A Brutal Organization

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been killing hundreds of people in its implementation of a harsh version of Islamic law. Non-Muslims who do not convert to Islam have to pay a special tax or face execution. The brutality of ISIS that was broadcast through the filmed murders of two American journalists and a British aid worker was so sickening that it prompted the USA, and now even allies from the Arab states, to launch airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. The brutality continues amidst these airstrikes.  After the American and Arab forces carried out the third night of the strikes, news emerged of the killing in the Iraqi city of Mosul of a female lawyer and human-rights activist who used to work on detainee rights and poverty.

Events Leading To The Public Execution

The victim, Samira Salih al-Nuaimi, was kidnapped by ISIS (also known as the Islamic State) on Sept 17 from her home by a group of masked men and tried in a self-styled Sharia court for apostasy because she was alleged to have criticized ISIS’ destruction of places of worship in Iraq. She was said to have posted her comments on her Facebook page (which seems to have been removed since her death).

After the trial, at which she was sentenced to “public execution”, the militants tortured Samira Salih al-Nuaimi for five days, before killing her on Sept 22.

Commenting on execution, the UN envoy to Iraq said, “By torturing and executing a female human rights lawyer and activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul, ISIS continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency”.

Other Female Victims

According to the UN, the day after Samira Salih al-Nuaimi was killed, militants in the nearby town of Sderat broke into the house of a female candidate in the latest provincial council elections, killed her, and abducted her husband.

On the same day, another female politician was abducted from her home in eastern Mosul. She remains missing.

Think About It

What kind of behaviour is it that the ISIS militants are exhibiting? Is it Islamic, albeit a harsh version of it? Many Muslim countries are worried about how their youths are leaving to join the ISIS? What is it that makes these youths want to join an organization exhibiting “hatred, nihilism and savagery”? Is there something that Muslim youths have been taught that makes them attracted to such an organization?

The Grand Mufti Said So

The people of Oman need no longer worry about the permissibility of organ transplants.  This is because the Grand Mufti of Oman has declared that organ transplants from those found to be brain dead are allowed.  He said so in a recent fatwa. But nobody has yet received a donated organ from such brain dead people.

Conditions

The fatwa was issued by His Eminence Sheikh Ahmed bin Hamed Al Khalili, the Grand Mufti of Oman.  The permission to receive a donated organ originating from a brain dead person is subject to several conditions, including:

1.   According to the fatwa, before a donation of organ is permitted from the brain dead person, the donor must be medically certified as beyond further medical treatment.

2.   At the same time, the necessity of the donated organ recipient to undergo a organ transplant must likewise to medically certified.

3.   The medical team doing the transplant operation must be very professional and they must perform the operation without any mistake.

4.   The medical team should also ensure that the recipient survive after the transplant operation.

5.   Moreover the fatwa said that this practice of organ transplant should not promote organ trade and trafficking.

Justification

Dr Issa Salim Al Salmi, senior consultant in medicine/nephrology at the Royal Hospital urged religious leaders to support the fatwa of the Grand Mufti, saying: “I believe they should preach about this rewarding practice in this weeks Friday prayers”.

Dr Issa Salim Al Salmi said that even the  Holy Quran says that to save a life would be as great a virtue as to save all of mankind. He added that the message has to be “clear, loud and consistent”.

Think About It

Given the conditions attached to the fatwa, is it any wonder that nobody has yet to take advantage of this fatwa to undergo an organ transplant?  Is it fair to require the medical transplant team to ensure that the organ recipient will survive after the transplant operation?  Which medical team can guarantee this? What if the patient dies during or after the transplant operation?  The transplant team will then be considered as making a mistake?  But what is the punishment for such “mistake”?  Should medical doctors/surgeons undertake such risks? Can they?

Huge Gap In Demand And Supply

The demand for Islamic clothes has been on the rise globally, but there is a huge gap in the demand and the supply. There is an absence of major Islamic brands able to produce clothes that meet Muslim requirements concludes a study done by Thomson Reuters.

