Sharia News Watch 44
- Sharia News Watch 44 : a collection news quotes on Sharia, for
research & educational purposes only. [*]
all editions: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shariawatch/
[Herat] Karzai's Taxing Problem 19 Mar 03
According to Karzai government officials, the national treasury
received about $10 million this year from Herat, while it should have
received well over $100 million. Officials say they believe the Herat
governor collected significantly more tax revenue last year than the
central government's total tax collection of about $80 million.
This is only one of many ways in which Khan, like many local leaders
across Afghanistan, is systematically defying the central government.
He battles other local strongmen with his tanks, he imposes policies
that have raised an outcry over human rights practices, and he is
suspected to be recruiting an army of former Islamic guerrillas.
Ismail Khan is also at the center of a controversy over political
repression and human rights abuses that the central government appears
unable to stop. His police arrested and beat an elected representative
to last summer's grand council, or loya jirga, in Kabul, and Human
Rights Watch recently released a scathing report about restrictions
being tightened on women in Herat. Among the most serious charges are
that Khan's religious police have arrested women on the street with
men the police believed were neither the women's husbands nor
relatives. They have also forced them to submit to gynecological exams
to see if they recently had intercourse. The allegations have been
substantiated by doctors who were asked to do the exams.
In addition, Khan is known to be raising an army of former Islamic
guerrillas seemingly outside the control of the new Afghan national
army, and he has defied an order from Karzai that provincial governors
cannot also serve as heads of provincial armies. (Khan heads the
military for four western provinces.) But his most serious defiance
has been at the customs house. The central government and Western
finance officials have been unable to learn how much revenue is being
collected. The head of Herat customs, a harried relative of Khan's
named Azim Jan Rahimi, refused to discuss its workings or to reveal
how much money it raises.
[Tedungan] `Tiger Show' brings shame to town and its people
.. 19 Mar 03
Sundowners who head to the boarder town of Tedungan for entertainment
purposes, one of which includes 'Tiger Shows', may in the future be
deprived of such amusement. A committee member of the Tedungan
Bumiputera Entrepreneurs, who chose to remain anonymous, said his
association would report the existence of such entertainment, if they
were able to nab the culprits.
Sources earlier told the Bulletin that sundowners were now treated to
another kind of entertainment on Saturday night and the end of the
month. Sources said they were charged RM50 per head by a person who
would then take them to a secluded place, a few metres away from the
sprawling restaurants at Tedungan, to see the show. When contacted
yesterday, sources said the shows were illegal and for selected people
in the form of what is normally called a "Tiger Show". .. sundowners
were treated to dances normally featured in other big cities such as
Manila and Bangkok.
Notes from Grozny: A Potted Road to Normality 27 Mar 03
Still, there are some ingredients for much greater normality,
including a change in Chechen attitudes. Chechen men do not talk about
what they did in the first Chechen war, which ended in 1996, but it is
clear that the appetite for war has largely disappeared. The
nationalist ardor of the first war has gone, flickering only in some
grim satisfaction at Russian losses and setbacks. When Chechen rebels
seized hostages in Moscow in October, there was no glee. At least they
know what we went through in Chechnya, refugees said, but the tone was
Nor have I seen obvious Islamist fundamentalism, just Chechens' much
more complex Muslim heritage combined with pagan customs. In the first
war, the Wahhabists gained kudos thanks to the feats of the warlord
Khattab. Even the even more (in)famous Chechen warlord Shamil Basaev
was influenced enough to join the movement. Now Basaev wins only
curses, and the Wahhabists have lost whatever credit they had (and
Khattab his life).
Darul re-issues fatwa to boycott US-UK products 30 Mar 03
Darul Uloom, Deoband, one of the oldest and most prestigious religious
schools of Sunni Muslims around the world has re-issued a fatwa asking
Indians in general and Indian Muslims in particular to boycott
consumer products of American and British companies in protest against
the US-led attack on Iraq. Earlier Darul Uloom, situated in Saharanpur
district of Uttar Pradesh, had issued a similar fatwa against US
companies in the wake of American attack on Afghanistan.
Strict' Muslims shun modern slaughterhouses 28 Mar 03
The Animal Slaughterhouse (RPH) complex in Cakung, East Jakarta, is
yet to close its traditional slaughterhouse as it attempts to stop
killing cattle with good old-fashioned knives. "Those who are fanatic
believers say that killing cattle with electricity is not halal," RPH
head Cakung Fahruddin Zaid told The Jakarta Post last week, describing
why they had to keep the traditional slaughterhouse open.
