Sharia News Watch 96
- Sharia News Watch 96 : a collection newsquotes on Sharia, for
research & educational purposes only. [*] Shortcut URL:
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 :
[Taliban] The demise of U.S. diplomacy - 03 Jan 04
Afghanistan adopts new constitution - 05 Jan 04
Islamic Sharia law is not specifically mentioned in the draft
document, the BBC's Crispin Thorold reports from Kabul. But observers
say one article could allow Sharia to be introduced by the back door.
Sharia, the strict interpretation of Islamic law, appears to have been
introduced by the back door. The constitution was amended to say that
"no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred
religion of Islam". Human-rights campaigners said the wording left all
laws subject to interpretation by the supreme court, which has
traditionally been controlled by strict Islamists.
Focus on Haj insurance - 05 Jan 04
New laws making life and health insurance compulsory for Haj pilgrims
were highlighted at a Press briefing at Takaful International
yesterday. The regulations were introduced last year but are only
being enforced by the government this year. .. The insurance allows
the families of pilgrims to receive money in the event of their deaths
and also allows them to get treatment in Saudi Arabia in case of
illness. The BD 7.500 [EUR 15.700,-] fee is tacked onto the
transportation companies fees when pilgrims go in groups to Mecca.
Dowry is unlawful in Islam by Ameer Hamzah - 05 Jan 04
Hijab Ban Severe Blow To France's Values: ECFR - 05 Jan 04
The European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) said Sunday,
January4 , that forcing a Muslim woman to remove her hijab in France
is one of the most discriminatory measures that runs in sharp contrast
to true French values. Concluding a session on the controversial issue
of hijab, the Council said France's anti-hijab drive extremely
infringes upon the rights of Muslim women and down-tread their
"Liberal secularism is not an excuse to pass stringent laws that strip
people of their enshrined human rights, basically the freedom of
religion. "Hijab is an obligation for Muslim women and not just a
mere religious or political symbol, but rater a part and parcel in the
life of a Muslim woman," it said. The Council also said that the Grand
Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Mohammad Sayed Tantawi, should have asked
France to respect human rights, human rights conventions and the U.N.
Charter when touching on the issue.
The Council has set up an ad hoc committee to address the issue with
the bodies concerned in France. The committee includes prominent
Muslim scholars from all over the world, notably the former
Mauritanian justice minister Sheikh Abdullah Ould Beih, the head of
the Islamic Organizations in Europe, Dr. Ahmad Al-Rawi, the and Dr.
Mohammad Al-Hawarri, a top advisor to Germany's Islamic Council.
[comment] French tussle over Muslim head scarf is positive push for
women's rights - 05 Jan 04
the proposed ban has also kicked loose a debate among Muslims
everywhere. Indeed, a growing number of Muslims worldwide are coming
forward to say the hijab is not a valid symbol either of freedom or
Islam. "Neither the Koran, nor the hadith [the sayings of the prophet
Muhammad] require women to wear a head scarf," says Gammal Banna, the
Egyptian author of several works on the rights of Muslim women and
brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the influential
radical Islamic movement with offshoots worldwide. While telling
Agence France-Presse that he did not support the French president's
interference in the personal choice to wear a head scarf, Mr. Banna
noted, "The head scarf is not an obligation, but derives from an
erroneous reading of the Koran."
As a "symbol," the hijab says that women's bodies are sinful, that
women really shouldn't be out in public, that there can be no innocent
interaction between women and men, and that the obligation for
guaranteeing public morality rests on women alone. Increasingly,
Muslim women and their supporters - even in arch- conservative Saudi
Arabia, where some of the most severe restrictions on women have the
force of law - argue that extreme dress codes for women are not just
un-Islamic, but anti- Islamic. The Koran supports their position.
"There is no compulsion in religion," it states. A woman who wears the
hijab out of fear acquires no merit, and the person exercising the
compulsion is committing a sin.
There are three sections in the Koran that deal with the issue of
dress. The first instructs men and women to dress modestly. All people
are to cover "that which is customarily concealed," in other words,
what we think of as "private parts." A second passage advises the
prophet Muhammad to "enjoin the believing women to draw their covering
over their bosom. That is more proper, so that they will be respected
and not molested." A third passage deals only with Muhammad's
wives. Muhammad didn't like his younger wives to be chatted up by
young men who didn't recognize them as members of his household. When
fundamentalists argue that Muslim women should conceal themselves,
remain secluded, and not interact freely with men, they refer to this
passage, which was never intended to apply to average Muslim women:
"Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women. If you fear
Allah, do not be careless in your speech, lest the lecherous should
lust after you. Show discretion in what you say. Stay in your homes
and do not display your beauty." Fundamentalists contend that
unveiled women inspire lewd thoughts in men, leading them into sin.
Islam, however, holds that no one is responsible for the sins of
another. The Koran even tells Muslims how to deal with temptation:
"Tell the believing men to lower their gaze, and tell the believing
women to lower their gaze."
From better to verse - 03 Jan 04
The British empire had T.E. Lawrence, and the American Army has Alan
King, a Koran-toting colonel who woos Iraqi sheiks with verses from
the Muslim holy book.
The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has been slow to
realize the importance of tribal affiliations in Iraq, earning
criticism from political analysts and anger from Iraqis. But on Dec.
