Curtailed haj compounds Saudi economic woes

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 30 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Anuj Chopra

Vacant religious sites. Abandoned pilgrim tents. Lifeless hotels. A stunning emptiness -- and fears of economic ruin -- haunt the usually bustling city of Mecca after Saudi authorities curtailed the haj pilgrimage over coronavirus.

Islam's holiest city usually hosts millions of pilgrims for the annual rite, but the kingdom has barred overseas visitors from this year's event, scheduled for late July.

The haj and the lesser umrah pilgrimage together rake in some $12 billion, keeping the economy humming in Mecca, home to two million people and marble-bedecked skyscrapers towering over Islam's most sacred sites.

A construction boom in recent years has added shopping malls, apartments and luxury hotels, some offering spectacular views of the sacred Kaaba, a cube-shaped structure in the Grand Mosque towards which Muslims around the world pray. 

But most premises have lain empty since the pandemic reached the kingdom.

The virus, which hit Mecca hard, has also battered pilgrimage-reliant businesses that support hundreds of thousands of jobs, from travel agents to street barbers and souvenir shops.

Many have reported sweeping layoffs, pay cuts or delayed salaries.

"Zero sales, zero income," said Ahmed Attia, a 39-year-old Egyptian who works for a travel agency in the city.

"We're not used to seeing Mecca empty. It feels like a dead city. It's devastating for Mecca."

A tsunami of cancellations has also battered overseas haj operators who organize travel logistics for pilgrims, many of whom invest their life savings in the five-day ritual.

Saudi authorities had already in March suspended the umrah pilgrimage, which can be performed at any time.

Then, in a hugely sensitive but long-awaited decision, they said they would only allow around 1,000 pilgrims already present in the kingdom to perform the haj.

That is a tiny fraction of the 2.5 million pilgrims who attended last year.

"It will be a symbolic event, a photo-op that allows the kingdom to say 'we didn't cancel the hajj as many expected'," said a South Asian official in contact with haj authorities.

Saudi Arabia has stressed that the watered-down haj will be open to people of various nationalities.

But the selection process for the few spots is expected to be hotly contested, as some Mecca residents expect to be given priority over outsiders.

"I have gone to haj before and hopefully this year, with God's will, I will be among the first pilgrims," said Marwan Abdulrahman, a Saudi living in Mecca.

Many feared the pilgrimage, which packs colossal crowds into small religious sites, could have been a massive source of contagion.

The novel coronavirus has hit the kingdom with the highest number of cases in the Gulf -- more than 178,000 confirmed infections including 1,511 deaths.

But scaling the pilgrimage back will deepen the kingdom's economic slump, analysts say.

The move follows a sharp downturn in oil prices and coronavirus-led losses, which triggered austerity measures including the tripling of a value added tax and cuts to civil servants' allowances.

The haj decision "does compound Saudi Arabia's economic difficulties", Richard Robinson, a Middle East analyst at Oxford Analytica, told AFP.

On Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund warned the kingdom's GDP will shrink by 6.8 percent this year -- its worst performance since the 1980s oil glut.

The Saudi Binladen construction group, a bellwether known for vast mega-projects, has missed salary payments for thousands of workers in recent months, according to a source close to the company and employees complaining on social media.

The Arabic hashtag "Delays in Binladen salaries" has gained traction as the slowdown impacts the firm behind a series of critical projects, including a $15 billion skyscraper hotel complex that towers over Mecca's Grand Mosque.

The company is seeking to charter a number of private jets to send many of its laid-off South Asian labourers home, according to the source.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The downturn has also disrupted Riyadh's ambitious plans to build a tourism industry from scratch, a cornerstone of the Vision 2030 reform programme to reduce the kingdom's reliance on oil.

"The government has singled out tourism as a key area for growth under its diversification strategy, and the loss of haj revenues could set the sector back through lost investment or bankruptcies," said Robinson.

The kingdom began offering tourist visas for the first time last September in moves to open up one of the last frontiers of global tourism.

"While Saudis are looking to diversify tourism revenues beyond religious tourism, their efforts still build from the haj," said Kristin Diwan of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

"Not having it at this time of disruption in oil markets is a blow."

(Courtesy: AFP)

Inciting Hate: The social media powder keg

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Suhail Ahmad

A recent study by US think tank Pew Research Center revealed that 93 percent Muslims view Hindus favourably, but only 65 percent Hindus view Muslims positively.

The survey titled ‘Attitudes Toward Diversity in 11 Emerging Economies’ may not be conclusive and updated enough, especially as it was conducted between September and October 2018, preceding many important developments which may have a direct bearing on the study findings. However, it’s still relevant and merits an objective assessment.

The survey results beg the question- why don’t the 35 percent Hindus view Muslims in positive light and what about the seven percent Muslims holding unfavorable viewpoint of Hindus? This may be subject of a separate survey, but one can still look into the possible reasons.

One of the reasons, infact, can be discerned from another important finding of the survey about the degree or frequency of interaction. Seventy per cent of Muslims frequently or occasionally interact with Hindus in India, while only 56 per cent Hindus interact with their Muslims counterparts.
As the study points out people who interact more with other religious groups tend to have more favorable opinions of them.

Of the Hindus who said they interacted with people outside their own faith — 71 per cent had a favourable view of Muslims. As opposed to this, just 56 per cent of Hindus, who reported infrequent contact with people of other religions, viewed Muslims favourably.

Let’s now focus on the Hindus who don’t have much interaction with Muslims.  Their beliefs and perceptions are largely shaped by mainstream media and social media and there lies our possible answer about the trust deficit. Social media, in particular, has proven to be a powerful influence on public perception.

A piece by Claire Teitelman (April 19, 2019) in Journal of International Affairs of Columbia University explored the role of platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter in sparking communal hatred and subsequent violence in India.

Before social media, television was the media of the masses. Claire contends that without revenue-generating streams of traditional media like TV, social media companies have had to be more aggressive with advertising, “which includes the development of targeted ads that meets your preferences and prejudices”.

She also quotes Guillaume Chaslot, an artificial intelligence (AI) researcher. “If the AI favors engagement, like on Facebook and YouTube, it will incentivize divisive content, because divisive content is very efficient to keep people online. The longer you retain people online, the more advertisements they see and the more opportunities you have to profit, which is what matters to social media-companies, like any commercial enterprise. The aim of social media algorithms is to keep people angry, engaged, and online.”

India has emerged as the fastest-growing market for Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and YouTube so much so that for many social media has become an indispensible part of life. While the utility of these platforms cannot be denied, the prospect of their misuse remains pretty high. The speed and ease with which rumors spread on social media is frightening. There is a large gullible section of population with poor internet literacy - those who can’t differentiate between fact and rumour.

Claire refers to two incidents- the “Dadri Mob Lynching” in 2015 and the “Kathua Rape Case” in 2018. In both these incidents, protesters were riled-up by viral messages, photos, and videos on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

Many of the videos were based on alleged cow slaughter or cow meat storage and consumption by Muslims. In an interview with news portal Scroll, the sister of one of the accused Dadri perpetrators claimed that she – and possibly her brother – had been inundated with messages and videos about cow slaughter on WhatsApp. No wonder, hoax WhatsApp messages led to more than a dozen lynchings in 2018 alone.

The Kathua incident that involved the kidnapping, rape, and murder of a young Muslim girl was distorted through social media, contending that the girl hadn't been raped and false claims flooded WhatsApp, including an autopsy report purporting to disprove rape as well as proof claiming the innocent had been framed.

