Etiquette for the Guest in Islam

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 10 February 2021 | Posted in , ,

[The IndianMuslimObserver.com endeavors to acquaint its readers about the Islamic values and conduct. We publish such write-ups from time to time to enhance knowledge and present the true teachings of Islam, especially at a time when this great religion and its followers are demonized, vilified and targeted worldwide through constant Islamophobic attacks. – Founder-Editor]

1. When you visit someone as a guest, do take some gifts for the host or for his children according to your means. Keep in mind the taste and liking of your host while choosing gifts for him. Exchange of presents and gifts augments the sentiments of love and promotes intimate relationship. A gift creates a soft corner in the heart of the receiver for the donor.

2. Do not stay as a guest with anyone for more than three days, save under special circumstances or when the host insists on your staying with him for a longer period. The Prophet (peace be upon him) affirms: "It is not permissible for a guest to stay so long with the host as to cause him trouble." (Al-Aadab-ul-Mufrad). Sahih Muslim reports: "It is not permissible for a Muslim to stay so long with his brother as to make him a sinner." The people submitted: "O Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him)! How will a Muslim make his brother a sinner in this manner?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "By staying so long with his brother that his brother may be exhausted of all means of entertaining him."

3. Do not always be a guest of others. Invite others also to be your guests and entertain them liberally.

4. When you stay as a guest with somebody, take along with you necessary baggage and bedding etc according to the season. In winter especially, never forget to take the bedding with you, otherwise the host will be put to extreme hardship. It is highly improper that the guest shall in any way become an unbearable burden for the host.

5. Keep in mind the engagements and duties of your host. Take care that your host’s occupation, duties and engagements are not in any way disturbed by your presence as a guest with him.

6. Do not make all sorts of demands on your host. Be content with whatever provisions he makes for your comfort and entertainment and thank him for that. Do not put him in any extraordinary trouble.

7. If your host’s women are not your close or blood relation, avoid entering into a conversation with them without reason. Do not eavesdrop on the mutual conversation of your host’s women. Behave yourself in such a manner that your conversation or conduct does not become a nuisance for them. Do not violate the privacy and the limitations of Purdah in any case.

8. If for some reason you do not wish to eat with your host, or you are observing fast, excuse yourself politely and say a prayer invoking the Grace and Blessings of Allah upon your host. When the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) presented a sumptuous meal to his venerable guests and the guests would not partake of it, he said to them: "Gentlemen, why don’t you eat?" In a bid to put him at ease, the angels submitted: "Please do not take it ill. As a matter of fact, we cannot eat. We have come only to convey the glad tidings of the birth of a talented son to you."

9. When you attend a feast, say a prayer at the end of the meal invoking Allah to bless the host with extensive means, grace, favour, salvation and His Mercy. Abu Athhim bin Tahan once invited the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his illustrious companions to a feast. When the meal was over, the Prophet (peace be upon him) observed: "Reward your brother." The illustrious companions submitted: "How can we reward him, O Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him)?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) observed: "When a man pays a visit to his brother and eats and drinks there, he can reward his brother by praying for Allah’s Favour and Blessings upon his brother." (Abu Dawud). The Prophet (peace be upon him) once visited the house of Sa’ad bin Ubadah. Sa’ad presented to the Prophet (peace be upon him) bread and olive oil. The Prophet (peace be upon him) took the meal and then prayed for him: "May the fasting people break their fasts with your provisions! May the pious partake of your meals and may the angels pray for Allah’s Mercy and forgiveness for you." (Abu Dawud).

(This is an extract from Etiquette of Life in Islam by Muhammad Yousuf Islahi)

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

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 08 February 2021 | 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.

Cambodia to establish Department of Halal Affairs

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 27 January 2021 | 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.

India’s ex chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi’s new book debunking Muslim population myth to be launched in February

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 18 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

India’s former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi has sought to debunk the bogus Muslim population myth often raised by right-wing Hindutva protagonists through his new book "The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India". The book analyses India’s demographics from a religious perspective, and will be launched in February.

Published by HarperCollins India, the book provides a detailed perspective on the rate of Muslim growth in India after in-depth study of population data, and national and international reports.

The book has extensively discussed on how the majoritarian fears of a demographic skew are being stoked by often using these myths. Mr. Quraishi has also used facts for demolishing these myths and demonstrating how a planned population is in the interest of all communities.

The book, which will hit the stands, focuses on how the Quran and the Hadith have shown how Islam might have been one of the first religions in the world for actually advocating smaller families, and how several Islamic countries have population policies in place.

"Indians have been fed for decades the propaganda that Muslims produce too many children in order to overtake the Hindus, that this is how Muslims plan to capture political power," argued Quraishi in his book and added, "Derogatory slogans aimed at Muslims 'hum paanch, hamare pachchees' or 'hum chaar, hamare chalees' - have been voiced repeatedly at the top political level to strengthen this narrative. On the other hand, many Muslims also tend to believe that Islam is against family planning."

Quraishi was India’s 17th Chief Election Commissioner. He joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1971. He is credited with introducing several electoral reforms, including creating of a voter education division, expenditure monitoring division, the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, and launched the National Voters Day.

Equity Markets – Best Investment Option for Muslims

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

By Imtiaz Merchant

Muslims should take advantage of the boom witnessed in the Indian Equity markets and they should not get left behind in the economic growth that is being witnessed throughout the country and likely continue for years to come. India is one of the fastest growing nations in the world with the GDP growing over 7 % for 2017-18 and expected to grow above 8 to 10 in 2021 onwards.

To be part of the main stream of the economy and get equal investment opportunity, Equity stock markets (The Islamic way) provides the most cost-effective investment solution for the Muslims. Equity markets have proved that they are not only the most cost effective, transparent, liquid and conducive to small and big size investors as a means of investment, nonetheless history has also proved that it outperforms and gives better returns than all other asset classes where return on investments as the parameter considered. In the long term a developing economy, equity (stock) market always goes up and up. though volatility is not ruled, so considering the inherent benefits Muslims must invest in the Equity Market.

