UAE citizenship law for foreigners announced

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 08 February 2021 | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service

Dubai: Amendments to the Executive Regulation of the Federal Law regarding Nationality and Passports allowing professionals, special talents, investors and their families to acquire the Emirati nationality and passport under certain conditions has been approved by the UAE cabinet under the chairmanship of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, WAM news agency reported.

The move is aimed at appreciating and acknowledging the competencies and talents present in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and also to attract more bright minds to the Emirati community leading to the overall prosperity and development of the country.

The categories qualifying to seek the Emirati nationality include artists, intellectuals, talents, scientists, inventors, specialists, doctors, investors and their families (spouse and children). The new amendments will allow them to retain their current nationality.

The Emirati citizenship can be acquired through nominations from Rulers and Crown Princes Courts, Executive Councils, and the Cabinet based on federal entities nominations.

The specific conditions to be met compulsorily for each category for acquiring Emirati citizenship will be the following:

Investors should own a property in the UAE.

Doctors and specialists must be specialized in a unique scientific discipline or any other scientific principles that are highly required in the UAE, the applicant must have acknowledged scientific contributions, studies and research of scientific value and a practical experience of not less than 10 years, in addition to obtaining membership in a reputable organization in his field of specialization.

Scientists are required to be an active researcher in a university or research centre or in the private sector, with a practical experience of not less than 10 years in the same field. They also should have contributions in the scientific field such as winning a prestigious scientific award, or securing substantial funding for their research during the past ten years, it is also mandatory to obtain a recommendation letter from recognized scientific institutions in the UAE.

Inventors who are willing to acquire Emirati citizenship are required to obtain one or more patents that are approved by the UAE Ministry of Economy or any other reputable international body, in addition to a recommendation letter from the Economy Ministry.

Individuals with creative talents such as intellectuals and artists should be pioneers in the culture and art fields and winners of one or more international award. A recommendation letter from related government entities is mandatory as well.

In case of qualifying, and before acquiring the citizenship, other requirements include swearing the oath of allegiance, committing to abide by the Emirati laws and officially informing the respective government agency in case of acquiring or losing any other citizenship are mandated.

The UAE citizenship will be offering several benefits, including the right to establish or own commercial entities and properties, in addition to any other benefits granted by federal authorities after the approval of the Cabinet or local authorities. 

The citizenship can also be withdrawn upon breach of the conditions, according to the new amendments.

Global Halal Food Market expected to reach USD 922.53 billion by 2026

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

IMO News Service

The Halal Food market is witnessing a tremendous growth with the increasing Muslim populations worldwide and their continuously rising annual spending on food. As such, the demand for halal food and beverage products has significantly grown thus compelling the market players to focus on authentic and branded products. A recent study by Polaris Market Research has indicated that the global Halal Food Market is expected to reach USD 922.53 billion by 2026.

Presently, consumers are showing growing interest in halal industry. This is primarily due to the increasing consumer awareness about the nutritional and hygiene advantages, and improving lifestyles as a result of increasing disposable income. These products being processed and packed with much higher regulatory compliance compared conventional food products are gaining significantly popularity. Basically, they do not contain contents or ingredients that are against Islamic beliefs.

Halal foods are expected to be produced, packaged, stored, and distributed as per Islamic teachings. Moreover, these products are considered to be safe, clean, and highly nutritional. The significant growth in Muslim populations across the globe is expected to offer immense opportunities to Halal Food market. In addition, the rapidly accelerating economic power of Islamic countries is anticipated to largely influence them to spend additional money on the branded products.

The growing issues over the absence of proper regulatory framework to assure the authenticity of these products might be a restraint to the commercially produced halal food. The industry can be considered as a fragmented one and the absence of standardized regularizations has repressed the mainstream F&B participants from venturing this section of the worldwide Halal Food market. However, the number of small scale companies meeting the needs of the local populations has been increasing significantly.

Low level of awareness about the presence of authentic halal food brands is acting as a challenge to the industry. As a consequence, the industry is not experiencing demands to its full potential as expected. Moreover, halal authentic issues within the sector are considered quiet minor among consumer. Thus, this requires manufacturers to improve their marketing strategies and production facilities. Furthermore, it becomes difficult to understand consumer perspective about halal food & beverage brands. 

The Asia Pacific Halal Food market is anticipated to dominate the global market by 2026, owing to the presence of emerging nations such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Pakistan. These nations have significant population that follows Islamic beliefs. Moreover, the rising economic conditions in the region provide an opportunity for the foreign players to start of their production facilities, thus offering cost effective products the consumers in the region.

Muslims increasingly enduring ethnic profiling and surveillance in Europe: Amnesty International

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

IMO News Service

Amnesty International and Open Society Foundations have published a guide alleging that Muslims are being discriminated against, ethnically profiles and subjected to surveillance in European counter-terrorism efforts.

The Human Rights Guide for Researching Racial and Religious Discrimination in Counter-Terrorism in Europe has specifically highlighted how to lawful activities and affiliations of Muslims have been used for justifying nationality-stripping, expulsion, arrest, surveillance, counter-radicalization measures and many other restrictions on their rights.

Eda Seyhan, the author of the research guide, was quoted by Helsinki Times as saying, “In the never-ending ‘War on Terror’, Muslims continue to endure ethnic profiling and are disproportionately subjected to surveillance, limitations on their movements, arrest and deportation.”

The author said that its unfortunate that Muslims are being targeted by European governments with counter-terrorism measures thus reinforcing the racist view that Islam is a ‘threat’, and has successfully created an environment in which making hate speech against Muslims is considered to be normal.

Seyhan said that the target of a discriminatory counter-terrorism measure will result in excessive damage to the psyche of Muslims by causing fear, trauma and anxiety. Such discriminatory approach by European governments has all the potential of hugely impacting with long-lasting effects, including anxiety, psychological distress, depression and diminished self-esteem.

The guide is aimed at encouraging civil society bodies for redoubling their efforts to combat discrimination specifically in the context of counter-terrorism and equipping readers with the tools to challenge systemic racism and threats to religious freedom. The guide has also recommended a major rethink on how to effectively address counter-terrorism measures within the European Union.

Philippines to observe February 1 as National Hijab Day every year

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 January 2021 | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service

Manila: Philippines has decided to give Muslim women due honor by observing National Hijab Day every year. The move comes at a time when Islamophobia has become a worldwide phenomenon.

A hijab is a veil worn by Muslim women in several countries across the world. It is used to cover the head and chest to ward off male gaze when the women are among men outside their immediate family.

Philippines’ House of Representatives voted unanimously on January 26 approving a bill to declare February 1 as National Hijab Day every year.

The House Bill No. 8249 was unanimously approved after a total of 203 members of House of Representatives voted in favour of it. There were neither abstentions nor negative votes, SunStar Philippines reported.

Representatives Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong and Amihilda Sangcopan jointly sponsored the bill in the House. The measure is aimed at promoting understanding towards the Muslim traditions of wearing a hijab, and removing the misconception of hijab being a symbol of oppression and terrorism.

The non-Muslim women will also be able to experience wearing the hijab, and stop discriminating against hijabis. The bill is also aimed at protecting the right of Muslim women to practice their religion in the country, and specifically promoting appreciation of diversity, promoting understanding of wearing a hijab as an act of modesty and dignity, and promoting tolerance and acceptance of other lifestyles.

According to the government, the private sector, schools and government institutions will be encouraged to observe National Hijab Day on February 1 every year.

Rise of Islamophobia Across the World

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

By Peace Olanipekun

In recent years, Islamophobia has been spreading across the world, stretching from eastern countries like China to western countries such as Europe and the United States. In China, the government has been detaining more than a million Muslims since 2017. They are held in what the government calls “re-education” camps. A large portion of this group is Uyghurs, an ethnic group mainly from China’s northwestern region called Xinjiang. Chinese authorities initially denied these camps’ presence until later when they described them as vocational training and re-education initiatives aimed at reducing poverty and counter-terrorism threats. According to satellite images obtained by the Australian Strategic Policy institute, 380 of these detention centers ranged from low-security re-education camps to reinforced prisons. Despite this, Chinese officials continue to argue that the camps fulfill two purposes: to teach Mandarin and Chinese law and work skills while actively working to prevent extremist ideas, thereby stopping terrorist activities.

The Chinese government substantiates these claims with the fact that Xinjiang has not experienced a terrorist attack since December 2016, a fact that they attribute heavily to the camps for preventing violence. Despite these numerous claims by officials to assuage the calls for these camps to be closed, they refuse to allow journalists, human rights groups or diplomats independent access to the camps and visitors to the regions where camps are located face heavy surveillance. While China continues what many has called a cultural genocide, it is essential to hold their government officials accountable for the numerous individuals held captive. Still, we must also remember that this is not an isolated case but rather a growing concern as the rest of the world implements and grows in Islamophobic ideals.

