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Islamic World News ( 13 Nov 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Discovering identity through inner Jihad: Asra Nomani

2. Another Indian Islamic group denounces terrorism

3.  Honour Killings: The Islamic Connection by Phyllis Chesler

4. Islamic World Remains Divided Over Violence Against Women

5. Jeddah: Saudi Dad gets death for killing Nine-year-old daughter

6. Kerala Muslim cleric vows to preserve polygamy by Don Sebastian

7. Intrepid Pakistani Lady Nargis Latif turns waste into wealth

8. Hyderabad: 'Media must not get swayed by police'

9. Use of Islamic texts for 2010 ‘offends’ Muslims

10. Kualalumpur: Islamic Banking Assets to grow by 20 percent

11. London: Muslim hate preacher Bakri makes a mockery of UK law

12. Mainstream Music, Muslim Style

Compiled by Syed Asadullah




Discovering identity through inner Jihad: Asra Nomani

By: Olga Burket News Editor


Asra Nomani, a journalist, writer-activist, professor and single Muslim mother, shares her personal experiences of finding her own voice and learning to stand up for her convictions with students and faculty


Sometimes, making a difference involves taking a stand and being brave enough to talk about issues no one wants to bring up - Asra Nomani, Georgetown University scholar, the author of several books and a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, proves it with her personal Jihad bil qallam, "Holy Struggle with the pen."

She shared her story of balancing between the identities of an American journalist and a Muslim woman with LHU faculty and students who came to her presentation on Nov. 6.

The event was organized by the Ethics Center as a part of its Ethics across Cultures Lecture Series.

Nomani's speech was centered on two key concepts, "Jihad," which means 'holy struggle,' and 'qallam' (pen).

According to Nomani, so-called 'holy war' which is often viewed in American society as a symbol of hatred and hostility toward the West means something entirely different to many Muslim people.

"Jihad is considered a divine struggle within us for good," she said. "It is universal. This is a struggle that every faith teaches; every parent teaches it to their child; every teacher teaches it to their student. It is a struggle inside your mind for enlightenment; it is a struggle within your soul for virtue."

She pointed out, however, that we don't always win this struggle. Our fears and insecurities often prevent us to seek out the truth and do the right thing.

No matter who you are and where you come from, you are struggling within yourself, and this is what connects each and every one of us.

"We are all in the midst of a struggle of some sort," said Nomani, "It's personal, and our personal is a window into something very global."

As for the notion of pen, it's related to finding your own voice among all those authority voices that tell you what to do, to think and how to live your life. Knowing your inner voice becomes your weapon to make a difference.

For Nomani, the struggle for her own voice was especially relevant.

Born in 1965 in India, Nomani moved to the U.S. with her parents when she was 4 years old. Growing up in Morgantown, W.V., she felt that she could not fit in with her American peers, and books became her only refuge.

Sharing her struggles and pressures with trying to fit in with her journal, Nomani turned to writing as her second sanctuary.

In her journal, she also voiced her discontent with being a girl in Muslim community and facing the ideology of wahhabism, a purism movement in Islam supporting the most literal interpretations of Quran that spread from oil-rich Saudi Arabia in 1970s across the globe. Nomani remembers parties in her extended family and her Muslim community in the U.S. where all the men would sit in a big comfortable hall with many drinks and food while women and children were all squished into a one tiny room with little food provided.

"I felt like I was in prison," she said recalling how she went to get a peep of the men enjoying themselves while she was prohibited to do so due to being a girl.

This was first time Nomani faced her crisis of faith, the struggle she will have for years to come. Her critical thinking and free will came to the dissonance with the strong voices of authority telling her to obey the rules and not to ask any questions.

Fortunately for her, her parents didn't share the values dominating in their Muslim community.

Her father would always tell her what she can become whoever she wanted to be. Nomani chose to be a journalist.

She went to West Virginia University for her bachelor's degree where she worked in the student newspaper and then to American University's School of International Service for her master's degree in international communications.

Upon graduation, she worked as a staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal for 15 years.

As a journalist, Nomani went to India to perfect her "power of pen" and define her identity by confronting fears and challenging the voices that dictated her how to live and told her that the silence is gold and that she has to stay quiet in order to be "a good girl."

While in India, Nomani faced the challenge of mobility and being forced to always have a company since she was a single woman who shouldn't be traveling alone. To overcome this notion, Nomani learned to ride a motorcycle to gain the freedom of movement and traveled through the entire county on her own while writing about its workings.

It wasn't until the Sept. 11 tragedy that Nomani had to take more active position in exploring the issues of wahhabism and its extremist ideology and radical teachings.

"I never as a journalist or as a writer bothered to go there because it was too close to home. The issues that are so close to home are the hardest to confront," she said.

