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Sharia News Watch 41

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  • Enzo Picardie
    Sharia News Watch 41 : a collection news quotes on Sharia, for research & educational purposes only. [*] Subscribe: shariawatch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 11, 2003
      Sharia News Watch 41 : a collection news quotes on Sharia,
      for research & educational purposes only. [*]
      Subscribe: shariawatch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
      all editions: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shariawatch/


      NSW vows to protect Muslims from harassment 06 Mar 03
      As war looms in Iraq, the NSW Government has promised to close a legal
      loophole that could leave Australian Muslims vulnerable to harassment
      or vilification. The State Government is awaiting the findings of a
      legal test case, due by May, to decide if it needs to amend the
      Anti-Discrimination Act and extend its legal protection to Muslims.
      while federal discrimination law prohibits discrimination or
      vilification based on race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin, the
      NSW Anti-Discrimination Board admits there is no express protection
      for religious groupings like Muslims.

      The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission launched a website
      forum on racism just this month to ask whether Muslims constitute an
      ethnic group. In 1998 the commission urged that religious
      discrimination be made unlawful in all areas of public life, with
      exemptions for religious institutions, but its recommendations have
      not been acted upon.
      The NSW Department of Corrective Services is challenging the right of
      a Muslim prisoner to be served halal food. Halal food cannot contain
      pork and must be blessed by a recognised Muslim leader. "If somebody
      says all Muslims should be killed, all Muslims are terrorists, all
      Muslims should be deported, we will not serve Muslims, they will not
      be in breach of the Anti-Discrimination Act if the position is upheld
      in the tribunal," Mr Puplick said.


      chief mufti issues an edict against underage marriage 07 Mar 03
      Azerbaijan's chief mufti Allahshukur Pashazade issued an edict
      forbidding Muslims from marrying underage girls, the Spirtual
      Administration of Muslims of the Caucasus said Friday.
      The Islamic edict follows an appeal by Aliovsat Aliyev, head of the
      Legal Center for the Defense of Migrants, to the Muslim community to
      put an end to underage marriages. Aliyev had complained about reports
      that near Azerbaijan's border with Iran, girls as young as 13 were
      getting married.


      Alliance Mps' vow to uphold fatwa 07 Mar 03
      A leaflet circulated yesterday renewed fundamentalist calls for
      enforcement of fatwa. The constitution will be based on Islamic
      edicts, according to the leaflet of the Islami Ain Bastabayan
      Committee with the mention of Mufti Fazlul Haq Amini and Mufti
      Mohammad Wakkas, both lawmakers from the ruling four-party alliance.
      "Fatwa was in the past, exists now and will continue in future. Only
      fatwa will be the constitution," says the leaflet.
      The High Court in a verdict on January 1, 2001 said any fatwa or
      so-called legal opinion not given by any court is illegal. The two
      leaders and other fundamentalists declared the judges murtad (infidel)
      after the verdict.


      Web site says 18 Russian soldiers and Chechen "collaborators" killed
      .. [Kavkaz-Tsentr news] 07 Mar 03
      It was reported that a prominent collaborator from the occupying
      power-wielding bodies of the district was killed in the town of Shali
      on Tuesday by a verdict of the Shari'ah court.


      AME Info, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 05 Mar 03
      The National Bank of Sharjah, which converted from traditional to
      Islamic banking last year, has reported a fall in profit from USD20.8
      million to USD15.3 million for 2002. General manager Said Mohammed
      blamed the cost of transformation and a switch to fresh assets. NBS is
      planning to launch an Islamic Visa card, he said


      New Edict: No Calling Jews "Pigs" 11 Mar 03
      Albawaba.com, an Arab affairs news website and portal, reported the
      issuance of a new fatwa, or edict, by the chief Islamic authority in
      Egypt, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi. The sheikh, religious head of
      the al-Azhar University in Cairo, declared that it is now forbidden to
      describe "present-day Jews as `monkeys and pigs'." The fatwa was
      issued under the auspices of the Islamic Research Academy at al-Azhar,
      chaired by Tantawi.

      According to albawaba.com, the decision was the result of a request by
      Egypt's Foreign Ministry, when "the embassy in Washington had learnt
      that there was objection among Americans to the use of this
      description of the Jews...."


      [Ayodhya] Hearing begins on Babri mosque 06 Mar 03
      India's Supreme Court began hearings Thursday on whether to permit
      Hindus to worship next to the ruins of a mosque, whose destruction a
      decade ago set off nationwide communal riots.

      The court may also decide whether the disputed land should be handed
      over to a Hindu trust which claims to be the original owner of the
      site in the northern town of Ayodhya-which the Hindu community
      believes was the birthplace of the warrior god Ram. The hearing
      follows a petition by the Hindu nationalist-led federal government
      asking India's top court to overturn its judgment last year that
      banned "religious activities of any nature" at the sensitive area.