On the onset Investment in equity markets is Islamically permissible since it is based on Musharaka (Partnership) principle where the profit is earned with the risk of loss, where in profit and losses are shared (PLS). With Ulema’s (Islamic scholar) guidance and approval it is now possible to invest in regulated Equity markets, of course with some stipulated conditions, and in fact Investment in equity markets the Islamic way is probably the best and only option available for the Muslims in a regulated environment. The government body SEBI being liberal about shariah based investment makes more sense to invest in equity markets after having been approved by the Islamic Scholar.

Now we investigate the inherent advantage investments in equities the Shariah way have over other forms of structured investments.

Fixed Interest (Riba) Based Investments (Banks)

Fixed interest (Riba) based investments like the Saving Bank deposit, Bank FDR; Postal savings, Debentures, Bonds etc. are strictly prohibited in Islam. Allah says in the Holy Quran,‘O those who believe, do not eat Riba (usury or interest) multiplied many times. And fear Allah, so that you may be successful.’ (Holy Quran Al-Imran verse 130). Islam since inception has discouraged interest based fixed saving and withholding wealth, but it has encouraged Business& Investments. ‘Profit should be earned only with the risk of losses’, in equity investment the profit and loss are shared in proportion to the investments made. Thus, investment in equity market is in accordance to the Quran and Hadeeth injunctions.

Investment in Real Estate

Investment in Real Estate / Properties, although permissible in Islam but it has many disadvantages over equities. First, Equity Market is well regulated by SEBI and Real Estate market is not regulated by any institutions, unit size is concern, it is not possible for every individual to buy property since the investment involved is huge, whereas one can invest in equity for an amount as low as Rs. One thousand and there is no upper limit. Secondly, property is subject to a lot of legal paper work and one has to go through a very cumbersome procedure to acquire properties. However, it is very easy to buy and sell shares by becoming the member of SEBI registered broker. Thus buying and selling shares is as easy as snapping your fingers. There is often a threat of encroachment of the property which involves costly litigation. Equity shares have a big advantage here since the stocks purchased get directly deposited in the investor's D-mat account where it is in the safe custody and one can sell them whenever he desires to sell. Further If returns on investments is considered as a parameter than historically it’s proved that returns earned in equity investments is superior to all the asset classes including the real estate over a long term. The Real Estate has given an annualized return of 8 to 9 percent whereas equity has given a yield of 12 to 15 percent. Finally One can make partial withdrawals from equities and get the sale proceeds in maximum three days (T+2),whereas it is not possible to get part withdrawals in the real estate, one has to sell the entire property and the payment proceeds sometimes takes months. Hence Equity market has immense liquidity to take immediate Exit whenever he or she decides and that is far too easier and faster than Real Estate.

Investments in Conventional Mutual Funds

Investments in Conventional Mutual Funds is not permissible from the view point that these mutual funds are not mandate to follow Shariah norms thus they even invest in stocks of prohibited businesses like Liquor, Banks, Hotels, Entertainment, Cinema, Casino etc. that is strictly prohibited in Islam, hence profit earned from these mutual funds is impure and tainted. They invest in Debt & derivatives instrument too which is not allowed under the Shariah laws. And moreover, since about 45 percent of the Market Capitalization is Shariah Non- Compliant, presumably almost 40 to 45 percent returns earned is not Halal, hence this option too is not shariah compatible for Investments. However, Muslims can invest in Authentic Shariah- Compliant Mutual fund / Shariah compliant PMS, approved and monitored by reputed Shariah Scholars and fund manage by people who have faith in shariah.

Big Advantage

One more point that goes in the favor of equity Investment is the Capital gains tax. The long-term capital gains tax is just 5 % that too if the gains are above 1 Lac i.e. if the investment is held for more than one year. And the short-term investments for less than a year, investors is obliged pay only 15 % percent tax on its gains on booked profit after subtracting losses. Muslims must take advantage of this benefit and invest in equities that would help them create wealth in the long term in the Shariah way. The only concerning part in the equities investment is the market risk and volatility. The performance of the company, industry and economy is never static and varies from time to time and since the market is a result of mass psychology it goes up or down on fear and hope based on the underlying fundamentals. Andin order to overcome this and to optimize Halal return on investments, one needs to take guidance from Shariah based Equity Research advisors and Fund managers who can guide and advise the prospective investors based on their Risk Profile and Risk Appetite. If this part is taken care of diligently, then equity investment certainly is the best Investment option for Muslims.

Role of Shariah Scholar

Islam makes ‘Lawful Earning’ (Halal) mandatory, and in Islam, the spiritual and secular aspects are one and the same. This implies that Islam emphasizes the need to make a living by means that are permissible under it. After many years of debate and discussions and looking into the need for Muslims to Invest in equity markets as an alternate to Bank and Insurance, Islamic scholars have permitted Muslims to invest in equity markets with certain strict stipulated conditions. With the advent of computer technology and with so much of information available, now it is possible to screen the companies on Shariah norms and do the purging as well.

Imtiaz Merchant
Shariah scholars have imposed investment restriction and conditions and only upon fulfilling these conditions Muslims can invest in equity markets the Halal way.