However, the terrorist attack made her realize that she cannot avoid those issues because this is the story of her generation that is defining her life, and if she wants to become a citizen of the world, she has to take her own part of this conversation by bringing her insights into the problem of Islamic extremism.

Along with 300 reporters, Nomani went to Pakistan in attempts to understand why people supported Taliban and the ideology of hatred. At the Quran study circles which she attended with her aunt to gain the understanding of the problem, she was frightened by literal interpretations to the Quran verses.

Those views, such as the notion of staying away from people of other religions, were completely contradictory to what her parents taught her, as they were taken out of historical contest of the seventh century and the war situation in time the Quran was written.

Nomani said that delivered as an absolute truth, those literal interpretations were personally offensive to her.

During her stay in Pakistan, two things that would change her life forever took place.

The first one is the kidnapping and subsequent murder of her friend and fellow journalist Daniel Pearl of Jewish beliefs who stayed at the same house as Nomani. He and his pregnant wife Marianne came to Pakistan for the interview arranged by some Muslim woman.

As the investigation showed, that woman who had sent a friendly e-mail to Pearl turned out to be a man, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-Pakistani Muslim who was arrested by on Feb. 12, 2002 and sentenced to death on July 15 of the same year.

Sheikh killed Pearl by taking the knife to his throat and beheading him with the last words, "I am a Jew."

"There was no doubt in anyone's mind that this rationalization to murder this man off the street was associated with this interpretation of Islam that [condemned] a Jew for being a Jew," said Nomani.

To investigate Pearl's death, Nomani started the Pearl Project at Georgetown University last year. The project is based on faculty-student investigation trying to complete the work done by the FBI.

At the same time when her friend was kidnapped and murdered, Nomani discovered that she was pregnant from her boyfriend and, thus, committing a crime of having a baby outside of wedlock.

"In that moment in January 2002, I was in the abyss," said Nomani. "I was confronting the darkness of the interpretation of religion that says that … murder is acceptable in the name of religion, and I was making a choice whether to bring that baby into this world or having abortion so that I could be a good girl."

That moment was critical in her struggle with her identity of being a Muslim and her decision whether she should continue being engaged in her religion.

Yet, when her son Shibli was born and her parents accepted him wholeheartedly, Nomani realized that she was freed from being a hostage of Islamic fundamentalism by the power of her parents' love.

To examine closely her religion, Nomani embarked on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, the county that witnessed the birth of Islam and later the origins of the purism branch of the religion.

She came there with her son as a single unwed mother, which was against the rules requiring her to be accompanied by her relatives, and her experiences are depicted in the book, "Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam."

Her most unexpected discovery was recognizing "the incredible power of women before." Thus, she found out how many things were taken from women by men's rules today in comparison with what women could do in the seventh century.

Before women could go the mosque together with men, have businesses, simply run if they wanted to.

Now, Nomani explained, there are limited hours for when women could visit the Prophet's Mosque in Mecca; the number of women-owned businesses are quite limited in Saudi Arabia, and the most women could do is "walk briskly," even though it contradicts the Quran story of one of the Prophet's wives who had run when her son was hungry.

"When the Prophet had brought Islam into this community, he had brought the right for women that had never been enjoyed before. To me, he was a feminist," said Nomani.

According to her, Muhammad not only gave property rights to women, but he also stopped the killing of female infants and did many other things "to end the age of ignorance."

However, wahhabists had taken those rights from women in the 20th century, and armed with this discovery, Nomani made a choice not to "play safe" but stand for her convictions.

Today she is a writer-activist whose articles and commentaries on Islam-related issues appeared in many publications, such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine and many others.

Nomani believes that the press has a special power to bring social changes into the world by circulating ideas and challenging unfair stereotypes and traditions.

Not being afraid to stand for convictions and making a difference by discussing the issues no one wants to bring on is what she encouraged her audiences to do.

"Jihad is considered a divine struggle within ourselves for good. It is universal. This is a struggle that every faith teaches... It is a struggle inside your mind for enlightenment; it is a struggle within your soul for virtue... We are all in the midst of a struggle of some sort. It's personal, and our personal is a window into something very global."

- Asra Nomani, an American journalist and Muslim woman Source:


Another Indian Islamic group denounces terrorism

13 Nov 2008, 0224 hrs IST, Mohammed Wajihuddin, TNN

MUMBAI: Four days after the Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind reiterated the famous Deoband fatwa against terrorism at a massive meet in Hyderabad on Sunday, another Muslim religious group in Mumbai is bracing up to denounce terrorism. Subai Jamiat Ahle Hadees, the regional wing of Ahle Hadees school of Islamic thought which claims to have over 3 crore followers across the country, has launched a virtual jihad against terrorism.

