Jaddah: Islamic Banking - Steady in Shaky Times
Deplore Stoning to Death of 'Adulterous' Somali Woman
Mumbai: City gears up for 3 Islamic meets
Compiled by Syed Asadullah
Muslim women slowly gaining power: Al-Azhar fatwa grants Muslim women the right to hit their husbands in self-defence
11Oct 08, By Iulia Anghelescu
News to Cheer This Week:
Muslim American women are encouraged by their communities to run for political office and their number has significantly increased as a result, the Associated Press reported Oct. 30. "Before Sept. 11, less than 5 percent of Muslim political candidates were women," said Agha Saeed, founder of the American Muslim Alliance. "Now about 1 in 3 is."
The world's largest female-only institution of higher learning, the Riyadh Women's University in
Hawaria Fattah, a Muslim professor, has been nominated to the post of imam in a southern
Female playwrights are holding a town hall meeting Nov. 3 to denounce gender inequity in the theatre industry, the New York Times reported Oct. 24. Four times as many leading Off Broadway plays are written by men than by women.
Thumb pointing down Rape, assault and sexual harassment during military service were reported by 14.5 percent of female veterans of the wars in
Seventy-six percent of those women were diagnosed with a mental illness such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or drug addiction. The female soldiers experienced rape rates nearly three times higher than women in the general population.
It is unclear when those sexual abuses occur, study co-author Joanne Pavao told the magazine. "It could have occurred at any point during the service history of these men and women."
News to Jeer This Week:
A 23-year-old woman was buried up to her neck and stoned to death in
Esha Momeni, a graduate student at the Northridge campus of
A fatwa--or religious decree--by Sheikh Abdel Hamid al-Atrash of
Islamic Banking: Steady in Shaky Times
Principles Based on Religious Law Insulate Industry From Worst of Financial Crisis
By Faiza Saleh Ambah, October 31, 2008; A16
Proponents of the ancient practice, which looks to sharia law for guidance and bans interest and trading in debt, have been promoting Islamic finance as a cure for the global financial meltdown.
Though the trillion-dollar Islamic banking industry faces challenges with the slump in real estate and stock prices, advocates say the system has built-in protection from the kind of runaway collapse that has afflicted so many institutions. For one thing, the use of financial instruments such as derivatives, blamed for the downfall of banking, insurance and investment giants, is banned. So is excessive risk-taking.
"The beauty of Islamic banking and the reason it can be used as a replacement for the current market is that you only promise what you own. Islamic banks are not protected if the economy goes down -- they suffer -- but you don't lose your shirt," said Majed al-Refaie, who heads Bahrain-based Unicorn Investment Bank.
The theological underpinning of Islamic banking is scripture that declares that collection of interest is a form of usury, which is banned in Islam. In the modern world, that translates into an attitude toward money that is different from that found in the West: Money cannot just sit and generate more money. To grow, it must be invested in productive enterprises.
"In Islamic finance you cannot make money out of thin air," said Amr al-Faisal, a board member of Dar al-Mal al-Islami, a holding company that owns several Islamic banks and financial institutions. "Our dealings have to be tied to actual economic activity, like an asset or a service. You cannot make money off of money. You have to have a building that was actually purchased, a service actually rendered, or a good that was actually sold."
In the Western world, bankers designing investment instruments have to satisfy government regulators. In Islamic banking, there is another group to please -- religious regulators called a sharia board. Finance lawyers work closely with Islamic finance scholars, who study and review a product before issuing a fatwa, or ruling, on its compliance with sharia law.
Islamic bankers describe depositors as akin to partners -- their money is invested, and they share in the profits or, theoretically, the losses that result. (In interviews, bankers couldn't recall a case in which depositors actually lost money; this shows that banks put such funds only in very low-risk investments, they said.)