Emerging Industry

The Islamic fashion industry is an emerging one and has huge potential. It is one of the core sectors of the Islamic economy. This will be of significant interest to the market with the 10th World Islamic Economy Forum just around the corner. Chairman of the Dubai Chamber Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair commented on the report stating that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, representing 23 percent of the world’s population, but no global Muslim clothing brand has emerged yet.

The main players of the global clothes fashion industry fill the shortage, but they are not able to fully meet the requirements of the Islamic customer base. There is a huge opportunity for local designers to use Dubai, which is aiming to be a global centre for Islamic fashion and design, and to make use of its retail sector to establish global Islamic fashion labels.

While there is no single Muslim brand dominating the fashion industry at the moment, there are 57 countries forming the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). And within these countries, local companies have established their presence and have produced clothes based on local cultural preferences. This gap in international Islamic clothes is particularly significant in the light that the global Muslim population spent $224 billion on clothes in 2012, accounting for 10.6 percent of global spending in the clothing sector. Spending is expected to grow to $322 billion by 2018.

Big Spenders

Among the Muslim countries, Turkey has the highest spending on clothing in 2012 worth $24.9 billion, followed by Iran with $20.5 billion. There is also a significant market within Europe, The U.S. and Canada. Together, Muslim spending on clothes in these countries make up $21 billion in 2012, making the western Muslim clothing market the second largest behind Turkey.

The report also shows that OIC countries export more clothes than they import. The top clothes exporter within the OIC group is the group of South Asian countries, followed by Bangladesh. This shows huge potential for Islamic clothes industry.

Think About It

What is causing the current gap in demand and supply for Muslim clothing globally? Perhaps Muslim women have been thought of to be conservative and suppressed in their fashion sense? However, don’t the reports show otherwise? Or perhaps it is not prestigious for Muslims to study fashion and design or it might be against some of their values because it exposes them to worldly influences? Whatever it is isn’t the demand for Muslim clothing proving otherwise? How should designers respond to this huge demand for Muslim clothing?

Online Petition

Camden School for Girls, named as one of the top 100 best performing schools in the UK by the schools minister last year, is at the center of controversy because it has banned a student from wearing the nijab (an Islamic head and face covering). The ban has led to a “Stop the Islamophobia” online petition, which more than 700 people have signed. The 16-year-old girl has been attending the school in London for the past 5 years, and was about to enter the sixth form this month.

The School’s Appearance Policy

In a statement the school’s governing body would not discuss individual cases, but cited its “appearance policy”, which states, “Inappropriate dress which offends public decency or which does not allow teacher student interactions will be challenged”. It said that this policy was adopted several years ago at a time when a girl wished to wear a niqab, and “teachers found that this made teaching difficult”. It explained that teachers need to see a student’s whole face in order to read visual cues. In addition, for security reasons, the school needed to be able to see and identify individuals.

The Protests

The girl’s 18-year-old sister said, “My sister just wants to wear the niqab for her own reasons and attend school. I don’t feel like her education should be compromised or the way she dresses should affect the way anyone looks at her”.

The anonymous person who started the online petition said that the school is known for its individuality and strong feminist views, and that the ban contradicts these views. What happened to freedom of expression, asked this person.

Another petitioner, Farhana Khanom, claimed she she had attended this school and that many girls had been allowed to wear veils. The ban, which discriminates against “people that made their own choice to wear what they feel is utterly disgusting”.

Yet another petitioner, Cabrini Cotter-Boston, found it “disgusting” that the school should teach people to empower themselves and push boundaries set by society, yet it takes away a young girl’s education because of her choice in clothing.

Think About It

What were the student’s reasons for wanting to wear the niqab? Were they religious? Does Islam required women to wear the niqab? What does Islam say about discipline, about respecting rules and authority, and about considering what others think? Does freedom of expression mean doing any and every thing a person wishes irrespective of circumstances? Where is the line between freedom of expression and selfishness?

“The Angels Do Not Enter Homes That Contain A Dog Or Picture”

A Egyptian Salafi leader has just issued a Mickey Mouse fatwa and poor Donald Duck got sucked in as well. And the reason for this?  Because “angels do not enter homes that contain a dog or picture”.