4, the CPA approved Col. King's pet project - a council of tribal
sheiks that will meet regularly and dispense advice to coalition
forces. As deputy director of the newly created Office of Provincial
Outreach, under a State Department official, he will be the liaison to
Iraq's major tribes.
"He's got a real knack for crossing cultural boundaries and
establishing trust," says Brig. Gen. David Blackledge, the commanding
general of the 352d Civil Affairs Command, which is responsible for
civil affairs at the national level in Iraq.
Sheik al-Shaalan was the perfect U.S. ally. A Shi'ite sheik from the
southern town of Diwaniya, he had a good relationship with the U.S.
State Department. But when he offered his counsel - and the loyalty of
his 200,000-member clan - to the CPA and the military, they ignored
his suggestions. "I noticed something among the officers: They have
this arrogance, and this arrogance really hurts them a lot," says
Sheik al-Shaalan, a regal 53-year-old who studied law and political
science in London and Baghdad. "Everyone, even a small officer, thinks
he's a big man."
The sheiks appreciate his diligence. Sheik Adnan al-Janabi is a
London-trained economist who heads the 750,000-member Janabi tribe.
He's usually quite critical of American occupation forces, but he has
nothing but praise for Col. King. "He knows a lot about the Koran,"
Sheik al-Janabi said, smiling and fingering the string of prayer beads
in his hands. "He tells me about verses I didn't have memorized."
[Fallujah] U.S. forces try to break old habits of local governments
.. - 05 Jan 04
A few weeks ago, U.S. soldiers controlling the area west of Baghdad
discovered a new kind of enemy when they hired 150 locals to pick up
garbage in this unruly city of factories and mosques. When workers
mentioned to soldiers how much they had been paid, the Army realized
that the local official it had hired to oversee the cleanup had
pocketed a couple thousand dollars of the workers' salaries.
New governments are being established in each of Iraq's 18 provinces
and in 200 to 250 municipalities, and the U.S. officials now running
the country express hope that they will form a foundation for a
democratic, self-sufficient Iraq. But as local leaders start to take
limited power from occupying forces, they are clinging to long-held
notions that the public sector works for their personal benefit, a
value system that threatens to undermine efforts to make Iraq a model
of democracy for the Middle East.
More recently, Drinkwine's soldiers have tried to quell tribal warfare
and inculcate new notions of justice. When a local man got into an
argument with Fallujah's mayor that escalated into a fistfight, the
mayor's bodyguard shot the man dead. In retaliation, the man's tribe
looted the mayor's office. "We've been pushing the sheiks to sign an
agreement saying police won't be adjudicated under tribal law," said
Deeply religious and conservative, the city of 250,000 has the most
mosques per capita in Iraq and prayer rooms in every restaurant. The
few women seen in public are usually covered head-to-toe. A dozen
powerful tribal sheiks control the city's rural outskirts of potato
farms and date palm groves. Many Hussein loyalists live in the city,
often in upscale neighborhoods and homes protected by gates.
Under Hussein's regime, his Baath Party controlled the area by
installing Fallujah's mayor and by giving money and favors to sheiks
who controlled the outskirts. In exchange, the sheiks controlled their
tribes. In this relationship, sheiks and neighborhood leaders sought
favors for their people and for themselves. "They see extortion as an
expected privilege," said Maj. Tim Watson of the 82nd Airborne
Division. Taking control of Iraq in April, the U.S.-led coalition
quickly set up local governing councils to help keep cities running.
In Fallujah, the Army turned to the 13-member sheiks' council - not an
ideal choice because of its limited membership, but an established
group with some credibility.
Drinkwine settled on a 45-member council, carefully balanced "so that
no one group monopolized." Sheiks got 21 seats, professionals got 19
and Muslim clerics got five. He's written a two-page charter for the
new authority to adopt declaring that its purpose "is to provide a
broad representational government of the citizens of Fallujah and to
solve problems with the mayor's administrative staff." The council's
first job will be to elect a new mayor to replace Raad Hussein, whom
Watson called "a puppet of powerful sheiks." But the charter is
hardly a declaration of independence, and not everybody is so happy
with it. While calling for majority-rule votes, the charter also notes
that the U.S.-led administration in Iraq can "veto any issue that is
deemed against the laws [it] established."
Sistani agrees little time for Iraqi polls - 04 Jan 04
Sir Jeremy Greenstock told reporters Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani, widely
revered as Iraq's most influential religious leader, now agreed with
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's view that there was too little time
to arrange direct elections. "Sistani is interested in direct
elections but now understands what the secretary general has said,
that the issue of holding direct elections on this time scale is
impossible," Greenstock said on the sidelines of Prime Minister Tony
Blair's surprise visit to Iraq. It was not immediately clear whether
Greenstock had had direct contact with Sistani, who is rarely seen in
public and seldom speaks to foreign officials.
There were fears Shias would not back the 15 November agreement
without Sistani's approval. If the cleric accepts its guidelines,
Shias are likely to be more invested in the transfer process. "There
are signs that Sistani wants to draw back from the politics of this
and just have (his opinion) out there that elections are the right way
to do this," Greenstock said. "We think they (Sistani's people) just
don't realise how transparent the transfer process is going to be."
SCIRI-affiliated Iraqi official urges Shi'is to abide by authority's
.. [report over video by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 3 January]
Abu-Hasan al-Amiri, secretary-general of the Badr Organization,
affiliated with the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
[SCIRI], said that the Shi'is should abide by the opinion of their
authority with regard to elections for the transitional national
assembly. This came at a conference the Kurdish Shi'is held in Baghdad
in solidarity with the fatwa of the Shi'i authority Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani regarding the conduction of general elections.