Rather than lend money to a home buyer and collect interest on it, an Islamic bank buys the property and then leases it to the buyer for the duration of the loan. The client pays a set amount each month to the bank, then at the end obtains full ownership. The payments are structured to include the cost of the house, plus a predetermined profit margin for the bank.
Sharia-compliant institutions also cannot invest in alcohol, pornography, weapons, gambling, tobacco or pork.
Computer engineer Tarek al-Bassam said the crisis made him glad that he had chosen an Islamic bank to take his money. His Islamic savings account has made about 4 percent profit, he said. "Usually it's a very low risk or a very low gain. But I'm happy with it," Bassam said.
He has also borrowed from an Islamic bank, to buy a building. Even if he's late in his payments, he said, he will not have to pay cumulative interest or a larger sum than the one agreed upon. But he notes that under this system, it can be harder to get a loan than from a conventional bank. Islamic banks have stricter lending rules and require that their borrowers provide more collateral and have higher income.
Islamic banking has grown by about 15 percent a year since its modern inception in the 1970s, fueled by the
Islamic finance now accounts for about 1 percent of the global market, according to Majid Dawood, chief executive of Yasaar, a Dubai-based sharia financing consultancy. "We had expected to be at 12 percent of the global market by 2025, but now with this financial crisis, we expect to get there much faster," he said in a telephone interview from
Growth in Islamic banking picked up even before the current financial crisis, mainly because of strong client demand for safe, religiously acceptable investments and a recent explosion in new and innovative financial instruments, said Jane Kinninmont, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research and advisory company.
Islamic banks now offer credit cards in which the full balance must be paid off at month's end. They have devised a kind of commercial paper known as sukuk, which generates a predetermined return that is called a profit, not interest. It is tied to a specific asset and conveys ownership of it. A sukuk might be issued by a government or a company that is building a hospital or a bridge, for example.
Work in Islamic banking by the King & Spalding law firm has grown roughly 40-fold in the past four years, according to Jawad Ali, a Dubai-based partner at the firm. The firm has 35 lawyers "who do nothing but structure sharia-compliant investment and financing on a daily basis," he said.
Islamic finance first sparked interest in the
But interest cooled after some Islamic banks were accused of financing terrorism in a lawsuit filed by family members of Sept. 11, 2001, victims, and a lot of Persian Gulf money left the
In 2004, the German state of Saxony-Anhalt issued a 100 million-euro sovereign Islamic bond. That same year, the first Islamic bank opened in
Although the biggest Islamic banks are in the Persian Gulf -- Dubai Islamic Bank, Kuwait Finance House and
Islamic institutions are not immune to ills plaguing other banks, such as corruption charges and bad investments. Differences of interpretation between sharia scholars about what is permissible and what isn't also create confusion. The sukuk market, which had doubled each year since 2004, growing to a total of about $90 billion in bonds issued, fell 50 percent this year after a Bahrain-based group of Islamic scholars decreed that most of the bonds were not compatible with sharia law.
But as banks turn borrowers away in these times of economic turmoil, Islamic institutions continue to close deals in Europe, the Gulf and the
And those who have been in Islamic banking for a long time now feel vindicated.
"The current financial collapse is an opportunity. The ugly side of Wall Street is exposed; it's always been there but covered by a layer of glamour that is now stripped away," Faisal said. "We are more conservative and sober in our investments. That used to be considered a handicap. Now it's considered the height of wisdom."
Human rights groups are concerned that
The legislation, which was passed by parliament on Thursday, prohibits the dissemination of pornographic material with sentences of up to 12 years in prison and $750,000 US in fines.
Pornography is described as any material — written, illustrated, photographic, conversation, sound, gestures, video or performance — which may incite obscenity or sexual exploitation that "violate the moral values of society."
"We're worried it will be used by hardliners who say they want to control morality," said Baby Jim Aditya, a women's rights activist.
Some of the Islamic parties in parliament argued globalization is chipping away at the country's moral fibre and the legislation is necessary.
The moral decay in
Two members of parliament were recently fired by their parties following scandals where they were caught in adulterous relationships.