The conditions laid down are as follows:

  • Restriction based on the type of Securities: Investment should only be done in Shariah compliant stocks as defined. A security trading in derivatives and day trading in stocks is strictly not permitted. Short selling is prohibited. Securities should only be sold after having its complete possession.
  • Restriction on Business Activity: No investment shall be made in stocks of the companies whose business activity is Prohibited (Haram)
  • Conventional interest-based banks and other financial institutions like banks, NBFC, Insurance companies, stock brokers, Securities traders etc.
  • Alcoholic beverages like wine and other liquor related products and services.
  • Pork and non-Halal food products
  • Entertainment includes film production companies, cinema, Cable TV, music etc.
  • Restriction based on financial ratios: Apart from the above restriction, Islamic scholars from different part of the world have set certain financial criteria based on the need and essentiality. In India Islamic Investment &Finance Board (IIFB) and independent Shariah Board comprising of eminent scholars have approved the following financial criteria:
  • Interest bearing debt of the companies should not exceed 33 percent of its twelve months’ average market capitalization.
  • Cash plus interest bearing securities of the companies should not exceed 33 percent of its twelve months’ average market capitalization.
  • Trade receivable and other debtors of the companies to its twelve months’ average market capitalization should not exceed 33 percent.
  • Interest Income plus prohibited activity (impure) income of the companies to the company’s total income should not exceed 5 percent. (subject to cleansing)
  • Shariah Screening Process: Shariah screenings conducted for all the listed equities as prescribed and mandated by Shariah scholars. This process is done every quarter. Those stocks that successfully pass the Shariah screening norms are thus called Shariah complaint universe. This process is done under the supervision and audit of Shariah committee of Aalims and muftis.
  • Purification of Impure Income (purging): The income thus derived from trading and investments in shares do have some portion of impure or prohibited income. This income can be in form of interest received by the companies or some prohibited activity carried on by the company that earns impure or tainted income which needs to be cleansed or purged. This is a compulsory process. The impure income consequently cleansed should be given as charity (Without expecting Sawaab).

In conclusion we can confidently and vividly say that Equity investment the Islamic way is the Best option or alternate available to Muslims to park their saving. The investment in the company is well regulated by SEBI and approved by Shariah scholar, it is liquid enough to withdraw as and when, transparent, safe in D-mat A/c, lower Taxes, least cumbersome as compare to other asset classes and above all superior returns in the long term, the equity investment in the listed companies are almost coefficient of the economic growth.

No lending or borrowing, just investing. And truly an ethical and socially responsible way of Wealth Creation.

Note: The above text is the property of Pragmatic Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd. The above content cannot be used or reproduced without the consent and permission from Pragmatic Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd. in written.

[Imtiaz Merchant is Managing Director of Pragmatic Wealth Management Pvt. Ltd. He is Editor of Islami Tijara Magazine and Owner of Brand Adaaf Advisory Services. He can be reached at merchant@pragmaticwealth.net]

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

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 07 January 2021 | 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]

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.

Opposing Slander of the Quran

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

By Rabbi Allen S Maller

Christian missionaries are always interested in proving the superiority of the Christian Bible to the Qur’an. They say that the Old Testament and the New Testament are the true word of God: and the Qur’an is not.

They try to prove this by asserting that when the Qur’an’s narratives differ from the Bible’s narratives about the same event; the Qur’an must be wrong.

It is sad that these missionaries, who claim to be the disciples of Jesus, ignore his teaching to love not only your neighbors, but also your enemies. They would reply that the search for God’s truth is so important that it justifies insulting other peoples prophets and sacred texts; even when they also teach monotheism.

These Christian missionaries are ignorant of, or simply reject, two very important Ahadith, that I, a Reform Rabbi who considers himself to be a Muslim Jew, always respect.

I am a Muslim Jew i.e. a faithful Jew submitting to the will of God, because I am a Reform Rabbi. (Reform Jews are now the largest of the Jewish denominations in the U.S. In the U.K..Reform Judaism is called Liberal Judaism.)

As a Rabbi I am faithful to the covenant that God made with Abraham, the first Muslim Jew, and I submit to be bound by the covenant and commandments that God made with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. As a Reform Rabbi I believe that Rabbis should modify Jewish traditions to prevent them from making religion too hard to practice.

This is an important teaching in the Qur’an (7:157) and one that prophet Muhammad taught 12 centuries before the rise of Reform Judaism in the early 19th century. As Abu Huraira related: The Prophet said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.” (Bukhari book 2 #38)

The two Ahadith that every Christian missionary should learn and abide by, teach respect for the Sacred Scripture and the Prophets of other monotheistic religions. A hadîth Narrated by Abu Huraira says, “The people of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and then explain it in Arabic to the Muslims.

"Allah’s Apostle said (to the Muslims). “Do not believe the people of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, ‘We believe in Allah, and whatever is revealed to us, and whatever is revealed to you.’ ” (Bukhari book 92 #460 and book 93 #632)

Following Muhammad’s teaching I too neither believe nor disbelieve in the Qur’an. I do respect the Qur’an very much as a kindred revelation, first given to a kindred people, in a kindred language. In fact, the Arab people, the Arab language and Muslim theology are closer to my own people, language and theology than that of any other on earth.

Islam teaches clearly that God does not have just one people or one true religion. Rather, God chose not to create human beings as one nation or with only one religion so that each religion could compete with all the others in order to see which religion produces the highest percentage of moral and loving people; and which people best embody in their personal and communal lives the moral teachings of their prophet.

As it is written in the Qur’an [5.48] “For every one of you did We appoint a law and a way. If Allah had pleased He would have made you one people, but (He didn’t) that He might test you in what He gave you. Therefore compete with one another to hasten to virtuous deeds; for all return to Allah, so He will let you know that in which you differ.”

This is a wonderful further development of the teaching of the Biblical prophet Micah (4:5) that in the end of days (the Messianic Age), “All people will walk, each in the name of their own God, and we shall walk in the name of the Lord our God forever.”

In terms of respect for the prophets of other religions I have not seen the equal of the following hadith: Narrated Abu Huraira: Two persons, a Muslim and a Jew, quarreled. The Muslim said, “By Him Who gave Muhammad superiority over all the people! The Jew said, “By Him Who gave Moses superiority over all the people!” At that the Muslim raised his hand and slapped the Jew on the face.’

The Jew went to the Prophet and informed him of what had happened. The Prophet sent for the Muslim and asked him about it. The Muslim informed him of the event. The Prophet said, “Do not give me superiority over Moses, for on the Day of Resurrection all the people will fall unconscious and I will be one of them.”