      Allahabad HC orders excavation of Babri premises 05 Mar 03
      A special bench of the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday directed the
      Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to excavate the disputed Ram
      Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya.
      The excavation is aimed at discovering whether there was a Ram temple
      at the site and if the mosque was constructed after its demolition.
      "Today's order raises our hope of finally resolving the 400-year-old
      dispute over a site that is very dear to Hindu sentiments," said Vijay
      Kumar Malhotra, spokesman of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata
      Party (BJP), the principal party in India's coalition government. "We
      believe that an ancient Hindu temple was destroyed in the 16th century
      by a Muslim ruler to build the mosque. The excavation is the only way
      to resolve the debate."

      [Talaq] Court comes to the aid of Muslim wives 08 Mar 03
      http://in.news.yahoo.com/030308/43/21z09.html [Reuters]
      Lawyers and Muslim community leaders Saturday welcomed a court ruling
      against recognising a 'talaq' or divorce by mail as valid. A
      magistrate's court here had on Friday, the eve of International
      Women's Day, ruled that 'talaq-ul-biddat', or the pronouncement of
      talaq thrice, through the post could not be considered valid.
      Metropolitan Magistrate Kamini Lau had pronounced the judgement in the
      case of a Muslim woman who got a letter from her husband in 1999 with
      the word "talaq" written three times. The letter did not mention any
      In May last year, Mumbai High Court's Aurangabad bench had made
      Islamic divorce valid only if proved in a court of law. It said Muslim
      law prescribes that there should be a process of reconciliation before
      divorce and that an "instant divorce" is not part of Islamic law, the
      Shahabuddin [All India Muslim Personal Law Board] said the Quran
      recommends reconciliation at least twice before the divorce. But this
      is hardly followed and there is gross misuse of the existing law.
      People give divorce on the telephone and even while drunk, he added.

      "Pronouncing talaq three times in one breath is also anti-Islamic. But
      it is widely practised. There should be a gap of one month between
      each pronouncement," explained [lawyer Saiba] Faroqui.
      Mohammad Moazzam Ahmed, vice head priest of the Fatehpuri mosque,
      said: "According to the Sharia, divorce by post is accepted provided
      it has evidence that the two sides had made enough effort at
      reconciliation. Divorce is only the last resort. Therefore, this
      judgement is interference with the Sharia."

      Legal experts, however, pointed out that the Sharia is practised
      differently in various Muslim countries and laws relating to women in
      an Islamic nation like Bangladesh are far more progressive than in
      India. To seek divorce in Bangladesh, a Muslim husband has to give a
      notice to the chairman of the local administrative unit and can leave
      his wife only 90 days after the notification. The chairman, on
      receiving the notice, constitutes an arbitration council to try to
      bring about reconciliation. In the 90-day period, the husband can even
      revoke the divorce.

      While delivering Friday's judgement, Lau noted that even in Pakistan
      there is a provision of an arbitration counsel, who assists in prior
      conciliation for divorce. Failure to follow this can lead to
      imprisonment of one year.

      [Uttar Pradesh] Muslim girl and Hindu lover beaten to death 06 Mar 03
      A Muslim girl and her Hindu lover were brutally beaten to death with
      iron bars by family members in a village not far from India's
      "monument to love", the Taj Mahal, police said on Thursday.
      The 18-year-old girl Vimla and her lover Guddan were from the same
      village but from different communities and had been seeing each other
      despite opposition from their families and villagers, Maurya said.

      The murder of couples who ignore strict caste and religious lines is
      not uncommon. The girl was from the mainly Muslim Pathan community and
      the boy from a mainly Hindu tribe. When the brothers discovered the
      [teenage] couple making love, then beat them to death with sticks,
      batons and an iron rod, the police official said.


      Police Support Islamic Law in Aceh 05 Mar 03
      Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Police chief, Inspector Gen Bachrumsyah
      Kasman, has said the police are ready to support the comprehensive
      implementation of the "Syariah" (Islamic law) in Indonesia's
      westernmost province.

      In carrying out their duty to protect the Syariah, the police will
      depend much on the legal formulation made by the Syariah Court, Kasman
      told newsmen here Tuesday. "If the canon has been approved, we will
      offer two alternatives -- to form a Syariah police under the
      provincial police or to form a Syariah police as an agency to control
      the function of the Islamic law in Aceh," he said.

      [Sumatra] Indon Muslims welcome new Islamic Year 06 Mar 03
      About four thousand students and various elements of Moslem society
      marched on the main streets of North Sumatra's provincial capital of
      Medan on Tuesday to welcome the new Islamic year. The new year of
      "the 1st of Muharram 1424 Hijriyah" which fell on Tuesday was also
      celebrated by Moslems in other parts of Indonesia and the Islamic
      world. .. They were entertained by Islamic music and lucky draws
      sponsored by some "Syariah" banks and insurance companies.