"If a husband and wife are in one room, nobody is prohibiting it, because it's pleasure but legal," Kaplale said. "What is being protested is if they are not husband and wife... that must not happen."
Parliamentarians refuse to vote
More than 100 parliamentarians from the Democratic Party of Struggle and the Prosperous Peace Party refused to vote on the legislation.
"The public strongly opposes this bill," said legislator Cahyo Kumolo. "We don't want to be involved in the process of adopting it into law."
Protesters and supporters of the much-debated bill have regularly gathered in front of the
As the legislation passed on Thursday, a crowd of female university students stood outside chanting, "God is great."
Minister of Religious Affairs Maftuh Basyuni had insisted the bill, which must be signed by the president before taking effect, would protect women and children against exploitation.
Bill goes against diversity: critics
Some legislators who refused to vote complained that while the bill's final version removed contentious clauses regulating dress and social behaviour, which included a ban on bikinis, it still it went against the country's tradition of diversity.
About 90 per cent of
Predominantly Hindu Bali, a resort island that depends heavily on tourism, has been particularly concerned about the implications of the legislation's impact on local artists and foreign visitors.
"We cannot implement the law because it isn't compatible with Balinese philosophy and social values," he said.
Several foreign governments, including
The legislation also has a provision that allows the community to play an unspecified role in preventing the production, distribution and use of pornography.
Some legislators complained that provision was too vague and may divide communities and incite vigilante actions against those who do not comply.
Political observers have suggested the passage of the legislation demonstrates the growing influence of Islamic political parties in the run-up to next year's presidential elections. The parties play an important role in forming coalitions after any election in the country.With files from the Associated Press and Reuters
Credit crunch may spur Islamic financial system
Already said to be worth 300 billion dollars and expanding at 15 percent a year, the Islamic system forbids the levying or payment of interest, preferring shared ownership and splitting of profits.
The global economic meltdown shows "the need for a radical and structural reform of the global financial system. The system based on the principles of Islam offers an alternative which could reduce risks," Hatem al-Naqrashawi, head of theological studies at
"Islamic banks don't buy credit but manage concrete assets... which shelters them from the difficulties that American and European banks are experiencing," explained Abdel Bassat al-Shibi, managing director of Qatar International Islamic Bank.
Islamic finance is different from capitalism in two main ways. It bans interest-bearing loans, seen as usury, a practice forbidden by Islam, and also forbids speculation. Instead, it favours sharing risks and profits between a bank and a client.
Sharia compliant products include Ijara, a way of buying a house through a lease and subsequent ownership, rather than through a mortgage. Others are Musharaka, the sharing of profits and losses, and Murabaha, under which the seller declares the profit margin being made on the sale of a commodity.
Murabaha is seen as a way of enabling a buyer to avoid taking an interest-bearing loan, though some Islamic scholars say it is too similar to the charging of 'riba', or interest.
In the past three decades, the number of Islamic financial institutions has risen above 300, spread among 75 countries. Their total assets are more than 300 billion dollars and are growing an at average rate of 15 percent a year, according to studies.
"The collapse of capitalism based on usury and paper and not on the trading of goods on the market is proof that it is in crisis and shows the Islamic economic philosophy is holding up," prominent Egyptian-born Qatar-based cleric Sheikh Yussef al-Qaradawi told a recent conference in
"We have all the wealth... the Islamic nation has all or nearly all the oil and we have an economic philosophy which no one else has," he said, referring to the fact that Islamic countries, headed by Saudi Arabia, hold a large part of the world's proven crude oil reserves.
Suleiman al-Audah, an influential Saudi cleric, called for an "international Islamic summit to define the framework and the stages of an Islamic economic alternative."
Some Islamists admit, however, that this alternative is not yet operational.
"Theoretically, the Islamic economic system offers a complete and solid mechanism... but in practice, the Islamic banking experience is not yet mature, because it offers limited products like 'Murabaha'," Audah, a moderate Islamist, told AFP.
