homes to take in very extreme cases. "We do
provide safe-houses for extreme cases, but they may be one of the
public security stations. "We would like to change that and would
like to have hostel-style housing - like dormitories - if possible,
just to be able to provide shelter on a temporary basis." The Migrant
Workers Group (MWG), which comes under the Bahrain Centre for Human
Rights, has helped house several migrant workers who claim they were
beaten up, raped, were injured while trying to escape from allegedly
abusive employers, or had been left homeless.
The task force has also agreed to publish and distribute manuals which
set out the rights and obligations of migrant workers - who are often
unaware of their rights. There are also plans to improve a telephone
hotline service which handles complaints of abuse. Campaigns of
awareness among workers, employers and employment agencies - conducted
in co-ordination with embassies and non-governmental organisations -
are also in the pipeline. "The first step is to tell migrant workers
what their rights are. We also have to start a database which will
record all complaints and follow-ups to those complaints - including
what is going to be done."
A plan to reform the Labour law could also mean a major change in the
way migrant workers are treated. Over the last 12 months, 63
Bahrain manpower agencies from a total of around 140 have been closed
for breaking employment rules.
"We do not lack international standards, but our law is old. "They
are looking to reform the Labour law and we would like to see human
trafficking be made a crime.
Taslima's book will now be on the net - 11 Dec 03
Exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen whose latest work has also
sparked off a controversy prompting the West Bengal government to
proscribe it, has now decided to post its entire manuscript on the
net. "I still hope that the West Bengal government, which I consider
liberal and progressive, will lift the restriction on my book within a
month. However, if that does not happen I will have to look for other
ways to reach the book to my readers," the controversial author said
from New York, where she is presently pursuing research studies in
Harvard. Taslima also said that she plans to post the whole
manuscript of 'Dwikhandito' (split into two) in the web in her
official website www.TaslimaNasrin.com , which was launched by some of
In her own country Bangladesh, 'Ka', as 'Dwikhandito' is entitled in
that country, is banned like Taslima's earlier works 'Lajja' (shame),
'Amar Meyebela' (My girlhood) and 'Uthal Hawa' (gusty wind). Asked why
'Ka' did not contain some contentious comments on Prophet Mohammed
found in 'Dwikhandito', which stirred the hornet's nest here, she
blamed her Bangladesh publisher for censoring her original book and
deleting those parts.
Bangladesh may be emerging terrorist nexus, CSIS report warns
.. - 09 Dec 03
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service expresses concern about
serious attacks by radicals on cultural groups in Bangladesh, hints of
collusion with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida and the government's alleged
unwillingness to crack down on terrorism.
CSIS takes issue with the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party's
efforts to quell political violence. "There have been a number of
serious terrorist attacks on cultural groups and recreational
facilities in Bangladesh and the political party in power has
routinely blamed the opposition party for such criminal activities,
rather than finding out the real perpetrators of violence."
Last February, the CSIS report notes, Islamic militants attacked a
cultural concert in a northern Bangladesh town and police recovered
bomb-making materials from radicals who claimed to be members of the
militant organizations Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Shahdat ul
Hiqma. Five years ago, a group called Bangladesh Jihad drew attention
when one of its members signed a fatwa, or legal pronouncement,
sponsored by the notorious bin Laden. CSIS says there have been no
known fundamentalist attacks on foreigners. But in assessing the
implications for Canada, the spy service notes the activities of the
Canadian International Development Agency and other donors constitute
"a strong presence" in Bangladesh. The balance of the analysis was
considered too sensitive for release.
RBA Menu For Haj Flights Inspected - 11 Dec 03
The first Haj flight for next year is scheduled to depart for Jeddah
on January 7, 2004. As such, the Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) invited
government and private sector officials to inspect the proposed menu
meals catered by RBA subsidiary company, Royal Brunei Catering (RBC)
for the Haj flights. .. The inspection was aimed at ensuring that
the food is clean and healthy and the sources of meat and chicken are
halal in accordance with the Islamic teaching.
Ancient medicine system faces official apathy - 11 Dec 03
The mother of six-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer Saif had given up
hope that modern medicine could improve his health when a
centuries-old alternative practiced by the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)
came to the rescue. "He became more alert, relaxed and the involuntary
movements stop-ped," said Saif's mother Hoda Abdel Reheem. The
treatment, called "hejama" in Arabic, involves evacuating air from
cups placed on parts of the body, mainly on the back, to suck tissue
and stimulate blood flow. The treatment is cited several times in a
narrative, known as the "hadith", about the deeds and sayings of the
Prophet. Some practitioners say it even dates back to Pharaonic Egypt.
Egyptians are increasingly putting their faith in "the prophet's
medicine", desp-ite an official ban, to treat conditions which modern
medicine has failed to cure.