      EC Holds Extraordinary Session on Budget Bill 09 Mar 03
      In a bid to resolve outstanding differences between the Majlis and
      Guardian Council over next year's budget bill, the Expediency Council
      held an extraordinary session yesterday.

      The session -- [..] -- began with a report by EC's Macroeconomics and
      Trade Commission. The report dealt with the reasoning provided by the
      Guardian Council about its objection to various parts of the budget
      bill, and mostly centers on usury in a recently enacted foreign
      investment law, budget fundamentals, lack of budget line-items for
      some articles, lack of a balanced budget, and contradictions with the
      Constitution and Sharia law


      Will the U.S. nurture an Islamist Iraq? 07 Mar 03
      the December meeting departed radically from these expressions of
      Iraq's moderate Muslim and secular traditions and produced a
      "Political Statement of the Conference of the Iraqi Opposition"
      calling for religion to be the basis of a future Iraqi state.

      Article 3 states that "Islam is the state Religion," the "Islamic
      faith is one of the fundamental characteristics of the Iraqi state,"
      and the "rulings of the Islamic Sharia (law) are a key source for
      legislation." This call for Islamic law could mean anything from the
      freer systems of Malaysia and Bangladesh to the extremism - with
      repression of women and religious minorities, and stoning for adultery
      - found in Saudi Arabia, Iran, or under the Taliban. It is open to
      interpretation and implementation by any extreme element.

      Article 3 also calls for respect for "heavenly religions and other
      creeds," while Article 5 calls for political participation by "Shia
      and Sunni Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and adherents of other divine
      faiths." But these "heavenly" or "divine" religions are only those,
      such as Christians and Jews, regarded by Muslims as having received a
      revelation from God. Members of other religions, as well as agnostics
      and atheists, are not called to participate.


      Jews in Al Haram part of larger plan — official 05 Mar 03
      Israel's recent decision allowing Jews to perform rituals inside
      Jerusalem's Al Haram Al Sharif is the beginning of a larger plan to
      build a temple on the ruins of Al Aqsa Mosque, according to a senior
      official concerned with Jerusalem affairs.

      Secretary General of the Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs
      Abdullah Kanaan said "it would come as no surprise if occupation
      authorities and Ariel Sharon's government take the earliest
      opportunity to seize Al Haram Al Sharif" — Islam's third holiest
      shrine after Mecca and Medina.


      Background on Egyptian Jihad member killed in Lebanon 04 Mar 03
      The fundamentalist sources added that Abd-al-Sattar Jad was an expert
      in making explosives and left Egypt before he was accused in the
      Vanguards of the Conquest case. He went to Yemen in 1992 and from
      there to Afghanistan where he took part in the Soviet war. He then
      returned to Yemen and married the daughter of Muhammad Sharaf Id,
      another Jihad leader who was living in Yemen and was in charge of the
      Egyptian organization's shari'ah committee.
      Information received from Lebanon after his death confirms that he was
      in charge of a group of Arab Afghans and sought shelter in Ayn
      al-Hilwah Camp in Lebanon 10 years ago because he was unable to return
      to Egypt.
      It was the first time that an explosive was detonated to assassinate
      someone and was probably done by remote control from the air. It is
      believed that an Israeli aircraft was used to set off the explosion.


      Abdullah vows to fight PAS brand of Islam 09 Mar 03
      Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, a politician with stronger religious
      credentials than many Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) leaders, wants to
      take the fight to the opposition party at all levels of society.
      During the colonial period, he noted, the British put religious
      matters in the hands of the Malays and took charge of areas like
      education and development. Decades on, Umno politicians still accepted
      this division.

      As a result, when they spoke about Islam on the ground, they focused
      on the tenets of the religion and ignored the importance that the
      religion placed on striving for excellence and knowledge. Thus, the
      discourse of religion in the country is framed narrowly; a set of do's
      and don'ts, which favours PAS.
      When Dr Mahathir retires in October and Datuk Seri Abdullah takes
      over, he will be the first Malaysian Prime Minister with a strict
      Islamic background. His father and grandfather were religious scholars
      and he himself has a degree in Islamic studies.

      Non-Muslims can't hire Muslim maid? 11 Mar 03
      The Immigration Department is studying the possibility of disallowing
      non-Muslims from employing Muslim maids following reports that some
      have been asked to undertake tasks which were against their religion
      by employers.
      At present, non-Muslims are allowed to hire Muslim maids but they are
      required to sign a contract stipulating that they will not ask them to
      handle or cook food deemed haram by the religion, and that they must
      also be allowed to perform their prayers. Muslim domestic helpers must
      also be willing to work for non-Muslim employers.

      Mohd Jamal said although there were rules regarding the hiring of
      domestic helpers by non-Muslim employers, there were still reports
      alleging that maids were forced to handle pork, and not allowed to
      perform their prayers.
      The abuse of Indonesian maids garnered attention after Indonesia
      imposed a temporary freeze in allowing its citizens to go abroad to
      work as domestic helpers from March 1. Although Indonesia said the
      freeze was to streamline the training of maids before they were sent
      overseas, it is believed that it (the freeze) came about pursuant to
      cases of domestic helpers being abused by employers. Currently, there
      are about 200,000 foreign domestic helpers, largely Indonesians, in
      the country.

