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Rahul Gandhi Celebrates Ramadan In Chandni Chowk; Tries Legendary Drink ‘Mohabbat Ka Sharbat’

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 April 2023


New Age Islam News Bureau

19 April 2023

The revelations come after disorder broke out in Leicester between the Hindu and Muslim communities in September 2022



• Iftar At Grand Jama Masjid: Indian Muslims Iftar With Traditional Rooh Afza

• Will Not Implement Decision To Scrap 4% Muslim Quota Till Next Week: Government To Supreme Court

• Government Allowed Night Prayers at Jammu and Kashmir Jamia Masjid

• Gyanvapi Mosque To Get Separate Tank For 'Wuzu'



• Muslim Pupils Tell Hindu Classmates To Convert To Islam To Avoid Bullying, ALeicester Think Tank Finds

• Young French Muslim walks from France to Jerusalem Al-Aqsa Mosque

• Christie’s To Auction Art Of Islamic, Indian Works, Highlight Of The Sale Will Be A Group Of Bejewelled Mughal Treasures

• Plans to turn Preston ice cream parlour into mini Mosque get frosty reception from residents

• Premier league Ramadan breaks make football feel ‘more inclusive’ for Muslim players


Arab World

• Saudi Foreign Minister In Syria For Talks With President Assad

• Record 60,000 people pray at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on night of 27th day of Ramadan

• 20,700 mosques around Saudi Arabia ready for Eid Al-Fitr prayer

• Katara picks winners in Qur'an Recitation Contest

• Prophet’s museum sees several new additions


South Asia

• Islamic Emirate Strives to strengthen media in the Country: Kabir

• Return of Pakistani Envoy will have Positive Impact on Bilateral Ties:Muttaqi

• No journalist Arrested for Media Activities in the Country: Mohajer

• Chinese currency replaces dollar in Bangladesh's payments to Russia

• Bangladesh: EU Ambassador holds discussions with Chief Election Commissioner



• Kebbi Governor-elect meets Muslim leaders, calls for societal reorientation

• Sultan urges Muslims to pay Zakatul Fitr

• Potential for Islamic finance in post-pandemic era is limitless

• Speakership: Betara meets Muslim members-elect in Saudi Arabia, promises equal representation



• Israel Treating Christians, Muslim Harshly, Says Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem

• Ramadan Traditions Inherited From Ottomans, Shared Values With Turkish People: Palestine Envoy To Turkiye

• Dubai Islamic Bank sets up bumper Q1-2023 with net profit at Dh1.5b

• Editor of anti-Palestine Jewish Chronicle accused of inciting anti-Muslim hatred with false tweet

• Former and current players say Ramadan atmosphere combines customs of holy month, culture of sports

• Salami: We support the Muslim peoples, do not leave them alone in difficult situations



• Melbourne's Queer Muslims Break Fast Together During Ramadan


Southeast Asia

• Impose Deterrent Sentence On Teenage Sexual Offender, Court Told

• PJSC launches model Islamic healthcare institution

• Tutong mosque receives food packs


North America

• CAIR-Chicago Condemns Anti-Muslim Comments Targeting Town Official

• Ramadan Reflections At Harvard: My Oasis Of Community

• ETF Prime: Roxanna Islam Turns up the Speaker on Communication

• Family absence felt by refugees during Ramadan



• Chinese Man Flatly Denies Blasphemy Accusation

• SC Begins Hearing Defence Ministry’s Request To Hold Elections Across Pakistan Simultaneously

• An economic crisis in Pakistan means many are going hungry during Ramadan

• Sanjrani calls on Muslim World League chief in Madina

• Soaring inflation dampens Eid ul Fitr spirit in Pakistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Rahul Gandhi celebrates Ramadan in Chandni Chowk; tries legendary drink ‘Mohabbat Ka Sharbat’

New Delhi, April 19 (ANI):

As the whole world, including India, is gripped by the festivities of Ramadan, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi chose Delhi’s iconic Chandni Chowk, also known as food lover’s paradise, to celebrate the evening. During his visit, Rahul Gandhi made sure to try the legendary drink Mohabbat Ka Sharbat’. Mohabbat ka Sharbat is a refreshing and exclusive Old Delhi-style summer drink that has flavours of watermelon and rose syrup. People in large numbers gathered to greet the senior Congress leader. Known for its mouthwatering delicacies, every year the ‘Mecca of Iftar Delights’ Chandni Chowk, draws a huge crowd during Ramadan.


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Muslim Pupils Tell Hindu Classmates To Convert To Islam To Avoid Bullying, ALeicester Think Tank Finds

By Neil Johnston,

18 April 2023

The revelations come after disorder broke out in Leicester between the Hindu and Muslim communities in September 2022


The revelations come after disorder broke out in Leicester between the Hindu and Muslim communities in September 2022

Muslim pupils are telling their Hindu classmates to change their religion to avoid bullying and make their lives easier, a think tank has found.

The study by the Henry Jackson Society found that Hindu pupils are being “held responsible” for the actions of India and facing xenophobic slurs from white pupils.

It comes after disorder broke out in Leicester between the Hindu and Muslim communities, which the report warned the same tensions are fuelling discrimination in schools.

Half of Hindu parents said their children had suffered hatred in schools with incidents including a pupil having beef thrown at her by classmates, the report found.

Hinduism is the third most common religion in the UK, with around one million people identifying as Hindu.

Links to Leicester unrest

The document, authored by Charlotte Littlewood, a research fellow and former Prevent counter-extremism co-ordinator, spoke to 988 Hindu parents and surveyed more than 1,000 schools around the country.

Police in Leicester made 55 arrests last September after weeks of disorder which included vandalism of property, assaults, stabbings and attacks on places of worship. The think tank previously found that the tensions were linked to conflict between young people from Muslim and Hindu communities and false narratives claiming there was Hindu extremism in Leicester. fY_NrneY458

The report found that Hindus faced discrimination from pupils from varying backgrounds but there were clear similarities between incidents in the classroom and the disorder in the Midlands.

“Some of the discrimination exhibited in the classroom showed similarities to the manifestations of hate witnessed during the unrest in Leicester between Hindus and Muslims,” it noted.

“There were numerous instances of derogatory references made towards Hindus, such as mocking their vegetarianism and belittling their deities, which were also made by Islamist extremists rallying against the Hindu community in Leicester.”

The reports said Hindu pupils were being “held responsible for politics and social issues in India reminiscent of the treatment of Jews with regard to Israel and of Muslims in the post-9/11 climate”.

'We will eat you up'

It found that Muslim pupils called for Hindus to convert or face “threats of hell for disbelievers” using terms such as “kaffir”.

In one example a child “was harassed and told that if they convert to Islam, their life will become so much easier” and in another told: “You aren’t going to survive very long... If you want to go to paradise, you’ll have to come to Islam... Hindus are the herbivores at the bottom of the food chain, we will eat you up.”

Another parent said children were told to watch videos of an Islamic preacher and to “convert because Hinduism makes no sense”.

Researchers also found evidence of xenophobia including from Christian pupils, with one child told: “Jesus will send your Gods to hell.”

'Religious education fostering discrimination'

The report found that religious education was “fostering discrimination” against Hindus with inappropriate references to the Indian caste system and misconceptions over the worship of deities which students felt made “a mockery of them”.

While other religions were given days off for celebrations, Hindu pupils were often not given a holiday for Diwali.

The study noted that anti-Hindu hate was poorly reported, with only one per cent of schools recording incidents while only 15 per cent of parents surveyed believed schools adequately address anti-Hindu related incidents. 

Ben Everitt MP, said the findings were “damning” and called for urgent improvements to religious education.

“The findings in this report are damning and shed light on the varying themes and forms which anti-Hindu discrimination materialises in the classroom,” he said.

He said that as well as discrimination taking the form of anti-Hindu slurs there was “a problematic approach to teaching Hinduism which may be feeding into prejudice, and whether incidents of bullying and discrimination are being adequately dealt with by each individual school”.

He added: “If we want to make real, sustained, long-term progress in reducing discrimination towards those of minority faiths in our schools, then we need to make sure that young people are receiving the best possible education about the many faiths which are woven into the fabric of our diverse United Kingdom.”


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El-Sisi Calls For Moderate Teachings Of Islam In Lailatul-Qadr (Night of Decree) Ceremony

Tuesday 18 Apr 2023

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi delivering a speech at the Laylet El-Qadr (Night of Decree or Night of Power) celebration ceremony on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Egyptian Presidency)


El-Sisi added that hard work is the "way to realising success".

His remarks came while delivering a speech at the Laylet El-Qadr (Night of Decree or Night of Power) celebration ceremony on Tuesday. The ceremony was held by the Religious Endowments Ministry at Al-Manara International Conference Centre in New Cairo.

Laylat El-Qadr, the holiest night in Islam, falls within Ramadan’s final ten days, and although the exact date is unidentified, it is commonly thought of as the Holy month’s 27th day.

The president extended greetings to the attendees and the great Egyptian people as they celebrate Laylet El-Qadr and the advent of Eid El-Fitr (the lesser Bairam).

El-Sisi wished Egypt and both Arab and Islamic nations peace and security and lauded the efforts of those memorising the Holy Quran in Egypt and various parts of the world.

He called on them to understand the Quran so that it guides them through life.

"Allah Almighty has singled out this night in the month of Ramadan to reveal the Quran. This makes it the night of safety, security, peace, mercy, enlightenment, and guidance," the president added.

This great night provides an opportunity to reflect on the enormous change brought about by the message of Islam, which spread across the world and permeated all walks of life, El-Sisi added.

"May Allah Almighty guide humanity to the path of rationality and reason, and may He inspire all of us with righteousness and wisdom so that we can strive to please Him and fulfil our people’s hope for a better future," he concluded.

During the event, the president honoured the winners of the 29th edition of the international Quran competition.

El-Sisi awarded the winners in the first category of the contest. These winners have demonstrated competence in memorising the entire Quran, reciting the Quran according to the rules of pronunciation (known in Arabic as Tajweed), and understanding its meaning.

The winner, Maher Mohamed Abdel-Nabi, from Egypt, won a prize of EGP 250,000.

Furthermore, three members of the same family won a prize of EGP 100,000 each.


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China offers to facilitate Israel-Palestinian peace talks

April 18, 2023

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang. (File/AFP)


BEIJING: China’s foreign minister told his Israeli and Palestinian counterparts that his country is ready to help facilitate peace talks between the two sides, in its latest effort at mediation in the region.

In separate phone calls to the two officials on Monday, Qin Gang expressed China’s concern over intensifying tensions between Israel and Palestinians and its support for a resumption of peace talks, the Foreign Ministry said in statements issued late Monday.

Last month, Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a deal in China to restore diplomatic ties that were cut off in 2016. It was a dramatic moment of diplomacy for China that Beijing touted as evidence of its ability to be a diplomatic player in the Middle East.

Qin stressed in his talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen that Saudi Arabia and Iran have set a good example of overcoming differences through dialogue, a statement about that phone call said.

He told Cohen that Beijing encourages Israel and the Palestinians to show political courage and take steps to resume peace talks. “China is willing to provide convenience for this,” he was quoted as saying.

Israel and the Palestinians have not held substantive peace talks on ending the century-long conflict in over a decade. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is committed to expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank — which most of the international community considers illegal and an obstacle to peace — and several of his key allies are staunchly opposed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Cohen expressed his country’s commitment to reducing tensions, but said the problem appeared to be difficult to resolve in the short term, the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Qin and Cohen discussed “the importance of maintaining quiet at the Temple Mount, particularly in the final days of Ramadan,” the Muslim holy month, but made no mention of peace talks with the Palestinians.

It said that Cohen conveyed “the threat that we see in Iran’s nuclear program” and called on China to help prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Qin also told Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Maliki that China is willing to play an active role in the resumption of talks, a second statement said.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin confirmed Qin’s outreach to the two officials. “It is never too late to do the right thing,” he said.

This month, violence in Israel and the West Bank has increased, touched off by an Israeli police raid on Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, the compound home to the Al-Aqsa mosque. The Israeli military struck sites linked to the Palestinian group Hamas in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip after militants in the two territories fired rocket salvos at Israel. The mosque sits on a contested hilltop revered as the third-holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism.


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 Former Prime Minister of Kenya Wows Muslim Faithful With Knowledge on Islam: “I Can Go On and On”

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Raila Odinga when he hosted Muslims for Iftar. Photo: Raila Odinga


On Tuesday, April 19, the ODM leader hosted Muslim leaders for Iftar at Crowne Plaza, where he addressed them on various national issues. However, what stood out during the address was his unprecedented understanding of the religion and its doctrines despite being a practising Christian. The former premier expertly drew parallels between the two religions, pointing out that they were praying to the same Supreme authority.

