Allah Controversy All Over Again?

The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (“Council”) lost its bid to intervene as a party in the Malaysian Government’s appeal against a High Court ruling requiring it to return 8 CDs containing the word “Allah”.  Observers are quick to note that the case could very well develop into another Allah controversy, addressing the same constitutional questions that the Federal Court failed to do so in The Herald’s case.  This is because Jill Ireland had also cross appealed for the Court of Appeal to address these issues which the High Court also failed to address when it ordered the return of the seized CDs to her.

The Petition To Intervene

Earlier this week, Jill Ireland filed her objections to the bid by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council to be made a party in the government’s appeal against a High Court order to return the 8 CDs with the word “Allah” in it.  Among the reasons given by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council for intervening in this case were:

1.    It has the right to regulate how non-Muslims pray and the materials they use, including audio and texts.

2.   The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and/or Sultan, as head of Islam for the relevant state, has the right to regulate all matters relating to Islam including the use of the word “Allah”.

3.   Some of the relief sought by Jill Ireland, including the right to use, import, export, distribute any Christian material with the word “Allah” for her own edification in professing her religion is guaranteed by the Constitution and as such, the Council has the right to regulate or prohibit such materials.

4.   That Jill Ireland’s act of using materials with the word “Allah” will cause confusion leading to unrest and public disorder. The act of Jill Ireland in using these materials will contravene Section 298A of the Penal Code and police must be empowered to investigate and seize such material which could pose a threat to security, and arrest the person in possession of those items.

5.   The Council has the right to refer such matters to the Shariah courts if any non-Muslim is in possession of materials with the words like “Allah”, “kaabah” and “solat”.

Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, counsel for the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council summarize its case in his submission to the Court of Appeal, saying: “The Council can advise the Agong that it would affect the welfare of Muslims if non-Muslims are allowed to use the word ‘Allah’”.

Jill Ireland’s Reasons To Oppose Intervention Bid

Early this week, Jill Ireland filed her objections, giving the following reasons:

1.   The Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council cannot interfere in the private affairs of non-Muslims – on how they pray and study their religions.

2.   The subject of the dispute is about her right to religious education and the right to profess her religion, including the use of study materials like CDs, which have nothing to do with the Council.

3.   The reference by Council to the Islamic Law Administration Act (Federal Territories) has nothing to do with her right as a Christian to profess and practise her religion. She said in her affidavit: “The Act is only applicable to Muslims in the Federal Territories and my residence in Kuala Lumpur is irrelevant to show it had a right to intervene”.

4.   If Council is allowed to intervene, it would only raise irrelevant issues and give the impression that there was a conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims, which is not the case.

5.   The Council should have applied to intervene in the High Court when she filed the review application in 2008.

Lim Heng Seng, counsel for Jill Ireland told the Court of Appeal that it was too remote for Council to interfere in this matter. He added: “In any event, the Council can go to Parliament to amend laws. The court is not the right forum to express its concern”.

The Ruling By The Court Of Appeal

This week, 3-man bench of the Court of Appeal chaired by Datuk Tengku Maimum Tuan Mat in an unanimous decision dismissed the application by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council to intervene in this case.  The judge said the Council used the wrong rules in the Rules of Court 2012 to intervene, saying: “It should have gone by Order 53 for judicial review and not relied on Order 15 which is used for civil cases”.

However Datuk Tengku Maimum Tuan Mat said that the Council added that “the Council can make submissions upon invitation by the court” to hold a watching brief.

Case History

In 2008, Jill Ireland from Sarawak was transiting in Kuala Lumpur from Indonesia when Home Ministry officials confiscated 8 CDs that had titles like  “Cara Hidup Dalam Kerajaan Allah”, “Hidup Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah” and “Ibadah Yang Benar Dalam Kerajaan Allah”.

Jill Ireland contended that these CDs, bought in Indonesia, were for her personal use.  She subsequent sought a court order for the return of her CDs, and a declaration that  she had a legitimate expectation to exercise the right to use “Allah” and to continue to own and import such materials.