Social media has played a role in accentuating sectarian tensions. It magnifies the communal tensions by rapidly creating national crises out of local disturbances. As Claire argues, “Both the Kathua and Dadri episodes would have remained local events, but social media amplified and polarized them.” The resulting ‘Us’ against ‘Them’ mindset serves the parties who thrive on divisive politics very well.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no end to the social media hatemongering. If the hate and propaganda machinery is not reined in, we may see widening of the gulf between people from different faiths and spike in communal violence. We are sitting on the social media powder keg. Unless defused, it’s just waiting to blow up. 

(Courtesy: The Rising Kashmir)

India grants thousands citizenship rights in Kashmir to dilute Muslim population

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Hilal Mir

Srinagar, J&K: As many as 25,000 people have been granted domicile certificates in Muslim-majority Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir since May 18, which local politicians believe is the beginning of disturbing demographic profile of the region.

The certificate, a sort of citizenship right, entitles a person to residency and government jobs in the region, which till last year was reserved only for the local population.

Last year on Aug. 5, when India revoked the semi-autonomous status of the region, it also scrapped the local special citizenship law, guaranteed under Article 35 (A) of the Indian Constitution.

The law was barring outsiders including Indian nationals from settling and claiming government jobs, to maintain the demographic balance.
On Friday, a picture of the domicile certificate issued to Navin Kumar Choudhary, a bureaucrat originally from the Indian state of Bihar, went viral on social media.

In April this year, amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, the government notified domicile laws making an unspecified number of outsiders eligible for residency and jobs.

According to the new law, any person who has lived in the region for 15 years, or has studied in the region for seven years and passed his class 10 or class 12 examination is eligible for domicile certificate.

Also, children of Indian government employees who have served in the state for 10 years are eligible to settle and claim local citizenship rights. The law applies even if the children have never lived in Kashmir.

Out of 66, top bureaucrats serving in the region, 38 are outsiders belonging to other Indian states. Many other outsiders serve in various central government institutions like banks, post offices telecommunication facilities, security institutions, and universities.

Majority of new citizens in Jammu region

Kashmiri politicians across the divide have said the revocation of special citizenship rights was aimed at reversing the Muslim majority character of the region.

According to a census conducted by India in 2011, out of 12.5 million total population, Muslims comprise 68.31% and Hindus 28.43% in Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity, a government official said, since May 18, when the rules were notified, 33,000 persons had applied for the domicile certificates. Out of them, 25,000 persons have been granted citizenship rights, he said.

As many as 32,000 applications were filed in 10 districts of the Hindu majority Jammu region. The highest number of 8,500 certificates has been issued in the Doda district, which has a delicate demographic balance, with Muslims comprising 53.81% and Hindus 45.76%.

As many as 6,213 domicile certificates have been issued in Rajouri district, which has 62.71% Muslim population. Authorities have distributed 6,123 citizenship certificates in Poonch, a border district comprising 90.44% Muslim population.

In the Kashmir region, which is about 96.4% Muslim population, 435 certificates have been issued so far, out of the total 720 applications.

As of now, it is not clear how many outsiders, like Choudhary, have been issued domicile certificates. The 25,000 new citizens also include Hindu refugees, who had settled in the region at the time of partition of the sub-continent in 1947. They had migrated from territories, now part of Pakistan. But due to the state’s residency laws and special status they were not granted local citizenship rights.

Disputed territory

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965, and 1971. Two of them have been over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against the Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

(Courtesy: The Muslim News)

Shibli Academy facing serious financial crisis

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Masoom Moradabadi

Vast majority of us, sadly, know very little about the great academic, literary and research institutions established by our ancestors in this great country of ours. Neither we know about the contributions and services of these institutions nor do we have any idea of the crisis they are facing. One of such prestigious institutions, of which our community can be rightly proud of, is Darul Musannefin, Azamgarh, also known as Shibli Academy.

This great institution completed its centenary only a couple of years ago. If I tell you that this esteemed academic and research academy is struggling for its survival, perhaps you will not believe me. But this is a painful truth that this institution is facing financial difficulties of such magnitude that it is unable to pay salaries to its employees. Someone has forwarded me a letter written by its Director Professor Ishtiaq Zilli. After reading this letter my immediate impression was that someone has played a trick and that he is trying to defame a prestigious institution. Several fake items with similar contents keep circulating on social media. But when I found out it to be genuine, I was deeply saddened. I am one of those who have personally benefitted from this institution. Its prestigious and authentic journal, Marif, has played an important role in my mental formation. But as someone with no power and authority, I am unable to do anything more than writing a few lines to help and support this academic institution.

Therefore, through this imperfect writing of mine, I am trying to introduce to you the extraordinary services of this institution in the fields of academics, literature and research, though you know about it more than I do.

Is there any intellectual in whole of South Asia who has succeeded in his career without benefiting from the enduring academic contribution of Darul Musannefin? There was a time when this was the only institution that deserved to be acknowledged as a ‘think thank’. How do you feel knowing that this great institution, that has provided a seminal service by compiling the magnificent history of Muslims, is not able even to pay salaries to its staff and is looking towards you with a silent question?

Let’s now turn to the open letter written, 6 June 2020, to the well-wishers of the community by Darul Musannefin’s director Dr Ishtiaq Zilli. He writes: ‘I am sorry to trouble you in these difficult times. Extreme helplessness has forced me to take this route. You are aware of the financial difficulties being faced by Darul Musanniffeen. During the last few days, due to several reasons, these difficulties have intensified. The lockdown has made the situation more serious. Half of April has passed. We have somehow managed to pay salaries to our staff. Only Allah knows what lies ahead. We need your prayers and advice in this regard.’ [Translated version not original letter]

From the letter of the Director of Darul Musannefin one can easily gauge the seriousness of the financial crisis that this institution is facing. [Bear in mind that] This is the very institution that has fostered our intellectual traditions and whose contributions have been acknowledged by several bigwigs. This is the very institution that a learned person like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad held close to his heart and that had produced a rare Perl like Allama Syed Suleman Nadvi. Why is our Milli self-respect not reawakening even when this academy is struggling for its survival?

Allama Shibli Nomani
What is it if not a communal tragedy that the community in which individuals spend crores of rupees to satisfy their false sense of self-pride and self-importance, in which wealth is wasted like water on weddings, in which money is lavishly spent to build massive houses and everything is put at stake to satisfy a false sense of ego but an institution that serves as the guardian of its cultural and academic heritage is having to beg for help for its survival?

The fact is that the manner in which our community has turned its back on its cultural and academic heritage is a glaring proof of our collective insensitivity. Darul Musannefin is our national and milli heritage that we should be rightly proud of.

Not only has this institution done a great service by compiling the history of Muslims but has also reawakened in them a sense of being immensely culturally and historically rich. No matter how many conspiracies are hatched and executed to erase their very existence and the history of their services to their motherland, the facts shall remain facts and the undeniable fact is that no community has enriched the history and culture of this country as much as has been done by the Muslims.

Ideally some altruist should have come forward and helped this institution in a manner that the left hand would not have known what the right hand had done but, sadly, things have come to such a pass that in order to be able to pay the salaries of his staff, its director had to issue a public appeal and even after ten days no feasible arrangement has yet been suggested.