Kurdish Islamists deny Al-Qaeda link - 31 Dec 03
Jamaa Islamiya said US forces also arrested 22 student members of the
party in Baghdad on December 12 for alleged ties to Ansar al-Islam, a
radical Kurdish group which the US State Department says has loose
links to Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terror network. Jamaa says it has
paid the price for an earlier association with Ansar. "We have nothing
to do anymore with Ansar, whose teachings oppose Sharia (Islamic
law)," said Mohammed Sinkawi, one of the 26 shura (council) members of
Jamaa and the head of the party's Kirkuk chapter. "They are a bunch of
Ansar is a splinter group that broke off from Jamaa, itself a
breakaway faction of the Islamic Union Movement, the main Kurdish
Islamist faction in Iraq. The Islamic Union Movement's peshmergas
(Kurdish guerrillas) waged a bitter war against Saddam Hussein's
Baathist regime, but the movement spawned multiple factions, including
Jamaa and Ansar, which was formally founded in the fall of 2001.
But while Jamaa and Ansar were fellow travelers, a clear division
emerged between the groups. "We shifted to preaching Islam and morals
in Kurdistan but Ansar wanted to pursue armed jihad," said Sinkawi.
No such distinction was made when US forces launched air strikes
against Ansar's strongholds in a cluster of 16 villages near the
Iranian border in early April during the invasion of Iraq. Jamaa's
headquarters in Khormal, not far from Ansar's base in Biyara, was
among the targets hit in the US strikes, according to Sinkawi.
"We had 43 martyrs most of whom knew the Koran by heart," he said,
adding that the proximity of Jamaa's camp to Ansar's was just a
"coincidence". After the attack Jamaa moved its headquarters to the
town of Ranya, north of Sulaimaniyah province, and the group's leader
and so-called prince, Ali Bapir, met twice with coalition and
mainstream Kurdish officials after the fall of Saddam in an effort to
clear the "misunderstanding", according to Sinkawi.
The third time Bapir was given a rendez-vous on July 10 in Dokan,
north of the city of Sulaimaniyah, where he was ambushed by US forces
and arrested along with 15 others, said Sinkawi. He said Bapir's
whereabouts are unknown since then but that he has asked Kurdish
leader Jalal Talabani and other council members, including Abdul Aziz
al-Hakim and Ahmed Chalabi, to intervene to secure Bapir's release.
Sinkawi did not disclose the number of his partisans but said Jamaa
mobilized a major protest in Sulaimaniyah in September demanding
But the head of a Kirkuk-based special intelligence unit created three
months ago by coalition forces said Bapir was a member of Ansar
al-Islam and that his fighters had clashed previously with Talabani's
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. "Arresting him was the best move," said
General Hassan Shaker al-Juburi. Sinkawi said Jamaa has thanked US
troops for liberating Iraq from Saddam but now believes that they must
leave Iraq. "We think their occupation must end, but we favour a
political and peaceful process to achieve this," he said.
Giddy days for Iraq's press - 04 Jan 04
The new flock of newspapers are a Babel of opinions and qualities.
There are broadsheets and tabloids, and circulations range from the
tens of thousands to the single digits. Most are in Arabic, a handful
in English. There are political publications produced by every party
from Communist to Islamist, official papers published by the Coalition
Provisional Authority and a spectrum of self- proclaimed independent
voices writing under mastheads with such names as Constitution and
Independent. "Before, the regime banned every other form of opinion,
other ideas. There was only one opinion: the regime's opinion,
Saddam's opinion," said Sadiq al-Rikabi, editor of Al-Bayan, published
by the Islamic Daawa Party. "After the collapse of the regime, we got
one thing at least: freedom. To say what we think. To write what we
think. To demonstrate what we think." Under Hussein, control of the
press extended even to nonpolitical publications such as Alif Baa,
once a leading weekly magazine of literature and society, said staff
reporter Abul Hussain Breesam. It was able to publish only by
eschewing politics and regularly devoting its cover -- and frequently
half its inside pages -- to fawning pictures of the ruler, he said.
The market is not completely free, as Abdul Saitar al-Shalan, editor
of Al-Mustekela (the Independent), discovered when U.S. troops raided
his newspaper and arrested him for publishing a fatwa, or edict, by a
prominent cleric. Al-Shalan rejected some other journalists'
suggestions that Al-Mustekela is pro-Hussein, saying it was one of the
first independent newspapers published after the war, had won regional
journalism awards and had run articles about Hussein's use of torture.
All he did by publishing the fatwa, al-Shalan said, was to include the
opinions on the street by printing the cleric's views.
Israeli human rights groups charges repeated abuses at military
.. - 04 Jan 04
The Israeli human rights group B'tselem accused soldiers at a
checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus of repeatedly abusing
Palestinians, and in a report released Sunday, the group charged that
the military is ignoring its repeated appeals to investigate. Israel
has set up dozens checkpoints around the West Bank and Gaza Strip
during three years of fighting with the Palestinians to prevent
suicide bombers from entering Israel. However, more than 100 suicide
bombings have been carried out. Palestinians charge that the
checkpoints are among Israeli travel restrictions that have decimated
their economy and caused many severe hardships. According to B'tselem,
in the course of four days of December, soldiers at the Sara roadblock
shot at, beat and threatened to kill Palestinians in 10 separate
incidents, often after they tried to sneak around the checkpoint.