No Problem With Toys But With Pictures

The fatwa on Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck was issued by Dr Yassir Burhami, vice president of Egypt’s Salafi Party.  His fatwa specifically bans the hanging of pictures of “Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse” inside children’s bedrooms.

Dr Yassir Burhami explains: “All children toys are thrown on the ground by the child and he hugs it later, and there is no problem with this.   However, I see no permissibility for  hanging such pictures, according to a sahih (canonical) hadith of the prophet of Islam (peace and blessings on him), that ‘The angels do not enter homes that contain a dog or picture’”.

About Dr Yassir Burhami

Dr Yassir Burhami is well known for issuing controversial fatwas.  Take for example the following fatwas by Dr Yassir Burhami:

1.   A fatwa that permits husbands to abandon (or rather to sacrifice) their wives to rapists in order to save their own lives.

2.   Another fatwa allowing a Muslim man to marry non-Muslim women, specifically Christians and Jews, but he must hate them through deliberate actions and the reason is because such non-Muslim women are “infidels”.  It matters not if he enjoys such “infidels” sexually.

3.   A recent fatwa forbidding Muslim cab and bus drivers from transporting Coptic Christian priest to their churches, as doing so is considered “more forbidden than taking someone to a liquor bar”.

4.   A fatwa that permits marriage to minor girls.

5.   Another fatwa that forbids Muslims from celebrating Mother’s Day “even if it saddens your mother”.  And the reason?  Because it is a Western innovation.

6.   A fatwa forbidding Muslims to leave Islam.

Think About It

What do you think of these fatwas by Dr Yassir Burhami?  Is he alone in believing what his fatwas said?  Or is this the official stand of the Salafi Party of Egypt? But then again, how many Muslims actually believe in Dr Yassir Burhami’s fatwas?

Accused Had 8 Facebook Pages Under Different Names 

30year old Soheil Arabi, along with his wife, were arrested last November by the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) last November for writing ‘material without thinking and in poor psychological condition’. Soheil Arabi had kept eight different Facebook pages under different names and was accused of posting messages that were considered insulting to the Prophet and the imams and he himself has admitted to posting material insulting to Prophet Mohammad on these pages.

The Death Sentence

Judge Khorasani of Tehran’s Criminal Court found Socheil Arabi guilty of insulting the Prophet (‘sabb al-nabi’) on 30 August. Article 262 of the Islamic Penal Code states that the punishment for such a crime is death. However, Article 264 says that if such insults were said in anger, by mistake, or in quoting someone, the death sentenced will be reduced to 74 lashes. Socheil Arabi had claimed that he wrote those posts under poor psychological conditions and he has shown remorse since, but he was still issued the death sentence.

An unnamed source said: “Unfortunately, despite this Article and the explanations provided, the judges issued the death sentence. They didn’t even take any notice of Soheil Arabi’s statements in court in which he repeated several times that he wrote the posts under poor [psychological] conditions, and that he is remorseful”.

Three of the judges ruled for the death sentence, and two ruled for imprisonment

Appeal

Socheil Arabi was able to appeal the decision until September 14, 2014. The way that he was arrested was unlawful because all his doors were locked at the time of the arrest and family members were asleep. He was arrested in his bedroom with his wife and personal belongings were taken after their home was searched. While Socheil Arabi’s wife was released a few hours after the arrest, Socheil Arabi was kept in solitary confinement for two months before being transferred to the general ward.

Think about it

Is the punishment too harsh for the crime committed? Shouldn’t individuals get to voice out their own opinions about religious leaders and choose what they what to believe in? Is the court actually delivering justice by sentencing Socheil Arabi to death? What about the fact that the arrest was unlawful or that there were mitigating factors such as his psychological state when making those statements? What will happen to the future of Iran if everyone has to conform to certain beliefs and is not allowed to voice out their opinions?

Walkovers

Sports and religion just don’t mix.  Ask the Qatari women basketball players at the current 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. After being told to remove their head coverings to comply with Article 4.2.2 of the rules of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the Qatari players staged a walkout which gave a walkover to their 2 opponents.  The Qatari team has pulled out of the Asian Games altogether now.