Raila went ahead to show the Biblical stories that are in the Holy Quran, stating that he knew the books. The ODM leader said he had a longstanding with Islam, going ahead to name the five pillars of Islam, which led to increased cheers in the room. Raila lived among Muslims The ODM leader revealed that as a young boy, he lived among Muslims, which informed his knowledge of the religion. Raila stated that he even attended prayers in the Mosque, adding that just like the ten commandments in Christianity, Islam teaches numerous virtues in life.

Imam shows love to cat On Tuesday, April 11, reported that a Muslim leader who maintained his cool as a feline jumped on him and was honoured for his kind act. Imam Sheikh Walid Mehsas, who was leading prayers in a crowded mosque in Algeria, pet the cat and remained unfazed by the curious feline. The government of Algeria honoured him, under the office of the director of religious affairs, after his video went viral.


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Iftar At Grand Jama Masjid: Indian Muslims Iftar With Traditional Rooh Afza

Taniya Dutta

Apr 19, 2023

On a breezy evening, thousands of Muslims sat side by side at the grand Jama Masjid in India's capital New Delhi as they waited for the siren to signal the end of their daily Ramadan fast.

Groups of devotees huddled together in the vast 17th-century mosque courtyard, some spreading plates of fruit and fried snacks and others the traditional mixed rice dish, biryani.

But almost every group carried a bottle of the quintessential bright pink Ramadan drink – Rooh Afza.

They say the cool and sugary drink provides much-needed energy after a long day of fasting.

Shabana Begum, 40, patiently waited for the siren to blow to signal the end of the fast.

She and her family members ate a handful of dates to end the fast and then had rounds of the sweet viscous drink mixed with milk to quench their thirst.

“Rooh Afza is extremely important for us. After fasting for 12 hours, only this drink quenches our thirst.” Ms Begum told The National.

The scene is repeated with dozens of groups gathered at the mosque, and devotees serving the drink in plastic glasses or gulping it down straight from a plastic bottle.

The drink, which was created in the 20th century in Old Delhi, became a popular drink, first among Indians in the scorching heat and later with fasting Muslims.

For decades, Rooh Afza, which is Persian for “refresher of the soul", has been a staple thirst-quencher for Muslims during the holy month.

After a long day of fasting in the heat, the ultra-sweet-concoction of herbs and fruit with a strong rosy aroma comes as a rescue. Just like the popular drink Vimto in the Middle East, it is also widely used to accompany the iftar meal.

Drinkers say the cooling effect and sugar content – both of which provide them the much-needed energy after the day-long fast – makes it an immensely popular drink in the country.

“We start fasting early in the morning and end in the evening. My grandfather, father have been ending their fast with the drink. It truly quenches the thirst,” Ms Begum said.

“We cannot imagine breaking our fast with any other drink.”

Mohammad Ishrat nods in agreement with Ms Begum. The 28-year-old lives in the old part of the city and is a regular visitor to the mosque for iftar.

“There is no iftar without this drink. It is sweet, cold and healthy. It makes me feel instantly energetic,” Mr Ishrat said.

Sweet beginnings

Rooh Afza was created by Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed, a traditional healing practitioner in the congested quarters of Old Delhi in 1907. The syrup was meant to be a cure for heat stroke, dehydration and diarrhoea.

After partition of the country into India and Pakistan in 1947, one of his sons stayed in Delhi while the other moved across the border. They set up factories for Rooh Afza and the businesses have since been thriving on both sides.

The sherbet, a syrup that is traditionally mixed with water, is believed to have up to 21 ingredients, including sandalwood, vetiver, pine, mint, spinach, and the heady rose – all known for their cooling properties.

The exact recipe of the concoction has been kept a family secret and has not changed in the past 115 years, the makers claim.

Despite the introduction of colas and carbonated drinks, Rooh Afza’s popularity has not been shaken.

Every year, 20 million bottles of the chiller are sold, according to the Delhi-based manufacturer. The drink has made its way to Australia, the Middle East and other continents, where Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi diaspora reside.

During Ramadan, demand increases because the drink is a staple on the dining table.

“We make the drink in big cauldrons and tumblers and keep drinking it between iftar and suhoor. We have a family of 12 and we finish up to four to five bottles in a week, my children, nieces and nephews like it. I add mangoes, lemon juice and even milk,” Ms Begum said.

Buzzing customers

The most basic way of making the sherbet is by adding water or milk, but aficionados of the drink give their own twist to it.

Dozens of stalls in the old city have cropped up in recent years, selling varieties of the popular drink.

From using the syrup as a topping on ice cream, in a pudding or mixing it with lemonade, Rooh Afza is consumed in many ways, but the most popular creation is “mohabbat-e-sherbat” or “the love drink”.

The version is made with milk, crushed ice and chunks of ruby watermelons and is sold by vendors in and around the grand mosque.

Those who can’t make it to the mosque for iftar and those who visit the market for Eid shopping, swarm the stalls that sell a glass of the drink for 20 rupees (24 cents).

“I drink it every evening because it tastes very good. It keeps the stomach cool. After fasting the whole day, this gives me energy. I like the watermelons in it,” Mohammed Taliwan, 18, a weaver, told The National.


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Will Not Implement Decision To Scrap 4% Muslim Quota Till Next Week: Government To Supreme Court

Apr 19, 2023

The Karnataka government on Tuesday assured the Supreme Court that for a week further, it would not implement its decision to scrap the 4 per cent Muslim quota in the OBC category in jobs and education.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the State government, contended before a bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna that the state government would require more time to file its affidavit in the matter.

Last week, the state government had sought time till Monday to file its response. After hearing Mehta’s submissions, the top court deferred the hearing till April 25.

The apex court had made some strong observations against the manner in which the government scrapped the OBC quota for Muslims and placed them under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category, saying the foundation of the decision-making process is “highly shaky and flawed”.-


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 Government Allowed Night Prayers at Jammu and Kashmir Jamia Masjid


Muzaffar Raina 

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday night allowed congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid for the first time since the scrapping of the region’s special status in 2019, with next month’s proposed G20 meetings possibly forcing the change.

The government faced tough questions last week after disallowing Jumat ul Vida prayers, marking the last Friday of Ramazan, at Jamia Masjid.

Thousands thronged the mosque for prayers on Shab e Qadr, the holiest night in the Muslim religious calendar, after the government gave permission.

Many in Kashmir believe that Monday’s decision was taken against the backdrop of the proposed G20 meetings as the government has so far remained unfazed by criticism against disallowing major congregations at Jamia in the last four years.

The Centre has announced the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting in Srinagar on May 22-24 despite opposition by Pakistan. The government is hard-selling the meetingto project normality in Kashmir.

Srinagar police released a video showing a large gathering at the mosque.

Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid, the managing committee of the mosque, in a statement on Tuesday, said Shab-e-Qadr was observed with great devotion.

Anjuman, however, regretted that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was not allowed to deliver the sermon. Mirwaiz, who heads a Hurriyat faction besides being the Valley’s chief cleric, has been under house detention since August 4, 2019.


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Gyanvapi mosque to get separate tank for 'wuzu'

Apr 19, 2023

VARANASI: In compliance with Monday's order of the Supreme Court, Varanasi district magistrate S Rajalingam on Tuesday convened a meeting with the authorities of Anjuman Intezamia Masajid - the Gyanvapi mosque management committee - to make alternative arrangements for 'wuzu' (ablution) and toilet on the Gyanvapi mosque campus.

The DM said that the outcomes of the meeting would be disclosed to the SC on Friday. AIM joint secretary SM Yaseen said, "Consensus has been arrived on arranging a water tank for 'wuzu' and using an existing bathroom as a toilet."

The 'wuzu' pond complex of the mosque was sealed on May 16, 2022, after a purported 'Shivling' was found in the pond during a court commission survey on the same day.

The DM said, "We have not received the SC order in writing so far. But, on the basis of information given about the apex court's order by the official who represented the district administration in the court, we held a meeting with AIM authorities. Basic religious requirements, including arrangements for 'wuzu', were discussed. As the matter is in court, we will provide details on the outcomes of this meeting to the SC on Friday."

Yaseen said that the meeting with the DM was held in the presence of AIM president Maulana Baqi, members Haji Ekhlaq Ahmed, Shamsher Ali, Ezaz Mohammad and others for almost an hour after beginning at 11.15am on the Gyanvapi mosque premises. "Officials heard our demand for an alternative arrangement of water for 'wuzu' and also a toilet," he said, adding, "It was decided that as a temporary arrangement, a water tank would be placed and it will be filled through a pipe from the nearest water supply point. As arranging a mobile toilet immediately was not possible, it was decided to use an existing bathroom as toilet."

He said that the namazis had been appealed to come to the mosque after using toilet facilities outside.


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 Young French Muslim walks from France to Jerusalem Al-Aqsa Mosque

April 18, 2023

French Muslim, Neil Dauxois, was greeted by many Palestinians in Jerusalem after he walked 3,900 kilometres (2423 miles) in 10 months to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Dauxois, 26, a French Muslim of Algerian descent, set off on foot from France 10 months ago to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

Dauxois passed through 10 countries, including Turkiye, to reach his destination.

Dauxois travelled through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Cyprus and Jordan. He told Anadolu that his adventure was "sometimes good, but very difficult at times."

The young Muslim highlighted the hospitality shown by people in different countries during his journey.

"When I was in Turkiye, people were very kind and hospitable. If it weren't for their help, I would have given up," Dauxois added.

"I faced more difficulties in places where people were not hospitable," Dauxois stated.

Dauxois also spoke of the hard times he faced walking through certain regions during cold weather.

"All alone, I managed to go through many places safely, thanks to kind local people. I couldn't have done it without them."

Welcome to Jerusalem

After the news of Dauxois' journey spread, Palestinians of all ages showed up to meet him.

Dauxois said he was pleasantly surprised by the reception given by Palestinians.

"People welcomed me with sincere hospitality. I am very happy to be here. I cannot put my joy into words," Dauxois stated.

"Many Palestinians here invited me to their homes, I'm very surprised, yet very happy," he added.

Dauxois also talked of his family's support for his adventure.

"My mother was worried, but after seeing me in videos on social media, she told me she was proud of me," Dauxois said.

He stated that he had visited Al-Aqsa Mosque four years ago.

"I know the situation here. I have many Palestinian friends who cannot visit this place," he stated.

Dauxois renewed Muslims' support for the Palestinian cause, noting that Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem are "always on their mind".

The young Muslim traveller said his next goal is "to go for Hajj to Mecca in a month and a half."

"People in Saudi Arabia are also following me. I would love to receive their help on my next journey," Dauxois said.


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 Christie’s To Auction Art Of Islamic, Indian Works, Highlight Of The Sale Will Be A Group Of Bejewelled Mughal Treasures

April 19 2023

Christie’s has announced the Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Oriental Rugs and Carpets, a live auction at Christie’s on April 27. The sale features striking examples of manuscripts, paintings, ceramics, metalwork, and carpets.

The highlight of the sale will be a group of bejewelled Mughal treasures that showcase the splendours of the Indian courts. Two further masterpieces include a vividly illustrated folio that captures the regal grandeur of a royal court scene, showcasing the pinnacle of Timurid artistic production, and a Qajar oil painting by the celebrated artist Muhammad Baqir.

In addition to these works, the auction boasts a majestic array of Persian and Indian manuscripts and paintings from private collections, as well as an impressive array of Persian manuscripts and paintings from a number of single owner private collections.

Another highlight is a Zand painting, arguably the best by the artist Muhammad Baqir who was one of the most celebrated artists active between 1740 and 1800.

Ottoman ceramics will also be presented in addition to a number of important examples of Iznik pottery, the sale has a small collection of ceramics from Kütahya.

The highlight of this section will be a Lavender Ground Iznik Pottery Jug from Ottoman Türkiye, a wonderful example of a rare and visually striking group of Iznik pottery that was made for a short period around 1570, typified by the colored slip decoration covering the bodies of the vessels.

Sara Plumbly, head of department, Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds said, “The April sale brings together an exciting and wide range of works of art from across the Islamic and Indian worlds. Of particular note is a number of private collections across a variety of fields - from Persian and Indian manuscripts and paintings to Ottoman ceramics. We are particularly excited to offer a very important group of Mughal jewelled objects as well as a number of Persian paintings from the 15th to the 19th centuries.”

