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Islamic World News ( 15 May 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Egypt’s Dar Al-Iftaa Rules It Permissible to Give Non-Muslims Zakat Funds

New Age Islam News Bureau

15 May 2020

Prayers were led by Grand Imam of Al Azhar and Pope Francis. Millions joined from across the world.


• Egypt’s Dar Al-Iftaa Rules It Permissible to Give Non-Muslims Zakat Funds

• UAE-Inspired Initiative, Pray for Humanity: End Hatred, Unite as Brothers and Sisters in Fight Against Coronavirus

• Russian Orthodox and Muslims Pray with Pope Francis For the End of The Pandemic

• Islamic Call to Prayer Being Heard for The First Time Across Canada

• World Sindhi Congress Strongly Condemns Pakistani Decision to Build Diamer-Bhasha Dam on River Indus

• This Is Totally False, Wrote DCP East Delhi About the Video from March 20 as MuslimsOffering Namaz In Patparganj

• Leader of Sri Lanka’s Main Muslim Party File Fundamental Right Petition in SC Against Cremation of Muslims Died Of COVID-19

• Warring Parties in Yemen Make ‘Significant Progress’ On Ceasefire Agreement: UN Envoy

• Chief Imam of Fulani Mosque In Ilorin Admonishes Muslims Against IdolatryActs Against Allah

• Prince William Joins Video Call With Christchurch Muslim Community Affected By Mosque Attacks

• Residents of Uyghur-Majority County in Xinjiang Ordered to Report Others Fasting During Ramadan


Arab world

• Egypt’s Dar Al-Iftaa Rules It Permissible to Give Non-Muslims Zakat Funds

• UAE-Inspired Initiative, Pray for Humanity: End Hatred, Unite as Brothers and Sisters in Fight Against Coronavirus

• Bahrain's Ramadan drummer adds coronavirus message to pre-dawn call

• Covid-19 impact on Global Islamic banking software market

• Ramadan 2020: Meet non-Muslim who's been fasting for years in UAE

• How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity

• Egyptian mosques to remain closed as Ramadan ends



• Russian Orthodox and Muslims Pray with Pope Francis For the End of The Pandemic

• COVID-19 Dampens Ramadan Spirits, But Local Muslims Continue to Serve Community

• The empty Preston mosque that usually has 700 people breaking fast a day during Ramadan

• London now counts 'just 24' new coronavirus cases per day


North America

• Islamic Call to Prayer Being Heard for The First Time Across Canada

• No Food, No Problem: Why Mosques Have Embraced Virtual Interfaith Events This Ramadan

• 'Islamic State' responsible for deadly Afghanistan bombings, says US

• CAIR-NJ Applauds Tossing of Court Case That Put Islam on Trial



• World Sindhi Congress Strongly Condemns Pakistani Decision to Build Diamer-Bhasha Dam on River Indus

• Islamic Finance set to witness huge growth by 2026

• Bilawal Urges People to Observe Yaum-i-Ali, Friday Prayers At Home

• Govt mulls lockdown in areas violating SOPs

• IHC tells police to withdraw personnel from VIP duties



• This Is Totally False, Wrote DCP East Delhi About the Video from March 20 as MuslimsOffering Namaz In Patparganj

• Anti-Muslim Bigotry Displayed by Some Indians Abroad Costs Them Their Jobs

• Muslim Migrants from Bihar Find Shelter in Assam Hindu Household

• Gujarat Chand Committee Seeks Govt’s Nod for Eid Namaz In Mosques

• 3 die, 100 injured in two accidents involving migrant labourers in UP

• Gujarat: Five break into closed eatery only to kill hunger


South Asia

• Leader of Sri Lanka’s Main Muslim Party File Fundamental Right Petition in SC Against Cremation of Muslims Died Of COVID-19

• No Jamaat At Eidgah This Time, Eid Prayers Can Be Offered at Mosques

• Here's how Wuhan plans to test all 11 million of its people for coronavirus

• Taliban share demand after being blamed for Kabul, Nangarhar attacks

• Was It Taliban Or ISIS; Khalilzad Confirms US Assessment Regarding Recent Deadly Attacks

• Airstrike destroys Humvee APC which Taliban wanted to use in a deadly attack in Maimana

• Five Civilians Injured by Shelling in Muslim Villages in Rakhine



• Warring Parties in Yemen Make ‘Significant Progress’ On Ceasefire Agreement: UN Envoy

• Hamas reiterates resistance as only way to oppose occupation on eve of Nakba Day

• Israel takes advantage of pandemic to annex parts of West Bank: Palestine UN envoy

• Martyrdom Anniversary of Imam Ali (PBUH) On 21st Holy Month of Ramadan

• Turkey's TIKA delivers Ramadan aid to 3 continents

• PKK continues to attack civilians despite Ramadan, pandemic, kills 2 social workers

• Israeli forces kill Palestinian man over alleged car-ramming attack in West Bank



• Chief Imam of Fulani Mosque In Ilorin Admonishes Muslims Against IdolatryActs Against Allah

• Fed Govt frowns as states reopen Mosques, Churches

• Imam admonishes Muslims against idolatry

• Zulum asks Muslims to pray against COVID-19, Boko Haram

• Ramadan: Pray Against Boko Haram, Their Sponsors – Governor ZulumTells BornoCitizens

• Matawalle lifts ban on Mosque, Church activities

• Adamawa Government lifts ban, orders Churches, Mosques to reopen


New Zealand

• Prince William Joins Video Call With Christchurch Muslim Community Affected By Mosque Attacks

• Georgetown Student Takes Islamic Bioethics Research At QF To Washington And Wins

• Crises of Kiwi Muslims For Genuine Leadership


Southeast Asia

• Residents of Uyghur-Majority County in Xinjiang Ordered to Report Others Fasting During Ramadan

• Islamic Religious Department: Only Mosque, Surau Members Who Get Mobile Alerts May Attend Prayers

• Muslims Should Avoid Hari Raya Visits Due To COVID-19 Restrictions: Islamic Religious Council of Singapore

• Lautze Mosque: A Symbol Of Chinese-Muslim Assimilation In Indonesia

• Ismail Sabri: Unity minister examining reopening of non-Muslim places of worship

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Egypt’s Dar Al-Iftaa Rules It Permissible to Give Non-Muslims Zakat Funds

Al-Masry Al-Youm

May 14, 2020

Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa on Thursday issued a fatwa stating that it is permissible for Muslims to give Zakat (religiously mandated charitable donations) to non-Muslims who need treatment or preventative measures to fight off coronavirus infection and other diseases.

The fatwa is also in line with the behavior of Umar Ibn al-Khattab, one of the Prophet Mohammad’s companions, who used to give Zakat to meet the needs of non-Muslims under his rule, the statement added.

When leprosy hit citizens under Umar ibn al-Khattab, he used zakat funds to treat non-Muslims during the pandemic, according to the statement.

According to Dar al-Iftaa, even the 12th century Persian scholar Imam al-Razi said in his explanation of the Quranic verse on Zakat that the verse mentioned that Zakat should be directed to “the poor and the indigent” in general, without limiting it to Muslims.

The Quranic verse on zakat reads: “Indeed, [prescribed] charitable offerings are only [to be given] to the poor and the indigent, and to those who work on [administering] it, and to those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to [free] those in bondage, and to the debt-ridden, and for the cause of God, and to the wayfarer. [This is] an obligation from God. And God is all-knowing, all-wise.”

Dar al-Iftaa noted that Islam promotes cooperation, coexistence and good treatment for the people of other religions, and established the principle of citizenship based on synergy and cooperation without discriminating in rights and duties against non-Muslims.


UAE-Inspired Initiative, Pray For Humanity: End Hatred, Unite As Brothers And Sisters In Fight Against Coronavirus

May 15, 2020

We are united in humanity as brothers and sisters, against the pandemic, said leaders of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity on Thursday as they bowed their heads in prayer for an end to the coronavirus raging across the world.

The day of prayer is a unique UAE-Inspired Initiative to bring people of different faiths together for a common cause against Covid-19.

"Let diversity values prevail instead of fanaticism, bigotry, hate of the other, and discrimination among people on the basis of faith, colour, race, and wealth," prayed Dr Tayeb.

"Everyone prays as they know how, as they can, according to what they have received from their culture. This day of prayer against the pandemic must make us think also of many other pandemics. The pandemics of war, of hunger. May God put an end to this tragedy - this pandemic - and have mercy on us," Pope Francis prayed.

"Let May 14 mark the beginning of a new world where peacemaking overcomes the industry of weapons, showing evidence of our ability to create a common environment where we can all live together as fellow brothers and sisters enjoying mutual love," said Dr Tayeb.

Religious leaders and community heads of the UAE from different faiths came together virtually on Thursday to pray, reflect and seek refuge in God against Covid-19.

It was in response to the call of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF) that urged leaders and people from all over the world to pray to God for an end to the deadly virus.

The HCHF initiated a global movement called 'Prayer for Humanity' and had invited religious leaders and faithful around the world to mark May 14 as a day of fasting, prayers and supplications for the good of humanity and "an end to the Covid-19 pandemic".

A multi-faith virtual prayer session organised by the Jebel Ali Church Complex and Interfaith Committee in Jebel Ali saw 14 religious and community leaders from various faiths coming together and beseech God Almighty in their own forms of prayer.

Dr Omar Al Muthanna, CEO of the Community Development Authority in Dubai which oversees the places of worship, said: "Our world is going through the toughest times when lives of millions of people are at risk due to this rapid spread of Covid-19 pandemic. The world has always rushed to make scientific efforts to overcome these situations and even today we are making all efforts to help eradicate this disease but we should not forget that we cannot do without God's help. And we need His help to rescue us from any challenging situation. We should maintain this perfect balance between faith and science and pray to the Almighty to help us find the successful breakthrough to end this pandemic."

Surender Singh Kandhari, chairman of the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh temple, said: "When times are hard and obstacles seem enormous, it is the power of prayer that can win us out of these difficult times. This prayer reads that the Almighty will never abandon us in good and bad times. All we need to do is seek God's protection and He will protect and preserve us."

Joining in the virtual prayer service were also Rev Fr Mina Hanna, priest of the Coptic orthodox church in Jabal Ali, Dubai; Mohammad Al Neyadi, director-general of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments; Fr Reinhold Sahner, St Francis Catholic church: Archbishop Nathanael Youssef, patriarchal vicar of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Arabian Gulf and Ashok Kotecha, director, BAPS Hindu Temple Abu Dhabi.

A number of virtual prayer sessions were organised across the UAE as part of the global day of prayer. St Thomas Indian Orthodox Church in Dubai started a chain of prayers on Wednesday evening and continued it until 6pm on Thursday. While St Michaels Church Sharjah held live holy mass session in English at 6.30am, Gurunanak Darbar, Dubai, hosted its prayer service on a Zoom conference with 7,000 members from 6pm to 7pm. BAPS Hindu Mandir, Abu Dhabi, also held a virtual prayer session from 7.30pm on Thursday.

The Ministry of Tolerance also organised a prayer session that saw the opening and closing remarks of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance.


Russian Orthodox and Muslims pray with Pope Francis for the end of the pandemic


by Vladimir Rozanskij

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov (of Islamic profession) and the Mufti RushanAbbasov, first vice-president of the Islamic Council of Russia among the most enthusiastic supporters of the Day of Prayer and Fasting launched by the High Committee of Human Fraternity and supported by the Pope. Support also from many Orthodox priests, Protestant Christians and Jews. The death of priests and monks continues in the Orthodox Church. An "anti-virus" cross.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The "Day of prayer to free us from the coronavirus" supported by Pope Francis and the High Committee of Human Fraternity yesterday, was also widely supported also in Russia. Many Orthodox priests declared their adhesion with the Pope and the Catholics, specifying that the litanies and the moleben to ask for an end to the pandemic are already widely practiced by the Russian Church.

The president of the Russian republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov (of Islamic profession) was among the most enthusiastic about the papal initiative: "I am convinced that on this day people from different continents and representatives of various religions turn to the Most High. We ask the Creator to help us overcome the pandemic and the crisis it has caused. Only by uniting and overcoming the divisions that make us suffer, can we hope that the Most High will have mercy on us. "

Even Mufti RushanAbbasov, first vice-president of the Islamic Council of Russia, recalled that “we are in the blessed month of Ramadan, which even more fills the lives of Muslims with prayers. Muslims from Russia have already organized collective prayers with Muslims from other countries several times; we wholeheartedly support these initiatives, such as the appeal to common prayer proposed by the Pope of Rome, Francis ".

In the Orthodox Church many supported the initiative, as stated by the priest AleksejDikarev: "This proposal unites people of good will, who try to do whatever they can to overcome this crisis. The whole Russian Orthodox Church with its pastors and faithful pray for a speedy overcoming of this crisis, in particular by repeating the Akatistos to the Mother of God ". Russian Protestants, and Chief Rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar, also expressed their solidarity with the Pope's initiative.

In particular, the Russian Church prays remembering the many losses of these days, due to the coronavirus. On 13 May, a 46-year-old priest, the protoierejVasilijAleksandrov Andrej Kuraev, who served in the Trinity church in the village of Oktjabrskij, in the province of Moscow, also known as moderator of the blog of the proto-saxon, died. Vasily left his wife MatushkaJulija with five children.

The protoierej Aleksandr Gridunov, from the Volgodonsk eparchy near Rostov, the protoierejAleksijPenkov (photo 2), 52, of the Church of the life-giving Trinity in Konkovo, on the outskirts of Moscow, and the hieromonk Petr (Gribov) of the eparchy of Shuj, 55 years old.

In the monastery of the Life-giving Cross of Shuj, all 12 monks were infected with the virus. The monastery is located in a place that is difficult to access and even going to the hospital is rather problematic, and Father Petr died in his cell without being able to receive treatment.

In the monastery of Verkhoturja on the Urals, the number of people infected has reached 50; all 15 monks of the monastery of San Pafnuzio in the province of Kaluga were also found positive for coronavirus. In a parish of the Kurgan eparchy, that of the Nativity of Chastoozerje, the parish priest Fr. Aleksandr Shumilov thought of organizing a "processional race" of the faithful with the icon of Saint George the Winner, in honor of the Victory celebrated in these days and for the liberation from the enemy virus. Together with the banners of the saints, the parishioners waved the red flags with the hammer sickle (photo 3).

A Protestant bishop, Nikolai Mitrofanov, one of the main representatives of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians (Russian Pentecostals), also died from the virus in the city of Yaroslavl on the Volga River. His confreres, Bishop Sergei Ryakhovsky and Bishop Andrej Dirienko gave the news, recalling that "There is no greater love than one who gives his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13).

The deputies of the State Duma, the Russian parliament, have decided to apply a special badge with a cross to be worn on their jacket (photo 4). The speaker of the Duma, VjačeslavVolodin, explained that it is a sign that "removes the coronavirus". Even Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, had been wearing the white cross on his jacket for a few days, before being hospitalized for the virus.


Islamic call to prayer being heard for the first time across Canada

MAY 15, 2020

OTTAWA — The Al Rashid Mosque has stood in Edmonton since 1938, but no one there today can remember ever hearing the daily call to prayer ring out through the loudspeakers.

The Al Rashid, Canada’s oldest mosque, livestreams the call online every evening for thousands of people who cannot be there in person.

Some parents have been bringing their children to stand outside the mosque at sundown to hear the call and share the experience they never expected to pass on in Canada.

Some who worship there grew up in countries where Islam is the dominant religion. For them, the sound transports them back to their own childhood, where the adhan was heard ringing through local neighbourhoods five times each day.

“Being able to break their fast on the sound of the prayer, it was a big moment they will not forget, I’m sure,” said Noor Al-Henedy, who works for the mosque.

Ramadan is a month-long period dedicated to prayer, reflection and charity, underscored by the practice of abstaining from food and water during the day.

While Muslim Canadians have endured the same hardships as the rest of the country during the COVID-19 crisis, including job losses and isolation, the pandemic has provided an even greater opportunity to reflect on life’s priorities and put others first.

“To really be able to reflect well on yourself while fasting, to look around you and appreciate the blessings that you have, to understand the struggle that many people are going through … is really important.”

“It’s really comforting,” said Sahar Zimmo, who has heard the adhan before while travelling in other countries, but has now heard it in her hometown of London, Ont., for the first time.