His caution is shared by Egyptian Islamist intellectual Fahmi Howaidi, for whom the Islamic system "could bring solutions to certain banking problems but cannot be a magic wand" to end the financial unheaval which is shaking the world.
Al-Qaeda offshoot frees Austrian hostages
BAMAKO (AFP) — Two Austrian hostages kidnapped eight months ago in the Tunisian desert by Al-Qaeda's north African offshoot have been freed and safely handed over to the Malian authorities, officials said on Friday.
Confirmation of their release came from the Austrian foreign ministry in
Wolfgang Ebner, 51, and his partner Andrea Kloiber, 44, disappeared while on holiday in southern
The hostages were later moved to northern
"The two Austrian hostages are free, in the hands of the Malian army and in good spirits," a source at the Malian presidency told AFP. "They are still in the north of
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik "informed the public today that Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber, who were kidnapped on February 22, are free," it said.
The release of the hostages comes after several months of intensive negotiations with the kidnappers by the Malian authorities and the
"It's now a matter of organising their rapid and safe return to
An Austrian plane would be sent to
The Austrian authorities also said Ebner and Kloiber were "in good health" considering they had been held for eight months.
"I've already spoken personally to their families in (the western Austrian city of)
Islamic hard-liners help
WAM, Pakistan (AP) - An Islamic charity accused of terror links by the
The vow by Jamaat-ud-Dawa shows how hard-line groups are helping quake victims and perhaps expanding their influence in impoverished
Jamaat-ud-Dawa and other hard-line groups aided survivors of a quake that killed 80,000 people in Kashmir and northern
Wednesday's 6.4-magnitude quake hit the poor mountainous region near the Afghan border before dawn, destroying 3,000 houses and making about 15,000 people homeless.
Troops and foreign relief agencies have scrambled to help communities in remote valleys affected by the disaster, handing out food, blankets and tents to ward off near-freezing temperatures. But many victims say they have received little help.
On Friday, the
The affected area of
Jamaat-ud-Dawa was designated a terrorist group by the
«In Kashmir and
«We have no other motive,» said Rauf, who also helped after the 2005 earthquake. The group denies any link to violence.
He said Jamaat-ud-Dawa would provide 1,000 wooden structures strong enough to withstand the rigors of winter, due to begin in earnest in about two weeks. He said the funding came from «affluent individuals.
Analysts noted that the government, the army and many secular parties and relief groups were also helping out after the quake, and that Jamaat-ud-Dawa and at least two other hard-line Islamic political organizations were there primarily for humanitarian reasons.
Mahdi Hassan, a respected political commentator, said he believed the group did not have a violent agenda, and noted that foreign aid workers were not harmed or harassed after the 2005 quake.
«These jihadi people were active in
Pakistani authorities have vowed to help all those affected by the disaster, but the suffering of survivors was still apparent Friday.
At a small clinic in the devastated
«Most of them are developing the symptoms of pneumonia and that is inevitable given the serious cold they are exposed to,» Mohammed said, as scores of people squatted outside waiting for treatment.
Those seriously injured when their houses fell down around them have been taken to the regional capital,
Many villagers, accustomed to a life of hardship and self-sufficiency, were not waiting for aid to arrive.
In Wam Kotal, a village in the shadow of a towering mountain, Haji Abdul Latif, a turbaned 60-year-old, watched as a son and a nephew began clearing the rubble of their house with the intention of rebuilding as soon as possible.
«We have no option except to help ourselves,» he said. «Snow will start falling soon and we have no place to live.
American Islamic Congress Demands the Immediate Pardon and Release of Afghan Journalist Sayed Parvez Kambakhsh, Deplores Stoning Death of 'Adulterous' Somali Woman
Oct. 31, 2008
WASHINGTON, Oct 31, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The American Islamic Congress (AIC) today reiterated its call on the Afghan government to drop all charges against journalist Sayed Parvez Kambakhsh.