"Islam is the very anti-thesis of terrorism. The religion came to this world to finish `fasad fil arz' (terror on the earth). The Quran very clearly says that killing of an innocent is akin to killing entire humanity and to save an innocent's life is like saving mankind,'' said Maulana Abdus Salaam Salafi, president, Jamiat Ahle Hadees (Maharashtra).

Maulana Salafi also said thatthough their group has always endorsed the anti-terrorism campaigns started by ulema belonging to other schools of thought, the Jamiat Ahle Hadees has now realised that a lot more needed to be done to weed out this evil. He also said that a massive anti-terrorism conference would be held at Haj House, near CST, on Thursday afternoon.

When asked if they were vocal also because of the alleged involvement of some Hindutva hardliners in the recent terror acts, Maualana Salafi said terrorism should not been seen from the prism of any religion. He warned the Muslims and others against the dangers of defaming Hinduism for the acts of a few misguided Hindus. "Most Hindus are secular just as most Muslims want to live a peaceful life in this country,'' he said.

Dwelling on the idea of jihad as prescribed in Islam, Zaid Patel, head of the Jamita Ahle Hadees-run Islamic Information Centre (IIC), said the bigger jihad is one which is fought against the evils within. "Killing innocents in the name of Islam cannot be called jihad. The Quran prescribes the most severe punishment to those who spread terror through mass murder,'' Patel said. He added that jihad cannot be declared by self-appointed warriors of Islam. It can be declared only by the ruler or an emir in an Islamic state. It can be declared by a religious head if he enjoys the support of Muslim masses as a group of ulema (clerics) had launched against the British imperialism during India's freedom struggle.

The Jamiat Ahle Hadees also tried to come clean on the charges that some of its members might have been radicalised. "Countless ulema gave their lives for the country's freedom. How can followers of the martyrs destabilise the country's peace?'' asked Maulana Salafi.   Source:


Honour Killings: The Islamic Connection    

By Phyllis Chesler, November 12, 2008

She told her friends that her father was going to kill her. She ran away, stayed at a shelter, stayed with friends. She was lured back home by honeyed sentences. Her family could not sleep without her. Late last year, on December 10th, in Toronto, sixteen year-old Aqsa Parvez's father. Mohammed, and her brother, Waqas, collaborated in her murder.

Aqsa's crime? She refused to wear hijab, she was becoming too assimilated.

Mohammed and Waqas Parvez are currently in jail awaiting trial.

This seems to be an open-and-shut case of an honour killing. Islamists in Canada disagree and have launched a protest against a popular Canadian magazine, Toronto Life, for daring to describe Aqsa's murder as an honor killing. An announcement, ostensibly penned by went out over Facebook calling for people to barrage the magazine's editor, Sarah Fulford, with email and telephone criticism and to attend a Speak Out and press conference which was to have taken place last night. And to write to a new pro-Muslim magazine titled Aqsa-Zine.

Ironically, the new zine is open to Muslim women only. No Christians, Jews, or Hindus need apply.

This is the problem: Islamist separatism -- aka Islamic religious and gender apartheid. It is practiced in Muslim countries and transported by immigrations globally. Tradition and religion have a storng hold, especially on immigrants in a strange, new land. However, many religious and cultural groups have managed to both integrate and to retain their own religious identities. Muslim immigrants (and their third generation descendants) seem to have a much harder time with this balancing act.

If we understand Islam as an all-encompassing political, military, religious, social, and cultural entity (which it is), then things become clearer.

Known honor killings first arrived in North America in 1989, when Palestina Isa's father, an Abu Nidal Palestinian terrorist and his wife, her mother, both slaughtered their hard-working and much-abused 16 year old daughter Palestina. Her crime? She was becoming too "American," too independent, too academically ambitious--and she had a friend, a boy, who was an African-American. Her mother held her down and her father butchered her with tremendous animal ferocity.

On January 1st of this year, Yasser Said shot his daughters Sarah and Amina to death in Dallas and probably escaped back to Egypt. Like Palestina, they were teenagers (aged 17 and 18). Their mother collaborated in their murder by luring them back home to their deaths. The FBI has been hunting for Said and recently featured him on their Ten Most Wanted List. They described Said as having committed an "honor killing."

For reasons that remain unclear, within a week, the FBI removed that description. Some say that the Bureau caved into Islamist pressure. Others, myself included, suggest that it would not necessarily help them capture Said if he were seen as a "Muslim hero," who was being persecuted because he is a Muslim.

After Parvez was honor killed, Mohammed Elmasry, of the Canadian Islamic Congress, was quoted as saying: "I don't want the public to think that this is an Islamic issue or an immigrant issue. It is a teenager issue."

