M&S apologises after Muslim assistant refused to sell customer alcohol

December 23, 2013

 

Marks & Spencer has apologised after a Muslim member of staff refused to sell a customer alcohol. “The issue arose after an unnamed customer at a London store was “taken aback” when an “extremely apologetic” Muslim checkout worker asked them to wait for another till to become available.

The customer told the newspaper: “I had one bottle of champagne, and the lady, who was wearing a headscarf, was very apologetic but said she could not serve me. She told me to wait until another member of staff was available. I was taken aback. I was a bit surprised. I’ve never come across that before.”

Drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and some Muslims refuse to handle it. M&S said its policy applied to staff of all religions, not just Islam. The spokeswoman said: “Where we have an employee whose religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, we work closely with our members of staff to place them in suitable role, such as in our clothing department or bakery in foods.

The case highlighted differences among retailers on whether religious staff should have to carry out certain jobs, the Telegraph said. Sainsbury’s guidelines say there is no reason why staff who do not drink alcohol or eat pork on religious grounds cannot handle them, the newspaper reported, while Tesco said it made “no sense” for staff that refused to touch items for religious reasons to work on a till. Muslim employees at Asda do not have to work on tills if they object to handling alcohol, while Morrisons said it would “respect and work around anyone’s wishes not to handle specific products for religious or cultural reasons”, the Telegraph said.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/dec/23/marks-and-spencer-muslim-alcohol

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/10533728/MandS-faces-furious-backlash-from-customers-over-Muslim-policy.html

Islamic Gatehouse Bank to aid UK housing crisis

November 28, 2013

 

Britain’s mainstream banks may be reluctant to lend these days, but a Kuwait-backed Islamic bank is to become one of Britain’s biggest residential landlords with a plan to build 6,600 rental homes and gain from the shortage in decent housing stock. It promises to be one of the biggest privately run home building projects ever. Shariah-compliant Gatehouse Bank hopes to gain from the big shift in the country’s housing market away from buying to renting, as mortgages have become more scarce and unaffordable and prices have risen out of the grasp of many families. Gatehouse already has a £1bn property portfolio across the UK and US.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/islamic-gatehouse-bank-to-aid-uk-housing-crisis-8971137.html

David Cameron to unveil plans for £200m Islamic bond

October 28, 2013

 

David Cameron will pledge to make London one of the world’s “great capitals of Islamic finance” when he unveils Treasury plans to create a £200m Islamic bond by early next year. The prime minister will also unveil plans by the London Stock Exchange to launch the first Islamic Market Index.

The government moved on Monday night to offer assurances that the Islamic bond, or Sukuk, and the Islamic index would not encourage investments that discriminate against Israel. Boris Johnson was forced to order Transport for London to rewrite the contract for the Emirates Thames cable car in the summer amid fears that Israeli companies could have been blocked from involvement in the project as the United Arab Emirates does not recognise the state of Israel.

A government spokesman said: “The government’s decision to issue a Sukuk compliant bond is about making sure Britain is open for business – we will not open one door at the expense of another. While the Treasury is still working on the practicalities, we can confirm that the government would never exclude a supplier on nationality grounds.”

The Sukuk bond will comply with Islamic law and investment principles that prohibit lenders from charging interest.

On the Islamic index he will say: “The growth of Islamic finance means that there is an increasing demand for new ways of identifying Islamic compliant business activities. Again the City of London is leading the way – this time not just in Europe, but right across the world.

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/oct/29/islamic-bond-david-cameron-treasury-plans

Move over organic – the new big business in food is halal

The Haloodies, a growing group of food lovers who are bored of curries, fed up with kebabs, and long for nothing more exotic than a shepherd’s pie. Their increasing spending power has sparked a race among retailers, wholesalers and canny restaurateurs to carve out a chunk of a market that is worth about £420bn globally.

 

This week an estimated 20,000 Haloodies will congregate in east London at the Halal Food Festival, the world’s first gastronomic celebration of halal produce. All of the UK’s major supermarket chains are sending scouts to help them find ways to exploit the trend. Attendees can browse food stalls offering anything from hot dogs and sushi to French and Moroccan dishes without worrying how the meat was killed or even transported.

 

Imran Kausar, a doctor by training, who masterminded the festival, said British Muslims were no longer “economic migrants trying to make do [but] affluent and aspirational members of the middle class [who wanted to] expand their culinary horizon.” He added: “While typical British dishes have got more exotic, Muslims want the reverse. We want regular stuff like shepherd’s pie, which we see everywhere but we can’t try.”

