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Islamic World News ( 4 Aug 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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No Penalty in Islam for drinking alcohol, eating pork: Islamic Scholar

Ibn Taymiyyah extolled the militant jihad we call “terror”

A Virginia school scrubbed jihad from its textbooks, but may still preach violence. By Nina Shea and Ali al-Ahmed

Afghanistan: "Shiny phones, handsome boys" out, Taliban warn Afghans by Sher Ahmad

Homegrown jihadis: Coming to your neighbourhood: The bomber boy next door? By Oliver North

Kualalumpur: International Level Quran Reciters' Assembly Begins Wednesday:

AJMER: Maulanas examining Raza's statement

MANILA: 'Cory also embraced Islamic values' by Carmela Fonbuena

Ahmadinejad gets key endorsement as Iran president By ALI AKBAR DAREINI

Pakistan: Christians in Muslim society - once again

Hate Engulfs Christians in Pakistan - By SABRINA TAVERNISE

China Arrests 319 People in Unrest in Xinjiang by ANDREW JACOBS

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




No Penalty in Islam for drinking alcohol, eating pork: Islamic Scholar

August 3, 2009

Malaysian Sharia authorities should reconsider the law on consuming alcohol, which is described in the Quran in the mildest language of prohibition.


ON July 20, the Pahang Sharia (Syariah) High Court sentenced part-time model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor, 32, to a RM5, 000 fine and six lashes of the rotan for drinking beer.

No doubt the court has the jurisdiction to impose such a sentence as provided by the law.

Some have questioned the appropriateness of the sentence of whipping given that the court has discretion to impose a mixture of fine, imprisonment and binding Kartika over for good behaviour for a certain period, or just admonish her.

Others have questioned the appropriateness based on the legitimate argument that the Sharia holds Muslims responsible for their actions that result in negative opinions of Islam.

A news item like this certainly presents Islam and Malaysia negatively on the international stage.

But I would urge the Malaysian Sharia authorities to seriously reconsider the Sharia basis of this law on the following Sharia grounds:

Neither the Quran nor the Hadith invokes a penalty for alcohol consumption. The sin of consuming alcohol is described in the Quran in the mildest language of prohibition.

When it comes to dietary laws, the Quran commands the believers in Sura 5:3: “forbidden (hurrimat) to you is the dead animal, loose blood, and the flesh of the pig”.

The 90th verse of the same Sura cautions the believers that “wines, gambling, etc, are an impurity so avoid them (fa-jtanibuh)”.

Some legal scholars suggest that the divine command ijtinab, to avoid something, is milder language than tahrim, prohibition.

A Muslim consuming a glass of wine with a pork chop commits a more serious offence in eating pork; yet as there is no Quran or Hadith penalty for consuming pork, there is also none for alcohol consumption.

The question then is how did the penalty for alcohol consumption come about?

It occurred during the time of the second Caliph Umar b. al-Khattab. There was a companion of the Prophet (sahabi) who had fought on the Prophet’s side in his battles.

A heavy drinker, he would walk the streets of Madina drunk at night and loudly shout scandalous things about people. The inhabitants of Madina complained, and Umar formed a committee to decide what to do.

Imam Ali, based on the man having committed slander, suggested the penalty for slander, whose maximum penalty is 80 lashes.

Since that time, this has been considered the maximum penalty for alcohol consumption, based on utilising the Sharia concept of ta`zir (deterrence).

I disagree with this being the mandatory sentence for the offence of wine consumption, because it is the maximum sentence for another, separate offence – slander – albeit committed under the influence of alcohol.

Had the man just fallen on the street in a stupor and suffered a terrible hangover without having hurt anyone, no punishment would have been established.

Had cars existed then and had he run his car over some pedestrians and killed them, should we invoke ta`zir now and have a penalty for alcohol consumption equal to that of accidental manslaughter?

There are additional arguments we can marshal from the Quran and Hadith. The Quran repeatedly urges Muslims to forgive those who wrong them, even for slander and manslaughter!

When the Prophet Mohamed’s wife Aisha was wrongly accused of having committed adultery, her father Abu Bakr sought to have the penalty of libel meted against one of his employees who had slandered her.

God then revealed verse 24:22, urging the believers to pardon and forgive those who have wronged them, so that God would forgive them their own sins.

But I see no evidence that Kartika wronged anybody after drinking beer.

Verse 4:92 gives the penalty for a Muslim accidentally killing another as freeing a slave and paying compensation to the victim’s family – unless the family forgoes compensation and forgives the offender.