“To actually hear the call to prayer, it gave me a sense of hope, a sense of relief at a time when things are up in the air and not normal,” she said.

Allowing the call to prayer in Canadian cities hasn’t been totally without backlash, but Zimmo said neighbours in London have been supportive.

At a time when everyone is isolated from one another, being able to share a part of her community and faith with the rest of her city is heartening.

“It just gives us hope that better times are coming, it gives us a sense of togetherness and a sense of unity that we’re all kind of in this struggle together,” she said.


World Sindhi Congress Strongly Condemns Pakistani Decision to Build Diamer-Bhasha Dam on River Indus


LONDON: World Sindhi Congress (WSC) strongly condemns the Pakistani Government's decision to build a Diamer-Bhasha Dam on the Indus River. WSC believes that Sindh and indigenous people of Sindh are already suffering from the shortage of agriculture water and required discharge into the Arabian Sea to block the seawater intrusion into the mainland. Subsequently, building any new dam will make things worse.

The construction of mega-dams completely changes the relationship between water, land, and indigenous people by destroying the existing ecosystem balance, which developed throughout thousands of years. Today's world is moving away from mega-dams because of the enormous cost and significant damage to the environment and the people.

WSC urges the Pakistani administration to scrap any mega-dams from plans and instead focus thoroughly on modern water management and electricity generation from solar, nuclear, and other renewable energy sources.

According to reports, "The Diamer-Bhasha dam is expected to cost $14 billion with 6 MAF of live storage." and it will take 30-years to payback. Whereas, new technologies which do not require billions of dollar investment and payback begins on the first day of the project.

WSC urges the international community to raise their voices powerfully and reject any mega-dam construction on the Indus River. We also call the Sindh assembly to pass a resolution regarding dismissing the Diamer-Bhasha dam, which will deprive the water of Sindh and its indigenous people.


This Is Totally False, Wrote DCP East Delhi About the Video from March 20 as Muslims Offering Namaz In Patparganj

Archit Mehta

14th May 2020

Several social media users have posted a one-minute video that shows a group of Muslims praying on the street. The man recording the video says, “Don’t these people fear corona? This should be stopped (Translated from क्या यहाँ कोरोना का दर नहीं? इसको भी रोकना चाहिए).” In the last 20 seconds of the video, the man says that this happened near a mosque in Patparganj, East Delhi district. He also points to the cops and says, “Police are alert as well (translated from पुलिस भी तेनाप है).”

On May 13, several Twitter users posted the viral video — Vice President of ‘Hindu Struggle Committee’ Diksha Kaushik (archive link), BJYM Telangana spokesperson RoopDarak (archive link) and Twitter handle @effucktivehumor (archive link).

Darak’s tweet has been retweeted over 1,500 times and the video has been viewed more 36,000 times. Kaushik’s tweet has been retweeted over 1,000 times.

Similarly, several Facebook users also posted the viral video along with Hindi text. Facebook page ‘Modi Nama’ wrote, “This is the situation at New Delhi’s Patparganj mosque. Here the law is broken in broad daylight and Arvind Kejriwal is asking for suggestions [to tackle coronavirus] (translated from यह हालात हैं दिल्ली के पटपड़गंज के रोड पर जो मस्जिद बनी हुई है उस पर सरेआम कानून की धज्जियां उड़ाई जा रही है और अरविंद केजरीवाल बोल रहे हैं कि आप हमें सुझाव दो हमें क्या करना चाहिए).” The post has been shared over 4,000 times and viewed over 1.2 lakh times. (archive link)

Alt News performed a keyword search ‘पटपड़गंज’ on Twitter and found that a longer version of the same video was posted by Abhishek Dubey, IT and social media head of BJP Delhi, on March 20. At the 16th second mark, the man behind the camera can be heard saying, “Today, on 20th…”

The video was shared one day prior to Janta Curfew and four days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced countrywide lockdown from March 25 to curb coronavirus. However, it is noteworthy that the Delhi government had banned religious, social and political gatherings of more than 50 people on March 16.

On May 11, Twitter account of DCP East Delhi replied to a Twitter user who had posted the viral video. “This is totally false. An old video is being used with a malicious intent to spread rumour,” wrote the police.

Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.


Leader of Sri Lanka’s Main Muslim Party File Fundamental Right Petition in SC Against Cremation of Muslims Died Of COVID-19

May 15, 2020

May 15, Colombo: Leader of Sri Lanka’s main Muslim party, All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) and former minister RishadBathiudeen joined by several former Muslim lawmakers has filed a Fundamental Rights Petition in the Supreme Court on 14 May, citing country’s top health officials as respondents.

ACMC Leader Bathiudeen is challenging the rules followed to dispose the bodies of suspected Muslim victims of COVID19, which he alleges is done contrary to the method practiced by followers of Islamic Faith.

In his petition SCFR107/2020 filed 14 May, ACMC Leader Bathiudeen has cited the Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Director General of Health Services of the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services, Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services, and the Attorney General as respondents.

Former MPs Seyed Ameer Ali (former ACMC MP), Abdullah Mohamed Mahroof (former ACMC MP), and Hussein Ahamed Bhaila (former Deputy Minister of External Affairs 2007-2010) are the other Petitioners joining ACMC Leader Bathiudeen.

“The Petitioners are making the present application both in their own personal interest as well as in the public interest” Bathiudeen said in his filing.

“In light of the fact that there is no danger in carrying out burial which is practiced by many countries of the world, where COVID-19 death rates are very high, there is no reason for foregoing such religious practice of burial.”

“Since 28-03-2020 there have been occasions when the remains of a person who died in the context of the virus has been disposed of by the Government of Sri Lanka in exclusion of the right of the deceased or his or her relatives right to choose a mode of disposal of the cadaver in the context of the virus.

Up to the date of this Petition, there have been nine (09) deaths reported from Covid-19. There has been some uncertainty as to whether the 9th person who died in fact died of Covid-19.

The dignity of the dead, their cultural and religious traditions and their families should be respected and protected; a person who has died of the COVID-19 virus could either be buried or cremated; World Health Organization published interim guidance for the Infection Prevention and Control for the safe management of a dead body in the context of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 virus is an acute respiratory illness caused by the said virus which predominantly affects the lungs; the virus is transmitted between people through droplets, fomites and close contact, with possible spread through faces. Unlike in the case of hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola, Marburg, and Cholera dead bodies are generally not infectious. In pandemic influenzas such the current pandemic, only the lungs are infectious and that too only if handled improperly during an autopsy.

I state that in March 2020, the Ministry of Health published Provisional Clinical Practice Guidelines on COVID-19 suspected and confirmed patients. Chapter 7 of these MoH Guidelines dealing with ‘Autopsy practice and disposal of a dead body’ up until its third version published on 27-03-2020, provided that a body related to death either confirmed (Category I) or suspected (Category II & III) of COVID-19, should be disposed within 24 hours (preferably within 12 hours) according to the following guidance; a) The body should never be washed under any circumstance; b) Cremation or burial is allowed; c) However, burial is allowed provided that all steps to prevent contact with body [are] ensured.

However, on 31-03-2020, immediately after the second Covid-19 death who is identified as a person of the Islamic faith, the Ministry of Health without any notice suddenly amended the MoH Guidelines and the fourth version with the amendments provided that a body related to death either confirmed (Category I) or suspected (Category II & III) of COVID-19, should be exclusively cremated within 24 hours (preferably within 12 hours).

“To my utter surprise and dismay, on or about 11-04-2020 the 1st Respondent Minister issued a Gazette Extraordinary 2170/8 dated 11-04-2020 purporting to create regulations pursuant to Section 2 and 3 of the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance for the disposal of a dead body in the context of the virus. I state that, Regulation 61A in such Gazette Extraordinary No. 2170/8 deals with the method of disposal of person who has died of COVID-19 and states that the method of disposal of the COVID-19 confirmed dead body to be cremation.”

Section 3(1)(i) of the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance permit Regulations to be made by the Minister for the following purposes, namely; “ (i) for prescribing the mode of burial or cremation of any person dying of disease;” I am advised to state that the aforesaid Regulation 61A, is ultra vires the powers granted to the 1st Respondent under Section 3(1)(i) the Ordinance.

I am advised to state that the aforesaid Section 3(1)(i) of the Ordinance only allows the 1st Respondent to prescribe the mode of burial or cremation in the context of the virus but does not allow the 1st Respondent to prescribe cremation in preference to burial or vice versa.

The Petitioners are advised to state that, the said Regulations are contrary to the provisions of written law including the provisions relating to sudden deaths and inquests in the Code of Criminal Procedure Act No 15 of 1979 (as amended).

I verily believe that there is no scientific evidence to support a conclusion that cremation is safer than burial to prevent the infection from virus. I state that to the best of my knowledge, despite millions of infections of the virus across the world and hundreds of thousands of deaths and burials of cadavers across the world, hitherto there is not even a single report of infection being caused by burial of a cadaver.

The Government Medical Officers Association [GMOA] has by letter dated 03-042020 written to the 2nd Respondent Director General Health Services observing that the WHO guidelines prescribe both burial and cremation and suggesting that a team of experts of all relevant areas be consulted to decide on the best course of action.

In view of the imminent infringement of rights of many of the Islamic community on or around 08-05-2020, I wrote to the President informing of the importance of conducting one’s funeral rites while respecting their religious beliefs. Thereby, requesting that the method of disposal of a dead body be amended to include burial as well. I state that I am therefore entitled in law to seek an Order quashing Regulation 61A in Gazette Extraordinary No. 2170/8 of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, published on 11-04-2020.”


Warring parties in Yemen make ‘significant progress’ on ceasefire agreement: UN envoy

14 May 2020

United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths says the warring parties in the impoverished Arab country have made “significant progress” toward agreement on a nationwide ceasefire.

“We have seen significant progress on these negotiations, in particular with respect to the national, nationwide ceasefire,” Griffiths told the 15-member Security Council on Thursday.

“However, the ceasefire is part of the broader package that needs to be agreed in full. And differences remain on some of the humanitarian and economic measures in that package,” he added.

Griffiths said those humanitarian and economic measures were also needed to combat coronavirus, “which is spreading at an unknown rate, given very low levels of testing.”

The Yemeni Health Ministry on Thursday announced 15 new infections by COVID-19, raising to 85 the total number of confirmed cases in the war-ravaged country.

The new coronavirus outbreak continues to claim more lives in Yemen as the impoverished country is already grappling with deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the wake of years-long Saudi aggression.

Meanwhile, Saudi-led fighter jets carried out seven airstrikes against al-Qaniyeh area in the central Yemeni province of Bayda on Thursday, but there were no immediate reports about possible casualties or the extent of damage caused.

Saudi-led reconnaissance aircraft were also seen flying in the skies over various areas in Yemen’s southern coastal province of Hudaydah.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, back to power and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The Saudi-led coalition continues to bombard various areas across Yemen even though the war-ravaged county is struggling to contain a coronavirus outbreak.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.

More than half of Yemen’s hospitals and clinics have been destroyed or closed during the war by the Saudi-led coalition, which is supported militarily by the UK, US and other Western nations.

At least 80 percent of the 28 million-strong population is also reliant on aid to survive in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.


Chief Imam Of Fulani Mosque In Ilorin Admonishes Muslims Against Idolatry Acts Against Allah

May 15, 2020

The Chief Imam of Fulani Mosque in Ilorin, Kwara, Dr Muhammad Bashir-Saliu, has warned Muslims against idolatry acts against Allah.

He noted that if Muslims strictly adhered to the warnings, then Allah would take care of all their affairs in the world and the hereafter.

According to him, Allah enjoins utmost kindness to mothers and that mothers are sacred and must be accorded the highest respect among people.

Bashir-Saliu said after according utmost respect to Allah and Prophet Muhammad, the next was to accord respect to mothers because of their nurturing nature and sacrifices.

He also advised people against miserliness, adding that Allah will reduce provisions of misers and prevent them from entering Paradise.


Prince William joins video call with Christchurch Muslim community affected by mosque attacks

15 May 2020

Prince William joined a video call with members he met last year in the aftermath of the Al-Noor and Linwood mosque terrorist attacks and praised the community and the Government for their response.

"I’m really proud of all of you, the whole community and the New Zealand Government for how you have all dealt with such an atrocity.

He talked to Imams and representatives from the Al-Noor and Linwood mosques, and the Muslim Association of Canterbury, about how their community is doing 14 months on from the attacks.

They also talked to the Duke about Covid-19 and how they have adapted to continue supporting their community during New Zealand’s lockdown.

In March, Brenton Tarrant, the white supremacist pleaded guilty to the 51 murders, 40 attempted murders and a terrorism charge


Residents of Uyghur-Majority County in Xinjiang Ordered to Report Others Fasting During Ramadan


Residents of the mostly Uyghur-populated Makit (in Chinese, Maigaiti) county in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have been ordered to report anyone discovered to be fasting in observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to sources.

For years, Uyghurs in the XUAR have been prohibited from fully observing Ramadan due to religious persecution and restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, which has in many cases banned Uyghur civil servants, students and teachers from fasting during the holy month.

In certain areas of the region, access to mosques is more tightly controlled and restaurants are ordered to remain open, while Uyghur retirees are often forced to pledge ahead of Ramadan that they won’t fast or pray to set an example for the wider community and to assume responsibility for ensuring others also refrain.

While speaking with official sources in several different prefectures to learn more about what kinds of restrictions are in place during Ramadan, which is observed between April 23 and May 23 this year, RFA’s Uyghur Service learned that implementation varies widely—with clear regulations against fasting in some locales and few in others that have already had effective bans in place for several years.

In one example of an approach to stamping out observance of Ramadan, authorities have ramped up a propaganda campaign against fasting in Kashgar (Kashi) prefecture’s Makit—a county in which some 83 percent of the population is Uyghur—where residents have been informed that they are required to turn in any friends or relatives who take part.

RFA recently spoke with a Uyghur employee of the Makit county government who said that residents have been told that they could face punishment for fasting, including being sent to one of the XUAR’s vast network of internment camps, where authorities are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities since April 2017.

A Uyghur village leader in Makit, who also declined to be named, told RFA county-level authorities had issued a notice during a special meeting ahead of Ramadan which “said not to fast.”

The reasoning behind the county campaign is to uphold “national security,” a Uyghur government employee of a township in Makit explained to RFA.

“If they fast, then they’ll gather to eat, and if they gather, then they’ll disturb the society—they’ll threaten national security,” she said. “That’s why we propagate against keeping Ramadan.”

But the employee said, “it’s already been two or three years that people haven’t been fasting” in her village and that “everyone knows [not to], so they just naturally don’t.”

RFA also spoke with an official in Kashgar’sPeyziwat (Jiashi) county who said his township had instituted mandatory attendance at a daily dawn flag raising ceremony as well as evening political studies, which he said was part of a bid to prevent residents from fasting because those are the only times of the day that they are allowed to eat, according to Muslim tradition.

“Since we started the flag raising ceremony, neighbors’ surveillance of one another has been strengthened, so nobody is able to make time to break the fast,” he said.

A Uyghur officer at the Beimen District Police Station in the XUAR capital Urumqi told RFA that while residents there have not been ordered residents to report one another for fasting, authorities are keeping a close eye on who is observing Ramadan and keeping a record of their activities.

“Yes, there are [special guidelines in place for Ramadan] … [but] our boss us instructed us not to talk about that over the phone,” he said.

When asked whether there is a register of people who are fasting and attending mosques during the holy month, the officer said, “yes, there is.”

Last month, to mark the start of Ramadan, Uyghur exile groups urged the international community to speak out on behalf of members of their ethnic group enduring persecution in the XUAR.

In particular, they called on Muslims around the world “to keep the Uyghur people in their thoughts and prayers during the holy month of Ramadan and to call on their respective governments to demand that China immediately ceases its religious persecution of Uyghurs.”

The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC) noted that Muslim-majority nations and leaders have been “shamefully silent” on the situation in Xinjiang, urging them “to reconnect with the beliefs and values they hold and to do what is right by demanding China stop its crimes against humanity against Uyghurs.”

Washington-based Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) pointed out that for Muslims, “fasting reminds us of the suffering, struggle, and pain of others—we put ourselves in the shoes of those less fortunate.”

“Therefore, we ask you to do the same. Remember the Uyghurs who are ripped away from their families, those who are persecuted for their peaceful religion, and those who continue to be prisoners with no crime.”