 

Contrary to stereotypes, not all those planning to go will be Muslim by faith: there is a small but expanding group of people who opt for halal much as they might choose free-range or organic meat. Around 4 per cent of the UK’s population is Muslim, yet halal produce comprises more than 15 per cent of all meat sold in the UK, according to Saqib Mohammed, the chief executive of the Halal Food Authority, one of the two main organisations that regulate Britain’s halal food industry. “Some is exported but the rest is being consumed by non-Muslims,” he said, adding: “Educated non-Muslims are convinced that halal meat is more hygienic.”

 

Restaurant chains are changing their menus to use only halal chicken. Although halal is most often used in connection with meat, the word simply means “lawful” and refers to any object, not just food, or action or behaviour that is deemed permissible under Islamic law. For meat to be considered halal the animal must be alive and healthy before it is killed, crucially with a single cut across the jugular. All the blood must be drained from the body and the slaughterer must recite a special Islamic prayer as the animal is killed.

 

The point that arouses controversy is whether the animal has been stunned first: stunning livestock is compulsory throughout the EU but most member states, including the UK, grant exemptions to Muslims and Jews. That said, Food Standards Agency data published last year shows that 84 per cent of all cattle and calves slaughtered by the halal method in the UK in 2011 were stunned first.

A better alternative to boycotting the White House Iftar

This is the story of two Washington Iftar dinners.
First, the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren invited Muslim leaders to a diplomatic Iftardinner last week and Imam Antepli of Duke University wondered aloud if the event was meaningful. And then the Obama administration invited Muslim leaders to the White House Iftar dinner and Omid Saifi, the Islamic studies professor from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, called to boycott it.

It’s obvious: We, the American Muslims are struggling to identify the right posture: Boycott, and you sever a diplomatic tie; attend, and you are seen as endorsing a policy.
While I empathize with the demands laid out by Professor Saifi -I believe the Obama administration should abandon overseas drone attacks, halt nationwide racial and religious profiling, and release select Guantanamo Bay prisoners – I knew the boycott will fail to achieve anything beyond creating a social media ripple.

Obama celebrates Islamic holy month at White House with Ramadan dinner
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama saluted Muslim Americans on Thursday for their contributions in helping build the nation as business entrepreneurs, technology innovators and pioneers in medicine.
Obama spoke at a White House dinner he hosted to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The meal, or iftar, breaks the day of fasting when Muslim families and communities eat together after sunset.
Obama said Ramadan is “a time of reflection, a chance to demonstrate ones devotion to God through prayer and through fasting, but it’s also a time for family and friends to come together.”
He said it is a White House tradition to celebrate sacred days of various faiths, adding that these occasions celebrate diversity that defines the country and reaffirms the freedom to worship.

Company Peddles Pork-Covered Bullets Designed To Kill ‘An Islamist In Jihad’

“Peace through pork” is their company’s slogan. Selling bullets coated with pig-derived paint, designed to keep Muslims out of heaven, is Jihawg Ammo’s business.

 

The Idaho-based company was the result of an “adult beverage” symposium on the construction of the Park51 Muslim community center in New York City — the location at the heart of the so-called Ground Zero mosque controversy. Meeting over a campfire, Jihawg’s creators set out to draw up “possible solutions to stop such a great insult.”

 

These intrepid inventors settled on “the truest form of defensive ammunition ever created in history:” ammunition coated in a “Porcine Coating (Pattern [sic] Pending)” designed to “strike fear into the hearts of those bent upon hate.” Jihawg Ammo’s theory is that because the consumption of pork products is forbidden (haraam) in Islamic law, then any Muslim hit by a pork bullet would be unable to enter heaven. “Jihawg Ammo is a natural deterrent to radical and suicidal acts of violence,” Jihawg claims.

 

Arrest made in soldier attack

Liberation
29.05.2013
A 22 year old white French convert to Islam was arrested for the recent attack against a French soldier at La Defense. Alexander D. Is suspected of having sliced the throat of a 25-year-old French soldier on parole in the suburban Parisian business district of La Défense. The soldier survived the attack and is still being treated in hospital. Surveillance footage shows the suspect making an Islamic prayer eight minutes before he attacked the soldier from behind. The state attorney of Paris, Francois Molins, considers the attacker from the city of Trappes to have been directed by religious ideology.
Alexander D. has previously been known to the police for minor delinquencies. He converted to Islam four years ago and joined the Tabligh movement, which is known to be less violent and political than other Salafi groups. Ever since his conversion he has changed his name from Alexander to Abdeillah. The case has brought the question of Islamic radicalism and ‘home-grown terrorism’ back to the forefront of French political debates.

