Why Muslim women in the Middle East are doing Better than their Peers in UK?

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 01 November 2011 | Posted in , , ,

The 'Western' sustained pressure on the issues of women rights in MidEast managed to be fruitful to some extent. We may need a similar kind of pressure in the West. Muslim women are suffering quietly under the pretext of 'minorities' mind their own social business', says Iqbal Tamimi.

According to Shari'ah’ law, Muslim women and men have the right to list down all their conditions on their marriage contracts, exactly as any two parties going into partnership in any field would do. Every woman has the right to annul her marriage if her husband breaches any of the conditions she listed on the marriage document. But the disappointing fact is, even though this is a God given right to women, the majority of Muslim men refuse to be part of it, and most Muslim women do not know about such right.

Most Muslim women who are educated enough and courageous enough insist on listing conditions such as not to relocate after marriage without the wife’s consent, the husband should not marry a second wife, that she keeps working after marriage or that she should be allowed to continue her education after marriage.

Alriyadh, the national Saudi newspaper published an interesting story on December, 18, 2008, about an unusual marriage condition requested by a Saudi woman at the court of the city of Qatif, where she demanded that her future husband should provide her with 3 personal computers as part of her Dowry, and that he should guarantee her a lifetime access to internet. The groom refused her request, claiming that “internet has bad influence on women and facilitates 'virtual' mixing between men and women”. This incident indicates how important the internet has become in the life of Muslim women especially those who are isolated for social or health reasons. But this incident also shows that internet flirting is a major concern for Saudi men who are living in a segregated society, even though they make the highest percentage of subscribers on dating websites in the Arab region.

This incident indicates that Saudi women are taking advantage of the transient stage between being under the guardianship of the father that will soon be transferred to the authority of the husband, to renegotiate their rights. Whatever conditions a woman lists on her marriage contract and were accepted by the groom, are considered legally binding and a personal gain of rights.

More Muslim women are resisting social pressures to accept traditional methods of solving their marital disputes as well, by insisting on resorting to the legal system that is not susceptible to traditional or tribal male pressures. But unfortunately, such progress has developed at a fast rate in the Middle East while Muslims of UK are still hanging on to their old cultural methods of solving their marital disputes, which does not reflect justice for women or protect their interests most of the time. Some people are still living in mental capsules where time has stopped at the date they left their home countries decades ago, probably running away from the same oppressive societies. Some argue that they prefer solving their social disputes using traditional mediating methods because they believe they are part of the Islamic law which is obviously do not offer equality to women because the texts of the Quran and Hadith are often subjected to individual interpretations that favour the position of men over women, and favours a hierarchical family model that values obedience, with the younger deferring to the older and women deferring to men. Consequently such interpretations reflect biases in society.

Things have improved for Muslim women in their home origins because of education, and believe it or not, as a consequence of “Western” sustained pressures calling for updating the legal systems to ensure better human rights practices. Yet in democracies like the UK, Muslim women are forced to accept the mediation of the elders of communities which entails advising women to be patient and accept their husbands and other male family members abuse of rights, because part of their traditional education, claims that a patient woman who bears the cruelty and ill-manners of her husband will be rewarded by living an eternal life in paradise. This does not come as a surprise, because the mediation services are run by men and the victims are women who obviously feel embarrassed to talk about private details of their personal lives to men. Some feel even intimated by having to justify themselves to men of faith who keep preaching about the virtues of patience and women’s duties towards their husbands. The women carry the burden of responsibility towards keeping the family intact; they are made to feel guilty by their communities and the mediators if they sought divorce.

A swift comparison between Muslim women in UK and women in their home origins will better explain my point. In Yemen, a woman and a mother named Tawakul Karman, won a Peace Nobel Prize this year for her efforts, courage and leadership to fight an oppressive corrupt regime; she was leading men and women in peaceful protests on the streets of Yemen. While the Yemeni women in the North West of England where I worked for a couple of years did not even dare to participate in a radio show for Muslim women, not even under pseudonyms and assurances that I will mask their voices by technology. They are the ones who pleaded for me to discuss their problems, yet they did not dare to participate or make an effort to improve their communities. Unfortunately, all those educated Yemeni women who promised me to think it over, offered me wrong contact numbers that I could not contact any of them for future cooperation as they promised. This shows the clear gap between Muslim women in UK and their peers in the Middle East.