And if the defendant can’t afford to pay, then he should fast for two consecutive months. Accidental homicide is a much greater sin than alcohol consumption; yet the Quran suggests that the victim’s family would do well to forgive the offender, and the penalty here is not jail time or corporal punishment, but a two-month fast.

The Quranic and Prophetic teachings are about forgiveness, compassion and positive personal transformation. Sura 48:29 describes Prophet Mohamed’s companions as “firm against unbelievers and compassionate to themselves”, and this is what I urge the Malaysian authorities to exemplify: show compassion to Kartika and forgive her.

But if the Pahang Sharia court insists on establishing a penalty for the mere consumption of alcohol, why not replace the current law – a maximum penalty of a RM5,000 fine and six lashes of the rotan – with spending RM5,000 on feeding the poor and fasting for six days?

Wouldn’t that be more in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Quran and the Prophetic Sunnah?

Were this the case, I have a hunch that many Malaysians who imbibe may voluntarily mete such a “penalty” on themselves – to the benefit of the poor, to the benefit of their own spiritual progress and standing before God on Judgment Day, and to the benefit of the Malaysian Sharia Court’s, Islam’s and Malaysia’s image on the international stage.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is the Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, an international organisation devoted to improving West-Muslim world relations, and author of “Islam, A Sacred Law, What Every Muslim Should know about the Shariah”.



A Virginia school scrubbed jihad from its textbooks, but may still preach violence

By Nina Shea and Ali al-Ahmed

August 3, 2009

For nearly 25 years, the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA), the Virginia school founded by royal decree of Saudi King Fahd in 1984, immersed students of its Islamic-studies curriculum in the same Wahhabi interpretation of Islam that is taught in Saudi Arabia and in Saudi-funded madrasas around the world. That curriculum includes praise for militant jihad to “spread the faith” and permission for the killing of various categories of “unbelievers,” as well as other endorsements of religious intolerance.

Now, as it seeks permission from Fairfax County to expand its operations, ISA claims that, over the last school year, it replaced the Saudi religious curriculum with a more moderate one.

Through private channels, we were able to acquire ISA’s Islamic-studies textbooks, all marked for use in the first semester of the 2008-09 school year. Compared to the original Saudi Education Ministry versions, these new Arabic-language textbooks — one slim, single volume for each grade — are indeed redacted and condensed.

We wish we could celebrate the deletions we helped catalyze, but we are not persuaded that the problem is solved. The books contain no significant discussion of jihad and make few references to the religious “other.” The silence is deafening. It raises the question — a question ISA has yet to answer — of what supplemental material the academy is using.

 Jihad is a central tenet of Islam and is raised multiple times in the Koran. Saudi textbooks describe jihad as “the summit of Islam” and “one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God,” and endorse its militant form for both defensive and aggressive purposes.

ISA’s new texts, however, make no mention of militant jihad, not even as a defensive measure. And they make only a single passing reference to the alternative view of jihad. (Buried toward the end of a twelfth-grade text is a two-line reference to the “greater jihad” — the obligation “to do jihad against Satan, selfish desire and capriciousness.”) At a time when many Muslim radicals proclaim the merits of militant jihad, ignoring the issue almost completely will not suffice to orient students toward the peaceful interpretation. One must wonder whether the books were even intended to do such a thing.

When it comes to relating to other people, ISA’s new texts reject critical thinking. “The human mind is incapable of rendering appropriate judgments as a result of its inability to grasp truths, goals, and purposes,” states one book. Based on this assumption, the books provide exhaustive guidance for public and private behaviour, detailing, for example, how to entertain other Muslims: Hospitality is obligatory for “one day and one night,” food should be placed on “a sheet on the ground,” and so forth.

This dogmatic approach makes it more than unusual that ISA’s books omit all instruction on relating to non-Muslims. While the new texts raise the Koranic injunction against religious coercion, they are silent on how Muslims should treat Jews, “apostates,” “polytheists,” “adulterers,” and “homosexuals” — all of whom ISA’s old texts taught it was permissible to kill. Nor do the books indicate how one should view Shiites, non-Wahhabi Sunnis, Baha’is, and Ahmadiya, all of whom ISA’s former curriculum cast as enemies within; or Jews and Christians, who, it had taught, were to be hated; or Americans, who, it stated, were continuing the Crusades by promoting women’s rights and sponsoring universities in Beirut and Cairo.

The question is not whether ISA supplements these new textbooks with other material, but what these other materials contain. There is evidence that the school, over the past school year, did in fact continue to use some extremist supplemental resources.