“Diversity Shines Here” – Really?

The irony of the situation involving the Qatari women basketball players is that the incident took place amidst the slogan of the 2014 Asian Games, which says “Diversity Shines Here”.

Article 4.2.2 of the FIBA rules says that players cannot wear “headgear, hair accessories and jewellery”.  But Qatar insisted on their women basketball players wearing the hijab. An assistant with Qatar’s National Olympic Committee announced the team’s pullout this way: “We have decided not to take part in the remainder of the Asian Games women’s basketball competition”.

Ahlam Salem M. Al-Mana, a Qatari player, said: “We have to take this stand. We knew about the hijab ban, but we have to be here. We have to show everyone that we are ready to play, but the International Association is not ready”.

Mohammed Abdulla, a Qatari men’s team player said: “If you go to the athletes restaurant you can see many Muslim athletes from Maldives, Iran, Pakistan and Qatar wearing hijabs. How come some of the women are allowed (to wear it) in competition, when our women are not? I’m surprised and disappointed that the Asian Games, the Olympic committee did not allow them to compete with the hijab”.

Games Forfeited?

Officially Qatar forfeited the games against Mongolia and Nepal, and the score for both games stood at 20-0 against Qatar.  Referring to Qatar’s first game against Mongolia, Anna Jihyun You, spokeswoman for the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee said that the Qatari women players “had refused to take off the hijab” resulting in the match being awarded to the opposition.  She also said that the committee had no choice as FIBA “did not provide any instructions” on relaxing Article 4.2.2 of its rules.

For the second match against Nepal, the Qatari women players did a no-show.  Technical delegate Heros Avanesian said: “We did not get any intimation from the Qatar team on whether they’ll come for the match or not. We had no option but to wait for them before awarding the match to the other team”.

Amal Mohamed A Mohamed, a Qatari player, said: “We were told that we would be able to participate in matches by wearing a hijab”.  She added that the team travelled to Incheon on that assurance.

Meanwhile Qatar delegation leader Khalid al-Jabir disagreed that Qatar had forfeited its games.  Khalid al-Jabir puts it this way: “We’re not forfeiting games – we’re not being allowed to play. On the one hand, everyone wants more women to participate in these games and, on the other hand, they’re discouraging Muslim women who want to play in hijab”.

Back in Qatar, Faisal Salman, a bank employee told The Associated Press: “The girls already have a lot of social pressures. Their determination to play basketball or football should be supported and encouraged by the authorities and sports bodies. Instead (they are) preventing them and discriminating against them”.

FIBA

FIBA stood out like a sore thumb at the Incheon Asian Games.  It is the only international sports governing body that refused to allow Muslim players from wearing head coverings at Incheon.  This prompted a call by Human Rights Watch for FIBA to prove why Qatari players should not wear headscarves: “We oppose any general ban on wearing of headscarves and onus should be on the regulator to prove why a ban is necessary on the basis of health and safety. In the case of basketball, it’s difficult to see how a ban on the headscarf is anything other than an unnecessary restriction on the players’ rights to religious freedom and personal autonomy”.

Indeed other international sports governing bodies have approved the wearing of hijabs.  Thus Muslim women from Iran and Kuwait have won medals at the Asian Games in Incheon wearing niqabs in triathlon, badminton and rowing.   Bowling also permits women to wear the niqab.

FIBA had actually launched a 2-year trial starting this month allowing some players to wear head coverings.  Explaining why this trial is not extended to Incheon, FIBA said that it “allows exceptions to be applied only at the national level and the Asian Games is an international event”.  Indeed the Asian Games is reportedly the world’s second biggest multi-sports event after the Summer Olympics.  Incheon has attracted 9,500 athletes from 45 countries.

FIBA said it will evaluate the rule next year to determine if head coverings will be allowed at international competition from next summer, with a final decision due in 2016 after the 2016 Olympics.  The change, if made, will be permanent.