My experience with Asian Muslim women was not better. Asian Muslim women would not interact or participate for almost a year of broadcasting aimed at them on extremely important issues and diverse topics, yet when I dared one day during a very short break, less than 30 seconds, to air a piece of music entitled “Crazy Frog” I was scolded on the same day by the supervisor of the volunteers at the community radio who claimed that she received strong complaints from other Muslim parents who thought that I do not reflect what they want their children to hear. I was shocked of her reaction, because the youngsters hear music at school and watch television any way, and I have already made few visits to schools and talked to youngsters of minorities and all of them gave a good feedback about entertainment issues including music, besides the “Crazy Frog” can hardly be classified as a candidate on the list of things that can corrupt people’s morals and it has no lyrics that can be accused of being misleading or misinterpreted.

The fact that some women in Muslim societies are doing their best to gain more rights is admirable, but it is shocking to compare that with Muslim women living in civilized democracies such as UK who are still struggling for their rights because they are totally lost or their activities are frozen.

I have personally met an Iraqi Sunni woman who was divorced in Iraq because she can’t bear children, who remarried to a divorcee from the Shia community, who had children from his first marriage. The couple came to UK as asylum seekers in 2006. The wife is illiterate; she has zero knowledge of reading or writing in Arabic and can’t speak a word of English. She did not know a single sole in UK to ask about procedures or legal advice or find her way few steps outside her place of residence. I happened to share with them the accommodation. They used to quarrel every single day, because he had total control of everything including their benefits money, because he is the one who fills the forms and signs documents and do all the procedures and can cash the money on her behalf. She used to come running to me sometimes three times a day to ask about every shred of information, including the junk mail because she felt insecure. She complained a great deal that she needs to buy clothes since they came to UK with nothing, but he refused her requests, she claimed that he uses a good percentage of their money to make long distance phone calls to his ex-wife who he is still in love with. She was frightened to death that he might divorce her, as he used to threaten her frequently, because she did not know what to do or where to go if such thing happen. The fact that she suffers the language barrier was disabling her totally that on the day I had to move out she broke into tears. “Who is going to tell me what is going on around me after you leave” she said. She was worried that one day she would need a mediator and since they are from different sects that whoever they will choose to go to, will not be equally fair since Sunnis and Shias have different views on many social issues.

There are a considerable number of Muslim women in the UK who do not know much about their rights, or the choices they might have. While I was running a radio show for the Muslim community in Birmingham a woman phoned me off air to tell me that her husband has confiscated her passport the moment she arrived in the UK, she asked me whether it is true that if she wonders outside her home the police might arrest her as her husband warned her.

The saddening reality is, the very few Muslim women who managed to be employed by the local authorities are made busy circulating emails and organising events about how to counteract extremism. A very negligible percentage of them are dedicated to help women to get out of their cocoons.

Needless to say that it is difficult to help such women in such communities if things are left to their husband’s choice, because many are instructed that even attending a meeting or a class without the permission of the husband is disobeying God and would eventually lead to permanent torture in hell.

For those reasons, I believe protecting and educating women in Muslim communities should not be left for the choice of men, community leaders, nor the women themselves. It is the government’s duty to make sure that women have access to their rights and to education, because an illiterate mother will never know what her children are reading and this is even more dangerous at an era where the cyber sphere is swarming with all kinds of unmonitored misinforming messages. The first step towards social justice and stability is through educating and protecting women and helping them to make informed decision, but most of all, a law should be enforced that covers all equally, regardless of individuals faiths or gender to make sure that the vulnerable are protected.

[Iqbal Tamimi is Director for Arab Women Media Watch Centre in UK. Further details can be seen on http://journomania.net/]

(Courtesy: Middle East Online)

FIFA could allow headscarf on the pitch

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

By Jonathan Terry

Women could be given the right to wear a headscarf on the football pitch, as FIFA Vice-President Prince Ali al-Hussein announced he would bring the proposal to the governing body on “general principles” in December.

In 2007, the headscarf, predominantly worn by Muslim women, was banned after the world’s top football authority cited security concerns.

The Asian Football Confederation has come out in support of the idea, saying in a statement that the new proposals will ensure “the safe use of hijab [headscarf] in the game” and would satisfy “cultural customs.”

Asian and African countries have a large proportion of Muslims, with a large number of women donning the headscarf. The new proposal, if meeting FIFA rules, could provide more opportunities for women in Islamic majority countries.

Leaders and sports officials in Islamic countries have criticized the ban, saying it discourages women from playing soccer.

In June, Iran’s team forfeited a 2012 Olympic qualifier against Jordan because it wouldn’t play without the headscarf.