Akkad to shoot 'Saladin Al Ayyubi and the Crusades' in Jordan
.. - 05 Jan 04
Syrian-born Hollywood film director Moustapha Akkad was in Jordan
recently scouting the country for locations to shoot his long awaited
film about the 12th century Muslim hero Saladin Al Ayyubi.
According to Akkad, [Sean] Connery was very enthusiastic about playing
Saladin, a sultan of Egypt and Syria who defeated the Crusaders near
Tiberias in 1187 and liberated Jerusalem, Acre and Ashkeleon. Akkad
counts among his popular films the two epics - "The Message" and "Lion
of the Desert" - both of which he directed. He is perhaps best known
for his production of all eight movies in the "Halloween" horror
series starring Jamie Lee Curtis.
Saladin, he said, represents the real essence of Islam. This Arab
Muslim leader protected freedom of religion and different holy places
and is highly regarded by both Western and Eastern historians, Akkad
stressed. "The key to reaching Western audiences and influencing them
is by using their language and their actors," explained Akkad.
Believing in the power of media over tanks and planes, Akkad said he
was determined to put all his effort into the filming of this new
epic. Akkad's journey to Hollywood and global fame began in northern
Syria 50 years ago. .. He admitted that his aspirations were not
shared by his community. "It was the joke of the town," he said. "My
whole neighbourhood laughed at that idea."
Islamic schools under scrutiny, say leaders - 05 Jan 04
The Government is investigating Islamic schools (madrassas) suspected
of harbouring terrorists, Muslim leaders have claimed. The Ministry of
Education has reportedly released forms to be filled by heads of
madrassas giving details about the schools' location, the number of
enrolled pupils and their source of funding. The move has drawn
protests from several Islamic organisations including the Council of
Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK), the Chief Kadhi of Kenya Sheikh
Hammad Kassim, the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem) and the
Lang'ata Islamic Welfare Organisation.
[CIPK secretary-general Sheikh Muhammad] Dor said a similar exercise
allegedly influenced by Americans had been carried out in Pakistan,
Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, adding that Kenya was the first African
country to be asked to do so. "We urge all madrassa heads not to
comply with that directive since it does not come from the Kenya
Government but from a foreign one," Dor said. Dor asked the Government
not to interfere with madrassas as they do not operate under the
Education Act and did not get sponsorship from the State. The Chief
Kadhi criticised the move saying the Government should have consulted
with Islamic leaders before issuing the directive.
Lebanese ayatollah rebukes Egypt's top cleric for comments on head
.. - 03 Jan 04
Lebanon's top Muslim Shiite cleric has rebuked a top Muslim Sunni
authority for supporting France's proposed ban on head scarves in
schools. Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said the grand sheik of
Al-Azhar in Cairo should apologize to Muslims for saying that French
Muslim school girls should respect the proposed ban on head scarves.
"Sheik Al-Azhar harmed Islam and Muslims when he gave the French
government a credible Islamic justification for its decision ... He is
required to apologize to Muslims,'' Fadlallah said Friday. The
comments were faxed to The Associated Press on Saturday.
Ensuring pilgrims' safety - 05 Jan 04
Malaysians going to Mecca during the current haj season have been told
not to bring along flags and any form of literature connected to
political parties in the country. They are also advised to stay away
from demonstrations, should they occur, to avoid any untoward
incident. .. Some 25,000 pilgrims from Malaysia are due to perform
the haj in the current season.
Civil, Syariah Law On Biotechnology Necessary- Don - 05 Jan 04
Syariah and civil laws relating to Artificial Reproductive Technology
are necessary to resolve socio-ethical issues arising from the
development of this technology, Universiti Malaya Professor Dr Azizan
Baharuddin said Monday. Dr Azizan, who is the Director of the Centre
for Dialogue on Civilizations, said Malaysia at present did not have
any Act or law governing biotechnology or bioethics. "In October 2001,
the Biotechnology Policy Committee was set up to provide agreed
guidelines taking into account the religious factor and diverse
cultures," he said in his keynote address titled "Bioethics from the
Islamic Perspective" at the workshop on "Understanding Biotechnology:
Towards an Informed Ulama" here. He said even though biotechnology
had varied uses, it still had high risks and gave rise to difficult
issues particularly in the field of genetic engineering. Dr Azizan
said ethical issues pertaining to technology generally included
replacement of illness-causing genes, genetic engineering on species
to come up with more resilient ones, getting organs to replace damaged
ones and animal cloning to get hormones.
Dr Azizan said there was a need to create a network of cooperation
among ulamas, scientists, doctors, economists, policy makers,
politicians and the media to help resolve religious and ethical issues
relating to biotechnology. "Short courses by scientists for the ulama
and vice versa should be held from time to time so that the latest
issues on biotechnology can be dealt with effectively," he said.
Illogical to use hudud law to judge whether govt is Islamic - Najib
.. - 04 Jan 04
UMNO Vice-President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it is illogical
and unfair to use hudud law as the basis to assess whether the
government of a country is Islamic or otherwise. He said the scope of
an Islamic nation covered a wide area and not merely focus on
implementing hudud law. "In Malaysia's context, all criteria have been
fulfilled to be an Islamic government," he said when closing the
national-level nasyid and Quran recital competition for Al-Falah
Volunteers here Sunday.
