Nearly 400 Muslim candidates crack IIT-JEE, largest number ever

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 28 May 2012 | Posted in , , , ,

By Anubhuti Vishnoi

New Delhi: Helped by the 4.5 per cent minority subquota, nearly 400 Muslim aspirants have cracked the IIT-JEE this year — the largest number of Muslim boys and girls ever to have scored at what is among the world’s most competitive entrance examinations.

A total 325 aspirants belonging to economically and socially backward sections of minority communities have been shortlisted for admission to the 15 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) under the subquota. The IIT Joint Admission Board is yet to analyse the profile of the qualifying students, but most of these 325 are thought to be Muslim.

These aspirants are almost assured of admission, since as many as 443 seats are kept aside for non-creamy layer OBC minority community students under the 4.5 per cent quota. Over 180 Muslim candidates have been shortlisted in the general category as well.

A tentative count shows that a total of 391 Muslim candidates have been shortlisted for counselling. The highest rank made by a Muslim candidate is said to be 159th. A total 24,112 candidates among the nearly 5.6 lakh who sat for IIT-JEE 2012 have been shortlisted.

“Of the total 9,647 seats in the 15 IITs, ISM Dhanbad and IT-BHU, 443 are earmarked for minorities under the 4.5 per cent quota. So far, 325 people from the minority communities have been shortlisted for these seats. These students from the non-creamy layer have to submit a certificate/undertaking establishing their credentials by June 1. Counseling for them will start around June 10,” Prof G B Reddy, chairman of IIT-JEE 2012, said.

Of the 325 shortlisted minority candidates, 303 are boys and 22 girls. The 118 unfilled seats under the quota will be passed on to non-minority OBC candidates.

The Centre had announced a 4.5 per cent subquota within the 27 per cent OBC quota in government jobs and admissions to central educational institutions just before the UP assembly elections. The human resource development ministry asked all institutions to implement the subquota from January 2012. The IITs are the first to implement the government’s decision.

The government has been encouraging the setting up of centres to coach students from minority communities for competitive examinations. Private centres focused on minority students, such as Rahmani 30 in Bihar, have come up over the last few years.

(Courtesy: The Indian Express)

Uttar Pradesh may give inheritance rights to Muslim women

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

By Manjari Mishra

Lucknow: Muslim women may finally get their due share in family inheritance. The long standing demand of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board for a suitable amendment in the UP Zamindari Abolition and Land Reform Act 1950 to bring it at par with the Shariat is likely to get an official nod soon. After AIMPLB reasserted its stance last month, the state government is considering the option to push through the politically correct agenda in the assembly session which begins on May 28.

In a formal request forwarded to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on April 2, Board general secretary Maulana Syed Nizamuddin demanded the right of inheritance to Muslim women, including widows, divorcees and married daughters. The Board drew attention to the fact that in UP this privilege vests only with the unmarried daughters while the rest of the categories have been arbitrarily left out. The chief minister responded favourably. On April 19, he wrote back to the AIMPLB president Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadvi and signaled his assent to the need for a speedy amendment in the law.

The issue, said senior AIMPLB member Zafaryab Jilani, figured prominently in the Board's annual meeting at Mumbai from April 20-22. States like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar do not follow such discriminatory practice, there is no logic why should UP women be deprived of their share, he said.

Jilani recalled the half-hearted measures of former chief minister Mayawati in this regard. Maya government, he said, brought an amendment in the sections 171(2) and 174 of the Act in September 2005. But, the right to inherit the agricultural asset was granted only to the unmarried daughters. This, Jilani said, was not what was intended under the personal law which acknowledges property rights of married unmarried, widowed or divorced women.
This restrictive approach, he said, had drawn ire of the Board in its annual meeting at Bhatkal and the members called for rescheduling the list of beneficiaries to match the Shariat.

Meanwhile, sources claimed that the government is no mood to delay the issue. With eys on the parliamentary elections, the "goodwill gesture" could yield to major political advantage to the Samajwadi Party. "Hopes are already up," said Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangimahali, Imam of Aishbagh Idgah, "after the positive communication of the chief minister." The amendment, he said, would surely lead to a revolutionary change in the economic status of women and raise their status in society in general.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

Hypocrisy of the International Criminal Court

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

By not confronting the Israelis on war crimes and prosecuting them to the full extent of the law, the ICC has lost its relevance

By Tariq A. Al Maeena

The world is rampant with injustice. Injustice against the individual by another or large scale injustice committed against a people by a state. While the individual can often turn to state-run courts to seek amends, peoples and states have to rely on international venues for justice to be served. And that is what the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) role was planned for. But sadly, the pursuit to punish the perpetrators of massive damage and harm to human life has been governed by duplicity and double standards.

The ICC has been very active in pursuit of Seif al-Islam, the second son of the deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Saif Al-Islam, who was disguised as a shepherd, was discovered and captured in the desert by Libyan freedom fighters following the fall of his father’s regime.
The ICC had issued a warrant for Saif Al-Islam a year ago June after charges were levied against him and his cohorts of participating in the killing of protesters during the people’s revolt that toppled the long-standing Gaddafi regime. There have also been several charges of financial corruption, and rape brought up against him.