Islamophobia is nothing new in the United States following the rapid incline after the tragic 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In a recent survey performed by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 62% of Muslims within the U.S. and 68% of Muslim women experienced some form of religious discrimination in 2019. The Pew Research Center also released a poll revealing 82% of U.S. adults believed and agreed that Muslims within the country were subjected to at least some form of prejudice. This statistic is an overwhelming amount of individuals and does not even take into account the 56% of people who believed that Muslims faced a high amount of discrimination within the country. This is not a phenomenon isolated to only the United States within North America; however as Statistics Canada discovered that hate crimes against those of the Islamic faith grew by 253% from 2012 to 2015 in Canada.

There is a long and detailed history of policies within the Canadian sphere that promotes Islamophobia and limits the right of specifically Muslim women to freely and openly take part in their religion, a significant violation of the Canadian Rights and Freedoms. One of the most prominent cases that continue to be debated to this day is Quebec’s Bill 94, which banned the niqab from public and civic spaces, which only contributed to the insane amount of Islamophobia that continues to rise in Quebec. It is essential to note the contribution media has on this noticeable rise. When reporting on domestic terrorism within countries, there is a visible difference in the approach the media takes when the suspect is Islamic. When someone commits domestic terrorism, not of the Islamic faith, it does not receive the same amount of attention as one that is.

In June, the Constitutional Court of Belgium ruled that banning religious symbols, including hijabs, in higher education establishments does not violate the freedom of religion or right to education. This is a slap in the face to Muslim women who wear the hijab and niqab, especially when one considers the background of universities and higher education in general. The first university in the world was founded in 895 CE in what is now known as Morocco by Fatima bint Muhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya or as she is more commonly known as Fatima al-Fihri. Fatima was a proud Muslim woman who founded the university of Al Qarawiynn, which still to this day remains the oldest operational education institution. Despite the numerous protests that have been and continue to happen in Belgium protesting the new ruling by the Constitutional Court of Belgium, there has been minimal media attention given to these protesters, especially from some of the biggest worldwide news stations.

Belgium is far from the only country within Europe that is facing problems of Islamophobia. A prominent country that has arisen in recent years concerning religious discrimination issues in France has the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe. France is a staunch secularist country that it claims is a state of neutrality in religion areas, supporting neither the absence nor existence of religion, also emphasizing a strong separation of religion and the state as a whole. However, it is important to understand that the legal definition of secularism within France calls for the neutrality of the state and not enforced neutrality on individuals and this is where the reality strays from the perceived ideal. In 2004, France banned the wearing of any conspicuous religious symbols or clothing, a law which while applying to all religions specifically affected Muslim communities in a much more prominent way.

Islamophobia is an issue that we can simply attribute to one country alone or one section of the world. This is a prominent problem being faced by Muslims of all races, gender, cultural backgrounds and free of territorial claim, it is a worldwide problem that can never truly be solved without addressing the differing discriminations being faced by Muslims all around the world. We need to dismantle the discriminatory stereotype that is often pushed by world leaders due to terrorism and extremist groups who account for a very small percentage of the Islam community and who often twist and distort the ideals and pillars of the religion.

(Courtesy: OWP)

Cambodia to establish Department of Halal Affairs

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

IMO News Service

Cambodia is ready to welcome Muslim tourists in a big way. The government has announced it will be soon establishing the Department of Halal Affairs under the purview of the Ministry of Commerce’s General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention (CCF), The Phnom Penh Post reported.

A meeting was conducted by Cambodian Halal Steering Committee (CHSC) on January 21 for discussing the draft sub-decree No. 160 dated July 29, 2016 which established the committee, informed CHSC deputy chairman Osman Hassan.

The meeting, which was chaired by Council of Ministers secretary of state Tekreth Samrach, focused on establishing the halal affairs department after revising some of the articles in the sub-decree. Also, the composition of the CHSC will be fine-tuned after amending the sub-decree.

The halal affairs department will immediately become operational as soon as the sub-decree is implemented. The judicial police officers will be inspecting the legal data and enforcing halal labeling laws at all enterprises.

The Halal Affairs Department will be enforce stricter management of halal products and small and medium-sized enterprises will be inspected for properly putting halal labels according to Cambodian technical standards.

The government’s move has been welcomed by the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA). A statement by CATA said, “The management of halal products, especially food, will play an important role in attracting Muslim tourists to Cambodia down the line.”

The commerce ministry has so far registered and issued certificates for 666 halal products in Cambodia.

Islamophobia rising in Germany causing concern among Muslims

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 13 January 2021 | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service

The Turkish-Muslim community in Germany is worried and greatly concerned about the increasing Islamophobic hate crimes in the country, Anadolu Agency reported recently.

The news agency quoted Kemal Ergun, president of the Turkish-Muslim association IGMG, as saying that a number of mosques have been targeted, vandalized and faced arson incidents in recent months. "At least 122 mosques were targeted in such attacks last year. Dozens of mosques received multiple bomb threats by neo-Nazis or other extremist groups. These incidents have sparked worries among the Muslim community in the country. We call on the police authorities to conduct more effective investigations and arrest the perpetrators of these attacks," said Ergun.

The rise of anti-Muslim prejudice has led to increased hostility and discrimination with each passing day. The headscarves-wearing Muslim women are particularly targeted, verbally harassed and physically assaulted on the streets.

So far 632 Islamophobic crimes have been reported from January to November 2020, the news agency said citing police records. These crimes included damage to property, physical assaults, disruption of religious practice, threatening letters and insults. However, the real figures are said to be much higher as many victims avoid filing criminal complaints with the police due to biased attitude of the law enforcement authorities.

Germany has a population of over 80 million, and is home to Western Europe’s second-largest Muslim population after France. There are nearly 4.7 million Muslims in the country, with 3 million being of Turkish origin.

iPORTAL Live, MDEC jointly launch Global Knowledge Platform for US$2 trillion Islamic Economy

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and iPORTAL Live Sdn Bhd have launched a new Islamic Economy Knowledge Portal aimed at further enhancing the ease-of-access to information and knowledge of the Islamic Economy to users, as well as facilitate connection and encourage collaboration by industry users dispersed globally.

As the leading hub of Southeast Asia’s Islamic Digital economy, Malaysia has the resources and depth of knowledge that makes it the perfect location for iPORTAL to launch its platform.

Through its partnership with MDEC, iPORTAL Live will bring in global expertise and knowledge transfer in the area of Islamic Digital Economy into Malaysia. This will elevate Malaysia’s position as a global Islamic Digital Economy hub, and further strengthen the country as the Heart of Digital ASEAN.

The launch of the new knowledge portal comes amidst significant growth in the Islamic Digital Economy according to the latest State of Global Islamic Economy Report. It is estimated that Muslims spent US$2.02 trillion (RM8.18 trillion) in 2019 including the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, fashion, travel and media/recreation sectors, all of which are impacted by Islamic faith-inspired ethical consumption needs.

This spending reflects a 3.2% year-on-year growth from 2018. In addition, Islamic finance assets were estimated to have reached US$2.88 trillion (RM11.7 trillion) in 2019.

The issue is that while there is significant growth in the Islamic economy, the information and data for consumers, products, insights and research is dispersed globally. The challenge then is placing all this information in one place for easy access and reference.

iPORTAL Live aims to address this issue with the launch of its Islamic Digital Economy knowledge portal at www.iPORTAL.live. The portal is a global platform that will showcase the 10 sectors of the Islamic Economy all in one easy to access place. It will start the users’ journey with knowledge, under Academy, which will then continue to Entrepreneurship, Insights, Waqf Economy, Research, Marketplace and a Job Board.

The new portal will also provide digital pathways for inclusion and connectivity for all sectors. For example, through the portal, Islamic Financial services can connect to players of modest fashion or Muslim media for funding opportunities; the halal industry can connect with the Takaful industry for matters of insurance; or social impact startups can showcase their innovative suggestions for the Islamic economy verticals.

“Malaysia has been a pioneering leader in Islamic finance and remains the biggest Islamic finance market in Southeast Asia. Backed by our strong regulatory framework and an expanding Islamic finance ecosystem that includes Sukuk, Takaful and Syariah-compliant funds, Malaysia is on track to reach the central bank’s target of 40% share of total financing by the end of 2020. We believe the launch of iPORTAL's global Islamic Economy platform, will enable many more global stakeholders to learn and adopt from Malaysia's decades of experience and contribute towards the global growth of the Islamic digital industry,” says Saifuddin Abdullah, Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Multimedia.

“Malaysia has been at the forefront of championing Islamic banking and finance for the last three decades. The Malaysian government, through MDEC, has started serious work to embed the Islamic digital economy in the grand design of the Malaysian blueprint of the digital economy. Through the launch of iPORTAL Live, the information will be readily available and accessible for the interested masses, contributing to the creation of an inclusive Fintech hub while firmly establishing Malaysia as the heart of digital ASEAN,” added Dr Rais Hussin Mohammed Ariff, MDEC’s chairman.