Maulana Azad may be regarded as one of the founders of this institution. It was him who had first proposed, in his daily Al-Hilal, the idea for the establishment of this institution. Giving the heading to his proposal as Ikhwanussafa he had appealed to the educated and conscientious circles to help and cooperate in this project. Even after its establishment, he remained interested in its affairs. The manner in which he continued to help it after the independence may be judged from the letter he had written on 23 November 1954, four years before his death, requesting the government to continue helping this institution. He wrote:

‘My dear Dr Katju,

‘Darul Musannefin Azamgarh, also known as Shibli Academy, used to get an annual aid of Rs 2,160 from Bhopal state that continued to be paid after its integration [with the union of India] because it was recognised in the conditions of the integration that the grants being given by the state for academic and literary programmes would continue as usual, but, abruptly, this year Shibli Academy did not receive its grant. Thereupon they wrote to the government of Bhopal. From Bhopal they received a reply saying that the issue has been referred to Central government where it is being reviewed.

‘I am forwarding to you the documents related to this matter along with this letter. I would be grateful if you could enquire about further developments in this regard. Shibli Academy is country’s big academy and has been providing invaluable literary services. If the grant from Bhopal is stopped this will harm it hugely. In addition, this will also violate the agreement that we had signed at the time of Bhopal’s integration.’

Darul Musannefin was established in 1914 and was the last great achievement of Allama Shibli Nomani. Having faced several ups and downs since its birth this institution has successfully covered a long and purposeful journey spanning over a century. This is the only institution that — maintaing a distinct style, intellectual integrity and constructive point of view — has given a huge and invaluable treasure of non-fictional prose to Urdu literature and fulfilled the dream of its founders.

The selflessness of the inheritors of the legacy of Allama Shibli, their sacrifices, their dedication to research and academic work and devotion to their mission has served as necessary provisions in this long journey covered by them. After the death of Shibli Nomani, they, under the leadership of Shibli’s great pupil, Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvai, took up this journey, notwithstanding the lack of resources. For the formal construction and progress of this institution they did not get any help from the government or a business tycoon family. They spent their own limited and scares resources for this great task. They were fortunate to have been joined by a team of writers and scholars who had the ability to make their ends meet with very little remuneration. But we are not living in that age. In today’s world, for the survival of an institution regular and dependable income is a must so that it does not have to face such a crisis and beg for help and it does not behove to the scholars to have to make such appeals.

Therefore, this is extremely vital that the well-off people in the community sit together and brainstorm to find means for a regular income of Darul Musannefin. If our research and academic institutions fall victim to such a financial crisis this would be millat’s great loss.

[Masoom Moradabadi is a senior journalist and has authored several books.]

Send foreign Tablighi Jamaat members home, appeals Islamic Federation in Tamil Nadu

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 26 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai: The Federation of Tamil Nadu Muslim organizations and political parties have vehemently appealed to the state government for release 129 foreign Tabligi Jamat (TJ) members lodged in Puzhal Central Prison complex here.

The Tamil Nadu government has designated the Juvenile prison within Puzhal jail for the detention of 129 foreign TJ members who have violated Visa regulations.

These are 53 citizens from Indonesia, 17 from Malaysia, 14 from Bangladesh, 14 from Thailand, 13 from Myanmar, 8 from Ethiopia, 5 from France, 3 from Cameroon, 1 from Congo, 1 from Belgium.

Addressing an online press conference, the Islamic Federation has asked the Tamil Nadu government to drop all cases against the foreign TJ members and set them free from the illegal dentation and send them to their respective countries. 

The online press conference was addressed by the Islamic Federation's President and Jamathul Ulama Council President, Moulana P.A Haja Moinudeen Hazrath, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi President M.H.Jawahirullah, SDPI President Nellai Mubarak, Coordinators M Manzoor Khasifi, Alhaj M Basheer Ahmed and others.

There were 129 foreign TJ members including 12 women belonging to 9 different countries who were arrested by Tamil Nadu police from the various places of the state following the discovery of coronavirus linkage with TJ members and Nizamuddin Markaz world conference in New Delhi.

The Madras High Court and its subsidiary courts granted bail to 98 TJ members arrested in 12 cases. Similarly, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court granted bail to other 31 foreign TJ members.

All these foreign TJ members who were earlier put up at Saidapet sub jail but after being given bail, were shifted to Juvenile prison within the Puzhal Central jail complex.

This included 31 foreign TJ members who were arrested from the Southern districts of Tamil Nadu and their bail plea was heard by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

While granting bail to 31 TJ members on June 12, 2020, the Madurai Bench of Madras High court stated that it is not fair to detain them in the Special Camp within Puzhal Prison complex and the government should consider keeping them in any other good place.
The court further stated that “these people have served maximum sentences for violation of Visa rules and there is no proof that these people have spread Coronavirus. In such a situation, if the petitioners execute appropriate affidavits expressing their regret for having violated the visa conditions, proceedings against them shall be concluded by filing final reports recording the same,” the court said.

The Islamic Federation Based on the judgment of the Madurai Bench of Madras High court held a online press conference where it said; “It is contempt of the Judgment given by the Madurai Bench of Madras High court to illegally keep 31 foreign TJ members in Puzhal prison, whose case have been closed and have been acquitted and absolved of all cases against them.”

“Further, those 98 people including 8 women who have got bail from court but their cases are still not disposed of and are still kept in detention even more than 60 days of their arrests are illegal.”

The Islamic federation appealed to the state government to drop all pending cases against the remaining 98 foreign nationals and stop their illegal detention in Puzhal prison complex and house them in some better place.

A member of Islamic Federation and President Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, M H Jawahirullah pointed out that the central government has given clear guidelines about these special camps as to how they should function.

Frist, such a detention center should not be located within the prison complex which is not in this case. Second, the food for such detainees should be prepared in a separate Kitchen but in this case, foreign TJ members are served food meant for the prisoners of Puzhal Jail. Third, the guidelines say the detention place should have proper ventilation for air and sunlight but that’s not there in this detention center, M H Jawahirullah said.

He added; “the Juvenile prison within Puzhal jail can accommodate only 30 to 40 persons but there are 129 TJ members cramped in an inhuman condition in such detention center that too at the times Covid crisis is huge violation of social distancing norms begs human attention.”

The MMK leader demanded that Tamil Nadu government should house these foreign TJ members in a ‘near human’ conditions and suggested keeping them at Jamia Qasmiya Arabic College in Washermanpet locality, till they are sent to their respective countries.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com] 

Opinion: Has Coronavirus Changed the Veil Debate in Europe

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , , , , , ,

Will Face-mask Modify the Veil Debate in Europe?

By Dr. Irfan Raja

Throughout the world, governments can easily sell and buy two slogans: “Public interest” and “For Your Safety”. And, exactly that is what European democracies are doing now for public safety against the Coronavirus. 

In a similar bid, the French President Macron Emmanuel introduced a Coronavirus safety face mask to French public as “National pride” because it is 100% made in France.   

Hang on a minute! Is not the same France that once banned face veil for only a handful of Muslim women including French reverts? But at that time in the best interest of French society, it was revealed to the public that Muslim women face veil is a “Symbol of oppression”, “Health risk” and a “Threat” and even it could be a “National shame” because it is outdated and misfit for a modern secular society. 

Fair enough! I do remember the day in 2006, I was a MA journalism student at the University of Leeds. Like many other students and academics, I was shocked to know that the British parliamentarian Jack Straw had provoked anger and outrage among the British Muslim community by saying that “Visible statement of separation and difference”, was actually one of the former students union presidents. 
I found that the University of Leeds, students banned him “in protest at what they said were his anti-libertarian policies”. 