The new Libyan government wants to try Saif and Abdullah al-Senussi, his brother-in-law and the former intelligence chief in Libya in their own country and by Libyan judges. They insist that ‘there is no intention to hand him (Saif al-Islam) over to the ICC, and Libyan law is the right system to be used to try Saif Gaddafi.’

The ICC on the other hand rejects the Libyan stand, and ordered the Libyan government to ‘comply with its obligations to enforce the warrant of arrest and surrender him to the ICC without delay.’ They state that a UN Security Council resolution makes it obligatory for Libya to cooperate with the court, and threatened that the country’s failure to hand him over ‘could result in it being reported to the Council.’

For most of us going over such news with a quick once over, it would be easy to conjure thoughts of justice and determination on the part of the ICC. After all, on paper they seem to be aggressively in pursuit of someone accused of war crimes, and are taking it upon themselves by challenging the sovereignty of Libya to try this latest Arab architect of human sufferings.
But wait and consider for a moment. This (ICC) is the same organization who very recently had flatly rejected a bid by the Palestinian government to try the Israelis for their conduct during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ which led to the murder of 1400 civilians including 300 children. Targeting civilians with F-16s and Apache helicopters, the Israelis had gone on a shooting spree. The three-week long campaign that the Israelis began towards the end of 2008 aimed primarily at civilian enclaves in Gaza was to ‘break the back of resistance’ as was boasted by generals if the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

Following the conflict, a UN sponsored tribunal charged the IDF with complicity in war crimes. The Palestinians wanted justice and went to the ICC for that very purpose. But guess what? The ICC rejected the request under the ridiculous excuse that while 130 countries and some U.N. bodies recognize Palestine as a state, it still holds an observer status in the U.N., and so the ICC ‘cannot at this time investigate allegations of war crimes committed on Palestinian territory,’ according to Moreno-Ocampo the ICC prosecutor said.

By claiming that ‘the court’s reach was not based on a principle of universal jurisdiction and it could open investigations only if asked to do so by either the UN Security Council or by a recognized state,’ the ICC brought the Palestinian Authority’s bid for war crimes tribunal to investigate an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip among other incidents of war crimes to a full stop.

There have been immediate reactions that accused the ICC of political bias. Amnesty International’s International Justice campaign group charged that ‘For the past three years, the prosecutor has been considering the question of whether the Palestinian Authority is a state that comes under the jurisdiction of the ICC and whether the ICC can investigate crimes committed during the 2008-9 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel. Now, despite Amnesty International’s calls and a very clear requirement in the ICC’s statute that the judges should decide on such matters, the Prosecutor has erroneously dodged the question, passing it to other political bodies. This dangerous decision opens the ICC to accusations of political bias and is inconsistent with the independence of the ICC.’

Tariq A. Al Maeena
And yet Moreno-Ocampo and his prosecution office at the ICC chooses to ignore the human toll and suffering of the Gaza conflict of over three and a half years ago, and instead focuses on the single-handed objective of bringing another Arab dictator to justice.

By their hypocrisy and evasion in not confronting the Israelis with their mammoth list of war crimes and prosecuting them to the full extent of the law, the ICC has lost its relevance on the international stage to mete true justice.

[Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.]

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

Islamic Finance: Fitting in and standing out

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

Sector should step beyond traditional areas

By Rushdi Siddiqui

A Sharia-compliant equivalent of the popular UK and US reality show The Apprentice has recently been announced by a UK-based organisation.

This follows the news of an ‘Islamic Facebook' and ‘Halal-Tube.' The Muslim world also has superheroes, like The 99, Muslim dolls (Dara and Sara), Muslim Cola (Mecca Cola), Islamic car, and so on.

It seems the criticism labelled against Islamic fin-ance products, form over substance, also has application in the ‘info-tainment,' and social media area. Yes, imitation is the best form of flattery, but we (the Muslim world) also need to be flattered.

So where are the authentic innovations and inventions? Surely there must be ideas that can be financed in a compliant manner from, say, 10 per cent of the 1.8 billion Muslims living in the 57 Muslim countries and outside the Muslim world.

Here is an opportunity for Islamic finance to fund something beyond the traditional areas such as real estate, and actually show the way to conventional finance in the Muslim countries. No, it is not for deposit-accepting Islamic banks to lead, they will not, but Islamic funds, like venture capital, small to medium enterprise (SME) funds, and private equity.

The two most common questions I was asked in my travels, especially by students, are: What is the difference between Islamic and conventional finance? And what has Islamic finance financed?

The implicit point in the second question is the role of the financial sector, typically the largest economic sector in the Muslim countries, as a ‘lubricant for greasing' the country's gross development product, econ-omic diversification, and development. It is well accepted that Islamic banks finance permissible activities linked to the real economy, like real estate. However, there are also nine other economic sectors.