But she said weekly hejama treatment had achieved what modern medicine
could not. "After the first (session) I started to get better. Now I
am back to normal," Manar said. She says she still needs treatment
from time to time, but can no longer visit the man who treated her
because the authorities had confiscated his equipment and closed his
clinic for practising hejama. "The first accusation was practicing
hejama. The other was selling herbs for treatment without a licence,"
said Hany El Ghazawy, Manar's hejama practitioner. Ghazawy said he
would soon leave Egypt to set up a clinic in Saudi Arabia. Hejama is
permitted in some other Arab states including Lebanon and Syria. "It
really hurts to say I even got an offer from Israel to practice what I
am banned from doing in my own country," he said.
Cairo sheikhs find book bans tougher - 10 Dec 03
Egypt in theory has no censorship law, but books published here come
under the scrutiny of Al Azhar, the Muslim world's highest seat of
Sunni learning. If texts are considered blasphemous to Islam, Al Azhar
supposedly has the authority to have them confiscated. But Al Azhar's
prerogative has been put to the test in recent months, highlighting
the tensions between religion and government.
The repercussions of this slight were felt in the heart of old Islamic
Cairo. Al Azhar University, an imposing building with twin minarets,
houses the Islamic Research Council, which reviews books the sheikhs
deem related to Islam. Sheikh Saber Thaalab, one of the 45-member
council that banned Mr. Shihawi's book, defended Al Azhar's opinion.
"The book includes the recommendation to women, advising them to fall
deeply in love with their beloved. Not their husband!" he said,
banging his fist on a pile of books.
A second controversy has pitted the government against Al Azhar this
time over "Discourse and Interpretation" (2000). The author, Nasser
Hamid Abu Zeid, is no stranger to Al Azhar's disapproval. In an
earlier book, he argued that the Koran should be interpreted in light
of the politics of the time - a view condemned by Islamists, who took
him to court and won. He was declared an apostate [whose critique of
contemporary religious discourse resulted in .. a court case in which
his marriage was nullified] and fled the country, although the ruling
was later suspended. However, his case polarized intellectuals and
Islamists in the 1990s. In Abu Zeid's latest book, he discusses the
way sheikhs present themselves, and the way they carry prayer beads to
add weight to their words, for instance. Sheikh Mohammad Aymara, who
initiated the ban, reportedly felt personally attacked in the book.
The government has yet to declare its position.
The strength of Al Azhar's "recommendations" has always been
influenced by the political climate. The first book to be censored in
1925 epitomized the struggle between religious and political power.
"The Principles of Governing in Islam" argued that there were no fixed
rules for governing in Islam. Protective of its power, Al Azhar says
it acts as a guardian of Sunni morality. And no one is exempt from its
censure. In 1959, Naguib Mahfouz, later a Nobel Laureate, was
reprimanded for his novel "Children of the Alley." Halfway through its
newspaper serialization in Al Ahram, a report was sent to the sheikhs
saying the story was irreverent. An agreement was reached with Al
Azhar whereby the serialization was completed, but the book was never
published in Egypt.
In this present crisis, the Ministry of Culture has taken the unusual
step of going against Al Azhar. Sheikh Thaalab is resigned but
determined that Al Azhar still has relevance in modern times. "I would
feel sad [if the government does nothing], but what can I do?" he
says. "You have to bear in mind that the government is Islamic, too."
[Bavaria] German State To Ban Hijab In Schools - 11 Dec 03
The government of Bavaria, Germany's biggest and most conservative
state, unveiled a draft law Tuesday, December9 , banning hijab in
public schools, but excluding Christian and Jewish religious symbols.
Explaining the proposed ban, Bavarian Education Minister Monika
Hohlmeier claimed hijab was increasingly used as a political symbol,
reported Agence France-Presse (AFP). "With this law, we are defending
pupils against a potential fundamentalist influence and are respecting
the wishes of the majority of parents," she argued in a statement.
The measure must be ratified by the regional parliament, a rather
formality given the dominance of the Christian Social Union (CSU)
which runs Bavaria.
Baden-Wuerttemberg's draft law, unveiled last month, is expected to be
ratified early next year. Seven states had backed a legislation
barring hijab at a recent meeting of 16 regional ministers for
culture, education and religious affairs in the western German city of
Darmstadt while eight opposed such laws. The issue of hijab became a
hot topic after a landmark ruling by Germany's highest court in
September. The federal constitutional court ruled that
Baden-Wuerttemberg, whose premier is a Christian Democrat, was wrong
to forbid a Muslim female teacher from wearing her hijab in the
Babri cauldron simmers: Muslims line up truth tape - 08 Dec 03
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has decided to make a
comprehensive documentary on the Babri Masjid dispute so that "vital
information and records" are not lost or tampered with. The dispute's
full historical background, images of the mosque before and after
demolition, documentary records, data and interviews will all be put
on film. The board executive, currently meeting in Lucknow, will seek
the help of leading media organisations to "piece together" the
footage for the documentary. Its office-bearers said the film would
serve as a reference point for future generations and could also be
used in courts where related cases are in progress. Many on the board
believe the title dispute could drag on for years. They are also
sceptical about the Centre's and Uttar Pradesh's "sincerity" in
pursuing the cases rigorously.