Mass incarcerations in the XUAR, as well as other policies seen to violate the rights of Uyghurs and other Muslims, have led to increasing calls by the international community to hold Beijing accountable for its actions in the region, which also include the use of advanced technology and information to control and suppress its citizens.

Last year, at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington in July, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the internment camps in the XUAR “one of the worst human rights crises of our time” and “truly the stain of the century.”


Arab world 

Bahrain's Ramadan drummer adds coronavirus message to pre-dawn call

May 14, 2020

The tradition of musaharati – Ramadan drummers who awaken the faithful for their pre-dawn meal –may be dying out across the Muslim world, but Yasser Al Samak has become a social media hit by adapting age-old songs for the time of coronavirus.

The silence of the darkened streets of Bilad Al Qadeem, a village outside Bahrain's capital Manama, has been broken during the holy month by the voice of the 50-year-old accompanied by the pounding of a drum.

In a distinctive Bahraini accent, Mr Al Samak sings of life in the pandemic, extols the benefits of social distancing, and gives thanks to medics and first responders for their sacrifices on the front line.

"Make yourself strong with prayer and wear the mask as a shield against the pandemic," go the lyrics, which mix religious blessings with standard health advice.

Mr Al Samak also humorously plays on the word "corona" urging people to still eat "macarona" – macaroni – rhyming in Arabic to say that life must go on and that the faithful should not lose their resolve in the face of the crisis.

In a centuries-old tradition, the musaharati was once a key element of the day-long fasting during the month of Ramadan, but the practice has become rarer across the Muslim world now that people have alarms and smartphones to rouse them from their sleep.

In the village where Mr Al Samak roams from street to street, with a lockdown in force, only a few residents are out and about buying basic necessities. Traffic is light and the stray cats mostly have the pavements to themselves.

The veteran musaharati said he hopes to raise awareness while also spreading hope and maintaining a sense of continuity during the crisis.

"We had poems specifically written this year about coronavirus and they have been popular. I sing them alongside traditional ones," he said as he walked the streets of Bilad Al Qadeem.

"I have been doing this for 30 years, but it's not like before when we had a lot of children taking part," he said of the youngsters that used to come out and trail behind him.


Covid-19 impact on Global Islamic banking software market

May 15, 2020

The global Islamic banking software market size is expected to grow by USD 461.83 million during 2020-2024. The report also provides the market impact and new opportunities created due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact can be expected to be significant in the first quarter but gradually lessen in subsequent quarters with a limited impact on the full-year economic growth, according to the latest market research report by Technavio.

With the growing transaction volumes and the introduction of new digital payment solutions, the banking sector is facing challenges in controlling fraudulent activities without compromising on the convenience of customers. Thus, banks are increasingly issuing smart cards instead of traditional magnetic-based debit and credit cards, due to their tamper-free nature. Banks are taking initiatives to promote the use of smart cards as they enable them to track the activities of customers easily. This helps in better customer management and enables the implementation of customer loyalty programs. Smart cards protect against security threats that range from misuse of user passwords to sophisticated system hacks. Thus, the distribution of smart cards will drive the Islamic banking software market growth during the forecast period.

As per Technavio, the growing prominence of social media in banking sector will have a positive impact on the market and contribute to its growth significantly over the forecast period. This research report also analyzes other significant trends and market drivers that will influence market growth over 2020-2024.

Banking firms across the world are leveraging the social media as a powerful business tool. With increased online professional and social networking, providing a value proposition to the customers has become a major criterion for vendors. Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter are among the most common media for targeting customers worldwide. The use of social media has gained prominence in activities related to both front and back-end office operations. Several areas, such as posting frequently asked questions and getting customer feedback from discussion forums, have become quite popular in the banking sector as it helps firms to strengthen their relationship with customers. Thus, the growing prominence of social media is one of the key Islamic banking software market trends that will drive the growth of the market.


Ramadan 2020: Meet non-Muslim who's been fasting for years in UAE

May 15, 2020

ManoovValiyaveettil, a 40-year-old Hindu expat from India, has been fasting during the holy month of Ramadan since 1997.

"I saw my Muslim friends back in the college in Kerala fasting the whole day during Ramadan and then sitting down together in the evening to end their fast. They would invite me to join for Iftar meals."

But sitting down for Iftar, without fasting, didn't feel right to Manoov. "It somehow didn't seem appropriate, sitting down to eat with everyone who had fasted the whole day, without having fasted yourself. So initially, I attempted the Ramadan fast only on the first, third, and 27th days. But gradually the days started increasing till I started fasting for the entire month."

Reinforcing the idea that it is his way of connecting to a billion fasting Muslims across the world, he also tries to keep the spirit of the fast in his words, deeds and thoughts.

When Manoov came to the UAE in 2006, he continued fasting with his Muslim colleagues at the construction company where he works as a document controller. "At Iftar time, my colleagues would ask me to accompany them for community Iftars at the mosques as they are aware that I also fast like them. Several Muslim friends have gifted me the Holy Quran and Zamzam water after visiting Makkah."

After getting married, his wife also joined him in fasting, at least a few days during the holy month. "We get so many Iftar invitations every year, and even in our building complex, in previous years, we've had cultural programmes during this time and the community feeling has been very strong. So, you cannot help but fast if you want to truly participate in the mood and the spirit of Ramadan," said Manoov.

"To me, this holy month and fasting provides an annual training opportunity that is meant to fulfil the character-building needs for the rest of the year."


How Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library is preserving Islamic history for posterity


May 14, 2020

RIYADH: The big truth about history is that it inevitably fades into the past, but history can also be captured and preserved for posterity.

In fact, it can be housed and lovingly nourished and tended to withstand the onslaught of time.

Saudi Arabia’s King Fahad National Library has been undertaking this endeavor for the past three decades, playing a seminal role in the preservation of Islamic heritage and ensuring that present and future generations continue to benefit from Islam’s contributions to civilization.

Established in 1990 in Riyadh, the library is home to more than 6,000 original manuscripts — many of them rare and ancient, including the exquisite Kufic Qur’an, dating to the 9th century CE — and a total of 73,000 paper and electronic transcripts.

“The King Fahad National Library has been interested in preserving manuscripts and heritage since its establishment in 1989, to a point where a royal decree has been issued to the library for the preservation of manuscripts,” AbdulazizNasif, the head of the manuscript department, told Arab News.

“The library estimates the manuscript’s value and sets its price when we receive it. Regarding the possession of manuscripts, we welcome everything that is presented to us and everything that is worth owning.”

King Fahad National Library has 6,000 original manuscripts and nearly 73,000 photocopied transcripts, with 7,000 of them digitized for online readers.

The Kufic Qur’an at the library, distinguished by its Kufic calligraphy, has one of the oldest scripts in Arabic, a highly angular form of the Arabic alphabet used in the earliest copies of the Qur’an.

It originated in Kufa, a city in southern Iraq, an intellectual hub during the early Islamic period, now known as Baghdad, the capital of Iraq.

“It’s not written on paper but on deer skin,” Nasif said. “Having holy verses written on leather is a form of honoring the text. But the cover is new.”

The Kufic Qur’an was bought from the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula almost 20 years ago and recently rebound to increase its longevity.

The library has other Qur’an manuscripts written in ancient script, besides special books such as the poetic works of Al-Ahnaf Al-Akbari, a famous poet in Baghdad who died in 995 CE.

It also has a copy of Ibn Daqiq Al-Eid’s book “Ahkam Al-Ahkam,” written in the late-14th century. Al-Eid is counted among Islam’s great scholars in the fundamentals of Islamic law and belief.

In addition, the library also owns “Yatimat Al-Dahr,” a book by Abu Mansur Al-Thaalibi, a writer of Persian or Arab origin famous for his anthologies and collection of epigrams.

“Each manuscript is first sent to the restoration and sanitization department and then returned to our department to be indexed,” Nasif said.

Nasif explained: “To fill the index card, we use information that is listed on the first page, starting with the title, the author’s name, the manuscript’s sizes (height and length), the transcriber’s name (the person who wrote it), and what is written at the end of the manuscript, so that we are able recognize one manuscript from the other having the same specifications.”

A precious copy written by the modern Hanafi jurist, Abdulqader Al-Qurashi, author of the book “Tabaqat Al Hanafiyah.” There is an interview on the original audio and the date of the transcription is the date of the interview. The copy is internally divided into ten parts, written in black ink.

Given the age and pricelessness of the manuscripts, their preservation methodology — which is at the core of library’s mission — is equally critical.

“Manuscripts should be kept in cold temperatures, to prevent insects and bacteria from surviving, because they can damage the paper and even the animal skin that was used in some manuscripts,” Nasif said.

The age of digitization places its own demands on repositories of knowledge such as libraries with their physical wealth of history, and the King Fahad National Library is keeping pace with these demands.

Decorated with intense adornment of geometric and floral motifs. Gold roundel verse markers, text panels within gold and polychrome rules. Surah headings in red ink over a golden background.

It is working to complete the digitization of all its manuscripts. “Most of the transcriptions are still on microfilm but we are working on digitizing them on CDs and hard disks,” Nasif said.

The library also enables researchers, history lovers and general readers to access its precious collection though a range of electronic services.

Users can log in and browse through the vast collection and place their requirements. Researchers can request a specific manuscript, a rare book or a photograph to aid in their work.

For Habib Ibn Aws Al-Ta’i, known as Abi Tammam, Type of script and the history of reproduction: Accurate vowelized naskh, 7 Ramadan 1065.

A similar and corrected copy written by Mohammed Jalabi bin Mohammed Agha, alias Qazdaghly, on which colophon has attribution to Mohammed bin Omar Al-Ardi Al-Halabi.

There are some comments in his handwriting. There is another colophon with attribution to Yahya Khaled, a teacher at Ared school. It was written is black ink and the poems with red ink.

King Fahad National Library has also obtained microfilm photographs of one of the most important Arabic manuscript collections in US libraries, the Princeton University Library.

It also possesses 1,140 photocopied manuscripts on film slides from the Library of the Jewish University.

Last but not least, the manuscripts of the Riyadh Library “Dar Al-Iftaa” — a total of 792 documents — were transferred to the King Fahad National Library on the orders of King Salman when he was the governor of Riyadh and general supervisor of the library.


Egyptian mosques to remain closed as Ramadan ends


Cairo, May 14 (Prensa Latina) The Ministry of Endowments, which governs Islamic affairs, stressed that Egyptian mosques will remain closed as the end of Ramadan approaches, a decision that currently reinforces the measures in force to contain the spread of the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The Muslim holy month has passed with its temples closed and the ban on holding any mass religious gathering, as well as food feasts in the streets to break the long fast.

On Wednesday, the nation recorded about 10,431 cases infected with the novel coronavirus and 556 deaths, figures provided since the outbreak started that, although low compared to those registered in other countries and the population of this Arab nation, are a disturbing leap.

The government that ruled out a complete lockdown adopted other provisions such as a night curfew and quarantines in locations with high risk, suspended international flights and keeps schools, universities, churches, museums, archaeological sites and tourist facilities closed, preparing for a prompt reopening.

According to analysts, Egypt, with more than 100 million inhabitants, is currently experiencing a crucial moment that may mark a favorable or negative turn, depending on the strategy the decision makers adopt.



COVID-19 Dampens Ramadan Spirits, But Local Muslims Continue To Serve Community



Muslims observing Ramadan are now halfway into the holy month marked by daily fasting, increased religious observance, alms giving and self-reflection. Leading up to the month, which started April 24, the coronavirus dampened the spirits of many looking forward to all the festivities people usually have planned to help keep the momentum going throughout this period.

This year, Muslims won't be able to participate in extended nightly prayers at the mosques or break fasts in the evenings with friends and families. And there will be no large congregational prayers to celebrate the end of the month on Eid.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske will check in with members of the local Muslim community to hear how they're navigating the holy month of Ramadan, which landed during the most challenging point of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joining the discussion was Dr.Mahrukh Khan and Donnell "Malik" Sims, the taskmaster at Baitulmaal – the charity arm for the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis.

The two were the driving force behind a free Muslim-run COVID-19 testing clinic in north Ferguson at 800 Chambers Road. Three days a week, shortly after they eat their last meal before sunrise and start fasting, they wake again to voluntarily treat and care for patients infected with COVID-19 in underserved areas.

"Muslims have been activated all aorund the country to get into the fight against the pandemic and really attempt to save lives, and, of course in the Quran, it [teaches] 'to save one life is to save the entirety of mankind, and in taking one [life], it is the equivalent of taking the whole of mankind,'" Sims said.

The test site is open from 6-9 a.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The initiative is in collaboration with St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, the City of Ferguson and various local officials. It is fully funded through the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s family foundation.

St. Louis on the Air listeners shared some tweets about what Ramadan traditions they're missing most right now and how they're adjusting.


The empty Preston mosque that usually has 700 people breaking fast a day during Ramadan

ByTom Earnshaw

14 MAY 2020

For nearly two billion around the world, the virus and nationwide lockdowns has drastically changed how one of the Five Pillars of Islam - the holy month of Ramadan - is observed.

The Quwwatul Islam Mosque lies in Peel Hall Street, Deepdale, with its education centre across the road, having roots in the Preston community going back to the 1970s.

During Ramadan, the mosque usually sees up to 700 people attend for the sunset prayer - Maghrib - prior to breaking fast in what is called Iftar.

It was something this reporter was privileged to take part in this time last year as part of an insight into the city's Islamic community.

When visiting in 2019, members of the congregation were sat with others in the mosque, breaking fast with a mixture of almonds, dates, and cucumber slices with water. There was also kahwah - a traditional Indian green tea.

For Imam Khalid Ibrahim, who is Quwwatul Islam Mosque's coordinator, the situation has played into their already active online presence.

"These are still trying times but by doing it on a virtual basis families can still have access via these channels. That includes children's programmes too."

But Khalid admitted that the reality of not being able to meet with family and friends is having a "huge impact", especially on the mosque's elders.

He said: "It is taking a huge effort for a lot of the elderly who are used to everyone getting together for the family support. So the responsibility to give them that confidence to keep morale high is really important."

Khalid added: "Everyone in the community has taken on the restrictions extremely well. We have not had any issues with people insisting to come to the mosque.

"They have respected the guidelines and I think that is partly due to the proactive approach we have in Preston in putting these instructions to the congregation."

One thing Quwwatul Islam Mosque encourages is children leading the call to prayer - something that has proven more difficult in individual households.

"Usually in the mosque they will follow what the Imam is saying. So we have had to create hundreds of Imams in the home and they have really stepped up to give the call to prayer at home. They are taking on that invitation."


London now counts 'just 24' new coronavirus cases per day

15 May 2020

Fewer than 24 people are now catching coronavirus on a daily basis in London, according to new research suggesting the capital could soon be virus-free.

The research by Public Health England and Cambridge University suggests London could be coronavirus-free as soon as June, based on new modelling statistics.

The number of new cases in London are halving every 3.5 days, and less than 24 transmissions are said to be currently occurring daily. That is according to the Telegraph’s report on the same modelling.

Now the UK’s highest rate of infection is in the North East and Yorkshire, at 0.8. It is seeing around 4,320 new infections a day, researchers said.

This research has raised the prospect of whether the UK could introduce regional lockdown lifts rather than judge the UK as a whole.

BimAfolami, the Conservative MP, told the Telegraph: “If you look at other countries, they’ve often adopted regional approaches. If it makes sense from a health perspective, we need to consider it.”

Theresa Villiers, the former Cabinet minister, added: “These figures are good news. They show lockdown measures have been working and I think they make the case for further easing of the lockdown in London.

“It’s vital that we do find ways to let the economy recover – and London is the powerhouse of the economy.”


North America


No food, no problem: Why mosques have embraced virtual interfaith events this Ramadan

May 14, 2020

By Kelsey Dallas

SALT LAKE CITY — Each year, hundreds of mosques host interfaith meals during the holy month of Ramadan. That tradition lives on this year — with a notable twist.

Muslims and non-Muslims are still meeting up to discuss fasting, prayer and their unique religious traditions. But they’ve traded shared tables for Zoom calls because of COVID-19.

“While people are doing virtual things to make sure families or co-workers are connected, we wanted to use technology to ensure different faith groups are connected, too,” said Harris Zafar, national spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.

The transition to online events has involved plenty of technical glitches, including spotty Wi-Fi connections and strange background noise. But participants said they’re still grateful for the chance to form new interfaith friendships while stuck at home.