"Some cattle owners prefer to slaughter their cattle at traditional
slaughterhouses because they will get all the 'waste' of the cattle
back, like blood and bones," Agribusiness Club secretary general Tony
J. Kristianto told The Jakarta Post. Items like blood and bone are
still valuable in most Indonesian markets as people use them for
cooking. In RPH Cakung, liquid wastes are processed for biogas while
the solid wastes are left for compost. Tony said that when
slaughtering cattle at a traditional slaughterhouse, owners mainly
paid with the skin of the animal.
According to the health procedures, meat is considered good when the
blood and water content has lessened. But some butchers disagree.
RPH Cakung receives cattle from Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java,
Bali and East Nusa Tenggara.
From make-up to noodles, they are halal 31 Mar 03
With Muslims in Indonesia becoming increasingly devout in recent
decades, an exclusively Islamic market has now evolved, offering
strictly halal products. They range from exclusive Islamic housing
estates to cosmetics and foodstuff.
The Indonesian Ulama Council has so far issued halal certificates for
only about 500 locally made products. Council officials predict that
90 per cent of the locally made products in the domestic market may
not be halal. Name is important to ensure buyers that their products
are halal. Manufacturers of instant noodles, for example, have adopted
Arabic-sounding names to attract Muslim buyers to their halal products.
[Comment] Only Iraqis can decide 24 Mar 03
Then there is the question of Islam. Iraq, under the parliamentary
democracies before 1958 as under the Ba'athist dictatorship, has been
a secular state. But the Americans, above all, have to accept that
this is going to change. Islam is going to be much more powerful in
the new Iraq, and not only in the Shia south. If the transitional
governors show wisdom, a moderate form of sharia law can co-exist with
liberal democracy. If they panic, then a surge towards fundamentalist
theocracy could become unstoppable. And the Americans will also have
to accept that a free, democratic Iraq will support the Palestinian
cause and condemn Israel.
US miscalculation changes Saddam from devil to hero 30 Mar 03
Shia clerics in Najaf, Beirut and Qum in Iran have all issued fatwas
prohibiting co-operation with British and American forces, which they
describe as acts of treason. The fatwas also regard actively fighting
the allied forces as a moral and religious duty. In practical terms,
this will prevent a split in the ranks of the Iraqi military and
prevent the mass surrender of troops.
The fatwas will also guarantee against the revolt of the Shias of
Iraq, who have been considered so far as Saddam's most dedicated
enemies, and will mean that the Shias will not dance in the streets at
the sight of American troops.
In recent days, a fatwa signed by five senior Shiite clerics called on
followers to remain loyal to the government and submissive in a time
of war. Shiites, who make up about 60 per cent of Iraq's 23 million
people, have been handed a role crucial to Saddam's staying power,
with British forces besieging Basra and U.S. forces farther north at
or around two other Shiite centres, Najaf and Karbala.
"Don't succumb to the devil's temptation and rush into aggressive
actions to satisfy personal grudges or achieve illegal gains," said
the decree, which was posted at Kadhimiya, the most sacred shrine for
Shiites in Baghdad.
`Campaign not intended to question Syariah' 19 Mar 03
The "One Husband, One Wife" campaign launched by 12 women's
non-governmental organisations last weekend was intended to encourage
monogamy and not to question the Syariah on polygamy, clarified Women
and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
The campaign, launched on Sunday by the acting Prime Minister's wife,
Datuk Seri Endon Mahmood, was negatively received by certain muftis
and religious authorities who feared it could affect the faith of
Muslims. Shahrizat said the NGOs had a right to voice their opinion.
"I don't see why anyone should feel threatened because in this
country, monogamy is the choice," she said.
On the suggestion that wives unwilling to accept their husbands'
polygamy be allowed to seek taqliq divorce (divorce due to violation
of the conditions in the marriage certificate), Shahrizat said [..]
"This a matter involving certain aspects of Syariah law," she said. "I
have to take it to the committee before any decision can be made."
Women can now be judges in Islamic courts 28 Mar 03
Women are now allowed to be syariah court judges with scope of duties
and jurisdiction similar to that enjoyed by their male counterparts,
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin
The suggestion to appoint women as syariah judges was first made late
last year, but it drew mixed response from the public and Islamic
scholars. A majority of scholars opposed the idea, saying that women
were too emotional to handle criminal syariah cases.
'There is no objection to women being appointed as syariah court
judges, but such appointment is yet to be made,' Datuk Abdul Hamid
said at a press conference at the Islamic Development Department of
Malaysia. 'We are facing a shortage of syariah judges. We hope to be
able to fill up the posts soon and also include women candidates.'