Islamists insist that honour killings have nothing to do with Islam. They say that it is a "cultural" but not an "Islamic" crime. They are wrong. Islamists also say that honor murders are the same as domestic violence. All men, all religions engage in it. Wrong. Most honour killings are committed by Muslims who believe that what they are doing is a sacred, religious act. They may misunderstand the Qu'ran but as yet, no mullah or imam has stood up in the global, public square to condemn such murders as dishonourable and anti-Islamic. No fatwa has ever been issued against a Muslim honour killer.

In terms of domestic violence, western-style domestic batterers rarely kill their daughters. That is a characteristic of an honour killing. And, western style domestic batterers act alone when they kill their adult partners. An honour killing is a collaborative act between several or many members of the same family.

It is unfortunate, even shameful, but not surprising that Islamists seek to cover up this sin against Muslim girls and women by attacking those who would dare expose it as "Islamophobes."

We cannot afford to fall for this deception. A crime is a crime. The shame resides in the criminal, not in his victim. The shame will become ours if we justify the brutal sacrifice of Muslim girls and women in order to remain multi-culturally and politically correct.



Islamic World Remains Divided Over Violence Against Women

By Edward Yeranian

Cairo, 11 November 2008

Violence against women has long been a controversial subject in the Arab and Islamic world. Some Islamic experts favour a husband's right to physically chastise his wife. But recent fatwahs, including from top scholars in Egypt, favour a woman's right to self-defence in cases of conjugal violence. Edward Yeranian has more on the sensitive issue from Cairo.

The topic of men beating their wives has long been controversial in the Islamic world, with various Islamic scholars condoning it, and others insisting it should be forbidden, or at the very least, reduced to a strict minimum.

A series of recent fatwahs, in both Turkey and Saudi Arabia, followed by support by the fatwah committee of Cairo's venerable Al Azhar University, where top Islamic scholars have ruled that wives have the right to fight back when beaten, are still challenged in many quarters and difficult to apply, as Egyptian women's rights activist Nehad Abu El-Komsan, explains.

"Women can call the police, definitely, and they are supposed to have to respond to protect women. But, what happens, usually, police in Egypt care about other things, and they consider this is a private relation or something, so they do not respond in proper time. So the procedure comes after….she has right to go to police station and make a report….and make a court file….she will have a criminal case… So it depends on what [the] judge believes. Sometimes, judge gives a hard punishment or a hard court decision in this case some judges make their decision only to show men they have no right to do this, but it is not strong enough."

Do women have right to self defense?  

Islamic scholars, while divided, are increasingly coming down in favor of the Western concept of a woman's right to self defense. This is the position taken recently by the chairman of Al Azhar's Committee on Fatwahs, Sheikh Abd al Hamid Al Atrash, who tells the VOA that wives have the right to self-defense when their husbands beat them "cruelly and unnecessarily."

He says that when a wife has been disobedient and her cruel husband has beaten her badly because of it, to the point of putting her life in danger, then the wife has a right to defend herself or cry out for help, according to the precepts of Islam.

While decrying harsh or cruel treatment by husbands toward their wives, Sheikh Al Atrash, nevertheless, says that Islam allows husbands to rein in their "recalcitrant wives.

Sheikh al Atrash argues that Islam provides husbands a series of measures to make their wives obedient, using various forms of discipline, from verbal admonition to temporarily cutting off relations to the eventual stage of physical punishment. He adds that the sayings of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, the Sunnah, forbid anything more than light physical discipline.

Conjugal beatings have become cause celebre in Arab world

A top Saudi woman journalist, Rania al Baz, became a cause célèbre in the Arab world, several years ago, when she was beaten almost to the point of death by her husband. Baz ultimately survived the beating, but pictures of her horribly swollen and disfigured face fueled the debate in the Islamic world over conjugal beatings.

Baz, in an interview with Saudi-owned MBC TV, explains how her husband beat her and the extreme cruelty and violence he employed.

She says that she had a sense that her husband was going to beat her, but thought she could forestall the beating and seek refuge at her father's house. Once the beating got under way, though, she recalls that her husband insisted that he was not only going to beat her, but kill her, as well. The husband then grabbed her by the neck, threw her to the floor and began strangling her, his face contorted by hatred and anger.

Baz adds that she lost consciousness while being strangled, and can't remember how her husband beat her face, but that she eventually found herself in the hospital, surrounded by her family.

Rania al Baz's husband, Mohammed al Fallata, was eventually sentenced to six months in jail and 300 lashes by a Saudi judge. The Saudi English-language daily Arab News called the sentence "relatively lenient," and the judge claimed that there were "mitigating circumstances."

Some countries support woman's right to protect her

Al Arabiya TV reports that a top member of Saudi Arabia's consultative Shura Council, Sheikh Abd al Mohsen Al Abekhan, ruled in a well-publicized fatwah, recently, that a wife has the right to use the "same violence against her husband that he uses against her." A Turkish-born Islamic scholar quickly followed suit with a similar ruling.