“To talk about unity while we’re divided electronically is a little strange, but I thought it worked very well,” said the Rev. David Knapp, who leads St. James Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon, and spoke during a virtual interfaith gathering on May 9.

During the month of Ramadan, healthy, adult Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset and regularly pray. There’s no rule saying they also need to invite a few dozen strangers to talk about their faith.

However, social gatherings have always played a key role in Ramadan, which ends this year around May 23. Muslims often invite their neighbors over for iftar, the meal that ends their daily fast, or eat with fellow members of their mosque.

“If this month is just about being hungry and thirsty then, according to the Prophet Muhammad, you’ve lost the benefits. There’s has to be a deeper meaning, like making you feel more connected to others,” Zafar said.

Because Muslims are already breaking their fast in large groups, it’s pretty easy to draw up a few more chairs, he added. Mosques regularly invite non-Muslims to take part in iftars and get a literal taste of Ramadan traditions.

“They invite Christian or Jewish congregations to come and ask one of their leaders to say a few words before the meal,” Zafar said.

Muslims often also extend invites to elected officials, who may not know many members of the Islamic faith, said Luna Banuri, executive director of the Utah Muslim Civic League.

The pandemic threatened to derail Banuri’s efforts, as well as hundreds of other interfaith Ramadan events. To save them, many mosques and Muslim organizations turned their attention to virtual meeting services like Zoom.

“I knew we wouldn’t get a chance to smell food with and sit across from and break bread with one another over good conversation, but at least we could bring people together,” Zafar said.

This year’s virtual interfaith iftars have generally followed the same format as past in-person events. Hosts invite people from a variety of religious backgrounds to take part and then pick a few community leaders to say a few words.

At a May 9 event led by the Connecticut chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Christian, Jewish and Sikh speakers took turns addressing the power of prayer. Then, four political officials shared words of encouragement and applauded participants for finding a way to build community without violating social distancing rules.

“I thank you for reminding us about the importance of never being isolated. We may be physically separated but we should not be emotionally and spiritually separated from one another,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, in his brief remarks.

During its recent virtual gatherings, the California-based Islamic Networks Groups used Zoom meeting tools to separate participants into small discussion groups. The events enabled deep personal connections even though they took place online, said MahaElgenaidi, the organization’s executive director.

On May 7, 2020, the Islamic Networks Group hosted an interfaith discussion online about how to maintain spirituality while social distancing. A recording of the event is available on YouTube. YouTube screenshot

“Ramadan makes us realize how other people are suffering,” Imam Salman Tariq told the more than 70 participants in the Connecticut event. He and other Muslim speakers explained their Ramadan rituals and their community’s efforts to help people in need.

In some ways, online events actually improve upon in-person traditions, said Banuri, who has taken part in several virtual discussions over the past few weeks.

Online, participants have a chance to see and maybe even interact with everyone who is taking part. At in-person gatherings, it’s common to only chat with people nearby.

Virtual interfaith iftars offer a glimpse at people’s daily lives, the Rev. Knapp said. You can see little pieces of their home through your computer screens.

Despite those potential distractions, it can be easier to focus on what’s being said online than speeches offered at in-person events, Banuri said. Online, there aren’t any food smells to take up some of your attention.

“Everybody talked about missing the food this year and how much we love each other’s food. But not having that distraction also helped in many ways,” said Banuri, whose organization is hosting a virtual interfaith iftar this Friday night with the Salt Lake City Public Library. Registration is still open.

“I wrote a note to my staff after (one of the calls) about what a fantastic and heartwarming experience it had been. People of all backgrounds (came) together without an agenda other than to be with each other,” she said.

This year’s online events feel extra special since, in the early days of the pandemic, many Muslims assumed they’d have to spend most of Ramadan isolated at home, Banuri said.

“Ramadan is one of the most social times of the year for us,” she said. “Taking that away would have been like stabbing at the heart of the community.”


'Islamic State' responsible for deadly Afghanistan bombings, says US


The US government has assessed that the "Islamic State" (IS) is responsible for two separate attacks in Afghanistan earlier this week that killed over 50 people, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, said Thursday.

The "horrific attacks" targeted a maternity ward in Kabul, in which mothers and newborns were killed, as well as a funeral ceremony in Nangarhar province. IS claimed responsibility for the funeral bombing, but no group has claimed responsibility for the assault on the maternity hospital.

The fresh violence was a blow to the shaky peace deal in the war-torn country signed in February by the US and the Taliban. The deal was supposed to pave the way for talks between Taliban militants and the Afghan government, but little progress has been made. Khalilzad said that IS in Afghanistan opposes a peace agreement between the government and the Taliban, and is trying to further destabilize the region.

Directly after the attacks Tuesday, the Afghan government said Taliban militants were responsible. The group has denied any responsibility, and condemned the attacks. The Taliban and IS are considered rivals, and Khalilzad and the US have urged the Taliban to join the Afghan government in battling terrorism carried out by IS in the country.

"Rather than falling into the ISIS trap and delay peace or create obstacles, Afghans must come together to crush this menace and pursue a historic peace opportunity,"  Khalilzad said on Twitter Thursday.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered the Afghan military to launch an offensive against the Taliban following Tuesday's attacks. The Taliban said the move was a "declaration of war."

On Thursday, the Taliban carried out a suicide bombing in Afghanistan's eastern Paktia province, targeting a military compound. The explosive detonated before it reached its target, and killed five civilians and injured at least 29 others, Afghan officials said.

The Taliban said the attempt at bombing an Afghan military post was in retaliation for President Ghani's statements blaming the militant group for the attacks earlier in the week.

The ongoing tit-for-tat between the Taliban and the Afghan government is drawing concern that the peace deal signed in Doha is not bringing stability.

"Prospects for moving forward in the peace process are certainly in a worse state than they were a week ago, but it would be premature to declare the process dead," Andrew Watkins, senior analyst for Afghanistan at the Crisis Group, told DW.

"There are strong incentives [or disincentives] that the United States is pressuring both parties with, and neither wishes to be seen as the party that takes a step to close the window on peace."


CAIR-NJ Applauds Tossing of Court Case That Put Islam on Trial

May 14, 2020

(SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ, 5/14/20) – The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) today applauded the tossing of a court case that put Islam on trial.

The state convinced an appellate court to toss a jury decision that sided with a city landlord accused of discriminating against a Muslim woman who tried to rent an apartment.

A three-judge panel on Wednesday ordered a new trial in the discrimination case against William Greda, finding that the judge and defense attorney unfairly put the religion of Islam on trial.

Court rules prohibit using religious beliefs or opinions to be used as evidence against the credibility of a witness. The appellate decision on Wednesday said that Greda’s attorney engaged in a “clear and direct attack” on the Muslim woman’s credibility by suggesting that the Islamic faith allows Muslims to lie.

“We welcome the appellate court’s decision to toss out a case that unjustly put the religion of Islam on trial. The cross-examination by the defense attorney is a double insult to a woman who faced clear discrimination based on her religion when shopping for an apartment.

“The type of questioning endured by Ms. Farghaly is insulting, assuming Muslims to be lawless suspects hoping to achieve perverse goals. It provides zero substantive information or value to a case that is otherwise a clear assault against Muslim’s and their faith.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertadesciviles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanesen los Estados Unidos.



Islamic Finance set to witness huge growth by 2026

May 15, 2020

Islamic Finance Market Size, Status, Business Future Scenarios and Brief Analysis 2020-2026 report begins with the overview of the Islamic Finance Market and offers throughout development. It presents a comprehensive analysis of all the regional and major player segments that gives closer insights upon present market conditions and future market opportunities along with drivers, trending segments, consumer behavior, pricing factors and market performance and estimation.

The forecast market information, SWOT analysis, Islamic Finance market scenario, and feasibility study are the vital aspects analyzed in this report. The data which has been looked upon is done considering both, the existing top players and the upcoming competitors. Business strategies of the key players and the new entering market industries are studied in detail. Well explained SWOT analysis, revenue share and contact information are shared in this report analysis.

“Islamic Finance Market is growing at a High CAGR during the forecast period 2020-2026. The increasing interest of the individuals in this industry is that the major reason for the expansion of this market”.

The report presents the market competitive landscape and a corresponding detailed analysis of the major vendor/key players in the market. Top Companies in the Global Islamic Finance Market: Citibank, HSBC Bank, Nasser Social Bank, Kuwait Finance House (KFH), Dubai Islamic Bank, Islamic Bank of Iran, Jordan Islamic Bank, Bank of Ningxia, Bahrain Islamic Bank

Islamic banking is the largest sector in the Islamic finance industry, contributing to 71%, or USD 1.72 trillion, of the industry’s assets. The sector is supported by an array of commercial, wholesale, and other types of banks. Yet commercial banking remains the main contributor to the sector’s growth. There were 505 Islamic banks in 2017, including 207 Islamic Banking windows. However, the number of players is not necessarily indicative of the size of the industry, in terms of assets. Islamic finance’s second-largest market, Saudi Arabia, has 16 Islamic banks, including windows, which is less than the smaller markets of Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.

With the rapidly growing popularity of mobile banking, particularly among younger people, according to PwC’s 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey, a growing number of digital-only, or disruptor banks’ with no physical branches, have emerged.

Islamic banks are also catching up on this trend, with the launch of digital-only subsidiaries, such as Gulf International Bank’s Meem in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and AlbarakaTrksinsha in Germany and other European countries with large Muslim communities.


Bilawal urges people to observe Yaum-i-Ali, Friday prayers at home

May 15, 2020

KARACHI: With a ban imposed on all kind of religious processions and gatherings by the Sindh government, the Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari appealed to the people on Thursday to follow the government guidelines to contain the spread of the coronavirus and offer their Friday prayers at home and hold limited mourning gatherings indoors on Yaum-i-Ali, being observed today.

The Sindh home department late on Wednesday issued a notification clarifying that religious processions and gatherings were prohibited in the province, in the wake of confusion about restrictions on them. The restrictions on religious gatherings, including taraweeh prayers, rallies and processions, that were announced on April 23 would remain in place, it said.

Meanwhile, PPP chairman Bhutto-Zardari in a video statement appealed to the people to stay at home and offer their prayers and observe mourning at home as the country’s health system could not afford pressure of a spike in Covid-19 cases.

“I appeal you all to offer Friday prayers and observe Yaum-i-Ali-related mourning at home,” he said. “While staying at home you would not only protect yourself but also save lives of your loved ones. Similarly, if we don’t follow the guidelines and precautionary measures, we would be putting extra pressure on our doctors, nurses, paramedics and health workers who are doing their best to save lives.”

In the late night move, the police started placing containers in the areas around Saddar and arteries connecting it with M. A. Jinnah Road apparently to provide security to a procession expected to be taken out today [Friday] to mark Yaum-i-Ali. Though there was no word from the Sindh government and the city police, sources said that as there were strong chances that a procession would be taken out despite the ban, the police had made arrangements to keep the traffic flow normal through alternative routes.


Govt mulls lockdown in areas violating SOPs

May 15, 2020

Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD: Amid rising cases of Covid-19 and after getting reports of continued violations of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for prevention of coronavirus by people from almost all parts of the country, the government has now decided to go for a stricter lockdown, but only at places where such violations will be more flagrant.

This was stated by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz while talking to Dawn after attending a high-level meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday to review the prevailing Covid-19 situation and implementation of the SOPs and guidelines at public places after its last week’s decision to ease about one-and-a-half months’ lockdown across the country.

During the past 24 hours, 30 people died from coronavirus, taking the overall death toll to 791. In the last one day, the total number of confirmed cases increased from 35,384 to 36,788, with 758 new cases reported from Sindh, 333 from Punjab, 63 from Islamabad, 198 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 71 from Balochistan, seven from Gilgit-Baltistan and three from Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The absence of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani from the meeting was conspicuous. An official handout issued by the Prime Minister Office said the meeting was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan through video links, besides Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar, Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Shibli Faraz, National Food Security Minister Fakhar Imam, Adviser to the PM on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Special Assistant to the PM (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, SAPM on Information retired Lt Gen AsimBajwa, SAPM on Commerce Razaq Dawood, National Security Adviser Moeed Yousuf, PM’s Focal Person on Covid-19 Dr Faisal and National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal.

Chief ministers of Sindh and Balochistan absent from meeting chaired by PM; 30 deaths and over 1,400 cases reported in a single day

“We are giving a margin to the people because markets and places have been opened after a long time,” Shibli Faraz said, admitting that they had got reports that people and shopkeepers in many areas were not following the government’s SOPs and guidelines.

“We are closely monitoring the situation. We will be taking decisions very shortly as to which areas have to be [completely] closed,” he said, adding that in the areas where the people, by and large, would be taking precautionary steps, the present arrangement would continue.

The information minister said the Punjab government had already closed some shopping centres and markets in Lahore after getting reports about violations of the SOPs which included social distancing and wearing of face masks.

Terming it a “tricky matter”, he ruled out the option of imposing fines or punishing the people over violations of SOPs and said it would be unfair with the poor people, particularly daily wage earners.

Responding to a question about the absence of the two chief ministers, Mr Faraz said it was not a formal meeting of the National Coordination Committee and the Punjab and KP chief ministers had been invited to discuss some issues related to their respective provinces.

According to the official announcement, Prime Minister Khan told the participants of the meeting that imposing lockdown was not a solution to coronavirus, rather a temporary step, and the government would take decisions according to the ground realities and the condition of people.

The prime minister said the lockdown had a negative effect on the routine life of the people. However, he added, due to the unprecedented situation the government was maintaining a balance between hunger and lockdown by adopting various precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. He reiterated his stance that hunger was more dangerous for the people than the lockdown.

In the present situation, Mr Khan said, if the economy was not revived the problems of the poor and downtrodden segments of society would increase. He said the government was cognisant of the losses the country’s economy had suffered due to the closure of businesses, but it had to take that step under compulsion.

He said coronavirus was a reality and the government would implement the guidelines about precautionary measures and save people’s lives. He said that instead of forcing the people to adopt precautionary measures, there was a need to create awareness among them. He directed police to adopt a friendly attitude instead of coercive measures.

The prime minister appreciated the media for creating public awareness about the pandemic and said the media should further pursue the people in a more effective way about adopting precautionary measures and implementing the coronavirus-related guidelines.

The chief ministers of Punjab and KP informed the meeting about the difficulties being faced by the common people due to the closure of transport, which had badly affected their business and movement.

The prime minister reiterated that the government’s policy about the lockdown was very clear and said that instead of putting the lives of people into unnecessary danger, the government would facilitate people and small traders.

Demands by the automobile sector, particularly motorcycle manufacturers, and the Shopping Malls Association, were also presented to the prime minister. Mr Khan directed the minister for industries to review the demands so that a decision could be taken in this regard.

Dr Zafar Mirza briefed the meeting on the Covid-19 situation and the number of affected people, confirmed cases, its geographical spread, number of tests conducted and the ratio of increase in coronavirus cases.

The meeting deliberated upon various matters regarding the future number of Covid-19 cases and availability of beds in hospitals in the changing situation, provision of medical equipment and ensuring availability of professional staff. The meeting also reviewed various steps about health facilities and increase in capacity of hospitals.

Talking to Dawn, Minister for Planning Asad Umar said they were taking steps to ensure implementation of the guidelines by the people and shopkeepers.

When asked about the steps being taken to ensure the implementation of SOPs, he said in some cases the provinces had even registered FIRs (first information reports), whereas in many places police and the administration had engaged people and shopkeepers by telling them about the dangers they could face in case they violated the SOPs.

The minister said the government did not want to use batons and put people behind bars, adding that they wanted to convey it to the people and shopkeepers that they needed to change their behaviours as it was for their benefit too.

Earlier, Mr Umar presided over a meeting of the National Command and Operations Centre, which took an in-depth analysis of the existing beds, ventilators and other facilities in hospitals keeping in view the possible spread of Covid-19 and the present available data. The purpose of the thorough examination of the existing facilities was to collect real-time data and gauge capacity of the hospitals.

Addressing the meeting, the planning minister said the provinces and hospital managements had the responsibility to ensure verified data of the virus-affected patients to take effective measures for mitigating the risk of the pandemic outbreak. He said the provinces and hospital managements had an important role to play in providing credible information and they were doing an excellent job in this context and it should continue.