I Won't Impose Sharia On Nigerians - Buhari 19 Mar 03
All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) presidential candidate, Major-General
Muham-madu Buhari (rtd), [said] "The constitution recognises the
Sharia legal system (but) the constitution says you must not impose
your religion on other people." He explained that "nobody was taken
before a Sharia Court" nor a sharia judge appointed into the Supreme
Court, the highest court in the land, when he was military head of
state. He added that nobody was really opposed to the existence of
the Sharia legal system in Nigeria except that some human rights
activists had kicked against the cutting of limbs as a form of
punishment for certain convicts. [This Day - Lagos]
[Amina Lawal] Nigerian stoning case appeal postponed 25 Mar 03
A Nigerian Islamic court postponed the start of mother-of-three Amina
Lawal's appeal against being stoned to death after the chief trial
judge failed to turn up. Defence lawyer Musa Aliyu Yawuri said that
the Katsina State's chief Sharia official, Grand Khadi Aminu Ibrahim,
was ill and had travelled to Germany for treatment. Yawuri that he
had agreed with state prosecutors that the controversial case be
adjourned until June 3.
[Kaduna] Tension Mounts At Ahmadu Bello University 25 Mar 03
Tension is currently mounting at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
campus following the resurgence of religious hostilities between
Christians and Muslims in the institution. The scripture union of the
university is said to be irked by a report that the Sharia
fundamentalists in the institution have declared one of its past
leaders, Marlon Chukwuma, wanted in connection with the riot which
rocked the institution in 2001, over the introduction of Sharia in the
P.M.News gathered that Chukwuma and a group of scripture union members
of the University resisted attempt by the sharia fundamentalists to
burn down the Ahmadu Bello University clinical students hall near
Tudun Wada, Zaria.
Chukwuma, who was the Vice President of the Christian Union at the
time was said to have participated in the attack and wounded some of
the sharia fanatics. Two students were reportedly killed in the fracas.
The Muslim demonstrators were said to have blamed Chukwuma for the
death of their members. A member of the sharia implementation council
in the state said the penalty for the offence is death and that if
arrested, Chukwuma will be made to face the law. [P.M. News - Lagos]
Election on special seats un-Islamic: CII 28 Mar 03
The Islamic Council of Ideology, a constitutional body mandated to
recommend to the legislature to make laws in conformity with the
Islamic provisions, has recommended to the present government that the
election of minorities and women on special seats was contrary to
merit and was "kind of a quota system."
Coming hard on recently elected women parliamentarians, the CII termed
them as representatives of the urbanised "elite class" who believe in
western concept of gender equality and in Islamic concept of "gender
It said that women MNAs being representatives of the urban and elite
class were not conversant with problems of women in villages who are
exposed to the worst kind of exploitation and injustice.
NWFP government's powers to enforce Shariah limited 20 Mar 03
Mufti Ghulamur Rehman, chairman of the Nifaz-e-Shariat Council (NSC),
said on Wednesday it was impossible to enforce complete Islamic system
in the NWFP, as the provincial government had limited powers. The NSC
is a 21-member body formed to recommend measures to the MMA government
in order to bring laws in conformity with Islamic injunctions.
The NSC chairman was of the view that the present judicial system,
music, television and cable networks were `not un-Islamic'. He said
the electronic media was essential for interpreting Islam and
spreading its message. However, programmes spreading obscenity would
be reformed, he added. During the October general elections, the
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) had declared music, television and cable
networks un-Islamic and had vowed to root them out.
However, Mufti Rehman, who gave vague answers to most of the questions
posed by newsmen, said on account of issues outside the provincial
government's domain "it is not possible to introduce all Shariat laws
as the province has limited powers".
'NSC's proposals to ensure independence of judiciary' 19 Mar 03
Mufti Ghulamur Rehman said police should have been guardians and
ensure the security of lives and properties of citizen but due to
non-availability of any facilities, they were earning bad names for
the department and the people hate them. [..] There is no doubt, he
said the people were facing problems in getting justice and the cases
were not being decided in years. The registration of FIRs and reports
of patwaries need proper reforms. He said the existing judiciary
system could not be termed as un-Islamic but there must be some
defects and the councils has presented its recommendations for reforms.
NSC NWFP Proposes Certain Reforms In Media 24 Mar 03
The Nefaz-e-Shariat Council NWFP has handed over a list of 40
recommendations to the Provincial government be implemented for the
reformation of print and electronic media so that the media can be
used for the improvement in the society.
The proposals said that a committee of religious scholars and
professionals be constituted to draw certain limits for the print and
electronic media keeping in view the prevailing circumstances and
necessities. The electronic media will be asked not to air such
feature dramas and movies which are repugnant to the principles of
Islam. More time be given for the programmes aimed at the promotion of
Islamic teachings in the society.
Steps will be taken to ban anti-Islamic writings, including news and
columns in print media. Advertisements will not be given to those
newspapers and magazines which print anti-Islamic and immoral
literature and photos. A board will be constituted to recommend awards
for those newspapers, magazines and other sources of media which
project Islamic teachings.