Dr Rushdi Siddiqui cofounder/CEO iPORTAL Live said, “The launch of iPORTAL Live could not have happened without the hard work of Malaysia, UAE, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, Pakistan, UK and others in raising the profile of the 10 sector US$3 trillion Islamic Economy. iPORTAL Live has 74 introductory courses, 50% are free. Meanwhile, on the verticals of the Islamic economy, it has more than 400 social impact startups, including women owned, from 12 countries that get updated monthly, it has Islamic banking regulations from 14 countries in one place with opportunity for public comment, it has Waqf research and projects from 8 countries, it has job board with 250 openings, it has 26 members on its advisory board and 27 partnerships, etc.”

Thus, iPORTAL Live is a B2C2B platform that is part Google (search on Islamic economy), part Amazon (content by third parties) and part Wikipedia (contribution to the Islamic economy). It’s about reducing friction and user journey for connecting to the global Islamic economy community with content, commerce and opportunity to collaborate.

“The Islamic Economy is open for business for all in the new normal, and iPORTAL Live is the digital meeting place for values aligned education, consumption, investment, funding and business,” adds Rushdi.

World Premiere for Europe: First Diversity Chamber of Commerce established in Romania

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

IMO News Service

Bucharest, Romania: The world's first Diversity Chamber of Commerce has been established in Romania in order to promote the principles of diversity and inclusion in the country's business community. The Chamber will serve as a forum where multinationals can interact with Romanian businesses run by individuals from minority groups that have traditionally been marginalized economically -- and in particular, women, the LGBTQ+ community, Roma, people with disabilities and others.

The project is the only one of its kind in the world, organized on the model of a typical chamber of commerce. Through a whole range of activities, from mentoring and coaching, to training, networking and certification, the Chamber will support the Romanian economy by helping make it easier for minority businesses to connect, compete and grow. The Romanian Diversity Chamber of Commerce was founded by Dentons, ING Bank, Mega Image and Raiffeisen Bank and the NGO "Orasul Meu, Culorile Mele" and was inspired by the Diversity Charter. Other members include Accenture, Accept, GKN Fokker Engineering, Roma Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (REDI) and Visa, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as an honorary member. The Romanian Diversity Chamber of Commerce is audited by PwC. Both the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Bucharest and the Netherlands-Romanian Chamber of Commerce supported the formation of Chamber.

“For most international businesses, membership in the Diversity Chamber of Commerce is a natural extension of their focus on corporate social responsibility and an acknowledgement that diversity and inclusion are not only morally right but also good for business. According to international studies, diverse companies are 35% more likely to see better returns than their industry medians. We encourage companies with similar ideals to join us in this revolutionary initiative,” explained Perry Zizzi, Managing Partner of Dentons in Romania and President of the Chamber.

Serge Offers, Chief Financial Officer of ING Bank, and Adrian Nicolescu, Vice President for Brand Market, Communication and Sustainability at Mega Image, were elected as Vice President and Treasurer of the Chamber, respectively.

Leading the way

While most of Western Europe is already championing diversity and inclusion, Romania is one of Eastern Europe’s most active advocates on this matter. More than 70% of respondents to the study "Diversity and Inclusion in Romanian Organizations" conducted by the Romanian Diversity Charter in partnership with MKOR Consulting believe that diversity and inclusion management has a direct impact in increasing motivation and satisfaction at work. Moreover, an inclusive environment that focuses on everyone’s needs is reflected in the improvement of quality of life and mental and physical health of employes (51% of respondents).

60% of large companies have diversity and inclusion strategies and 33% allocate annual budgets for them. On the other hand, 47% of SMEs and 44% of micro-enterprises have an ad hoc approach and only 6% of SMEs allocate diversity and inclusion budgets. Most public institutions participating in the study have an ad hoc approach to diversity and inclusion practices (86%).

86% of organizations addressing diversity and inclusion focus on gender diversity. The companies that focus the most on gender equality issues are large companies and SMEs. 63% of organizations address the inclusion of people with disabilities and 54% include ethnic or religious groups. These are generally public institutions.

International Day for People with Disabilities

Several companies, embassies and organizations in Romania including the Swedish Embassy in Romania, AFI Europe Romania, Light into Europe Association, Dell, Dentons, GlobalWorth, ING Bank, Kaufland, Prime Kapital, Raiffeisen Bank, Motivation Foundation, Sky Tower and Special Olympics Romania joined the Romanian Diversity Chamber of Commerce initiative and celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3rd) by illuminating buildings in purple, thus sending a message of solidarity with the disabled community. According to official statistics, there are approximately 800,000 people with disabilities in Romania.

The Romanian Diversity Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization that promotes the principles of diversity and inclusion in the Romanian business community and supports the development of the Romanian economy through implementation of greater diversity and inclusion. More information on www.rdcc.ro.

Has the time finally come for Muslim Americans to address racism in their own community?

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

By Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

As American battle with racism comes to a boil on the heels of yet another unarmed black man murdered by a white police officer, Muslim America has its own festering racial problem between Black American Muslims and converts to Islam, and between the larger Muslim American immigrant community. The question of Racism in Muslim America has never been fully unpacked as a national American Muslim conversation. Sure, it has been hinted at, pointed to, glossed over, generalized, and even headlined in articles here and there. Still, the issue has never been domestically unwrapped and laid bare so it could be subject to critical and compartmental examination. There never been any resolution, reckoning or healing.

One of the challenges facing American Muslims in dealing with racism in our mosques and in our own communities is that you cannot approach racism with a one-size fit for all method. Our own dealings with race and racism in the United states should have taught us that. Racism in Muslim America lives in the trappings of Islam and under cover of the masaajid (mosques). It is as delicate as it is insidious, it’s refined as much as it is profane. It is a wide topic that spans the globe in breadth and is as diverse in its manifestations as the rainbow of races, and colors of the peoples who inhabit the nations mosques. If America is an experiment, then Muslim America with two distinctly different civilizational trajectories; one Black and indigenous, and the other, recent (50 years or less) immigrants, is even more of an experiment.

Racism in Muslim America has its own historical evolution. It has cracks and crevices where it hides, masquerades and blends in with the scenery. It can act like a chameleon and go undetected until you look closely, or it can unabashedly bite you in the face. It will migrate from one institutional host to another institutional host. Sometimes you must hunt it down like a wild animal and corner it, and even then, it will fight you back. Racism does not back down easily except where there is taqwa (piety). It takes a certain amount of moral courage the likes of which we as Muslims I am afraid, are in short supply for now, to tackle racism in our ranks. We can only do it in my view, as a morally mature people, but tackle it we must, and tackle it we will if it be God’s will.

Racism in Muslim America may not look exactly like racism in America in general or racism in the Arab world or in Europe, or in Asia, Africa or anywhere else. Racism in Muslim in America has its own unique historical and civilizational nuance which is why it deserves more than just a casual, anecdotal glance. Racism in Muslim America is the proverbial elephant in the room, and that elephant is poised to let out a big fart that will stink from New York to Washington state, if we do not take the time and courage to meet it head on.

My first article about racism in Muslim America[i] was published in 2002, on the heels of 9/11. It was a taboo topic then, and admittedly I was very careful in the way I worded the topic, and here we are 18 years later, and the issue of racism in Muslim America sits on our door step, like unopened mail.

Racism Muslim America is a heartfelt letdown for Black American Muslim converts and their accompanying generations. While at the same time, marginally acknowledged by the American Muslim immigrant community. Within the Black American Muslim and convert community, the conversation about racism in Muslim America has been well under way, but relatively one-sided. Any Black American Muslim will tell you unequivocally that racism is alive and well in Muslim America, as well as any other Muslim who is willing to be honest and not bound by the chains of political correctness.

As the conversation about race again take center stage in the national news feed of the United States with the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis MN the opportunity has again presented itself for Muslim Americans to catch up with the rest of the country on the matter of race, racism and race relations within our domestic faith practice. If we don’t rise to the occasion, we threaten to undo years of carefully orchestrated public relations portrayal of American Muslims as a new an unblemished citizenry who are part of the American experiment.

American Muslims are an accepted part of American society. However, we are not the go-to community for moral leadership. The main deterrent to that is our failure as a general body, to openly address the issue of racism within our ranks. Black American Muslims are willing to have this conversation and have been having it amongst ourselves to the point of disgust, protest and revolt. Imams and leaders of the American Muslim immigrant community must be willing to reciprocate in a way that is past lip service photo-ops, and billboards. If we are to ever have hope in being an advanced civilization, we must be willing to engage in advanced conversation, no matter how painful.

[Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad is an associate Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam, housed in the first building built originally as a Mosque in the State of Ohio. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, can be reached at: imamabulaith@yahoo.com]

OPINION: Lessons from Coronavirus pandemic

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By Dr. SLM Rifai

Humanity is stunned with an exponential growth of coronavirus across the globe. This pandemic has created chaotic situations across the globe. It has become a major health hazard to humanity. So many conspiracy theories are coming out about this deadly virus. It is reported this virus is deliberately created for some financial and political domination. We do not know if humanity could know the truth about this mysterious virus. According to David ICKE, one of the famous conspiracy theorists, this virus is created by some politico and technocratic cults to control world’s economic and financial powers. Yet, now, it has misfired and created unprecedented consequences. I’m not an economist to gauge the financial impacts of this tragedy and yet, what lessons humanity could learn from this uncontrollable epidemic disease? Whether we like or not this world is ruled today by some greedy economic thugs and cults. These political mafia will do any thing to protect their political and financial power. They do not mind how many million people are being killed in their geopolitical hegemony. Today, there is not any moral or ethical value in modern politics. I do not know whether this is a man-made disaster or natural disaster and yet, it has created a huge amount of suffering and hysteria among public.

No doubt this virus is going to teach numbers of lessons to humanity. It has made humanity to kneel in front of divine power. It has shocked world leaders. It has stunned medical professionals. It has made world economies to crumple. It has brought bustling world into a standstill. A tiny invisible army of corona virus is threating entire humanity with its magic power. Modern man has been boasting with his technological and scientific advancement in recent decades. Yet, today, he cannot stand in front of this tiny invisible divine creature. What does it tell us? It tells us that there is a super-power behind all universal events in this world. No, a big or small event take place without divine wisdom and divine plan. This virus has been inflicting people indiscriminately. It does not discriminate between rich and poor, between old and young, between males and females and between weak and strong. No one is immune from the merciless attack of this tiny virus. The rulers and public are equally affected. This invisible creature teaches humanity so many lessons. It tells that man is weak and feeble in front of divine power. It tells us humanity depends on some supernatural or divine power for its protection and survival. It tells us humanity needs divine mercy and divine grace. It tells us humanity is always in needs of divine help. It tells us that life and death are in the hands of God. It tells us what doctors can do and what they can not do in time of emergency like this. More than 14000 people perished but doctors could do little to save them. More than 300 hundred thousand people are inflicted with this deadly virus and yet, doctors could do little to prevent people from inflicting with this virus.

It teaches world leaders a bitter lesson not to be arrogant. So called veto powered countries have been arrogant with their nuclear and high-tech weapons. In fact, some countries have been spreading corruption and creating trouble in many parts of the world, all those leaders should know that there is a super-divine power (God) to take them into account. This virus has made them realise that their power and their technologies can not stand in front of divine power. We see a widespread of injustice, mass killings, corruption, exploitation, and transgression. Innocent people are being killed for no reasons in thousands and yet, world leaders did nothing to prevent the mass murders across the globe. Now these leaders should realise there is a God to take them into account.

How many million people may have been affected by wars in all these third world countries? How many million people may have cried for help? How many thousand children may have been killed in all these wars? Some world leaders have behaved with arrogance in many international affairs. People of Palestine have been suffering for 70 years. Yet, US, Russian, China and all western countries have been supporting aggressive Israel. Similarly, India has been persecuting innocent Kashmir people and yet, no one dared to question India. This tiny virus may be a divine warning to all these pharaohs to amend their mistakes.

So called rationalists and atheists have been mocking and ridiculing divine power and super-natural powers. Europe is full of these rationalists and atheists. They have been challenging divine power and divine existence. I think that this contagious virus is teaching a bitter lesson for all those who deny divine existence. More recently, Yuval Noah Harari: an Israel historian and atheist has been mocking divine power and he has claimed that AI will conquer divine power and religion. He has claimed that AI will fulfil all human needs and man no longer in need of religious and divine guidance. Yet, with the spread of this deadly virus, God has demonstrated his power and we saw how people are begging divine intervention to protect them from this deadly disease.

Today, many world leaders are arrogant with their political power and they do not follow any religious guidance or any moral or ethical value. Chinese ruling elites do not respect religious values of its own people. The Chinese government cares only about its material gains at the expense of moral and ethical values. It has been persecuting its own people for its grip on power and likewise, the Russian government has been persecuting its own people for its grip on people. Contrary to this, people in western countries enjoy freedom and democratic values and yet, their leaders are trapped in geopolitical cold wars between world powers. Behind the scene, so many geopolitical cold wars take place between all these powerful countries. Unfortunately, innocent people have become victims of all these hidden cold wars.

World leaders must stop stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Rather they must act swiftly to protect humanity from poverty, starvation, and famines. People are going to die out of this panic across the globe. Millions of people struggle to make end meets each day in the world. Yet, rich countries do not have any remorse on these poor people who die across the globe out of poverty and starvation. God has given humanity a golden opportunity to amend its past mistake. 1% of supper rich have been controlling 90% of world wealth, while million of people live on one dollar to survive. This disparity can not go for a long time in this modern world. Humanity should be united to encounter these capitalistic pharaohs of modern world.

This tragedy has united entire humanity beyond all religious, racial, national, linguistic differences to work for one goal. That is to protect humanity from this deadly virus. Today, entire global population is united in its fight against this deadly virus. This sense of unity among humanity should prevail all times to fight so many other global issues that post existential threat to human family. May God guide world leaders to work for the unity of humanity!

[Dr. SLM Rifai is based in UK. He can be reached at drrifaisulaiman@yahoo.co.uk]

Muslim-Friendly Social Media OOLi Network launched

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 05 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

The need of Muslim Social Media is increasing. Popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have come under fire for sustained targeting of Muslims through hate-speech, misinformation (fake news) and spread of obscene graphic content. Recent headlines such as ‘Facebook Accused of Watching Users Through Cameras’, ‘Facebook Dealing with a Hate Speech Crisis’, ‘Social Media Graphic Video Circulates’ etc are not uncommon, and have been increasing of late. Even the calls for stricter measures to control the spread of graphic content and misinformation have also increased. As major networks come under fire, many are starting to ask the question “Is it all worth it?” Many Muslims are considering dropping major applications like Facebook, yet it would be hard to imagine a world without Social Media. So, what can one do?

Social media users have been clamoring for some time for the creation of safe networks and platforms which not only regulate obscene language and images, but also promote a community-based approach. This is exactly what inspired J. J. Muhammad Shakur, Founder of OOLi Network, to create an application that has a policy and mission to provide positive and beneficial content for the Muslim community.

Muslims, who have often been the target of much hate-speech on networks like Facebook and Twitter, can now have a safe environment to share, like and post messages and ideas. OOLi Network wants to provide this specific environment for a niche community. As mentioned on their website, “Islam is a unique bond that connects Muslims all around the world and that alone is an incentive to have a social network to share content in a more filtered environment, for a better Muslim experience.”

Those used to the Facebook or Instagram interface will immediately feel comfortable using OOLi Network and may even find some aspects more user-friendly. After signing up with a phone number, one can immediately tap into the OOLi community, made up almost entirely, but not exclusive of Muslims. “Although we had Muslims in mind, we invite other communities to check out our product,” Shakur says.

While still is its early stages, OOLi Network seems to show a lot of potential and has the appeal to attract many new users. Once more users join, it is quite evident that OOLi Network will be a major networking tool for Muslims globally. And the possibilities keep expanding. “We hope to one day include a fully operational online selling platform,” Shakur continues, “and we’ve recently added a community ‘Spaces’ to help organizations, masjids and communities in general make announcements and post to the public.”

With regular updates, OOLi Network seems to be listening to its users and is keen on providing a quality visual and user-friendly experience. OOLi Network can be downloaded on both Google Play and App Store so that in a few minutes, you too can be connected to a safe environment and growing Muslim Online Community.

OOLi Network is set to change how Muslims network with one another globally. Dedicated to providing Muslims with a unique yet easy-to-use platform with a seamless, clean, simple and user-friendly interface, OOLi Network is your Muslim-Friendly Social Media. Share. Create. Post!

OPINION: French Secularism in Crisis

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

By L. Ali Khan

French Muslims are in the process of reconciling with the Fifth Republic of France, established with the 1958 Constitution, which declares France to be a secular state. In the past thirty years, secular issues have fractured social order as Muslim women, born and raised in France, wish to wear the hijab (headscarf) in schools and the niqab (full-face veil) in public places. Starting in the late 1980s, women began to challenge the French laws against Islamic clothing in the European Court of Human Rights.

Just like some nations, some individuals resort to violence to assert the values they hold dear. Disrespecting the Prophet of Islam is inherently intolerable for Muslims. In 2015, two Muslim brothers entered the Paris office of the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, which published the Prophet Muhammad’s cartoons, and killed 12 people and injured 11. In 2020, a teenage Muslim beheaded a French teacher who shared the Prophet’s cartoons with his students. This heartless violence sparked protests across France.