I will be the first to gain consciousness, and I will see Moses standing and holding the side of the Throne (of Allah). I will not know whether (Moses) had also fallen unconscious and got up before me, or Allah has exempted him from that stroke.” (Bukhari book 76 #524)

All the people of the book; Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, should learn humility from this profound teaching of Prophet Muhammad.”

[Allen S. Maller is an ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. His web site is: www.rabbimaller.com. He blogs on the Times of Israel. Rabbi Maller has published 400+ articles in some two dozen different Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. He is the author of two recent books: "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You? A 21st Century Kuzari". He can be reached at maller.allen1948@gmail.com]

Singapore offers 1st Asia Pacific Halal / Muslim Friendly Cruise Ship Experience

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 02 January 2021 | Posted in , , , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

The halal industry is growing rapidly whereby it was approximately USD2.3 trillion, which has now almost tripled, to USD 6.4 trillion as of 2020. UNWHD has identified its exact and accurate partnership with Genting Cruise at this juncture by identifying the niche market and the right partners to engage with.

There have already been cruises in the Asia Pacific region serving halal food but World Dream is the first to embrace a more holistic Muslim-friendly approach beyond just having a halal-certified kitchen. The “halal/Muslim-friendly cruises” concept has been talked about since a few years now. It has been getting more and more interest from Muslims preCOVID. This growing interest from Muslims encouraged some cruises to have halal-certified kitchens.

Halal is not only for Muslims but for the whole mankind and UNWHD and Genting Cruise have made these arrangements so that everyone can have a home away from home feel.

Singapore is a pioneer country in many aspects and has always been a front runner for taking new & unique initiatives and setting as an example for other countries.

Creating an edge to accept & obtain Halal/Muslim Friendly Compliance in Cruise Ship is a goal for many leading industry players, United World Halal Development (UNWHD) a Singapore-based Halal Certification Body was the pioneer to certify Halal Friendly Cruise Ship in the Asia Pacific.

World Dream, one of the services from Genting Cruise Lines, a brand of Dream Cruises, which is Benchmarked by the OIC/SMIIC Standards & Guidelines for Halal Food And Beverages Prepared, Stored And Served as well as Halal Tourism Guidelines set out by the Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries (SMIIC).

The cruise is also officially rated by Halal Travel Authority Crescent Rating. The Singapore-based Muslim-Friendly Travel Authority told Salaam Gateway this is the first time it is rating a cruise service based on the services they (World Dream Cruise) offer (halal-certified food, prayer facilities etc.), they are rated Crescent Rating 5,” Being the highest.

UNWHD and Genting Cruise who had similar vision of serving to all immaterial of any caste creed or religion decided to give an amazing cruise experience which complies with Halal Friendly environment.

UNWHD follows a stringent audit process which complies with Halal & Shariah Compliance Standards before issuing the certificate. Genting Cruise has gone through such scrutinized process to attain the Halal Friendly Cruise Ship certificate. Genting Cruise ship has a halal-certified central kitchen with halal-certified ingredients for halal cuisine, prayer room with access to Quran, prayer mats, and compass to locate the Qibla. It will also cater to Ramadan guests with Suhoor and Iftar menus.

This stunning initiative is expected to bring more tourists as being the centric in the Asia pacific and Singapore to become the global tourism attraction in the field of Halal / Muslim Friendly Tourism.

United World Halal Development (UNWHD), Singapore strives to continue its solid commitment towards people’s safety and welfare. UNWHD is built on internationally applicable standards of practice, knowledge, and ethics encircling all businesses to offer quality products and services. UNWHD vision is to extend the halal way of life to all businesses and explore new areas of economic growth of halal standards, certification, and practices.

BOOK REVIEW: A Systematic Study of ‘The Holy Qur’ān’

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

“Monumental Work, with Unique Insight into the Wondrous Verses of the Holy Qur’ān”

By Seyed E Hasnain

Dr Javed Jamil, currently Chair in Islamic Studies in Yenepoya University, Mangalore, has already earned a reputation at the international level as an innovative thinker, scholar and writer. In recent years, he is being admired for his effort to establish what he calls Applied Islamics as a full-fledged discipline of Islamic studies. Applied Islamics, according to him, is “a dynamic concept, which studies and analyses the modern theories in all the fields including Natural Sciences, Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Philosophy, and presenting alternative Islamic concepts, definitions, theories, paradigms, models, programmes and policies for the benefit of the entire humanity.”

His latest book, “A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’ān” is a monumental work, with remarkably fresh insight into the verses of Qur’ān. What attracted my attention at the very outset was the caption on the cover of the book. The book describes Qur’ān as “a humble endeavour to make a Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’an in terms of the Systems Almighty God created in the Universe, on the Earth, in Human Life, and the System He wants man to establish and adhere to with the aim of building a Healthy and Peaceful World and ensuring a Successful Life in the Hereafter”.This is a categorical confirmation of the fact that, in Qur’ān there are a very large number of verses, which describe the Creation and Functioning of the Universe as a whole and the Functioning of the Earth, including its flora and fauna. There is absolutely no doubt that, if human beings have to establish on earth the kind of harmonious functioning existing in the universe, they have no option but to follow God’s injunctions in full. The particles of the universe, the stars, the planets and all other celestial bodies follow the Laws of Nature created by God with unimaginable precision. If God gave us human beings certain flexibility, we should endeavour to work only within the boundaries prescribed by Qur’ān. Moreover. the system that God has directed through His Final Book and Final Prophet (SAW) needs to be established not only in the lives of the people, but in the world as a whole, including the legal, social, political and administrative levels.

The failure to focus on these three critical issues is largely, rather solely, responsible for the current sad state of affairs we are witnessing in the world today. Health and peace are the most important requirements for mankind; and Islam wants mankind to give them supremacy over all other aspects. The current COVID-19 pandemic, which has already taken over a million lives globally, termed as the worst pandemic of the century, is the Creator’s way of sending a reminder to humanity not to drift from these fundamental issues.