The Shariat Council has asked the Provincial government to ban the
profession of movies, promoting obscenity and immorality in the
society. The Council further proposed that more coverage should be
given to the achievements of religious scholars and heroes of Islam.
Education for national solidarity and unity among the Muslim world
should be given through radio, television and newspapers. Nation
should be apprised of the negative impacts of racism, regionalism and
sectarianism. The Council proposed to block those cable network
channels which are spreading obscenity
[NWFP] Pakistan's Mullahs Speak Softly 22 Mar 03
Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islami, the second-largest Islamic party in the
coalition, launched a crusade last year against foreign nonprofits
that promoted the right of Muslim women to secure an education and
jobs, warning that this would endanger family life and lead to
prostitution. Incited by campaign rhetoric, mobs attacked and
vandalized several nonprofit centers for women in rural areas of the
But after the election, the harassment stopped. Now, provincial
officials from Jamiat-e-Ulema -- including the elected chief minister
-- are promoting education for girls and skills for women as enshrined
in Islamic principle and beneficial for social progress.
A surprising source of support for women's rights has been the Shariat
Law Council, a panel of 21 religious and political leaders that was
formed by the new government. Its mandate is to propose legislation
that would strengthen and enforce Islamic values and practices.
But instead of pursuing a Taliban-style agenda that would require men
to grow beards and women to wear veils, as some observers had
predicted, the council has adopted a list of progressive proposals
that include requiring primary education for all girls and banning
widespread tribal customs in which unmarried women are sold as barter
to settle disputes or compensate for crimes.
"Islam gives mandatory equal rights to both men and women, and we want
to do away with anything that clashes with the teachings of Islam,"
said Mufti Ghulam ur Rahman, 50, a Muslim cleric who heads the council
and runs a free religious academy for about 350 boys and girls in
Peshawar. "We need women to be educated and skilled, and we need to
end tribal traditions that are cruel to women. Some consider these to
be Islamic, but they are not."
International Crisis Group - The Mullahs and the Military 20 Mar 03
Though MMA leaders have tried to allay worries that their governments
might adopt Taliban-style policies, their actions show preference for
strict religious rule. The MMA agenda includes an end to co-education,
a first step towards the total segregation of women in public life,
and the addition of more Islamic texts to school and college
curricula. The MMA plans to screen and register NGOs in the NWFP and
Baluchistan. Moral policing by the student wings of its parties in
NWFP and Baluchistan educational institutions enjoys official backing.
Similar trends are visible elsewhere in public life.
It remains to be seen how much room the MMA will be given to apply its
version of Sharia law in the two provinces. The MMA stresses that
implementation will remain within constitutional confines. Although
the constitution is Islamic, the form and substance of Islamisation is
determined by the centre, and federal legislation has primacy. The
provinces are dependent on Islamabad's financial assistance. Moreover,
Musharraf's constitutional amendments empower him to override parliament.
If history is a guide, however, the MMA could succeed with its
Islamisation agenda. Many Islamic provisions are already part of the
legal system, enacted by previous military governments. Since the
military takeover in 1999, the government has demonstrated neither
will nor intent to pursue domestic policies opposed by the mullahs,
such as madrasa regulation or changes in discriminatory Islamic laws.
Although the MMA sits with the opposition in the National Assembly, it
has assured the government of Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali
that it will not help dislodge Musharraf's political order. In return,
the government might just decide to reward the MMA by tolerating
Islamisation in the NWFP and Baluchistan.
The mullahs' usefulness for the military goes beyond domestic
politics. The perpetual threat of war with India over Kashmir, a
conflict coloured in religious hues, also brings the MMA and the
military together. The more Musharraf searches for domestic
legitimacy, the more he plays up the Indian threat. The mullahs are
more than willing to support the military's policies in Kashmir.
Editorial: New `shariah' in the NWFP 21 Mar 03
The Nifaz-e-Shariah Council in the NWFP has finalised its
recommendations and submitted them to the chief minister of the
province, Mr Akram Khan Durrani. The council was charged with the task
of putting together a comprehensive roadmap for the enforcement of
Islamic law in the province, and its guiding principle were the
recommendations made in the past years by the federally constituted
Council for Islamic Ideology (CII).
Pakistan is supposed to be under a full-dress Shariah on the principle
of "inclusion". The Federal Shariat Court and its provincial chapters
see to it that any laws repugnant to the Quran and Sunna the basic
components of Shariah are struck from the statute books. Anyone
finding government procedures in violation of the Shariah can go to
the Federal Shariat Court and have them abolished under the
Constitution. Some constitutional experts think that the Court has a
supra-constitutional writ, but that is the way it is. The clerical
parties have never agreed with this "inclusive" approach and want an
"exclusive" Shariah imposed on Pakistan. The state has not been able
to enforce even the "inclusive" writ of the Federal Shariat Court in
the case of the abolition of "riba" (bank interest). It now faces the
onslaught of a more "imitative" Shariah as envisaged by a clerical
consensus in the country.