The sale includes 96 highly decorative antique Oriental rugs and carpets, woven in cities, villages or nomadic encampments from all along the silk route.

The highlight of the sale will be an extremely rare Anatolian “Phoenix In Octagon” rug, woven in the late 15th and early 16th century in Central or Eastern Anatolia.

One of only 18 examples remaining from the Seljuk and early Ottoman period, this carpet is unique in that it is the only known carpet to survive bearing the mythical figure of the phoenix, which is depicted in early Renaissance paintings.

Louise Broadhurst, specialist and Christie’s international head of rugs and carpets said, “This sale has a wide variety of rugs and carpets that will appeal to the discerning collector. The theme of early eastern carpets that appear in the paintings of the early Renaissance and later Old Masters is a narrative that helps us contextualize these precious works of art, and appreciate them through the eyes of our predecessors. A large number of pieces in the sale are consigned from three significant collectors in the field, with an eye for color, design and individuality.”

The Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Oriental Rugs and Carpets view and exhibition will be open to the public from April 22 to 26 at Christie’s London.


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 Plans to turn Preston ice cream parlour into mini Mosque get frosty reception from residents

By Brian Ellis

19th Apr 2023

The Faizane Arafat Educational Centre wants to convert the shop on Ribbleton Avenue, which used to house the Mr Scoopz outlet, into a place for worship and classes.

The application, which would normally have been decided by planning officers, has been called in by local councillor Jonathan Saksena for debate at next week's planning committee following objections by some local residents.

CounSaksena said that the applied for opening time of 5am would be "unacceptable." He added that parking space would be insufficient for the number of cars expected, leading to an increase in illegal parking. And he also claimed work had already begun on the project even before planning permission had been granted.

But officers have still decided to recommend approval by the committee next Thursday subject to a number of conditions to address the concerns of the residents and both the highways authority over parking and the environmental health department over noise.

If councillors give it the green light then opening hours will have to be restricted to 7am to 11pm seven days a week, noise insulation will have to be installed and a maximum number of 50 people will be allowed to use the centre at any one time.

When first published the application received 109 letters of representation - 99 of them backing the plans. Supporters said the centre "would satisify local demand for a community facility/place of worship."

Of the 10 who objected, some said it would have an unacceptable impact on neighbours due to increased noise generated by long hours of opening. There were also fears that inadequate parking would impact highway safety. Another condition recommended is the provision of two stewards to control parking during Jumah Prayers on Fridays.

On opening hours officers said that 7am to 11pm, which had now been agreed by the applicant, was fair considering a nearby pub opened until 12:30am during the week and 1:30am at weekends.

The applicant is to be asked to fund the cost of the local parking restrictions, including dropped kerbs on the frontage. Conditions will also be put in place to ban the use of microphones or amplification systems at the building.


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 Premier league Ramadan breaks make football feel ‘more inclusive’ for Muslim players

Jordan Jarrett-Bryan

Sports reporter

For the first time this season, Premier League football clubs have agreed to allow muslim players to break their Ramadan fast at sundown, which can happen during matches.

Stars like Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Chelsea’s N’GoloKanté have been allowed to drink water at pitch side by referees who pause the game.

The iftar – or breaking of the fast – during matches hasn’t just allowed players to rehydrate.

As our sports reporter Jordan Jarrett-Bryan has been finding out, it has meant that top-flight football has started to feel far more inclusive for Muslim players, fans and communities.


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 Arab World

 Saud foreign minister in Syria for talks with President Assad


April 18, 2023

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister arrived in Damascus on Tuesday for talks with President Bashar Assad amid growing moves toward the readmission of Syria to the Arab community.

The visit by Prince Faisal bin Farhan was the first by a senior Saudi diplomat since relations were severed at the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

The foreign minister and the president discussed steps to “achieve a comprehensive political settlement that ... contributes to Syria’s return to the Arab fold,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said.

Prince Faisal told the Syrian president it was important to provide a suitable environment for aid to reach all regions in Syria, and create the conditions for the return of Syrian refugees and displaced persons. Ending their suffering and enabling them to return safely to their homeland would contribute to stability, the minister said.


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 Record 60,000 people pray at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on night of 27th day of Ramadan

Apr 19, 2023

A record 60,310 Muslims in Abu Dhabi gathered at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on the night of the 27th day of Ramadan to observe Laylat Al Qadr, a significant night in the Islamic faith.

This is the largest number of worshippers hosted by the grand mosque since its opening, said news agency Wam.

At Sheikh Khalifa Grand Mosque in Al Ain, the total number of worshippers on the same night reached about 23,552, of whom 2,402 prayed Al Isha and Taraweeh, and 21,150 people performed the Tahajjud prayer.

The total number of worshippers at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the Emirate of Fujairah reached 5,239 worshippers, of whom 1,382 performed Al Isha and Tarawih, and 3,857 were in Tahajjud prayers.

In addition to the mosque's interior and external parking spaces in the eastern section next to the Wahat Al Karama, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre has allotted 6,579 parking places to accommodate worshippers, including 1,500 for women and 60 parking spots for people with special needs.

What is Laylat Al Qadr?

Laylat Al Qadr — or the night of destiny — is one of the odd-numbered nights during the final 10 days of Ramadan in which the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Mohammed.

An entire chapter is devoted to the night of destiny in the final part of the Quran, within which that night is described as “better than a thousand months” where the angels and the holy spirit Gabriel engulf the Earth.

The exact day of Laylat Al Qadr is not known, but Prophet Mohammed said it falls in the last 10 nights of the holy month, on an odd-­numbered night.

Many Muslims are keen to spend the final 10 nights of the holy month in worship, prayer and acts of kindness.

What is special about Laylat Al Qadr?

The reward for any good deed or act of worship conducted on that night is counted as more than one thousand months of doing it.

As Prophet Mohammed once said after Ramadan had begun: “This month has come to you, and in it there is a night that is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of it is deprived of all goodness, and no one is deprived of its goodness except one who is truly deprived.”

What are Qiyam Al Layl prayers?

The main prayer carried out each evening during Ramadan is the Taraweeh. It is an extra prayer that Muslims are advised to carry out at a mosque among fellow worshippers.

Many also perform Qiyam Al Layl — or night prayers — during the final ten nights. These prayers are often organised after midnight at mosques.

Night prayers are said to be ideal for asking God for blessings because it is said he is more likely to listen.


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20,700 mosques around Saudi Arabia ready for Eid Al-Fitr prayer

April 18, 2023

RIYADH — The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance announce the readiness of 20,700 mosques and outdoor prayer areas around Saudi Arabia for Eid Al-Fitr prayer, after the completion of preparing and equipping them with safety means.

More than 6,000 men and women observers have been assigned by the ministry to monitor the mosques and prayer areas and follow up on the operations of the maintenance and operating companies.

The Ministry has called on people to contact them in case anyone monitors or notices something that needs to be fixed in the provided services for the mosques.

It has also called on the mosques staff to abide by the Fatwa pronounced by the Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta, which stipulated that if Eid is on Friday, then the person who attended the Eid prayer is permissible to not attend the Friday prayer (Jumu’ah congregational prayer), and only perform the Dhuhr prayer.

But the best and better is to perform them both, the Eid prayer and the Jumu’ah prayer.

The person who did not attend the Eid prayer is not entitled to use this concession, and he is obligated to perform the Jumu’ah prayer.

And there will be concession only if there is not sufficient number of the faithful to hold the Friday prayer. In such a case, he must pray the Dhuhr prayer.

Based on what the Fatwa stipulated, the Ministry has obligated the Imams to perform the Jumu’ah prayer if it has coincided with Eid, so that those who did not witness the Eid prayer, can perform the Jumu’ah prayer.

But if there were not sufficient number of worshipers present for the Friday prayer, then Dhuhr prayer shall be offered.

Those who attended the Eid prayer and are permissible not to attend the Jumu’ah prayer, must perform the Dhuhr prayer at its time.

The Ministry said that the call to prayer (adhan) is not prescribed except in the mosques where the Friday prayer is held. The call to prayer is not prescribed for the Dhuhr prayer that day.

The Ifta ruled that that the saying that the Jumu’ah prayer and the Dhuhr prayer are not required to perform for those who offer the Eid prayer is incorrect and wrong, saying emphatically that it is contrary to the Tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and is in fact dropping one of the obligatory rituals ordained by God without any substantial evidence.

It is obligatory for those who attended the Eid prayer to offer Dhuhr prayer if not the Jumu’ah prayer, the Ministry’s circular said while citing the fatwa of the committee.


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Katara picks winners in Qur'an Recitation Contest

APRIL 19, 2023

Katara - the Cultural Village Tuesday announced the winners of the sixth edition of the Katara Qur'an Recitation Contest.

Mohamed Hassan HassanZadeh from Afghanistan won the first place with a cash prize of QR 500,000. The second prize of QR300,000 was won by Ahmed Jamal al-Mansrawi (Iraq) and the third prize of QR100,000 went to Abdul Razeq Ashraf Salah al-Shahawy (Egypt).

Katara general manager Prof Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti distributed the prizes in the presence of Sheikh Dr Khalid bin Mohamed bin Ghanem al-Thani, director general of the General Department of Endowments at the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf).

The first prize winner described his victory as a great honour noting that the award is internationally reputable. The second prize winner said the contest was well-organised and the stages were tough.

The jury noted that this edition of the competition was the most distinguished due to the diversity of the participants from all Arab and Islamic countries.


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Prophet’s museum sees several new additions

April 19, 2023

MADINAH: There have been several new sections added to the Prophet’s museum here, including publications, films and interactive displays, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz launched the new additions to the International Fair and Museum of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization.

Among those in attendance was Secretary-General of the Muslim World League and Chairman of the Muslim Scholars Association Dr. Mohammad Alissa.

The museum is opposite the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah.

Prince Faisal was briefed on the new sections which include publications and displays that cite over 25,000 instances of the Prophet’s miraculous work.

The souvenir shop has over 200 publications that provide insight into the Prophet’s life and various aspects of Islam.

Prince Faisal also inaugurated a special section showcasing details of the Prophet’s private chambers and the homes of his companions, as well as a new part of his mosque and minbar. This includes a seven-volume encyclopedia outlining the Prophet’s biography.

During the governor’s tour of the museum, a pavilion was inaugurated showcasing the efforts of Saudi Arabia in serving the Qur’an, the sunnah, the two holy mosques and pilgrims.

Alissa thanked Prince Faisal for supporting the museum, which he said provided details of the manner in which Islam continues to be relevant to this day.

Alissa said the MWL was particularly grateful to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for serving Islam through the documentation of its history.

The museum is managed by the MWL with the support of the region’s development authority.


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 South Asia

Islamic Emirate Stives to strengthen media in the Country: Kabir


KABUL (BNA) Deputy Prime Minister, Mawlavi Abdul Kabir, In a meeting with media officials, journalists and political experts, said that the Islamic Emirate considers the media as a bridge between the government and the nation and strives to strengthen media in the country.

According to a statement, Deputy PM Kabir met a number of reporters and political experts on Tuesday at an iftar dinner.

During the meeting the media’s officials thanked the Islamic Emirate for cooperating with the media and addressing their problems, they called for regular meetings between the officials of the government and the media.

Afterwards, Kabir heard the opinions and suggestions of media officials and political experts and assured that efforts will be made to strengthen the media and asked them to present the real and true image of Afghanistan to the people and the world and prevent false propaganda.

He stressed that we should not be influenced by some biased foreign media and western propaganda, maintain our independence and publish the realities of the society with a national and Islamic spirit.


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Return of Pakistani Envoy will have Positive Impact on Bilateral Ties:Muttaqi


KABUL (BNA) During a meeting in Kabul, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, Mawlavi Amir Khan Muttaqi expressed that the return of Obaid Rahman Nizamani, Pakistani charge de affairs in Afghanistan, will have a positive impact on the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The minister also commended the release of Afghan prisoners from Karachi prison in Pakistan and demanded the release of the remaining prisoners before Eid al-Fitr.

In response, Mr. Nizamani assured that the Pakistani Embassy will work with the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop a mechanism that will facilitate the issuance of visas to Afghan citizens.


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No journalist Arrested for Media Activities in the Country: Mohajer


KABUL (BNA) Deputy Publications of MoIC says that the process of distributing identity cards to journalists has started in Kabul, and this process will develop to all over the country.

Deputy Publications of Ministry of Information and Culture, MawlaviHayatullahMohajer told in an interview with BNA that journalists can make reports with any government organs without a letter and continue their media activity after receiving an identity card.