(Courtesy: Bikyamasr.com)

Iran explains establishing World Islamic Press Union

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By Abdul Rahman Ahmad

Teheran: The aim of the formation of the Islamic World Press Union was to unite the Muslim media worldwide, said Iran Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Ja'far Mohammadzadeh.

He said its formation came at a time when western powers were treating Islam as their main enemy after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

He said Iran had initiated the establishment of the press union after realising that no other Muslim country championed in uniting the Muslim media to stand against the western media's negative reporting about Islam.

"Establishment of the union will make the world understand better about Islam, and the voice of the Islamic world would be heard and be taken seriously," he told the Muslim media attending the conference of the Islamic World Press Union here Friday night.
Thirty-five Muslim media practitioners, senior editors and editors from 50 countries are attending the first ever press union conference.

The media has been arriving in the capital city since Monday, but there has been no briefing on the union, especially on its mechanism.

Acknowledging weaknessess in establishing the union, Mohammadzadeh said future meetings of union members would be well organised, adding that a website would be set up to enable members to obtain updates on the union's activities.

Several sub-committees comprising union members will also be set up to look into consolidating its operations. There would be workshops for journalists to meet the union's objectives.

"When everything gets off well, we will sign a memorandum of understanding with the respective countries to ensure better networking among union members," said the deputy minister.

He said Iran had invited the international Muslim media to enable them to set up social networking for the benefit of the religion.

The union conference will be held annually in Iran.

(Courtesy: Bernama)

Cleanup Indian Politics of Criminal MPs

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

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Corruption and Criminalization are two distinctive features of the Indian politics. The crusade against corruption was loudly articulated by the social activist Anna Hazare however, there is little noise being made by the civil society about the criminalization of Indian politics.

As a matter of fact, one out of four MP in India face criminal charges. There are 162 MPs in the current Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament that has criminal records. Out of these, there are 76 MPs having serious charges against them.

The total number of criminal cases against the MPs is 522 and out of these 275 MPs face

serious IPC sections charges against them.

The Bhartiya Janta Party has the highest number of criminal MPs that is 43, out of which 19 have serious criminal cases against them.

The Congress party comes next with 41 MPs having criminal cases, out of which 12 MPs face serious charges against them.

As compared to 2004, the number of MPs with pending criminal cases has gone up. There were 128 MPs with pending criminal cases against them in 2004 Lok Sabha out of which 58 had serious pending criminal cases. There is an increase of about 26% in MPs with pending criminal cases and 31% increase in the number of MPs with serious pending criminal cases.

Obviously, these are not the type of people that should represent we the people of India, but some how these heavy weight crooks have got themselves elected into the Parliament and have become part of the governing apparatus of the country by default.

The comptroller and auditor general of India (CAG) have lambasted the government on this declining trend. "Governance is at its lowest ebb. The morale of civil servants is low. The situation is too deleterious for the nation. There is too much at stake for too many in such a situation," CAG reportedly has said.

There has been an erosion of people's faith in government. Their confidence in public institutions has declined. National trust in bureaucracy including the police force has collapsed. The integrity and professionalism of civil servants is being questioned," it adds.

"We have chief ministers who have had to vacate their positions allegedly for graft, on whom courts and other judicial bodies have made adverse pronouncements. We have Members of Parliament who are being indicted by the judiciary for various acts including accepting cash for exercising their vote in Parliament." CAG concludes.

So in such a situation the principal issue is how to make it harder for those with criminal cases to contest elections. Obviously, there is an urgent need of electoral reforms in this country that bars any convicted person from holding office till they are finally acquitted by a court of law.

The current legal position relating to a person convicted of criminal charges is that if the criminal charge, and not just the sentence, is suspended on an appeal, he has the right to contest elections.

One has to understand the nuance in the law and that depends on what order the court gives. If the conviction is suspended, then one can fight elections, if the sentence is suspended, which means no jail, but conviction stands, until such time that the appeal is heard, then one can not fight elections.

Union Law Minister Salman Khursheed has drafted a bill that plugs the loopholes and it could make it impossible for any convicted politician to run for office.

At the moment, those convicted of criminal charges have three months to appeal but that will not be available if the structure of amendments prepared by the Minister goes through the motion and get passed. In such a case the convicted members will be immediately excluded from Parliament.

According to the draft bill if one is convicted, then he can not fight elections, irrespective of what the appeal order is, until he is finally acquitted by the court of law.

Another amendment that is proposed in the draft bill is; crimes committed under section 153 (A), which pertains to creating enmity between communities to be put under the category of heinous crimes, and if that happens, politicians convicted under this clause will not have the right to contest elections.