Board members Qasim Rasool Illyas and Maulana Nizamuddin said a lot of
footage and books on the Babri dispute already exist. Some board
members from Kerala have even made a documentary in Malayalam. "But it
needs to be updated and made available in English, Hindi and other
Indian languages," Illyas said. "Some of the vital details are not
known to many informed persons, too. The documentary film would help
us reach a wider viewership-audience." The board also plans to record
the accounts of individuals such as Akshay Brahmachari, an ageing
socialist from Faizabad who is in the know of events dating back to
1947-50 and after.
The board, however, ran into criticism from within over the
documentary plan, sources said. Some ultra-conservatives reportedly
argued that Islam discouraged filming and photography. But board chief
Maulana Rabey Nadvi clarified that though Islam prohibited idol
worship and disliked films, it was not opposed to the medium as such.
In other words, vulgarity and salacious depiction of women are
discouraged but not TV, films or documentaries for academic or
literary purposes, Nadvi said. Muted criticism also came up against
the board's "failure" to present its views before the Liberhan
Commission that is investigating the Babri demolition.
Id roadmap for Ayodhya mosque - 10 Dec 03
Ignoring opposition from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and
the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee, the fledgling Ayodhya
Jama Masjid Trust has decided to intensify efforts to find an amicable
solution to the temple-mosque dispute. "A delegation of Muslim
religious leaders will visit Ayodhya on December 26 for talks with
Hindu leaders. We plan to lay the foundation stone of the new mosque
one kilometre from the disputed site on Bakri Id in February,"
managing trustee Sayed Asghar Abbas Rizvi told reporters here today.
The Ayodhya cell in the PMO and the commissioner of Faizabad have been
informed about the move, he said.
Shirin Ebadi takes swipe at West - 11 Dec 03
"Mrs Ebadi has not only put into question Islamic precepts by
unveiling herself," fumed a statement from student members of the
Basij, a radical volunteer militia attached to Iran's Revolutionary
Guards. "She has also provoked the religious sentiments of students
by publicly shaking the hand of a man at Amir Kabir university, which
has provoked several weeks of tensions at the university," said the
statement, which was carried by the ultra-conservative Jomhuri Islami
newspaper. Reformist lawyer Ebadi, who was recognised for her work for
the rights of women and children in Iran, was handed the prize by the
head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Ole Danbolt Mjoes, at a
glittering ceremony at the Oslo City Hall .
Some Elements Trying to Manipulate Student Movement - 11 Dec 03
Some political parties and opportunists are trying to turn the student
movement into an anarchist movement, said former Student Basij
commander Ali Zakani. He added that the student movement is sometimes
involved in activities not expected of educated people which sometimes
lead to social and political problems. The student movement also
suffers from absolutism and emotionalism, he said. "The lack of
independence and factional inclinations of the student movement have
always threatened the movement, allowing factions or individuals to
take advantage of the movement. This has been clearly witnessed in
recent years," he added.
The Basij group is believed to have been behind an attack on Ebadi
last week, when around 50 hardliners stopped her giving a speech at
Al-Zahra women's university in Tehran by chanting slogans including
"Death to Ebadi" and "Shirin the American, ask for pardon". The
Iranian human rights advocate is the third Muslim and the 11th woman
to receive the Nobel Peace Prize since it was founded in 1901. The
award consists of a diploma, a gold medal, and a cheque for 10 million
Swedish kronor (about $1.9 million) [EUR 1,1 m].
The Basijis, the men wearing camouflage fatigues and the women in the
all-embracing black shador, who according to their own estimate
numbered around 15,000, chanted the usual slogans.
The statement also warned "domestic enemies", saying that "in this
[international] crisis... all those who attempt to break unity are
committing an act of treason against Iranians and the Islamic
Republic". .. Each factory, mosque or university has its own basijis,
who are often dispatched to break up political disputes and
'Enlightened' Islam grants Iranian women greater custody rights
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/10_12_03/art25.asp - 10 Dec 03
Previously under Iran's strict Islamic law, divorced mothers only had
the right to keep their daughters until the age of seven, whereas
their sons were taken away at the age of two. [Presidential Advisor]
Shojaie highlighted the importance of the new law giving judges the
right to award women custody of their children regardless of their age
if their fathers were not qualified parents. "Shiite jurisprudence
allows rules to be open for interpretation, and the faqih, or
religious legislator, examines closely all that is taking place in the
society and interprets what constitute women's rights and men's rights
based on his reading of Sharia," she said at the end of her three-day
visit to Lebanon.
Baghdad Blogger - 10 Dec 03
In the looters' market, a DVD singing the praises of the so-called
resistance is selling like the hot bread of Bab al-Agha.
It was in Arabic verse, so it rhymes better than my loose translation.
It went on and on, praising the bravery of the so-called resistance.