Last July High Court Judge Datuk Zaleha Yusof ordered the return of the CDs to Jill Ireland, but the judge did not address her request for a declaration on her constitutional rights to use the word “Allah”.  This word “Allah” is widely used by Christians in Sabah and Sarawak for “God”.

The case is scheduled for hearing on April 23 this year.

Think About It

How important was it for the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council to intervene in this case?  Now that it failed, through a technicality, to intervene, does it in any way weaken the government’s appeal against the High Court ruling to return the seized CDs to Jill Ireland?  Will the judges make a declaration on Jill Ireland’s appeal for her constitutional right to use the word “Allah” in her worship, and to import study materials with “Allah” in them? Will the Allah controversy end with the outcome of this appeal?

Previous posts

Malaysia – Allah Controversy Resurfaced In Jill Ireland’s Case
Malaysia – Jill Ireland Makes Third Demand For Return Of Seized CDs Containing The Word “Allah”
Malaysia – Allah Controversy Continues In Jill Ireland’s Case
Malaysia – Allah Controversy Still Very Much Alive
Malaysia – Second Allah Ruling Soon, Déjà Vu?
Allah OK For East Malaysian Christians Only
Malaysia – “No” To Christian Allah

Why Government Has To Step In

To put it mildly, relations between France and its Muslim minority have not been cordial. So France has outlined plans for forging closer links with its Muslim community. The government is stepping in because the French Muslim Council (CFCM) has not been able to deal with the challenges. The CFCM, launched in 2003, has been troubled by divisions among rival mosque networks, especially those linked to Algeria, Morocco, and Turkey.

Strained Relations With The Muslim Community

One factor that has strained relations between France and its Muslim community is the law against wearing Islamic full-face veils in public. Although that law was presented as a security measure that included bans on other full-face coverings as well, it was widely perceived to be anti-Muslim action.

More recently 11 people were killed when 2 jihadhists entered the offices in Paris of the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. They were avenging Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.  This event in early January was followed by a sharp increase in attacks against Muslims. There were 176 acts of aggression against Muslims that month, more than in the whole of 2014.

Plans To Forge Closer Links With Muslims

The plans to improve links with Muslims in France, and to increase security for them, have been under preparation for some time, but the events in January have added a sense of urgency.

The plans include a bi-annual “dialogue forum” with Muslims (including those not represented in the CFCM), security measures such as putting Muslim sites (including cultural centers and mosques) under police and military surveillance, and the training of preachers and imams.

The focus of the training of Muslim clerics, including Islamic chaplains in prisons, hospitals and the armed forces, is to “encourage the emergence of a generation of imams fully engaged in the Republic”. This measure has the apparent approval of the head of CFCM, who is also the rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris. He said he had requested the support of the authorities to provide training for imams, to ensure that they do not spread extremist messages.

Think About It

Will the plans work? Will moderate Muslims agree to take part in the dialogue? How will the clerics respond to the training in civics? Will they stop spreading extremist messages? Will that training help to unite the different factions within the CFCM?

Previous posts

Muslim Groups Continue To React Against Staff Of French Magazine Charlie Hebdo
Murder Of Charlie Hebdo Staff In Paris By Jihadists Followed By Fury In Muslim Communities
France Said To Be Considering Hijab Ban In Universities
Fund Set Up To Pay Fines For Violating Burqa Ban
French Ban On Full-Face Veil To Be Challenged In European Court Of Human Rights
Protests As Burqa Ban Comes Into Law In France

Judge Says Courtroom In Montreal Is A Secular Place

A Canadian judge in Montreal told a Muslim woman to remove her headscarf if she wants her case to be heard, the reason being that the courtroom is a secular place.

About The Case

It all started when a young man was caught driving his mother’s car with a suspended license at a police checkpoint.   The consequence of this is that the car was seized by the police and later confiscated by Quebec’s automobile insurance board.

The car was to be detained for a month, but the boy’s mother, Rania El-Alloul, decided to ask the Canadian court to intervene to get her car released earlier.

Judge’s Rebuke

Being a Muslim, Rania El-Alloul appeared in the courtroom with her headscarf.  But that did not go down well with the presiding Judge Eliana Marengo.