In Lebanon, top Shi'ite Moslem cleric Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah came out in favor of a wife's right to self defense in a ruling that shook the Shi'ite world, several years ago, and Lebanon's Sunni Mufti Abd al Rashid Qabbani, made a similar ruling, last year.

Islamic preacher argues violence can be used as 'disciplinary measure'

Nevertheless, many Islamic scholars disagree with the recent fatwahs, or Islamic decrees, like Islamic preacher Walid bin Hadi in Qatar who argues during a Friday sermon that "violence must be used to discipline certain women".

He said everyone must be aware that beating is allowed by Islamic law as a punishment. He says no one can deny this, since it was mandated by God, who created the human being. If you buy any piece of equipment, he argues, you receive a manual to operate it. In this way, he adds, God gave the Koran to guide people, and keep everyone on the right track.

The sheikh goes on to explain why he thinks that wife-beating is necessary in certain cases.

He insists that there are some types of women with whom it is impossible to live, unless they are beaten.....These sorts of women, he adds, have been beaten throughout their lives to keep them in line, and that a husband must continue to beat them to keep them on the right track.

Despite the recently issued fatwahs permitting women to fight back when beaten, lines between those in favor and those opposed appear to be firmly drawn on Al Arabiya TV's website. A majority of men appeared to defend the beating of wives, while a majority of women appeared to oppose it.



Saudi man gets death for killing nine-year-old daughter

Jeddah: A Saudi man who was convicted of torturing his nine-year-old daughter Areej to death was sentenced to death by a Jeddah court yesterday. The girl’s stepmother, who also took part in the murder, will be jailed for five years.

The court gave its verdict after hearing the views of both parties. The girl’s divorced mother and uncle had appointed a lawyer to represent them in court. The National Society for Human Rights was also following up on the case.

Areej reportedly died in the middle of last year. Officials from the Red Crescent Society discovered her body outside her home and, suspecting she had been tortured, informed police.

Security agents then arrested Areej’s father and his second wife. The two later confessed to torturing the girl to death and said they had beaten her and pressed a hot iron on different parts of her body.

Investigators took the couple to the scene of the crime to reconstruct events leading to the girl’s death. They confessed to throwing Areej from an upper-floor window of their home. It was suspected that the girl was already dead at the time.

Areej’s father had earlier denied torture, and said his daughter had committed suicide by jumping from the building. One report said that after Areej fell, the father and the stepmother left their home for some time before returning and reporting the fall as a suicide.

A police investigation found signs of torture on the body and after interrogation the couple admitted that they had tried to hide the cause of death. Police say they recovered items used to torture the girl, including hoses, a heavy stick and spoons that were heated over a fire.

Cases of domestic abuse related to divorced couples, often involving the stepmother and the biological father, have frequently been reported in the local media.

A father and stepmother, both Saudis, were publicly beheaded on Jan. 16 in Makkah for the torture and murder of the man’s nine-year-old daughter Ghosun from a previous marriage. In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, the Interior Ministry said Nashaat Ahmed Haji and his wife, Iman Ghazawi, were beheaded for killing the girl.



Kerala Muslim cleric vows to preserve polygamy

Don Sebastian, November 12, 2008

‘A second wife is biologically justified. Women’s menstrual cycle prevents them from sexual contact for 5-6 days’

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The leader of a dominant Muslim group in Kerala has strongly condemned any move to ban polygamy. The community will oppose any piece of legislation aimed at curbing the practice, said Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musaliar, a Sunni leader.

His observations come in the backdrop of a Kerala high court observation that polygamy among Muslims violates principles of religious ethics and social justice. A division bench on October 22 mooted adequate legislation to curb “indiscreet marriage and divorce” and sought a national and local level conciliation council to monitor individual cases.

Justices Kurian Joseph and Harun-Ul-Rasheed, while deciding a matrimonial case, observed that though polygamy was allowed in Islam, there was no system in India to supervise or control indiscreet marriage and divorce. The judges appealed to all concerned to study the problems faced by ‘helpless and destitute women and children’ that such practices give birth to.

The state law reforms commission, led by Justice VR Krishna Iyer, has come out with a draft Bill to check polygamy and divorce by talaq. The Kerala Muslim Marriage and Dissolution by Talaq (Regulation) Bill seeks to legislate that ‘monogamy shall be the rule’ and that ‘marrying again during the lifetime of husband or wife is an offence.’

The proposed Bill provides for remarriage by husband in exceptional cases “with the (wife’s) consent in writing before a notary public or a judicial officer expressing her consent to the second marriage and briefly giving her reasons for the consent.” It wants that “if any married Muslim, man or woman, marries again during the subsistence of the first marriage, the party who violates shall be guilty of bigamy under the IPC and punishable as such.”