      Review Syariah with regard to inheritance, says DAP 10 Mar 03
      Perak DAP today urged the Government to re-examine Syariah that
      accords a woman only half what a male heir would inherit. State
      chairman Ngeh Koo Ham said such laws should be reviewed to see if they
      were created due to the environment which favoured men at the time.
      He said women were being paid lower salaries despite carrying out
      similar duties as their male counterparts and they were also often
      discriminated against in promotions. [New Straits Times]

      Fatwa Council To Discuss Status Of IVF Twins 07 Mar 03
      The National Fatwa Council will discuss the status of two sets of
      twins born separately in a period of two-and-a-half years through
      in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) and embryo freezing programme, at the
      next council meeting, said its chairman Datuk Dr Ismail Ibrahim.

      He said although pregnancy through in-vitro fertilisation is permitted
      under Islamic law, the council still had to discuss the matter as the
      first and second set of twins, of Shahruddin Mohamad, 37, an architect
      and his wife Khasnor Abdul Karim, 36, were born at different times.

      [Selangor] Divorced 22 hours before being caught 07 Mar 03
      Singer Joe Radzwill had divorced his wife 22 hours before he was
      caught for alleged khalwat [close contact] with actress Aida Rahim.
      Joe mentioned the `talak satu' divorce inside a car while the couple
      were on their way to buy presents for their one year-old daughter's
      birthday. His exact words were: "I lepaskan you dengan talak satu
      tanpa saksi (I am divorcing you on talak satu without any witnesses)."
      It was reported that the Selangor Religious Department (Jais) intends
      to charge Joe and Aida for khalwat despite a Thai certificate of
      marriage on Nov 16 last year being tendered as proof of their marriage.

      [Sabah] Couple held over major Syabu haul 07 Mar 03
      Meanwhile, a Muslim couple was arrested by enforcement personnel from
      the Sabah Islamic Affairs Department (Jheains) during a raid on a
      lodging house, off Mile 11/2, Jalan Utara, for khalwat (close
      proximity). The duo, in their 20s, are expected to be charged in the
      Syariah Court for the offence.

      `Provide financial aid to families of ISA detainees' 07 Mar 03
      The Home Ministry should provide families of Internal Security Act
      (ISA) detainees with financial support in lieu of the loss of income
      caused by the detention, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia said.
      He said the panel also received complaints from the Muslim detainees
      that they were not allowed to perform their Friday prayers while in
      Kamunting. "The prison authorities told us that the Perak mufti had
      issued a fatwa that those who were detained were not obligated to
      perform Friday prayers, and hence they were unable to allow the
      detainees to do so.''


      [Zamfara] Governor Zamfara state vows to implement shari'ah law
      .. [The Guardian - Nigeria] 07 Mar 03
      Governor Ahmed Sani Yerima of Zamfara State [northern Nigeria] has
      kicked off his campaign for second term in Kaura Namoda, headquarters
      of Kaura Namoda Local Council, vowing to carry out death penalties
      passed on anyone by a shari'ah court in the state. Similarly,
      amputation sentences by shari'ah courts would not be stopped.
      He said any husband or married woman, who committed adultery and is
      sentenced by a shari'ah court, would be stoned to death, adding that
      whoever killed somebody would be killed in accordance with the
      shari'ah legal system. According to Yerima, the next step of the
      shari'ah implementation would be based on "an eye for an eye, a tooth
      for a tooth, an ear for an ear and a nose for a nose."


      Govt Ready For Talks On LFO: Jamali 09 Mar 03
      Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali said on Saturday that his
      government was ready for talks with the opposition on the issue of
      Legal Framework Order (LFO).
      When he was asked about the implementation of Shariat in the Province,
      he said as far as the implementation of Shariat is concerned, there is
      a complete procedure for the purpose and two third majority of the
      parliament is needed to make any amendment in the constitution. As
      regards its implementation in NWFP, the provincial government has not
      prepared any document in this respect therefore I am not able to make
      any comment on the topic", he said.

      Repeal 'discriminatory' laws 09 Mar 03
      The Joint Action Committee for People's Rights has demanded repeal of
      all laws based on sex discrimination. The demand was made at a
      meeting, held in connection with the international women's day, at the
      HRCP auditorium here on Saturday.
      The meeting, through a resolution, asked the law makers to repel the
      Hadood Ordinances, law of Qisas and Diyat, the Qanoon-i-Shahadat as
      well as blasphemy law.
      Declaring its support to the forces which were raising their voice
      against the LFO, the resolution deplored the manner in which the
      constitution had been disregarded. In this connection it appreciated
      the efforts of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the movement it
      had launched against the LFO and for the protection of the
      independence of judiciary in the country.
      Earlier, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan general secretary Hina
      Jilani said that laws like the Enforcement of Hadood (Zina) Ordinance,
      Qisas and Diyat ordinance and the new Evidence Act contained
      provisions discriminating against the rights and interests of women in
      The women were being implicated and punished under these laws accusing
      them of committing various crimes. She said that women were murdered
      by their relatives in the name of honour and the killers had
      protection of law against such heinous crime.