Without mincing words, Judge Eliana Marengo told Rania El-Alloul: “‘Hats and sunglasses for example, are not allowed. And I don’t see why scarves on the head would be either”.

With that, Judge Eliana Marengo told Rania El-Alloul to remove her headscarf or her case would not be heard.

Reaction

A shaken Rania El-Alloul later said on TV that she felt scared and “not Canadian anymore”.  Judge Eliana Marengo had in the meantime adjourned the case indefinitely.

Think About It

Given Judge Eliana Marengo’s stand that headscarves worn by Muslim women are not allowed in a secular courtroom, and given the fact that Muslim women do wear headscarves, does it then mean that Muslim women won’t be able to have their cases heard in court?  If so, can Rania El-Alloul be faulted for feeling “not Canadian anymore”?

Controversy Over Project To Distribute Free Qurans In Malaysia

A project in Malaysia, that was launched on January 8, to translate the Quran into Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil, and to distribute 1 million copies to the public, hit the headlines in the past week after warnings to non-Muslims about the project were disseminated on social media. The claims in the warnings have been denied by the organizations behind the project, but the intention of the project has been questioned.

One Soul One Quran Project

The project was launched on Jan 8 by the Islamic Information and Services Foundation (IIS), whose patron is the former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the project was aimed at reducing misconceptions and alleviating the fear of Islam among non-Muslims. Giving an example of a misconception, he said that a verse that allowed Muslims to kill Non-Muslims touched only on one event in the history of Islam. He explained, that “It does not mean we are told to kill other people”.

Warnings About One Soul One Quran Project

The warnings disseminated claimed that the Qurans were already being distributed in Teluk Pulai Klang. They also claimed that recipients would have to fill in a form giving their personal details, supposedly for record purposes, but actually to be used for tracking down recipients, to convert them or to change their records to indicate that the recipients had become Muslims. The messages also warned that the Quran is a holy book to Muslims, not to be touched by others, and that whoever possesses a copy cannot dispose of it.

Denial Of Claims In Warnings

The claims in the warnings have been denied by an Islamic evangelical group called Multiracial Reverted Muslims (also sometimes referred to as Malaysia Reverted Muslims), as well as by the Islamic Information and Services Foundation. The Foundation also stated that the Qurans have not been distributed yet, and that distribution will not be randomly to non-Muslims but through religious organizations. Muslims, such as those who have been flood victims, or students at religious schools, will be among the intended recipients.

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), which had been reported to have cooperated in the launch of the One Soul One Quran project, also stated that a non-Muslim who felt unable to keep the Quran in a good condition could return it to the distributor, to a mosque, or even to another Muslim.

Objections By Inter-faith Group

On February 9, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) issued a statement objecting to the One Soul One Quran project. Referring to the example cited by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on misconception, the MCCBCHST said that since it is Muslims who are killing and condemning other religions, it is they rather than non-Muslims who ought to be receiving the Qurans.

The MCCBCHST concluded that “The actual intention thus appears to be to propagate the Islamic faith to the Non-Muslims under the guise of removing the misconceptions of Islam”.

MCCBCHST also pointed out how Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution allows the State to restrict or control the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief to Muslims. The Council thus felt that Muslims should thus not do to others what they would not like done to themselves. Besides, section 298 of the Penal Code makes it an offence to cause or attempt to cause disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will on grounds of religion.

The MCCBCHST then went on to list instances in Malaysia indicating a concerted effort to persuade non-Muslims to abandon their faith, and the inducements offered to non-Muslims to accept Islam.

The MCCBCHST ended with advice to non-Muslims not to accept the translated copies of the Quran.

Think About It

What really is the intention behind the One Soul One Quran project? If it is to correct misconception, should the Islamic Information and Services Foundation not be concentrating their efforts on educating Muslims? Will the distribution of Qurans to non-Muslims reduce Islamophobia? Or is the intension the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam? Since the constitution does not allow other religions to evangelize to Muslims, should Muslims be allowed to proselytize? And since the government takes such a strong stance against the distribution of bibles in the Malay language, should it allow the distribution of Qurans in different languages to non-Muslims? Would they not be causing disharmony on grounds of religion by doing so?