He said the present government had protected Islam from being
distorted by deviant teachings. He said the government also appointed
non-Muslims as Cabinet members to assist in the country's
administration. "According to a famous ulama Al-Mawardi from the
Syafie sect, we must appoint non-Muslims living in an Islamic country
as ministers to implement policies drawn up by Muslim leaders," he
said. Apart from having established an efficient administration
system, Najib said the government also provided a strong defence with
soldiers capable of protecting the country and religion from any form
of invasion. He also said the government had instituted an organised
zakat (tithe) collection and distribution system to enable Muslims to
fulfil their religious obligation. He said the government had also
introduced policies to gradually incorporate Islamic values into the
country's administration. Najib called on Muslims to protect Islam
with full conviction and oppose any elements that tarnished Islam's
image. "We should avoid slandering each other, labelling fellow
Muslims as infidels and other forms of ridicule and condemnation," he
said. He said such things were propagated by the so-called "Islamic
champions" who were engrossed in creating an Islamic image according
to their own mould. The moderate approach currently being practised
by the majority of Muslims in Malaysia should be maintained and
expanded as the preferred way of life, he added.
[opinion] Labels being used to silence moderate Malay commentators
.. - 04 Jan 04
PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat has found no
shortage of terms to describe Malay Muslims not in tune with his
party. .. Lately, he has started describing opponents of Pas'
Islamic state as Jews. But after a furore in the media, he narrowed
down his specs: it was Umno leaders who were Jews, he said. Malaysians
in general oppose the Zionist state and the Israeili regime because of
its atrocities against Muslims and Palestinians. Therefore, to be
labelled a Jew is a powerful indictment of a Malay Muslim.
Nik Aziz's supporters would dispute accusations that the Kelantan
Menteri Besar suppresses freedom of speech. After all, didn't he
defend national laureate Datuk Shahnon Ahmad who wrote the
controversial book Shit, which was liberally interspersed with
four-letter words? Did not Nik Aziz stand on the platform of free
expression in supporting Shahnon? But Shahnon did, if many remember,
later contest as a Pas candidate and became MP for Sik. Nik Aziz then
said, in defence of the book, that "even God uttered vulgarity and
swear words". Again, he showed his ability to argue his case in
defending freedom of expression while at the same time, tried to
silence critics by evoking God's name. But, to be fair to him, he is
not alone and neither is he the first to use such perceptions to cow
critics into silence. Malay society has become more religiously
conscious over the years and religiously-qualified people are treated
with great respect. If such religious people make a controversial
comment, the average Malay is either intimidated or held back from
responding. But in the days of old, when the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee's
movies captivated Malaysians, especially Malays, social issues were
addressed in a lighter but effective way.
His movies addressed the realities of religion as well. He was apt in
showing a benign face to those who wavered from the righteous path and
painted evil shades on those who hid themselves behind Islamic
credentials. This was clear in the many movies where the character of
"Haji Bakhil" (Miser) was shown as the bad guy.
If in Malay movies of old, labels such as kaki betina (womaniser),
kaki botol (alcoholic) and tahi judi (gambler) were common in making a
person look bad, then today, it is calling them Jews or kafir,
especially in the political battle between Umno and Pas.
Kuala Terengganu council issues warning on dress code - 04 Jan 04
Owners of business premises here will be compounded up to RM 250 [EUR
52,-] if their Muslim workers fail to comply with the proper Islamic
dress code. The women must cover their aurat (parts of the body which,
under Islamic teachings, cannot be exposed). A similar fine will also
be imposed on non-Muslims who are not attired properly in keeping with
the general dressing norms of the community. Kuala Terengganu
Municipal Council president Dr Sulaiman Abdullah said Muslim women
must wear the tudung (headcover).
He said the council's enforcement personnel would soon visit the
premises with "Islamic preachers" to advise Muslim women who failed to
abide by the directive.
Dr Sulaiman said non-Muslim workers were free to wear skirts, which
extend to their knees. "Mini-skirts are not allowed and I don't think
anyone wears this kind of attire anymore," he said, adding the
dressing must reflect the general norms of the community.
Muslim women will have to wear a tudong, a headscarf drawn tightly
about the face. The traditional loosely draped Malay headscarf will be
banned and the rules will apply to all work places.
Terengganu Muslims face more restrictions - 29 Dec 03
Come Thursday, shops here will be barred from selling alcoholic
drinks, including beer, and Muslims will not be allowed to enter shops
selling such items, The Star reported yesterday. Kuala Terengganu
Municipal Council president Dr Sulaiman Abdullah was reported as
saying that supermarkets could still sell such beverages, but only in
a separate room with separate payment counters. "Notices that Muslims
are barred from entering the room must also be prominently displayed,"
the newspaper quoted him as saying. He added that restaurants selling
alcoholic beverages must bar Muslims from entering.