      [Muharram] Basic facilities for mourners ordered 08 Mar 03
      [Karachi] Nazim Naimatullah Khan on Thursday night visited Imambargahs
      in various areas of Orangi Township, met their managements and talked
      about their difficulties and problems during Muharram days. He
      directed that problems of Imambargahs be immediately solved in view of
      the sanctity of Muharram-ul-Haram.

      He said during this sacred month, the condition of sanitation around
      Imambargahs and provision of water to mourners of processions passing
      through specified routes be ensured.

      On complaints of area people, the City Nazim asked the Nazim Orangi
      Town to arrange patch-work of major and important roads of the
      township. He said the money for this purpose would be provided by the
      city government.

      He directed the Town Municipal Officer to replace the defective and
      fused bulbs of street-lights. Regarding water shortage, Naimatullah
      directed the DO water supply and sewerage, to ensure water supplies in
      deficit areas.

      Ban on pillion riding opposed 06 Mar 03
      Political, religious, social, cultural circles and traders have
      strongly opposed the prohibition of pillion riding describing it
      unfair, illogical and useless exercise only to put the people into
      trouble. .. "there is no justification to impose this ban for the
      period of two months and creating troubles for the middle class whose
      mean of transportation in motor bike."
      Central President of Anjuman Tajiran, Khawaja Muhammad Shafiq said,
      "all bazaars, markets and shopping centres look deserted since the ban
      was imposed on pillion riding because 60 percent customers use
      Motorcycles in Pakistan and described this ban an ill conceived act of
      the administration."

      [NWFP] - Police warned against harassment 09 Mar 03
      SSP Islamabad Kaleem Imam has warned police officers against
      harassment and ordered them to prevent from bothering families, asking
      for marriage certificates and smelling breaths. The orders were issued
      in a circular that was sent to all SHOs in every police station. The
      circular warned that in case of a complaint quick action would be
      taken and an inquiry would be instigated against the officer in
      charge. These steps were taken after beefing up security in Islamabad
      during the month of Moharram-ul-Harram. The number of check points and
      check posts have been tripled to carry out a crackdown against crime,
      terrorism and sectarian violence.

      [NWFP] Introduction to Islamic System discussed 07 Mar 03
      An important meeting of the Nifaz-e-Shariah Council was held here
      Wednesday at the house of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP)
      Senior Minister under the presidentship of the chairman of the council
      Mufti Ghulam Rasool. The meeting discussed several issues including
      role of the Judiciary, police laws, tax system, riba free banking etc.
      The chairman said that the Governor [of the State Bank] has said that
      the one branch of the Bank of Khyber has introduced the riba free
      banking as a testing case.

      [NWFP] Headscarf for girl students urged 11 Mar 03
      The Nifaz-i-Shariat Council has recommended to the Muttahida
      Majlis-i-Amal government to declare wearing of scarf compulsory for
      female students in the province, it is reliably learnt.
      Separate educational institutions for women have also been recommended
      so that those who object to co-education can continue their education,
      the sources said.
      The council has condemned honour killings and the act of depriving
      women of inheritance. It has recommended severe punishment for anyone
      murdering in the name of honour. It also seeks to frame a law forcing
      the society to give inheritance rights to women.

      The council has also suggested punishment for a person pronouncing
      three talaq at a time. The government has also been advised to
      eliminate the custom of 'Swara' in society. Swara is a tradition under
      which one family gives girls in marriages to the rival family to patch
      up disputes. The council has asked the government to have strict
      control on cinema and cable TV networks to curb the spread of
      obscenity in society.

      Two Rape Cases 08 Mar 03
      AhmedpurEast : One Abdul Jabbar allegedly molested 2nd year student
      Miss Khalida at pistol point in Uchgillani. As per details the victim
      was going to her home after attending the college when one her
      relative Abdul Jabbar took her to his shop and confined. Later he
      raped the girl at pistol point in night who was got freed by her
      relatives after 24 hours. Uchsharif Police have registered a case
      under hudood ordinance against accused Abdul Jabbar who escaped from
      the scene.

      Second incident took place in Mauza Bakhu Aarbi where one Mushtaq
      Ahmed and his three armed accomplices Rustam and others forcibly
      entered the house of their neighbouring cultivator. Mushtaq allegedly
      sexually assaulted a girl Wazir Mai at pistol point while Rustam and
      two unknown culprits guarded them. Sadar Police have registered a case
      under hudood ordinance against Mushtaq and other persons in the light
      of the statement of Wazir Mai. No arrest has been made so far.