All this is fine. The big question is will these proposals be acceptable to all the political parties. In fact, there is already a law in place to rein in the corrupt MPs, but many of them have found loopholes into it and have got stay order on their conviction to contest election.

Even the proposed amendment bill is being challenged by some unscrupulous MPs. They have threatened to derail the new bill, if and when, it comes for discussion at the all party meeting.

It’s an argument by those who have something to hide and they will use all kinds of tactics to continue their domination in power.

What is needed is to build consensus around the proposed amended in the electoral process initiated by the Union Law Minister. We have seen with the Jan Lokpal movement that people power can force the government to sit up and make changes.

We need to use the same strategy and generate massive public opinion to clean up Indian politics of its criminal crooks.

Unlike the herculean task of weeding out corruption from the Indian system, the task of getting rid of politician facing criminal charges is much easy.

The redemption of Indian politics from all its banes is long haul and cleaning Indian politics of criminal MPs could be a way forward for good governance and betterment of the country.

We have to watch every move about this bill as it gets drafted, placed before the all party meeting and discussed in the in the Parliament.

Even all this happens we have to built a momentum on the lines of Jan Lokpal movement and send a strong signal to the political party bosses to have a consensus on the draft bill and pass it in this winter session of the Parliament.

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

Docs effective link in campaign to save daughters, will change sex ratio imbalance scenario of Census 2021: Madhya Pradesh CM

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

‘Sex determination test should be banished like Sati’

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said that the problem of depleting daughters' ratio in society cannot be solved by just enacting laws, but mindset will have to be changed for it. Doctors should become an effective link in the success of this work, he urged.

Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan was addressing a programme of doctors held under the banner of Beti Bachao Abhiyan (Save Daughter Campaign), wherein about 200 office-bearers of various associations of doctors took an oath on the occasion for bringing about awareness about daughters' importance in society and not to conduct illegal embryo sex determination test. It was the first programme of its kind with doctors in the state and country regarding the campaign which was held at the CM House here on Sunday.

The members of the medical fraternity also took an oath for expressing their opposition to those persons and doctors who demand unauthorised embryo sex determination and conduct illegal sex determination test. They also resolved to provide information about such office-bearers of their institutions. Besides, they took the oath to ensure full implementation of all the provisions of PC & PNDT Act (Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act). The doctors also took the pledge to create awareness about daughter's importance among those who visit them for treatment. The oath was administered by Mr. Chouhan.

Continuing Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan said doctors can play an important role in bringing about awareness and change people's mindset. He hoped that doctors' contribution can change the scenario of Census 2021 as by then the present sex ratio imbalance in the state would be rectified.

He said that the State Government is considering a pension plan for the parents who have only daughters. Besides, it is also being considered to give legal right to daughters to call their parents to stay with them. He said that Madhya Pradesh is going to achieve 10 per cent growth rate during the ongoing 11th Five-Year Plan. The state has also achieved Rs. 34,000 per capita income. But if daughters are not saved, everything will go waste. There will be no nature, if there are no daughters. It is a matter of concern for all. Schemes like Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojna and Ladli Laxmi Yojna have been launched in the state for daughters. He said that there is always a natural balance, but society exercises discrimination. This problem will end only when mindset in society is changed. Social imbalance leads to various kinds of tensions and problems. This problem is found more in cities, educated and wealthy people. In our country, there has been a tradition for thousands of years to honour daughters.

Becoming emotionally charged Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan declared that he will continue Beti Bachao Abhiyan till his last breath. He said that it is the Chief Minister's duty also to draw people's attention to the lurking danger. All kinds of problems will crop up if the number of daughters continued to dwindle at such a rapid pace. Therefore, it is necessary to make this campaign a mass social movement.

Addressing the programme, Member of Parliament and Madhya Pradesh State BJP President Prabhat Jha said that this issue will be raised in next session of Parliament. Beti Bachao Abhiyan is a creative and pious work. All the people's representatives should be made aware about this campaign. Novel schemes have been launched in Madhya Pradesh in the social sector.

Earlier, office-bearers of various associations of doctors while speaking on the occasion promised to give active cooperation in Beti Bachao Abhiyan.

Dr. Shailesh Lunawat of Radiological Association of India said that Madhya Pradesh is the first state to have launched a mission to save daughters. He claimed that no radiologist is involved in sex determination. He revealed that the curse of indulging in female foeticide had resulted in a peculiar situation in a village Devna in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. With virtually no protection to girl child no daughters were born it was only after 110 long, long years that a Baraat (bridegroom’s wedding party) entered the village for marriage ceremony.