Since then, never ending veil debate has started, people have written Ph.D. thesis and thousands of newspaper and journal articles, books, manuscripts, hold public discussions and debates, delivered lectures and made documentaries, films and produced teasing caricatures. 

More worryingly, European newspapers and broadcasters ran disgraceful campaigns to demonized Muslim veil wearing women 24/7 to an extent that countries including France banned it. 

My own research on veil shows how British Conservative and Liberal broadsheets and tabloids published a series of articles, editorials, features and comments pieces on the veil that made it a “national debate” bigger than Britain’s illegal wars and climate change. 

The press perceives the veil as a clash between Muslims and non-Muslims and presents it as a “terror threat”. Besides, several leading European parliamentarians have made it a regular habit to attack the veil that is an easy way of getting media publicity. 

Today, the veil is a talk of the town. Still, the majority of the people are confused and ill-informed on this subject.  Thomas Sealy raised an important question: “Is there a difference between the niqab and a face mask?” 

So what is that so special in a piece of cloth which makes it a “National pride”? Obviously, if it fits into government policy it’s a pride otherwise veil can be regarded as a “Shame” and “Outdated”. 

So if the veil is an outdated practice and a terror threat, then why France is driving the entire nation to adopt it? In the words of George Orwell, the veil is a perfect example of “Double Speak”. 

In France, it is prohibited for a Muslim women to cover the face but she will also be fined for not wearing a face mask -- Is it forcing a Muslim woman not to wear a veil is nothing less than a mental torture and abusive?.    

Pity though, how a piece of cloth fosters divisions in Coronavirus crisis? It is mainly because Muslims are easy targets as Richard Adams summed it: “Hijab ban attempt is ‘racism dressed up as liberalism”.  

When James McAuley, Washington Post, Paris correspondent posted an article, along a comment, “On the ironies of mask requirements in the country that brought you burka ban” via The Washington Post article: “France mandates masks to control the coronavirus. Burqas remain banned”.  

Within minutes, a thread @Washingtonpost started that turned Twitter into a battleground between supporters and opponents of veil wearing women. Everyone seems to be a scholar of Islam, a usual practice during Muslims related discussions and debates. But, how many Twitter warriors have read a chapter of the holy Qur’an An-Nisa to understand what exactly veil is?  

Veiled Women Image in British Press 

Mostly, the western media portrays veil wearing women as “oppressed” and “backward”. The conservative press support ban on veil while the liberal press suggests that women should be free to decide. 

But, is the West really concerned about oppressed women? Because many European countries have treated the veil wearing Muslim women as badly as the oppressed ones elsewhere.

That is banning Muslim women wearing burka and bracketing them as “letterboxes” and “bank-robbers”. These are thoughts of the British PM Boris Johnson, so what can you expect from others? 

Now compare French and Taliban views of Muslim women veil. Are they any different? Both did the same that is forced women to adopt their way of wearing, French banned veil wearing and the Taliban made it mandatory. 

Isn’t the politics of veil?  Because if the west truly value women freedom it should not force them to wear or not to wear but rather give women a choice. 

But it’s all politics, Katharine Viner equated, “Feminism as imperialism” and unknotted false claims of the western leaders, especially George W. Bush who “bombed Afghanistan to liberate women from burkas” then used the same logic to bomb Iraq because he did not bear the pain of Iraqi women in suffering. 

Viner raised a logical point that women sufferings are everywhere, so “To justify another war. Where next? China because of its anti-girl one-child policy? India because of widow-burning outrages? Britain because of its criminally low rape conviction rate?” 

Janine Rich disclosed the popular western discourse on Islam and Muslims as of the “Oppressed Muslim Women”. For decades, Western powers are successfully using it to legalize their attacks on Muslim countries. Too often, sections of the western media push the debates on Muslim women using “oppression” as fascination.

Rich argues that “The complex discourses surrounding women in the Islamic world have a long and deeply political history, and this narrative has been renewed and re-utilized numerous times to garner widespread public support for Western military intervention in the Middle East”. 

What the western media and polity missed to share with their public at home is that Muslim women's rights and duties are far more in order as described in al-Qur’an. Moreover, the Afghan women were allowed to vote long before the European women. 

Truth has always been there but the real issue is people don’t want it because sometimes it contradicts with their self-designed way of life.    

Perhaps, a best-concluded sentence would be that it is the apolitical weapon of Europe that shows nothing but “Double Standards”. One rule for a minority and the other rule for the elites. 

If the European democracy has reached to such lower level then Europe must rethink and revisit its ideas of human rights and personal freedoms. 

What is Still Misunderstood in Europe? 

Underneath the thread of French Macron argued that we Europeans are embracing face masks to save lives. Of course, any sensible person would agree with this argument, but what exactly is that Islam says about the veil? What does it require from a believer? What is the wisdom behind its teachings? What are their impacts and relevance to modern societies?   

Going back to Life-saving argument, remember that Islam talks about life after death that is everlasting and perpetual, so why would anyone risk an everlasting loss?  

Dr. Irfan Raja
They should disregard a modest practice only because a fraction of conservative Europeans don’t like it? Think if someone demands to ban drinking, smoking and drug use because it all kills and cost NHS £2.7 billion each year. Does veil cost anything to the NHS?

The irony is that we take what we like and leave what we don’t like. Think about Christianity, Judaism, and other religions that preach modesty- So why Europe is so worried about a Muslim woman only? After all, it is just a piece of cloth, isn’t it? 

[Dr. Irfan Raja is academic, analyst and activist based in the U.K., masters of arts in international journalism at the University of Leeds, holds a Ph.D. at the University of Huddersfield. He can be reached at irfan.journalist@gmail.com] 

(Courtesy: Daily Sabah)

Anker Innovations introduces Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner, eufy HomeVac H11

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

Lightweight and Compact, eufy HomeVac H11, an ultra-lightweight cordless handheld vacuum cleaner by Anker Innovations makes cleaning effortless and quick.

IMO News Service

Dubai, UAE: Featuring a Dust Devouring Suction with 5500Pa power, any accidental mess can be cleaned in a jiffy and that too with absolute ease. This lightweight handheld 2-in-1 crevice tool helps to clean the deepest corners of your house furniture, cars, baby chairs, recliners etc. 
Faraz Mehdi, Regional Sales Head at Anker Innovations MEA said, “The easy to store efficient HomeVac H11 offers tasteful yet practical solutions for all your everyday cleaning needs. Each lightweight and cordless vacuum is designed for efficiency and complete mobility.”