      Resisting Invaders Individual Duty: Qaradawi 08 Mar 03
      Delivering the sermon of Friday, March7 , at Omar Ibn Al-Kahttab
      mosque in the Qatari capital Doha, Al-Qaradawi issued a Fatwa (a
      religious edict) that it was not permissible for Arab and Muslim
      countries to let the United States use their airports, harbors and
      territories as a launching-pad for striking Iraq.


      Second Aussie faces flogging 07 Mar 03
      A foreign affairs spokesperson confirmed reports that a 38-year-old
      expatriate had been charged with alcohol-related offences which, under
      Saudi Arabia's strict form of Islamic justice, are punishable by
      flogging and jail.
      "The Australian embassy in Riyadh is providing consular assistance to
      a 37-year-old Australian who was arrested in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in
      August, 2002, for alleged possession of alchohol," the foreign affairs
      spokesperson said. "Possession of alcohol is a serious offence in
      Saudi Arabia and it is possible that if found guilty, the man may face
      a jail sentence and corporal punishment.

      Home- Grown Saudi Reform 07 Mar 03
      The second reform document is a petition signed by 104 Saudi
      intellectuals and presented to [Crown Prince] Abdullah on Jan. 22. The
      petition, which I briefly mentioned in a column a month ago, is titled
      "A Vision for the Present and Future of the Homeland." An English
      version is just now surfacing, and it's a humdinger. In essence, it
      calls for a Saudi constitution and bill of rights, carefully couched
      in the language and values of Islam.

      The Saudi intellectuals proposed an elected legislature, rather than
      the current Shura Council, which is appointed by the king; local and
      regional elections; an independent judiciary; and a royal guarantee of
      "freedom of expression, association, assembly, the right to vote and
      to participate, as well as all other human rights." It urges full
      rights for women, but within the Islamic sharia tradition. The
      petition also urged the royal family to "confront financial
      corruption, widespread bribery and the abuse of official power."

      That's heady stuff, especially in this tightly policed kingdom. Even
      more surprising was Abdullah's reaction. A day after receiving the
      petition, he invited the authors to meet with him. Though he made no
      specific commitments, he offered what several attendees described as a
      "favorable" response. The speculation in Riyadh is that local
      elections may be held within the next year, and at least part of the
      Shura Council will be elected by 2005.


      Turkish Muslims' conundrum 09 Mar 03
      [Ridvan] Cakir, deputy chairman of the Directorate for Religious
      Affairs, must decide how to instruct the country's 64 million Muslims
      about the looming war against Iraq and the country's role in it.

      This is a big conundrum for the directorate, whose purpose is to
      "enlighten the public on religion" and advise Turkey's 88,577
      religious leaders at its almost 71,300 mosques how to bring to people
      "the true essence of Islam," Cakir said.
      Turkey's policy of imposing strict government control over all things
      Islamic, from education to imams' paychecks to the text of Friday
      prayers, has worked as the generals intended so far, keeping the
      country from embracing radical Islam.
      In fact, although a party with Islamic roots rose to power last fall,
      there has been no talk in Ankara about the implementation of Islamic
      Shariah law, and the ruling Justice and Development Party, known by
      its Turkish acronym, AKP, has distanced itself from its own religious
      During elections last fall, only 20 percent of the people who cast
      their ballots for the Justice and Development Party were voting for
      the party's Islamic roots, polls showed. The rest supported it for its
      leaders' criticism of torture in Turkish prisons and their promises to
      repair Turkey's failing economy, fight widespread corruption, and
      pursue membership in the European Union.
      Although the Turkish constitution proclaims freedom of belief and
      worship, the government rigidly restricts public religious expression.
      The military regularly dismisses observant Muslims from what otherwise
      is mandatory military service for alleged "Islamic agitation," fearing
      that "such individuals have less loyalty to a secular, democratic
      state," the U.S. State Department said last fall in a report.

      Wearing Muslim religious dress -- such as a turban for men or hijab,
      the traditional head covering for women -- is prohibited in state
      sites, including government offices, courts, colleges and schools.
      Keeping the lid on Islam also means the state does not encourage its
      clergymen to improvise during their Friday sermons. Instead, the
      Directorate for Religious Affairs recommends that they read their
      prayers from the directorate's monthly Diyanet magazine. Each copy has
      four prayers, one for each Friday of the month. In the end, a Turkish
      imam's job is not much different from that of a schoolteacher.


      Cheerio Soldiers 10 Mar 03
      The Kosher Today online news service reports that among the British
      soldiers sent to the Gulf for the possible U.S.-led war against Iraq
      are 50 Jewish servicemen requesting kosher food, according to The
      Times of London. In addition to the Jews, the British military serves
      8,500 vegetarians, 3,500 Halal eaters (the Muslim equivalent of
      kosher), and 3,700 Sikhs and Hindus.