This is seen in his other works also like “Islamic Model for Control of AIDS’, “Qur’ānic Paradigms of Scientific and Social Theories (First Volume: Dynamic Paradigm of Health)” and his works on Theoretical Physics like “Qur’ānic Version of Anthropic Principle” recently carried by International Journal of Islamic Thought, published by National University of Malaysia (UKM), and his long interview on Covid-19, published in the WML Journal of Rabita Alam-i Islami (World Muslim League) from Saudi Arabia. He does not fail to point out that the development of modern scientific philosophies has been under the patronage of the economic forces, which are determined to keep religion and God out of the international affairs because of their commercial interests.

As Dr Jamil writes in the very first sentence of his Preface, “Qur’ān is not an ordinary work of an ordinary mortal but a Singular, Supreme and Majestic Work of a Singular, Supreme and Majestic Author, God the Creator and the Lord of the Multi-World”. What a wonderful description of the Holy Book and its ‘Author’, because it is not possible for any man or even the whole humanity to fully comprehend the wondrous verses of God! Qur’ānic wonders have continued and will continue to be known to the world till its ultimate end. What we can do is to try to understand and implement its message in the world. Dr. Jamil sums up the purpose behind the book in a highly absorbing way.

He adds: “The world today, despite its apparently advanced and sophisticated ways of living, is overpowered with chaos at every level. The current international system, which many proudly call New World Order, appears to be highly advanced in method but is a colossal failure in the results. At the individual level, notwithstanding huge advancement of healthcare system, physical, mental and spiritual illnesses are ever on the rise. At the family level, the disintegration of family is fast becoming the norm rather than an exception. At the social level, the ever rising crime rate, social and economic exploitation, commercialisation of all forms of dangerous substances and practices including sexual deviations, addictions and crimes, and various kinds of extremist movements working in the interests of certain forces have almost completely destroyed the peace of life. It is in the background of this asphyxiating disruption of harmony that Qur’ān needs to be understood and applied in all spheres of life.”

It is indeed very correct when he says: “The contest today is not between different religions. The real contest is between religion and irreligion; between the scientific (or healthy) morality preached by Divine Messengers and the commercial morality propagated by the tyrannical monarchs of the business world; and between the ‘Comprehensive Peace’ propagated by the Scriptures and the ‘materialistic peace’ imposed by the forces and powers that rule the roost."

In addition, he combines creative and investigative style of writing, which makes his works not only highly thought-provoking, but also extremely absorbing. Even the translations of the verses by the author are in modern, flowing English, which makes the work even more noteworthy.

I strongly feel that this is a Must-Read work for all those, Muslims and Non-Muslims, who want to understand the importance and relevance of Islam in the modern world.

In short, “A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’ān” is a monumental work, with remarkably fresh insight into the verses of Qur’ān. In particular, I am sure; it will take the subject of Applied Islamics way ahead in the field of knowledge, and will hopefully inspire the researchers, both Muslims and non-Muslims, to benefit from the Wondrous Book of God. I strongly feel that this is a Must-Read work for all those, Muslims and Non-Muslims, who want to understand the importance and absolute necessity of Islam in the modern world.

[Seyed E Hasnain is former Vice Chancellor of Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi. Dr. Javed Jamil, the author of the book can be reached at doctorforu123@yahoo.com]

Islamophobia, struggle for Identity and Teenage angst

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

By Nalini Naidoo 

As Islamophobia awareness month was in November, the learning that has occurred through this month needs to continue on. Professionals working with young Muslims need to look at how Islamophobia awareness impacts their practice.

The effects of Islamophobia can seem obvious. As Muslims, most of us understand the feelings of being attacked and threatened, the humiliation and the sense of powerlessness that Islamophobia can cause. What we may often fail to consider are the effects that islamophobia can have on the self-esteem, identity development and wellbeing of young people.

What is well-being?

Well-being means different things to different people. Happiness, relaxation, health, having enough money, doing well at school, getting on well with friends and family, or getting a good job are some examples of what well-being might mean.

When well-being is suffering then young people may find it difficult to do all the things they need to do, such as interacting positively with others, building secure relationships, focusing on education or controlling their behaviour. They may lash out, or come across demotivated, argumentative or rebellious. The well-being of young people is important as positive well-being equips young people with the tools and knowledge to transition into successful, happy adults.


Identity refers to how we view our sense of self. It incorporates goals, values and beliefs to which we are committed to. For many Muslims, regardless of levels of practice and knowledge, Islam is the central component of their identity.

Psychologists view adolescence as a crucial time in the development of identity as during this time a young person’s ability to reason and think becomes more complex and abstract. Although many teenagers are regarded as physically baaligh (reached puberty), Islam also acknowledges the mental development that occurs in young people during adolescence through the Qur’an and advice of the Prophet ﷺ to treat one’s child as an advisor especially between the ages of adolescence. This shows recognition that during this time young people are increasing in independence and understanding of themselves and the world around them.

Central to the concept of identity is affinity and bonds of identification with others. As Muslims we experience this in the way we are encouraged to view ourselves as an Ummah and feel affinity with our brothers and sisters all over the world.

The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever. [Muslim]


Professionals may often view cultures as an external force that is imposed on young people. I have also come across professionals that feel cultures are a constraint on young people that they need to work to overcome, that prevents them from expanding their horizons and reaching their potentials. Culture is not only something external. It is the lense through which we interpret and view the world. For many it is an important part of their identity alongside their faith. Culture also provides young people a link between themselves, their families and their wider communities.

Islamophobia and well-being

Being a member of a group, such as being a Muslim, can help young people build confidence, satisfaction and a sense of purpose. However constant negative portrayals of Muslims and Islam can erase the positive benefits of being part of a group. Young people may internalise these negative representations, leading to internal conflict and confusion.

If young people have a negative perception of their identity within a group, they are then more likely to feel negatively about themselves. They are also more likely to react negatively towards members of that group. Which means if young people internalise negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims, they may start reacting negatively towards their immediate Muslim family members, leading to family breakdowns and isolation.