After entering their personal details and their respective media, an identity card will be issued from the center, he said.

Mohajer says that the Ministry of Information and Culture of the country is striving to address the problem of lack of access to information to journalists, and this problem will be addressed by distributing the identity card, adding distribution of this card is free of charges for the journalists.

The spreading rumors and baseless news that is in conflict with the Islamic Emirate will be prevented, he added.

According to him, currently there are no jailed journalists in the country and if some people are possible, it was a personal crime and they were not arrested because of their media activities.

He continued saying that addressing the problems of the media is one of the basic responsibility of the Ministry of Information and Culture and no other body has the right to interfere in the affairs of the media and journalists.

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Information and Culture, there are currently 300 audio, video and publications media operating in the country.


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Chinese currency replaces dollar in Bangladesh's payments to Russia

Apr 18, 2023

Mukul Sharma

Bangladesh will settle its pending payments to Russia in Chinese yuan instead of dollar. Dhaka will settle repayments worth $110 million to Moscow for the currently under construction Rooppur power plant in the Chinese currency, it was revealed.

The development came amid increasing de-dollarisation efforts by the developing nations and calls by BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] nation members for a common BRICS currency.

Russia has been barred from much of the international banking system, due to the US-led sanctions in-place. After months of scrambling for ways to settle repayments, last week, a high-level delegation from Russia and Bangladesh's Ministry of Finance agreed that the bills could be paid in yuan.

"Because of the sanctions against Russian banks, we couldn't process payments in U.S. dollars. Russia asked us to settle the payments in their currency, rubles, but that was not feasible. So we both opted for yuan," Uttam Kumar Karmaker, additional secretary of the Bangladesh's finance ministry's Economic Relations Division (ERD), was quoted as saying by Nikkei Asia.

The Rooppur power plant, once completed, will be capable of generating 2,400 megawatts of power. It is to be a crucial element of Bangladesh's plans to generate more energy and reduce its reliance on coal.

Bangladesh's Chinese currency pact to settle payments with Russia

Bangladesh will resolve payments with Russia via a Chinese bank, likely drawing on Dhaka's own reserves of yuan. Russian beneficiaries will receive funds through China's Cross-Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS), a yuan-driven alternative to the dollar-dominated SWIFT system.

US-led sanctions against Russia a boon for China

The US-led sanctions targeting the SWIFT access to some Russian banks has reportedly opened doors for China to promote its alternative. Beijing has found an eager partner in Russia, one of the world's top energy exporters.

In late March, during a three-day bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "We are in favor of using the Chinese yuan for settlements between Russia and the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America."

Bangladesh's central bank has been building up the share of yuan in its foreign currency reserves since 2017, after the currency was included in the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights (SDR) currency basket.

In September last year, Bangladesh Bank issued a circular allowing commercial banks to maintain accounts in yuan with their corresponding branches abroad to settle cross-border transactions.

Experts cited in the media say that Bangladesh has not adopted a deliberate policy to build up yuan reserves.

The yuan's portion of the country's forex reserves rose to 1.32 per cent last August, from 1 per cent in 2017, while the dollar declined to 75 per cent from 81 per cent, according to data cited by Nikkei Asia.


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Bangladesh: EU Ambassador holds discussions with Chief Election Commissioner

April 19, 2023

The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Bangladesh Charles Whitely held a meeting with Bangladesh Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KaziHabibulAwal in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Writing on Twitter after the meeting, the EU Ambassador said that he held an in depth discussion with CEC KaziHabibulAwal about the upcoming parliamentary polls and the deployment of a European Union Election Observation Mission. Earlier, on April 17, Charles Whiteley met Foreign Minister Dr. A K Abdul Momen and discussed the proposed deployment of an EU Election Observation Mission in Bangladesh. In January also, an EU delegation had an exchange of views with CEC  on the election observers and preparations for the parliamentary elections scheduled to be held by the end of the year or early January next year.

The meeting comes in the wake of a series of meetings between the Bangladesh government and American and European countries regarding the next general elections in Bangladesh and deployment of the Election Observers in particular.

The US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas had a meeting with the leaders of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on 16th April where the general elections of Bangladesh came up for discussion. BNP has announced that it will not take part in the elections unless the current government resigns and a neutral, caretaker government takes over  to conduct elections in the country.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen visited the US between April 10-11 during which he had a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Dr. Momen and Antony Blinken had discussed the issue of holding a fair, transparent and participatory election in Bangladesh. Later, in Dhaka Dr. Momen told the media on April 16 that Bangladesh is ready to allow as many election observers as the US may like to send.


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Kebbi Governor-elect meets Muslim leaders, calls for societal reorientation

April 19, 2023

Kebbi Governor-elect, Dr Nasir Idris has called on religious leaders to work with government and communities towards building a descent, moral and sound society.

A statement issued by his Special Adviser, Ahmed Idris, on Wednesday in BirninKebbi, said that the governor-elect made the appeal when he met with Muslim leaders in the state.

The governor-elect said his pledge to establish a ministry for religious affairs was to coordinate all efforts towards societal reorientation.

“The sole objective of establishing religious ministry is to create awareness on the need to shun all forms of social ills towards building a descent, moral and sound society.

“I want to use this medium to seek for your advice whenever I deviate from the right course as well as your prayers for Allah to guide me right and give me the wisdom to lead people of Kebbi to the promise land,” he added.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation and Chairman, Ulama Committee in the state, Malam BaiteLawal said the visit was to identify with the governor-elect and pray for him.

“We are here to express our gratitude to God Almighty, who gives power to whom He pleases and takes it from whom He pleases.

“Our major contribution now is to continue to pray for you to succeed in the upcoming task before you.

“We wish you well and may the Almighty give you the ability and capability to deliver the goods successfully,” he said.


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Sultan urges Muslims to pay Zakatul Fitr

April 19, 2023

•To look out for moon Thursday

By TajudeenAdebanjo

The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, yesterday reminded the Muslims to pay Zakatul Fitr in line with the practice of the Holy Prophet.

Sultan Abubakar said the stipulated practice is to give out the prescribed measurement to beneficiaries in the last two days of Ramadan and not later than before the Eid prayer.

“In the spirit of Ramadan, Muslims are reminded that Zakatul Fitr is a compulsory food-levy imposed on privileged Muslims, to be given to the less privileged in the society. The Council, therefore, appeals to all concerned to ensure that they do not only comply but also comply on time,” he said.

The Sultan felicitates the Muslim ‘Ummah and indeed the entire Muslim world on the auspicious occasion of the 1444 A.H. Eid-ul-Fitr, praying to Allah to grant everyone the opportunity to witness many more of it.

He enjoined the ummah to look out for Shawwal moon after sunset on tomorrow (Thursday).

“If the crescent is sighted by Muslims in accordance with the moon sighting and verification standards, then Friday would be declared as the 1st of Shawwal and the day of ‘Idul Fitr. However, if the crescent is not sighted that day, then Saturday, 22nd April 2023, automatically becomes the day of ‘Idul Fitr.

“In addition to the established and traditional Islamic leaders in each locality, the members of the National Moon-Sighting Committee (NMSC) can be contacted to report any credible and positive sighting of the crescent of Shawwal 1444 AH. The Council encourages all Muslims to pray fervently to Allah, especially during the concluding part of Ramadan, for the peace, security and development of Nigeria,” he said.


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Potential for Islamic finance in post-pandemic era is limitless

By Molu Halkano

Apr 18, 2023

In the middle of the twin challenges presented by Covid-19, financial institutions emerged as a critical source of resilience.

This is so because they continued to play a significant role in shaping the recovery of economies globally and helping their customers rebuild their financial security during the period. While Covid-19 caused economic disruptions in many households, the role of Islam Banking was almost absent, especially in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and retail lending, the sectors that were the most affected by the health crisis.

With a total market value of $2.7 trillion (Sh359.1 trillion), the global Islamic finance industry is sizeable, catering for the financial needs of around a quarter of the world’s population. Forecasts from the Islamic Development Finance Corporation suggest that global Islamic finance assets could reach $3.8 trillion (Sh505.5 trillion) by 2024.

This will be supported by the expansion of Islamic banking assets in some Gulf Cooperation Council countries including Malaysia, and Turkey, and the expected exceeding maturities in Sukuk issuances.


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Speakership: Betara meets Muslim members-elect in Saudi Arabia, promises equal representation

By Ibrahim Ramalan

April 18, 2023

Rep. MuktarBetara (APC-Borno), an aspirant for the office of the Speaker in the 10th National Assembly, has assured all members-elect across party lines of equal representation if elected.

Mr Betera gave the assurance at a meeting with some members-elect in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Mr Betara, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, met with the members-elect and other stakeholders on the sidelines of the ongoing lesser Hajj in the holy land.

According to the statement, the meeting was attended by returning and newly-elected National Assembly members from Adamawa, Katsina, Kaduna, Gombe, Jigawa and Bauchi.

It said that the members-elect at the meeting pledged unflinching support for Mr Betara and applauded his leadership quality.

They also commended him for the support provided over the years to his contemporaries, irrespective of their religious, ethnic and party affiliations.

The members-elect, who are expected to be sworn-in in June 2023, acknowledged the high sense of humility demonstrated by Mr Betara.

They described him as “an achiever, bridge-builder, unifying factor, team players, detribalised leader of uncommon virtues and a role model.”

The lawmakers said that Mr Betara remained the most popular aspirant in the race, given his generous disposition and responsiveness to members’ welfare, hence their resolve to support his ambition.

One of the returning lawmakers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, commended Mr Betera for heeding the clarion call to provide quality leadership in the 10th assembly.

The lawmaker said that all the members-elect were aware of the significant roles played by Mr Betara in the emergence of successive speakers and other officers in the current and past assemblies.

“Most of us are also aware of his resolve to shelve his ambition of becoming the speaker in the previous assemblies and, as a loyal party-man, align with the party’s zoning arrangement.

“For those in the know of how things panned out in the outgoing assembly, I can tell you for free that Betara played significant roles in averting serious crises all through, which helped in stabilising this assembly,” the rep said.

The lawmaker said that the members-elect should be allowed to exercise their franchise, as provided by the Standing Order and relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The rep said that the caucus had all it takes to rally the required support for Mr Betara, expressing hope that all would be in favour of the aspirant at the inauguration of the 10th assembly.


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Israel Treating Christians, Muslim Harshly, Says Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem

April 19, 2023

Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Archbishop Atallah Hanna, said yesterday that the Israeli occupation is treating Christian and Muslim worshippers harshly.

During a visit by a delegation of Orthodox pilgrims who are visiting Palestine to commemorate Holy Saturday and Easter, he said: "You are welcome. Your existence with us during this blessed season gives us strength and consolation."

"Your visit is a message of solidarity and support for the Christians in our country, as well as all the people [of Palestine] in general."

The archbishop continued: "Your visit to Palestine supports our economy as all hotels in Jerusalem and Bethlehem are occupied by pilgrims who are coming for prayers at Jerusalem's Church of Holy Sepulchre."

About the Israeli violations, he said: "You saw what happened with your eyes during the Holy Saturday. This is an example of the suffering the Palestinian Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem are enduring."

"This is the harsh treatment of the state that claims to be democratic and a distinctive model of human rights. What we see on the ground is completely different."

On Saturday, Israeli occupation forces attacked Christian Palestinians during Holy Saturday commemorations. This comes amidst Israeli government-imposed restrictions on visits by Christians to Jerusalem's Church of Holy Sepulchre.


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Ramadan Traditions Inherited From Ottomans, Shared Values With Turkish People: Palestine Envoy To Turkiye

April 18, 2023

Palestinian Ambassador to Turkiye, Faed Mustafa, told about the Ramadan traditions of Palestine inherited from Ottomans and shared values that bring Turkish and Palestinian people together in an exclusive interview with Anadolu.

"I think the most beautiful aspect of the holy month (Ramadan) is that it brings families together," he added, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Mustafa said that, during Ramadan in Palestine, "large family iftar (fast-breaking) dinners are held. This strengthens the bonds of love in the society."

He went on to say: "Families of captives (Palestinians in Israeli prisons) and martyrs are taken care of. These families are rewarded this month … Although special respect is shown to these families throughout the year, even more attention is shown during Ramadan."

Referring to the common values the two societies share, Mustafa said the Ottoman rule of Palestine for over 400 years contributed greatly to the interaction between Turkish and Palestinian societies.