The driver was playing it really loud, as if to make sure everybody in
the neighbourhood was aware of his peculiar musical tastes. It wasn't
exactly sung, it was done in the way eulogisers sing. We call them
maddahs and they are usually accompanied by an instrument that looks
like a huge tambourine without the cymbals but with little chains on
the inside that rattle as you hit it. So this maddah was shouting
from the taxi I was in - shouting things that would fall directly
under Mullah Bremer's fatwa about inflammatory verbal attacks on the
coalition, ie, Mr Taxi Driver should be in jail, and I am in there
contemplating the effects jumping out of the car might have on my
The best place to visit when looking for iffy merchandise is the
looters' market at Bab al-Sharji. You used to go there and find stuff
spread out on a blanket, most of it stolen. And the vendor doesn't
know what most of it is used for anyway. After the war and all the
looting, the blankets became stalls and you would find there
everything from unused computers to used batteries - don't ask me who
would buy those. The most interesting development was the stalls that
sell bootleg movies. Porn sits beside religious sermons. At every
stall is a small television and you can preview your chosen DVD. It is
always fun to walk past the stalls and listen to the audio collage,
but this time all the stalls were playing the same thing - the scary
disc I heard in the taxi. On each stall, people crowded around
watching that thing. It was selling like the hot bread of Bab al-Agha.
The cover of the DVD only has American Army written on it and,
surprisingly enough, once you start it, it gives you the name and
address of the maddah and the production team, which means they either
have bat shit for brains or they just don't care and have bat shit for
brains. The images they use are mainly from the al-Jazeera and
Arabiyah networks - seriously bad stuff. There is one single shot
which is not from TV networks. It shows two men on a motorbike, they
come into the shot wearing kafiyehs around their faces and, as they
drive away, you see one of them is carrying an RPG launcher.
Woman dies from grievous injuries received after hit by lorry - 09 Dec
Maldives' Law No 7/95 relating to land vehicles states that a person
who is responsible for reckless driving will receive the punishment as
prescribed by Islamic Sharia and that his/her license will be held for
10 years. The law also says that if a victim receives injuries or
loses his/her life due to accidents caused by reckless driving, the
driver will have to pay compensation and has to be jailed or banished
for a period between six months to two years while his/her license
will be held for three years. The law also states that a person who
drives recklessly with the potential to cause injury or death to
others is liable to be jailed or banished or placed under house arrest
for a period of six months to one year, while his/her driving license
can be held for one to two years.
Human rights commission established in Maldives - 11 Dec 03
The human rights commission was established "in accordance with the
(Maldives) Constitution and the relevant International Conventions to
which the Maldives is party" to, the President's Office said in a
press release Wednesday.
Speaking to the local media on Wednesday, Gayoom said that the Human
Rights Commission is at present established by a Presidential Decree
and that the commission would function in accordance with the Paris
Principles, as adopted by the UN General Assembly, which sets out
recommendations for the role, functions, and nature of human rights
institutions. He further said that the drafting of a separate Act is
currently underway and that it would be submitted to the People's
Majlis (parliament) early next year.
[Bauchi] Sharia Court Convicts Prostitutes [Daily Trust - Abuja]
http://allafrica.com/stories/200312090349.html - 09 Dec 03
A Sharia court sitting in Missau, in Bauchi state has convicted eight
women for idleness and prostitution, just as the stated Sharia
commission raided liquor joints and arrested seven persons and
confiscated 47 cartons of beer. Similarly, the Sharia commission in
an enlightenment campaign in Bununu district of Tafawa Balewa local
government area at the weekend explained that the commission is not
desirous in prosecuting people, but to have a society free of social
The eight women, according to the court were arrested by men of the
Sharia enforcement team in the state - Hisbah and were charged to the
court by the police and found to have committed the offence and were
sentenced to three thousand naira [EUR 17,- ] fine and 10 strokes of
the cane. Testifying before the court, the commander of the Hisbah
team in Missau Alhaji Yahaya, said the convicts were arrested in
different brothels in Misau town, loitering about as commercial sex
[Lagos] Muslims Mark Sharia's 1st Anniversary in Lagos - 11 Dec 03
Lagos Muslims under the umbrella of Supreme Council for Sharia in
Nigeria (SCSN) will on Saturday celebrate the first anniversary of the
implementation of sharia in the state. The SCSN said in a press
release that it is organising the anniversary in the state to create
awareness for the Independent Sharia Panel created by it last year,
adding that to this end, a one-day seminar with the theme:"Living with
Sharia" will be held on Saturday at 1004 Estate Central Mosque,
Victoria Island Lagos. The statement explained that papers titled
"Relevance of Sharia," "Eradication of Capital Punishment" and
"Immunisation Vaccines: How Safe for Children and Adult" would be
delivered by NationalMissioner, Anser Ud Deen Society of Nigeria, Imam
Abdur Rahman Ahmad, Professor Awwal Yadudu and Professor Hussein Abdul
This is a citizen's response to the introduction of Sharia Civil Law
in Lagos State of Nigeria. Our Constitution is so controversial and is
open to so many interpretations that only the Supreme Court can
rightly interprete its provision( we will soon publish and circulate
our petion so if you have not signed it please do). Mr Adeshina is
correct when he says that the Constitution provides for the
establishment of Sharia Courts of Appeal in the Federating States and
make for the appointment of a Grand Khadi and other judges to
administer the Courts of Appeal.The Constitution is however silent on
establishment of Area Sharia Courts, which are now established under
State Law. The Constitution however stipulates that these courts are
to expressly administer Muslim PERSONAL law not CRIMINAL.