An important element of prudent risk management is reducing concentration risk. The credit crisis impacted the financial economy, and, thereafter, impacted the real economy, hence, Islamic and conventional banks in the GCC region have seen a rise in non-performing loans and increased provisioning. Thus the industry as a whole needs to reduce the exposure risk to the vertical stakeholders in real estate.


The issue for Islamic finance is, what is the diversification and development strategy for staying relevant? For example, the pursuit of establishing an Islamic mega-bank, capitalised at, say, $5 billion paid up capital, is not a strategy, it is just another bank, albeit much larger. However, challenges still remain on standardisation, managing liquidity, meaningful cross-border presence, qualified personnel and scholars, regulations, accounting, customer service, and so on.

A strategy for Islamic finance, much like creating industry organisations AAOIFI (Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions or IFSB (Islamic Financial Services Board), would entail establishing the foundation for meaningful asset class build-out. The expansion of asset classes would include trade finance funds, leasing funds, Sharia-based (equity) funds, halal food fund, SME funds, venture capital funds, etc. The asset class build-out will not only answer the second question, ‘what has Islamic finance financed', but, more importantly, contribute depth to the Islamic equity capital market.

Today, there is a bias towards debt capital market Islamic finance, and, as an institution or individual can be conventionally overleveraged with negative consequences, an Islamic financial institution can be Islamically over-leveraged, i.e., Arcapita, Gulf Finance House and Investment Dar among others. Thus, to reduce the present bias of more depositors, called investment account holders (IAH), over capital market investors, the industry needs to appeal to equity instruments to address the risk profile of the latter. Obviously, this will not happen overnight, as it is a process involving customer surveys, education, including that of Imams, regulations, products, accessibility, customer service and support.

Will there be resistance from the banks, as deposit amounts will be reduced resulting in possibly lesser loans and loan amounts? Most likely, but the present situation has resulted in the ‘man on street' asking the two above-mentioned questions. For example, a public-listed Islamic financial institution, like Dubai Islamic Bank, has thousands of IAHs. Now, if a robust index is created of only publicly listed Sharia-based companies, it addresses the first question of the difference. A Sharia-based index would not need the screening as such companies have Sharia advisers, by-laws aligned to Sharia principles, and pay zakat.

Generating interest

The likelihood of a fund off a Sharia-based index, comprising only Islamic banks and leasing companies, Takaful operators, Islamic REITs, halal food companies, etc., may generate more interest from the same IAHs than a Sharia compliant fund comprising companies like Microsoft, IBM, Pfizer, ExxonMobil, etc. Thus a client of, say, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank may be both an IAH and a fund investor.

For the Islamic equity capital market to develop, the Islamic asset management space has to not only develop, but also expand to other asset class offerings.

The development of asset classes means that compliant funds are available for venture capital, SME fin-ancing, private equity, etc. Then, a real possibility exists for compliant funding inventions and innovations from the Muslim world on par with YouTube, Facebook, etc.

To rise to the challenge of being conventionally efficient, Islamic finance has to first fit in, and then it will stand out. We can start in the Arab Spring countries.

[The writer is Global Head, Islamic Finance and OIC Countries, Thomson Reuters.]

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

Muslim leaders enlisted to help stamp out polio

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

By Stephanie Nebehay

Geneva: The last three countries where polio is still paralyzing children -- Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria -- said on Thursday that they have enlisted Muslim women and religious leaders to allay fears of vaccination and wipe out the disease.

Polio cases are at an all-time low worldwide, following its eradication in India last year, raising hopes but also fears about a threat of resurgence especially in sub-Saharan Africa unless remaining reservoirs of polio virus are stamped out.

Conflict and insecurity is preventing health workers from reaching hundreds of thousands of children in Afghanistan and Pakistan with doses of polio vaccine, health ministers said.

"The number one issue is security-compromised areas, insecure areas such as in the tribal areas which is still giving us several (polio) cases and is a big challenge for us," said Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Special Assistant to Pakistan's Prime Minister, who is in charge of the polio eradication campaign.

"Religious leaders have been very actively mobilized," she told a news briefing held during the annual ministerial meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Some 22 top Islamic scholars from around the world have signed an endorsement of the polio eradication program, which is being used to persuade Pakistani parents, Wazir Ali said.

"This should put to rest some of the misapprehensions and reservations in the minds of certain areas of the population in Pakistan. We feel this has been quite effective," she said.

"In other words, these endorsements here categorically say that Islam does not in any way, form or manner prevent intake of the oral polio vaccine and that the oral polio vaccine being given to the children is endorsed by them and is fully safe."

Polio attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection. But it can be stopped with comprehensive, population-wide vaccination.

When a global eradication campaign was launched in 1988, it paralyzed more than 350,000 children in 125 countries annually.

Despite huge progress over the decades, polio outbreaks in China, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Niger last year were the latest setbacks to the program.

Four countries - Afghanistan, Chad, Nigeria and Pakistan - have reported 60 cases so far this year, against 153 in 12 countries at this time last year, according to the WHO.

"Tipping in Right Direction"

"There is some evidence that things are tipping in the right direction already," Bruce Aylward, the WHO's top official for polio eradication, said. "We've crossed a rubicon."