      Beef and pork proteins found in imported chicken 10 Mar 03
      The Guardian has learned that new tests by the food standards agency
      have detected beef and pork DNA in Dutch chicken on sale in this
      country. The findings call into question the ability of food safety
      authorities in Europe to protect the public. They will also cause
      alarm among religious groups who do not eat beef or pork on religious
      The latest FSA tests also show that hydrolysed pork proteins,
      extracted by chemical hydrolysis from old animals, or parts of animals
      which cannot be used for food, such as skin, hide, and bone, are being
      used to bulk up chicken labelled as halal. When injected into chicken
      with water, these proteins make the flesh swell up and retain liquid,
      rather like cosmetic collagen implants.

      The Dutch have developed multi-million-pound technologies to insert
      proteins and water into chicken they import from Brazil and Thailand.
      The industry grew up to exploit an EU tax loophole which exempted
      certain imports of salted meat from tariffs.
      The Halal Food Authority said the practice was a scandal. "These
      processors seem to be doing whatever they want, and it is not only
      Muslims who are being short-changed," said its president, Masood
      Khawaja. Tightening up on labelling was not the answer. "People buying
      chicken do not want to buy water, never mind beef or pork."


      Oklahoma to allow scarf for Muslim women 05 Mar 03
      A decision by authorities in Oklahoma to allow Muslim women to wear
      scarves for driver's license photos has provoked a barrage of hate
      mail, according to officials there.

      In a letter to the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, the
      state's Department of Public Safety said: "A head covering will be
      permitted, if the head covering does not obscure a full front view of
      the face, display any: logo; insignia, symbol, or regalia; word or
      words; letter, number, or character, or graphic design."

      [Arizona] Islamic rights group opens 1st state office 07 Mar 03
      The office of the Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic
      Relations will function as a place where Muslims can report
      discrimination and will serve as the Phoenix headquarters for
      disseminating information about Islam and Muslims, Executive Director
      Deedra Abboud said.


      Upsurge in Teenage Brides 07 Mar 03
      .. [Institute for War & Peace Reporting]
      Muborak lives in Andijan, a city in eastern Uzbekistan which has seen
      27 marriages of underage girls in the past two months. Uzbek law only
      permits it from the age of 17, but many children are being wed in
      mosques, where imams observe the Islamic law of Sharia, which does not
      specify any particular age for marriage.

      Moreover, the state shows little inclination to intervene. "It is hard
      to establish any statistics on 15- and 16-year-old brides, as the
      wedding ritual is performed by the clergy. The first we see of these
      couples is when they come to register their babies," said Dilzoda
      Mutalova, director of the Andijan city registry.

      During the Soviet era, the usual marriageable age for Uzbek girls was
      around 20. Families prized brides with a good education and
      professional status. Today, youth and inexperience are valued above
      all, as younger women adapt more easily to their newly restricted roles.

      Moreover, the state shows little inclination to intervene. "It is hard
      to establish any statistics on 15- and 16-year-old brides, as the
      wedding ritual is performed by the clergy. The first we see of these
      couples is when they come to register their babies," said Dilzoda
      Mutalova, director of the Andijan city registry.

      During the Soviet era, the usual marriageable age for Uzbek girls was
      around 20. Families prized brides with a good education and
      professional status. Today, youth and inexperience are valued above
      all, as younger women adapt more easily to their newly restricted roles.

      Commentators link early marriage directly to the rise in national
      self-consciousness which accompanied Uzbek independence in the early
      1990s. Nationalists who claimed that communism had suppressed Uzbek
      traditions and rites began to adopt Islamic practices and rules. Key
      to this movement was an active campaign to return women to their
      "original" place in Uzbek society, as keepers of hearth and home.

      The declining living standards of independent Uzbekistan have also
      contributed to the trend, according to Mavlyuda Isomova of the Sabr
      (Patience) centre. "Social problems such as poverty, unemployment, and
      low income drive parents to try and marry off their daughters earlier.
      The longer a girl stays home, the more expenses her parents must
      shoulder. Today the matchmakers are even looking for 14-year olds,"
      she said.
      Early marriages conducted under the rules of Sharia leave women more
      vulnerable to divorce. Islamic law states that a man need only repeat
      the word talak (divorce) three times in front of witnesses in order to
      leave his wife. With no official register of her marriage, the
      divorced wife finds herself unable to claim any property rights or
      social benefits.
      Widespread unemployment is increasing the pressures of married life.
      Unable to find work, many husbands cannot provide for their families
      and take out their frustrations on their wives. After one year of
      marriage, 17-year-old Sanobar Jumaeva was divorced by her unemployed
      husband, who would beat her regularly. She has had no success in
      claiming any rights over their property.