Article 228 of the Constitution says the Council for Islamic Ideology
(CII) should be composed of no less than eight and no more than 20
members, one of them being a lady. Since scholars from all schools of
thought are mandated, the President may appoint Deobandi, Ahle Hadith
and Barelvi members. With the passage of time, the Council has become
dominated by the hardline Ahle Hadith-Deobandi consensus enhanced by
appointees of Jamaat-e-Islami. We don't know how the President fulfils
the constitutional requirement that at least four members should be
scholars of 15 years' standing.
[Tatarstan] a Muslim oasis of calm in Russia 31 Mar 03
for many Tatars, radical action is not their way. Valiulla Iakoupov,
Tatarstan's first deputy mufti says the headscarf issue can be solved
through negotiation. "This tough position of Russian officials over
the headscarves surprises us very much," she says."We fear that
(Russian President Vladimir) Putin's experts have not properly
explained to him the significance of the headscarves to our people."
"Islamic Sharia law says a woman must cover her entire body, except
for her face and hands," explains Ms. Adiatullina. "To take the
headscarf off in the presence of a man is a terrible sin which
violates my deepest convictions." The women's challenge was rejected
earlier this month by Russia's Supreme Court on the grounds that
security officials cannot make proper identifications unless ears,
neck and hair are visible.
Imams Offer Qunoot Prayers for Iraqi People 31 Mar 03
In a show of solidarity with the people of Iraq, imams all over Saudi
Arabia have begun offering Qunoot prayers for the welfare and
protection of the Iraqi citizens. The ritual was first performed in
the days of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when a tribe of
Arabs killed several of the Prophet's companions. The prayers have
since been performed in mosques whenever disaster strikes the Ummah or
when an Islamic state is invaded.
"Qunoot prayers are not just an Islamic ritual, they are also a way of
relieving tension," he said. "People come to mosques pumped up with
tension from the images they see on television of the innocent being
slaughtered. One of the benefits of Qunoot prayers is that they
relieve this tension so that it does not lead to other things such as
protests in the streets."
Mamdooh Al-Hawshan, managing editor of the Islamic weekly magazine Al
Daawwah, said that religious establishments in Saudi Arabia play a
vital role in shaping domestic opinion.
Riyadh frees leading reformist cleric 25 Mar 03
Leading Saudi reformist cleric Sheikh Saeed bin Zuair has been
released after spending eight years in jail for objecting to a
religious edict allowing peace with Israel, supporters said Tuesday.
He was arrested in 1995 and remained in custody at Al-Hair Prison
without trial for his reformist activities and for objecting to a
controversial fatwa, or religious edict, issued by former grand mufti
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz.
According to the supporter, bin Zuair was arrested after visiting bin
Baz along with several religious scholars to object to the fatwa that
allowed peace with Israel. He was never charged or tried by a judge.
Bin Zuair was a media professor at Imam Mohammad bin Saud University
in Riyadh, a well-known Islamic university, for 10 years. He was also
a leading preacher at a mosque in Riyadh.
A number of reformist religious scholars were arrested by Saudi
authorities in the wake of the 1991 US-led Gulf War to liberate
Kuwait. Saudi authorities in 1999 released leading reformist clerics
Salman al-Awda, Sefr al-Hawali and Nasser al-Omar who were arrested in
1994 for campaigning for political reforms in the kingdom.
Doubts About Sacrifice of Animals 28 Mar 03
Q. The organizer of our group during the pilgrimage advised us not to
do the sacrifice through the bank, but to pay him the money and he
would arrange the sacrifice through the slaughter house. He welcomed
anyone who wished to be a witness. Although I expressed my desire to
be a witness.
A. May I say that since you did not want a share of the meat, you were
wrong not to do the sacrifice through the bank. All the sacrificial
meat done through the bank is used properly, for the relief of poverty
and famine-stricken populations in different areas of the Muslim
world. What better use can there be of this great ritual? Besides, it
appears that neither you nor anyone of the 65 persons who chose to do
the sacrifice through your organizer wanted to take a share of the meat.
Aggrandizement eliminates germs from slaughtered animal 24 Mar 03
People have not yet realized the wisdom beyond mentioning god's name
(Allah in Arabic) on the slaughtered animal, some scientists say.
Consequently they neglect and leave out pronouncing the Almighty God
Name and aggrandizement when cattle and chicken are slaughtered for
human consumption, a tradition widespread in Islamic practice.