IHC tells police to withdraw personnel from VIP duties

May 15, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah on Thursday directed the Islamabad police to withdraw the personnel deployed for so-called VIP duties as because of unnecessary protocol duties their capacity to keep check and investigate crimes are being compromised.

Justice Minallah, while acknowledging that judges along with other stakeholders of the criminal justice system are equally responsible for the delayed justice, held that in majority of cases flawed investigations resulted in unnecessary incarceration of the accused for years.

Citing a report submitted by the Inspector General of Islamabad Police, Justice Minallah said that it was alarming that the state paid Rs300 to an investigation officer to probe serious crimes.

In his report, the IGP revealed that the investigation officer of a case had to pay Rs5,000 parcel fee from his own pocket to send evidence to a forensic laboratory for analysis.

Such circumstances encouraged the investigation officer to demand bribe from parties related to the case, remarked Justice Minallah.

“If we carefully examine the system, the deputy commissioner will equally be responsible for loopholes in the criminal justice system,” he said.

He also summoned the chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) at the hearing next week and sought a progress report on the construction of a jail in Islamabad.

Dr Shoaib Suddle, an amicus curiae, gave an overview of the criminal justice system. He sought some time from the court to submit a detailed report.

The IHC chief justice pointed out that media also neglected miseries of poor litigants as its focus appeared to be more on those petitions filed by elitist groups or well-connected people.

“This is the reason that sessions court have been neglected by successive governments as no step has ever been taken to improve their working and their upgrade,” he said.

Justice Minallah also asked the Islamabad High Court Journalists Association (IHCJA) to suggest ways for highlighting miseries of poor litigants and provision of quick justice to them.



Anti-Muslim Bigotry Displayed by Some Indians Abroad Costs Them Their Jobs

15 May 2020

NEW DELHI - Some Indians living abroad have lost their jobs in recent weeks for displaying anti-Muslim bigotry on their social media accounts.

Last week in Canada, a man named Ravi Hooda was sacked from his job at a real estate firm and removed from his role at a local school council in Bolton, Ontario.

This was prompted by his crude opposition to a decision by the mayor of Brampton in Ontario to give mosques permission to broadcast the evening call to prayer over speakers every day during Ramadan.

Mr Hooda, however, questioned the decision on Twitter, saying: "What's next? Separate lanes for camel & goat riders, allowing slaughter of animals at home in the name of sacrifice, by law requiring all women to cover themselves from head to toe in tents to appease the piece (sic) fools for votes."

The incident was preceded by the sacking of about 10 Indians, including some this month, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait. Their anti-Muslim posts were brought to the attention of their employers by social media users, including some from the Arab world.

This led the country's ambassador to the UAE, Mr Pavan Kapoor, to step in and tweet on Apr 20, warning Indian expatriates in the UAE against indulging in such behaviour.

A day earlier, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also tweeted to say that Covid-19 "does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or borders before striking".

While the firings have given rise to discussions, they have failed to curtail Islamophobia online in India, said Mr Pratik Sinha, founder of Alt News, a fact-checking website.

Alt News has debunked several videos and images in recent weeks that were maliciously propagated to suggest Muslims were deliberately spreading coronavirus.

"In India the polity is such that even senior politicians have tweeted out stuff that is hateful or discriminatory in nature. I don't see how the hate being propagated is going to reduce until the politics of the country changes," he added.

Anti-Muslim bigotry saw a surge in India after a Tablighi Jamaat meeting emerged as one of the country's coronavirus hotspots in March. Thousands had attended the gathering of the Muslim missionary movement.

Major social media players in the country have, meanwhile, tried to contain the problem by deleting posts and deactivating accounts for exhibiting hatred.

India has a range of hate speech laws, including Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code that penalises "promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion".

Cases have been filed against several individuals in recent weeks for anti-Muslim bigotry, including a hospital in Uttar Pradesh that asked Muslims last month to prove they were not infected with coronavirus before giving them treatment.

Growing international condemnation of the Islamophobia displayed online by some Indians also seems to have led the government to crack down on such content.

On Apr 28, it asked Twitter to pull down more than 100 objectionable tweets. An analysis of these tweets by The Wire, an Indian news portal, showed about 60 per cent of them "could be described by some as Islamophobic while a smaller chunk could be viewed as Islamist, anti-Hindu and anti-BJP."


Muslim migrants from Bihar find shelter in Assam Hindu household

14th May 2020

By Prasanta MazumdarExpress News Service

GUWAHATI: It is not just bad news the COVID-19 has thrown up. Some people have set examples of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood too.

Dev Kumar (55) did not think twice before giving shelter to 13 stranded toymakers from Bihar’s Khagaria and Saharsa districts under his roof. They have been living in his house in Lower Assam’s Dhubri district since the first week of March.

These artisans visit the house of Kumar, who is a potter, every year to sell toys in the fairs. They stay with him and return home after about two-three months.

“I give them shelter every year. They make toys with bamboo, plastic and earthen items. I manufacture the earthen items in my pottery and sell those to them. They sell the finished products in some fairs in Dhubri district,” Kumar told this newspaper.

The men were at their wit’s end after they were stranded in the lockdown. They had purchased food for themselves as long as they had money. Now, Kumar and his Hindu neighbours are feeding them.

“I have two extra rooms where they stay. This being the Ramzan month, somebody brings fruits and somebody else brings something else for them. Every evening, my family offers puja and they offer their Ramzan namaaz,” Kumar said.

The potter said these artisans were victims of circumstances and they desperately needed some help. He appealed to the government to facilitate the men’s return to Bihar.

Kumar lives in a joint family with his wife, three daughters, one son and three brothers. The family, originally hailing from Bihar, has been settled in Dhubri for decades.

“He is our saviour. Help coming in from him and his neighbours has kept us alive. We will never forget them,” Sajid, who hails from Khagaria, said.

Fellow artisan Mohammad Hira from Saharsa said, “I will remain thankful to him (Kumar) for the rest of my life. I am the lone breadwinner in my five-member family and I am stranded here. My wife and children in Bihar are facing a lot of problems.”

Two days ago, when a Hindu died in Assam’s Sivasagar, some Muslims had taken the lead in cremating the body. Advocate Masud Akhtar Zaman of Dhubri said the two incidents underscored goodness still prevails in the society.

“This is what Hinduism and Islam have taught us. Unfortunately, such positive stories often go unreported,” he said.


Gujarat Chand Committee Seeks Govt’s Nod for Eid Namaz In Mosques

May 15, 2020

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Chand Committee on Thursday appealed to the state government to allow Muslims to offer namaz in mosques on the last Friday of Ramzan and on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr.\ The president of the committee, the Pesh Imam of Ahmedabad, Mufti Shabbir Ahmed, wrote to the chief minister requesting for the permission. The offering of prayers in mass is prohibited in all religious places since March upon an order passed by the Gujarat high court. This happened immediately after the nationwide lockdown was announced. The Mufti has stated that the mosques have been diligently following the lockdown norms and they have repeatedly appealed to Muslims to pray in their homes. Namaz takes place with only three-four persons in mosques as permitted by the government.


3 die, 100 injured in two accidents involving migrant labourers in UP

May 15, 2020

LUCKNOW: Three migrant labourers died while about 100 were injured in two separate accidents in Jalaun and Bahraich districts in the wee hours of Friday.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased while Rs 50,000 each to those injured.

In the first incident reported from Jalaun district, two labourers died while 43 others sustained serious injuries after a truck carrying them from Maharashtra was hit by an unidentified vehicle on NH-27 in Girthan village in the wee hours of Friday.

The deceased were identified as -Sherbahadur of Jaunpur and Sundari of Bhadohi. The other migrant labourers belonged to BhadohiJaunpur, Bahraich and Pratapgarh.

SP Jalaun, Satish Kumar said that all the injured were recuperating at the district hospital while arrangement of food and drinking water has been made for the migrants.

In the second incident reported from Bahraich, 28-year-old Shabbir Ahmed died while 60 others were injured after a truck carrying them hit a tree on Lucknow-Bahraich highway. The migrants were coming from Mumbai.

SP Bahraich, Vipin Mishra said that the truck driver allegedly dozed off and hit a tree. He also said that some of those injured have been referred to KGMU Trauma Center in Lucknow and others to the district hospital.


Gujarat: Five break into closed eatery only to kill hunger

May 15, 2020

RAJKOT: Hunger pangs can burn even the staunchest moral beliefs and self dignity. This came to light when a group of around five jobless, penniless and starving men in Junagadh town broke into an eatery on the intervening night of May 12 and 13.

They left as neatly as they entered after cooking rice and potato curry in the kitchen, eating it and without stealing a single item, said cops.

Video: A group of five men breaks into an eatery in Gujarat's Junagadh town; cooks rice, potato curry to eat, leave…

According to Jitesh Tank, owner of Gajanand Parotha House in Vaibhav Chowk, at least five people entered the kitchen from the terrace. “The CCTV footage shows one men entering the kitchen, searching for something. Later he notices the CCTV and covers it,” Tank told TOI.

The magnanimous eatery owner, however, decided not to file any complaint against the break-in as nothing was stolen from his place.

Tank said that on May 13 morning he got a call from the owner of an office near his eatery that the kitchen door of the eatery was open.

“On entering the kitchen, I found that there were five used plates lying around. Some kitchen utensils were also used to prepare food. They seem to have prepared some rice and potato curry,” he added.

“A couple of constables from Junagadh B division station went to the spot and took the footage from the owner,” said Junagadh, deputy superintendent of police, Pradeepsinh Jadeja.

Jadeja said from the evidences left there, it seems around five men entered the place, cooked some food and ate it before leaving the eatery.

Lockdown across the country has left many daily wagers jobless and at the mercy of government distributed ration. Daily wagers and migrant workers in different towns of Gujarat are seen standing for hours in scorching May heat to get a ration kit that would last them for just couple of days.


South Asia 

No jamaat at Eidgah this time, Eid prayers can be offered at mosques

May 14, 2020

There will be no Eid jamaat at Eidgah or open grounds this Eid-ul-Fitr due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, people have been asked to offer Eid prayers at nearby mosques, following special instructions.

In the notice, the ministry listed at least 13 instructions for people and the mosque authorities to follow during Eid prayers.

According to the instructions, there will be no carpets in the mosques during prayers, entire mosques should be disinfected before prayers, and everyone will have to bring their own prayer mats (jainamaz).

There should be soap or hand sanitiser at the entrance of every mosque; people will have to maintain distance and follow health guidelines during offering prayers, the instructions added.

The notice also said people have to do their wudu -- the ritual washing of hands and feet before prayers -- at home, and wear masks before going to mosques.

Elderly people, children, ailing persons and their caregivers should not come to mosques to offer Eid prayers, it said.

Management committee of each mosque, Khatib and Imam will have to ensure implementation of the instructions.

People have also been requested not to hug or shake hands after Eid prayer.


Here's how Wuhan plans to test all 11 million of its people for coronavirus

May 14, 2020

BEIJING (NYTIMES) - Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic began, has announced an ambitious plan to test all of its 11 million residents for the virus in the coming days, a campaign that will be closely watched by governments elsewhere.

The testing drive, which is likely to require the mobilisation of thousands of medical and other workers, shows the ruling Communist Party's resolve to prevent a second wave of infections as it tries to restart China's economy. The plan was announced this week after Wuhan reported six coronavirus cases, breaking a streak of more than a month without any new confirmed infections.

Some countries, like South Korea and Germany, have aggressively tested and traced infections, albeit at much lower levels than Wuhan is attempting. In the United States, the rate of testing is still far short of the 3 million to 5 million tests per week that experts say will be necessary to safely reopen the country.

Such comprehensive testing poses challenges. It is unclear how Wuhan will procure enough testing kits and process all the samples, and whether such a broad, systematic approach is the best use of resources when the city's infections are low.

Early reports had suggested that Wuhan was planning to test all 11 million residents in less than two weeks, citing a government notice that called it a "10-day battle." But even state media reports acknowledged the difficulty of that task. The official Health Daily newspaper said in a report on Thursday (May 14) that Wuhan's authorities would have to conduct at least 730,000 tests a day to finish within 10 days, even after excluding people who had already been recently tested.

That is several times the current testing capacity in Wuhan, which the paper said could conduct 100,000 tests a day under extreme circumstances. By comparison, South Korea was testing 20,000 people a day at 633 sites nationwide in March, just after its outbreak had peaked. At that rate, it would take about a year and a half to test 11 million people.

An employee who answered the phone at a hotline set up by Wuhan's mayor said the tests would be carried out in a staggered manner. Some neighbourhoods would start earlier than others, but each would plan to finish testing its residents within 10 days, this person said.

Wuhan, by far the hardest-hit Chinese city, has reported more than 50,000 infections and 3,800 deaths since the outbreak started. One major goal of testing would be to identify infected people with no symptoms, who can still spread the virus.

According to government notices distributed on social media, at least seven neighbourhoods in Wuhan said testing would start on Wednesday.

"A nucleic acid test is your responsibility to yourself, your family and society," read a post from the Changqing Garden No. 2 Neighbourhood District Committee. "Please support and cooperate."

Organisers of the drive have distributed flyers and made announcements on loudspeakers and social media urging residents to register for testing slots in their neighbourhoods.

In areas where the drive has started, officials have erected rows of tents and set up folding tables and stools. Social media posts on Wednesday showed dozens of residents lining up to have nasal or throat swabs taken by medical workers wearing safety goggles and protective suits.

District notices shared on social media urged residents to keep a distance from one another and to spread the word about the testing, in order to "leave no one behind.

The government said it would prioritise residential compounds with older residents, densely populated communities and neighbourhoods with rural migrants. People who have been tested within the past week do not need to be tested again. Children under the age of 6 are exempted, some notices said.

Some confusion remains. One hospital, Wuhan First, received so many calls from people asking if one member of each family could be tested, rather than the entire family, that state media published an interview with hospital officials explaining why some family members could be sick while others were healthy.

An official in one neighbourhood told the magazine Caixin that he did not know whether to send all residents in his district to the hospital or invite doctors to come to the neighbourhood.

Companies are rushing to meet the sudden demand. Late last month, Huang Libin, a government spokesman, said China could now produce 5 million testing kits every day. Still, companies are scrambling to meet the sudden surge in demand from Wuhan, reports say.

Zhang Zheren, an official at a testing lab called Adicon Clinical Laboratories, told Caixin that her company planned to ship equipment from the eastern city of Hangzhou to Wuhan. She expected to increase her company's testing capacity tenfold, she said.

Wuhan's deputy mayor, Li Qiang, said last month that there were 53 facilities in the city that together could handle a daily average of 46,000 coronavirus tests.

Testing is now widely available in China. In the early weeks of the outbreak in Wuhan, many residents struggled to get tested because of a shortage of kits.

Now, testing is widely available around the country. Many companies are arranging for their staff to get tested before they resume work. Hundreds of hospitals and clinics are able to test people, and labs can process the results more quickly.

Even before Wuhan launched its mass testing drive, the government covered nearly the full cost of a test under its basic medical insurance scheme.

This time, Wuhan residents need not pay at all, according to local government notices and Chinese media reports. The Health Daily article said testing was free and that the cost of the drive - which it estimated would exceed 1 billion yuan, or around US$140 million (S$200 million) - would likely be borne by the city.

But at least one expert thinks this is overkill. While some residents have been supportive, others are concerned or angry about being asked to join long lines outdoors and risk becoming infected. Even though the lockdown in Wuhan has lifted, many residents have still chosen to stay home as much as possible.

When asked about Wuhan's new infections, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of China's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with state television on Tuesday that large-scale testing should focus on "key areas and key groups." "In communities without infections, there is no need to screen everyone," Wu said.


Taliban share demand after being blamed for Kabul, Nangarhar attacks

15 May 2020

The Taliban group demanded transparent and impartial investigations into the deadly attacks in Kabul and Nangarhar as the group is being blamed for the two attacks, mainly by the Afghan government.

The group condemned the two attacks in strong words and blamed the ‘criminal and malicious elements affiliated with the Afghan government’ for being involved in the two attacks.

“The Islamic Emirate strongly condemned both attacks and clarified that these attacks were the work of criminal and malicious elements who are seeking to attain their malicious objectives by killing defenseless human beings,” the group said in a statement.

The statement further added “The Islamic Emirate once again clarifies that it had no hand in the DashtiBarchi incident, considers it a vile, inhumane and an un-Islamic act and shares the grief of the families of martyrs and wounded of this tragedy.”