Dr. Lunawat said the mindset that sons are asset and daughters are liabilities has to be changed for which his organization would play a pro-active role in reversing the traditional trend.

Dr. P. R. Dev of the United Nations Population Fund said that a committee by the name "Doctors Against Sex Selection" has been constituted in every district. The FOGSI, (Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India), representative Dr. Ratna Kaul said that the institution boycotts doctors conducting sex determination tests.

Dr. Lalit Shrivastava, president of Madhya Pradesh Medical Officers Association, said that disregard to daughters is a matter of social concern. He recalled that great religious, social and educational reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy with his efforts had banished the practice of Sati, the Hindu funeral practice in which the widow immolated herself on her husband's funeral pyre.

Similarly, Dr. Shrivastava assured that the members of the medical fraternity will make the Beti Bachao Abhiyan a successful venture with their active participation so that the balance in sex ratio is restored once again for the welfare of the society. He announced that his association will boycott those doctors who are found indulging in violating PC & PNDT Act and extend them no protection on behalf of the association.

Dr. Rakesh Mishra of Indian Pediatrics Association said that parents should not discriminate against daughters. Awareness should be brought about in this connection. Dr. Saket Saraf of Nursing Homes Association said that it is responsibility of every person to maintain balance in society. Dr. Ashwini Syal of Private Practitioners Association said that the institution will take out awareness rallies in the rural areas. Dr. Anjali Kanhare of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists Association said that her institution will extend cooperation in the campaign. Dr. Chandorkar of BJP Medical Cell said that every doctor should get ‘Beti Hai To Kal Hai’ slogan inscribed on his prescription slip. Dr. R.K. Chaurasia of National Medico Organisation said that medical students will also be made aware in this connection. Dr. Rini Malik of Pathologists and Microbiologists Association said that daughters should be welcomed like Laxmi.

At the outset, Vice-President of Jan Abhiyan Parishad Dr. Ajay Mehta delivered the welcome address. A self-learning kit prepared for doctors was also released on the occasion by the Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan. An exhibition comprising photographs and poetry on daughters was put up by Mr. Anil Goyal at the venue of the programme.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

50 Countries in 18th World Islamic Banking Conference

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

As the global Islamic finance industry enters the next phase of growth, more than 1,200 industry leaders, senior decision-makers and key regulators from over 50 countries are set to gather at the 18th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2011).

Hosted with the strategic partnership of the Central Bank of Bahrain and supported by the Economic Development Board of Bahrain, WIBC 2011 will be held at the Gulf International Convention Centre, Gulf Hotel from the 21st to the 23rd of November 2011.

The theme for this year’s WIBC, "Competing for Global Growth”, reflects the expanding geographical footprint of Islamic finance and the increasing presence of Islamic financial institutions in new jurisdictions that is providing significant opportunities for cross-border trade and investment flows that are Shari’ah-compliant.

Discussions at WIBC 2011 will emphasize strategies for managing the challenges of industry globalization and reinforce co-operation across jurisdictions to ensure stronger international capabilities for the Islamic banking and finance industry.

Announcing the launch of the event, David McLean, Managing Director of the World Islamic Banking Conference said that "Islamic finance is no longer a niche market and is rapidly becoming an important component of the mainstream financial system.

As various jurisdictions seek to intensify efforts in developing their respective Islamic banking and finance markets, it is vital to strengthen the global framework for greater collaboration between these geographies that will facilitate significant cross-border activities and deal flow.”

He also said that "in order to ensure the industry’s orderly evolution as an integral component of the international financial system, it is essential to manage the challenges of industry globalization. WIBC 2011 will provide the leading industry players with the platform to capitalize on the growth opportunities from new emerging frontiers for Islamic finance.”

The three day event will commence on the 21st of November 2011 with a series of pragmatically focused pre-conference summits led by experienced and respected industry experts, who will place a range of complex themes in a practical framework, enabling a deeper understanding of the critical issues facing the Islamic finance industry today.

The main WIBC 2011 conference, which begins on the 22nd of November 2011, will be inaugurated by Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain.

The inaugural session which focuses on strengthening the regulatory frameworks to accelerate the international development of Islamic finance will also feature Khaled Mohammed Al-Aboodi, Chief Executive Office & General Manager, The Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB), Saudi Arabia.

Confirming his participation at the event and announcing the Central Bank of Bahrain’s strategic partnership with WIBC 2011, Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain noted that the "the growing internationalization of Islamic finance reflects its ability to be competitive and respond to the complex needs of businesses globally.