The acceptance of others and how you are viewed has a significant impact on identity. If you are rejected from a social group then it may be hard to build an affinity with them and accept being a member of that group as part of your identity. Overt Islamophobia in articles and interactions may be viewed by young people as rejection from social groups that they thought they belonged to. For example, a young person may see the UK as their home, but if they are constantly told that it is not their home, and they don’t belong here, they could start feeling separate from British society. Resulting in frustration, alienation and mental turmoil.

As young people are often not able to comprehend why they feel this way, or know how to deal with these feelings, they instead display them through their behaviours. This could include presenting with anxiety disorders, depression or defiant behaviours.

As well as dealing with overt, unquestionable Islamophobia, young people also face more subtle Islamophobic microagressions, such as schools discouraging prayer during the day, requiring boys to be clean shaven or having negative perceptions of girls who cover. In order to have an identity, people need others to affirm that identity resulting in a sense of belonging and place in the world. When it comes to young people who spend so much of their time in school, this means that lack of recognition and acceptance of their Muslim identities from teachers and leadership can lead to identity confusion, reducing well-being and preventing young peoples’ acceptance of themselves.

Supporting our Youth

Culturally competent and faith sensitive practice is essential to prevent all the negative impacts on well-being mentioned above that stem from lack of identity recognition. These involve practitioners reflecting on their own cultural norms and bias, and seeking to understand, accept and respect how the young people they work with view the world. As parents or family members of young people we should ask the professionals working with our youth to educate themselves in these areas.

Key components of cultural competency and faith sensitivity are:
  • Valuing the knowledge young people acquire from their cultural and faith backgrounds
  • Showing interest and willingness to learn about young peoples’ faiths and cultures
  • Asking the right questions to increase knowledge and valuing students as sources of knowledge
  • Creating an environment where families feel confident in stating beliefs and expressing when they don’t feel comfortable
  • Creating spaces for young people to safely challenge and explore faith/culture and come to deeper personal understandings.
  • Refraining from making negative inferences
  • Not putting young people in a position where they have to explain or defend cultural beliefs or faith when they are still developing understandings themselves
For instance when talking to young people about hijab. If a girl states she covers for modesty, the reply “Do you think women who don’t wear this are immodest?” is an example of putting that girl in a position in which she has to defend her beliefs. It infers a criticism of part of her identity which can lead to her emotionally disconnecting from that practitioner and feeling unsafe to engage and participate in future. It may make her feel angry or depressed or rejected. If that same practitioner was to act in a culturally competent way, they could instead ask “what does modesty mean to you?” This would allow the young person to explore her ideas and support the development of her identity.

With the Black Lives Matter movement raising awareness in the public eye this year, we all know more so that representation matters. What young people see around them has an impact on their expectations, aspirations and perception of choice. This also applies to Muslim students, they also need to see themselves represented.

This does not just mean having a diverse teaching staff, but also having positive representations of identities embedded in the curriculum. Take for example the book “Frankenstein” which is commonly taught in schools. How does it affect young people to routinely be taught texts in which Muslim cultures are objectified, viewed as “other” and seen as undesirable and less? Is this not an Islamophobic microagression? That is not to say these texts should not be taught, but problematic themes need to be explicitly discussed and criticised within the classroom.

Positive representation of Islam and Muslim cultures within the curriculum will foster a sense of emotional connection and belonging to the school community within Muslim students. It would help them feel safe, understood and confident leading to increased engagement with learning and participation in lessons and school life.

The impacts of Islamophobia pervade many aspects of a Muslim’s life without us even realising it. The impact on identity development and well-being in young people is just one of these ways. Let us as a Muslim Ummah continue to raise awareness of Islamophobia throughout the year. Start by sharing this article with any teachers, youth workers, counsellors, family support officers that you know. In Shaa Allah we can create a better, safer, happier future for our youth.

[Nalini Naidoo is Relationship Manager for The Children’s Society – Resilient Me Programme which supports the mental health and well-being of young Muslims in partner schools. Nalini is also co-founder of Newham Muslim Women’s Association, UK. The views in the article are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of any organisation that she is affiliated with.]

The Madrasa Education in India: Ailment and Reform

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

By Javeed Mirza

At a zoom webinar organized on 29th December 2020, a participant quoted an author who mentioned that out of the 130 outstanding personalities of the period around 1000 AD, the Madrasa education had produced more than a hundred of the luminaries. The former Indian president Dr Rajendra Prasad, the reformist leader Raja Rammohan Roy and noted writer Munshi Premchand were Madrasa products. One can laud the Madrasa system that had produced such talented gems. For many centuries Education remained a scarce commodity and was the domain of a small minority of well-to-do. The Muslim Renaissance from 800 AD to 1300 AD had spouted high development of Science, Literature and Mathematics. The West used this learning as a springboard to attain its own greater height. The Muslim Renaissance died with the decay set in by its Feudal setup that preferred ignorance to learning, as it was a better means of controlling the subdued subjects it ruled. What had developed 200 years back lurks in today’s curriculum of the Madrasa. The Madrasa education today is hackneyed, obsolete and unproductive. It demands an overhaul.

The Indian education system, a product of British educational legacy, initiated with the intent to develop willing clerks for the continuation of the British Raj, is itself in need of massive reforms. Its public (govt.) school system is beset with poor quality; its administration is flawed and rampant with corruption and nepotism. The societal evils of caste, class and religious discrimination permeate its working. A whole marginalized section of school dropouts, Adult illiteracy, co-exist with lack of girl’s education, of slum children’s education and absence of special education for the handicapped. The Madrasa education is one such marginalized education composed of the children of have-nots. Amidst the poverty that the parents face in the upbringing of their children and the absence of good quality education as well as religious discrimination in the public school system, the Madrasa offers a way out where in students get free education and, in most cases, free boarding. The Madrasa has shielded the students from becoming vagabonds and instilled in most students a sense of ethics and morality, traits that are rapidly dying and in severe shortage. But this is no answer to the students’ need for sustenance, progress and for societal advancement.