“The Islamic Emirate considers the Kabul incident the work of malicious elements directly affiliated with the Kabul administration,” the statement added.

“We consider both incidents crimes and unspeakable savagery. Attacks on clinics, funerals and public infrastructure have no place in our policy,” the group said, adding that “At the same time, we firmly call for the transparent and impartial investigation of these attacks in order to expose the dark faces of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes and bring them to justice.”

This comes as the Afghan government ordered the Afghan forces to resume offensive operations against the militants, blaming the Taliban and ISIS groups for targeting the civilians, women and infants.

Dozens of people including many security personnel, women and newborn children were killed after the militants carried out a series of attacks in Kabul, Nangarhar and Laghman provinces during the course of the week.


Was it Taliban or ISIS; Khalilzad confirms US assessment regarding recent deadly attacks

15 May 2020

The U.S. envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad said the U.S. government assessment reveals that the ISIS terrorist group carried out the recent deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

“The USG has assessed ISIS-K conducted the horrific attacks on a maternity ward and a funeral earlier this week in Afghanistan. ISIS has demonstrated a pattern for favoring these types of heinous attacks against civilians and is a threat to the Afghan people and to the world,” Khalilzad said in a Twitter post.

Khalilzad further added “The USG has assessed ISIS-K conducted the horrific attacks on a maternity ward and a funeral earlier this week in Afghanistan. ISIS has demonstrated a pattern for favoring these types of heinous attacks against civilians and is a threat to the Afghan people and to the world.”

He also added “Rather than falling into the ISIS trap and delay peace or create obstacles, Afghans must come together to crush this menace and pursue a historic peace opportunity. No more excuses. Afghans, and the world, deserve better.”

This comes as the Afghan government blamed the Taliban and ISIS groups for the deadly attacks on maternity ward in Kabul, funeral bombing in Nangarhar and the attack on Afghan forces in Laghman, ordering the Afghan forces to launch offensive operations against the militants.


Airstrike destroys Humvee APC which Taliban wanted to use in a deadly attack in Maimana

15 May 2020

An airstrike destroyed a Humvee Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) which the Taliban militants wanted to use in a deadly Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) attack in Maimana city.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in a statement said the security forces identified a Humvee APC packed with explosives and destroyed it in an airstrike before Taliban militants could detonate it in Maimana city of Faryab.

The statement further added that the security traced the Humvee APC in MakhshiKhesht Village of Pashtun Kot district and subsequently destroyed it by conducting an airstrike.

This comes as Taliban militants detonated a Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device in Gardez city, the provincial capital of Paktiya province on Thursday which killed 5 civilians and wounded at least 24 others, according to security officials.


Five Civilians Injured by Shelling in Muslim Villages in Rakhine


13 May 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine State—Five civilians were injured by shelling in two Muslim villages in Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township on Monday evening.

Two women and a 16-year-old teenager from Pike The Village and two men from Let SaungKauk Village were injured when artillery shells landed in their villages, according to local residents.

“A Mawlawi [Muslim religious scholar] and a school teacher were injured when the artillery shells hit our village at around 5 p.m. on Monday,” U Maung Phyu, a lower-ranking village administrator of Let SaungKauk Village, told The Irrawaddy.

“Two women and a young man were also injured in Pike The Village. I didn’t see the shelling, but villagers said government troops fired from Kissapanadi Bridge [over the Kaladan River],” he added.

According to residents living near Kissapanadi Bridge, Myanmar military soldiers fired artillery after an explosion was heard while a military truck drove over the bridge.

The two civilians from Let SaungKauk Village were seriously injured and were transferred from a local hospital to Sittwe Hospital, according to villagers.

Myanmar military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun claimed that the Arakan Army (AA) attacked Myanmar military troops with remote-detonated mines near Kissapanadi Bridge while they were transporting medical supplies for COVID-19 prevention.

“There was no clash around Kyauktaw on Monday. Pike The Village is close to Kissapanadi Bridge. We transported COVID-19 medical supplies to Kyauktaw Public Hospital and Kan Kyi Shin Pagoda. As the medical and security troops returned, the AA attacked them with two remote-detonated mines to the west of the bridge,” the military spokesperson told The Irrawaddy. He added that there were no injuries from the mine blasts.

Last Friday, a primary school teacher and a girl were injured when an artillery shell hit TaungBwe Village, also in Kyauktaw Township. On April 3, three civilians were injured in a shooting around Kisspanadi Bridge, near the entrance to Kyauktaw.

On April 1, five civilians were killed and seven were injured in shelling and shooting in urban areas of Kyauktaw. On Feb. 3, a woman was killed and three men were injured when artillery shells hit residential wards in Kyauktaw.

On Dec. 28 of last year, four civilians were injured during fighting between the Myanmar military and the AA at the entrance of Kyauktaw. On Dec. 6, a 3rd grade student died and a Muslim woman was injured during shooting between the two sides in urban Kyauktaw.



Hamas reiterates resistance as only way to oppose occupation on eve of Nakba Day

14 May 2020

Hamas has categorically rejected all projects aimed at undermining the Palestinian people's rights and their cause, stressing that the much-condemned US "peace" proposal and Israel's annexation plans are atop of these schemes.

In a statement on Thursday and on the eve of the 72nd anniversary of Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), Hamas stressed the Palestinians' right to resist the Israeli occupation with all means possible, including armed resistance as a strategic choice to defend themselves and restore their usurped rights.

On this day back in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homeland and Israel proclaimed existence.

“Hamas venerates the national unity and for its sake, it has made many concessions and showed a lot of flexibility,” the movement said, reiterating its adherence to the national unity option as a vital factor to boost the national front in the face of Tel Aviv's occupation and plots.

In the statement, carried by the Palestinian Information Center, Hamas saluted all Palestinians at home and abroad and urged them to widely and actively participate in all events to be organized to commemorate the Nakba Day.

US President Donald Trump officially unveiled his scheme, the so-called deal of the century, in January at the White House with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his side, while Palestinian representatives were not invited.

As Palestine prepares to mark Nakba Day, Iran has calls on the international community to take practical steps towards ending decades-long Israeli occupation.

The proposal meets Israel’s demands while creating a Palestinian state with limited control over its own security and borders, enshrining the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allowing the regime to annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

The highly provocative proposal, which further denies the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their homeland, is also in total disregard of UN Security Council resolutions and opposed by the vast majority of the international community.

Netanyahu, who is facing a number of criminal indictments, has repeatedly stressed that he would start plans for annexing more areas in the occupied West Bank on July 1, in accordance with Trump’s scheme, further infuriating Palestinians.

Hamas says the Palestinian resistance movement should be given a free hand to confront the US-Israeli schemes to consolidate Tel Aviv’s occupation of Palestine.

Separately on Thursday, a number of Palestinian organizations based in Europe issued a statement in which they vehemently condemned efforts made by some regional countries to normalize ties with Israel as “a stain” on the struggle for justice and human rights.

The statement was issued by the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB), Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestinian Youth Organization (Olive), Palestinian Return Center (PRC), and European Palestinian Communication Forum (Europal) to mark the 72nd anniversary of Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe).

“Despite the systematic suffering, displacement, and oppression that has aimed to eradicate Palestinian identity and the right of return, Palestinians will continue to resist and remain steadfast in defending their human rights,” it read.

The statement noted that Nakba Day “is an occasion where all Palestinians can emphasize the absolute belief and confidence in both the just cause for which we are all fighting, and the belief that we will inevitably return to the land and holy sites that have been forcibly appropriated from us.”

The Palestinian organizations also stated that Jerusalem al-Quds and Al-Aqsa “remain key pillars of the unified struggle of the Palestinian nation,” adding that “those ceding these pillars and calling for, or pursuing, acts of normalization with the state of occupation are a stain on this struggle for justice and human rights.”

The Palestinian organizations reaffirmed that "return to Palestine is an inalienable right of the Palestinian people," stressing noting that "all unjust Zionist procedures that seek to change the identity of the land upon which our fathers and forefathers resided on will fail."

"We affirm out categorical rejection of all initiatives and projects designed to liquidate the Palestinian issue or diminish the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Foremost amongst these projects is the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’. In this regard, we affirm the right of the Palestinian people to resist these projects using any and all available means within international law," they said.

They also voiced their "total rejection of all acts of normalization with the state of occupation whether political, cultural, artistic, commercial, or in the sports," describing such acts as "detrimental to the pursuit of justice in Palestine."

The Palestinian organizations added that any step toward normalization of ties with Israel "serve to rationalize the crimes and human rights abuses of the occupier and provide the state of occupation with a carte blanche for the furtherance of these crimes."


Israel takes advantage of pandemic to annex parts of West Bank: Palestine UN envoy

14 May 2020

Palestine's permanent representative to the United Nations Riyad Mansour says the Israeli regime continues to exploit the global preoccupation with the novel coronavirus pandemic to press ahead with its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank in full coordination with US President Donald Trump’s administration.

Mansour, in three identical letters addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the rotating President of the UN Security Council Sven Jurgenson and President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande on Thursday, pointed to the crimes being committed by the Tel Aviv regime, including illegal annexation measures, saying such moves threaten the so-called two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders.

“Israel continues to use the corona[virus] crisis ... to advance its annexation plans in full coordination with the current US administration,” the diplomat highlighted.

As Palestine prepares to mark Nakba Day, Iran has calls on the international community to take practical steps towards ending decades-long Israeli occupation.

He noted that Israeli officials have stepped up their provocative remarks boasting of their unlawful intentions, in complete contempt of the international law and demands and warnings of the international community, human rights organizations, and world leaders.

Mansour went on to say that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz have signed a coalition cabinet agreement under which the Knesset (parliament) will be able to decide on annexation of parts of the West Bank as of July 1 in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter, the international law and UN Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 2334.

The Palestinian UN representative stressed that US support for Israeli annexation plans have encouraged the Tel Aviv regime to get away with its crimes with impunity, while granting Israeli authorities the green light to annex all settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley, and ensure the regime’s perpetual occupation.

“This will make impossible the establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state,” as affirmed by 32 US foreign policy specialists, Mansour said.

He stressed that if Israel is allowed to move forward with such illegal and unilateral plans, the measures will then bring about the end of the “two-state” solution and kill the existing agreements between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli regime.

“In addition to the devastating effects of annexation on the national aspirations and rights of the Palestinian people, the measure poses a serious threat to regional peace and the international order,” Mansour said.

The Palestinian diplomat stated that the international law and its importance for global peace and security will be put at risk if Israel’s policies of land expropriation are not met with objections.

“It will convey a message that those who break law and even war criminals can do whatever they desire without any punishment,” he said.

Mansour then urged the international community to adopt concrete steps to hold Israel accountable, prevent perpetration of more Israeli crimes, especially in light of the impending annexation plans, and protect the rights of the Palestinian nation.


Martyrdom anniversary of Imam Ali (PBUH) on 21st holy month of Ramadan

May 15, 2020

TEHRAN, May 15 (MNA) – Amir al-Momineen Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (BPUH) was martyred on 21st Ramadan 40 A.H. by an assassin who mortally wounded the Holy Imam (PBUH) with a poisoned sword in the Mosque at Kufah during morning prayers on 19th Ramadan 40 A.H.

On this Sorrowful and Sad occasion of the Martyrdom Anniversary of Imam Ali (PBUH), we extend our Heartfelt Condolences to Muslim Ummah across the world.

Heartfelt condolences to Muslims across the world on the tragic 21st of Ramadan, the martyrdom of the most perfect and meritorious person after the Almighty’s Last and Greatest Messenger to mankind, Prophet Muhammad (S).

Imam Ali (PBUH), the First Muslim, an intimate associate of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S) in the life and holy Islamic mission, the Immediate Successor to the Holy Prophet of Islam (S) and the First Holy Immaculate Imam of the Shi’ites in the World was born inside the Holy Kaaba at Makkah on Friday, the 13th day of Rajab, 600 A.D. Imam Ali (PBUH) is the only unique personality in the world who was born in the Holy Kaaba and was martyred in the Kufah Mosque and was buried in the holy city of Najaf-e-Ashraf (Iraq).

“Whomsoever I have authority over; Ali (PBUH) has also authority over him, O Allah! Befriend whoever befriend him and be hostile to whosoever is hostile to him”.

This Auspicious Occasion also coincides with “The Nights of Honor and Power” (ShabhayeQadr: 19th, 21st and 23rd nights of the Holy Month of Ramadan) in which the fate of everyone is decided. We pray Allah Almighty to grant forgiveness, salvation, deliverance, dignity and prosperity to all the Muslims in the world.

Angels cried when his head was split while engrossed in the Morning Prayer on the 19th of Ramadan by the poisoned sword of a renegade, and when his soul flew to the ethereal heavens they lined in rows to welcome it. In the words of his elder son and successor, after laying him to eternal rest in the dead of night:

“There has died tonight a man who was the first among the early in (good) actions. Nor did any later (believers) attain his level in (good) actions... He, peace be on him, has died on this night on which (Prophet) Jesus, son of Mary, was taken up (to heaven), on which Joshua, son of Noon, the testamentary legatee of (Prophet) Moses, peace be on him, died. He has left behind no gold or silver except seven hundred dirhams of his stipend, with which he was intending to procure a servant for his family.”

The words you heard are the tribute of a bereaved son for his departed father. This is how Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (PBUH) summed up the merits of the One and Only Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (PBUH), on whose martyrdom anniversary we are clad in black these days, with public holiday declared in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Najaf, in Iraq, where he rests in eternal peace, the atmosphere is full of grief, with tens of thousands of devotees paying respect to him. Imam Ali (PBUH) even in the last moments of his life, did not feel bitter nor neglected the commandment of God. As the man who was Islam personified, in the state of acute pain he said:

“I advise you to fear Allah. Do not go after this vicious world though it may try to entice you. Do not seek it though it may seek you and do not grieve over and pine for things which this world refuses you. Let the eternal Reward and Blessings of Allah be the prompting factors for all that you say and do. Be an enemy of tyrants and oppressors and be a friend and helper of those who are oppressed and tyrannized.

Here is part of what he said while leaving the mortal world, on being struck in the state of ritual prayer in the Mosque of Kufa, in the fasting month of Ramadhan by the poisoned sword of the renegade Ibn Muljam al Moradi, after expressing that immortal phrase Fuztowa Rabb-il-Ka’ba, which means by the Lord of the Ka’ba I have succeeded:

“As for my last will, it is that concerning Allah, do not believe in a partner for Him, and concerning Mohammad (S) do not disregard his Sunnah. Keep these two pillars and burn these two lamps. Till you are not divided, no evil will come to you… I am departing from you like one who is eager to meet (someone). Tomorrow you will look at my days, then my inner side will be disclosed to you and you will understand me after the vacation of my place and its occupation by someone else.”

This was Imam Ali (PBUH), the Doyen of Justice, who said that even if the rule of the seven climes were to be given to him on condition that he take out a mere morsel of food from the mouth of an ant, he would never do so. He lived a simple life, wore coarse clothes, and ate meager food devoid of delicacies, despite being the ruler of a realm spreading from North Africa to Central Asia. The book Nahj al-Balagha that contains his letters, sermons, and maxims, is proof of his knowledge, wisdom, prudence, piety and patience, in addition to unsurpassed eloquence that is regarded by Arab literati, as next only to the Revealed Words of God Almighty. His words are bezels of wisdom and are keenly studied till this day. For instance, we read in letter 47 of the Nahj al-Balagha:

“Develop mutual liking, friendship and love, and help one another. Take care that you do not spurn and treat one another badly and unsympathetically. Exhort people to do good and abstain them from evil, otherwise the vicious and the wicked will be your overlords and if you willingly allow such persons to be your rulers then your prayers will not be heard by Allah."

The greatness of Imam Ali (BPUH) is greater than one could imagine. The magnanimous cousin and Divinely-Decreed Successor of the Seal of Messengers, continued to give precious advice to the usurpers for the sake of Islam, advising the Second Caliph against personally participating in the wars against the Romans and the Persians, for obvious reasons, when ordinary mortals would have wished for calamities to befall the deprivers of their rights. For the sake of God, Prophet and Islamic unity, he refused to take by force his usurped right in order to save the neo-Muslim Arabs from reverting to paganism, even when the regime stormed his house with fire and crowbars, and mortally injured his wife, the Prophet’s daughter, by smashing the door upon her.