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विदेशी तब्लीगी जमाअत के लोगों की रिहाई के लिए इम्पार का गृह सचिव को पत्र

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मद्रास हाई कोर्ट के आदेश के बाद आने वाली बाधा को गृह मंत्रालय से दूर करने की अपील 

नयी दिल्ली: इंसानी बुनियादों पर विदेशी तबलीगी जमात के लोगों को छोड़ने के लिए भारत सरकार के होम सेक्रेट्री अजय कुमार भल्ला को इंडियन मुस्लिम फॉर प्रोग्रेस एंड रिफॉर्म्स (IMPAR) की ओर से एक पत्र लिखा गया है, जिसमें करोना को लेकर भारत सरकार की कोशिशों की प्रशंसा करते हुए कहा गया है कि भारत सरकार ने अर्थव्यवस्था को बूस्ट करने के लिए जो कदम उठाए हैं वह सराहनीय हैं। साथ ही साथ इस पूरी महामारी में सरकार की ओर से जो कदम आम जनता के हितों की रक्षा में लिए उठाये जा रहे हैं इम्पार उसकी प्रशंसा करता है।  

पत्र में भारत सरकार के गृह सचिव का ध्यान आकर्षित करते हुए कहा गया है कि चेन्नई तमिलनाडु में फंसी 12 महिलाओं सहित 125 विदेशी तबलीगी जमात के लोगों की रिहाई को लेकर आप से अपील करते हैं। पत्र में कहा गया है कि माननीय न्यायालय द्वारा उनकी रिहाई का आदेश दिया गया है लेकिन राज्य के वरिष्ठ पुलिस और जेल अधिकारियों ने कहा है कि MHA ने इस दिशा में आदेश जारी कर रखा है। जब तक गृह मंत्रालय आदेश वापस नहीं लेता है तब तक यह संभव नहीं है। अहम बात यह है कि उन्होंने किसी भी वीजा की शर्तों का उल्लंघन नहीं किया है या किसी भी ऐसी गतिविधियों में लिप्त नहीं थे जो FIR में उल्लिखित हैं क्यों कि इन्हीं बिंदुओं पर एचसी ने संज्ञान लिया है। 
पत्र में कहा गया है कि अच्छी बात यह है कि देश के किसी भी राज्य में इस तरह का कोई सवाल उत्पन्न नहीं हुआ और तबलीगी जमात के लोगों को न्यायालय से न्याय मिलने के बाद उन्हें उनके देश भेज दिया गया लेकिन चेन्नई तमिलनाडु में जो परेशानी आ रही है उसको लेकर के इम्पार चिंतित है और सरकार से अपील करती है कि सरकार तत्काल प्रभाव से कार्यवाही कर के उनको न्याय दिलाये। इम्पार इस मामले को मानवीय आधार पर उठाते हुये राज्य के अधिकारियों को आवश्यक निर्देश जारी करने के लिए गृह मंत्रालय की ओर देख रहा है, क्योंकि कोविड-19 के अचानक प्रकोप में इनकी थोड़ी सी गलतियों की इनको बड़ी सजा मिल चुकी है। 

इम्पार ने कहा है कि यह बताना उचित होगा कि तब्लीगी जमात के लोग अपनी यात्रा के दौरान या मस्जिदों में रहने के दौरान, किसी भी उपदेशात्मक गतिविधियों में लिप्त नहीं थे, क्योंकि मामले की सुनवाई के दौरान ऐसी कोई रिपोर्ट प्रस्तुत नहीं की गई थी। किसी की धार्मिक, सांस्कृतिक प्रथाओं के अवलोकन की इस प्रक्रिया को उपदेश के रूप में नहीं माना जा सकता है और न ही उन्हें जारी किए गए वीजा की शर्तों के उल्लंघन का आरोपी बनाया जा सकता है। अहम बात यह है कि मद्रास के माननीय हाई कोर्ट ने व्यक्तिगत सुरक्षा बांड पर ही उनको राहत दी है।  

Tamil Nadu Muslim body TMMK involved in funeral service of Corona victims

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By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Chennai: A Muslim group in Tamil Nadu is actively involved in conducting proper funeral rites of dead bodies mostly of Corona victims belonging to different faiths.

The volunteers of Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), a Muslim non-governmental organization have performed the last rights of about 139 dead bodies belonging to different religions commencing from March 25, 2020 till this date.

The funeral rites have been conducted based on the religious beliefs of the dead and many among them are non-Muslims, said M.H. Jawahirullah  TMMK President.

Even when the loved ones of the dead are unwilling to perform their last rites, the volunteers of the TMMK are doing the funeral service based on human concerns, he added.
So far TMMK have done funeral service for 139 people from March to June 2020. Among them 58 who died due to Covid- 19, include 48 from Chennai, 2 from Villupuram, 1 from Pernambut area in Tirupattur district, 3 from Trichy, 1 from Kayalpattinam in Tuticurin District, 1 from Aaarani in Tiruvannamalai district and 2 from Erode.    

Apart from them, there were 81 orphaned people who died during the Corona curfew or lockdown.  These include 63 from Chennai, 2 from Coimbatore, 2 from Udumalaipet and one each from Trichy and Madurai. Besides, there are 12 other orphan deaths from different places of Tamil Nadu whose last rites were performed by the TMMK.

M.H. Jawahirullah said since the first curfew began on March 25, 2020 the TMMK have been actively taking part in rescue and relief operations of those who died of Coronavirus in Tami Nadu. As a part of it, its volunteers actively involve themselves in burying the bodies. They have been doing this with utmost dedication with proper precautionary measures, he added.

In many occasions, the police department has directly approached TMMK to help them in burying the dead bodies. We have readily extended the service to dispose of the dead bodies in a proper way, the TMMK President quipped.  

As of today there have been 67,468 Covid positive cases reported in Tamil Nadu, of them 37,763 have recovered. So far 866 fatalities are reported from the entire state. 

Chennai continues to be the worst-hit district with 1,380 fresh cases in the state capital taking the number of cases in the city to 44,205. Of these, 39,897 patients are males, 24,686 are females and 20 are transgender patients.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist is based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

Health: Islam's injunction toward personal hygiene

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By Summer R. Ahmad

Islam lays great emphasis on physical cleanliness; it goes so far as to say that our inner spiritual cleanliness cannot be attained without outer cleanliness. Muslims are admonished to purify their outer being to establish inner purity, as our outward cleanliness helps open the doors of spirituality.

In fact, purifying oneself, excellence in personal hygiene and cleanliness of oneself and one’s surroundings are held to such a high standard in Islam that the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.) has said that “Cleanliness is half of the faith.” Again, in Surah Baqarah (2:223): “Allah loves those who turn to Him and loves those who keep themselves clean.”

Nearly 1,500 years ago, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) taught Muslims a way to purify themselves with a method called Wudhu (ablution) prior to performing each of their five daily prayers. He said, “The key to Paradise is salat (prayer), and the key to salat is ablution.”
One part of the Wudhu, which Muslims were taught by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), was to use the toilet and clean themselves with water. To do so, the use of a simple method for cleaning oneself after using the toilet with a vessel filled with water has been used by Muslims across the world for centuries. Thus, in Muslim homes and mosques and in Islamic countries, one will enter the bathroom and find the lota or vessel in every bathroom stall, filled with water for one to use after using the bathroom, so that the high standards of outward cleanliness in Islam can be fulfilled any time after one uses the bathroom.

How can one clean using a vessel like a lota as the Musims do? It is very simple. Today in stores we are able to find plant watering containers or neti pots/neti lotas. One should choose a vessel with a shorter spout to make it easier to use.

Fill the watering can with warm water. After using the toilet, pick up the watering can by the handle with the right hand and use it to pour the water on one’s backside while one is still seated at the toilet. Using one’s left hand clean the soiled area. Do not touch the skin with the spout of the watering vessel.

Put the water vessel down. If one prefers, one can dry the wet area of the skin with a small amount of toilet paper. As always, wash hands with warm water and soap. In this way, less toilet paper, if any, is used.

Thus, Islam upholds cleanliness as a very essential requirement in the path to purifying oneself. The use of a water vessel is an excellent and effective method to clean oneself after using the toilet that has been taught to Muslims.

