January 28, 2014
France and Qatar signed an agreement to regulate problems that had emerged in the Lycée Voltaire in Doha. The agreement stipulates that Islamic studies and Arabic will be implemented in the school, and separation between male and female students will be reinforced in its future secondary school.
The president of the school’s administration board declared, ‘our French friends have been understandings, since it is essential is to let French-speaking Qataris remain close to their language and religion.’
The school, founded in 2007 by the Mission Laique France, had already experienced conflicts over the nature of the curriculum with their Qatari counterparts disagreeing with some of the science and history books. The Lycée Voltaire, numbering a thousand students, is now run by Qatar.
February 1, 2014
The hour of religious education in school is more of a chance for reflection and discovery not only of the Catholic faith, but increasingly also for other forms of belief. In line with this, students at the Carducci School of Alessandria accompanied by their teachers of religion were able to visit the town mosque located in Via Verona.
The meeting, coordinated by Ahmed Osman, a cultural mediator, allowed the children to deepen their knowledge of Islam, mainly with the help of the Alessandrian Young Muslims, who welcomed their peers.
During the visit the pupils of the school were able to visit the library of the mosque, the prayer room and were able to hear beforehand the singing of Mua’zin (call to prayer). Lastly, students were able to told about the Arabic language school, which is open to all not just Muslims. The visit was also an opportunity to reflect on the different origins of the students, for example, teachers discussed the diverse numbers of native languages of the participants.
Alessandria News: http://www.alessandrianews.it/lo-spazio/religione-scuola-carducci-si-studia-l-islam-55367.html
January 22, 2014
Hundreds of Catalan children travel each year to Gambia to study the Koran and Arabic. These children between 7 and 17 years old may be between six months to five years in madrasas (Islamic schools). The goal is for their children to maintain the traditions and religious and cultural ties to the home community.
October 18, 2013
Miriam Berger studied Arabic at Wesleyan University, lived twice as a student in Jordan, did thesis research in the West Bank and, after graduation, worked in Cairo. And like many of the Americans she has met each step of the way, she is Jewish.
“I don’t see it as a contradiction at all,” said Ms. Berger, 23, who grew up near Philadelphia where she attended a Jewish day school. “I grew up hearing so much about the Middle East, how it was this dangerous place we can’t understand, but as I learned more, every day it felt like old ideas were being challenged, and I wanted to contribute to better understanding.”
In the United States, colleges and universities are riding a two-decade surge in Middle East studies, reflecting that region’s consistent pull on American economics and security. And while there are no definitive demographic data, students and professors say that in classrooms, or in undergraduate study-abroad and postgraduate fellowship programs in the Middle East and in Arabic, it is not unusual for one-quarter or more of the students to be Jewish.
These students say their interest grew because of their heritage, not in spite of it. They feel a desire, even a duty, to understand a region where Israel and the United States are enmeshed in longstanding conflicts, and to act as bridges between cultures — explaining the Arab world to Americans, and America (and sometimes Jews) to Arabs.
The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/us/more-american-jewish-students-take-up-study-of-arabic.html
October 16, 2013
Eid al-Adha, or “Festival of Sacrifice”, is celebrated by Muslims to mark the occasion when Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, to demonstrate his devotion to the Almighty.
Ignoring the advice of the Devil, who tried to tempt Ibrahim into disobeying God by saying he should spare Ishmael, Ibrahim was about to press ahead with the sacrifice when Allah stopped him and gave him a lamb to kill instead.
The story is designed to demonstrate how Ibrahim’s devotion passed even the sternest test, and is told in similar fashion in the Jewish Torah and Christian Old Testament, where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Today the story is commemorated on Eid by the sacrifice of a sheep, or sometimes a goat, although in Britain the animal must be killed at a slaughterhouse. The day is a public holiday in Muslim countries, and the festival’s Arabic title has connotations of a period of rejoicing that comes back time and again.
We are standing and, after a few moments we hear a clear voice, who begins the serenade, in Arabic, of selected verses of the Koran: Khalid, Fatima, Sara, Asnan, but you are not among faithful in a mosque but at a public event in a 16th century palazzo in Torino.
These are the young Italian Muslims, during the spiritual festival, comprised of three public readings of the Koran, one every day during the festival. After the reading, which is also translated in Italian, there will be time for questions from the public.