On the 19th of Ramadan month of the year 40 A.H, Imam Ali came to the mosque in Kufa for his morning prayers. Imam Ali (PBUH) gave the call for prayer and became engaged in leading the congregation. Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam pretending to pray, stood just behind Imam Ali (PBHU), and when Imam Ali (PBUH) was in a state of prostration, Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam dealt a heavy stroke with his sword, inflicting a deep wound on Imam Ali’s (PBUH) head.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) had prophesied the assassination of Imam Ali (PBUH) and his issues. Regarding Imam Ali (PBUH) he (PBUH) had said, "O Ali! I see before my eyes thy beard dyed with the blood of thy forehead."

They assassinated Imam Ali (PBUH) at his finest time - the hour of standing before Allah, the Exalted, during a prayer of submission, in the best of days, while fasting during the month of Ramadan; during the most glorious Islamic duties, while preparing to wage jihad, and in the highest and purest divine places, the Mosque of Kufa.

The crime of assassinating Imam Ali (PBUH) remains one of the cruelest, brutal and hideous acts, because it was not committed against one man, but against the whole rational Islamic leadership.

By assassinating Imam Ali (PBUH), they actually aimed at assassinating the message, the history, the culture and the nation of Muslims embodied in the person of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (PBUH). In doing so, the Islamic nation lost its guide of progress, and at the most wondrous opportunity in its life after the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Imam Ali (PBUH) suffered from his wound for three days, and He (PBUH) passed away on 21st of the month of Ramadan at an age of 63 years.

During these three days, Imam Ali (PBUH) entrusted his son, Imam Hassan (PBUH) with the Imamate of guiding the nation ideologically and socially. During those three days, as during all his life, he never ceased remembering Allah, praising Him, and accepting Him and His ordinance.

Likewise, he continued giving pieces of advice and directions leading to good, pointing to the right, defining the way to guidance, explaining the course for deliverance, calling for the observance of Allah’s ordinances, and warning against following one’s ill desires and set-backs from not carrying out the divine message.


Turkey's TIKA delivers Ramadan aid to 3 continents

MAY 14, 2020

Continuing to help the needy across the globe despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey's state-run aid agency delivered food to thousands of families across the world as part of its Ramadan campaign since the beginning of the Muslim holy month.

According to a statement by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), around 100 families in Spain’s Granada have received food packages that include staple foods such as rice, flour, pasta, sugar and oil every Friday since the month of fasting began, adding that the deliveries will continue until the end of the holy month.

Acknowledging TIKA's efforts, Umar del Pozo, the head of Granada mosque, said many Muslims in their community lost their jobs during the outbreak and faced serious financial difficulties.

There are nearly 2 million Muslims in Spain, and at least 36,000 of them reside in Granada. According to the latest figures, more than 27,000 virus-linked deaths have been registered in the European country so far.

The agency said similar food packages were distributed to some 5,000 families in Iraq as well. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), a regional official said the aid was distributed to families in the Mosul, Tal Afar, Diyala, Kifri and Saladin areas.

According to TIKA, the Ramadan food packages were distributed to around 2,500 low-income families in Azerbaijan, while 1,000 families in the Tajik capital Dushanbe received masks and hygienic products along with food aid to help them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency first joined the global fight against the virus on Jan. 30, when a Turkish military airplane was sent to China’s Hubei province, the then-epicenter of the outbreak, to evacuate Turkish citizens.

Since then, the agency has sent millions of masks to dozens of countries along with humanitarian aid to regions suffering from the economic consequences of the outbreak. The agency has reached about 400,000 people so far during the pandemic.

With Ramadan arriving, the agency has geared up its activities worldwide. Last week, 70 tons of food was provided to Rohingya refugees in Bangladeshi camps. It also distributed food packages to 600 families in Pakistan's northeastern Punjab and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

TIKA has been Turkey's flagship international development aid agency since its inception. It is known for extending a helping hand to countries on every continent with a diverse array of projects, including vocational training, agricultural support, health services and infrastructure. It represents a significant arm of Turkey's multilayered humanitarian foreign policy and showcases solidarity with countries it previously maintained low-profile ties.


PKK continues to attack civilians despite Ramadan, pandemic, kills 2 social workers

MAY 14, 2020


Two social workers were killed on Thursday in eastern Turkey's Van province in a PKK terrorist attack that took place despite the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the ongoing coronavirus outbreak the country.

Workers with a Vefa Social Support Group, which was formed to assist people during the pandemic, have been attacked while returning from a quarantined neighborhood in Van's Özalp district.

According to a statement made by the Van municipality on Thursday, the group was in the neighborhood to distribute aid. After their work was done in the region, they were attacked by the terrorists using long-barreled weapons.

"The vehicle that committed the attack has escaped from the crime scene," the statement added, confirming that during the attack, a municipality worker and a civilian were killed in the incident. Another municipality worker who was injured in the attack has been hospitalized, the statement continued.

With an attempt to capture the perpetrators of the attack, a large-scale operation has been launched in the region as well as an investigation into the incident.

Vefa Social Support Groups were initially formed to respond to the needs of people older than 65 whose mobility has been restricted as part of the coronavirus measures. Public workers, such as police, gendarmerie, security forces and personnel of Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), not only meet the needs of senior citizens but also provide protective equipment including masks, cologne, hand soap and disinfectants. The groups have been formed under the supervision of the district municipalities all over the country, and a call center has been established for the people to reach the group's services.

Apart from the struggles caused by the pandemic, Turkey has also been celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, both of which reveal how the PKK's brutality knows no limits since the attacks can occur at any time, anywhere regardless of the circumstances.

This is not the first time that the terrorist group has targeted civilians during the pandemic. Five civilians were killed after PKK terrorists attacked a group of forestry workers heading to collect wood in southeasternDiyarbakır province last month.

The attack took place on the road between the districts of Kulp and Hazro near the neighborhood of Güleç when PKK terrorists detonated a roadside bomb, the statement read.

The attacks continue not only in Turkey but also in Syria. At least 11 civilians were wounded in a bomb attack carried out by the YPG/PKK terror group in the northern Syrian city of al-Bab while in a previous attack on May 5 one civilian was killed in an explosion of a bomb in the same province. Prior to that, on April 28, at least 40 civilians, including 11 children, were killed and 47 others wounded in a YPG/PKK terrorist attack conducted using a bomb-laden fuel tanker in Syria’s northwestern town of Afrin.

In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including many women, children and infants.

Military operations, including Operation Claw in northern Iraq and Operation Kıran in Turkey, continue to eliminate the presence of PKK terrorists threatening national security within the country and near its borders.

Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) also carry out cross-border operations in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts and bases from which to carry out attacks on Turkey, with particular attention to targeting high-level terrorists.

Two YPG/PKK terrorists have surrendered to Turkish security forces in the country's southeasternMardin province, the Interior Ministry said Thursday.

In a statement, the ministry said the terrorists, identified only by their initials of Z.A. and R.A.H., turned themselves in during the provincial gendarmerie command's ongoing efforts to convince terrorists to lay down arms.

There has been a surge in the number of terrorists laying down arms and surrendering to security forces after a series of successful domestic and cross-border anti-terror operations.

Once the terrorists surrender, they are provided with many opportunities, including the right to education and freedom to live without fear of oppression.

They are not ill-treated, can contact their families freely and are provided with essential judicial assistance. The Turkish state offers a variety of services to ensure their social reintegration.

According to some former terrorists, the PKK ringleaders risk the lives of others to save their own and threaten those planning to surrender with torture.

Meanwhile, in northern Iraq, GalyaBekir, the so-called PKK regional head in Mahmur, was killed in a Turkish intelligence operation.

Turkish security forces also killed five YPG/PKK terrorists in southeasternŞırnak province, the country's interior minister said late Wednesday.

In a tweet, Minister SüleymanSoylu said three terrorists were killed in an air-backed operation by the local gendarmerie command in the BestlerDereler region.

Soylu said that in another anti-terror operation, security forces killed two terrorists, one of whom was in the orange category of the Interior Ministry's wanted list, in the Lice district of southeasternDiyarbakır province.

The wanted list is divided into five color-coded categories, with red as the most wanted, followed by blue, green, orange and gray.


Israeli forces kill Palestinian man over alleged car-ramming attack in West Bank

14 May 2020

Israeli military forces have shot dead a young Palestinian man in the West Bank as tensions continue to rise in the occupied territories on the eve of the 72nd anniversary of Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe).

The Israeli military, in a statement released on Thursday, alleged that a 19-year-old Palestinian, whose identity was not immediately available, drove at high speed into soldiers standing next to a military observation post outside the Negohot settlement in the southern part of the West Bank city of al-Khalil, located 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Jerusalem al-Quds.

Hamas says the Palestinian resistance movement should be given a free hand to confront the US-Israeli schemes to consolidate Tel Aviv’s occupation of Palestine.

Israel's emergency and rescue service, Magen David Adom, said the trooper sustained wounds to the upper part of his body. He was transferred to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva and is reported to be in moderate-to-serious condition.

The area where the alleged attack occurred is close to al-Fawar refugee camp, where Israeli soldiers killed a 14-year-old Palestinian teenager, identified as Zaid Jamil al-Fayoumi, and injured four other young men during clashes on Wednesday morning.

The incident took place a day before Palestinians commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe) in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Nakba Day is marked annually on May 15. It refers to the forcible expulsion of some 700,000 Palestinians from their lands following the creation of Israel in 1948 and their scattering across refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring countries.

Tensions have been running high in the occupied territories amid plans by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition administration to impose Tel Aviv’s “sovereignty” over Israeli settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

US President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “deal of the century,” which was unveiled in January, effectively granted Israel a green light for the annexation in flagrant violation of international law.



Fed Govt frowns as states reopen Mosques, Churches

May 15, 2020

In one fell swoop, four states in the North – Borno, Gombe, Adamawa and Zamfara – on Thursday reopened Mosques and Churches.

Minister for Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed said: “We are always working together with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF). We believe that the governors won’t do anything that will put in jeopardy all we have achieved in the last few weeks of lockdown. So, I think it is better that we continue the engagement and I am sure that the chairman of the taskforce who is constantly in touch with the governments will take up this matter and we hope that he will be able to give a feedback.”

Gombe State Governor Muhammadu Yahaya said places of worship could be opened, only when members wear face masks, keep social and physical distance, as well as maintain regular hands washing and the use of hand sanitizers.

Yahaya said members of aid groups in Mosques and the Boys Brigade in Churches would be trained to ensure full compliance and the enforcement of the protective measures.

He warned that any violation of the measures would force him to reverse the decision to ease the lockdown, because “he would not afford to compromise the health of the people of the state”.

Press Secretary to governor, Mr. HumwashiWonosikou, in a statement said: “Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has eased the restriction on worship places and social gatherings earlier imposed on the state, following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Deputy governor, who is also the COVID-19 Response Committee Chairman in the state disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.

According to him, “All churches shall conduct church services as recommended by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Borno Chapter in strict adherence with social distancing and use of facemasks.

“The ban on the sales and consumption of liquor and other intoxicating substances is still in force. Defaulters will be dealt with severely in accordance with the liquor law,” he said.

Matawalle, in a radio broadcast, said: “I want to commend the people of the state for supporting government in our effort to frustrate the spread of coronavirus in our dear state by complying with the lockdown orders.

“In the light of this, therefore, we are suspending restrictions on congregational prayers in Mosques and Churches while appealing to people not to converge in large numbers at the same time.” he said.

The governor said urged the people to continue to observe social distancing when they meet as well as use face masks to prevent spread of the virus.


Imam admonishes Muslims against idolatry

May 15, 2020

The Chief Imam of Fulani Mosque in Ilorin, Kwara, Dr Muhammad Bashir-Saliu, has warned Muslims against idolatry acts against Allah.

He noted that if Muslims strictly adhered to the warnings, then Allah would take care of all their affairs in the world and the hereafter.

According to him, Allah enjoins utmost kindness to mothers and that mothers are sacred and must be accorded the highest respect among people.

Bashir-Saliu said after according utmost respect to Allah and Prophet Muhammad, the next was to accord respect to mothers because of their nurturing nature and sacrifices.

He also advised people against miserliness, adding that Allah will reduce provisions of misers and prevent them from entering Paradise.


Zulum asks Muslims to pray against COVID-19, Boko Haram

May 15, 2020

Governor BabaganaZulum of Borno State has called on Muslim faithful not to limit their prayers to the ending COVID-19 alone but to seek God’s face to end the decade-long Boko Haram crisis.

He said, “Majority of Muslims are likely to focus on coronavirus during ‘Tahajjud’ (late-night prayers) in these last 10 days of Ramadan but they should not forget supplication against Boko Haram and their sponsors.

“Without doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most severe threats to human existence; hence, accelerating prayers against it should be top priority.

“With that in mind, however, I will like to appeal to Muslims in Nigeria, particularly those of us in Borno State and the North-East, not to forget the murderous activities of Boko Haram. We have two viruses with equal lethal proportions. Therefore, our late night supplication should have twin-focus: prayers against coronavirus and prayers against Boko Haram, their sponsors and those who intentionally support them.”


Ramadan: Pray against Boko Haram, their sponsors – Governor Zulum tells Borno citizens

May 14, 2020

By MainaMaina

Borno Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum has appealed to Muslim faithful in the state and Nigeria at large to take supplication in the last ten days of Ramadan against Boko Haram, their sponsors, and those who support them in any way.

Governor Zulum’s request was contained in a statement on Thursday, which was released by his spokesman, Malam Isa Gusau.

The statement reads: “It is expected and rightly so, that in these last ten days of the glorious Ramadan, majority of fellow Muslims all over the world, are likely to focus their minds on seeking Allah’s intervention for an end to the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Without doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most severe threats to human existence; hence, accelerating prayers against it should be TOP-MUST. With that in mind, however, I will like to appeal to Muslims in Nigeria, particularly those of us in Borno State and rest of the northeast, not to forget the murderous activities of Boko Haram.

“We have two viruses with equal-lethal proportions. Therefore, our late night supplication should have twin-focus: prayers against Coronavirus and prayers against Boko Haram, their sponsors and those who intentionally support them.

“Without ignoring prayers for other individual, family and societal needs and wants, we should please submit ourselves with absolute faith to continually, seek the divine help of our creator, the almighty Allah, before whom no disease is without cure and no crisis is without solution

“Prayers against Boko Haram are particularly necessary at this time, when our gallant military heroes, together with other security agencies and the complementary support of courageous volunteers in the civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes, are recording huge victories in the ongoing fight against the insurgents.

“These armed forces and volunteers have earned our eternal gratitude and respect and they certainly need and deserve our sustained prayers for more victories, their well being and the well being of their families,” the statement added.

Governor Zulum also urged citizens with economic means to intensify support for needy persons especially displaced orphans, widows, relations and neighbours during and beyond the Ramadan.


Matawalle lifts ban on Mosque, Church activities

14 May 2020

Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara has lifted the ban on congregational prayers in Mosques and Churches placed to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

Matawalle made the announcement in a statewide radio broadcast on Thursday in Gusau.

“I want to commend the people of the state for supporting the government in our effort to frustrate the spread of coronavirus in our dear state by complying with the lockdown orders.

“In the light of this, therefore, we are suspending restrictions on congregational prayers in Mosques and Churches while appealing to people not to converge in large numbers at the same time,” he said.

Matawalle urged the people to continue to observe social distancing when they meet as well as using face masks to prevent the spread of the virus.

The governor, however, said markets in the state would remain closed until further notice, warning that the government would not take it lightly with violators of the orders.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the COVID – 19 pandemics had so far claimed five lives, while 18 victims out of 73 confirmed cases had been discharged from the Gusau isolation center.


Adamawa Government lifts ban, orders Churches, Mosques to reopen

May 14, 2020

By NsikakNseyen

The state government said the ban was lifted with immediate effect to allow religious bodies have their normal worship and services.

HumwashiWonosikou, Chief Press secretary to Governor Umaru Fintiri, who made this known in a statement on Thursday also announced the discharge of five COVID-19 patients

He said they were discharged after testing negative for the virus, adding that all religious leaders should put in place preventive and precautionary measures in their various worship centres to curb the spread of the disease.

“Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri has eased the restriction on worship places and social gatherings earlier imposed on the state following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Churches, Mosques and the international cattle markets under lockdown can now reopen.”