Persecution of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan
Harvard Human Rights Journal / Vol. 16, Spring 2003 / ISSN 1057-5057
[NWFP] 'MMA govt wants public debate on women's rights' - 10 Dec 03
The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) government wants extensive debate
among experts and stakeholders over the proposed laws for women's
rights, North West Frontier Province (NWFP) Chief Minister Akram Khan
Durrani said on Tuesday, opening a three-day workshop on the laws. The
workshop has been arranged by the NWFP Law Department to discuss the
laws it drafted for the protection of women's rights. Mr Durrani said
that consultation on all issues was a basic principle of Islam and
that the MMA government would follow it in all its policies. He said
that some customs in society had been given preference over Quranic
injunctions but the MMA government would implement laws according to
Sharia. "It is my firm belief that the laws shall be finally take
shape in such a manner that they do not clash with federal laws," he
said. The chief minister said all his government's policies were open
to public debate and he wanted expert opinion on all vital issues.
Clerics, lawyers and representatives from several non-governmental
organisations will express their opinion on the six proposed laws at
the workshop. Briefing the workshop participants, NWFP Law Secretary
Amir Gulab Khan said the NWFP government drafted the laws from scratch
and that the final draft would be given after a thorough discussion.
He said the Law Department thought it necessary to put the draft laws
before clerics, jurists, lawyers and other people before getting them
passed by the assembly. The six drafted laws which are to be discussed
in the workshop are, Qasamat, Talaq-e-Mughaliza (The pronouncement of
word 'divorce' three times in one go), depriving women of their share
in property, prevention of violence against women in the name of
honour, child marriages and banning the custom of swara* and declaring
it a penal offence.
Swara is a custom in which a girl is married into a family whose
member has been killed by the girl's family.
Palestinian Islamic group insists on refugees' right of return -07 Dec
.. [Xinhua News Agency]
The Palestinian Religious League issued on Sunday a fatwa (religious
decree) that prohibits any renouncement of Palestinian refugees' right
of return. The League, which comprises a number of prominent Muslim
clerics in the Palestinian territories, issued the fatwa in response
to the signing of the unofficial Geneva Accord peace initiative on
Monday. "Any accord or initiative that overlooks or renounces the
refugees' right of return to their lands, from where they were
expelled in 1948, is religiously prohibited and invalid," the fatwa
said. .. The Islamic group also warned the refugees against
accepting any financial compensation in exchange for their right of
return, saying anyone doing it would be considered as a "traitor and
would remain doomed."
[Mindanao] Muslims to be taught family planning - 11 Dec 03
Islamic teachings or fatwa on family planning including the use of
some contraceptives will be taught in mosques nationwide next year,
the first attempt by Muslim religious leaders to address reproductive
health among believers. The fatwa, which will start in Tawi-Tawi, was
borne from consultations among 100 Islamic teachers on what the Q'uran
says on family planning. In a news conference Thursday in Quezon
City, Sukarno Asri, Tawi-Tawi health officer, admitted that many
Muslim couples have not practiced family planning owing to the lack of
information on what Islam says on birth-control methods. He said a
recent survey that says Muslims in the Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM) do not practice family planning thinking that this is
haram [prohibited] in Islam. According to the fatwa, which has been
approved by the Mufti (highest Islamic religious leader in Tawi-Tawi),
while family planning may be new to most Muslims, there are verses in
the Q'uran which mention its importance. In addition, there have been
international Islamic conferences that adhere to the belief that Islam
is not against family-planning methods as long as they are legal and
in accordance to the Shari'a law.
religious police getting trained to be more courteous - 08 Dec 03
Saudi Arabia's religious police -- long resented for intimidating
people and meddling in the tiniest details of life -- are being
trained to be more courteous in their job of enforcing the kingdom's
strict version of Islamic law, the force's president told The
Associated Press. .. The tone is changing -- though not the rules
themselves -- . .. "The committee sometimes spies on people," said
political analyst Dawood al-Shirian. "It's not only their style that
should change. It's also their mandate, which has become too broad."
For instance, a Saudi woman said she was beaten and jailed for days a
few years ago for attending a dinner party -- without her husband --
that included the spouses of her female friends. An Arab woman was
detained for not being properly covered, then asked why she had many
men listed in her cell phone directory. And a Western woman was
marched out of a coffee bar for smoking.
Al-Ghaith, who as head of the religious police carries the rank of a
Cabinet minister, described the force's task as the "mission of
prophets and apostles." .. That means women must be covered in
black, the sexes are not allowed to mix in public, shops must close
five times a day for prayers and men must go to the mosque and
worship. Violators are usually yelled at by the muttawa and sometimes
dragged to jail. Al-Ghaith said senior judges and university
professors have given more than 30 courses to members of the committee
since last year to improve their performance to teach them how to deal
Investigators are also using clerics to assist in interrogations of
hundreds of terrorist suspects arrested as part of an assault on
al-Qaeda cells throughout the kingdom. Judges and scholars are also
brought into al Hayer prison to lecture terrorist suspects in their
late teens and early 20s, say Saudi officials, confirming a report in
the Saudi Gazette.