Previous posts

Malaysia – Closing The Chapter On Bibles Seized By JIAS In Raid On Bible Society Of Malaysia’s Premises
Malaysia – Federal Court Agrees To Review Roman Catholic Church’s Appeal On The Allah Controversy
Malaysia – Allah Controversy Continues In Jill Ireland’s Case
Allah Issue – Malaysia Will Release Books And CDs Seized From Sabah Pastor At Kuala Lumpur Airport
SIB Allah Issue – Judge Sets Deadline For Out Of Court Settlement
Attorney General’s Decision Not To Pursue Charges Against Bible Society Of Malaysia Opposed By Islamic Authorities

“You Are The Enemy Of Islamic State”

A recent letter received by Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie labelled her “the enemy of Islamic State” and threatened to behead her unless she helps introduce Sharia law in Australia.   But Senator Jacqui Lambie said she will continue her campaign to introduce the death penalty for terrorists, oppose Sharia, and fight for a ban on the burqa.

The Threatening Letter

Last week, Senator Jacqui Lambie’s office received a letter threatening to behead her unless she converted to Islam and helped implement Sharia law by March 18, 2015.  Accompanying that letter were graphic images of a man being beheaded.

The letter itself contains this threat: “By the powers invested in me by Allah, I sentence you to death.  I will take the honour in beheading you … when you are least prepared, my men and I will take your office by surprise”.

The threat continues: “Do not involve the police or media … I swear upon Allah’s will that death will be approaching to you”.

The letter was purportedly issued by the “Adelaide Islamic State Mujahideen”.  The Australian Federal Police are now investigating this threat.

Reactions

Senator Jacqui Lambie described the letter threat as “disgusting” and vowed to continue her campaign for tougher laws against terrorists. She  said: “Obviously someone is trying to intimidate and scare me. I will not be intimidated or scared. I will not allow anyone to hold the Parliament of Australia in contempt by interfering with the free and fair performance of an Australian senator. I will continue to speak out about the threat that supporters of Islamic State and Sharia law pose to the Australian democratic culture and people”.

Then she added: “If you don’t like our Australian law or you don’t want to abide by our Australian constitution then pack your bags and do what I have already asked - leave. We will never bow down to Sharia law”.

Senator Jacqui Lambie recently called for the introduction of the death penalty for terrorists and for  people convicted of assisting terrorist organizations.  Last September she announced plans to introduce a private member’s bill to ban the burqa in Australia, calling it “unnecessary face coverings in public”. Senator Jacqui Lambie also described supporters of Sharia law as “maniacs and depraved humans” who will not stop committing “cold-blooded butchery and rapes until every woman in Australia wears a burqa.” As to her understanding of Sharia, she said “it obviously involves terrorism”.

But why was Senator Jacqui Lambie targeted?  She opined: “I have no doubt that it is my stance against Sharia law and my questions on Halal that are going on at the moment.  The bottom line is that we are at war with ISIS and we are just going to have to be extremely cautious”.  She added: “I will continue to advocate for a ban on Sharia law, unnecessary face coverings in public and tighter regulation of Halal certification fees in Australia – and to have those Australian Citizens who assist Islamic State in any way, charged with the high crimes of Sedition or Treason”.

Think About It

Is this letter a hoax?  If it is real, does it mean that the self proclaimed Islamic State militants have found another way to advance its cause – threatening politicians with beheading unless they do their biddings? Will there be similar threats to other politicians soon? And if so, will these politicians succumb to such threats and do the biddings of the Islamic State militants?  How can this threat be handled by governments round the world?

Freedom At Last!

38-year old Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz (Nik Raina), a branch manager of Borders bookstore, was discharged by the Syariah High Court recently from a charge of selling an un-Islamic book.  Nik Raina was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the Syariah High Court.  Last December Nik Raina was acquitted by the Court of Appeal against a similar charge.