Moreover, it was also proved by the team that aggrandizement during
slaughtering removes diseases from the animals; cleans its body and
takes the Malady away originally.
Tajik officials detain children spreading leaflets 27 Mar 03
Police in Tajikistan have detained 16 children accused of distributing
leaflets of the banned Islamic party Hizb-ut-Tahrir, officials said
Thursday. The suspects detained in the Tajik capital were aged 12 to
15, said Khudoinazar Asoyev, a spokesman for the Tajik Interior
Ministry. Investigators are trying to determine who gave the leaflets
to the children, Asoyev said.
Asoyev said it was the first time Hizb-ut-Tahrir had used children to
spread its leaflets. Tajik officials have arrested 30 activists of the
party so far this year, he said.
Tajikistan suffered a devastating, five-year civil war in the 1990s.
The hard-line, secular Tajik government struck a 1997 peace deal with
the mostly Islamic opposition, but has continued to face opposition
from some radical Islamic groups, such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir. [AP]
A cold shoulder for Saddam's victims 22 Mar 03
Middle East expert Sheri Laizer provides a dozen law firms with
"expert witness" analysis of asylum claims. She says that senior
political figures in Kurdistan never travel without bodyguards,
fearful of attacks by fundamentalists who have killed officials of the
two ruling parties in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). "The
Islamists represent a highly militant strand of Islam," says Laizer.
"Their goal is to create an Islamic state in Kurdistan. This is a
serious ongoing situation, and one that threatens further violence.
People against whom fatwas have been issued cannot safely go about
Muslim Institutions Focus on Legal Matters 20 Mar 03
Immigrant Issues Become Common Topic
Laila's case needs to be reconsidered 19 Mar 03
A number of human rights organizations and international anti-violence
organizations have recently expressed their resentment over Laila
Aesha, a Yemeni woman who was sentenced to death by throwing stones at
her in public after being found of committing adultery. A number of
human rights organizations told Attaggmo'a newspaper last week that
the final decision against Laila has ignored a number of facts
regarding her case. "We strictly adhere to the society's values and
the justice of Sharia, (Islamic Law), but the final decision against
Laila is unfair and will not be accepted by those who have a bit of
conscience," the paper said.
Those organizations have demanded the president to interfere
immediately considering the case as unfair. "She fell as a victim to
adultery before even being 16 years old. She has been abandoned by her
husband for about two year," the paper said. A judicial source told
Attaggmo'a that Laila's case hasn't gained a legal stance and that her
case has been unfairly finalized. "She wasn't offered the opportunity
to speak up and confess or even to speak about the conditions she was
exposed to," the source said.
An Assessment Of The Threat From Al Qaeda in 2003 24 Mar 03
US policies towards the Middle East, especially the unilateral US
invasion of Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian issue, will strengthen
support for Islamism, Islamist political parties and terrorist groups.
US's skewed foreign policy will continue to pose a significant
terrorist threat to Western interests both at home and overseas. In
many countries, Islamism will move from the periphery to the center,
making it difficult for many governments to openly support the US-led
"war against terrorism." With support for Islamism rising, Islamists
will campaign either politically or violently or both in Turkey,
Pakistan, Indonesia, and other emerging democracies. In addition to
well-organized groups, individual terrorists will mount operations,
similar to the shooting at the El Al counter at the Los Angeles
Airport on America's Independence Day 2002. With more news in the
media about Islam, the Muslim public will become more aware of Islam.
The number of Muslims directly supporting violence will remain very
small but there will be more support for a Muslim way of life,
especially the implementation of Sharia laws. Furthermore, the need to
wage jihad in support of their suffering brethren will rise among
politicized and radicalized segments of the Muslims.
Can a credit card ever be Halal? 30 Mar 03
[..] Article originally published by Banker Middle East 30-Mar-03
[comment] Al Azhar's fatwa on fixed rate of return 23 Mar 03
I have been asked to comment on a recent fatwa (religious edict)
issued by the Islamic Research Council of Al Azhar, Cairo, declaring a
prefixed rate of return on deposits permissible under Sharia.
It all started when somebody recently posed the following question to
Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, chief of Al Azhar: "The customers of
AIECB (a Cairo bank) offer their money and savings to the bank which
utilises and invests them into its legal transactions against a
prefixed rate of return for an agreed upon period. Kindly advise
Sharia judgment on this type of dealing by the bank."
Sheikh Tantawi referred the question to the Islamic Research Council
of Al Azhar for their study and views. The council came up with the
following opinion, which was endorsed by Sheikh Tantawi, giving it the
"Those who deal with AIECB, or any other bank for that matter, and
offer their savings to the bank so that the bank will act as their
agent in investing them on wakala (agency) basis in its legal
transactions against a profit given to them which is fixed in advance
for periods agreed upon with the customers. This dealing in this form
is halal and there is no ambiguity in it.