[Jeddah business man & former tv-host] Shobokshi contends that a thin
line separates the terrorists from the fundamentalists. "The problem
is differentiating between the extremists who carry a gun," he said,
"and extremists who spread the word."
Brothels and bombs in Saudi Arabia - 08 Dec 03
The compound attacked on November 9 was inhabited mainly by Lebanese,
Palestinians and Egyptians, and it had earned notoriety as a "pleasure
ground" for Saudi "playboys" in a country in which prostitution is
outlawed. Apparently, some of the female residents of the compound
were well known for their "exotic erotica", for which they were
showered with money and gifts. According to an Associated Press
report, "Muhaya had a coffee shop where residents of both sexes
chatted over water pipes and watched foreign movies and other
entertainment on a big screen television. It was located next to a
pool where women swam in bikinis." The goings-on in the compound were
seemingly known to the authorities, including agents of the Saudi
religious police - the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and
Prevention of Vice - but nothing had been done about it, much to the
anger of conservatives who wanted to "eliminate the evil in their
society" and what they called the "Arab brothel of Riyadh".
.. The "pleasure center" at the Muhaya compound was not the only one
of its kind in the country. More trouble can be expected.
Thailand seeks help to market halal food to Islamic countries - 09 Dec
.. [New Straits Times]
The Thai Government is seeking Malaysia's co- operation to market its
halal food to Islamic countries since it is well received here. ..
The Thais are seeking the halal logo issued by the Department of
Islamic Development (Jakim), which is internationally accepted.
Thailand has difficulty exporting halal food using its logos which
were not recognisable by consumers from Islamic countries.
[comment] A new front in the war - 10 Dec 03
What is too often unappreciated is that al Qaeda loathes the Turkish
Republic because it was founded on the ruins of the Islamic theocracy
that was the Ottoman Empire. The sultan, who ruled from Istanbul, was
both a head of state and the theoretical leader of the world's
Muslims, the caliph. Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey,
formally abolished the caliphate in 1924 and ended the role of sharia
(Islamic law), to the widespread dismay of Muslim clerics at the time.
Today's Islamic radicals want to restore the caliphate and impose the
sharia on what they regard as the dismayingly secular Turkish society
created by Ataturk. The current Turkish government, which has a clear
Islamic tilt, recognizes the depth of the ideological challenge from
the terrorists. Indeed, the Islamic roots of the ruling Justice and
Development Party mean that it could be well positioned politically to
fight off the extremists.
Turkey has an ambiguous counterterrorism record. Too often fire has
been fought with fire, without regard to the political ramifications.
The wave of political violence of the 1970s was ended by a military
coup and the suspension of civil liberties. The battle against Kurdish
separatist terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s left a legacy of torture,
intimidation, burnt down villages and hundreds of thousands of
refugees that continue to haunt Turkey's bid to join the EU.
[prisons] No holds barred - 10 Dec 03
What [David] Wilson - professor of criminology at the University of
Central England - heard is a hideous indictment of race relations in
young offender institutions (YOIs). In the privacy of interview rooms
in three jails across England, 45 teenage boys, aged 16 and 17,
vividly described the racism they are dealt by prison officers.
Religion is also a target. The interviews were conducted at the height
of the debate over whether Britain should go to war in Iraq. Several
of the Muslim inmates described the bearing that their faith had on
their treatment. One boy told Wilson that officers had said: "We're
bombing your country. We're sending missiles over to bomb you to
None of the specific incidents included in the report is present in
the service's monitoring of racist incidents because none had been
reported. Those who had complained on other occasions had no faith in
the system's effectiveness.
Wilson, who says he was chairman of the race relations team in every
prison at which he was governor, tells a story about how, in one jail,
a group of Muslim prisoners, convinced their meat was not halal, sent
Wilson repeatedly to ask the catering manager for proof. The manager
eventually owned up. "That man got sacked," says Wilson. "The message
to me was that you have to have the courage to check and re-check, and
poke beneath the surface to really discover what's going on." Personal
assurances, he discovered, were never going to be good enough.
Source: from interviews with 45 young men by Prof David Wilson,
published in Playing the Game - the Experiences of Young Black Men in
Custody, by The Children's Society (020-7841 4400).
WIBC hears call for a single Islamic banking global authority - 11 Dec
The Islamic banking and finance industry is in grave need of a single
global authority which will set unified standards for the entire
industry, the 10th World Islamic Banking Industry Conference (WIBC)
was told Monday.
Such an authority would have to be objective, independent, balanced,
serve the public interest and have full authority to set standards
which incorporated input from various market players, he told some 500
bankers who attended the two-day conference which ended on Dec 8.
According to the local newspaper Gulf Daily News, Dr Alchaar described
how Islamic banking and finance standards today are torn between
international centres, and between supervisory boards.