He said: "There are many common values that bring the Turkish and Palestinian people together. Both countries were part of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, there are traditions that bring the two nations together."

Ramadan traditions of Palestinians inherited from Ottomans

Many Ramadan traditions in Palestine were inherited from the Ottomans, Mustafa said, adding: "Special attention is paid to decorations during Ramadan. The streets are decorated. We can see (Ramadan decorations) particularly in the streets of old Jerusalem."

Decorating streets for Ramadan is a time-honoured tradition from the Ottoman era, he said.

Another tradition that is still going strong for centuries in both countries is playing the Ramadan drum to wake up people before suhoor – the pre-dawn meal – Mustafa said.

Tarawih prayers – special night prayers during Ramadan – in Masjid Al-Aqsa is also among the traditions Palestinians try to maintain to this day, said the Ambassador, and added: "However, Palestinians have difficulty in praying in Al-Aqsa due to the obstacles that Israel has placed in reaching Jerusalem."

The envoy began the interview by commemorating those who lost their lives in the twin earthquakes that hit southern regions of Turkiye on 6 February, and said it was a sad and tragic event.

"We share each other's pain, we stand in solidarity. Those affected by the earthquake are in great pain. Our people in Palestine share the pain of the brotherly Turkish people," Ambassador Mustafa said.

Kifah Um Tarik, the Ambassador's wife, said Ramadan is welcomed with joy in Palestine, as in the whole Muslim world, and Palestinians decorate their houses with the coming of the holy month.

She added that Palestinian families also invite each other to iftar dinners as a Ramadan tradition.

'Feel like at home in Turkiye'

Observing the eighth Ramadan in Turkiye as a family, Um Tarik said: "We have many friends here. We often visit each other during Ramadan. Ramadan in Turkiye is going very well with our Turkish friends."

She also noted: "We feel like we are at our home here. We do not feel like a stranger when we pay home visit to our Turkish friends."

She added that they "feel love and happiness" whenever they pay a visit to their Turkish friends.

Traditional dishes such as maqlooba, maftoul, mansaf, and kadayif dessert – oven-baked shredded pastry with pistachio filling in thick syrup — are the indispensable of iftars in Palestine, Um Tarik also said.


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Dubai Islamic Bank sets up bumper Q1-2023 with net profit at Dh1.5b

April 19, 2023

Dubai: Dubai Islamic Bank pulled out a 47 per cent increase in total income to Dh4.4 billion for the first three months of 2023, continuing on the pace generated through 2022. This delivered a net profit of Dh1.5 billion, which works out to a year-on-year growth of 12 per cent.

"The UAE’s operating environment has been steadfast amidst the global economy’s complex challenges," said Dr. Adnan Chilwan, Group CEO. "The return of trade and tourism, increasing retail spending as well as rising profitability in banking and finance reflect the growing confidence that consumers have on the domestic economy."

New financing during the quarter totalled Dh15.8 billion, an increase by a 'sizeable' 35 per cent compared to Dh11.7 billion a year ago. This was brought on by both corporate and retail financing - and despite the rate hikes the market had experienced through the recent past.

Risk-off investments

DIB's fixed income portfolio has reached Dh55 billion, a 6 per cent year-to-date growth as the 'bank continues to invest in primarily highly rated sovereign sukuk instruments'.

Impairment losses totalled Dh496 million for the three months, higher by 19 per cent from Q1-2022. "In light of the global events, DIB’s asset quality has been remained robust with NPF ratio stable at 6.5 per cent," the bank said. "Our overall coverage ratio and cash coverage ratio have been increasing depicting the bank’s prudent approach to risk management."

The balance-sheet expanded 1.3 per cent year-to-date to Dh292 billion. "The banking sector remains well-insulated from the global contagion and continues to be on a solid footing with steady growth in their balance-sheets and rising profitability levels," said Mohammed Ibrahim Al Shaibani, Director-General of His Highness The Ruler’s Court of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank.

Awaiting other bank numbers

ADCB and United Arab Bank have also announced their Q1-23 numbers, and others will follow suit shortly. The indications are that they will have similar growth trajectories to show, which would put to some rest concerns about whether the US Federal reserve rate hikes - and reflected in UAE lending rates - had cut into appetite for financing among local businesses and individuals.

The consumer banking financing portfolio was Dh53 billion, gaining 2 per cent on the 'back of home finance and personal finance'. The portfolio’s new underwriting reached Dh5 billion and generated Dh1.2 billion in revenues, an improvement by 19 per cent on Q1-22's Dh968 million.

DIB's net financing and sukuk investments closed out the first quarter with Dh240 billion, a gain of 1 per cent, with nearly Dh21 billion in new underwriting during Q1-23 against Dh15 billion a year ago.

Solid on deposits

The Dubai bank's customer deposits were Dh198 billion, with CASA now standing at Dh80 billion, comprising 40 per cent of deposits. "Migration to wakala deposits was apparent during the quarter due to the current global rate scenario," DIB said in a statement. "This is reflected through an increase in the wakala portfolio (investment deposits) which is up 6 per cent year-to-date, comprising a higher share of 60 per cent of total deposits versus 56 per cent in 2022."


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Editor of anti-Palestine Jewish Chronicle accused of inciting anti-Muslim hatred with false tweet

April 18, 2023

The Editor of the London based Jewish Chronicle (JC), Jake Wallis Simons, has been slammed and accused of inciting hatred against Muslims and Islam for posting a tweet propagating the false news that Palestinian Muslims had launched an attack on a Church near Bethlehem.

"Palestinian Muslims launch Ramadan attack on Church of the Annunciation in Beit Jala near Bethlehem," said Simons in a tweet, which he later deleted. Screenshots of the tweet was shared on social media, where many asked Simons if he had issued a correction and an apology to Muslims for spreading misinformation.

As well as being the editor of the JC, Simons has also written for the right-wing outlet accused of meddling Islamophobia, the Spectator. The JC, too, has a history of making false allegations about Muslim groups and is often accused of inciting anti-Muslim racism. One of the more shocking articles by the JC called Islamophobia "bogus" and even claimed that the concept of "Islamophobia" is "profoundly anti-Jew."

As it turned out, there was no such attack by Muslims on the Church. The incident is reported to have been a spill over from a dispute in a nearby restaurant. Simon's failure to verify the incident before sending out a highly provocative anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian tweet exposed his bigotry according to immigration, human rights solicitor, Fahad Ansari.

Ansari said that Simons tweet sought to equate anti-Christian violence with Islam and Palestinians. According to the UK based solicitor, using the phrase "Ramadan attack" at a time of collective worship across both Christianity and Islam was particularly emotive and designed to foment division between the two communities.

"So why did Simons do it?" asked Ansari in the series of tweets debunking the fake news spread by Simons. "Perhaps he was so outraged by the footage against the Christian community that he could not hold back. But if that's the case, one would have expected comment by either Simons or @JewishChron on stories about the persecution of Palestine's Christians?"

There does not appear to be any comment by Simon or the JC about the attack on Palestinian Christians by Jewish extremists.  The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III warned of "unprecedented attacks on the Christian presence by radical Israeli groups," according to the BBC, which highlighted the growing rate of attack on Christians. Church buildings and Christian cemeteries have been desecrated. Israeli extremists have been chanting "Death to Arabs, Death to Christians".

According to the Greek Orthodox Church "Terrorist attacks, by radical Israeli groups, targeting churches, cemeteries, and Christian properties … have become almost a daily occurrence that evidently increases in intensity during Christian holidays."

Ansari shared links to several articles about the attack on Christians by Israelis and asked why Simons and the JC have not issued a condemnation. "One would have thought that mobs attacking churches and Christian owned businesses, chanting 'Death to Christians', would have triggered some sort of newsworthy comment by Simons," said Ansari.

"It is evident Simons' concern for Palestine's Christians was performative and his real intention was to incite hatred against Muslims and Islam, thereby exposing his own bigotry and Islamophobia."

Details of previous anti-Muslim articles by Simons were shared by Ansari, including one where he allegedly tried to hamper Sadiq Khan's mayoral election campaign by painting him as an extremist. The JC has also tried to paint the new Scottish First Minister, Humza Yousaf, as a sympathiser of the Palestinian group, Hamas.

The regulatory group, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), was urged to open an investigation into Simons for the "horrific tweet", and questions were raised over whether he should still be invited by Sky News on the show.


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Former and current players say Ramadan atmosphere combines customs of holy month, culture of sports

APRIL 19, 2023

The holy month of Ramadan has special customs between religious duty, family communication, and a wonderful atmosphere that breaks the usual routine throughout the year, but this is different for athletes and football players in particular, especially as they are professionals who compete in high-level competitions.

This makes the challenge for them greater through the ability to withstand the fatigue of matches, and special training programmes.

The star of the Qatari national team and former Al Arabi club, Raed Yaqoub, who spoke to QNA, affirmed that the special programming set for the official competitions by the Qatar Football Association and the Qatar Stars League is ideal in terms of choice of the appropriate dates for the matches, after sufficient time from Iftar.

Yaqoub added that Ramadan sports atmosphere is not limited to official matches, as there are tournaments that have become an integral part of the activity during the holy month.

Regarding personal habits, the former player and football analyst said he tries every year to set up a programme that guarantees the implementation of all the requirements of the holy month, whether religious, family or sports.

Sport in Qatar has turned into a concept or culture that has been greatly enshrined through the trends adopted by the country, which is unique to the pioneering idea of the Sports Day, in addition to the infrastructure that encourages practicing sports, he added.

Al Arabi player, Ahmed Suhail, believes that the specificity of the holy month of Ramadan gives the matches played a special taste, considering that competitions in tournaments may become a ritual related to the holy month, despite the great challenges of changing the date of matches to late times, and sometimes reaching midnight.

With regard to personal habits, Ahmed Suhail said there is no doubt that the atmosphere during the month of Ramadan is usually wonderful, and there are many special practices that he is used to doing along with the family, friends and which remain in the memory. This is in addition to the commitment to religious duties.

The goalkeeper of the Muaither team, MoayadShannan, who also spoke to QNA, said that playing during the blessed month of Ramadan is completely different, as enthusiasm of the players increases when playing competitive matches, making the atmosphere more wonderful.

Shannan explained that the current season is the first in which he is playing matches during the holy month of Ramadan, which makes it somewhat difficult, especially in the beginning, but over time he said he has been able to adapt to the situation of the matches and training.

Al Gharafa player, Ahmed al-Janahi, said he believes that the difference between playing competitive matches during the month of Ramadan and other regular days seems to be minimal.

Al-Janahi said the impact may be limited to the issue of playing matches late, especially in the beginning. Returning to the regular system will not be easy after Ramadan, he said. Apart from that, playing during Ramadan has many positive advantages.


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Salami: We support the Muslim peoples, do not leave them alone in difficult situations


TEHRAN April 8. 2023 (Saba) - Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami confirmed Tuesday that Iran supports the Muslim peoples and does not leave them alone in difficult situations.

Tasnim International News Agency quoted Salami on the sidelines of the Iranian army's military parade as saying "We wish security and calm for the countries of the region and the message of this parade today was, in fact, to the neighbors that we defend the Muslim peoples and will not leave them alone in difficult situations."

He added Iran has always been at peace and tranquility with its neighbors and its foundation is peace, calm and security.

Salami referred to Iran's distinguished position in the region and its unparalleled defense capabilities in the region and the world, adding the Islamic Republic of Iran is the anchor of stability and security in the region and tries to use its defense capabilities for the sake of peace and tranquility in the region.


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Melbourne's queer Muslims break fast together during Ramadan

By Rosanne Maloney

In a warm, well-lit room tucked away in Melbourne's CBD, the city's queer Muslim community has come together to break fast during Ramadan.

This Iftar — meaning the meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan — has been running for three years to provide a space for Muslims in the LGBTQ community.

As one of the five pillars of Islam, during Ramadan, Muslims are required to fast each day, from dawn until dusk, for around 29 or 30 days,  with the Iftar serving to break the day's fast.

It's a meal commonly shared with family and friends but, for many LGBTQ Muslims living in Australia, Ramadan can be a much lonelier time of year.

Queer Iftar organiser Abdullah Yahya* fled his home country and became a refugee in Australia to escape criminalisation for being queer.

Mr Yahya said the community aspect of Ramadan can be "heartbreaking and isolating" for LGBTQ Muslims like himself, who feel ostracised due to their sexuality.

"I was struggling to find a space for myself during Ramadan," Mr Yahya said.

"If I’ve gone through something that is isolating and heartbreaking during Ramadan, I don’t want anyone else … to go through the same thing."