[Summer R. Ahmad lives in Columbia and holds a Ph.D. in Medical Radiation Physics.]

(Courtesy: Missourian)

'World naive to believe that China has good intentions'

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By Joseph D'Souza 

The recent killing of 20 Indian soldiers by the Chinese military at the Himalayan border should not surprise the world. Though it's true these are the first casualties at the border in over 45 years, this brazen act of aggression fits within China's modus operandi. Unfortunately, the world has far too often naively believed the best of China's intentions.

Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, attempted a diplomatic approach to the border dispute with China before the Sino-Indian War broke in 1962. While in retrospect, Nehru's actions come across as too trusting, the truth is that a diplomatic approach was probably never going to work with China. For China, it has always been Chinese interests first.

Now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with his goodwill towards the Chinese leadership, sits in a similar position to his predecessor. His bonhomie with Chinese President Xi Jinping, carefully built over the years, appears to have come to an awkward halt following the recent border incident—pointed out by keen observers who noticed that Modi failed to wish Jinping a happy birthday for the first time in five years. Since the deadly clash at the border, Modi has felt increasing pressure from the public to assert India's sovereignty.
India should have read the signs and known better, as it shares in the Asian culture where the well-being of family and community is supreme. Unspoken values around communal self-interest drive decision-making at the highest levels. As long as the community interests are upheld, individual rights can be negated, ignored and devalued. This is why China doesn't balk at trampling individual rights in Hong Kong, or disregarding the sovereignty of its neighbors and throughout the South China sea.

Western nations, deeply influenced by Judeo-Christian principles that place a high value on individual rights, have a hard time understanding China's behavior. The entire legal framework of constitutional democracies—in this case, India included—revolves around protecting the rights of individuals. Religious liberty, free speech and freedom of assembly, among other rights, are the cornerstones of these nations. But for the Chinese, communist doctrine dictates that laws are made for the greater communal good—even when it means individual rights have to suffer. Thus, China can impose a full lockdown on a city such as Wuhan, virtually cutting it off from the rest of the world, and not face any consequences for it.

While the world may look askance at China's behavior, writing it off would be a grave mistake. To start off, China's complete disregard for freedom of speech and information allowed the government to clamp down on any efforts to raise the alarm about the coronavirus, effectively allowing it to spread undetected and become a global pandemic. Now the whole world is suffering because free nations didn't take China's human rights abuses seriously enough.

Additionally, China's rise as a major economic, technological and military power also has allowed it to project its influence abroad, across Asia and as far as Africa and South America. The COVID-19 pandemic has made nations even more vulnerable to Chinese interference, especially in the developing world. Many nations, including developed countries such as the United States, have become dependent on China for their economic and even health care security.

For India, the biggest challenge is the economic foothold China has in India. From nuclear plants to electronics to textiles and food, Chinese presence is noticeable. As India faces grim prospects for its economic recovery, it will become even more difficult to untangle financial ties with China.

As COVID-19 reshapes our world's order, nations such as the U.S. and India will need to face Chinese influence at home and abroad. Ironically, this may require taking a page out of China's playbook and putting distinct American/Indian national interests ahead—a strategy President Donald Trump seems to have embraced with his "America First" policy. This doesn't mean caring only for one's national needs at the expense of others—which is China's approach—but giving these needs the proper priority in order to protect the individual rights and freedoms of one's own citizens. One place the U.S. and India could start is by returning manufacturing and production jobs and processes, especially in the health care industry, back to their home countries.

For too long, the world has been misreading China's intentions. It's time for nations to smarten up and begin confronting the threat Chinese aggression represents to our democracies and way of life.

[Joseph D'Souza is a Christian theologian, author and human and civil rights activist. He is the founder of Dignity Freedom Network, an organization that advocates for and delivers humanitarian aid to the marginalized and outcastes of South Asia. He is archbishop of the Anglican Good Shepherd Church of India and serves as the president of the All India Christian Council]

विदेशों से आजमीने हज अपने फर्ज हज की अदायगी से वंचित

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इस वर्ष विश्व के कोने-कोने से लाखों हुज्जाजे कराम हज का तराना अर्थात् लब्बैक पढ़ते हुए मक्का मुकर्रमा नहीं पहुंच पायेंगे

डाक्टर मोहम्मद नजीब कासमी सम्भली

हज के महीनों में शव्वाल का महीना समाप्त होने के बाद जीका'दा महीना के आरम्भ होने पर विश्व में कोरोना वबाई मर्ज के फैलाव के कारण सऊदी हुकूमत ने यह फैसला किया है कि इस वर्ष (2020 - 1441) सऊदी अरब में रहने वाले विभिन्न देशों के नागरिक ही केवल सीमित संख्या में हुज्जाजे कराम की हिफाज़त और सालमीयत के लिए एहतियाती तदाबीर पर अमल करते हुए हजे बैतुल्लाह अदा कर सकेंगे। अर्थात् इस वर्ष विश्व के चप्पे-चप्पे से अल्लाह के मेहमान हज की अदायगी नहीं कर सकेंगे। "हज", नमाज, रोजा और जकात की तरह ही इस्लाम का एक महत्वपूर्ण बुनियादी रुक्न है। सम्पूर्ण जीवन में एक बार प्रत्येक उस व्यक्ति पर हज फर्ज (अनिवार्य) है जिसको अल्लाह ने इतना माल दिया हो कि अपने घर से मक्का मुकर्रमा तक जाने आने पर सक्षम हो और अपने परिवार का भरन पोसन वापसी तक सहन कर सकता हो। अल्लाह तआला का संदेश है: लोगों पर अल्लाह तआला का हक है कि जो उसके घर तक पहुंचने का सामर्थ्य रखते हों वह उसके घर का हज करें और जो व्यक्ति उसके हुक्म को मानने से इंकार करे, उसे मालूम होना चाहिए कि अल्लाह तआला तमाम दुनिया वालों से बेनियाज है। (सूरा आल इमरान - 97)

मार्च के महीने से ऊमरा पर पाबंदी और इस वर्ष विदेशों से हुज्जाजे कराम के हज की अदायगी ना करने पर सऊदी हुकूमत और सऊदी अवाम को अरबों रेयाल का घाटा है। पिछले कुछ वर्षों से करीब 25 - 30 लाख हुज्जाजे कराम हज की अदायगी करते हैं और रमजान के महीने में ऊमरा करने वालों की संख्या उस से भी कहीं अधिक होती है। सऊदी हुकूमत ने कोरोना वबाई मर्ज के कारण देश में लागू पाबंदियां तीन महीने के बाद अब समाप्त कर दी हैं, यहां तक कि खेलों पर लागू पाबंदियां भी 21 जून से उठाली हैं। यद्यपि कि अभी तक मस्जिदे हराम (मक्का मुकर्रमा) आम लोगों के लिए नहीं खोली गई है।