Nigerian Health Minister C.O. Chukwu said: "We have other health challenges. But this one is very vital because the world is virtually at the end of eradicating polio and there's no reason why Nigeria should be one of those delaying the world.

"We're recruiting religious leaders and traditional rulers," he said. The Federation of Muslim Women's Associations in Nigeria, a "formidable group", is also backing the campaign.

Polio is still entrenched in eight states in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria. Vaccination campaigns were suspended across the north in 2003/04 after some state governors and religious leaders alleged the vaccines were contaminated by Western powers to spread sterility and HIV/AIDS among Muslims.

The porous Afghan-Pakistan border remains a huge challenge.

"We do believe that Afghanistan and Pakistan is one epidemiological block in terms of polio. We believe the success in one country is closely dependent on action in the other," said Mohammad Taufiq Mashal, Director General of Preventive Medicine at Afghanistan's health ministry.

It is not the first time that the world has come tantalizingly close to wiping out the crippling disease.

"We're so close, there is no time for complacency," Dr. Christopher Elias, head of global development at the Gates Foundation, a major donor, told Reuters in Geneva.

(Courtesy: Reuters)

As Muslim community grows, Muslim funerals follow suit

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By Tim Townsend

St. Louis: When Adil Imdad’s 28-year-old cousin died of cancer in Ohio two years ago, the family’s grief was compounded by the absence of Muslim ritual following her death. There was no imam nearby to handle the religious customs, no Muslim funeral director to supervise the washing of the body, no Muslim cemetery where the family could lay her to rest.

Imdad, an environmental and geotechnical engineer in St. Louis, also was disturbed by the funeral costs. He found that many Muslim families — oftentimes newly arrived immigrants and refugees — couldn’t afford the $5,000 and $7,000 for burial services.

So he began taking night classes at St. Louis Community College, graduating last spring with a certificate of specialization in funeral directing. As Imdad awaits his state licensing exam, he is trying to raise money for what he says will be the state’s first Muslim funeral home.

“The community is growing, and things are going well for Muslims in St. Louis now,” Adil said. “But this is one area where we are way behind.”

Muslim communities in Kansas City, Columbia and Jefferson City maintain small funeral facilities, often inside mosques, for washing bodies of the deceased. But until now, many Muslims buried their loved ones in Muslim sections of Christian cemeteries, relying largely on non-Muslims to guide them through the process of death.

As the Muslim population of the U.S. has grown — the number of mosques grew 74 percent in the last 10 years, according to a 2011 survey — so has the need for Muslim-specific services like funeral homes and cemeteries.

Jay Hardy, the owner of Jay B. Smith Funeral Homes in Maplewood, Mo., and Fenton, Mo., said that in the 1970s, he handled one or two Muslim burials a year. Today that number is up to three or four each week, he said.

One reason for the jump, Hardy said, was the influx of Bosnian Muslims to the area in the 1990s. Last August, the Bosnian Islamic Center bought a large plot of land in a local cemetery, making it the first Muslim cemetery in St. Louis, said Imam Enver Kunic.

Burial fees in other cemeteries, “were too high,” Kunic said. “We had to do this for us.”

Gary Laderman, an expert in American funeral traditions at Emory University in Atlanta, said that in the latter half of the 19th century, just as the funeral industry was taking shape after the Civil War, American Jews began to build their own branch of the business.

“It was about how they could control their own dead and ensure they were buried according to their ideals and expectations,” said Laderman. “And more recently we’ve seen other communities producing their own funeral directors, producing their own professionals or volunteers, who are increasingly involved in the disposition of their dead.”

Hardy acknowledged that logistical problems exist when a non-Muslim funeral home handles a Muslim funeral. Islam and Judaism share many ritual elements in the preparation and interment process. Embalming, for instance, is forbidden. And bodies should be buried before sunset on the day the person died, or at least within 24 hours.

The timing often creates scheduling problems for funeral homes that are not dedicated specifically to Muslims or Jews. “More times than not, (interment in 24 hours) doesn’t work out,” Hardy said.

Most of the work of preparing a Muslim body for burial is traditionally done by the family. The body is washed in a prescribed way, then wrapped in pieces of white cotton cloth, called kafan. People who handle the body, including those who lower it into the grave, also should wash in a particular way.

Other restrictions about how a body is placed in the ground are sometimes at odds with public health laws, and there can be logistical problems with timing, for instance, if a cemetery is not prepared to open a grave at 6 p.m. on the day of death.

Mufti Asif Umar, a local imam, said keeping costs down for families was also at the heart of his support for Imdad’s Muslim funeral home idea. The average adult funeral, before the cost of burial, was $6,550 in 2009, according to the most recent numbers from the National Funeral Directors Association.

“We have a lot of needy in our community, people who can’t afford burial fees,” Umar said. His mosque’s burial fund, which members can tap into if they need help with funeral costs, is one of its most important collections, he said.

Mohammed Hussein, a radiation oncologist from Washington, D.C., thinks practicing the correct religious rituals surrounding death should be a priority for American Muslim communities. In his spare time, he is a funeral director and has served as something of a mentor to Imdad and recently donated a hearse to his future funeral home.