As the industry’s geographic footprint expands, it is becoming increasingly vital to develop appropriate global frameworks and overcome the challenges of globalization faced by Islamic finance. We believe that the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2011) will play a meaningful role in facilitating dialogues to prepare the international Islamic finance industry to "Compete for Global Growth”.”

"The Central Bank of Bahrain is delighted to be again hosting this unique global industry gathering”, he added. A key highlight of WIBC 2011 will be the exclusive Industry Leaders’ Power Debate led by internationally respected CEOs and decision-makers from the key players in the industry.

Moderated by Ashar Nazim, Partner, Assurance and Advisory Business Services, Ernst & Young, this dynamic session will analyze how the leading players are positioning themselves to capitalize on the new growth opportunities presented by the increasing internationalization of Islamic banking and finance.

The Power Debate session will feature Tirad Mahmoud, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank; Toby O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer of the Islamic Bank of Asia; Syed Abdul Aziz Jailani Bin Syed Kechik, Chief Executive Officer of OCBC Al-Amin Bank Berhad; Asad A Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf African Bank; Abdulrazzak Mohammed Elkhraijy, Executive Vice President and Head of the Islamic Banking Development Group at the National Commercial Bank-Saudi Arabia, and Dr. Salah Addeen A Qadar Saeed, General Manager – Credit & Risk Management at Bahrain Islamic Bank.

WIBC 2011 will also feature a special keynote address on "Competing for Global Growth: Preparing for the Asian Century” by Prof. Kishore Mahbubani, the Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School) at the National University of Singapore on the final day of the event.

The eagerly anticipated World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report, developed in collaboration with Ernst & Young, will also be launched on-site at the 18th Annual World Islamic Banking Conference in an exclusive session on the 22nd of November 2011.

The 2011/12 Report which is now in its 8th annual edition, will explore the key trends and successful strategies deployed by leading Islamic banks. The report will also assess issues such as the absence of an enabling Islamic finance environment in most OIC markets; conversions and startups – the projection of 100 new Islamic banks by 2020; Oman’s Islamic banking debut; deteriorating margins, with provisions remaining the biggest contributor; and local currency sukuks in the spotlight.

As a part of the world comes to WIBC initiative, a leading panel of international experts will converge at the Country Focus Roundtable to address how well-positioned Islamic banks can explore international opportunities in the most dynamically evolving high-growth markets for Islamic finance. The Country Focus Roundtable along with the WIBC Country Pavilions will explore exciting opportunities in key jurisdictions including France, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Bahrain, Bermuda, Luxembourg and Labuan.
Announcing their support for the event, Dr. Jamil El-Jaroudi, Chief Executive Officer of Elaf Bank said that "the global Islamic banking and finance industry has seen tremendous growth internationally and Bahrain is at the forefront of this growth and has a long history of being a pioneer in the global industry. With the industry now beginning to break out from its niche status to achieve critical mass in the global financial system, it is essential that we prepare the industry to tackle the challenges ahead.

As a renowned, leading and global integrated wholesale Islamic banking institution, our partnership with the World Islamic Banking Conference highlights our commitment to the industry in creating a dynamic environment that will contribute to the sustainable growth of the Islamic finance industry.”

He also said that "as a Gold Strategic Partner of the 18th Annual WIBC, we welcome you to the Kingdom of Bahrain, to be a part of the discussions that will define the next stage of evolution for the global Islamic finance industry.”

The 18th annual World Islamic Banking Conference will convene more than 1200 industry leaders from the 21st to the 23rd of November 2011.

(Courtesy: ABNA.ir)

Madhya Pradesh’s Mineral Policy reverberates in country as Union Govt. puts seal of approval

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Quality-based Mineral Policy 2010 of Bharatiya Janata Party ruled central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is now reverberating in the entire country. What most important is that the Union Government has not only put its seal of approval on the policy, but has also advised other states to emulate it.
The provision of the state's policy, which has drawn encomiums, is that in case of more than one application for Mineral from the lower place, approval should be given to the applicant who has required capacity and capability as the special reason.

Centre's advice to states

The Union Government praised Madhya Pradesh's Mineral Policy and sent its advice to other states to make this policy as their ideal on October 20. The letter sent by Union Ministry of Mineral has made a mention of Madhya Pradesh's Mineral Policy and asked other states to browse Madhya Pradesh government's website to study it. The Union Government has underlined the need for adopting this provision with a view to bringing about uniformity in all the Mineral policies.