President Emmanuel Macron contends that the violence demonstrates that “Islam is in crisis”, a statement that diverted the focus from flaws in individuals to flaws in Islam. Finding faults in a religion rather than the perpetrators of crimes frequently backfires. Muslims across the world condemned Macron’s statement. However, because of religion-related violence, the French resolve to protect secularism has strengthened.

French secularists would argue that a cartoonist living in a secular state has an inalienable right to offend more than a billion Muslims by disgracing their Prophet, and it is irrelevant whether the cartoonist is a white male (thus, rejecting the accusations of white supremacy or lingering colonialism discounting Muslim beliefs). French laws do not subordinate religious sensitivities to free speech; they downgrade religion in favor of secularism that supposedly invigorates “the soul of France.” This distinction is critical for understanding the French case against religion in general and Islam in particular.

Philosophically and legally, states may adopt one of the two types of secularism (an opaque word for the separation of church and state), secular neutralism or secular prejudicialism. In the West, the separation thesis arose as a counterweight to the claims of the Roman Catholic Church that the state ought to submit to the Church. After struggling for centuries, the European state separated from the church in its raison d’etre, social objectives, and legislative supremacy. Historically, France has been the most formidable advocate of rejecting the authority of religion over the state.

Secular Neutralism

Secular neutralism assumes that religion is an authentic social reality worth protecting and that religions are diverse and even mutually incompatible as people subscribe to different denominations and creeds. Thus, a secular state would respect all religions but should not identify with any religion or denomination. Likewise, a secular state should not adopt the laws of any one religion and impose them on all people. The state laws may coincide with the laws of a religion but the rationale for adopting them is not religious. The principle of secular neutrality may vary from state to state, as some systems are stricter in separation than others.

The United States Constitution incorporates secular neutralism. The First Amendment lays out the separation thesis in the following words: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The constitutional law over the decades has been highly protective of religious practices, undoing state restrictions placed on the free exercise of diverse faiths, including Islam, a relatively new religion of a significant population in the United States.

Secular Prejudicialism

Secular prejudicialism is anti-religion, a view rooted in Godlessness, spiritual cynicism, and a Marxist view of history and sociology. It posits that religion is an unscientific social construct, and the secular state must do everything in its power to enlighten the people away from an unhealthy addiction of religiosity.

Even if a state did not historically struggle to separate from any religion, it may adopt secular prejudicialism as a core legal principle. As a rational entity, such a state repudiates the divine frame of values emanating from religion. Furthermore, the state may proactively oppose the demands of religion on individual and social behavior that contravene state laws and policies.

The Soviet Union advocated secular prejudicialism, though the successive Soviet Constitutions continued to pay lip service to the right to religion. The 1977 Soviet Constitution states: “Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed freedom of conscience, that is, the right to profess or not to profess any religion, and to conduct religious worship or atheistic propaganda. . . In the USSR, the church is separated from the state, and the school from the church.” The permission to conduct atheistic propaganda reaffirmed secular prejudicialism and was consistent with the Marxist view of religion as an unscientific social construct that confuses class struggle.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia repudiated secular prejudicialism and the associated theory that religion is a barrier to development. The 1993 constitution protects the freedom of religion and Article 29 bans propaganda that incites religious hatred or hostility.

French Secularism (Le concept de laïcité en France)

France adopts a more complex form of secularism that tilts toward secular prejudicialism but not completely. For centuries, France struggled with the Roman Catholic Church. In the Schism of 1378, France installed its own Pope in Avignon, as a competitor to the Pope in Rome. In 1804, Napoleon invited the Roman Pope for his coronation but placed the crown on his head with his own hands, while the invited Pope stared at the rude Emperor. Humiliating the Pope in a public ceremony was designed to elevate the state over the church.

In 1757, France built its Pantheon in Paris to parallel the Pantheon in Rome. For decades, the Paris Pantheon alternated between being a Christian shrine and a secular crypt, thus vacillating between religion and secularism. Eventually, the secular Pantheon triumphed over the Christian shrine, as the French began to entomb famous intellectuals, including Victor Hugo (1802-1855), Emile Zola (1940-1902), Marie Curie (1867-1934), and others.

In 1905, France passed a non-recognition law to prohibit the Republic from recognizing, paying stipends, or subsidizing any “culte.” The 1905 Act does not use the word secularism (laïcité). The law enacts a financial separation of “des cultes” from the state and introduces the concept of non-recognition of any religion. Yet the 1905 Act stops short of advocating that “the cults” inhibit social development, even though by the early 20th century the Marxist critique of religion had penetrated the French intellectual culture.

The current Constitution of the Fifth Republic (1958) does use the word secular in its text and lays out the secular principle in the following words: “France shall be an indivisible, secular (laïque), democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs.” Note that while the 1905 Act does not recognize any religion, the 1958 Constitution respects all beliefs. This change is a shift away from judicial prejudicialism if it were the subtext of the 1905 Act.

On its face, the 1958 Constitution seems to embrace secular neutralism. The clause that France shall respect all beliefs appears to be an acceptance of religious pluralism, though in 1958 the demographics of France were predominantly Catholic. France has never been a Godless state. In practice, however, French politicians and intellectuals consider religion as a negative force that hinders equality, liberty, and fraternity, the three maxims of the French self-concept.

In the past fifty years, the influx of Muslim immigrants and their children in millions has dramatically changed the demographics of France. Now, Islam is the second-largest religion in France. Most Muslims in France are Arabs from the French colonies in North Africa and the Middle East. Some are Turks. Racially, culturally, and religiously, the French Muslims constitute a distinct population. Given their commitment to Islam, the French Muslims do not accept secular prejudicialism, as they view Islam as a positive force for human development. Thus, the French secularism confronts an existential threat.

Battle Over Islamic Veils

The battle between French secularism and Islam is waged regarding the rights of women. The West erroneously believed that Muslim women would leave the “oppressive” Islamic way and welcome the liberties that Western women enjoy. However, Muslim women born and raised in Europe began to adopt the conservative values of Islam, including praying, fasting, not drinking alcohol, and wearing conservative clothing, including hijab and niqab, hiding their faces and bodies.

The surprised Western political and intellectual elites dubbed the Muslim women’s behavior as political Islamism, a pejorative term.

As noted above, Muslim women began to challenge legal restrictions on Islamic veils, in domestic courts as well as in the European Court of Human Rights. Several human rights organizations sided with Muslim women. The proponents of the veils asserted the right to religion, privacy, personal expression, and woman’s choice whereas the opponents identified the veils with Islamic radicalism, a challenge to secularism, and an affront to the principle of “living together.”

A decade ago, a few European countries, including France, banned Islamic veils as contrary to secularism, gender equality, and open communication in public places. National high courts reacted to the ban differently. The Belgian Constitutional Court upheld the ban on face concealment, while the Spanish Supreme Court held that law cannot presuppose that women wearing Islamic veils “did so under duress.” The Netherlands Council of State ruled that “a general ban on wearing clothing that covered the face did not meet a pressing social need and was not therefore, necessary in a democratic society.”

While crafting the anti-veil legislation, the French lawmakers relied on a report that had argued that the full-face concealment is incompatible with secularism, it is “an infringement of the principle of liberty, because it was a symbol of a form of subservience and, by its very existence, negated both the principle of gender equality and that of the equal dignity of human beings… the full-face veil represented a denial of fraternity, constituting the negation of contact with others and a flagrant infringement of the French principle of living together (le “vivre ensemble”).”

The law of 11 October 2010, passed in the National Assembly with an overwhelming majority (335 votes in favor, one against, and three abstentions) imposed a fine and required reeducation through “a citizenship course” of Muslim women who insist on wearing the full veil in public places (note that the West also criticizes China for placing Uighurs in “reeducation camps”). The French Constitutional Council upheld the law, stating that “women who concealed their face, voluntarily or otherwise, were placed in a situation of exclusion and inferiority.” However, the Constitutional Court did not elaborate that who in France would exclude and inferiorize Muslim women wearing Islamic veils.

In case of S.A.S. v. France, a young Muslim woman in her 20s, born and raised in France, who wished to voluntarily wear the full-face veil in public places challenged the law of 11 October 2010. After exhausting all domestic remedies, she appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. She was willing to show her face at airports and other security-sensitive places. She only wished to exercise the choice of wearing a niqab in public places where there is no security threat.

The (unnamed) Muslim woman lost the case but what is most intriguing are the secularism arguments that France made to defend its legislation and that the Grand Chamber consisting of 17 judges could not fully endorse.

In examining the French contentions of secularism and the associated gender equality, the Grand Chamber observed that a blanket ban on full-face veiling would force Muslim women to stay home, not acquire education or other skills available in public sectors. Thus, the ban, instead of liberating Muslim women, forces them to shun the marketplace of financial and educational opportunities. The law is self-defeating, a point that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Commissioner of Human Rights for the Council of Europe had made in their findings, and that the Grand Chamber cited copiously.