In Muslim countries, death and burial are “treated as a purely religious affair,” Hussein said. In the U.S., when someone invests in mortuary school and various other funeral-related degrees, certificates and licenses, “naturally, they want to make a living of it.”

But much of what a mortuary student studies — subjects like embalming and body restoration — is irrelevant to Muslim funerals (open caskets, too, are barred in Islam).

Imdad said that aside from small expenses for materials like soap and cotton shrouds, his funeral services will be free for the community. He estimates that with a deal he has arranged with the new Bosnian cemetery, he’ll be able to cut the total cost of preparation, funeral and burial down to less than $2,000.

After months of studying such Muslim funeral texts as “Funerals: Regulations & Exhortations” and “A Brief Summary About the People’s Violations in Funerals,” Imdad said he is ready to help ease people’s burdens during a trying time in their lives.

“Helping people satisfies something inside you,” he said. “When they pray for you later, you know it comes from their inner heart.”

(Courtesy: The Washington Post)

End of racial profiling, what?

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

By Nadia S. Mohammad

As the American public reads of yet another report released on governmental surveillance of Muslim American communities, it is refreshing to know that for the first time since the 9/11 attacks, the US Senate Judiciary Committee, along with various state legislatures and federal agencies, are directly addressing long-held public concerns about racial and religious profiling – a practice within law enforcement that relies solely on race, religion or ethnicity to determine possible criminal activity.

 With these recent developments, could we finally be seeing the beginning of the end of racial and religious profiling in America?

The Senate hearing on racial profiling, initiated by Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, took place in conjunction with Durbin’s co-sponsored bill, the “End Racial Profiling Act of 2011” (ERPA), on 17 April. Racial and religious profiling has become a particularly sensitive issue for Muslim Americans in the past decade, although it affects multiple racial, ethnic and religious minority groups in the United States. In the United States, some assume that all individuals of South Asian or Arab descent are Muslim, and that being Muslim is somehow dangerous – which has led to members of these ethnic groups being profiled. Such practices violate the constitutional right to equal treatment under the law; moreover, racial and religious profiling is ineffective as it is based on unreliable assumptions about minority groups, rather than criminal behaviour profiles.

ERPA would also provide for additional training to help law enforcement, government officials and neighbourhood watch groups avoid using such tactics.

The political debate on the effectiveness of racial and religious profiling by law enforcement goes back several decades. Interestingly enough, when it last garnered high-profile political attention, it was former President George W. Bush who proclaimed, in a February 2001 address, that racial profiling is “wrong and we will end it in America.” He went even further to say that ending racial profiling practices would not compromise security.

Then came the attacks of 9/11 and what Bush once dubbed as “wrong” became an excusable right, in the name of national security. “In the national trauma that followed 9/11, civil liberties came face to face with national security”, said Senator Durbin, and all too often the promise of national security won, at the expense of Muslim Americans and other Americans who appeared to be Muslim.

The ERPA hearing comes at a time when racial and religious profiling is being actively challenged across the nation. Numerous civil-rights advocates and legislative officials have called for an investigation and independent nonpartisan oversight of the New York Police Department (NYPD), after it was reported that the NYPD systematically surveilled Muslim Americans and certain ethnic minorities in the area without probable cause.

After several police officers were arrested for illegally targeting and harassing Hispanic Americans in Connecticut, state legislators passed a definitive bill prohibiting “the stopping, detention or search of any person” due solely to “race, colour, ethnicity, age, gender or sexual orientation”.

The decades of grassroots organising have also allowed civil-rights groups to provide the public with better tools and technology to empower themselves when faced with harassment by law enforcement. The Sikh Coalition, for example, recently launched a mobile application that allows travellers to file direct complaints with the government if they feel they have been unfairly profiled. In turn, these groups have been able to provide advocacy organisations and legislators with better assessments of the extent and the overall ineffectiveness of racial and religious profiling.

Some federal agencies, after public pressure, are taking measures to prevent organisational discriminatory practices. Both the military and FBI have initiated steps to review their training materials, due to recent reports of their use of severely Islamophobic materials. Last month the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the US armed forces ordered a review of the military’s training material in its entirety to ensure it does not contain Islamophobic content. This month, the FBI is holding workshops titled “Combating Islamophobia: Truths and Myths about Islam”.
While it is difficult to tell, at this point, what the standards of either the military or the FBI are in determining what constitutes Islamophobic material, the attempt to instill better standards is a small step forward.

In ending racial and religious profiling and ensuring our civil-rights are protected, it is important to remember that we are not compromising our security; instead, we are enhancing our safety and building stronger working relationships between law enforcement and community members.

(Courtesy: Khaleej Times)

Prince Ali stunned by FIFA experts' hijab knock back

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , ,

By Mike Collett

Budapest: Evidence from FIFA's medical experts on why the ban on Muslim women footballers wearing the Islamic headscarf or hijab should remain in place was deeply flawed and had no foundation, the campaign's principal supporter said on Friday.

Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, whose presentation to soccer's law-making body IFAB six weeks ago saw the approval of the headscarf pending health and safety checks, said he was "shocked and disturbed" by the evidence presented on Thursday.

"If it is true, I would accept it, but I believe it was without foundation," he told reporters.
The IFAB, or International Football Association Board, comprises FIFA and the four British Home Associations.

Michel D'Hooghe of Belgium, the head of FIFA's medical committee, said he would only recommend to the extraordinary IFAB meeting on July 5 in Zurich that extra tests should be carried out on the headscarf which is crucial to millions of Muslim women playing the game all over the world.

Prince Ali, the youngest member of FIFA's executive committee, declined to comment when asked if he faced opposition from the committee's older, more conservative officials but there was no hiding his anger when he spoke on Friday.

"I was shocked when I heard about Dr D'Hooghe's press conference on Thursday. We covered all the issues raised including heat coming out of the head, breathable material, the neck issue.
"I was very disturbed by the comments he made. I am usually not very emotional but this is very important.

"There are women serving in combat zones across the world and many of them are wearing the headscarves so I am disturbed by this being used as an argument. All we are asking is for women to be allowed to play football.

"This affects many, many Muslim women. I hope this issue is being treated with the same respect and seriousness that other issues are, for example goal-line technology."

IFAB Review

Although IFAB has approved the headscarf, pending further tests in March, the decision will be reviewed in July and FIFA's quartet on the law-making body can change between meetings.

Prince Ali's fear is that opponents of the hijab could sit on the July meeting and block approval of the headscarf because a law change needs a 6-2 majority from the board.

He accepted that further testing may be needed in the future but added: "I am hoping, at the very least, IFAB will allow a proper evaluation and that these players will be allowed to play in it on the field. If the medical committee and FIFA wants to monitor further, let them do it.

"Muslim women can use it at confederation level but they cannot, for example, use it at the highest level in the women's World Cup or the Olympic Games.

"And at any level there have been no reported cases of injuries in Asia and Africa, or anywhere in the world."

Prince Ali said independent institutes and designers from Netherlands and Canada had presented evidence to D'Hooghe and FIFA's chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak but when the designers were told what happened on Thursday they were equally shocked.
"They asked us what on earth he (D'Hooghe) was talking about," he said.

Head Lesions

D'Hooghe, speaking after FIFA's two-day medical conference on Thursday said: "We have received some samples and some doctors, including from the Muslim countries, said they (headscarves) represented a danger.

"When a girl is running at speed someone can hit the head scarf and that can lead to head lesions."

He said the specially designed velcro-clasping headscarves, were safer than zipped fastenings but there was still room for improvement.

"If tomorrow we receive a proposal and we have no doubt it is medically okay we can give the green light. But to be specific, we have to avoid any problems on the side of the neck or the carotid artery if it gets pulled.

"When you are running and someone pulls it back you can have a hyper-extension of your neck. I wouldn't like to be responsible for that."

But Prince Ali added: "I really don't know what all this is all about.

"At the last IFAB, if there was a unanimous decision to allow it, as far as I have seen in consultation with some of the best doctors in the world, there is no reason not to approve it now.

"But I am now concerned that there is no seriousness or desire for testing. Maybe the best thing for Dr D'Hooghe to do is to go and explain his reasons just as I did to IFAB. The issue will certainly not go away."

(Courtesy: Chicago Tribune)

IMO Foreign Editor Mike Ghouse presented Safeer-e-Pakistan Award by Geo TV for Interfaith Outreach

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 25 May 2012 | Posted in , , , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Mike Ghouse, the only Indian American, was among 15 Dallasites who were recognized for their contributions to the society at a gala event organized by Safeer-e-Pakistan, a popular community program that airs on Geo Television Network. The 8th Annual Dinner event was held at DFW Marriott Hotel by the Airport on Saturday, May 19, 2012.

Those who were presented Safeer-e-Pakistan Award, included Aslam Khan, Dr. Akhtar Shah, Amina Ismail, Asad Rehman, Dr. Amir Suleman, Mike Ghouse, Barkat Basaria, PSNT, Haleema Rahim, Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Mansoor Shah, Anwer Azam, Sakhia, Dr. Huma Shah, and Dr. Mohammad Nawaz.

The Safeer-e-Pakistan Award is a fulfillment of the vision of its founder Waqar Ali Khan, “to provide a platform for the Pakistani American community to voice their concerns on issues of importance to them”. Since 1997 the program has been introducing role models in different spheres of American life. In the 20 minutes video presented at the program, it highlighted its work over the years, and was quite impressive.

Mike Ghouse, who is also associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Foreign Editor, said in his acceptance speech: "As a Dallasite, Indian American, and a pluralist,  I welcome the spirit of the program. The recipients were Pakistani-Americans as well as one Indian American. This is a good step forward by the Pakistani community on a national level to reach out to Pakistanis from around the nation. We welcome Safeer e Pakistan to Dallas, indeed we are a model Desi community in America. We have been blessed with multi-cultural and multi-nationalistic efforts in bringing people together. We have been doing this for a long time, starting with Desi Thanksgiving Celebrations, Asian News Magazine, Asian News Radio, Asian Chamber of Commerce, FunAsia Radio, Asian American Star, Radio Hot Pepper, Radio Azad, B Magazine and several others." 