This also assumes significance since in the guidelines sent by Union Government on February 9, 2010, it had underlined the need for introducing this provision in view of larger interest of public interest and economic development. Madhya Pradesh included this provision in its new Mineral Policy in 2010 itself, but on the other hand other states are yet to do so.

The Madhya Pradesh State Government included this provision in its new policy also for ensuring quality and transparency. Both these factors are clearly envisaged in parameters for selection as instead of “first come first serve” principle, the principle of appropriate, capable and eligible applicant is applied in the state's policy. The State Government has also determined the special reasons for giving this relaxation.

The State Government has also incorporated several other liberal and justified provisions in its Mineral Policy. They include strengthening of mining administration, control over illegal mining and transportation; relaxation in excavation of minerals found in abundance in Madhya Pradesh, scientific and planned mining and proper land use and constant development.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

Move to recognise madrasas finds few takers

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

By Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay

Kolkata: Even after the state government ran advertisements in Hindi and Urdu newspapers published from Kolkata in June and July inviting khareji (unrecognised) madrasas to apply for government recognition, so far only 20 such madrasas have sent in their applications.

The advertisements came out following Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s announcement that she would give recognition to 10,000 khareji madrasas so that they can upgrade their standards.

“We have sent our inspectors to verify the claims of the madrasas made in their applications. The madrasas which have applied for recognition are located mostly in North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Nadia districts. Once we are satisfied, they will get recognition,’’ a senior official of the Madrasa and Minorities Affairs department working under the chief minister, told The Indian Express.

The CPM has its own explanation for this low turn-out. Said former minister for Land and Land Reforms Abdur Rezaq Mollah, who also handled madrasa department earlier: “The scheme for recognising khareji madrasas is nothing but a farce. If you look at the application proforma, you will find that they want things like document showing ownership of land, building, equipment, number of teachers, etc which should be specified. Most of the khareji madrasas are run by charitable organisations and they are in poor financial health. Where will they get all these things from?’’ Mollah asked.

The interesting thing about these madrasas is that despite getting recognition, these madrasas will remain private bodies and will follow the syllabus mandated by the Madrasa Board.

“Getting government recognition does not include them in the lot of those 600 government recognised madrasas which receive the government aid. However, these madrasas, after they get recognition, can apply for funds under various schemes,’’ the official further said.

Another interesting fact that has come to the fore is the Madrasa department has no idea that the intelligence branch of state police had made a survey of unrecognised madrasas in February 2002. The survey was done following the then Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s remark calling unregistered madrasas as hotbeds of anti-national activities. As the remark created a statewide furore, Bhattacharjee had backtracked and said his statement was distorted.

(Courtesy: Indian Express)

Saudi Al-Rajhi remains biggest Islamic bank

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Rajhi group maintained its position as the world’s largest Islamic bank at the end of 2010 while four in the UAE were among the 10 top Shariah-compliant banks, according to Arab bank data.

At the end of 2010, Al-Rajhi controlled $49.2 billion in assets, nearly a fifth of the combined assets of the Arab region’s Islamic banks, showed the figures by the Beirut-based Union of Arab Banks (UAB).

The report showed the Bank’s assets gained nearly $four billion over the previous year, when it also dominated the world’s Islamic banking industry.

The Kuwait Finance House (KFH) came second by assets, which stood at $43.7 billion at the end of 2010 compared with $39 billion at the end of 2009.

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) was ranked third, with assets of about $24.5 billion, followed by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), with around $20.5 billion.

Bahrain’s Al-Baraka Group came fifth, with nearly $15.8 billion while Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) controlled the sixth largest assets of $14.2 billion.

UAB figures showed Al-Rayyan, another Qatari Islamic bank, had the seventh largest assets of around $9.5 billion, followed by the Emirates Islamic Bank (EIB), with nearly $8.9 billion. The ninth and 10th largest Islamic banks were Al-Jazirah of Saudi Arabia and Al-Ahli United Bank (AUB) of Kuwait, with their assets standing at $8.8 billion and $8.5 billion respectively.

The report showed Al-Rajhi also had the largest capital of around $8.08 billion at the end of 2010. KFH came second with around $4.3 billion, followed by DIB with nearly $2.6 billion, QIB with $2.5 billion and ADIB with $2.2 billion.

As for profits, Al-Rajhi was by far the best performer, netting nearly $1.8 billion in 2010, almost half the combined net earnings of Islamic banks. KFH came second with around $369 million while QIB recorded the third highest income of around $367 million. It was followed by Al-Rayyan with $333 million profit, ADIB with nearly $279 million and DIB with $220 million.