Because there is no text in the Holy Quran or explanation in the Sunna
which prohibits the dealing where the profit or return is fixed in
advance, provided that both parties are contented with this type of
The fatwa is misleading on various counts. First of all, the
questioner had not mentioned that the bank accepts the funds on wakala
basis whereas the council members assumed it to be that way.
Second, it did not specify the nature and the modus operandi of AIECB
whether it is an Islamic financial institution or a conventional one.
Who are its depositors and where does it invest their funds? As such,
the council should have sought more information from the questioner
before forming an opinion.
Furthermore, whereas the question was restricted to a particular bank,
the opinion given by the council covered all banks in general,
irrespective of their structure and nature of operation being Islamic
or conventional. As per my knowledge and research, no conventional
bank in Egypt operates on wakala basis.
This element of risk is absent in a conventional bank where the
depositors are not inclined to share bank's losses and expect a
pre-agreed return along with the invested amount, irrespective of the
outcome of deployment of their funds by the bank. Similarly, the bank
does not share losses with borrowers and expects to recover full
amount lent together with compound interest.
The peculiar role of agent or Wakeel is prerogative of an Islamic bank
and therefore assumption by the council that all banks act as agent in
itself is inconsistent to the laws and practices of the conventional
To the contrary, in an Islamic bank the legal transactions will
represent where bank plays active role in buying, selling, owning and
leasing of commodities, vehicles, vessels, aircraft, properties and
any other goods or assets not disallowed by Sharia.
Another aspect distancing conventional banks from the Islamic banking
practices is that Islamic banks levy wakala fee on depositors for
handling their funds. Conventional banks do not have any such
practice. Islamic banks are also required to maintain complete record
of investment transactions for examination by the depositors, a
practice non-existent in conventional banks.
Council has also reasoned that such transactions are halal if both
parties are satisfied at the arrangement. In Sharia, mere satisfaction
by the parties to an arrangement does not make a transaction halal
(allowable) or haram (forbidden).
There are recognised principles in Sharia to distinguish whether a
transaction is do-able or forbidden. In addition, Sharia requires its
followers to avoid a financial transaction where there is slightest
doubt that it may be repugnant to Islamic economic principles.
In view of the above, the council's understanding of legal
transactions is ambiguous and does not meet with the common practices
and understanding of conventional banks.
[USA] Middle East investors pour money into property 25 Mar 03
Investors from the Middle East have poured money into the US real
estate market as more investment vehicles that comply with Islamic
law, or Shariah, have been created and marketed.
Middle Eastern investors bought at least $1.18bn worth of US
commercial real estate in 2002 - up significantly from the $263m
acquired the year before, according to Real Capital Analytics, a real
estate research firm. The value of the acquisitions was second only to
that of German investors, who bought $3.9bn worth of property. In
2002, the value of properties acquired by foreign investors was
There are a number of challenges associated with Shariah-compliant
investments along with signs of a shift in capital from the US to
Europe, partly due to strained relations between the Middle East and
While that does not appear to be the case, the Treasury Department's
Office of Foreign Assets Control list of "Specially Designated
Nationals and Blocked Persons", comprising entities and individuals
with whom Americans are barred from doing business, does raise some
Isam Salah, a partner at King & Spalding and co-chairman of the law
firm's Middle East-Islamic Finance Practice Group, said: "We've had
many discussions with lenders, finance providers and with joint
venture partners about how to satisfy their legitimate concerns that
they are not inadvertently either providing financing to, indirectly,
or entering into a joint venture with, indirectly, people who are on
these prohibited lists."
In the mid-1990s, banks and investment firms started looking into
establishing Shariah-compliant real estate funds that could invest in
the US. The first wave of investment was in stabilised multi-family
projects. Tenants were usually not involved in prohibited activities
and the typical residential lease was generally Shariah-compliant. The
ijara, or Shariah-compliant lease, allocates certain responsibilities
to the property owner, not the tenant.
Islamic investors are now increasingly looking at industrial and
commercial properties as well as development projects. The first
Shariah-compliant investment in a development project was in June 2000
at Maconda Park in Austin, Texas.
"The difficulty is not only complying with Shariah but doing it in a
way so that a bank credit committee in the US, which is subject to
much greater strictures and regulatory constraints, can approve that
kind of financing," said Michael McMillen, a partner at King &
Spalding and a member of the firm's Islamic Finance and Investment
Practice Group. The success of the Maconda financing structure
provided the impetus for other investment funds to focus on
Curiously, there are no Shariah-compliant real estate funds registered
in the US - despite its sizeable Muslim population, estimated at 6-7m.