He started running the Iftar for his community in 2019 and the following year he joined with BridgeMeals, a community-led initiative that holds dinners for marginalised groups, such as refugees, migrants and LGBTQ people.

"Culturally, [Ramadan] is something that we grew up with, and we just want to have that same opportunity to have that same practice again," Mr Yahya said.

The Iftar started with just 6 to 8 people per week in 2020.

This year, BridgeMeals ran three small Iftars to ensure privacy and confidentiality for those who attended, with the group already seeking more funding to keep up with the demand.

For the final Iftar, the organisation brought everyone together and allowed allies to attend too, filling the room with around 80 people.

'That family experience that we're longing for'

YaserYousry attended the Iftar for the first time this year and said that, growing up queer and Muslim, he never thought a space like it would exist.

Tears welling in his eyes, Mr Yousry was overcome with emotion when asked what the event and the space meant to him.

"I’m kind of lost words to be honest … It's unprecedented … I've never seen this many queer Muslims in one room before," he said.

Mr Yousry said he'd struggled to belong in both the queer or Muslim community, but the event and the people he had met reminded him the two are not mutually exclusive.

"Just like being a person of science and also being faithful … [being queer and Muslim] can come together," he said.

Mr Yousry said that, throughout the Iftar, he had conversations with people about the family they had lost when they came out as queer, while others were still hiding their identity for fear of losing their religion and their family.

"We've all experienced a similar thing. We all have a little trauma, fear of abandonment," Mr Yousry said.

"This [queer Iftar] will help a lot of people feel safe and feel like they have a home and a community … and have that family experience that we're longing for."

Creating a safe space for queer Muslims

Nurul — the president of the community group Sydney Queer Muslims — said creating safe spaces for LGBTQ Muslims could be saving lives.

Her organisation has been running queer Iftars in Sydney since 2017 and she said it was "very encouraging" to hear Melbourne's events were growing too.

Nurul said queer Iftars give people a chance to reconcile their Muslim and queer identities, a major source of pain for her community.

"It reaffirms that you exist, that you are valid. It's good for the soul," she said.

"You don't know whose life you're saving by just having one event."

Mr Yahya said a lot of work needed to be done for the wider, socially conservative Australian community and the wider LGBTQ community to accept queers of faith.

He said members from more "conservative" parts of the community had attacked the event online, but that he was hopeful more queer Muslims would hear about the Melbourne Iftar and attend next year.

"They can't police us and how queer we want to be and how Muslim we want to be," Mr Yahya said.

"Doing this kind of work is my way of being a Muslim."

As the sun set in Melbourne, everyone gathered at the Iftar began to eat and celebrate being together.

For Mr Yahya, the meal symbolised a community that was free to express themselves.

"Having this space means that nobody gets to dictate our faith, because we believe in our religion. We believe in how we practise our faith. We believe in how we define our relationship with our God," he said.

"This is our own journey and this is our own space."

* Abdullah Yahya's name has been changed for privacy reasons.


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Southeast Asia


Impose Deterrent Sentence On Teenage Sexual Offender, Court Told

19 Apr 2023

PUTRAJAYA: The prosecution has called on the Court of Appeal to impose a deterrent sentence on a teenager convicted of four sex-related offences.

“This court must send a strong message that it does not condone this type of offence,” said deputy public prosecutor Ng Siew Wee.

Ng was submitting during an appeal against sentences imposed by two separate courts for offences committed by the teenager when he was 15 years old.

The teen was charged under Section 14(a) of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 at the court for children in Sepang on two counts of physical sexual assault on his sister and a female friend.

He was also charged with committing carnal intercourse against the order of nature with his sister’s friend under Section 377C of the Penal Code.

In September 2020, he was sent by a magistrate to Henry Gurney School for three years after pleading guilty to the offences.

He also pleaded guilty at the court for children in Petaling Jaya to another charge under Section 14(a) for sexually assaulting another female friend.

In February 2021, he was ordered to be detained at the Henry Gurney School for three years.

The punishments were affirmed by a High Court in November of the same year.

The teenager served three months of his sentence before the Court of Appeal stayed it pending his final appeal.

“We need to go through the relevant laws to determine a suitable punishment,” said Justice Hadhariah Syed Ismail at the conclusion of today’s hearing.

Hadhariah was chairing a three-member panel which included Justices M Gunalan and Lim Chong Fong.

Proceedings today began with Hadhariah confirming that the panel members had read the appeal records and had noted that the appellant had the tendency to watch pornography.

Ng called for the court to commit the teenager, who is now just over 18 years old, to a custodial sentence in prison.

“Section 98 of the Child Act does not allow a habitual sexual offender to be placed under probation,” she said.

Ng said the law also allowed the youth, who is now waiting for his SijilPelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination results, to be placed in Henry Gurney School in Melaka until he turns 21.

However, the offender cannot be placed in any of the approved schools run by the social welfare department as they only admit children below the age of 18.

Ng said the youth had also repeatedly kicked one of his female friends despite her pleas for him to stop.

“In fact, he took photos of his victims and threatened to expose them,” she added.

Lawyer Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz, who is representing the youth, urged the court to impose a non-custodial sentence involving either a good behaviour bond or community service.

He said his client had been sent to a government boarding school where he sat for his SPM examination.

“There were no complaints or reports of him repeating such offences in the co-ed institution,” the lawyer said.

Khairul said it was pointless to put the teenager in a correctional school or send him to jail as this would affect his future.


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PJSC launches model Islamic healthcare institution

April 19, 2023

Lyna Mohamad

PantaiJerudong Specialist Centre (PJSC) marked the final week of Ramadhan with a launch of the Ibadah Friendly Hospital (IFH) initiative officiated at the Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam Mosque in Kampong Jerudong by Minister of Health and Chairman of Board of Directors of PJSC Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji MohdIsham bin Haji Jaafar, yesterday.

The PJSC IFH aims to be a model of Islamic healthcare institution that provides compassionate and holistic care addressing patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in accordance with the ‘Zikir Nation’ agenda.

PJSC Executive Director Dr Haji MazrulAdimin bin Haji AwangBesar, Board of Directors members, management and PJSC staff and guests were also present.

The event also saw the presentation of donations to 36 orphans.

After the launch of PJSC IFH, the event continued with the handover of certificates to the participants of Semarak Ramadhan by PJSC Head of Rehabilitation Department at the Brunei Neuroscience Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre (BNSRC) Dr Abang Muhammad Fahmy bin AbangHepnie.

The programme aims to foster a sense of community among staff, patients and a caregivers and celebrate Ramadhan through activities organised by the Rehabilitation Department at the BNSRC in collaboration with PJSC IFH.


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Tutong mosque receives food packs

April 19, 2023

Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA), through the HalalanThayyiban Student Society (HTSS) and the Faculty of Agriculture Student Society organised Projek Amal Kasih recently.

The programme was led by Assistant Lecturer at the HalalanThayyiban Research Centre of UNISSA Raihana binti Mohamad Raffi. A total of 337 food packs was donated to five mosques in the Tutong District.

The mosques included Kampong Sinaut Mosque, Kampong Keriam Mosque, Kampong Kelugos Mosque, Ar-Rahim Mosque in Kampong Bukit Panggal, and Haji Abdul Azim Mosque in Kampong LuaganDudok.


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North America


CAIR-Chicago Condemns Anti-Muslim Comments Targeting Town Official

April 18, 2023

Ismail Allison

(CHICAGO, IL, 4/18/2023) – The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) today condemned a recent incident in which a local town official was reportedly subjected to derogatory and hateful comments, including being referred to as a “suicide bomber,” after residents learned of her Muslim faith. 

According to reports, Reem Townsend, a local trustee of DuPage Township, Ill., was subjected to verbal abuse during a town hall meeting, where residents mocked her for her religious beliefs and made Islamophobic statements.

One resident is heard on video saying, “He didn’t know that she was a suicide bomber.”

SEE: Local residents mock town official as a ‘suicide bomber’ after learning of her Muslim faith 

In response to the incident, Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, stated: 

“We stand in solidarity with Reem Townsend, the Muslim town official reportedly subjected to hate speech and bigotry. It is deeply disturbing that anyone in our society would be subjected to such abuse because of their faith, and we condemn this unacceptable behavior in the strongest possible terms.” 

“Islamophobia and bigotry have no place in our society, and we urge local officials to take appropriate action to address and prevent such incidents from happening in the future. We also encourage the community to come together in support of our Muslim neighbors and to work toward building a more inclusive and welcoming society for all.

“CAIR-Chicago calls on local authorities to take swift action to investigate the incident and to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. We also encourage community members to report any incidents of hate or discrimination to CAIR-Chicago, and we stand ready to offer support and assistance to those affected by such incidents.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.



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Ramadan Reflections at Harvard: My Oasis of Community

By Hasan S. Quadri, Contributing Opinion Writer

The tangy odor of cardamom and cinnamon drifts from the freshly brewed masala chai that aunties and uncles sip, dancing with the sugary aroma wafting from the children’s cotton-candy machine. At the entrance of our Ramadan Suhoor tent, I hear a chorus of familiar, gentle laughter and soft murmurs of conversation in the moonlight. As I whisper the words of the Quran and hear its soft sound grace my ears, a feeling of peace washes over me.

Rejuvenated by this oasis of community, I am eager for another day of fasting. I forage for the rest of my family, covertly clutching my wand of cotton candy and savoring sparse samples of chai en route. Just as we become united and begin to say our “farewell salams,” we happily bump into old friends who pause our return home.

This is how I remember spending my childhood Ramadans at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati.

Each year during Ramadan, the excitement of being together is palpable; with only 30 days available, each night is irreplaceable. Ramadan represents much more than merely the physical experiences of hunger or thirst that come with fasting from dawn to sunset. Abstaining from external pleasures of food and drink requires a degree of self-discipline, a kind of restraint which often compels me to refrain from forms of excess consumption.

Ramadan encourages self-reflection, while being interspersed with communal experiences; the combination synthesizes the perfect playground for spiritual cultivation. The experience compels me to improve my character, patience, and contribution to the world around me, in ways simply not possible in the other eleven months of the year.

Night by night, the chaotic yet cozy environment within my childhood Suhoor tent fused with tranquil, early morning Fajr and late night Taraweeh prayers to catalyze my yearning to come to the masjid — the Islamic place of worship — as often as possible. Only there, at the masjid, did I really ever feel my world slowing down and my own focus stabilizing amid the entropy of everyday life, promoting my desire to remain.

Rooted in the lunar calendar, the month of Ramadan shifts earlier each year in relation to the Gregorian calendar. As a consequence of calendar misalignment, Ramadan, once an anchor of my summer breaks, has now creeped into term time. Now, long nights spent standing in Taraweeh are occasionally substituted for note-taking at my desk. And for many Muslim students across the world, this year’s Ramadan may be the first time that they practice away from their own family, friends, and communities from home.

I’ll be honest: A pivotal factor in my college decision process rested upon how each campus community supported Muslims during Ramadan. It was important to me that my school environment would foster my ability to grow and improve in all aspects of my life, not just academics.

Ramadan at Harvard has enhanced my experience in unprecedented ways. With strong support and direction from full-time University Muslim Chaplain Khalil Abdur-Rashid, and Harvard’s first female Muslim Chaplain Samia Omar, Harvard students and affiliates have access to an enriching and welcoming community. The joint effort of the Muslim Chaplaincy and the Office of the President have created an environment where Muslim students can experience Ramadan on-campus more comfortably with assured nightly programming.

As a Muslim at Harvard, I am surrounded by ample resources, which I would not have without the advocacy and work of those who have come before me. Yet this is not the norm across higher education. Many simple marks of support, such as a designated Islamic prayer space, are still subjects of stagnant discussions being held at other universities across the country.

It is imperative that other higher education institutions model similar institutional support to their Muslim students, staff, and faculty, both during and after Ramadan. Carefully designing resources and support for Ramadan necessitates months of full-time preparation — a feat that is best accomplished by dedicated staff rather than a small handful of self-organized students. Chaplains Omar and Abdur-Rashid have ensured that all Harvard affiliates can join together in community dinners and congregational prayers during every night of Ramadan. With their assistance, the number of participants in these events has increased to nearly 600 students in the past year alone.

As I reflect on this past Ramadan, I cannot help but appreciate the palpable sense of excitement and energy on campus akin to my oasis of community at home. Building off ideation and excitement from last year, together, Muslim students have organized and planned activities this Ramadan. In collaboration with Associate Dean of Inclusion and Belonging Alta Mauro and the Dean of Students Office, we, the Harvard Islamic Society, have created Weekly Community Suhoors to teach all students about Ramadan. In addition, we are hosting a larger celebration for Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic Holiday that concludes this month of fasting.