ISA’s website for 2008-09 stated that the school “follows the Islamic Studies curriculum which has been set forth by the Kingdom.” As the first resource on its “Useful Links” webpage, ISA linked to the Saudi Education Ministry site, where the noxious curriculum is posted in full. Those books, according to the Ministry, are electronically formatted to facilitate copying, cutting, and pasting. This underscores the problem of a piecemeal approach to Saudi educational reform.


Ibn Taymiyyah extolled the militant jihad we call “terror

Even the new texts themselves reference several extreme Islamic authorities. For example, the new twelfth-grade book directs students to Ibn Taymiyyah for resolving moral questions. A 14th-century author, Ibn Taymiyyah extolled the militant jihad we call “terror.” His fatwas were found in a recent study by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center to be “by far the most popular texts for modern Jihadis.” Renowned religion scholar Philip Jenkins wrote that Osama bin Laden cites Ibn Taymiyyah as a “special hero.”

In addition, it’s important to note that on matters besides jihad, the books still largely reflect Wahhabi orthodoxy. For example, ISA’s new texts endorse marriages between adults and pre-pubescent children, teach that women should not be judges or exercise “greater governorship,” and starkly divide the world into believers and unbelievers.

Since 9/11, ISA officials — including the various Saudi ambassadors who have served as ISA chairmen — have annually given assurances of curriculum reform and annually broken their promises. They’ve had help: The school’s accreditation by the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools was seriously flawed, since the association’s “volunteer” evaluators did not know Arabic and therefore never read the Islamic-studies curriculum. ISA’s brandishing of a recent letter by two American academic consultants to the school, giving their approval for the sanitized Wahhabi textbooks, only deepens the school’s reputation for deception.

The State Department reached an understanding with Riyadh in 2006 that, within two years, Saudi Arabia would remove intolerant passages from all its educational materials both within the Kingdom and abroad, including in its network of 20 international schools of which ISA is a part. Under new legislation initiated by Virginia congressman Frank Wolf, State must now follow up. It should do so with an informed assessment of what ISA teaches, especially about jihad and the religious other — in both semesters, in Arabic as well as English, and in all educational and resource material. And until an independent, professional, and thorough process verifies reform, Fairfax County should reject the Academy’s request to expand.



"Shiny phones, handsome boys" out, Taliban warn Afghans

Aug 3, 2009

By Sher Ahmad

GHAZNI, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The Taliban have warned Afghans that possessing pictures of "unrelated women and handsome boys" was against Islamic law and owning "shiny new phones" runs contrary to their religious dignity.

The Taliban have been posting "night letters" in the volatile south-eastern province of Ghazni, reminding Afghans of their religious obligations and reiterating warnings that they will attempt to disrupt crucial presidential elections on Aug. 20.

In a restatement of the Taliban's austere interpretation of Islam, one letter warned people, especially the young, against using hi-tech gadgets such as cell phones with photography and video functions.

"People with camera cell phones must not have pictures of unrelated women and handsome boys in their phones, which is against Islamic sharia," reads one letter, obtained by Reuters on Monday. Sharia is Islamic religious law.

Full report at:


‘Homegrown jihadis'

Coming to your neighbourhood: The bomber boy next door?

By Oliver North, August 2, 2009

GEORGETOWN, S.C: They don't look like al Qaeda terrorists. Their photos in the local newspaper look menacing enough -- but more like a crew that might knock over a convenience store or an ATM at a gas station.

Their apprehension this week by FBI agents in Raleigh, N.C., has their neighbours here talking about "Home-grown Jihadis" and has prompted the O-Team Department of Homeland Security to once again warn about "American Extremists."

The seven men were arrested Monday, the same day President Obama tendered his much acclaimed invitation to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge, Mass., Police Sgt. James Crowley to "sit down over a beer" and talk about "the serious problems of racism in America." The president, who claimed that the police behaved "stupidly" in detaining the professor, apparently considers "racism" a more serious problem than Americans being recruited to commit acts of terror.

Full report at:


International Level Quran Reciters' Assembly Begins Wednesday

Aug 3

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 (Bernama) -- The 51st International-Level Quran Reciters' Assembly will begin on Wednesday until Aug 12 at the Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC).

The Public Relations Officer of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM), Asiah Alkharib Shah, told Bernama that so far 69 male and female reciters from 43 countries had confirmed their participation, including from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, China, Croatia and India.

Full report at:


Maulanas examining Raza's statement

Aug 3, 2009

AJMER: The Committee of Ulemas has asked the nazim and the khadims of the dargah of Khwaja Garib Nawaz Chishti not to raise any issue which may hurt the feelings of any community. It also requested them to follow the teachings of the Sufi saint and maintain peace.