The US retail investor who wants to invest in Shariah-compliant real
estate is left without recourse, though home mortgages that conform
with Islamic law are available.
[UK] Bank to tap into Muslim market with new service 20 Mar 03
Banking giant HSBC said it planned to launch new services aimed at
Britain's 1.6 million Muslims, whose religion bans interest payments.
Analysts said it was a major step toward building up a global Islamic
The London-based bank, the world's second biggest by market value, is
expanding into Islamic finance as part of its global growth strategy
and at a time when war in Iraq is ratcheting up tension between
Islamic and Western nations. Providing finance that conforms to the
beliefs of the world's 1.25 billion Muslims is a roughly £130 billion
industry, HSBC's chief executive of Islamic finance, Iqbal Khan, said.
[Malaysia] Challenges and growth of Islamic debt markets
.. 24 Mar 03
In a niche mainstream financial industry, Islamic debt instruments
account for a large proportion of the private debt securities (PDS)
market. In the last 6 years, the composition of Islamic fixed-rate
securities grew unabated and increased in significance.
Demand for Islamic debt instruments, which accounted for only 7% of
total bonds raised in 1999 grew to 25% in 2000 and subsequently to 36%
in 2001, primarily due to investor awareness of alternative funding
sources, i.e. Islamic instruments and the increased number of Islamic
funds launched over the years.
No fewer than 60% of all Malaysian domestic bonds are now
Syariah-compliant, especially the larger issues, and this proportion
continues to grow.
The result is that Malaysia's Islamic financial landscape has advanced
in terms of diversity of instruments and its modernity, as well as
boasts a dual banking model, whereby a developing Islamic financial
system exists in parallel to the conventional banking system.
To chart the growth of Islamic fixed-income securities, approximately
RM33.5bil worth of Islamic bonds were issued in the last 5 years. Of
this amount, RM15.8bil (or 47%) were issued to fund infrastructural
activities comprising power generation, water supply, bridges, roads
The Al-Bai Bithaman Ajil ("ABBA") structure has been the preferred
choice to finance such projects with long gestation periods. Under
this principle, the financier purchases an asset from the issuer and
sells it back to the same party at a premium.
Besides ABBA, another popular Islamic PDS tool is the Murabahah
concept which caters for short- to medium-term requirements. Other
Islamic concepts available to the market include Istisna, Ijarah,
Mudharabah and Musyarakah.
[Malaysia] Petronas Fertiliser sells Islamic bonds 20 Mar 03
Malaysia's Petronas Fertiliser (Kedah) Sdn Bhd, a unit of state oil
giant Petroliam Nasional Bhd, said on Friday it sold 750 million
ringgit (US $197 million) of Islamic bonds. The company said in a
statement the proceeds would be used to refinance part of its
shareholder's loan. The Islamic bonds, rated AAA by Malaysian Rating
Corp Bhd, were issued in 10 series with tenures of one to 10 years.
[UAE] AME Info, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Business Briefs
.. 27 Mar 03
The USD 1.2bn financing for Abu Dhabi's fourth independent water and
power project should be closed in early July, reported Gulf News.
Equity is set at USD 440m and the debt element will include
traditional and Islamic financing. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank will arrange
the USD 250m Islamic tranche. Gulf International Bank, HSBC, National
Bank of Abu Dhabi, First Gulf Bank, West LB, Sumitomo, Mitsui and ING
will provide the balance.
[Bahrain] BMA launches Islamic commodity instrument initiative
.. 23 Mar 03
The Bahrain Monetary Agency (BMA) is to begin dealing in Islamically
structured commodity instruments. Short-term commodity transactions
have been developed with the Kingdom's Islamic banking industry.
The initiative is the product of mutual cooperation between BMA and
Shamil Bank of Bahrain. The transactions have been structured in such
a way as to allow BMA to engage in commodity contracts through Islamic
Pakistan emulates Malaysia's Islamic banking 31 Mar 03
Aurangzeb was responding to a Business Times' query via an e-mail on
several articles posted on the Internet last year which said that
Pakistan was implementing the Islamic banking system based on
Malaysia's model. Pakistan's The Nation on May 16 last year said the
country was likely to introduce in its 2003 Budget an Islamic banking
system based on the Malaysian model, while continuing with its
conventional banking system.
"As the Government had failed to develop an Islamic financial system
alternative to the interest-based banking, it would be going for a
parallel experience of Malaysian model with Islamic financial
institutions and instruments.
"If the Supreme Court permits the Government to go for a parallel
Islamic financial system, the Government would be opening Islamic
banking windows in the existing banks in addition to the launch of an
Islamic bank," The Nation said, quoting Pakistan government sources.
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