But Aboobacker says, “Islam had sanctioned polygamy under certain circumstances long before we were born. Trying to ban it is against the Holy Quran and humanity. We will oppose any new law aimed at banning polygamy. There are enough laws to regulate civic affairs. If someone tries to bypass it, the government should check it,” he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.

He had earlier said polygamy was biologically justified. He said that women’s menstrual cycle prevented them from sexual contact for five-six days. Hence a second wife was justified. “It’s sanctioned by Islam,” he said.



Intrepid Pakistani Lady Nargis Latif turns waste into wealth

Kamal Siddiqi, Hindustan Times, Karachi, November 12, 2008

It started with a quarrel over burning garbage outside her apartment. Nargis Latif, now in her 50’s, fought and got the kachra kundi (garbage point) removed so that the burnings ended.

She told the garbage collectors that they should not burn the waste but recycle it.  This meant unending arguments with men who did not know how to deal with this woman in a lab coat who would not take no for an answer. “I was much younger then, full of energy. Now I look back and wonder at the things I did,” she says.

It was in the 60’s that Latif advocated that garbage should not be burnt but recycled. People considered her to be mad. She set up a non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Gulbahao which focused on using garbage instead of simply discarding it. “I talked to hundreds of Kabarias (junk dealers) to bring me back paper, cardboard, shopping bags, plastic, glass and metal. I paid them good money and that is when the mentality changed. Till then, Kabarias were only interested in buying old home appliances like radios and clocks.”

That network of junk merchants serves her well. It has evolved into an industry of its own where almost everything in Karachi is recycled — from paper to animal bones and even hair.

Latif’s NGO Gulbahao has moved on from collecting to creating. It now promotes all sorts of products made from ‘clean’ waste bought from the junk dealers. After the earthquake in Pakistan, Gulbahao supplied its ‘Wastic-blocks’, made from shopping bags, with which temporary shelters were built in remote areas.

The ‘Safai-Kamai’ bank buys dry waste products and pays good money for it. These products are then used to make a variety of items - from cushions to mobile toilets.

But Gulbahao also promotes other cheap and cost effective ways to improve the standards of living. They encourage people to make their own compost. To make their drinking water safe by using plastic bottles placed in the sunlight.

In all this, Nargis Latif, who moves around Karachi convincing people to take matters into their own hands, is the driving force. She says that only a fraction of the 800 tonnes of solid waste produced in Karachi is recycled. Despite this she has not lost hope. For her, it’s a cause worth dedicating her life to.Source:


'Media must not get swayed by police'

12 Nov 2008

Hyderabad: Media should not be carried away by the versions of the police and intelligence department on reporting terror activities and thus play into their hands in ‘demonising Muslims’, speakers at a workshop felt.

The PEACE Hyderabad today organised ‘Let’s Talk’, a dialogue with the representatives of media on the role of different media in fostering harmony and issues of religious conversion, terrorism and minority appeasement. The speakers comprised representatives of NGOs, rights and social activists and legal fraternity.

Speaking on the occasion, executive committee member of Harmony India, Chennai, A Faizur Rahman said media always portrayed Muslims in a bad light in reporting terror-related activities. “We don’t have any problem if a terrorist, who is actually involved in such activities, gets the highest punishment. But, innocent Muslims are being victimised by the police and the media is getting carried away by the inputs given by police and intelligence agencies,’’ Faizur Rahman said.

He blamed the media for carrying the version of the police rather than taking up their own investigation.

Senior journalist K Venkateshwarlu took objection to the entire media being blamed for ‘demonising’ the Muslim community and asked why the civil rights groups were failing to take up the issue with the police rather than the media.

Indian Journalists Union member K Amarnath said the media (personnel) did not have the mechanism or training to investigate a crime.

“Investigative journalism is about bringing out facts that a Government suppresses and it is not about media investigating the cases,’’ he said. “Media depends on police for information and for authenticity, we quote the police officer,’’ he said and added, ‘’If the intelligence or police indulge in misinformation, it is for the Government to come out with the true picture.’’ Prof Rama Melkote wondered why media depended solely on the police rather than talking to victims and eye-witnesses. “The words ‘Hindu terrorist’ or ‘Islamic terrorist’ are highly condemnable and it is unfortunate that some reports say a terrorist is acquitted. How can a person acquitted of terror charges be called a terrorist,’’ she questioned.

Senior journalists, however, contended that priority was given to taking the account of victims and eye-witnesses in reporting and police version followed it.

When a senior lawyer, L Ravi Chander, criticised the media for not taking up the case of innocent victims of police like Junaid, media representatives wanted to know what the legal fraternity was doing over such issues.