Commenting on the Qatari situation, an unnamed official from the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (IAGOC) said: “There is not much IAGOC can do to help the Qatari players. We can’t change FIBA regulations now. Personally, I feel sorry for them. All the other sports allow hijabs”.

The Olympic Council of Asia issued a statement saying: “The right of the athletes must be the highest priority”.  Husain Al-Musallam, director general of the Olympic Council of Asia added that sports federations have a duty to protect athletes and “allow them to exercise their right of freedom of choice with dignity”.

Think About It

Is there any valid reason for FIBA to allow head coverings for domestic games but not for international games?  By doing so, is FIBA discriminating against women basketball players in international competitions?  If FIBA stands alone in disallowing head coverings for women basketball players, should the game be played at all at Incheon?  But then again basketball is a popular game, and it will take a very brave host to leave basketball out of the Asian Games.

Fatwa Against “The 99″

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti issued a fatwa against the comicbook series known as “The 99″, on grounds that the series was evil work that needed to be shunned. The series had been popular enough to have been made into a television series, which had been airing for over 2 years in Saudi Arabia before the fatwa was issued. What led to the fatwa?

“The 99″

This series had been written by Kuwaiti psychologist Naif al-Mutawa, who wanted Muslim children to have Muslim heroes who were not suicide bombers and jihadists. Each of his heroes represents a different nation and portrays one of the 99 attributes of Allah, and they team up to fight evil. Each possesses a knowledge-saturated gemstone that gives them superhuman talents. The series has been endorsed by the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, world leaders and others for bridging cultures and tolerance.

Strange Encounters

Recently Naif al-Mutawa wrote an opinion piece in an Emirates newspaper, The National, describing some encounters he has had over the years with people hostile to him and to his work, and saying what he is considering doing.

These strange encounters began as early as 1990, after a car accident that caused his right shoulder to dislocate and that left his car much compressed from the back. He was approached by an ambulance chaser, referred to by Naif al-Mutawa as a “bottom-feeder” (ie, an opportunist who profits from the misfortunes of others), whom he rebuffed. A few weeks later, while Naif al-Mutawa was brushing his teeth, a 6-year-old boy sneaked up on him and said, “You don’t have a country . . . you don’t have a country . . .” The boy had been put up to it by somebody lurking around nearby.

Last year, Naif al-Mutawa injured himself again, sustaining open fractures in one leg during a fall. He required several operations and months of physical therapy. While he was recovering, he met another “bottom-feeder”. This one ended up suing Naif al-Mutawa for heresy and went around submitting false allegations to various institutions asking for a fatwa against “The 99″.

Not only were these allegations followed by the fatwa issued by the grand mufti, but there have also been other fatwas and death threats from Twitter accounts linked to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

Naif al-Mutawa’s Reflection

In the 1990s Disney had to change the lyrics of its musical Aladdin because of protests against the section: “Oh I come from a land, from a faraway place, where the caravan camels roam, where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face, it’s barbaric, but hey it’s home”. Naif al-Mutawa was one of the protestors.

However, watching Aladdin the musical on Broadway recently, he reflected on whether he should have protested then. He wondered, “Isn’t someone trying to cut off my head because they don’t like the way I think?”

He is now considering going to Kuwait to answer the charges of heresy, and hoping that in doing so the government ministries there will start to understand that in the name of protecting local culture they could be killing it instead.

Think About It

Did those “bottom-feeders” have anything to do with the fatwas against “The 99″? What kind of a culture is it when the author of a piece of work gets death threats even after his work is banned. Was the ban on the series justified? Did the grand mufti assess the work objectively, or was the fatwa based on allegations? What risk is Naif al-Mutawa exposing himself to by going to Kuwait? Will he achieve his aims?

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Saudi Arabia’s Mufti Council Calls Series On Muslim Superheroes Evil Work

Promoting Liberal Views Of Islam 

54-year old Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj, Dean of the faculty of Islamic Studies at the University of Karachi, is known to be promoting his liberal views of Islam.  He was also accused of blasphemy.  And now Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj is dead – victim of an assassination.