"Despite being Americanized, we still have a few loud mouth Indian and Pakistani immigrants who do, and say things to hurt the delicate relations,  but gleefully do back flips to befriend Taiwanese, Mexicans, Russians, Japanese, Egyptians, Somalis or Brazilians, but resist befriending our own neighbors. They are deprived, and do not have anything good to say about the others, I pray for their enrichment. We are not alone in this short-sightedness; the Chinese-Taiwanese, Iranians-Saudi, North-South Korea, Israeli-Palestinians and others join us in our deficiencies, it is indeed human, but it is also human to build cohesive societies where no one has to live in fear of the other. If we are incapable of cleansing ourselves with prejudices against each other, then we should not expect the people back home to do it either. The spirit has to be global. It is in this spirit, I appreciate the work of Safeer-e-Paksitan program and the awards night. As a Pluralist, it is a joy for me to witness races, nationalities, religions and ethnicities fall the barriers between peoples and embrace each other. In the interfaith weddings that I officiate, the latest ones being a Muslim-Jain and a Hindu-Christian weddings, I share this, “What the bride and groom have chosen to do, must be admired by one and all. In this divisive world, where people have difficulty in agreeing or getting along – they are setting a new standard. That is learning to respect the otherness of other and accepting the God given uniqueness of each other. They have additional differences; they both grew up in different religious traditions,” Mike Ghouse said.

Mike Ghouse also expressed his thanks to Geo TV, Waqar Ali Khan, Fatima Khan, Anjum Anwar, Naheed Raheel and Safeer-e-Pakistan team for adding the interfaith category in the recognition.

He said in his acceptance speech that pluralism and interfaith is our future, by the end of 2020, there will not be a major city in the America, and perhaps in the world, where you will not find people of different faiths working, eating, and doing social things together. We need to prepare ourselves for those situations to prevent possible conflicts and lay a good foundation for nurturing goodwill. Exclusive communities will become a thing of the past.

"Guess who pioneered the interfaith? Indeed, it was Prophet Muhammad, the peace maker. He was perhaps the first spiritual master who was blessed to have lived amidst three to four different religious traditions. He lived his preaching, just as Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Nanak, and all the great teachers did. He had regular meetings at his Mosque with Jews, Christians and others to discuss and learn and share about each other’s religions. He was following the words of Qur’an 49:13 (paraphrase) - the best among you is the one who makes an effort to know each other. There is a presumption that we don’t know each other, and most certainly we don’t. By knowing and learning and accepting each others as we are, we can create better societies – the product was the Madinah declaration initiated by the Prophet, where all people had their own religion to follow and practice without interference, it is almost a predecessor to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion.  Of course, there will always be a tiny fraction of a percent of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and other who do not follow their own religion resulting in conflicts and false propaganda, but a majority of the people get the goodness of their religion. Example after example, we can trace the essence of his work – conflict mitigation and goodwill nurturance, and respecting the otherness of others. The recognition of interfaith work is owed to Prophet Muhammad and I thank Safeer-e-Pakistan for honoring the work of the Prophet," Mike Ghouse concluded.

Saudi Women Carve Niche in Medicine

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

By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim

In 1975, the only university in the Eastern Province was a small petroleum college. It was located in Dhahran and it was an all-men school.

Any student from the Eastern Province who didn’t attend this petroleum college would have to go to Riyadh to attend the university there — King Saud University. Students in Saudi Arabia were lucky, because they got a free education and monthly stipends. Those who went to Riyadh would use the monthly payments to cover their own personal expenses. The situation for young women was a little harder. Yes, they still got the same free education and monthly payment, but the young Saudi women who wanted to continue their university education in Riyadh would only be able to finish their university degrees if they had relatives or family friends to live with.
University housing was not available for most of the young girls. Female students had very limited options to choose from at that time. The university fields were limited to subjects including Arabic literature, history, geography and Islamic studies. The Saudi young women were eager to master the field of medicine. The number of female Saudi physicians or nurses was almost nonexistent. Now the achievements of Saudi women in medicine have far exceeded every expectation in the Kingdom.

The amount of achievements in any society is measured by where it was yesterday and where it is today. The most important part of any society is a good education and an advanced health care system. The University of Dammam achieved both. It educated thousands of young men and women, and at the same time it had the biggest positive impact on the health care system in the Kingdom. The University of Dammam was behind Saudi women’s achievements in medicine. Those achievements were far beyond any Saudi’s imagination when the university was established. The young Saudi women who attended the College of Medicine when the university was established became the nucleus of what would be one of most influential medical complexes in the Kingdom.