The Grand Chamber also took notice of Islamophobic comments that the French parliamentarians made during the legislation. Yet, the Chamber upheld the French law under “the margin of appreciation,” that is, “in matters of general policy, on which opinions within a democratic society may reasonably differ widely, the role of the domestic policy-maker should be given special weight.”

Secularism, though part of some constitutions, is not a universal value, a point I explain at length in A Theory of Universal Democracy. No regional or global human rights treaty incorporates secularism as a fundamental value, but all treaties and national constitutions protect the free exercise of religion. In most legal systems, the protection of religion is a value superior to the protection of abstract secularism.

Unfortunately, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights avoided an opportunity to rule consistent with its unassailable critique of French law (women are tired of being told what to wear).

Living Together (le Vivre Ensemble)

The concept of living together is an indisputably elegant principle that all social systems, not just secular France, champion as the foundation of society. There are many ways for a population to live together. Even the caste system builds on the principle of living together.

The French concept of living together forces religious minorities to assimilate into senescent secularism. The imposition of an abstract concept of secularism shortchanges the fine detail of social life, a point that the two women Justices, Angelika Nussberger from Germany and Helena Jäderblom from Sweden, highlighted in their dissenting opinion in S.A.S. v. France.

In common law countries, such as England, Canada, the United States, and in many other legal systems, the principle of living together does not force Muslim women to relinquish their Islamic clothing to claim equal citizenship. The U.S. public schools furnish prayer rooms for Muslim students and extend respect to female students wearing Islamic clothing. Some non-Muslim American women wear hijab to show sisterhood solidarity. Even face- concealment in public places is permitted provided there is no security threat.

Living together in a homogeneous society is easier than living together in a nation of diverse communities. France must recognize that it is no longer a homogeneous society if it ever were. The five million Muslims have changed historical France forever unless France expels them en mass. Concepts must evolve to catch up with reality, France knows it better than many nations.

If living together is indeed a French value, the French laws must respect the core beliefs of nearly five million Muslims and the second-largest religion in the country. In any event, the principle of living together would not allow an individual, a newspaper, or a teacher to engage in unnecessary and intentional behavior that inflicts pain and emotional suffering on a significant part of the population. Moreover, inflammatory conduct such as publishing the Prophet’s cartoons invites violence and social disharmony.

France cannot arbitrarily oscillate between individual freedom and the principle of living together, in each case targeting Muslims. Defending individual artistry of making fun of the Prophet of Islam but punishing individual style of wearing Muslim clothing demonstrates that the French secularists swallow contradictions quite well.

François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), buried in the Paris Pantheon, remarked: “God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” Voltaire, invoking his chronic sense of absurdity, would be smirking at the new social harmony in France as hardcore French secularists and Muslim women in public places conceal their faces (noses, mouths, and eyes) to protect themselves from Covid-19.

[L. Ali Khan is the founder of Legal Scholar Academy and an Emeritus Professor of Law at the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. He has written numerous scholarly articles and commentaries on international law. He can be reached at legal.scholar.academy@gmail.com]

Ideal Violence Prevention

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

By Dr. Patricia Saunders, Arlene Schar and Dr. David Leffler

In The World Report on Violence and Health (WRVH) the World Health Organization (WHO) defines violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”

Violence is a pervasive problem worldwide. Many governmental and nonprofit organizations have attempted to curb this trend by reducing easy access to lethal weaponry, more long-term investment in social outreach programs, and harsher sentencing to help prevent violence and senseless tragedies.

One innovative social program for reducing the stress and tensions resulting in violence is the widespread implementation of Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) programs. Extensive research shows that the implementation of large groups practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique and its advanced practices in unison twice a day creates a field effect. This field effect has a localized impact on social problems by reducing the stresses and tensions which are causative of those problems in the immediate area. Plans for introducing this approach can be set in motion now, with the intention of actual implementation of TM programs once COVID-19 is brought under control.

It is generally accepted that TM practice increases energy and inner peace on the individual level; recent research indicates it also produces similar effects for society. A new book, An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence (https://anantidotetoviolence.org), examines 20 peer-reviewed studies which indicate that governments can achieve a lessening of violence, not on the basis of political rhetoric or a stronger police presence, but by a rise of harmony, coherence, and order in the collective consciousness of the majority of people who make up a society.

Early TM studies found that when 1% of the population of US Midwestern cities learned the TM technique, crime rates decreased. A follow-up study published in 1981 took new factors into account: population density, median time of education, percentage of people in the same home after five years, and per capita income. All the crime data was taken from public sources. The results of the research supported the initial hypothesis: a comparatively small number of people practicing TM can reduce crime rates in a given area.

Over the years, other peer-reviewed studies have noted repeated indications that the collective consciousness of a society or a nation is a real phenomenon TM and its advanced practices have demonstrated a positive, measurable effect on reducing stress in the collective consciousness of America. A series of four studies, published in 2016 and 2017, charted changes in US crime and fatality rates between 2007 and 2010 that were attributable to TM and its advanced group practices. During the experimental period of these US studies, rates of violent crimes, including homicides, aggravated assault, robbery, and rape all decreased compared to the baseline period. A follow-up study, which has been submitted for publication, provides evidence that after the group diminished in size in 2011, violent social trends again worsened. This outcome indicates that the improvements only took place and had a lasting effect when the group was of a sufficient size and engaged in group practice daily.

An Antidote to Violence weaves together psychology, sociology, philosophy, statistics, politics, physics, and consciousness to provide evidence that we can reduce violence in society by using this brain-based technology. By decreasing violence and increasing quality of life, positive changes in collective consciousness have significant consequences for a community and its environment. The good news is that when TM programs are properly implemented — in schools, the police force, or the military—the current norm of horrific violence could become a thing of the past.

About the Authors:

Patricia Saunders, Ph.D. is the coauthor of An Antidote to Violence and a Ph.D. graduate in the Department of Consciousness and Human Potential of Maharishi International University, USA.

Arlene Schar has served as Dr. Leffler's Executive Assistant at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) StrongMilitary.org since 2015.

Dr. David Leffler, Ph.D. served as an Associate of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College. Currently, he serves as the Executive Director at CAMS.

Islamic Economics gives directions on how to prevent pandemics and regulate their socioeconomic impact: Dr. Javed Jamil

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 03 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

“Islam provides the answers by promoting only healthy economics and discarding the dangerous economics, in terms of effect on health and social justice, and also giving directions how to contain epidemics. It also ensures that the wealth does not remain in the hands of a few, but is more equitably distributed; and the governments are in a healthy economic position to meet the demands in times of crises. Islamic experts and Muslim countries and organizations need to highlight the extraordinary results if Islam’s socioeconomic and heath-friendly propositions are applied in the world.”

By Our Special Correspondent

Renowned thinker and writer, Dr. Javed Jamil, currently Chair in Islamic Studies and Research, Yenepoya (deemed to be) University, Mangalore, has emphasized that the commercialisation of the substances and practices prohibited in Islam is the major cause behind the rise of various pandemics, and Islamic Economics provides the way out of their socioeconomic impact. He has expressed these opinions in his research paper published in the January 2021 edition of KAU Journal of Islamic Economics published by King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, the top ranking University of Saudi Arabia. He was invited to be a part of an international panel to discuss the role of Islamic Economics in avoiding and countering the impact of the Covid-19 like situations in the world. Started in 1983, the Journal of King Abdulaziz University – Islamic Economics has the honour to be the first professional journal in the field of Islamic economics. It is listed by some of the most prestigious indexing services providers on the subject of economics like Scopus, SSRN, EconLit, and RePEc.

In the paper titled, “Economic Fundamentalism Facilitator of Pandemics and their Economic Consequences: The Way Out in Islam”, Dr. Jamil, known for his work in “Apllied Islamics” has shown that most of the major killers in the last 100-120 years, including Swine Flu, Spanish Flu, HIV/AIDS, HPV/Carcinoma Cervix, Hepatitis-B, Rabies, etc and now Covid-19, the association with Islamic positions is proven beyond doubt by the facts and figures available in the realm of medical sciences. Pork, sexual malpractices including promiscuity, prostitution and homosexuality, presence of dogs in the domestic areas and eating of prohibited wild animals like bats and pangolins, have all been the major reasons behind the rise of these pandemics, which have killed more than 200 million people in the last century. The role of alcohol in the rise of HIV/AIDS and other Sex Transmitted diseases is also well-documented. Dr. Jamil has shown that circumcision plays an extremely important role in prevention of HIV/AIDS and HPV, which is associated with hundreds of thousands of deaths of women due to Cancer Cervix, which is relatively rare in the wives/partners of circumcised men. He has argued that, if despite huge mortality and morbidity associated with these practices, they are allowed and popularised, it is because of the fact that all of them are big markets.