Arabic language taught in Italian schools begins, surprisingly, in the fortress of the Northeast, the hard and pure Treviso. Just the inhabitants of the Marca Gioiosa, who pushed for the Venetian dialect to be the official language, people are now sending their children to learn Arabic. In fact the elementary school Coletti will begin the lessons as part of a course on Arabic language and culture . “The institute in Treviso is the first in Italy to implement an Arabic language course totally free, paid for by the Government of Morocco” says professor Zinoun Bouchra, of Moroccan descent “…children in third to fifth grade will have the opportunity to learn the Arabic alphabet, and the history and culture they come into contact with through many of their companions. And all during the school day, Treviso is ahead of the curve offering this as absolutely free.”
August 28, 2013
By Gaetana D’Amico and Christopher Livesay
Palermo, August 28 – Owners of a Palermo apartment were shocked to discover during recent renovations that part of their home was once an ornate 18th-century mosque. The flat in Via Porta di Castro is in an area of buildings over what used to be the Kemonia river, before it was filled in around the year 1600, near the Royal Palace of Palermo. The couple, Giuseppe Cadili and Valeria Giarrusso, both journalists, bought the apartment eight years ago. They had planned to knock down the wall of a room to create an open area, but Cadili soon realized that the plaster was damp.
“There was a leak inside of a wall. Cleaning it up a bit I realized that there was Arabic writing on it,” he said, noting the script was in gold and silver painted on blue background. “I would never have imagined that the writing covered all four walls”. Experts say the mosque was built inside a private dwelling, the first discovery of its kind in Sicily. It was at that point that the amazed owners decided to have it examined. Gaetano Basile, an expert in Palermo history, told them the inscriptions were artisan versions of a decorative calligraphy widespread in the 1700s. Most of it is purely decorative, Basile told Salvatore Ferro of the daily Il Giornale di Sicilia. “This is a well-known part of our culture, marked by the invention of ‘rabbisco’, an entirely Sicilian legacy of arabesque design,” he said. “The Sicilian artisan, who did not know Arabic, mistook calligraphic verses for decoration, and emulated them.” It is likely that the house belonged to a North African nobleman or merchant who had made his home in Palermo around the later 1700s,” he added, noting that a large Muslim community lived in the Sicilian capital at the time. “The owner basically had a mosque built in his house. There are clear indications of this.”
“First of all, it faces east, the walls are of an identical size – 3.5 by 3.5 meters, it has doors located in such a way as to prevent the placement of furniture, and the ceiling has a repeating lamp pattern”. The owners intend to preserve the space as is. “We wanted to give the proper weight to this discovery and convey our love for the historic center,” Cadili said. “Too often things from our past are destroyed instead of bringing them back to life.” This room also transmits an extraordinary feeling of serenity. “This is why we decided to keep it as we found it: we put in a sofa and a desk and, out of respect for the Muslim culture, we do not serve alcoholic beverages in this room.”
August 12, 2013
Posted on the web is a video of an interview of a Jordanian Imam named Riyadh Al Bustanji, in Arabic. The interview took place on 22 June 2012 on Al-Aqsa TV, the official television station of Hamas. The video, subtitled in English, was posted and translated by MEMRI Tv, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4PfzUZzoRs)
MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute) is a non-profit organization co-founded by a former Mossad officer, Yigal Carmon, which translates articles from Arabic into English.
The impartiality of MEMRI has been doubted and questions have been raised by Brian Whitaker of the British newspaper The Guardian, in an article from 2012, the organization’s impartiality has also been questioned by the political leader Beppe Grillo.
August 5, 2013
The Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Scola said “during this time of prayer and fasting we hope to instill confidence and courage in promoting a dialogue and overall cooperation based on our mutual love of God and neighbor.” The message was sent to the Milanese Muslims community and its leaders to acknowledge the end of Ramadan. In the letter, Scola points out that Christians and Muslims share “similar challenges and similar responsibilities.”
Based on these challenges and responsibilities, the archbishop believes that the most significant requirement is “including notions of mutual respect without ignoring the individuality of each religion.” The message, sent in both Italian and Arabic, will be delivered by the representatives of the diocese to various places in the diocese’s territory where Muslims celebrate the Eid aliftir, during the morning of August 8.