बैतुल्लाह (खाना-ए-काबा) की तामीर के बाद अल्लाह तआला ने हज़रत इब्राहीम अलैहिस्सलाम को हुक्म दिया: लोगों में हज का ऐलान कर दो कि वो पैदल तुम्हारे पास आएंऔर दूर दराज़ के रास्तों से सफर करने वाली उन ऊँटनियों पर सवार होकर आएं (जो लम्बे सफर से दुबली हो गई हों) (सूरह अलहज्ज 27)। हज़रत इब्राहीम अलैहिस्सलाम ने कहा कि ऐ मेरे रब.! मैं कैसे ये पैगाम लोगों तक पहुँचाऊं? आप से कहा गया कि आप हमारे हुक्म के मुताबिक़ आवाज़ लगाएँ, पैगाम को पहुँचाना हमारे ज़िम्मे है। चुनांचे हज़रत इब्राहीम अलैहिस्सलाम ने आवाज़ लगाई, अल्लाह तआला ने अपनी कुदरत से दुनिया के कोने-कोने तक पहुँचाई यहाँ तक कि क़यामत तक जिस शख़्स के मुक़द्दर में भी हज्जे बैतुल्लाह लिखा हुआ था उसने इस आवाज़ को सुनकर लब्बैकक कहा।

जिस तरह दुनिया में बैतुल्लाह (खाना-ए-काबा) का तवाफ़ किया जाता है इसी तरह आसमानों पर अल्लाह तआला का घर है जिसको “बैतुलमामूर” कहा जाता है, उसका हर समय फ़रिश्ते तवाफ़ करते हैं, इस घर के बारे में अल्लाह तआला क़ुरान शरीफ़ में इरशाद फरमाता है: “और क़सम हे “बैतुल मामूर” की”, (सुरह: तूर -4). जब हुज़ूर अकरम सल्लल्लाहु अलैहि व सल्लम को “मेराज” व “इस्रा” की रात में “बैतुल मामूर” ले जाया गया तो हुज़ूर अकरम सल्लल्लाहु अलैहि व सल्लम ने हज़रत जिब्राईल अलैहिस्सलाम से पूछा यह क्या है? हज़रत जिब्राईल ने कहा कि यह “बैतुल मामूर” है, हर रोज़ सत्तर हज़ार फ़रिश्ते इसका तवाफ़ करते हैं, फिर उनकी बारी दोबारा क़यामत तक नहीं आती”। हदीस की मशहूर किताबों में यह हदीस मौजूद है, “तबरी की रिवायत से मालूम होता है कि बैतुल मामूर बैतुल्लाह (खाना-ए-काबा) के बिल्कुल ऊपर आसमान पर है।

नबी अकरम सल्लल्लाहु अलैहि वसल्लम ने फ़रमाया जिस शख्स ने महज़ अल्लाह की ख़ुशनूदी के लिए हज किया और उस दौरान कोई बेहुदा बात या गुनाह नहीं किया तो वह (पाक होकर) ऐसा लौटता है जैसा माँ के पेट से पैदा होने के रोज (पाक था) (बुखारी व मुस्लिम)

दुनिया की शुरुआत से लेकर अब तक इस पाक घर का तवाफ, ऊमरा और हज अदा किया जाता है और इनशाअल्लाह कयामत से पहले बैतुल्लाह के आसमानों पर उठाए जाने तक यह सिलसिला जारी रहेगा। यकीनन कुछ हालात में हज की अदायगी रुकी भी है, मगर सही बुखारी और दूसरी हदीस की किताबों में उल्लेख रसूल-अल्लाह स० के इर्शाद: "कयामत उस वक्त तक कायम नहीं होगी जब तक कि बैतुल्लाह का हज बंद ना हो जाए।" से यह बात स्पष्ट है कि हज का ना होना या हज को स्थगित करना या आजमीने हज को रोकना किसी भी हाल में अच्छी अलामत नहीं है चाहे उसके कुछ भी कारण हों। अल्लाह तआला हम सब की हिफाज़त फरमाए, आमीन!

Dr.  Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi
Contact No.: 0091-7017905326
Whatsapp No.: 00966-508237446

Coronavirus Impact: No Hajj pilgrimage for international pilgrims in 2020

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

Millions of pilgrims from all over the world will not be able to reach Makkah while reciting the hymn of Hajj (Labbaik)

By Dr. Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi

At the beginning of the month of Dhu al-Qaeda, the Saudi government has announced that only limited number of people from different countries living in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to perform Hajj this year (1441-2020) with all precautionary measures for their safety and integrity. The decision has come under the current pandemic situation. So, Zuyoof-ur-Rehman (Hajj Pilgrims) from all over the world will not be able to perform Hajj in 2020.

Like Salah, Fasting and Zakat, Hajj is an important pillar of Islam. It is obligatory once in a lifetime for every person to whom Allah has given so much wealth that he can travel from his home to Makkah and can bear the expenses of his family till his return. Allaah says: “Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures" (Surah Al-Imran 97)

The restriction on performing Umrah since March and the non-performance of Hajj by pilgrims from abroad this year would have cost the Saudi government and the Saudi people billions of riyals. For the past few years, about 2.5 to 3 million pilgrims have been performing the Hajj, and the number of those performing Umrah in Ramadan is much higher. The Saudi government has lifted the three-month lockdown across the country due to the corona epidemic, even lifted the ban on sports from June 21, although the Masjid Al-Haram (Mecca) has not yet been opened to the public.

The Ka'bah (House of Allah), located in the middle of the Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah, is the first house established by Allah on earth for mankind. “Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah - bessing and guidance for the worlds.” (Surah Al-Imran, verse 96) And this is the Qiblah of Muslims till the Day of Judgment. It was first built by angels before the birth of Adam (peace be upon him). The construction by Hazrat Adam (PBUH) and Hazrat Sheesh (AS) is also mentioned in some books. About four thousand years ago, Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) along with his son Hazrat Ismail (AS) rebuilt the Kaaba. The construction of the house by Hazrat Ibrahim (peace be upon him) is of special importance which has been mentioned in the Holy Quran وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَاعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ (Surat al-Baqarah: 127) And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ismail, [saying], "Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.

The greatness of this holy house can be gauged from the fact that Allah Almighty has made the Ka'bah, which is a very sacred house, a source of peace for the people, ie, as long as the Ka'bah remains honorable, the Hour will not come. Before the last hour, the House of Allah will be lifted, as the divine command says: جَعَلَ اللَّهُ الْكَعْبَةَ الْبَيْتَ الْحَرَامَ قِيَامًا لِلنَّاسِ (Allah has made the Ka'bah, the Sacred House, standing for the people.)
With the construction of Baitullah about four thousand years ago, Allah Almighty ordered Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) to announce Hajj among the people. Therefore, Allah Almighty conveyed the proclamation of Hazrat Ibrahim (as) not only to the living people of that time but also all the souls in the spirit world heard this voice. The person who said Labbaik in response to this proclamation was destined to visit the House of Allah. Hajj has been performed ever since the time of Hazrat Ibrahim (as) and even in the time of Jahiliyyah people continued to perform Hajj. Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) considered the occasion of Hajj as an opportunity in the life of Makkah and invited the delegations from outside to Islam. Therefore, by meeting the delegations during the days of Hajj, the land of Madinah was paved for Islam. And he migrated to Madinah with his companions. When Mecca was conquered in 8 AH, Baitullah was cleansed of all idols. Hajj became obligatory in 9 AH. He sent Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq as Amir al-Hajjaj and Hajj was performed according to Islamic law. In 10 AH, the Holy Prophet (SAW) performed the first and last Hajj of his glorious life (Hajjatul Widaa) with about one lakh twenty four thousand companions. Since then, Hajj has been performed every year according to the teachings of the Holy Prophet. The number of pilgrims has sometimes reached three million. Baitullah Sharif, which is a very sacred place of worship and a sacred house, is covered with a garment for its external adornment. The process of shrouding the Ka'bah continues in the same way as that of Hazrat Ishmael (as).