The JAWI Raid That Started It All

On May 23, 2012 the  Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI)  raided a Borders book store in Mid Valley. Nik Raina was the store manager on duty that day.  The object of the JAWI raid was a book on sale at the Borders book store entitled “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta” written by Canadian author Irshad Manji. This Bahasa Malaysia version is a translation from the English version entitled “Allah, Love and Liberty”.  JAWI deemed this book to be un-Islamic.

On May 30, 2012 Nik Raina found herself being arrested for the offense of “disseminating and distributing” through the sale of un-Islamic books, an offense under Section 13 of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act.

On June 19, 2012 Nik Raina was charged at the Syariah High Court for this offense.  If convicted, Nik Raina could be fined RM3,000 ($830) or jailed for up to 2 years, or both.

Enter The Civil Court

Nik Raina took her case to the civil court.  On March 22, 2013 the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that JAWI had acted illegally in raiding Borders on May 23, 2012.  This is because on that date, the book in question was not declared a banned book, and there was no fatwa declaring it haram.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court then ordered JAWI to withdraw all charges against Nik Raina in the Syariah Court.

Following an appeal by JAWI against the ruling by the Kuala Lumpur High Court, the Court of Appeal ruled on December 30,  2014 that JAWI’s prosecution against Raina was “unreasonable, irrational” and thus illegal and unconstitutional.  The Court of Appeal went on to say that this prosecution was against the “principle of fairness and justice” as Nik Raina, being a Muslim, was charged in the Syariah Court because JAWI could not charge Borders itself or her non-Muslim supervisor. The Court of Appeal  then ordered Nik Raina’s arrest and prosecution quashed.

Discharge Not Amounting To Acquittal

On February 26, 2015 Syariah High Court Judge Mohd Aman Mat Zain ruled: “The court is satisfied and the accused, Nik Raina is discharged without amounting to acquittal”.

As to why the discharge is not  absolute, Judge Mohd Aman Mat Zain said: “The court also took into consideration of the absence of a clear status of the approval to the prosecution’s appeal”.  What this means is that JAWI still has the option to  appeal to the apex court, the Federal Court, but it is not clear at this moment whether that will happen.

Reaction

Rosli Dahlan, legal counsel for Nik Raina, described the Syariah High Court’s ruling as “unexpected” but added that it shows a “full understanding of constitutional principles” by this court.

Nik Raina added: “Who benefits from this except to bring about a clash of the laws and that is what I want to avoid because I am a civil lawyer, I am a Syariah lawyer and today the Syariah Court has shown a similar thinking which I have always felt, that the Syariah Court has shown justice today and I am very grateful to the judge”.

An emotional Nik Raina was full of praise for Rosli Dahlan, saying: “He is the best lawyer ever”.

Nik Raina’s Comments

Shortly after the Syariah High Court ruling, Nik Raina issued a statement saying: “Today marks the first time that I truly appreciate what it is like to have total freedom and for that I thank Allah (S.W.T.) for revealing the truth. I have, for three years, carried a very heavy burden that has deeply affected my parents and family. I am most relieved by the Syariah Court’s decision and hope that no one, especially my colleagues at Borders, of which almost 90 per cent are Malays and Muslims, would ever have to go through what I have gone through. There were parties who viewed me in negative light and it has been painful to see the trauma that my parents have been subjected to. We feel that we can now move on with our lives”.

What does Nik Raina intend to do now?  Nik Raina said: “I will continue to work at Borders as a Training Manager”. Elaborating further, Nik Raina said: “From the first day I had my interview with them, it felt like the right place to be, because the interviewers were so welcoming. I would not want to be anywhere else”.

Describing her 3-year ordeal, Nik Raina said: “I felt very much victimised by the authorities, all this while”. Nik Raina thus resolved to ensure other Muslims are not harassed for doing their jobs. She said: “I stand here today not only for myself, but for all my colleagues, especially the Muslims who could face the same action by the religious authorities for merely doing our jobs”.