Crackdown in Mauritania feeds anger - 04 Jan 04
Mauritania has long been dominated by its Arab elite, a 30 percent
minority governing a majority of black Africans and mixed
Mauritania, a member of the Arab League, has since broken relations
with Iraq and, spurred on by the United States, opened full diplomatic
ties with Israel. It remains the only Arab League nation to keep
full-scale relations throughout three years of Israeli-Palestinian
violence. After speakers in mosques lectured against the current Iraq
invasion, the government, and its ties with Israel, officials decreed
that only clerics could preach in mosques - and only on religious
topics. They closed some Koranic schools, including a Saudi-backed
institution with 2,000 pupils. Some Islamic charities - especially
those receiving overseas funds - lost operating rights. Police broke
up antiwar marches with tear gas and batons. Islamic political blocs
remain banned. "What do we need Islamic parties for? We're already an
Islamic nation," said a spokesman for Taya, Mohamed Ould Bellal.
Questions And Answers On Non-Interest Or Islamic Banking Service
http://allafrica.com/stories/200401020257.html [Vanguard] - 02 Jan 04
Plateau Hammers Council of Ulamas - 02 Jan 04
http://allafrica.com/stories/200401020508.html [Daily Champion]
Plateau State Government has banned all the activities of the Council
of Ulamas in a move aimed at averting a possible breakdown of law and
order following fears over the return of the Mohammed Marwa-led
[Governor] Dariye, who described the council as illegal, also said it
is irresponsible, adding that his administration will henceforth, deal
only with the Jamataul Nasir Islamiya (JNI) on behalf of muslims.
Also addressing journalists, Wednesday, on the issue, commissioner for
information, Alhaji Dauda Ismaila Lamba said security operatives in
the state have nabbed the ring leaders of the Maitatsine sect. Alhaji
Lamba, who named six of such leaders as being part of the 179
adherents of the sect arrested recently stressed that the unfolding
scenario could be a dress-rehearsal of a more damaging plot by the
[Yobe] Nigerian 'Taliban' strike again - 03 Jan 04
About 200 members of the Muhajirun sect stormed into Yobe State's
capital, Damaturu, early on Thursday, firing into the air, and sacked
three police stations, local journalists reported.
The Muhajirun are thought to be mainly middle-class Nigerian graduates
inspired by the Taliban's vision of a Islamic state run in accordance
with the principles of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi current of Islam. "This
group, which call themselves Taliban, left (the northeastern city of)
Maiduguri three months ago and settled in an open area between Yobe
State and the Niger Republic," the governor told Radio Kaduna.
The clashes with the Muhajirun came amid tensions in the unruly
highland city of Jos, further south in Plateau State, where a police
raid against a different Islamic group last month left three dead.
Although the Muhajirun reportedly claim allegiance to the Afghan
Taliban's ousted leader Mullah Omar, they are not thought to have
trained or fought in Afghanistan with his men or their Al-Qaeda
allies. The Al-Qaeda Islamist network's fugitive leader, Saudi-born
radical Osama bin Laden, last year named Nigeria as one of six
"apostate states" whose secular governments ought to be overthrown by
Residents said the militants had set up isolated village compounds in
at least four places in the Yobe and Borno states, barring entry to
non-members and only venturing out to sell handmade rope. A local
security official, who asked not to be named, said the group may be
related to the Maitatsine sect, a group authorities accuse of
orchestrating religious riots across northern Nigeria in the 1980s.
http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/news/nation/7630227.htm - 05 Jan 04
[Ibrahim Jirigi, a state government spokesman] identified the group as
Al-Sunna Wal Jamma, Arabic for "followers of Muhammad's teachings."
The group has campaigned for the last two years for an Islamic state,
and has publicly criticized officials that it saw as lax in
implementing Islamic law. The attacks mark the first time the movement
has been known to take up arms.
[Zamfara] Rival Takes ANPP Chief To Sharia Court - 03 Jan 04
The Zamfara state chairman of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP),
Hajiya Hassi Bakura may be sentenced to 80 strokes of cane and
possible imprisonment, by a Sharia court if found guilty of defaming
the character of the Gusau Local Government ANPP chairperson, Hajiya
Halima Ibrahim. Hajiya Ibrahim dragged Bakura to the Kanwuri Sharia
court, Gusau for allegedly saying that she was sleeping with the Gusau
Local Government party chairman, Alhaji Abdurrahman Yargoha. When the
case came up, the plaintiff told the court that the state party's
chairperson is defaming her character among members of the party and
society in general, and therefore asked for justice over the issue.
[litt.] Mindanao 2003 - A harvest of 19 books - 03 Jan 04
The Sharia Courts in the Philippines: Women, Men, Muslim Personal
Laws. By Isabelita Solamo-Antonio. Published by the Pilipina Legal
Resources Center, Inc (PLRC)
Qatar to hold first seminar on human rights - 04 Jan 04
The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) will organise its first
seminar on human rights promotion and protection on January 5-6 at the
Ritz Carlton Hotel. The organisers said the seminar would focus on
enhancing awareness and creating a culture of human rights among
Qataris and expatriates in the country.
"I call upon Qataris and expatriates to attend the seminar, as several
important issues will be discussed, such as the political human rights
which will be dealt by Dr Yousuf Obiedan from Qatar University. The UN
Special Rapporteur on disability, Sheikha Hessa bint Khalifa Al Thani,
will highlight human rights and disability, and Professor of Shariah
and Islamic Studies at Cairo University Dr Mohammed Mustafa Younus
will speak on mechanisms and guarantees of human rights in
emergencies", Ali noted. According to the seminar's agenda, renowned
Islamic scholar Dr Yousuf Al Qaradawi will speak on the second day on
freedom in Islam. The Chairman of Palestinian Judicial Authority,
Sheikh Tayseer Al Tamimi will speak on the role of Islamic Judiciary
in the promotion and protection of human rights, while teacher of
political science at Cairo University, Dr Ahmed Al Rashidi, will speak
on human rights in Islam.