Explaining how the AAOIFI [Accounting and Auditing Organisation for
Islamic Financial Institutions] works with Syariah advisory boards to
issue standards, Dr Alchaar noted that some Syariah's supervisory
boards are issuing decrees which differ from the AAOIFI's standards.
"There should be unified syariah's standards," said Dr Alchaar.
Underlining his call for a single global authority and unified
standards, Dr Alchaar cautioned that the Islamic banking and finance
industry may not benefit from following the informal Basel Committee
on Banking Supervision's guidelines which apply to conventional
banking and finance institutions the world over. "Islamic banks are
very small compared to the big powerhouses," he said. "If we follow
the same laws, small banks will be affected - they will be subjected
to shocks." The committee's first Capital Accords - known as Basel I
- was introduced in 1988. A new framework - Basel II - was proposed in
June 1999 and is expected to be implemented by the end of 2006.
[UK] End Islamic Banking Prejudice - 08 Dec 03
Former chairman of the UK's FSA Sir Howard Davies called for an end to
prejudices against Islamic banking at an conference in Bahrain
yesterday. He said the problem is to set international standards that
encompass both systems, and recommended representation for Islamic
banks on the Basel Committee.
The New Basel Capital Accord (also known as Basel II) is due to be
completed by the middle of next year - with implementation required by
the end of 2006. London School of Economics and Political Science
director Sir Howard Davies thinks any new rules should also be applied
to Islamic finance. He would also like to see an Islamic nation
represented on the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision - which is
responsible for drawing up Basel II.
"The new Basel capital principles need to be interpreted in a way to
encompass the different characteristics of risk in Islamic finance.
"Two sets of rules will not be helpful - the Islamic financial
industry would find it difficult to operate." The Basel Committee
boasts members from 13 countries including Belgium, Canada, France,
Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, the UK
and the US. "There is no Islamic centre involved in the Basel
Committee," said Sir Howard, who oversaw the founding of the Financial
Services Authority (FSA) - the UK regulatory body - in 2001.
They are minimum capital requirements; supervisory review of an
institution's international assessment process and capital adequacy;
and effective use of disclosure to strengthen market discipline. Sir
Howard is keen to see Islamic products accommodated in these three
areas. He added that there is growing demand for such products in
Western countries. "There is evidence in Western countries that there
is demand for Sharia products in Islamic communities," he said.
One of the current issues being discussed in Europe is how to treat
deposits in accordance with Sharia principles. A possible solution is
for customers to profit-share with the bank, rather than accrue
interest on their money. But that would also means them sharing in
the bank's losses. "That does not fit the normal definition of a
bank deposit," said Sir Howard. "But in the UK finance system we have
something called an investment fund. You could make a deposit and
treat it like a mutual fund. "That is the issue that is being looked
at in Europe by the FSA."
Gulf Arab investors plan Islamic bank in Bahrain - 10 Dec 03
Gulf Arab individuals and financial institutions are planning to set
up a new and strong Islamic bank in Bahrain with an authorized capital
of $3 billion, a senior Bahraini banker said. Chief executive of the
Bahrain Islamic Bank Adnan Youssef said some cash-rich investors from
Gulf Arab states have already pledged to contribute around $800
million in the bank, which will have a paid-in capital of $1.5
billion. "There is a need for a strong Islamic institution to go
along with the current era," Youssef said.
Well-informed bankers also said at least two firms from Saudi Arabia,
including a pan-Arab and a privately owned company, plan to establish
investment banks in Bahrain. One of them has already completed a
visibility study, and is likely to announce the plan in the next two
months. They said a Bahrain-based investment bank is in the process
of seeking a license to open a new bank in Bahrain, one banker said
without giving further details. There are more than 100 banks and
finance house operating from Bahrain, the Gulf's financial and banking
hub, including 50 offshore banking units, 26 Islamic banks and 20
commercial banks, with combined assets of around $100 billion.
Capital Intelligence upgrades ADIB's financial strength ratings-10 Dec
Rating agency Capital Intelligence (CI) has raised the financial
strength rating of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) to A- from BBB+. The
foreign currency ratings were affirmed at A- for long-term and A2 for
short-term and the support rating at 3. Outlooks remains Stable for
all the ratings. ADIB is 10 percent owned by Abu Dhabi Investment
Authority (ADIA) and members of the ruling family and other prominent
private shareholders own a further 29 percent of the bank. ADIB's
balance sheet is characterized by strong capitalization and high
liquidity, as Murabaha placements with banks/financial institutions
dominate the asset base.
Dubai Islamic Bank to launch first Islamic shipping investment company
.. - 10 Dec 03
Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) in association with the Tufton Oceanic
Finance Group (Tufton) today announces the establishment of the
Alislami Oceanic Shipping Company Limited (AOSC), a vehicle through
which Islamic investors may participate in the GCC and world shipping
market by investing in internationally trading marine vessels. AOSC
is jointly promoted by Dubai Islamic Bank and Tufton and will provide
an Islamically compliant source of finance for regional ship-owners
and operators to acquire commercial vessels. AOSC will be capitalized
at US$100 million. DIB and Tufton have committed to underwrite the
Islamic equity subscription of AOSC. Tufton will manage and administer
AOSC through its Isle of Man based investment management subsidiary.