Think About It

Is JAWI flogging a dead horse, seeing that the Kuala Lumpur High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Syariah High Court are united in ruling that JAWI had no case to prosecute Nik Raina?  Clearly JAWI made a mistake in raiding Borders and arresting Nik Raina before the book “Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta” was banned, and before any fatwa was issued against it.  Should it persist in appealing to the Federal Court?  Or should it just drop any plan for such an appeal so that Nik Raina can have a full discharge amounting to an acquittal at the Syariah High Court?

Previous post

Malaysia – Court Of Appeal Says Jawi Wrong In Raiding Borders Bookstore

Support For Equal Employ,emt Opportunity Commission

In 2008 US clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch did not hire then 17-year-old Muslim girl Samantha Elauf as a sales associate (also termed a “Model” within the company). She had attended the interview wearing a hijab. Wearing such an Islamic headscarf would have violated the company’s Look Policy.  In Sept 2009, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought a case against Abercrombie & Fitch for not making a religious-based exception to its Look Policy. The case has now reached the Supreme Court, where a hearing was held this week. The Supreme Court will give its judgment in June but already the news reports are that the comments made by the judges indicate they favour the EEOC’s position. Interestingly, even non-Muslim religious groups have also offered support for the EEOC.

History Of Court Case

The District Court ruled in favour of the EEOC, and awarded the Commission $20,000 in compensatory damages.

In Oct 2013, an Appeals Court reversed the District Court’s ruling because of conflicting evidence over whether Abercrombie & Fitch needed to discuss with Samantha Elauf about the possible conflict between its work policy and her religious practice.

The Supreme Court will determine whether an employer who refuses to hire a candidate or dismisses and employee because of a religious practice violates the Civil Rights Act only if it had actual knowledge that a religious exception was required, and that this knowledge resulted from direct notice from that employee.

Non-Muslim Support For The EEOC

The EEOC has received support from some more than a dozen religious groups as well as civil-rights groups, who hope a ruling against religious discrimination will give them more protection for their religious practices. The religious groups include non-Muslim ones. The American Jewish Committee, for instance, would like protection for Orthodox Jews who cannot work from sundown on Friday to nightfall on Saturday, as well as on Jewish holidays. The Christian organizations that have offered their support include the Seventh-Day Adventists and the National Association of Evangelicals.

Think About It

The case hinges on the legal technicality of whether Abercrombie &Fitch knew, from Samantha Elauf, that a religious exception was required. But what about the issue of whether wearing the hijab is a religious requirement? Is the hijab a religious requirement, or a preference? If the latter, then what other kinds of preferences will employers be eventually made to accommodate?

Previous posts

Issues That US Supreme Court Should Consider In Hijab Case Against Abercrombie & Fitch
Hijab Bans – Different Responses, Different Endings

Recapturing Towns From Boko Haram

Nigerian security forces, with help from regional allies, have been recapturing towns occupied by Boko Haram jihadists. When liberating the town of Baga the forces were shocked to find some bearded women fleeing from them. These “women” were jihadi militants in colorful women’s clothing, complete with Islamic head covering. The big giveaway was the big jihadi beard that the militants refused to shave off. The operation to flush out the militants, which includes air strikes, has uncovered arms, especially bombs, hidden in various locations. In the past few months Boko Haram has been using women as suicide bombers, and the latest incident, by a girl of about 7, occurred about the time the jihadists in women’s clothing were discovered.

Boko Haram’s Aim To Create Islamic State In Nigeria

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful”, has been terrorizing West Africa, and over the past 5 years it has been trying to create an Islamic state in Nigeria. Last year the organization killed at least 10,000 people in Nigeria, and over the past 5 years it has driven at least 1.6 milliion people out of their homes.

Last week, in a Twitter message, Boko Haram indicated that it may join up with the other jihadist group, the Islamic State.

Boko Haram’s Violence Against Females

In April this year it kidnapped 276 mostly Christian schoolgirls from a boarding school in the north-eastern town of Chibok. 219 of these remain missing, and Boko Haram has reported that they have converted to Islam and been married off to extremist fighters.

In recent months, Boko Haram has been using teenage girls and young women as suicide bombers in busy areas such as marketplaces and bus stations, and even in schools. The recent incident involving the girl of about 7 occurred in a busy market in Potiskum in north-eastern Nigeria, killing the girl herself and 4 others, and seriously wounding 46 others.