New Zealand 

Georgetown student takes Islamic bioethics research at QF to Washington and wins

May 15 2020

An academic paper analysing the Muslim perspective on the controversial use of stem cell research has won Amna al-Essa, a Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) student, second place in the Bioethics Research Showcase sponsored by the Kennedy Institute of Ethics in Washington, DC, one of the oldest academic ethics centres in the world.

In the paper, she explores the background behind the Islamic rulings guiding the use and limitation of embryonic stem cells in the medical sciences, a field of research that holds great promise for the treatment of degenerative conditions and the understanding of human development.

The medical technology uses cells from human embryos which has raised a host of ethical concerns and debates across cultures and countries.

Muslim countries also face these debates, explained Amna, but often lack the needed guidance of a religious authority ruling.

“There is a pressing need to address continuing ethical concerns and questions that arise from societal, cultural and religious perspectives on issues that transgress into matters of prohibitions and permissibility in Islam.”

She was encouraged to submit her paper for competition by the instructor of her Islam, Culture and Bioethics course, associate research professor Dr Ayman Shabana.

He is also the director of the Islamic Bioethics Project at GU-Q, which has been supported by three consecutive grants from Qatar National Research Fund’s National Priorities Research Programme.

“Being at GU-Q has definitely deepened my interest in the connections between Islam and bioethics. We are offered this great opportunity to be exposed to multiple fields and wider disciplines, like theology, philosophy and politics. This opportunity has allowed us to cultivate our own selves and knowledge based on our personal interests across different fields.”

An International Politics major student at GU-Q, a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner institution, Amna said it was during her pursuit of the Theology minor that she became interested in bioethics.

“I have always had a passion for science and medicine, which is why I decided to pursue them within the realm of liberal arts. Studying theology at Georgetown has widened my horizons to think about issues in the medical field and to consider how contemporary religious beliefs and practices deal with those issues.”

The Showcase is a juried digital exhibition of under-graduate research in a variety of categories and disciplines on the ethics of health, the environment and the bioethics of emerging technologies.

The virtual award ceremony as well as Amna’s winning paper are available for viewing on the Kennedy Institute of Ethics website.


Crises Of Kiwi Muslims For Genuine Leadership

13 May 2020

Hina Tabassum Cheema

$2.1million Qatari donation is still in Federation of Islamic Association’s (FIANZ) bank account, which has left Christchurch victims in doubts, frustration and disappointments. FIANZ, instead of being a representative of Kiwi organisations, following the footsteps of the power-hungry corrupt political elite in the Muslims majority countries.

Last month, Asharaf Ghani (AG) and Abdullah Abdullah took the oath at the same time to become the President(s) of Afghanistan. Likewise, FIANZ is run by two Presidents. Both Presidents are publically accusing each other for corruption or favouring corruption. Regardless of good work done by FIANZ since its establishment, the crises show that Muslim organisations are not adopting transparent and democratic values of their residing country, New Zealand. The governance crisis of FIANZ represents authoritarian and corrupt regimes of Muslim worlds.

FIANZ was established in 1979 when less than 2000 Muslims were living in New Zealand. The objective behind FIANZ formation was to form a national body to connect Muslims spread all over the country. Therefore, the organisation has consisted of seven regional organisations covering Christchurch and Dunedin in South Island, Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Palmerston North in North Island. FIANZ is continuously representing Muslims of NZ at national and international levels. Since its inception, FIANZ develops its financial base by facilitating 3 billion dollars halal meat trade with Middle Eastern countries. It also provides halal certificate and training for the local market. A strong monetary base of FIANZ helps the organisation to do charity work and provide financial help to establish Islamic centres throughout the country. FIANZ worked closely with police, security agencies and government organisations after 9/11 and post 15 March incident, which gave the organisation respect and credibility at the political and institutional sphere.

However, this respect, financial stability, opportunities of international networking has left FIANZ executives in a running battle to gain and retain power forever. For example, one gentleman remained the president and vice-president of FIANZ for 25 years and enjoyed all perks associated with these roles. The power game in FIANZ restricts the organisation to evolve to represent over 60,000 Muslims living in NZ. Muslims residing in NZ is a diverse group. NZ immigration policy encourages professional Muslims to move from all over the world. There are many Muslim doctors, engineers, academics/researchers and students in NZ who are not getting representations in FIANZ. In Auckland, alone, there are more than 20 Muslim originations and trusts doing charity work and running Islamic centres. Among those, only 2 organisations are included in FIANZ Council. FIANZ governance structure has not evolved over time. The only changes we observe in the constitution are the lengths of presidential terms. A large proportion of the Muslim population is not getting representation in FIANZ’s electoral process while FIANZ claim to represent all Muslims living in NZ.

New Zealand government must learn that FIANZ is an independent incorporated body that is neither transparent nor democratic and is not a representative of NZ Muslim communities. It has closed doors electoral process that limits the right to vote to its seven members organisations. There are more than 56 organisations/trusts/centres throughout NZ which do not have any representation in FIANZ.

Muslims in New Zealand are from various backgrounds, ethnicities, sects and have a different understanding of Islam and its practices. This is the time for FIANZ to become inclusive, democratic and transparent. All Muslims living in NZ should have a right to vote to elect FIANZ representatives. We believe direct voting to FIANZ President and its executives will help to bring leadership from diverse ethnic, cultural and sectarian backgrounds. It would provide hope to all Muslims, especially Muslim women and young people growing up in this country.

FIANZ can only become a true ‘kiwi organisation’ if it practices kiwi model of governance rather than a model borrowed from the Muslim world. It is a time for NZ Muslims communities to play their role for an inclusive, transparent and democratic organisation that they can own with pride.


Southeast Asia 

Islamic Religious Department: Only Mosque, Surau Members Who Get Mobile Alerts May Attend Prayers

15 May 2020

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Mosques and suraus in the Federal Territories will notify the members allowed to attend and perform prayers via text notifications, said Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) director MohdAjib Ismail.

BeritaHarian reported him as saying Muslims may register for the notification to perform their prayers throughout the ongoing conditional movement control order (CMCO) starting today, and only those notified may attend their respective mosque or surau (prayer hall).

MohdAjib said Jawi has released five suggestions in its guidelines issued to all mosque and surau managements, whose places of worship are situated within the green zone, in order to determine who in their congregation can attend.

“The rotation of attendees permitted to fulfill their prayers at the mosque or surau will depend on the decision by its administrators, which includes the chairman, head imam, and the imam.

“They will make the decision with the maximum limit of 30 persons in mind during the prayer, including the mosque or surau's officers and committee members,” he said.

The director added that attendance priority is given to the mosque or surau's committee, including its chairman, officials, head imam, and related personnel on duty.

Separately, the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has also advised the public to refer to the management of their regular mosque or surau beforehand to see if they will be permitted to attend the prayers.

“Members of the public cannot go to the mosque or surau for prayers without the management's prior approval, so as to avoid a surge in people which could be out of the management's control and prevent social distancing,” said its director-general Datuk Paimuzi Yahya in a statement.

Of the country's three main mosques under Jakim's administration, only Masjid Negara in KL is within the green zone. The other two mosques, Masjid Putra dan Masjid TuankuMizan Zainal Abidin which are both in Putrajaya, are still in yellow zones.

“Thus for the time being, only Masjid Negara will commence the Friday prayers, daily prayers, tarawih prayers, and Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayers, starting today.

“As mentioned before, the prayers will be limited to no fewer than three persons but not exceeding 30 persons, including the mosque's officials, personnel, and congregation members which will be decided by its administration,” he said.

Paimuzi added the prayers will be carried out according to the stipulations and conditions as laid down in the prepared guidelines.

Yesterday Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri announced that mosques and suraus in the Federal Territories will resume their daily and Friday prayers, but under strict conditions.


Muslims Should Avoid Hari Raya Visits Due To COVID-19 Restrictions: Islamic Religious Council of Singapore

15 May 2020

By Zhaki Abdullah

SINGAPORE: Muslims should avoid traditional Hari Raya visits and gatherings, so as to follow restrictions on public and private gatherings during the "circuit breaker" period aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) noted on Friday (May 15) that the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holiday - which falls on May 24 - is still within the circuit breaker period.

"Visits to loved ones in different households, especially elderly family members, should be deferred until restrictions on visits are lifted, except where important care-giving is required," the council said, adding that those heading out to do festive shopping should do so individually and keep trips as short as possible.

"It is all the more important to take precautions now and adjust to the new norms, so that we can visit our loved ones later when it is safe to do so, in more Hari Rayas to come," it said.

In a press conference on Friday, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs MasagosZulkifli said that aside from the legal restrictions, people should think of the wellbeing of their loved ones during this period.

"Ultimately every visit you make to your parent, every visit you make to an elderly (person), exposes that person to the risk of contracting COVID-19. It is not just about being fined for violating the safe distancing measures," said Mr Masagos, who is also Environment and Water Resources Minister.

Those who flout the rules on social gatherings across different households face fines of up to S$10,000 and six months in jail for a first offence.

When asked if Muslims would be able to make their Hari Raya visits once the circuit breaker ends on Jun 1, Mr Masagos said the multi-ministry taskforce tackling COVID-19 is still deliberating on what restrictions can be lifted.

More information may be available next week, said Mr Masagos, adding that people must be prepared to continue to observe stringent circuit breaker rules until it is decided that they can be lifted.

The council added it has planned several initiatives to help Muslims fulfil their religious duties during the Hari Raya period while adhering to safe distancing measures.

The recitation of the takbir (prayer call) in mosques on the eve of Hari Raya will not be possible due to the closure of mosques in the country, it noted.

This will instead by done by Muslims with their family members in their own homes, with Mufti Dr NazirudinMohd Nasir and various asatizah (religious teachers) leading live via online channels, such as MUIS' SalamSG TV Youtube channel, as well as on the Facebook accounts of MUIS and individual mosques.

It noted that Dr Nazirudin will address the Muslim community on the SalamSG TV channel on how the community can continue to fulfil its religious duties during Hari Raya amidst the COVID-19 situation, adding that he will be joined by former Mufti Dr FatrisBakaram and President of Singapore, Madam HalimahYacob.

MUIS also noted the takbir and Aidilfitri prayers on the morning of Hari Raya cannot be performed at mosques, as is typically the case.

"This year, as our mosques remain closed, Muslims will celebrate the morning of Hari Raya in their homes with their family members of the same household," the council said.

They can also join in the live takbir via Mediacorp radio station Warna 94.2 FM, or via the Facebook pages of local mosques, and perform the traditional Aidilfitri prayers at home.

After the prayers, the Mufti will deliver a live Hari Raya sermon which will be broadcast over radio, as well as various online channels such as SalamSG TV.

"Today, technology has given us the opportunity to creatively use teleconferencing tools and mobile messaging applications to fulfil our religious obligations and even make “virtual” Hari Raya visits to our loved ones, so as to keep our ties and traditions alive," MUIS said.

It added the community had shown "great resilience and responsibility" in continuing to fulfil its religious obligations throughout Ramadan, and would continue to do so in the months ahead.

"We must take a serious view of the COVID-19 threat, exercise social responsibility, and keep our loved ones and the larger Singapore society safe. Only then can we overcome this challenge and emerge stronger as a community."


Lautze Mosque: A symbol of Chinese-Muslim assimilation in Indonesia

May 14, 2020

The bright red, yellow and green temple-like exterior of the Lautze Mosque in Jakarta’s Chinatown could be mistaken for a Chinese home.

However, the distinctive structure of the mosque reaffirms its role as a good example of how Indonesians of Chinese descent blended in with their predominantly indigenous Muslim neighbors.

“Many mistook the mosque for a Chinese temple, so two years ago, we put up signs bearing the name of the mosque,” Imam Naga Kunadi said.

The three-story mosque is part of a row of buildings in a busy trading area along Lautze Street, after which the mosque is named, in Central Jakarta. Because of its location, the mosque only opens during the day.

“In Ramadan, we usually open every Saturday, starting at Asr time, because we have a specific type of congregation — many of the members live far from the mosque. We would provide iftar and hold taraweeh prayers. But we cannot do that this year as we have to close due to the large-scale social restrictions in this time of coronavirus,” Kunadi said.

Kunadi, whose Chinese name is QiuXue Long, said the mosque would still operate in a subdued manner for alms collection and distribution, or to assist those wishing to convert to Islam, and that mosque officials would act in compliance with social distancing measures.

The mosque was established in 1991 by the Haji Abdul Karim Oei Foundation, named after a Chinese-Indonesian Muslim nationalist, the late Abdul Karim OeiTjeng Hien.

It aimed to facilitate the assimilation of the ethnic Chinese community and indigenous Muslims, especially in cases where ethnic Chinese people wished to embrace Islam.

“We understand the specific needs of Chinese mualaf (convert). We understand what they go through because we’ve experienced it before,” said Kunadi, who converted to Islam in 2002.

The original mosque occupied a shophouse and, a few years later was expanded after acquiring an adjacent building to accommodate 300 congregation members.

“The Chinese-style exterior is also to show that we still maintain our Chinese heritage even though we converted to Islam,” Kunadi said.

Muslim faithful gathered for a mass taraweeh prayer in Ramadan 2019 in front of Lautze Mosque 2 in Bandung, West Java. Photo: Instagram @masjidlautze2

Muhammad Ali Karim Oei, son of Oei Sr., said the facade was designed to make the mosque more welcoming for ethnic Chinese people wishing to come inside and ask about Islam.

“They are free to ask anything and learn about Islam here, even some burning questions they may be reluctant to ask in other mosques. It is another reason we chose the name Lautze — a Chinese word for teacher,” Oei Jr. said.

The mosque has seen more than 1,000 Chinese-Indonesians embrace Islam. In addition to making an ethnic Chinese person part of the country’s Muslim majority, it also makes the person a double minority for being a Muslim minority in an already small ethnic group.

Its reputation as a nonjudgmental place for Chinese-Indonesians who want to study Islam, and for the new converts, as well as other Chinese Muslims to observe the faith, led to the establishment of Lautze Mosque 2 in Bandung, West Java in 1997.

“There was a need for a mosque that accommodates the growing number of Chinese-Indonesian Muslims in the city. They felt like there was still a gap when they pray in regular mosques. People would look at them differently, even though they are already part of the Muslim brethren,” HernawanMahfudz, an official from Lautze Mosque 2 Foundation told Arab News.

To make them feel more at home, congregation members are encouraged to address each other as “koko” and “cici,” the Chinese words for brother and sister.

Like its Jakarta predecessor, the mosque maintains the Chinese-style facade accentuated by a row of Chinese red lanterns. The ground floor serves as the prayer hall for 200 people while the upper floor serves as a shelter for the mualafs who might be experiencing hardship as a result of their conversion.

Despite the mosque closures, Mahfudz said they would still keep the Ramadan tradition alive even without the communal gatherings.

“We still provide iftar meals every day but instead of having them at the mosque, we distribute the meals directly to the beneficiaries. We also conduct group Qur’an recitations and sermons using videoconferencing applications,” he said.


Ismail Sabri: Unity minister examining reopening of non-Muslim places of worship

15 May 2020


PUTRAJAYA, May 15 — The National Unity minister is looking into approval for non-Muslim places of worship to gradually resume group activities, said Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“The minister will discuss the matter with representatives from the five biggest (non-Islamic) religions in Malaysia, namely Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Taoism,” Ismail said during the daily press conference.

He said the result of the meeting with the representatives will be tabled tomorrow morning during the ministerial meeting or next Tuesday, after which a decision will be made.

Yesterday, Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism deputy president Jagir Singh told the Malay Mail that discussions are underway between the council, the Health Ministry and the NSC on how to formulate guidelines for non-Muslims places of worship once it has been deemed fit for them to reopen.

Meanwhile, Ismail said the NSC is also awaiting a report from the Islamic Affairs minister on today’s happenings at mosques and suraus throughout the Federal Territories.

Yesterday, permission was granted for them to resume daily and Friday prayers, subject to strict conditions including allowing no more than 30 persons at a time.

“It is possible that if there are many instances where standard operating procedures (SOP) are violated, then the permission to conduct daily and Friday prayers can be withdrawn.

“However this is subject to the Islamic Affairs minister’s report. Assuming there are one or two isolated cases, then perhaps it will only result in issuing an advisory to the mosques or suraus in question, reminding them to adhere to the SOPs,”  he said.




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