“You talk about the case of Junaid, why don’t you look at the role played by media during the Gujarat incidents,’’ they questioned. “It is almost like demonising the entire media,’’ they remarked.

Commending the role of media, eminent scientist Dr P M Bhargava said there was more scope for the media to improve and promote peace and communal harmony.

“Is it not the duty of media to look into the future,’’ he asked.

Another senior advocate, Shafique Rehman Mahajir, said politicians and religious leaders had failed the people and it was time for the intelligentsia to come forward for the betterment of the country. “Jihad is making a righteous action to improve the society. We are doing it now (through the talk),’’ he said.

Social activist Arshia Ahmed Ayub said the talk was the first initiative and in future, the police would also be involved in such discussions.



Use of Islamic texts for 2010 ‘offends’ Muslims

November 11, 2008

MUSLIMS have taken offence at the use of sacred Islamic texts in advertising for the soccer World Cup.

The Jumiatul Ulama (Council of Muslim Theologians) said yesterday

“In particular, as advertising for the 2010 Fifa World Cup gathers momentum, there have been soccer balls bearing the national flags of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq in circulation,

“These flags carry Islamic proclamations considered sacred by Muslims.

“Usage in this manner has the potential of offending adherents of the Islamic faith.”

The Jumiatul Ulama said it had observed an increasing trend in the use of sacred Islamic texts in print advertising and promotional merchandise.

“Muslims handle and dispose of such sacred texts with utmost respect. We would therefore like to bring to the attention of publishers, advertisers, printers, publicists and all concerned, about the sensitivities the Muslim community has about the use of any type of media with sacred Islamic text.

The council has offered its guidance to agencies involved in all kinds of advertising on the “appropriateness” of the use of Arabic texts, arabesque art and calligraphy “which may have subtly embedded sacred text”.

The World Cup Local Organising Committee was not immediately available for comment. — Sapa



Mainstream Music, Muslim Style

Musician Dawud Wharnsby melds Islamic spirituality into inspiring mainstream music. This is an artist you'll want on your iPod.

"Hesham's iPod" is an occasional column about what's hot, what's spiritual, and what's buzzworthy in the world of Muslim music, and about the nature of Muslim artists.

There was a time when I shunned and rejected all music and singing as haram, or forbidden by Islam. But after many years of study and reflection, I now realize that my previous position--although out of pious devotion-- was not entirely correct, and my life is now enriched by music. True, I still do not listen to any music that is vulgar, indecent, and irreverent, but I no longer subscribe to the notion that Islam prohibits music altogether. In fact, I have found God in many modern songs, and my life is all the better because of it.

But there are many Muslims who believe that music and musical instruments are forbidden, and I do not criticize their beliefs in the least. These Muslims interpret certain verses of the Qur'an and statements from prophetic and scholarly tradition as prohibiting most forms of music. Seeking to cater to that still large group of Muslims, many Muslim singers have emerged who perform either acapella or with only drums, which many devotees believe to be the only acceptable musical instrument. Their songs are wonderful, and I do enjoy them. Yet frequently I find myself wanting more--more than simple acapella singing, or even someone singing just "Allah" with a guitar in his or her hand. I find myself asking the question: Can music be thoroughly Islamic without overtly mentioning Allah, the prophet, or Islam in it?

My answer? Most definitely.

Muslim singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, does a good job at portraying the spiritual nature of Islam without properly mentioning it, and his latest album "An Other Cup," released last year, is a perfect example of this. But there is another, less well known Muslim singer/songwriter who also does this masterfully: Dawud Wharnsby. Originally from Canada, Wharnsby is a Muslim convert who has been writing and singing songs since he was 17 years old. I was first introduced to his music through the Muslim media company Soundvision, when he sung Islamic children's songs without instruments. His songs were truly wonderful, and ever since then I have been a staunch fan.

As the years have passed, I have been a witness to Wharnsby's musical transition from a kid-friendly artist to adult-oriented fare. In 2003, he released "The Prophet's Hands," his sixth recording for Soundvision, and it was much more adult than his previous work. The album was wholly Islamic, with songs such as "Remember Allah," "Whisper of Peace," and "The Prophet's Hands." His song "Don't Talk about Muhammad" brought me to tears (and still does). It is a song about the beauty of the Prophet's character, and it never ceases to touch my heart and soul. Yet, the album was clearly geared toward older listeners, and when I had a chance to ask him about that, he told me that many parents of his child listeners beseeched him to record an album for them. (I secretly yearned for the very same thing.)