Notwithstanding the relief felt in that Kambakhsh's original death sentence, delivered last October, was overturned, AIC finds it unacceptable that this 24-year-old man now faces 20 years of imprisonment for "blasphemy". "No one should be punished for merely distributing materials, as Kambakhsh did with a document on women's rights in Islam. It cannot be possible that every time there is controversy surrounding an issue of faith in the Muslim world, Muslim governments resort to sending their citizens to jail," said Jana El-Horr, AIC's Government and Political Affairs Director.
As Americans and as Muslims, AIC works vigorously for freedom of expression in the Muslim world and sees it as a cornerstone that must not be underestimated or overlooked for the sake of "preserving" traditions. President Karzai, stuck between his own conservatism and modernizing the system of government in his country, must do what is morally right--intervene and secure the release and exoneration of Kambakhsh. "Imprisoning this young man is completely unacceptable and constitutes a step in the wrong direction for the future of democracy in
AIC is also outraged today at the execution of Asha Dhuhulow by Somali Islamists in power in the south of the country. According to an Islamic Sharia law court, 23-year-old Dhuhulow was guilty of adultery and consequently sentenced to death by stoning. In front of hundreds of townspeople, she was buried in the ground up to her neck while stones were pelted at her. This was the first of this type of public killing since the Islamists took power two years ago. It was determined that Dhuhulow had been raped and had not voluntarily taken part. She was violated and then condemned to death.
AIC is deeply saddened by this outrageous act and believes it plays into a broader phenomenon of misuse of the law. "The murder of Ms. Dhuhulow--by stoning, no less--is unconscionable," said Nasser Weddady, AIC's Civil Rights Outreach Director. "Anyone claiming to invoke religion for such a practice must be condemned by all people of conscience. We call upon the international community to act now to protect women in
The American Islamic Congress is a civil-rights organization promoting tolerance and the exchange of ideas among Muslims and between other peoples. With the motto "Passionate about Moderation," the organization leads initiatives around the world and has offices in
All rights reserved End of Story, Comtex Source:
By Max Kantar, The
31 October, 2008
Last week's unilateral attack on
In fact, considering all of the variables surrounding the recent
As most of the mainstream and establishment newspapers follow a reasonably similar framework of news reporting, there is no need to use excessive space critiquing all of them. In this brief examination, I will use the report and coverage put forth by the Washington Post on Tuesday, October 28th, entitled, "U.S. Calls Raid a Warning to
On October 26th, four
The reasons provided for the
1) The attack was orchestrated and intended to "send a warning to the Syrian government."
2) The attack was intended to kill an "insurgent" who is allegedly responsible for the presence of "hundreds of foreign fighters" stationed in
3) The attack was intended to pressure Syrian officials to "clean up the global threat in [their] backyard," and if they do not "clean up" their "backyard" to the satisfaction of the
4) The attack, according to US officials, has the advantage and purpose of "goading such countries into action."
5) The attack was also hinted at potentially falling under the recent
All of these justifications were given to Washington Post journalists and were simply restated for the readership without a hint of criticism. The report in the Washington Post for all intents and purposes served most literally as a government statement issued by the Ministry of Truth.  If the reasons for the attack, as noted above, truly deserved any further investigation, commentary, or thought, the Washington Post report presumably would have covered it. Therefore, the proper conclusion readers are supposed to reach is that the talking heads of the State department are reasonable, within their rights, and unchallenged in their assertions and cause.
If the Washington Post had any commitment to serious journalism or the principle of universality, meaning that moral and legal norms apply equally to everyone, the justifications given by the US State department spokesmen for the attack on
To put the
"Violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that…appear to be intended…to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or by [using force] or violence to intimidate or coerce a civilian population" constitute "international terrorism" 
Because the US military strike, as proclaimed by its orchestrators, was explicitly intended to "goad" or "coerce" Syria's government into "action" and serve as a "warning" to "intimidate" the government and population, the US assault was a textbook case of "international terrorism" by its own standards. The violent
We might pause to ask had the attackers been an part of an occupying army in Mexico and the target had been a civilian center in California, if the Washington Post and its friends in the State department would've then called it a "terrorist attack."