The Indian institutional set up has paid lip service to the educational needs of its massive poor. It has allotted low funds (3% GDP while western countries allocate 7%) and has skewed the funds in favor of prioritized sectors… the IIT’s, IIM’s, Central Universities and Research centers where the Indian privileged attend and shore up the system. The struggle by the SC leader Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and his supporters produced Reservation for the Dalit and the Tribal. This has enabled a small section of the underprivileged to step out of the blighted alley and join the mainstream. It is a silver lining but one that is dwarfed by the many underprivileged that see no light at the end of the tunnel. Massive unemployment rules for those who were able to get education. Poor quality of learning, absence of needed skills training, poor planning, abuse and diversification of national wealth and resources for personal gain, have hobbled the system. Madrasa reform is part and parcel of the total system overhaul that is needed.

The Madrasa establishment exists. There is a vested interest by those running the system to nurture and keep it going. It serves to preserve their fiefdom and provides them with community funding and bestows honor. This is however at the cost of the lives of the Madrasa youth as there is no directional path for them to grow except to subserve the system and eke out a low-paid living with limited opportunities like Imam, deputy imam, muezzin or as an Arabic tutor for the children of the well to do. The Indian establishment, while decrying the Madrasa establishment, is also happy to see its preservation as it forsakes the community betterment and can be conveniently manipulated by taking its leadership under its belt through coercion or co-option. It was the educated mainstream Muslim youth that spearheaded the anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) movement.

The Basic ailments

a) Revision of curriculum and syllabus. There is a huge development of thought by Islamic scholars in the last few decades that can be incorporated in the syllabus and make it current. It can seek scholarship from noted institutions and enter academic relationships with them. Modern technology allows global connection. This needs to be availed and new thoughts encouraged.

b) Pedagogy is a key element of learning. Rote learning and the absence of reasoning and questioning are the opposite of the critical thinking. The latter is a pre-requisite for the problem-solving skills necessary for success in society.

c) Non-integration with modern education: The secular education promoted by the govt. allows students to continue higher education and climb the ladder. Madrasa education is cut off from the mainstream education and puts fetters on further growth of the student. Modern education, composed of pure sciences and social sciences, technology, Math, languages other than Arabic/Urdu is essential learning for all citizens. This should not be underestimated or underplayed. The Madrasa students are barred from pursuing higher studies and obtaining admission in skills learning institutions like the ITI or Polytechnic, as they do not meet the minimum threshold of passing the Xth standard.

d) Isolation from National integration: Like all religious based organizations, the Madrasa student’s interaction is primarily within his/her community and minimal interaction with non-Muslims. This fosters a disconnect with other communities and this in turn builds a wall of separateness that has the potential to build phobia and ill will.

e) Separation of gender-based education. Muslim girls’ total isolation in the Madrasa system is non-productive and staggers girls mental and social development. Girls have equal rights and equal capabilities and their Right to full learning and development of their potential should be respected and supported.


The issues outlined above need reform. Some suggestions are:

a) Madrasa Education must incorporate simultaneous learning of the Religious and the Secular. This can be done by dividing the Madrasa learning into two components and having one stream taught in the morning and another in the evening. This practice is being adopted by Muslim religious schools in the USA. The Jewish religious schools provide regular education for most of the day and have two hours daily allocated for religious education plus one day a week.

This approach will meet both the secular and religious learning requirements and equip the student with dual learning and enable higher education. If equal time cannot be allocated to secular education, then a couple of hours each day need to be allocated so there is a regular continuity of secular education. If all subjects cannot be taught, then essential subjects like English, Math and Computer skills should be taught as a starting point.

b) Most Madrasa students are from poor backgrounds. Economic sustenance is a primary need. Maximum skills-based training needs to be provided within the Madrasas with an objective of making the student ready to fill in jobs related to market based skills requirement.

c) Modern education tools must be used for building large scale education. MOOC (Massive Openware Online Courses like www.edx.org) and Free apps like www.khanacademy.org and Kolibri (www.learningequality.org) need to be incorporated in learning. Online skills-based training also exists, and it should be availed. The pandemic has further shown the relevance of developing online learning. Failing this, both the Madrasa and regular education had collapsed.

d) A Madrasa reform board needs to be established of Madrasa establishment and non-Madrasa reform seekers that will work out the details. Reform of Syllabus, curriculum and adoption of Pedagogy that is most current, innovative and productive, needs to be devised.


Even though Madrasa education is availed by around 4% of the Muslim youth, it has high significance. It involves the lives of millions of youths, their families, and their effect on interaction in the community. The propagation of Islam by the Madrasa educated Imams, having no understanding of the modern working of the society and the capitalist system, will be a hotchpotch of false understanding and imagined truths, leading to a distortion of Islam. The wastage of the talents of this huge turnover of a million or so Madrasa students each year is a blight on our society and its willingness to accept the students become alms-seekers instead of productive citizens. The concentrated memorization of 900 pages of the Quran that the Madrasa’s hafiz student does, has the potential to unleash high productive gains, if properly educated and gainfully employed.

Educational reforms, if not implemented, will limit the community and national growth. It will continue the community’s downslide that is seen for the past many decades and has been chronicled by bodies like the Sachar committee. This is not the end but the beginning. Social reforms are needed. Struggle for economic and political empowerment is needed. Educational reforms can initiate and build the crescendo for all reforms and prosperity.

[Javeed Mirza is a Social activist, Researcher and Writer. He can be contacted at javeed.mirza@gmail.com]

Why Female Genital Mutilation Endangers and Circumcision Protects

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

By Rabbi Allen Maller

When Mariya Taher moved to Massachusetts five years ago, she was shocked to find out the state had no legislation in place against female genital mutilation and cutting. Taher launched a petition, which got more than 400,000 signatures, urging the state to ban the practice.