The report showed all other Islamic banks in the region reverted to profits after many of them suffered from losses in 2009, with the exception of Dubai Bank, which recorded a loss of around $79 million in 2010.

Al-Rajhi also controlled the largest deposits among Islamic banks and was also the biggest lender, with a deposit base of $38.1 billion and with loans of nearly $32 billion by the end of 2010.

The figures showed the combined profits of Islamic banks totalled $3.8 billion while their deposits and loans stood at $175 billion and $150 billion respectively.

(Courtesy: Emirates 24/7)

Madhya Pradesh achieves XIth Five Year Plan’s targetted growth two years ahead

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in ,

10 pc growth likely against target of 7.6 pc by XIth Plan end, three-fold development likely compared to IXth Plan

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has already achieved the targeted growth on annual basis of more than 9 per cent in last three years at constant prices (base 2004-05) and is expected that during XIth Five Year Plan period the state’s annual GSDP growth shall be 10.06 per cent as against the target of 7.6 per cent per annum at constant prices by close of the concluding year of the Plan in 2012. The experts opine that the annual GSDP growth rate of the state in the last year of the XIth plan would exceed even projected 10.06 per cent.

Against the proposed outlay of Rs. 70 thousand 239 crore in the XIth Five Year Plan at 2006-07 prices, the state has reached the level of Rs. 86 thousand 187 crore at current prices in Plan period.

Sector wise GSDP has also witnessed remarkable level of growth during the first four years of the XIth Plan period till 2010-11. Primary sector has grown by 9.38 per cent, secondary sector by 11.25 per cent and tertiary sector by 9.99 per cent at constant prices, respectively. The secondary sector growth of 11.25 per cent per annum as compared to 6.68 per cent per annum during the Xth Plan period is a result of the investor friendly policies of the state government.

Madhya Pradesh aims at achieving a double digit growth rate of 12 per cent in the XIIth Plan by effective utilization of resources, efficient implementation of programmes and ensuring delivery of quick and quality services to the people.

During IXth Five Year Plan (1997-98 to 2001-02) the growth rate of primary sector (agriculture including animal husbandry, forestry and logging, fishing) was -2.56 per cent, which rose to 7.40 per cent during Xth Five Year Plan (2002-03 to 2006-07). During the XIth Five Year Plan the growth rate of this sector is projected to be 9.29 per cent.
The secondary sector (mining and quarrying, manufacturing, construction, electricity, gas and water supply) grew by 7.81 per cent during the IXth Plan, which rose to 8.04 per cent during the Xth Plan. By the end of the XIth Plan it is projected to be 10.99 per cent.

The tertiary sector (railways, transport by other means and storage, communication, trade, hotels and restaurants, banking and insurance, public administration and other services) grew by 4.47 during the IXth Plan that rose to 5.30 per cent. It is projected to be 9.85 per cent during the XIth Plan period. Thus, the annual growth rate in the last year of the XIth Plan is estimated at 10.05 per cent.

According to the experts, the annual growth rate projection for the XIth Plan is based on last three years’ average, but, it would far exceed the projection. Reasons? The state registered 23 per cent more rainfall. Region wise and month wise distribution of rains has also been very good. Besides, there is no drought situation. Rice mills, oil mills, cotton mills and sugar based industries are dependent on agriculture. A good farm output would lead to their higher production.

Last year frost and cold wave caused widespread damage to arhar, gram, linseed crops and early variety wheat crop also suffered some damage, whereas the area under these crops had increased. The area under arhar crop had increased by 48 per cent, but its production went down by 36 per cent. Similarly, gram area increased by 3 per cent, but its production fell by 16 per cent. The area under linseed rose by 16 per cent whereas its production decreased by 13 per cent. In year 2009-10, the state received 33 per cent and in year 2010-11 26 deficient rainfall respectively.

Per Capita Income also Increased

The per capita income of Madhya Pradesh at constant prices had increased at the rate of 4.83 per annum and 7.93 per cent per annum at constant and current prices, respectively during the Xth plan period. During the XIth plan from 2006-07 to 2008-09 per capita income grew at the rate of 8.44 per cent and 17.06 per cent per annum at constant and current prices respectively. These growth rates show that state is performing better than Xth plan period.

The per capita income of Madhya Pradesh was Rs. 17,000 in 2007-08 which increased to Rs. 22,460 in the year 2010-11 registering a growth of 27.81 per cent while at the national level, it increased from Rs. 30,345 to Rs. 35,917 during the same period at 2004-05 constant prices, the growth being 18.33 per cent.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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