The UAE, with almost 800 kilometers of coastline bordering both the
Gulf and the Indian Ocean, has 15 commercial ports. Dubai is the
acknowledged gateway to a market of an estimated 2 billion people in
the Gulf Countries, Arab World and surrounding region.
[Bahrain] Murabaha offer by Noriba Bank - 08 Dec 03
Noriba Bank has announced the launch of Range Murabaha Investments
(RaMI), an innovative new product that offers capital preservation
while allowing investors the opportunity to optimise the risk-adjusted
returns on their short-term investments. RaMI is a Sharia-compliant
structured yield investment alternative which provides investors with
the potential to earn up to 10 per cent per annum, significantly
higher than normal 'Murabaha' (Sharia-compliant trade finance)
investments. RaMI investors select their benchmark commodity or
currency and its performance within a selected price range band,
thereby planning for a higher overall return within a given time
period. Periodic Murabaha trades are carried out over the life of
the investment. Once the individual Murabaha deferred sales proceeds
are due, any profit arising from the investment is paid to the
investor. The original amount is re-invested in another Murabaha
transaction, and so on.
Kuwait To License Islamic Banks - 08 Dec 03
The Central Bank of Kuwait is to begin accepting applications for
Islamic banking licences from December 10, according to KUNA. In the
first phase three banks including Kuwait Finance House will be
licenced; second will be a bank partly owned by the KIA, and the third
will be a local bank that is being transformed into an Islamic one.
[Malaysia] BNM to issue savings bonds - 09 Dec 03
[Malaysian central bank] Bank Negara will issue up to RM2 billion [EUR
433 m] in Islamic Merdeka Savings Bonds in eight tranches with the
first amounting to RM500 million to be issued on Feb 4, 2004, says a
central bank senior official. The bonds, which are based on Syariah
principles carrying a 5% tax-free return per annum, have a tenure of
two years. The coupon rate is set at a premium of 1.3% against the
current fixed deposit rate of 3.7%. The current savings interest is
less than 2%. The country's banking system has about RM5.44 billion in
deposits. The Islamic Merdeka Savings Bonds have features akin to
conventional bonds and are secured by Bank Negara's physical assets.
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in tabling the Budget
2004 last September, announced that the government would issue the Bon
Simpanan Merdeka, a savings instrument with attractive profits to help
cushion the low interest rates regime on senior citizens. "We are not
competing against the commercial banks, but providing a savings
instrument with attractive profits for senior citizens," the senior
Bank Negara official said at a media briefing yesterday. It is aimed
at citizens above 55 years who are not employed on a permanent basis
and Malaysian Armed Forces personnel who are on mandatory retirement
and not employed on a permanent basis. He said some 2.7 million
Malaysians are believed to be in the senior citizen bracket. The
official said applicants must also not be adjudged bankrupt at the
point of sales.
[Malaysia] BCB making re-entry into Islamic banking - 09 Dec 03
Bumiputhra-Commerce Bank Bhd (BCB) is actively making a re-entry into
Islamic banking, following the sale of its stake in Bank Muamalat,
either through the conventional Islamic banking window or a new
Islamic banking licence. Banking sources told StarBiz that BCB was
waiting for the sale of its Bank Muamalat stake to be completed before
deciding on the step to be taken. Among the other anchor banks, RHB
Bank recently announced that it had applied for an Islamic banking
[South Africa] Sustaining long-term growth - 11 Dec 03
The first fund management group in South Africa to offer Shariah-
compliant investments was Oasis. The group has since enjoyed success
on the international stage, giving high returns compared with similar
managed funds. Adam Ismail Ebrahim discusses the strategy that has
driven Oasis forward.
The one enduring characteristic of equity markets is that, regardless
of the return they offer, they are inherently volatile. Markets tend
to over-react to both good and bad news and thus short-term returns
tend to be either excessively high or low. Creating and sustaining
wealth over the long term, therefore, requires that investors are able
to realise their investments at any time without having their
investments materially reduced by a short-term cycle within the
market. In modern portfolio theory there are two sources of return
from an investment in the equity market: the return of the market as a
whole and the value added/destroyed by the selection of individual
stocks within the market. [..]
Unfortunately, this is a market that has been served particularly
badly, with most Shariah-compliant funds focusing on very passive
methods of investment that have tracked the Dow Jones Islamic Market
Index. Given the technology exposure in this market, it has performed
even worse than the broad MSCI World Index, and investors have lost
40% of their money in three years. The Crescent Global Equity Fund,
managed by Oasis, is a Shariah-compliant fund that can be benchmarked
against the Dow Jones Islamic Market Index. All stocks in this
portfolio concur with the standards and regulations set out by the Dow
Jones Islamic Market Index Shariah supervisory board. Over the
two-year period between December 2000 and December 2002, the fund
outperformed the Dow Jones Islamic Index by 35.2%.
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