[comment] The French War on Islam by Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi - 04 Jan 04
Don't change Islam-based schooling, Saudis warn - 05 Jan 04
Some 150 Saudis, including judges, university professors and a cleric
with links to Muslim militants, have signed a document warning the
kingdom against changing its Islam-based school curriculum. The
warning, which was obtained by Reuters on Saturday, was signed on Jan
1, a day after Saudi intellectuals, clerics and prominent
personalities recommended educational reforms at the end of a
conference held to tackle the roots of militancy.
Saudi Arabia, along with five other Gulf countries, also agreed last
month to amend its school books to help stamp out militancy. The
warning criticised the proposed changes in the curriculum as American
pressure that was aimed at 'taking the kingdom along the path of
infidels'. 'Any omissions or mutilation of what was written by the
Islamic scholars...contradicts the national unity the state is calling
for, as this unity is based on our religious creed,' the statement
said. Reformists in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the birthplace of
Islam, criticised the warning. 'This is an attempt by hardliners who
benefit from the status quo to keep their influence,' said one, who
declined to be named.
The decision by several Arab countries to review their educational
curricula is causing some anxieties among traditionalists and
fundamentalists in the Arab world. Here in Jordan, Minister of
Education Khalid Touqan has gone to great lengths to assure all
Jordanians that the ministry's review process of school curricula is
not instigated by external forces but rather by domestic determination
to upgrade the scholastic excellence of the country's students. Other
Arab states, notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have also gone out of
their way to explain to their respective peoples that there is nothing
sinister or anti-Islamic in their reviews of school curricula.
Accordingly, we see nothing wrong in making sure that what we are
teaching our students is harmonious to Muslim teachings as well as
with the legally binding treaties. The anxiety being built up on the
distinction between terrorism and liberation is unnecessary. Armed
struggle to free people from occupation and subjugation is an
inalienable right. What the international norms tell us is that the
methods of warfare used in the liberation process should comply with
the Geneva Conventions. That's not a lot to ask for.
Strategy Worked Out for Jamrat Crowd Control - 03 Jan 04
Seven government departments have worked out an integrated crowd
control strategy for the ritual stoning at Jamrat during the peak days
of Haj, when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims cram the area.
The stoning of pillars representing Satan in Mina by hundreds of
thousands of faithful still poses a big challenge for the Haj
managers. Over the past few years, hundreds of pilgrims have died in
stampedes at Jamrat as large masses of pilgrims rush to the area often
ignoring warnings from officials, especially the first and last day of
stoning, Dul Hijjah 10 and12 .
Pilgrims will be told to leave the area quickly after completing the
stoning. Special arrangements have been made to rescue pilgrims
trapped in stampedes or fainting as a result of overcrowding.
The ministry has also posted health education materials on its website
- www.moh.gov.sa - to educate pilgrims about SARS and other diseases.
It also recommends preventive measures and issues a travel advisory.
.. Al-Jeffri also advised pregnant women and children - two groups
highly vulnerable to infectious diseases - to avoid pilgrimage if
Many Saudis 'don't believe in rationale behind pre-marital check-up'
.. - 04 Jan 04
Saudi Arabia last week adopted legislation making it a requirement
among marrying couples to undergo pre-marital medical check-ups to
rule out the possibility of genetic diseases being passed on to their
of spring. Congenital diseases such as sickle-cell anaemia, leukaemia
and thalassaemia are rampant in the Kingdom. In the eastern and
southern provinces, some 25 per cent of people are either carriers or
are afflicted with these diseases. .. More than half of all deaths
among Saudis ages 14 or younger result from congenital defects.
Before adopting the legislation, the issue was discussed at length at
the meeting of the Islamic scholars. After the debate, they ruled that
medical check-ups by the partners before marriage in no way
contradicts Islamic principles. The likelihood of passing congenital
diseases as a result of defective or recessive genes, on to the off-
spring increases when two relatives marry. This factor causes more
deaths than even some epidemics diseases. Marriages within close
family and tribes are quite normal in Saudi society. Recent studies
show more than half of all marriages in the Kingdom occur between
close relatives, with marriages of first cousins accounting for an
average of more than one-third.
[letter] Dowry and Shariah Law - 04 Jan 04
Islam in America, part 2 - How U.S. extremists fund terror - 05 Jan 04
[California] Teams in Muslim league change their names
http://www.rep-am.com/nationalnews/7dmq.htm - 05 Jan 04
After objections to team names like "Soldiers of Allah" and
"Moujahideen" overshadowed a football tournament organized by Muslim
youths, the players sacked most of the offending names and took to the
field to more cheers than protests. Jewish leaders had objected to
some of the planned names, and Muslim leaders asked the teams to
reconsider. One member of a team called Intifada said a few of his
friends quit because their parents were worried for their safety.