      Sharia law makes way for Islamic hedge funds 07 Mar 03
      The equities rout and high demand for Islamic financial products have
      touched off a race to launch Islamic hedge funds, drawing cheers from
      some experts but jeers from others.
      To run a hedge fund without falling foul of sharia is even trickier
      because Islamic law forbids selling something you don't own, therefore
      banning short-selling, as well as receiving or paying interest, so
      buying bonds or leveraging are not allowed.

      But a number of firms working on Islamic hedge fund products say they
      can comply with sharia and give Muslim investors access to hedge
      funds, which are seen as a valuable diversification tool and a way to
      protect capital against market fluctuations
      Islamic financial experts say that in "salam", the seller undertakes
      to supply specified goods to the buyer at a future date and pays for
      them upfront at a discount to the spot price.

      "They (salam and short-selling) both have the same economic result but
      are different in the nature of the contractual relation," SEDCO Senior
      Vice-President Yousuf Khayat told a recent Islamic banking conference
      in Dubai.
      "The basic concepts of ethics and morality are flawed here. It (an
      Islamic hedge fund) has to be just and credible or else it risks
      undermining Islamic finance as a whole," said Rodney Wilson, professor
      of economics at Durham University, and an Islamic finance expert.

      Debacles prove relevance of Islamic investment norms 07 Mar 03
      As Islamic investment insists on securities to be backed by assets,
      companies whose total debt or cash plus interest-bearing securities
      divided by the trailing 12-month average market capitalisation was 33
      per cent or more, or those whose account receivables divided by total
      assets was 45 per cent or more are to be kept out of Islamic screens.
      The post-Enron and WorldCom situation tells us that such ratios are
      bad not just for Islamic investors, but for any investor who is
      mindful of his money.

      [Malaysia] Affin Bank aims 20 pct growth for Islamic products
      .. 09 Mar 03
      Affin Bank Bhd targets a 20 percent growth for its Islamic banking
      products for 2003, which will be supported by its contract financing
      scheme for the Education Ministry.

      Its President and Chief Executive Officer, Raja Datuk Seri Aman Ahmad,
      said that the product, which was previously only opened to individual
      clients, would now be expanded to contractors who are involved in the
      second contract financing scheme which would be launched in April.
      The first one for the Education Ministry was launched in October last
      year. "This is the first time we are expanding the Islamic banking
      product for our contract financing. "
      Affin Bank's Islamic banking products include Islamic financing
      products like the Property Financing Al-Bai Bithaman Ajil and
      commercial product financing.
      He said that some 60 percent of the bank's commercial clients were
      non-Muslims, who were possibly attracted to the Syariah-based products
      which benefit the clients. In general, the concept of profit sharing
      offered through the investment and savings products, as well as the
      "buy-sell" concept based on fixed rate for financing products, were
      the main factors in attracting the non-Muslim clients, he said.

      [Malaysia] CIMB Group Going international on Islamic products
      .. 10 Mar 03
      CIMB recently set up an Islamic division with a team of five bankers,
      who have vast experience in Islamic banking. It is led by Badlisyah
      Abdul Ghani – formerly with Bank Islam Malaysia – who has over six
      years experience of originating and distributing Islamic products both
      here and abroad. CIMB also plans to set up an in-house Shariah
      advisory and supervisory council that would comprise scholars and
      experts from all parts of the world.

      But CIMB is no newcomer to Islamic banking and finance business. It
      began with the RM 1bil [EUR 240 mill.]] project finance deal for PUTRA
      in 1996. Over the years it managed to garner a cumulative 15% market
      share of all Islamic sukuk issued in the country but Nazir felt that
      "CIMB did not get the market reputation it deserved."

      Locally, it is estimated that RM 40bil debt deals would be concluded
      this year and a large chunk in Islamic instruments given that the
      government has been generous with tax breaks.
      "With a dedicated team, we believe we are in an enviable position to
      increase our market share of 15% to at least 25% - 30% this year,"
      Nazir said, adding that last year alone CIMB successfully closed five
      Islamic sukuk deals.

      To kick-start its foray into the region, CIMB plans to offer its
      Islamic banking and finance experience to each of the neighbouring
      countries. Both the Singapore and Indonesian markets have begun
      issuing Islamic instruments the past two-years but are confined to
      Mudharabah Certificates.
      However, Badlisyah felt that while the government was committed
      towards broadening and deepening the Islamic capital market, there was
      an urgent need for the authorities to address several issues
      surrounding the structuring of financing products based on the Islamic

      "These issues, among others, relates to real property gains tax, stamp
      duties and income tax," Badlisyah said, adding that due to the issues
      some issuers preferred to stick to the products that were readily
      available instead of trying new structured Islamic products.
      "It is also important to note that Islamic finance can be as flexible
      as conventional finance. Initially everyone thought that zero coupon
      bond issues (BBA Papers) were the best but we now know that the Sukuk
      can also be coupon bearing notes (Ijarah)."
      But then not all Islamic products available in the local market except
      the Sukuk Al-Ijarah was widely accepted in the Middle East.

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