What would you do if one of the richest men in the world dumped you? Muslim ‘divorcee’ Nivin El-Gamal explains all

This piece is an interview with Nivin El-Gamal who had years of court appearances against Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, 54, the son of the former ruler of Dubai and a man reportedly worth £19bn with regards to whether they were married and the consequences for their child. The London-based Muslim tells Louisa Peacock how she is finally escaping from the Sheikh’s shadow and putting two fingers up to her traditional upbringing, to forge her and her son a new life. The interview covers a variety of topics such as how El-Gamal, who comes from a rich family and who has led no ordinary life, might not find it hard to find the money to launch her new charity. However as someone with a solid business background; having founded an interior design business called Galaxy Stars, which counts pop stars, VIPs, foreign dignitaries and high-end London projects among its clients. She recalls how her father and grandfather disapproved of her business in the early days because she would come into “regular contact with men”. She says she was expected by her father to “marry someone from his society, rich like you, just be a mum, and if you are studying interior design, you’ll design your own house, that’s it”. Living in a world heavily steeped in tradition, where women are expected to behave and act in a certain way, it was unusual and brave for a 20-something girl like El-Gamal to break the mould and start her own firm – especially coming from a rich family where she did not need to make more money. The interview covers her early life in Egypt long before the current political situation and how the interviewee felt about life under Mubarak. Stating that life under Mubarak was much better and more liberal than life under the Muslim Brotherhood. Having said that, El-Gamal still holds views comparable with the Muslim brotherhood when it comes to the notion of family, she believes that people were put on earth only to reproduce and it follows that she disagrees with abortion; disapproves of contraception and sneers at same-sex marriage.

NY Times Book Review: The Messenger and the Message

‘The First Muslim,’ by Lesley Hazleton

 

FirstMuslim-CoverIn today’s febrile cultural and religious climate, what project could be more fraught than writing a biography of Muhammad? The worldwide protests at “The Innocence of Muslims,” 14 minutes of trashy provocation posted on YouTube, are a terrible reminder to the would-be biographer that the life story of the prophet of Islam is not material about which one is free to have a “take.” Lesley Hazleton’s “First Muslim” is a book written by a white woman of dual American and British citizenship, published in America more than a decade after the 9/11 attacks. For many believers it is already — even before it is read, if it is read at all — an object of suspicion, something to be defended against, in case it should turn out to be yet another insult, another cruel parody of a story such an author has no business telling.

 

“The First Muslim” tells this story with a sort of jaunty immediacy. Bardic competitions are “the sixth-century equivalent of poetry slams.” The section of the Koran known as the Sura of the Morning has “an almost environmentalist approach to the natural world.” Theological ideas and literary tropes are “memes” that can go “viral.” Readers irritated by such straining for a contemporary tone will find it offset by much useful and fascinating context on everything from the economics of the Meccan caravan trade to the pre-Islamic lineage of prophets called hanifs, who promoted monotheism and rejected idolatry.

 

In the terms it sets itself, “The First Muslim” succeeds. It makes its subject vivid and immediate. It deserves to find readers. However, its terms are those of the popular biography, and this creates a tension the book never quite resolves. Though based on scholarship, it is not a scholarly work. Factual material from eighth- and ninth-century histories is freely mixed with speculation about Muhammad’s motives and emotions intended to allow the reader, in the quasi-therapeutic vocabulary that is the default register of so much mainstream contemporary writing, to “empathize” or better still, “identify with” him.

Canadian Convert Opens Hijab Fashion Business

OnIslam: December 1, 2012

 

Finding Islam three years ago, Amanda Redmond, a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, has launched a new business for hijab fashion to help her fellow Muslim women find appropriate clothes according to her faith.

 

Aspiring to offer her fellow Muslim women a modest fashion, Redmond started her small business on a Facebook profile. Titled Al-Qamar, or The Moon, her new business was named after the 54th sura of the Qur’an. Last September, she launched its official online store and has now garnered more than 1,200 Facebook fans and a growing reputation as a go-to shop for Muslim women. The shop offers an assortment of contemporary clothing and accessories for veiled Muslim women.