Dr. Jamil has argued that if Prophetic Hadith on the epidemics had been followed and none had been allowed to enter and leave Wuhan, when Corona epidemic broke there, the world would have largely been saved. He has also opined that the disease spread fast due to drinking habits of the people, night life and the role of certain powers in holding Economics above Health. He has argued that, in contrast to Islam, which gives priority to the survival and healthiness of life, the modern international systems are dominated by the economic interests at the cost of health and family and social peace. Lambasting the current economic philosophy of “economic fundamentalism” he says that Market forces are busy in commercializing dangerous practices in the name of freedom of choice, which is leading to many health issues. They first commercialise the problems and then they commercialise solutions, he argues. The Islamic economic philosophy is based on the supremacy of peace, which is a comprehensive state covering individuals, family and society; human peace, health, security, and welfare are the guiding factors, and no matter how strong the economic reasons are, any activity that threatens health and comprehensive peace cannot be permitted.

The concluding remarks of the paper are worth reproducing:

“In conclusion, the following points need to be highlighted:

First, the Covid-19 outbreak had its origins in the market of wild animals, many of which prove to have a biological structure suitable for transmission of viruses to humans, which then have the propensity to lead to human-to-human transmission.

Second, it started spreading from the place of origin to the rest of the world, because nothing was done at the right time to stop trafficking of the people from and to the place of its origin.

Third, it hit the economy particularly hard because the world economy had a huge share for the entertainment industry, which crashed due to social distancing and lockdown measures.

Fourth, it hit the people hard, because in most of the countries, except for the few elite, the masses are poor as well as the governments. Huge economic inequality in countries like India led to huge disasters.

In short, if in today’s world, the major portions of the economy had been in the sectors, which pose no threat to health or social justice, the situation would not have been as bad as it has turned out to be. If this continues, the future will bring bigger disasters.”

He adds: “Islam provides the answers by promoting only healthy economics and discarding the dangerous economics, in terms of effect on health and social justice, and also giving directions how to contain epidemics. It also ensures that the wealth does not remain in the hands of a few, but is more equitably distributed; and the governments are in a healthy economic position to meet the demands in times of crises. Islamic experts and Muslim countries and organizations need to highlight the extraordinary results if Islam’s socioeconomic and heath-friendly propositions are applied in the world.”

Dr. Jamil has also called upon the Islamic world, especially rich Muslim countries including the OPEC countries, “to play a role in the availability of vaccination to the poor in their countries as well as in other countries.” He also stressed that “Islamic countries need to invest more and more in scientific research.”

Dr. Javed Jamil has also argued that the current reach of Islamic Economics has become limited to Financing and Banking. It has become “an abysmal failure in influencing in any way the direction of the globalization, which revolves around the commercialization of not only human strengths, but also of human weaknesses.” So, while Islamic finance is to be promoted, other important measures related to economics should not be lost sight of, and there needs to be more work on the generation of wealth within the Islamic trio of Rights, Duties and Prohibitions, establishment of taxation system based on Zakah, Ushr and Khums and campaign against the Economics of Prohibited Substances and practices. He has also proposed a new definition of Islamic Economics:

“Islamic economics refers to the establishment of a world order where people, individuals or groups, are free to earn their livelihood through rightful use of the provisions of God and their abilities, natural or acquired, without the violations of the true goal of Comprehensive Peace that Qur’an envisages, that is within the boundaries of the three-dimensional system of Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Fundamental Prohibitions, and the establishment of a system that ensures comfortable living for each and every human being, including those who are in a disadvantageous position, temporarily or permanently, due to some reason.”

Dr. Jamil has also presented a detailed Islamic Holistic regime of hygiene as part of Dynamic Paradigm of Health based on Islam. The whole paper can be read here.

OPINION: Global Islam in Crisis or the Rest of the World?

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

By Dr. Javed Jamil

This refers to Shekhar Gupta’s article, “5 reasons for the crisis in global Islam”, published in Print. He tries to make Muslims believe that

(1) Muslim World is in crisis

(2) What has happened in France is something particular to Muslims

(3) Muslims alone tend to think in terms of a worldwide dominance

(4) Muslims alone fight one another

(5) Muslim countries alone are largely undemocratic with high inequality

(6) Muslims alone can’t face criticism

Let us dwell on his arguments one by one!

Muslim World is in crisis?

He makes a whirlwind statement meaning that there is crisis in Global Islam. The truth on the other hand is that while the Global Islam is fast coming out of crisis, which gripped it during last few centuries, the rest of the word is getting embroiled deeper and deeper in crisis. Is India not in crisis, where the communal and caste confrontation has reached an intolerable level, and the tensions with its two neighbours has reached a flash point, which can lead to open war any time? Is the world not in crisis due to huge and ever rising rate of crimes, the so-called most advanced countries being at the top in terms of crime rates including murders and rapes? The more “advanced” and “civilized” a country is the more is its rates of crimes, its rates of suicides, its disintegration of family system, its economic inequality and its exploitation of women in sex trade, its rate of foeticides and its involvement in world wars and civil wars in other countries. The crime rate in Muslim countries happens to be among the lowest. And now the world is facing a big crisis in the form of Covid-19 pandemics. In last 25 years, HIV/AIDS has killed more than 35 million. Millions of children are aborted every year in the name of “Freedom of Choice”. Several million are consumed by alcoholism and smoking. Economic Inequality is rising with every passing day. But thanks to the world media dominated by the forces of economics and political power, only deaths attributing to political reasons attract media attention, especially if this involves Muslims.

There has been a ubiquitous practice in recent times that religion is seen as something different from ‘ideology’. The truth is that the world has religious and non-religious ideologies, and every single ideology goes political as soon as it starts winning sizeable followers. The most dominant ideologies in the world in last century have been Capitalism and Socialism (including Communism) and they fear Islam because Islam threatens their theories of economic fundamentalism, which defines ‘good’ and ‘bad’ on the basis of their importance to the Economics, especially market economics. Islam on the other hand distinguished “good” and “bad” on the basis of their impact on health and social peace, prohibiting or discouraging all such practices as pose threat to life and healthiness of life.

Today’s dominant political ideologies fear “Political Islam” just because it might further deepen their crisis, with statistics and scientific facts more and more proving their ideological position on issues such as alcohol and sex as pervert and dangerous for health and peace and their judicial system is an abysmal failure.

What has happened in France is something particular to Muslims?

Out of a feeling of extreme religious hurt, a student killed a teacher who had caricatured the Muslim Prophet. This was followed by another incident, which killed three people. There is no doubt that the insult and injury to Muslim sentiments as well as the extreme reaction by the student and even more specifically the killing of three persons who had nothing to do with the cartoons, all are condemnable. Unfortunately, most of the non-Muslim world, including Indian Prime Minister, who claims to be the Prime Minister of Hindus as well as Muslims, did not care at all about the sentiments of Muslims and chose to condemn “Islamic” terrorism/Islamofascism alone. And now it is being argued as if such reactions are specific to Muslims.

In America, several thousand fall prey to hate crimes every year. The recent killings and brutalities against Blacks by police led to the protests all over the country. Mass shootings are common occurrence, some of which are related to racial or religious motives. Most of the culprits are white Christian Americans. In India, Muslims have been lynched just because of the suspicion of carrying cow meat and not shouting Jai Shree Ram. According to a Reuters report, in India, a total of 63 cow vigilante attacks had occurred between 2010 and mid 2017, mostly since the Modi government came to power in 2014. In these attacks between 2010 and June 2017, "28 Indians – 24 of them Muslims – were killed and 124 injured", states the Reuter's report. Out of more than 35000 terrorist related deaths in India in last 30 years, an overwhelming majority has been at the hands of Non-Muslims (Naxalites, Bodos, Ulfa, Maoists), most of whom are Hindus by Census. In the nearby Sri Lanka, tens of thousands to one hundred thousand killings were at the hands of Tamil terrorists. Only last year, in New Zealand, more than 50 Muslims were massacred by a Christian shooter.

9/11 killed around 3000 people, and without any inquiry, within few minutes American President blamed Al-Qaedah for this. Those who carried out the plan perished with the planes. The declared “mastermind” was killed in an isolated attack in Pakistan eleven years later. In between America-led war killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan who had nothing to do with 9/11. But America, France and all other countries involved and Christian community who are in majority in these countries continue to be “peace-loving”, while Muslims continue to be “violent”. Nobody had the courage to condemn West for these pogroms in Muslim countries. From all accounts, it appears that ISIS was formed with the support of West in order to topple President of Assad. It became their enemy only when, due to its failure in Syria, it converged on Iraq, which was under America-supported Government.