Liberal Views

So what liberal views of Islam did Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj hold dear to?

How about this?  Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj  promoted his view that non-Muslim men should be able to marry Muslim women!

And how about this one – Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj also said that Muslim women did not need to remove lipstick or make-up before going to prayer.

Blasphemy

Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj made a speech in America about 2 years ago. That was in 2012.  Problem was that shortly after his speech, 4 of his colleagues from the university claimed that Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj’s speech amounted to blasphemy.  They kept up sending text messages to Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj of blasphemy.

Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj added that one of the 4 men who threatened him with physical harm was his predecessor at the university.

Death

Police said that Dr Muhammad Shakil Aju died of a wound in his head.  He was shot by 2 gunmen on a motorbike just as he was making his way in his car to a function at the Iranian cultural centre.

Senior Police Officer Pir Mohammad Shah said: ” A bullet pierced through his head”.  Then he added: “We are investigating the killing. It would be premature to state the motive at the moment”.

Reaction

In Karachi, students held a recent demonstration in protest over the killing of their teacher. They demanded the authorities do more to protect teaching staff. One placard being carried by students, read: “The murder of a teacher is a murder of the whole society”.

Think About It

Was Dr Muhammad Shakil Auj assassinated because of his liberal views of Islam?  Or was it because he was accused of being guilty of blasphemy?  Can a true Muslim take a job making him a murderer in the name of Islam?

Open Mosque – But Is It A Mosque?

Come this Friday, if all goes as planned, a new mosque will open in South Africa.  Only problem is that not everyone thinks it is a mosque, as the promoter envisions that this Open Mosque will open its doors to many things that traditional mosques will never allow.

The Promoter

The Open Mosque is the brainchild of 60-year old Taj Hargev, director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, which groups together “forward thinking” Muslims.  The Open Mosque is cheduled to open this Friday in Wynberg, a Cape town suburb.  The opening of the Open Mosque comes after 2 years of development.  Taj Hargey said that the objective of having the Open Mosque is to counter growing Islamic radicalism in Africa.

Taj Hargev added: “South Africans have become Arabised, they think they must wear the burqa, must have face masks, that men must wear pyjama dresses. They think that is the only version of Islam”.

The Vision

Taj Hargev envisages a very different kind of mosque.  In his vision, the Open Mosque will be gay and woman friendly as it welcomes all genders, religions and sexual orientations.

Taj Hargev puts it this way: “You enter the mosque, do I ask you the question who did you sleep with last night? No. It’s not my business who you slept with”.

On women, Taj Hargev said: “Women will enter the same doors as men, women will take part in the service. This is the first time you’ll see men and women praying together”.

Reactions

Not everyone is happy about this Open Mosque,  Taj Hargev said that he has received “a lot  of death threats”, but he is pressing on with this Friday’s opening.  He expects 300 people to attend the first service.

Taj Hargev said that many people are ecstatic over the opening of the Open Mosque, citing as example the following: “A 77-year-old grandmother just called me and said: ‘All my life I’ve been waiting for this, for the first time I can go to a mosque and be warmly welcomed’”.

But the Muslim Judicial Council, a non-profit religious advocacy group, isn’t sure about the Open Mosque, saying that it is investigating. Riad Fataar, deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council said: “We see in the newspaper clippings and the messages that this is a place of worship but we can’t call it a mosque. But again we cannot make a complete statement until we have all the facts”.

Riad Fataar added that the Muslim Judicial Council is “in the process of investigating the policy and objectives of the mosque”. He also said that the Muslim Judicial Council would not consider the Open Mosque a proper place of prayer.

Earlier Riad Fataar referred to the unease felt by the Muslim community on the Open Mosque, praising the community for their “vigilance”  Riad Fataar said: “We see and feel the anxiousness in our community”.

Think About It

What is your view on the Open Mosque?  Does it have a place in modern day Islam?  Or is it ahead of its time?  Is it even a mosque – a place for prayer, seeing that it breaks so many rules of traditional mosques?  Is there such a thing as modernisation of mosques? If so, is the Open Mosque the solution?  If not, then what is the solution?