Organizers said none of the names were meant to offend and refused to
change some of them, including Intifada. .. The protests had little
effect on the competition. Fourteen squads battled for a first place
trophy during the one-day tournament. Rather than threatening, some of
the team names - including Fantizzle Fizzle - were just silly. The
team name Muslim Rangers was replaced on a tournament list with Irvine
Brunei Ready to Take the Plunge into Expanding Islamic Banking
.. - 05 Jan 04
[Coordinator of the Centre for Islamic Banking] Dayang Hajah Salma
binti Haji Abdul Latiff, went on to say that Brunei is ready to take
another major step to become a regional centre for the spread of
Islam, not only in terms of offering the basic facilities but also to
consider having a financial Islamic market.
[Saudi Arabia] The Source of Our Banking Problems - 05 Jan 04
Connections can be made between the lack of local investment
instruments, billions of private sector funds sitting idle and
government deficits increasing annually. It is easy to see that the
fat margins resulting from monopolies in our economy have created a
widening disparity between rich and poor businesses. This in turn
stifles competition with consumers ultimately paying the price in the
form of lack of choice, poor quality or unjustifiably high prices.
Worse yet, without healthy competition, most of our companies will
have no chance when foreign competition enters - as is planned. So we
have untrained unemployed Saudis and we also have highly qualified
Saudis who cannot get business opportunities. We have billions sitting
idle with the private sector and we have companies that lack funding
for growth, training and hiring. Something is not right.
To our banks, it is an alien concept that their primary function is to
act as an intermediary, passing funds to sectors of the economy that
need capital to increase productivity and job creation which
translates into economic growth. Passing the money on does not mean
parking it in each other's Treasury departments, and then on to
Bahrain and London for a 25+ basis point margin. Placing deposits on
the interbank market is probably the one skill area in which our
bankers can say they are unsurpassed. How proud that makes us!
Especially when they exercise the skill with non-interest bearing
deposits and so capture the full spread, making themselves the envy of
the world banking community. Our banks have the largest profit margins
in the global banking industry. No wonder they have fought
aggressively against any local or foreign competition.
Our banks maintain huge and diversified deposit bases unmatched by
equivalent loan books. Funds are lent to companies that do not need
them. Normally, that means companies which have peaked and have become
mature businesses throwing off plenty of cash. The impact of lending
to already mature businesses is not job creation. The capital is used
by the businesses to grow through acquisition, rather than through
capital investment that provides jobs or improves productivity. (For
example, take the recent case of a Saudi company buying over a billion
riyals worth of shares in a bank where it is a major shareholder with
funds borrowed from another bank in which it is also a major
shareholder. Where is the job creation in that transaction? What gain
in productivity did the economy experience? This example is indicative
of our banks' lending activities.) This is a cancerous phenomenon for
an economy. The big just keep getting bigger and the high growth
sectors short of cash get squeezed out. Monopolies are created as
capital becomes a barrier to entry and the benefits of competition are
Our bankers hide behind a mixture of excuses for their incompetence.
Some common ones are 1) blame it on the '80's bubble when big names
borrowed and defaulted - however, then, just as now, it was the banks'
greed and lack of skills that caused the problem; 2) blame it on their
boards where shareholders want to control lending and funnel it to
preferred sectors and companies; 3) blame it on the Saudi banker's
dilemma: why bother learning how to assess credit and business risk
when they can make outrageous profits risk-free with "no brainers"
(e.g. lending against cash deposits); 4) blame it on the regulatory
environment, using Shariah as the excuse for religious constraints -
here our bankers ignore the spirit of the law while selectively
exploiting the letter. Our banks pick and choose what part of Shariah
they wish to apply. When trade finance transactions and "Islamic"
products look like big money makers, the banks are the first to
exploit the Shariah for marketing purposes. When it comes to charging
individuals over 15 percent compound annual rates for credit card
debts, the Shariah's teaching against usury is conveniently
These companies run a funds deficit that is further exacerbated by the
lack of financing sources in our economy (no mechanism available to
issue money market instruments, bonds or equity). In contrast to the
business sector, the consumer sector is running a funds surplus
(savings). Anyone who doubts that should look at the banks' deposit
base. In a functioning economy, most of the consumer sector's annual
funds surplus is absorbed by making loans to, and equity investments
in, business firms that seek outside funds to cover their funds
deficits. This flow of funds from consumer to business sector is
facilitated by "financial intermediaries." Without this flow, an
economy chokes. By failing to act as intermediaries, our banks are
choking our economy. Their insipid credit policies direct surplus
funds to businesses running funds surplus. Just the opposite of what
they are supposed to do. The premise is not complicated; banks exist
in an economy to act as intermediaries between funds-surplus units and
funds-deficit units. I challenge any Saudi bank to demonstrate that
this is what they do.
The solution? Force the banks to lend to growing sectors of the
economy, not just to the existing fat cats. Banks should be required
to maintain loan books wherein distribution is spread to various
sectors and businesses. The policy of only extending risk-free secured
loans should be outlawed. It creates an environment in which usury
flourishes. Ultimatum time: Either the banks develop credit skills,
acceptable risk ratios and assume the responsibilities that come with
their licenses or we should revoke those licenses and open the sector
to other entities, local and foreign, that will do the job right. Time
is up for this monopoly. The days of exorbitant endless profits for
Saudi banks at the expense of creating economic and social problems
for the rest of us are over. Any bank shareholder not happy with this
should sell his shares and find another monopoly to create somewhere
else and let us get on with building a real economy. The benefits to
us as a nation far outweigh the potential cost of defaults and upsets
along the way. [Saud Al-Sowayel is a businessman based in Riyadh] .
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