On a more personal level, students have brought Ramadan traditions from their homes to campus, whether that involves decorating iftar spaces with lights, giving Eid gifts to children, or creating fundraising initiatives campus-wide.

Now nestled within the Student Organization Center at Hilles, a makeshift prayer room recalls those same, precious moments of laughter and conversation I shared years earlier at home. The adhan (call to prayer) echoes through the room, and the community, bustling with people of all different ages, backgrounds, and studies, pauses to reflect and give thanks for the blessings of the day.

As I look forward to these last few nights filled with prayer, reflection, and togetherness, I am grateful to have such a special and meaningful community here at Harvard.

Hasan S. Quadri ’25 is a Neuroscience concentrator in Mather House and a Co-President of the Harvard Islamic Society.


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ETF Prime: Roxanna Islam Turns up the Speaker on Communication

APRIL 18, 2023

On the most recent episode of ETF Prime, VettaFi’s Roxanna Islam, associate director of research, dove into the evolution of the communication services sector and related ETFs with host Nate Geraci. Hashdex’s co-founder and CEO Marcelo Sampaio followed with a discussion of launching the first ’33 Act bitcoin futures ETF, and then Amplify ETFs’ founder and CEO Christian Magoon was on to talk about their ETF lineup and funds of note.

In a volatile first quarter, the two top performing sectors by a wide margin were communication services and technology as measured by the Select Sector SPDR ETFs, Geraci explained: Communication Services Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLC) is up 23% YTD while the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK) is up 21% YTD. Islam believes that the rise in technology and adjacent sectors this year after a dismal performance in 2022 is likely due to the anticipation of an end to the Fed rate hiking cycle.

“We’ve seen investors’ interest return back to anything that has to do with growth, innovation, and technology,” Islam explained.

The addition of banking sector stress has also been the likely catalyst for investors seeking refuge in some of the biggest large-cap companies, such as the FAANGs, including Meta, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Netflix. Meta, Netflix, and Google, while tech-oriented companies, are classified as communications services and rely heavily on metrics such as time spent on apps to boost ad revenue instead of a measurement of units sold as Apple utilizes.

The Evolution of the Communication Services Sector

The current-day communications services sector was reclassified in 2018 from the telecom sector, which previously held companies such as AT&T and Verizon. The reclassification recognized a changing technology landscape where communication spread beyond telephones to the internet and social media.

“Now the sector holds companies that not only are a lot newer but also growthier, more tech-adjacent companies,” explained Islam, and makes up roughly 8% of the S&P 500.

Other ETFs that offer exposure to the sector include the Vanguard Communication Services ETF (VOX), the Fidelity MSCI Communication Services Index ETF (FCOM), and the iShares Global Comm Services ETF (IXP), but XLC is the largest by far with more than $10 billion in AUM. Islam explained that all four funds are market-cap weighted, and investors looking to allocate to the space through any of the funds would inherently carry heavy weighting to the mega-caps in the space, specifically Meta and Alphabet/Google, which comprise anywhere from a third to half of the weight in all four ETFs.

For investors looking to avoid overexposure to the mega-caps, ETFs like the EWCO (Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight Communication Services ETF) can offer broader exposure across the communications services sector, while the First Trust S-Network Streaming and Gaming ETF (BNGE) invests internationally and includes gaming and streaming giants like Nintendo and Sony, and is an alternative take on the evolution of the communication services sector.

Bringing a ’33 Act Bitcoin Futures ETF to Market

Hashdex’s co-founder and CEO Marcelo Sampaio was on next to talk crypto and bring the first 1933 Act bitcoin futures ETF, the Hashdex Bitcoin Futures ETF (DEFI), to market last year. Hashdex was founded in 2018 to bring the kinds of funds to market that there was growing interest in but that no one was offering. Hashdex brought the world’s first crypto ETF to market in 2021, the Victory Hashdex Nasdaq Crypto Index Fund LLC, which trades on the Bermuda Stock Exchange.

“Our approach is really not trying to change regulations — that takes too long, that is too hard,” Sampaio explained. Instead, Hashdex works within the existing framework to build out products and initially launched in Bermuda before moving on to Brazil, where the fund became the second largest ETF on Brazil’s Stock Exchange.

Hashdex launched DEFI in September 2022 in the U.S. as a 1933 Act fund which Sampaio describes as the same as buying the bitcoin futures directly as opposed to existing 1940 Act funds that needed to utilize leverage and other mechanisms to capture bitcoin futures prices. It allows for greater efficiency, and because it is a ’33 Act structure, if and when the SEC approves a spot bitcoin ETF, it can switch from futures to spot exposure as opposed to ’40 Act ETFs that would need to convert.

Conversation also included the role of the macro environment on crypto, current bitcoin performance, and an outlook for crypto looking ahead.

How to Amplify Your Portfolios

Last on was Christian Magoon, Amplify ETFs’ founder and CEO, to discuss their ETF lineup and ETFs of interest right now. According to Geraci, Amplify ETFs are currently in the top 20% of issuers by AUM and the top 15% by flows in 2023.

Amplify started in 2016 with the launch of the first online retail-focused ETF, the Amplify Online Retail ETF (IBUY), followed later that year by the Amplify CWP Enhanced Dividend Income ETF (DIVO), which is now the largest ETF in the Amplify suite.

Amplify hopes to bring value to investors through a “diversified product line: that’s the biggest lesson and takeaway from prior experience from Amplify is to make sure we’re not only offering door-opening, unique thematic ETFs but also solid income ETFs with some core products that are additives in investor’s portfolio,” Magoon explained.

DIVO is one such ETF that grew from $400 million in assets in 2021 to nearly $3 billion AUM today. The fund is actively managed and offers exposure to blue-chip companies while generating income from dividends and writing covered calls on the underlying securities. DIVO has a 3-year total annualized return of 18% and a 5-year annualized total return of 11% and is a 5-star Morningstar-rated ETF.

Amplify also offers the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK), an actively managed crypto equity ETF up nearly 40% YTD.

“We’ve been out in the market with BLOK since the beginning,” Magoon explained. “We’ve seen several cycles in bitcoin and digital asset prices and survived. The big lesson that I would impart to investors is this is cyclical, and the volatility involved in investing in digital assets, crypto, or blockchain equity ETFs often shakes people out at the wrong time.” Magoon recommends a long-term buy-and-hold strategy with a risk-managed approach. is owned by VettaFi LLC (“VettaFi”). VettaFi LLC (“VettaFi”) is the index provider for BLOK, IBUY, and DIVO, for which it receives an index licensing fee. However, BLOK, IBUY, and DIVO are not issued, sponsored, endorsed, or sold by VettaFi, and VettaFi has no obligation or liability in connection with the issuance, administration, marketing, or trading of BLOK, IBUY, and DIVO.

VettaFi’s financial futurist, Dave Nadig, joined “ETF Edge” and host Bob Pisani Monday to talk crypto — particularly, the ongoing battle between Grayscale Investments and the SEC. The case centers around the conversion of its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into an ETF, with the crypto industry still lacking for a spot product with direct exposure to bitcoin or any other digital currency.

See more: “Setting Odds on the GBTC Lawsuit”

Answering a question from Pisani regarding Grayscale’s chances of a win in its case against the regulator, Nadig explained that Grayscale actually has a “more than 50/50” chance to win — but that may not give Grayscale everything the firm wants outright.

“I think the chances are more than 50/50 that they will win this lawsuit,” Nadig said. “However, I don’t think that means that all of a sudden we get a bitcoin ETF. I think there’s actually a higher likelihood it means that they shut down some of the futures-based products.”

“There’s no way to force a regulator to approve a product — you can’t actually mandate a regulator to take an action,” Nadig added. “I suspect that even if Grayscale wins, [SEC Chair Gary] Gensler is going to back even further away from crypto and not necessarily approve a spot bitcoin ETF, but put some constraints around the futures-based products while we wait for maybe someday comprehensive crypto regulation and legislation in this country.”

Both Pisani and Nadig agreed that, belying Gensler’s unwillingness to make a ruling on spot bitcoin and several other pressing crypto questions, the SEC commissioner has actually done “regulation by enforcement” by suing certain crypto firms for certain acts “very, very capriciously,” according to Nadig.

The SEC is regulating certain industries, like crypto, more than others — the regulator isn’t going after swords in the online video game World of Warcraft, for example, but one could argue they fail the same tests for which Gensler is arguing.

Underlining the framework with which SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce approaches the regulator’s duties as focused on “capital raising,” Nadig explained that the so-called “Howey Test” to assess whether a transaction qualifies as a security isn’t really applicable for crypto. Instead, legislation is needed — but the chances of the broad rulemaking needed from Congress arriving sooner than 2025 are pretty slim.

A stablecoin rule could come sooner and open the gates for clear legislation on crypto overall, but the outlook for crypto overall depends on the upcoming election cycle.

“A good set of legislation is on the table to basically bring [stablecoins] under the umbrella, actually have them being regulated by the Fed, because effectively they’re going to be money market instruments. I’m a fan of that. I’m hoping we see some action and actually get some votes on it,” Nadig said.

“I think we’ll give stablecoins at least a shot at it this year. That might break it open to be a post-campaign issue. So 2025, maybe?” he added as to the timing of a broader crypto bill.


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Family absence felt by refugees during Ramadan

By Abdul Hekmat

April 19 2023

Amjad Hussain sits cross-legged on the colourful embroidered rugs of a suburban community centre to break his Ramadan fast with other men, but he longs for a day of feasting with his wife and children.

"I have been away from my family for 12 years. The last time I broke fast with them was back in 2010," the 50-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker tells AAP in western Sydney.

"These men are my friends and acquaintances, they have become my family - I feel like I'm at home here."

The holy month of Ramadan, which ends this week, is observed by millions of Muslims who fast from sunrise to sunset.

The Imam Ali community centre at Guildford has become a hub for mostly Afghan and Pakistani refugees and asylum seekers, who come for an evening meal, or iftar, to break their fast. They pray in groups, drink chai and eat biryani.

Before fleeing Pakistan and arriving in Australia on a rickety boat in 2012, Mr Hussain worked as a journalist where he reported on the targeted killing of minorities.

That work saw him caught in the crosshairs of extremist Islamist terrorists.

"My wife and parents used to sit on their prayer mats all day while I was at work praying for my safety," he said.

"I frequently changed my route from home to office and vice-versa to keep myself safe. When I left for work each morning, there was no certainty that I would come back home," he said.

Mr Hussain was granted a temporary protection visa, following a bridging visa, and secured a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa in 2021.

"Almost everyone from my boat received their permanent visas and then sponsored their families. I am still waiting for the news to have a permanent visa."

In February the federal government announced plans for permanent protection visas for 19,000 refugees on temporary protection visas.

The separation from his family and ongoing security concerns in Pakistan for them have been "unbearable" he said.

Turning to his Muslim faith, especially during Ramadan, helps soothe the pain of separation, he added.

"I used to get depressed because I have been away from them for a long time then a positive change came," he said. "I just tried to talk with God ... I tried to meditate".

University of NSW researcher Belinda Little, said prolonged family separation is detrimental to refugees' mental and physical wellbeing.

They can benefit from engaging with religious, community, or sports groups, but family togetherness is important, Assoc Prof Little said.

Rahimi 48, who lives in the western Sydney suburb of Auburn - a popular landing spot for the Afghan community - also holds a safe-haven visa.

"I haven't seen how my kids have grown up in the last 12 years," said the refugee who does not want to use his full name, fearing reprisals against his family in Afghanistan.

"My daughter, whom I supported over many years to finish high school, is now barred under the Taliban from continuing her education at university."

The Taliban instituted the policy against female education as part of a raft of changes after taking over Afghanistan in 2021.

"My biggest regret is being unable to visit my father on his death bed while he waited for years to see me".

"I applied to the Immigration Department to visit my family, but they rejected my application to travel. I have been wracked with guilt ever since."


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Chinese Man Flatly Denies Blasphemy Accusation

April 19, 2023

MANSEHRA: A Chinese national taken into custody after a mob accused him of committing blasphemy said he never made any remarks that could hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims or even hidebound Kohistanis.

The Chinese citizen, who was being kept at Police Lines in Abbottabad after the district administration declared the premises a sub-jail and beefed up its security, said he was arrested under trumped-up charges.