One might then inquire about the "foreign fighters" crossing the Syrian border into
This brings us to yet another interesting ideological constraint present in the Washington Post's coverage. The authors of the report continually quoted at length, terrorism experts, analysts, and senior officials talking about the horror of "hundreds of foreign fighters" being "smuggled" into Iraq and killing "thousands of Iraqis" without so much as a bat of the eye. A pertinent response to such hypocritical lamenting would be to ask what one would call over 130,000
The Washington Post cited the US Treasury in noting that al-Mazidih, (an alleged "target" of the
Clearly, fighters are only "foreign" if they do not serve
By entertaining these assertions handed down by the lords of state power and propaganda, the Washington Post is, by presupposition, giving the discredited and utterly illegal
Speaking of the world, "senior
Coincidently, the leading global polls consistently show that a majority of the world sees American involvement in
However, the casual extension of US terror and aggression in the region to two additional sovereign nations in less than a month, (Syria and Pakistan) signal, even by Washington's grim standards, a new sort of bold, reckless, and systematic disregard for global and national conventions such as US law, international law, (binding) UN resolutions, and human rights accords. The open declarations of US terrorism as reported respectably and unchallenged in mainstream publications are telling as to the boundless nature of the US crusade for global domination and the lengths that media outlets will stretch themselves to in order to conform to the dictates of elite interest and state power.
So long as the American mind is held hostage by a system of thought control which adheres to the doctrine that textbook international terrorism is "the only way [the
Max Kantar is a freelance writer and undergraduate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Military sources include an unnamed "senior
2 The term "Ministry of Truth" is originally from George Orwell's novel on totalitarianism, 1984. In the novel, "The Ministry of Truth" was a sector of the government in charge of spreading lies and propaganda to glorify the state.
4 A 2007 survey conducted by Harris Research for the Financial Times showed that Europeans saw
5 The quoted words are those of military analyst, Anthony Cordesman, as quoted in the Washington Post, advocating state terror as a reasonable way of "dealing" with nations not subservient enough to the
Nov 1, 2008, By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
American victims covered by the fund include those who died in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over
"This removes the last obstacle to a normal relationship between the
He said he hoped the Senate would soon move to confirm Gene Cretz, the Bush administration's nominee as ambassador to
One of those lawmakers, Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of
"American victims and their families have waited decades for
Settling the issue of terrorism claims was a key factor in improving ties between the two former foes, which first began warming after
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Cleric held in Somali attacks
The Associated Press
Sheik Mohamed Ismail, believed to be in his 80s, was arrested in connection with five apparently coordinated attacks Wednesday, said Muse Gelle Yusuf, a governor in Puntland. He said several other people were being sought.
No one claimed responsibility for the blasts, but the
The attacks targeted a U.N. compound, the Ethiopian Consulate and the presidential palace in
City gears up for 3 Islamic meets
1 Nov 2008,
MUMBAI: Come November and the city will witness three large Islamic meets. To be held at different venues, all the three conclaves will focus on promoting communal harmony and peace.Lined-up first are the Sunni Muslims conclave and the Iqra Foundation's international women's meet on November 7. Next will be Islamic preacher and TV evangelist Dr Zakir Naik's 10-day Almi Islami Conference on November 14 at Somaiya Ground in Sion. Preparations are underway at Azad Maidan for the three-day conclave of Sunni Muslims. "Our session will focus on saving our youth from falling prey to radicals and extremists," said Rizwan Latif Khan, spokesperson, Sunni Dawat-e-Islami. The Iqra Foundation's meet will launch the Iqra International Women's