On August 7, 2020 the the petition was victorious. After seven years of advocacy by survivors and activists in the state, Massachusetts is now one of 39 states in the U.S. that has criminalized female genital mutilation and cutting.

“It’s giving us validation that this is not something that can be sanctioned by culture or religion, that it is a human rights violation,” said Taher, who co-founded Sahiyo, a non-profit focused on ending the practice globally, particularly among the small Indian Muslim Dawoodi Bohra sect in which she and many other girls were cut at 7 years old.

Bradley Jones, Jr., who sponsored the legislation in the state House of Representatives, hailed the Governor’s signing of the law as “a great victory protecting some of our most vulnerable residents.”

Female genital mutilation or cutting, also known as FGM refers to the removal of the external female genitalia, in part or in total, as well as any other deliberate injury to genitalia for non-medical reasons.

FGM, although wide spread in limited geographic areas, is opposed by the majority of Muslim scholars (ulema). Of the four schools of Sha'aria only the Shafii school of law, declares FGM wajib, or obligatory. In contrast, the other three Sunni schools, plus the Shia schools, consider FGM sunnah- recommended but not required.

World Health Organization says female genital cutting, unlike male circumcision, has no health benefits for girls or women. The procedure can cause severe bleeding, problems urinating and infections, while increasing the risk of complications in childbirth and newborn deaths.

Thus, FGM is not circumcision: it is female genital mutilation, and calling it circumcision is a slander of both Islam and Judaism. It is important that Muslims and Jews make this distinction clear to the general public.

Christianity, Islam and Judaism all teach that circumcision was practiced by Prophet Abraham, who is revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims to this day. Christians do not believe circumcision is still a required observance.

But, even during Medieval times, Christian governments never prohibited ritual circumcision for Jews and Muslims living under their rule. Equally, Jews and Muslims never tried to force Christians to circumcise their children.

Only pagan governments like the Greeks and the Romans, or anti-religious secular governments like Communist Russia, have forbidden ritual circumcision of males. These governments are led by people who believe that their own humanistic, rational philosophy is on a much higher level than what has been taught by traditional religions, which they do not believe in.

Many European secularists regard circumcision of minors by Muslims and Jews, as a cruel violation of children’s rights. A similar debate is occurring across northern Europe about the issue of ritual slaughter of animals, which devout Jews and Muslims require be performed on conscious animals.

This is part of a larger dilemma facing left-wing parties in Europe, which often struggle to balance their stated commitment to minority rights, with a pushy, self-righteous, secularist agenda that is perceived as intolerant by most members of religious groups.

It is totally false to compare the custom of female genital mutilation to the religious practice of male circumcision.

First, while there are great medical benefits from removal of the foreskin of a male, especially in reducing the spread of HIV; there is no medical benefit to a female from the removal of her clitoris and labia.

In Africa, Jewish and Muslim men have much lower rates of AIDS than uncircumcised Christian men.

Second, there is no evidence that female genital mutilation promotes chastity and preserves a woman's virtue. Having a considerate, loving and faithful husband does much more to promote a woman's virtue than female genital mutilation.

Third, male circumcision is a religious requirement; female genital mutilation is only a tribal custom, originating in sub Sahara Africa; which is now being spread by Muslim religious extremists to Asia and the West as part of a reaction against the rising rate of girls going to high school and woman going to work outside the home.

Evidence that female genital mutilation is a only a custom comes from the fact that in rural Egypt even Coptic Christians mutilate their daughters genitals..

Finally, and most important, male circumcision is derived from the God inspired practice of Prophet Abraham and Prophet Muhammad. “Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet said to her: ‘Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.’” (Abu Dawud 41:5251)

And God said to Prophet Abraham (Genesis 17:7): “I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you...

(8-12) “And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God. And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.

“You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old,” (Genesis 17: 7-12a)

And Allah ordered Prophet Muhammad to follow the religion of Abraham/Ibrahim saying (Qur'an 16:123): "Then We inspired you: 'Follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright in Faith'." And part of the religion of Ibrahim is, as is evident from the verses cited above, to practice circumcision.

Prophet Abraham was an old man when he circumcised himself, thus becoming a good example that one is never to old to do God's will. As a Hadith says: Prophet Muhammad said: "Prophet Ibrahim circumcised himself when he was eighty years old and he circumcised himself with an axe." (Related by Bukhari, Muslim & Ahmad.)

Abraham's first born son Ishmael, was a young boy when he was circumcised, so Muslims do not have to circumcise their son's on an exact date. A Hadith states: When Ibn Abbas was asked "How old were you when the Prophet Muhammad died?" He replied, "At that time I had been circumcised. At that time people did not circumcise boys till they attained the age of puberty (Baligh)." (Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad himself selected the 7th day after birth to circumcise his own grandsons: Abdullah Ibn Jabir and Aisha both said: "The Prophet performed the Aqiqah of al-Hasan and al-Hussein (the prophets grandsons) circumcising them on the 7th. Day." (Related in al-Bayhaq & Tabarani)

Thus, for Jews circumcision is a sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his sons Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants for all future generations.

For Muslims it is a sign of their close connection to Abraham which is also celebrated each year at the annual Hajj ceremonies.

For both Muslims and Jews circumcision is a sign that one who submits to God's commandments and covenant cannot expect a life without some pain and suffering. But when endured for the right reasons pain and suffering always lead eventually to great spiritual benefits. Female genital mutilation is the exact opposite of circumcision both medically and religiously.

[Allen S. Maller is an ordained Reform Rabbi who retired in 2006 after 39 years as the Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, California. See his website www.rabbimaller.com to know more. Rabbi Maller blogs in the Times of Israel. His book ‘Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms: A Reform Rabbi's Reflections on the Profound Connectedness of Islam and Judaism’ (31 articles previously published by Islamic websites) is for sale ($15) on Amazon. He can be contacted at malleraj@aol.com]

Curtailed haj compounds Saudi economic woes

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

By Anuj Chopra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

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

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

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

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

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

(Courtesy: AFP)

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