“I can’t even contemplate offending sentiments of Pakistanis and Muslims but whatever I have been facing here is nothing but a lie,” he told a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), constituted by the government to investigate the matter, as this was apparently the third attempt to sabotage the 3,420-megawatt Dasu hydropower project.

The JIT has already probed the 2021 attack on a bus carrying Chinese nationals to the dam sites that claimed the lives of 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals, as well as a blaze that broke out at a Chinese worker’s residential camp earlier this month. The team was now investigating the latest episode.

Sources privy to the interrogation said that the Chinese national picked up on a blasphemy charge would probably be produced before an anti-terrorism court in Abbottabad tomorrow (Thursday).

Interpreter grilled

On the other hand, the police team investigating the case grilled the interpreter, Mohammad Yasir, on whose testimony the FIR was lodged.

The interpreter told the police team that he was ‘doubtful’ of what sacrilegious remarks the Chinese man had uttered.

He also claimed that labourers who accompanied him during the incident that led to the alleged blasphemy were compelling him (Yasir) to stand firm on his previous stance.

Meanwhile, Chinese engineers and workers resumed work at the project site. The work was suspended after crowds took to the streets demanding the arrest of the Chinese national accused of allegedly committing blasphemy.

Earlier, an FIR of the incident was registered at the Kamila police station, Upper Kohistan, under Sections 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 6/7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Beijing ‘verifying situation’

The Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday that its mission in Islamabad was verifying the situation regarding its national, Reuters reported.

“The Chinese government has always required overseas Chinese citizens to abide by the laws and regulations of the host country and respect local customs,” the ministry’s spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said at Tuesday’s news briefing.

“If this issue does involve a Chinese citizen, the embassy will provide consular protection and assistance within the scope of its duties,” he said.


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SC begins hearing defence ministry’s request to hold elections across Pakistan simultaneously

April 19, 2023

The Supreme Court (SC) bench on Wednesday took up the defence ministry’s request to hold general elections across Pakistan simultaneously upon completion of the terms of national as well as Sindh and Balochistan assemblies.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar is hearing the petition.

A day earlier, the defence ministry filed an application in the SC, requesting the top court to recall its April 4 order that had fixed May 14 as the election date for the Punjab Assembly.

The application asked the apex court to issue directives that general elections to the national and all provincial assemblies be held on the same date.

Along with the application, the defence ministry also issued a report in court, laid before the SC in compliance with its directives to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and other departments to furnish reports after releasing Rs21 billion to the ECP for holding elections to the Punjab and KP assemblies.

In its report, the ministry highlighted the need of holding the elections on the same day in view of the heightened security situation in the country. It also said that the armed forces would be able to carry out election duties by early October.

“Due to the prevalent security situation and counter-terrorism operations being carried out in KP and Balochistan as well as the intelligence-based operations in Punjab and Sindh, the armed forces, Rangers, Frontier Constabulary and other forces are not logistically available to be repositioned and re-posted for providing election security, twice in a span of six months,” the report said.

“Significant time is required to prepare the members of the armed forces for the election duty, given much of the force has been actively engaged in operations for a considerable period of time,” the application said, adding the security situation in Punjab and Sindh has been stable in the light of the efforts of the ongoing operations in KP and Balochistan, respectively.

Therefore, any diversion of troops from KP and Balochistan will result in directly affecting the security situation in Punjab and Sindh, the application explained.

As the hearing commenced today, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan was called to the rostrum. CJP Bandial remarked that the matter had been prolonged as the government had given its executive to the parliament.

“May God guide us to take the right decisions and include us in good people,” the top judge said and then instructed the AGP to read out the defence ministry’s report in the courtroom.

Executive-judiciary impasse on polls

Earlier this month, the SC had directed the government to provide Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by April 10, and directed the electoral body to provide a report on whether or not the government complied with the order on April 11.

However, the government referred the matter to Parliament which defied the court’s orders and refused to issue the funds.

Last week, the electoral watchdog had submitted a report to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope. Though the contents of the report are not known, a source privy to the information told Dawn that the one-page report informed the apex court about the government’s reluctance to issue the Rs21bn needed for the purpose.

Subsequently, the court had directed the SBP to release funds worth Rs21bn for elections from Account No I — a principal component of the Federal Cons­olidated Fund worth Rs1.39 trillion — and send an “appropriate communication” to this effect to the finance ministry by April 17.

Following the top court’s orders, the central bank on Monday allocated the funds and sought the finance ministry’s nod to release the amount.

The federal cabinet’s approval was required to release the amount from the FCF, while the government has to get the National Assembly’s approval for its release. But the same day, the coalition government managed through the NA the rejection of its own demand for the provision of Rs21bn as a supplementary grant to the ECP for holding polls in the two provinces.

On Tuesday, the ECP submitted a report in court saying that the staggering of elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was not feasible since it involved significant expenditures compared to holding of polls on the same day.

On the other hand, the finance ministry said that in the wake of the rejection on part of the National Assembly to a government-sponsored motion to grant Rs21bn to the federal government for meeting expenditures, other than charged, during the financial year ending June 30, 2023, in respect of the ECP for holding the elections in Punjab and KP, it was difficult to sanction the release of the funds.


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An economic crisis in Pakistan means many are going hungry during Ramadan

By Sophia Saifi

Wed April 19, 2023


In Pakistan’s capital, people are lining up in the hundreds for a single bag of free flour at a government distribution center during the holy month of Ramadan, which ends this week.

Amid record inflation and soaring poverty, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced a relief package in early March offering a bag of free flour to “to the poorest of the poor.”

Standing in line under the hot spring sun, 20-year-old Waqas Chaudhry, who works in the tech sector, has never had to ask for charity before in his life.

“Everything has become so expensive,” he told CNN. “It has become incredibly difficult just to survive.”

Over the past month, about two dozen people have died in the country while waiting for the food donations.

In Karachi, Pakistan’s financial center, 13 women and children died in March when hundreds of people caused a stampede in the rush for free food. Nine were killed in late March at separate government run flour distribution sites in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has expressed concern at what it called “mismanagement” that caused stampedes at wheat flour distribution centers set up by the government.

Few in this nation of over 200 million have been spared by an economic crisis that started last year due to high inflation, a depreciating currency and low reserves of foreign currency, which are used to purchase imports like food and fuel.

One third of Pakistan’s farmland was affected after catastrophic floods last summer. According to the International Rescue Committee, 33 million people in Pakistan were affected by the severe flooding that has caused $40 billion in economic damage.

The government has been trying to reach agreement with the International Monetary Fund to restart a $6.5 billion loan program that has stalled since November, in an effort to keep the economy afloat.

The fund has presented a set of conditions in exchange for the release of a $1.1 billion loan installment. It includes liberalizing the rupee’s exchange rate and raising taxes.

‘Unsustainable’ program

Pakistan’s consumer price index rose to a record 35% in March from a year earlier, according to official figures.

The March inflation number eclipsed February’s 31.5%, the statistics bureau said, as food, beverage and transport prices surged up to 50% compared to last year. Staples like the price of flour, a staple of Pakistani diets, has doubled over the past year, according to the bureau.

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan has called the government’s flour distribution policy “unsustainable” and that it was “humiliating people.”

While Pakistan has lurched back and forth from multiple crises in recent years, the current economic hardships are especially acute. There is widespread discontent and despair.

According to a survey conducted by Gallup & Gilani Pakistan, just under three quarters of 2,000 respondents think the country’s economic situation has gotten worse over the last six months.

Ammar Khan, a senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, says several factors caused the rampant food inflation: surging global grain prices due to the war in Ukraine and a record drop in the value of the rupee against the US dollar which made imports more even expensive.

Khan said a shortage of basic imports such as animal feed and other raw materials essential for food production contributed further to the food crisis and widespread hunger.

He said a possible solution to the food crisis would require a successful deal with the IMF, which would allow access to US dollar funding and help more imports to flow back in.

Rampant smuggling

Smuggling has also contributed to food shortages.

Adil Mansoor, a food security analyst based in Karachi, said basic food items such as flour were being hoarded in Pakistan and smuggled across the heavily policed Afghan border in the country’s north to be sold for lucrative returns in Central Asia.

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah reiterated the government’s “resolve” to take “strict action” against elements involved in smuggling.

Ramadan is a period of thanksgiving and shared meals, but the festivities have been overshadowed by the economic crisis. Charity is an important component of the holy month and each year soup kitchens lay out free iftars, the meal eaten after sunset to end the daily fast.

This year, according to the Saylani Welfare International Trust, a nongovernmental organization that provides free meals, the number of people relying on goodwill has doubled. There has been little to celebrate for many.

“We can’t pay our children’s school fees,” said Syed Naseer, a construction worker waiting at the soup kitchen. “We break our fast with just water and a date…other delicacies are only things we can dream about right now.”

The economic despair here won’t end with a bag of flour, as so many in Pakistan go to bed hungry this Ramadan.


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Sanjrani calls on Muslim World League chief in Madina

April 19, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani and the secretary general of the Muslim World League Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing cooperation and strengthening the bond between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Sanjrani led a delegation of senators during meeting with Sheikh Dr. Mohammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League in Saudi Arabia, says the Senate Secretariat here in a statement.

During the meeting held in Madinah, the secretary general welcomed the Senate chairman and his delegation to Saudi Arabia and congratulated them on performing Umrah.

The chairman Senate expressed Pakistan’s admiration for the Muslim World League’s leadership in the fight against Islamophobia.

The Chairman Senate expressed special gratitude to King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their recent financial assistance to Pakistan, which he believes will help alleviate the country’s financial difficulties. He also lauded Saudi Arabia’s provision of ideal facilities for visitors and commended the efforts of the Muslim World League in removing misunderstandings about Islam in the West and spreading the peaceful and tolerant ideology of Islam in the non-Muslim world.


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Soaring inflation dampens Eid ul Fitr spirit in Pakistan

April 19, 2023

LAHORE: The holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, used to be a guaranteed earner for Pakistan's small shops and businesses — a big-spending week that could match the take from the rest of the year.

This year, however, many worry they will not even make enough to pay their monthly rent, with inflation hitting its highest levels in decades and political turmoil miring the country in uncertainty.

"There are no customers, there are no buyers," said Shehzad Ahmed, who runs a shop selling bags, jewellery and other goods in the eastern city of Lahore.

The cash-strapped country of more than 220 million people saw year-on-year inflation hit 35.4% in March. Food prices surged more than 47% in 12 months, with transport costs rising by 55%.

Pakistan is deeply in debt and needs to introduce tough reforms to unlock a tranche of a $6.5 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to avoid default.

The economy has been wrecked by years of financial mismanagement and political instability — a situation exacerbated by a global energy crisis and devastating floods that left a third of the country under water last year.

The end of Ramadan, Eid ul Fitr, is celebrated by Muslims around the world by feasting with relatives and friends, exchanging gifts, and dressing up in new clothes and shoes.

The dire economic straits have, however, cast a decidedly sombre mood across the country's normally vibrant markets.

"There are significantly fewer shoppers compared to last year — and it's because of inflation," trader Saif Ali told AFP.

'Going through the motions'

Sheikh Amir, who runs a small shop selling glass bangles and imitation jewellery, said he was usually able to earn enough for the whole year during Eid.

"It's become very difficult these days," he said. "We are just going through the motions in the hope that we will be able to make enough to pay the rent for our shops."

Major shopping districts across the country usually see a surge in spending in the week leading up to the holiday, which begins with the sighting of the new moon, expected this weekend.

In urban centres, markets and shops stay open until after midnight — many putting on special offers or sales to attract customers.

Twinkling holiday lights adorn many bazaars to attract customers, while street vendors set up stalls offering special holiday treats.

This year, all have reported a significant drop in sales.

"Our business is slow," said Ali, who was hoping to sell hundreds of embroidered shawls in the run-up to Eid.

For Fatima Azhar Mehmood, a mother of seven daughters, this Eid will be a budget-conscious one.

"I have to shop for them, and at the same time I have to buy things for the house," she said.

Instead of buying off-the-rack clothes for the girls, Fatima went shopping for fabric in the Old Lahore district and plans to home-stitch their Eid outfits.

"We have to buy rations, buy things for the children... and our rent is going to be due soon too," she said.

"Everything is upon us at the same time."

Shocked at the price of goods this year, Amna Asim decided that in her household, only the children would get gifts this year — adult relatives would have to go without.

"Shopping for the kids is a must," she said.

"We can't leave the kids out. Even if we don't get anything for ourselves we must get something for the kids."


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