It is not clear whether the suicide bombers set off the explosions themselves, or whether the bombs were detonated by remote control.

Think About It

Even if Nigeria manages to recapture all the towns now occupied by Boko Haram and flush out all the jihadists, for how long with they be able to keep out the militants? What kind of minds do these jihadists have to be able to commit the kinds of atrocities among the females? Is it only military might that is needed in the fight against them?

Bonfire

The self proclaimed Islamic State recently published photos of a big bonfire said to be held in eastern Libya where a pile of seized musical instruments were torched in the name of Islam.

Against Sharia 

Reports of black-clad gunmen setting fire to a pile of confiscated musical instruments appeared online by ISIS media experts in recent weeks.  The seized musical instruments fuelling the bonfire include drums, brass and woodwind instruments.

The Ban On Music

Last September the Islamic State imposed a new school curriculum in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.  Under this new school curriculum, art and music are banned.

Also banned under the new school curriculum are classes in history, literature and Christianity.

Un-Islamic Activities

With this ban, music is now lumped together with other un-Islamic activities like smoking and drinking alcohol.

Think About It

Why is it that other Muslim majority countries like Indonesia and Malaysia did not see it fit to ban music?  Are these countries less Islamic that the so-called Islamic State?

Previous posts

Syria – History and Music Ban in Schools
Mali – Muslim Extremists Ban Music
Fatwa On Music Raises Controversy In Saudi Arabia

Reasons For Promoting Islamic Tourism

Indonesia is planning to make its island of Lombok, described as an “island of 1000 mosques”, the center of an Islamic tourism drive. And why not? Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, and a good tourist industry can boost the country’s economy considerably. With travel westwards becoming difficult for many Muslims and Asians, especially after the 9/11 terrorist attack, people from wealthy Middle Eastern countries are looking elsewhere for their travel. Even Japan, which has experienced declining numbers of tourists from China, is looking to attract Muslim tourists. Is the drive to promote Islamic tourism anything to worry  about?

Attractions Of Islamic Tourism

For Muslims, being assured of sharia-compliant facilities is a great plus point. In sharia hotels halal food is available and alcohol is not served, the call to prayer is played five times a day, rooms have signs pointing to Mecca, the Koran is available in rooms,  TV channels that are risqué are not available, and  hotel staff gently turn away unmarried couples.

For non-Muslims, a place steeped in Muslim culture could be an attraction for those interested in learning more about the culture and the religion.

Possible Problems

Lombok is already a tourist attraction, having been described as an “unspoilt Bali”. It is particularly popular with surfers. A clash of cultures could be a problem, with some tourists wanting to relax in skimpy outfits and with an alcoholic drink.

For non-Muslims the calls to prayer could also be unbearable noise.

Plans For Lombok

Indonesia is planning to build a large Islamic center in Lombok. This center will include a mosque, a hotel, and a study center. In addition, guides will be specially trained to know what to point out to Muslim visitors, and what to non-Muslim ones.

In order to cater for non-Muslims as well, especially those who enjoy the beach, the plan is to leave the party hotspots as they are – eg, those on Gili Trawangan island, off the west coast of Lombok. The authorities are planning to demarcate areas, so that some will be more suited to Muslims guests. In such areas, visitors will be informed of dress code.

Despite these plans, there are concerns about the possibility of tensions. As one American tourist put it, “When you create borders, then you have more opportunity for discrimination”.

Think About It

Is a center of Islamic tourism in Indonesia to be welcomed as a place for learning about Muslim culture, or will it be a cause for worry about inter-racial and inter-religious tensions? Will the authorities be able to prevent tensions with their plans? Will Islamic extremists try to hijack the place? Will such a tourist center increase or reduce Islamophobia?

Previous posts

Islamic State – Honeymoon Tours Of The Caliphate For Jihadists
Malaysia – Top Most Halal Friendly Muslim Destinations
Many Countries Want To Woo Muslim Tourists
Dubai – Latest Theme Park Is Based On The Quran