When the university was established in 1975, it had two campuses. The Dammam campus was secondary. The main campus was in Hofuf (Al-Hassa). The two campuses started operating in the academic year 1974/75 and were officially inaugurated by King Khaled on May 24, 1977. The university’s name was King Faisal University. At that time the Dammam campus had two colleges. One was in the field of medicine and medical sciences and the other was architecture and planning. It had three centers — English language, computer sciences and publication and translation. Later on, enrollment numbers reached tens of thousands. The Ministry of Higher Education then separated the two campuses and the Dammam campus became the University of Dammam in 2009. Now the University of Dammam covers six cities in the Eastern Province, including Dammam, Jubail, Khafji, Khobar, Nu’Airiya and Qateef. The university now has 24 colleges, 123 departments, 1,414 faculty members and about 25,000 students. To the surprise of many people, Saudi young women have the lion’s share of the number of seats in the field of medicine.

The university has one of the largest medical training facilities in the Middle East. It has a university hospital with more than 500 beds. Treatment in the hospital is free. The medical equipment in this hospital is state-of-the-art. The hospital helped many Saudi men and women improve their skills. Dr. Abdullah Al-Rubaish, the current rector of the university, graduated in 1984 and held many positions in the university before reaching his current position. He was also educated in Alberta, Canada. He was on a fellowship in pulmonary medicine. His track record is full of achievements in medical science. He was a resident in internal medicine, chief resident in internal medicine, chief pulmonary medicine, specialist and consultant in internal medicine and associate professor of internal medicine. Al-Rubaish is a fine example of the university production line. And even after being rector at the University of Dammam, he still practiced his medical skills. A physician will always be a physician.

The University of Dammam helped young Saudi women both in the classroom and in social life. This achievement ran parallel to government efforts to help Saudi women advance in many fields. In the past, some social obstacles hampered the women’s movement toward top of the line education. In a very short time, Saudi women achieved universal success in secondary education.

With these achievements, Saudi women were able to progress and close the gender gap. Many young Saudi women performed far better than many young men in the field of medicine. There are many visible positive signs that came along with women’s education such as lowered mortality rate, improved health and good nutrition. Also, for being in university, women learned a lot about fair rights. Saudi university law, civil service law and labor law treat women the same as men. And the positive impact of the university extended to very young girls. Dropout rates decreased. Now every little girl wants to be a college graduate and wear the white hospital uniform. Being a woman doctor is not only a guarantee of high profile job but also a respected place in the society.

Early Saudi women graduates didn’t serve hospitals in the Eastern Province only. Many young Saudi women served as educators for other women. They worked as volunteers and had many achievements in society. Many of them made Saudi citizens proud with their achievements. I will give a very small example of the medical achievements of some Saudi graduates at the University of Dammam.

Dr. Laila Telmesani graduated in 1984 and continued her educational path in the Kingdom and Switzerland. She is a consultant in otology and chair of an ENT department.

Dr. Iman Al-Sheik graduated in 1984 and specialized in hematology. She is the director of laboratories at the university hospital and an associate professor.

Dr. Fatmah Al-Mulhim, graduated in 1985, is now the chair of the radiology department at the university hospital. She is very active member of the Saudi Cancer Foundation.

Dr. Sana Al-Mahmoud graduated in 1984 and is the vice dean of the College of Nursing. She has a health services management and health planning degree from the universities of Birmingham and Leeds.

Dr. Ahlam Alqatari graduated in 1984 and is a hematology consultant. In addition to that, she is very active in society and established the Alattaa Ladies Charity in Qatif.

Dr. Layla Beshawri graduated in 1986. She is a chairperson of the MLT department at the College of Applied Medical Science.

Dr. Dalal Al-Tamimi graduated in 1982. She is the dean for university studies for female students, acting dean of the Nursing College and chairperson of the Pathology Department. The above are examples of thousands of women who pursued their dreams to make major contributions to Saudi achievements, not only in the Eastern Province, but in all parts of the Kingdom. Those young women achieved medical miracles and worked hard day and night. They were able to do it without losing their hold on Saudi culture.

Saudi women entered the field of medicine without affecting their roles as wives, mothers and an important part of society. The Saudi women gained the respect of citizens and all the people who worked with them, taught them and learnt from them in Saudi Arabia or abroad. Almost all Saudi women doctors studied abroad. To this day, there are hundreds of Saudi women seeking higher studies in world-class medical institutes or hospitals in the US, Canada, the UK and many other places. And many of these young women started their education in places like the University of Dammam.

The University of Dammam started as part of a university, but turned out to be one of the largest universities in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. It was able to sustain a very healthy environment of ethical scientific research and discoveries. The university opened the classrooms to young talented Saudi women, opened new horizons and paved the way to a bright future for them. There are many Saudi women who achieved international recognition in many medical fields and the best thing about their achievements is they have done it quietly with style. Many of them didn’t know that we said thank you for their achievements. They were simply busy serving their country. The Saudi women doctors and nurses are heroes who achieved miracles and they deserve to be appreciated.

[Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is a Commodore (Retired), Royal Saudi Navy. He is a frequent contributor to the SUSRISblog.  He can be contacted at: almulhimnavy@hotmail.com]

(Courtesy: SUSRIS.com)

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