Just as Tawaaf of Bait-ul-Allah (House of Kaaba) is performed in the world, there is the house of Allah in the heavens which is called Bait-ul-Ma'mour, the angels do tawaaf it all the time. Concerning this house, Allaah says in the Holy Qur'aan: وَالْبَيْتِ الْمَعْمُورِ (Surat at-Tur, verse 4) And [by] the frequented House. When the Holy Prophet (SAW) was taken to Bait-ul-Ma'mour on the night of Ascension, the Holy Prophet (SAW) asked Gabriel (AS) what is this? Hazrat Gabriel said that this is Bait-ul-Ma’amour, everyday, seventy thousand angels do tawaaf it daily, then their turn will not come again till the Day of Resurrection. This hadith is found in the famous books of hadith.  According to the narration of Tabari, Bait-ul-Ma'mour is in the sky just above Bait-ul-Allah (the Ka'bah).

The months of Hajj have been started. The whole month of Shawwal has come to an end and Dhu al-Qaeda has begun. But this year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world will not be able to reach Mecca while reciting the hymn of Hajj. Millions of pilgrims used to leave the worldly ornaments and adornments to pay homage to the fifth most important pillar of Islam and reach the holy shrines (Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah) in love of Allah. They used to associate themselves with the great sacrifices of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) and Hazrat Ishmael (AS). This is why Hajj is called romantic worship because every action of the Hajj drips madness and madness. Hajj is a very significant act of worship in the sense that it consists of three aspects at the same time, spiritual, financial and physical. This feature is not found in any other form of worship. The special importance of this fifth pillar of Islam "Hajj" has been mentioned in the Qur'an and Hadith. Thus, on one occasion, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: Whoever performs Hajj merely for the sake of Allaah and does not commit any vain thing or sin during it, he returns (cleansed) as on the day of birth from the womb. (pure). (Bukhari and Muslim)

Tawaf, Umrah and Hajj of this holy house have been performed since the existence of this world and this process will continue till the Baitullah is taken to the heavens before the Day of Resurrection. Of course, in some cases the performance of Hajj had been stopped. But it is clear from hadith mentioned in Sahih Bukhari and other books, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The Hour will not come until the Hajj to the House of Allaah is stopped.” Stopping Hajj or stopping the pilgrims is not a good sign in any case, for whatever reason. May Allah protect us all, Amen.

[Dr.  Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi is an Islamic scholar. He can be reached on his Mobile # 0091-7017905326 or contacted on his email at najeebqasmi@gmail.com. His WhatsApp No. is 00966-508237446]

Special Report: OIC reiterates peaceful settlement of Jammu & Kashmir issue

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 24 June 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

By Danish Ahmad Khan 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has for the second time in two months raised the issue of Jammu & Kashmir seeking a peaceful settlement of the imbroglio.

A virtual meeting was recently held by the Contact Group of the OIC on Jammu and Kashmir issue on June 22, 2020, against the backdrop of the current situation in the embattled Muslim-dominated border state. The foreign ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Niger, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of Turkey participated in the meeting.

The virtual meeting was inaugurated by OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef A.  Al-Othaimeen. He stressed the OIC's resolve and commitment to finding a peaceful settlement for the Jammu and Kashmir issue as per the relevant resolutions of the Islamic Summit, the Council of Foreign Ministers, and the international legitimacy. 

Al-Othaimeen in his inaugural address said, "At the same time, I call on the international community to strengthen its efforts to assist the people of Kashmir to decisively practice their legitimate rights denied for decades."

The Contact Group has reaffirmed its continued support for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and called on the United Nations Secretary-General to use his good offices to make India abide by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and engage in dialogue to calm the situation in the region.

The Contact Group has asked India to halt security operations against the people of Jammu and Kashmir immediately, respect basic human rights, refrain from changing the demographic structure of the disputed territory, and settle the conflict under the relevant UNSC resolutions.
Meanwhile, the Contact Group also highly appreciated the efforts made by the OIC General Secretariat through its Special Envoy to Jammu and Kashmir who visited the region in March 2020.

The meeting concluded with the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir issuing a statement on the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir region in which it welcomed the efforts made by some Member States to calm the situation between India and Pakistan.

OIC Resolution passed over J&K

Earlier, the premier Muslim World body Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had expressed deep concern over Hindu right-wing Narendra Modi government's unilateral actions to change the demographic composition of Jammu & Kashmir and undermining the rights of the people. 

The OIC had on 20th May 2020 passed a resolution over the Central government's unilateral action, which has largely gone unreported in the Indian media. Without naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi the OIC in its resolution stressed the importance of complying with UN Security Council Resolutions and allowing no changes to the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir. 

The OIC Resolution dated 20/05/2020 says:

"The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been following with deep concern the unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and subsequent measures to alter the demographics of and undermine the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory as recognized by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The General Secretariat reaffirmed the importance of complying with international law and UN Security Council resolutions, considering the recent notification of ‘Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules 2020’ as baseless, running counter to international law and UN Security Council resolution 122.

Recalling the Islamic Summits’ and the Council of Foreign Ministers’ resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, the General Secretariat reaffirms its solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It also calls on the international community to gear up its efforts to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people."

India, China face off over Ladakh

The Kashmir situation has further worsened with direct face off between India and China. A clash took place between the armies of the two nations at Ladakh's Galwan Valley on June 15. At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed and over 80 injured. China claims that the Galwan Valley, which is part of the disputed Ladakh region, is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) - the de facto border between the two Asian rivals.

Earlier, a report authored by a senior figure at an influential Chinese think-tank was published on June 4 in a recent Chinese publication Global Times, which has linked the current tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to India’s move last year to abrogate Article 370 and change the status of Jammu and Kashmir, a decision that China had voiced opposition to.

The article, for the first time, described the move as a joint challenge to China and Pakistan, saying the move had “posed a challenge to the sovereignty of Pakistan and China”.

A press officer at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad was the first to share the report on social media.

Modi Government Indicted

The fact that the Jammu & Kashmir issue has been raised by the OIC for the second time in two months is a serious indictment of the current Hindutva government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With its unilateral action of abrogating Article 370 through a parliamentary act, Modi government has sought to internationalize the Jammu & Kashmir issue, which was so far bilateral, but has now become tripartite issue with the direct interference of China. It may be noted that Article 370, which granted Special Status to Jammu & Kashmir, was primarily considered to be a bridge between India and State of Jammu & Kashmir.

The status quo until the abrogation of Article 370 had kept the wheel going and thwarted any direct international interference. With the military face off between India and China the Jammu & Kashmir issue has become more complicated than ever threatening a war between the two countries, and probably with Pakistan too, in the near future. The OIC's and other world bodies' interference shows that India has failed on its foreign policy front as far as Jammu & Kashmir is concerned.

It would have been better that Modi government should have maintained status quo and shouldn't have moved ahead with the unilateral abrogation of Article 370. India should have instead focused on building a robust South Asian regional market and steered its economy well, which is currently tottering and in abysmally bad shape. The warning bells have started sounding for the Modi government as it is on course losing its formidable friends both in the Muslim World and its immediate neighborhood. The time has come to give a serious thought for the peaceful resolution of Jammu & Kashmir issue.    

[Danish Ahmad Khan, a Senior Journalist, is based at New Delhi. He is Founder-Editor of IndianMuslimObserver.com - India's First Online Muslim Newspaper. He can be reached at indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com]

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