If we have to establish peace in the world, we have to combat all forms of violence, wars, civil wars, day-to-day violence due to failed Judicial System, violence like induced killing of fetuses and all forms of terrorism. Out of all these, terrorism is the least lethal. Every single death of an innocent needs to be condemned, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator and the victim, irrespective of the motivating ideology, religious or non-religious and irrespective of the method used; and the condemnation and response should be proportionate to the magnitude of violence rather than the identities of those involved. If we use this criterion, we will have to condemn West millions of times while condemning Muslims few thousand times.

Muslims alone fight one another?

Hardly a century has passed since the First World War and the centenary of Second World War is sill about two decades away. Who were the people fighting each other in these wars? The majority of the countries involved were predominantly Christian countries. More than 70 million perished. Till a few decades back, the major Cold War had been between America and Russia, again both having either Christian or atheist population. If the majority of the countries are either Christian or Muslim, obviously their internal rivalries would be most noticeable. But compared to Christian countries, the list of wars within Muslim world is much shorter. In the ancient past, before Muslim rule, Indian history too is full of bloody wars between different Hindu rajas. Hindus happen to be perhaps the only community in the country where its religious scriptures as well as festivals are related to wars.

Muslims alone tend to think in terms of a worldwide dominance?

This again is mistaken generalization. All the ideologies, religious or non-religious have a desire to become dominant in the world. There is no exception. It is particularly true for the ideologies which have either big following in the world or big power. During last few hundred years; the fight has mainly been the two economic ideologies of Communism and Capitalism. Before that, it was between Christians and Muslims. In India, Hindutva is trying to emerge as a dominant power at least in this country. Currently, Westernism is perhaps the most radical ideology seeking world domination in terms of its concepts like West-style democracy, freedom and market fundamentalism. As Mr. Gupta himself admitted, in recent times, Muslim countries have not invaded other countries; but so many of their countries have been invaded.

In fact, others feel threat from Muslims because of their sheer numbers in terms of the population as well as the countries. Though most of the statisticians tell that Muslims are the second largest community after Christians, the truth is that in terms of real beliefs, they outnumber Christians by a big margin. While a large number of born Christians in Western countries, ranging from 20-60 pc, are no more believing Christians, more than 95 pc of Muslims continue to be Believing Muslims.

As already said, another reason of feeling threatened from Muslims is that Islam poses threat to the vested interests of the market forces, which commercialise not only human needs but also human susceptibilities. Islam prohibits alcohol, sex outside proper male-female marriage and gambling, all of which are big markets. Dominance of Islam means threat to these markets.

Interestingly, while Christians have a Pope in terms of a world leader, there is no pope of Muslims. Pope often speaks on behalf of all Christians, but there is no Muslim Imam who can speak on behalf of all Muslims.

Muslim countries alone are largely undemocratic?

This again is something which looks to be more a propaganda than truth. The truth is that the percentage of democratic countries in Muslim world is higher than the percentage of democratic countries in the whole world. Most big countries like Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Malaysia are democratic. And the number is growing with Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, Tunisia, all becoming democratic. And of course, about 12-15 pc of Muslim population live in India. Moreover, the most populous country of the world China remains largely undemocratic. Even Russia was not democratic till the breakdown of Soviet Union. When we talk of Christianity, we tend to think about West. We forget that a large number of Christian countries in Africa and South America are hugely backward and poor, with hardly any democracy.

What is however unfortunate is that even democracy has not proved to be a saviour of the masses. The conditions in democracies prove that democracies in themselves are no guarantee to better conditions. The Western model of Democracy has proved to be a total failure becoming in effect Corporatocracy, which works mostly for the few corporate at the cost of the people. The political leaders in Democracies – from West to India, have proved no less corrupt and inefficient than “monarchs”.

Muslim countries have one of the lowest crime rates, lowest suicide rates, lowest number of deaths due to alcoholism and sex related diseases, good life expectancy and good per capita income. In the list of top 15 countries in terms of economic inequality, Turkey alone happens to be the Muslim country, South Africa, USA, India and China being among the top 5.

Coming to the question of Economic Inequality, let us first see some of the statistics:

• Recent figures show that the per capita income of the highest income country is 400 times greater than that of the lowest income country. The difference between Switzerland’s per capita income of $40,080 and Ethiopia’s $100 is striking, to say the least. (World Development Report 1999) (Both Christian)

• Statistics also show that 13 economies have per capita income exceeding $20,000, compared to 26 countries with per capita income less than $350. Indeed the gap between the affluent and deprived economies in the global economy is so great that if one were to add the per capita GNP of 50 Least Development Countries (LDC), it does not exceed half of the per capita income of one of the developed countries. (World Development Report 1999)

• 47% of the population of the second most populous nation on earth lives under the international poverty line of $1 a day, and 87% below $2 a day. This adds up to over 700 million human beings.. (World Development Report 1999)

• Currently, the richest 1% of people in the world receives as much as the bottom 57%. The ratio between the average income of the top 5% in the world to the bottom 5% increased from 78 to 1 in 1988 to 114 to 1 in 1993 (Milanovic 1999).

• Income disparity between the richest one billion and the poorest one billion people has doubled over the last three decades and reached by now a dangerously high level of 150 times. (This is surely much more than the internal economic disparities of the developed and developing nations. The income disparity between the richest 20% and the poorest 20% of the people within nations is far smaller 5 times in Sweden, 6 times in Germany, 9 times in USA and 26 times (the highest) in Brazil.) (hdrnet.org/40/1/humandevelopment.pdf)

•• Even mighty international institutions like the World Bank and the IMF are now taking more money out of the developing world than they are putting in, adding to the reverse transfer of around $50 billion a year from the commercial banks. (hdrnet.org/40/1/humandevelopment.pdf)

• It is estimated that 28% of the total net wealth is held by the richest 2% of families in the U.S.

• The top 10% holds 57% of the net wealth.

• A survey of 26 industrialised nations (the Luxembourg Income Study) found that the gap between the wealthiest 10% and the poorest 10% is greater in the United States than any other country except Russia (Wallechinsky). (Again both Christian)

Not only several Muslim countries have very high per capita income, Economic Inequality within Muslim countries is surely much less than most Christian countries. Islam’s system of Zakat ensures that the rich contribute at least 2.5 pc of their wealth at the end of every year to poor. This helps trhe cause. What comes out of the Zakat system is that the world must tax Wealth rather than Income and Expenditure. If the world adopts this formula, Economic Inequality will drastically reduce.

Muslims alone can’t face criticism?

The truth is that Muslims have been at the receiving end of unbearable criticism. Mostly, others are questioning Muslims, and they are defending themselves. Muslim intellectuals, on the other hand, are more involved in criticising themselves rather than questioning others. While the world is full of Islamophobic material, actively propagated by Jew, Christian, Hindu and many atheistic organisations, Muslims never indulge in derogation of other religions. This is because Islam clearly prohibits speaking ill of others’ gods and figures. In India, cow slaughter was banned just because it hurts the sentiments of Hindus. Violence over insult or desecration to statues is quite common in India. Let France make some derogatory cartoons of Ram and Krishna and see the reaction. Let French “Heroes” be caricatured in a Muslim country and see the reaction.

As far as the Mahathir statement is concerned, it is surprising coming from him. It cannot be condoned. But Shekhar Gupta would have been more just if he at the same time had condemned the Macron’s support for the Cartoons in the name of Free Speech. Surely, the selective interpretation of Freedom of Speech is even more condemnable. Any utterance against Jews is condemned as anti-Semitism and any remark about women that irks the market forces is sexism. Even if one starts telling about the medical dangers associated with homosexuality, one will be hounded. But mocking Islam is freedom of speech. First, terrorism is defined in a way that becomes exclusive for any violence involving Muslims, and then Muslims are blamed for the majority of terrorist incidents. And France is a country which was part of the “War on Terror” which killed millions of innocents in Iraq and Afghanistan, none of whom had any involvement in 9/11 attacks. But any violence committed by West becomes “understandable”.

In conclusion, I would like to assert that we must learn to become objective in our thinking and aims. The most important aim for the world must be to safeguard life and healthiness of life. To create a health-protective and crime-free system must be the ultimate goal of our efforts. All religions need to unite on the ground of religious morality, which is almost common to all religions as well as health sciences, rather than fighting on the ground of religious identity. Islam will continue to emerge stronger because it aims to discipline the world, protect them against unhygienic and self-destructive substances and practices and provides a more effective judicial system, which supports the innocent rather than the criminals. The challenge for Muslims is to present true facts to the world, counter the propagandists of market-driven ideologies and work for the unity of all religions with the aim of building a cleaner, healthier and more peaceful world.

[Dr. Javed Jamil is India based thinker and writer with over a dozen books including, “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam Means Peace”, “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”, “Qur’anic Paradigms of Sciences & Society” (First Vol: Health), “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough”, “Economics First or Health First?” and “Justice Imprisoned”. He can be reached at doctorforu123@yahoo.com]

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