After that album, however, Wharnsby really changed: He pulled out his guitar and began to sing with it. It came as a major shock to me, as I have never heard him sing with a guitar before. I was used to Wharnsby singing alone or with drums. Yet, it was completely wonderful; it only made his music all the more beautiful. In 2006 he released "The Poets and the Prophet" followed by "Out Seeing the Fields" in September of 2007. These two albums are exactly what I had wanted Wharnsby, and other Muslim singer/songwriters, to do for a long time: Produce albums that are mainstream and wholly Islamic, yet without a single "Allah" or "Muhammad" in it.

It is not that I do not like music that references Allah or the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), but that sort of music limits its applicability and reach: Only Muslims will listen to it. Islam and its values are universal, and it deserves to be shared with a wide variety of people. Thus, I have been yearning for songs that overflow with Islamic principles and values but can be mainstream enough to fit right in on a local radio station. "Poets" and "Out Seeing the Fields" do just that.

"The Poets and the Prophet" completely blew me away. I bought the album during the annual Islamic Society of North America conference last Labor Day weekend, and I was instantly hooked. Rarely have I ever listened to an album where I loved every single song. From the very first song, "You Are the Only One," I was transported to that wonderful place where mind and spirit are released from the shackles of life on earth and the hypocrisies of the human condition. One can hear a number of musical genres on this album, including R&B, folk, classical, and music from the Far East. Along with Wharnsby, the album features double bass legend Danny Thompson (from the United Kingdom), award winning Canadian songwriter Stephen Fearing, world famous sitar master Irshad Khan, R&B vocalist Priyesh Shukla, and top Canadian oboist James Mason.

No two songs are alike on this album, and thus each song is a fresh and unique musical experience. He even has love songs on this album, but they are spiritually pure and do not appeal to base desires, like so many love songs we hear today. "Prophet for Profit" is a powerful song about illegitimate religious and political leaders. In the song, he sings: "Behind the passion I hold / there are millions like me / deaf to your definitions of democracy / and we don't want your twisted spirituality/and we don't want your bloody hands on the scriptures we read." He could not have spoken better on my behalf. At the end of the song, he says, "Behind the cities you free, there's an oil leak / beyond the city's debris, there is the bed where you / sleep in peace / How can you rest in peace?" Very powerful indeed. This entire album leaves the listener spiritually uplifted and renewed, which I feel is what music should do to the listener.

"Out Seeing the Fields" is a much more mellow album. It features another Muslim musician--an extremely talented pianist named Idris Phillips. The songs are also very good, and my favorite song is titled "Rachel," which Wharnsby wrote in honor of the late peace activist Rachel Corrie, who was killed while on a peace mission in Gaza in 2003. This album even has a song that has Muslim chants in Arabic on top of musical instruments, which gives an amazing acoustic experience. Both of these albums are the perfect embodiment of the infusion of Islamic values into music. These two albums are at once perfectly mainstream and perfectly Islamic.

Moreover, Wharnsby's music really challenges the mind, rather than numbing it like so much of the popular music in our country today. So many heavily rotated songs either excite base desires or speak of silly things. Wharnsby's lyrics are deeply profound, and they can mean many things to many people, which is exactly what art should do. In his song "You Are the Only One," Wharnsby sings: "The jovial conductor is finished / with his music he's in love and he's insane / ‘Outstretch your mind’ is his final message / This is the only sanctuary to remain.” What in God's name does that mean? Who is the "jovial conductor?" I think Dawud left that question for each listener to answer for himself or herself. That it is the hallmark of a truly gifted songwriter.

I always thought that Dawud Wharnsby had not used any musical instruments out of religious piety, and he only changed with time and reflection. I even thought the terrorist attacks of 9/11 helped accelerate his change of heart about musical instruments. But when I interviewed him for Illume Magazine in 2007, I learned what the truth was: "My views on music have never really changed ... When I began to write children's songs inspired by Qur'an, I recorded them all with guitar, and you can easily see they were inspired by my Celtic background ... I chose to release the songs without guitar as a way of ensuring my diverse audience would be comfortable with the material.

"Living in North America, I thought it was best to keep instruments out of my CDs so families would feel comfortable listening to the songs. Ten years and almost 12 albums later, I felt it was important to be more honest with myself about my own personal opinions of music and its usefulness. There are also the majority of followers of Qur'an who don't have a problem with music and who do not consider it as unlawful, thus I felt it was important to share something of value with them as well as through some newer music and songs."

Dawud Wharnsby is a very talented, pure, and beautiful American Muslim musician who deserves a closer look by mainstream American audiences. You want this artist on your iPod. His music spiritually uplifts, mentally refreshes, and inevitably takes the listener to a higher place. He showed me--and will show you--how harmonious the marriage of Islam and music can be. Wharsnby said in his interview with me, "It is always a prayer of mine that the work I produce will help, in some small way, to better the world or provide others with hope in them or trust in The Creator's mercy to us all." I believe his prayer has been answered.