The committee, comprising maulanas from different parts of the country, said that the CD, which contains the controversial statement of nazim Ahmed Raza, is being examined. Raza has been accused of speaking against Islam and the Khwaja.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Sayeed Mohammad Jillani Ashraf, president of Sufi Federation of India, said, "We have not reached at any conclusion as the ulemas are still verifying the text of Raza's speech recorded on the CD. We have heard every group and will decide on it soon. We request people to keep calm as this is a very sensitive issue."

Full report at:


'Cory also embraced Islamic values'

By Carmela Fonbuena, Aug 3, 2009

MANILA - Recognizing her significant contributions to their empowerment, various Muslim leaders and organizations joined the nation in mourning the death and celebrating the life of democracy icon President Corazon Aquino. 

Exactly 20 years before her death on Saturday, President Aquino signed into law Republic Act No.6734, the Organic Act of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), on August 1, 1989.

President Aquino also gave the Muslims a strong voice in Congress.

“Cory’s contribution to the Filipino Muslim agenda was especially personal to me. Through her efforts, we had two national representatives in the Philippine Senate—Santanina Rasul and my late father Mamintal Tamano,” said Muslim lawyer Adel Tamano shared to

“She believed in empowerment and representation for Filipino Muslims. Her actions showed her commitment to democracy and her vision of a tolerant, multi-cultural and peaceful society is something that the new generation of Filipino Muslims will strive and aspire for,” Tamano added.

Full report at:


Ahmadinejad gets key endorsement as Iran president

by Ali Akbar Dareini

Aug 3, 2009

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's supreme leader formally endorsed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term as president Monday in a ceremony that sought to portray unity among the country's leadership but was snubbed by prominent critics of the disputed election.

After Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave his official seal of approval, he allowed Ahmadinejad to kiss his robe on his shoulder — a noticeably more restrained gesture than four years ago when Ahmadinejad kissed the leader's hand and cheeks in a sign of closeness and loyalty.

The meeting cleared the way for Ahmadinejad to take the oath of office Wednesday in parliament, where many pro-reform lawmakers have echoed the claims of fraud in the June 12 election.

The ceremony with Khamenei showed vividly the deep political divides confronting Ahmadinejad and his backers among the ruling clerics. The event was boycotted by two former presidents — Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami — as well as defeated pro-reform candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, state media reported. Also, no one from the family of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution, attended.

Full report at:


Christians in Muslim society - once again

By Sabrina Tavernise

August 3, 2009

Is there any place in the Muslim world that offers a welcome to Christians comparable to the rights they enjoy in Israel?

Hate Engulfs Christians in Pakistan

GOJRA, Pakistan — The blistered black walls of the Hameed family's bedroom tell of an unspeakable crime. Seven family members died here on Saturday, six of them burned to death by a mob that had broken into their house and shot the grandfather dead, just because they were Christian.

The family had huddled in the bedroom, talking in whispers with their backs pressed against the door, as the mob taunted them.

"They said, 'If you come out, we'll kill you,' " said Ikhlaq Hameed, 22, who escaped. Among the dead were two children, Musa, 6, and Umaya, 13.

 The attack in this shabby town in central Pakistan — the culmination of several days of rioting over a claim that a Koran had been defiled — shows how precarious life is for the tiny Christian minority in Pakistan.

More than 100 Christian houses were burned and looted on Saturday in a rampage that lasted about eight hours by a crowd the authorities estimate was as large as 20,000 strong. In addition to the seven members of the Hameed family who were killed, about 20 people were wounded. Waqar Gillani contributed reporting.

Full report at:


China Arrests 319 People in Unrest in Xinjiang

by Andrew Jacobs

Aug 2, 2009

BEIJING — Chinese security officials have detained an additional 319 people whom they suspect of taking part in the unrest in the far western region of Xinjiang, the official media reported Sunday.

The arrests, according to the Xinhua news agency, came days after 253 other people were taken into custody, most of them Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking, predominately Sunni Muslim minority that the Chinese government has blamed for much of the killing last month in the city of Urumqi.

“Every suspect, without any exception, will be arrested and punished according to the law to root out any hidden danger,” Xinhua said. It added that many of those detained in recent days had been turned in by people outraged by the violence, which claimed 197 lives, nearly two-thirds of the victims Han Chinese. “It aroused the feelings of local residents, and they had more initiative in exposing those suspects and provided a huge amount of clues,” Xinhua said.

Full report at: