Seattle Interfaith Leaders to Seek Probe of Imam’s Forced Removal from Delta Flight

March 31, 2014

 

On Tuesday, April 1, the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA), along with a group of pastors, rabbis, imams, and labor leaders, will hold a news conference to ask Delta Air Lines and the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate the apparently bias-motivated removal earlier this month of a Seattle-area imam (Muslim religious leader) from a flight by Delta employees.

The imam, who is a Delta Platinum Elite member, was forced to disembark his flight and take another flight. He was reportedly informed by the Delta employee who escorted him off the plane that this was being done because a crew member judged “the way you used the restroom” to be “doubtful.”

“The Department of Transportation must investigate this shocking incident to hold Delta Air Lines accountable for discriminating against a respected religious leader,” said CAIR-WA Executive Director Arsalan Bukhari. “Not all passengers who go to the bathroom get kicked off their flight, so Delta’s discriminatory act was due solely to the imam’s perceived racial, ethnic and religious affiliation.”

Bukhari noted that there have been a number of similar incidents nationwide in which Muslim leaders and community members have been forcibly removed from airplanes after boarding due to their language, religious attire or appearance.

Cair.com: http://cair.com/press-center/press-releases/12431-seattle-interfaith-leaders-to-seek-probe-of-imams-forced-removal-from-delta-flight.html

New imam promises improved links with community

March 13, 2014

 

Nine months after two men tried to set fire to a mosque in Gloucester, a new imam has promised to improve links with the local community. Imam Hassan is among a growing number who were born in Britain, and teach Islam in the English language.

 

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-26557453

One mosque, many faiths

November 19, 2013

 

We all sat in a circle, surrounded by the tranquility of a richly decorated mosque in Washington, D.C. We were for once away from all schisms- of religion, faith and nations. Ten American students, a Pakistani professor and an Indian journalist- we all sat in a circle to explore the space where divides end, and our unity begins.

For these students at American University, the experience was a novel one–for most of them, it was their first ever visit to a mosque. Our group was a concoction of identities – Native Americans, Roman Catholics, Moroccan Jews, and me, a Sikh from the Indian side of Kashmir.

The visit was scheduled to give students an experience of a mosque and to clear misperceptions about clashes of faiths. We chose to visit the Islamic Center in D.C., a mosque designed by an Italian architect and constructed in the 50′s. The imam at the center led us through the prayers and explained the three categories in Islam- aMuslim, who may or may not be truly spiritual; a Momim, a believer who practices his belief faithfully; and the highest category of a Muhsin, who is benevolent, charitable and a humanitarian to all mankind. For him, spreading education or ilm met with the highest category- a reason why he often addressed Professor Akbar Ahmed as Muhsin. Imam Abdullah M Khouj, who is from Mecca, became a Hafiz, or someone who memorizes the entire Koran, at the age of 11. He clearly held high reverence for scholarship and service, perhaps even greater than just practicing beliefs.

In the mosque, under the magnificent bronze Egyptian chandelier, we sat together in a circle as teachers and learners. We discussed why women pray in separate spaces, why religions have sectarian divides. We explored how humility and submission are at the core of spirituality, how various faiths were connected with a common thread.

When we were about to leave, I turned to Imam Khouj and told him that the holy text of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, repeats the name Allah 46 times. Our professor reiterated that the fifth Sikh Guru asked a Muslim Sufi saint, Mian Mir, to lay the foundation stone of the Holiest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Here we were, a Pakistani professor, an Indian journalist and 10 American students, attempting to find bridges between faiths. My mind raced back to the raging battles between nations, to the gunfire on the borders, to attacks on places of worship, to condemnation in the name of faith. Far away from these clashes, here we were as a small group, dissolving divides that we had known, finding common spaces.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/wp/2013/11/19/one-mosque-many-faiths/

Imam Tareq Oubrou: “The Hijab has become an obsession”

October 25, 2013

The imam and theologian Tareq Oubrou is interviewed by the magazine Zaman about the hijab. Known for his theological work on the jurisprudence of minorities (in the 1990s), he is now engaged in a theology of acculturation. He is discussing the status of the hijab seen by a lot of Muslims as an obligation and explores ways to change this perception.

Zaman: http://www.zamanfrance.fr/article/tareq-oubrou-personne-frustree-ne-peut-penser-religion-5752.html

Islam: Tomorrow a New Mosque Opens in Siena

October 24, 2013

 

A new mosque will open in the province of Siena. Tomorrow, Friday October 25 at 11 am, the new headquarters of the Islamic cultural center of Colle di Val d’ Elsa will open its doors to all. The opening will be welcomed by the President of the Community of Muslims and the province of Siena, Feras Jebareen, Imam of the Islamic community of Florence and the President of Ucoii (Union of Islamic community of Italy), Izzeddin Elzir and the mayor of Colle di Val d’Elsa, Paul Brogden. Civil and religious authorities at the local, provincial and regional levels were invited to the opening day of the new headquarters.

The official opening of the new headquarters of the Islamic cultural center – the construction of which has sparked debates over the past ten years and in particular since its construction in 2006 – will also be the occasion to present the eight members of the Scientific Committee, appointed by the community and comprised of an equal number of Muslims and the local authority members.

The Committee will be tasked to propose, manage and coordinate the various initiatives housed within the center with a focus on inter-culturalism and reciprocal knowledge, in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding signed in December 2004 between the Association of Muslim community, Siena and its province and the town of Colle di Val d’ Elsa.

 

Libero Quotidiano.it: http://www.liberoquotidiano.it/news/1337844/Islam-domani-apre-nuova-moschea-in-provincia-di-Siena.html

AGI.it:  http://www.agi.it/firenze/notizie/201310251219-cro-rt10100-islam_inaugurati_nel_senese_moschea_e_centro_culturale

Immigrants: Imam Catania Makes Plea for Cemetery in Catania

(Adnkronos) – “We are still sad, our hearts cry for the innocent victims of Lampedusa, we pray for their souls so that these people can rest in peace. For many years we ask the cemetery for us Muslims. We are in trouble, and I know that in Catania, for example, the city administration is working very hard to make it happen. Right now in the south of Italy there is just a cemetery for Muslims in Reggio Calabria.” Said the Imam of Catania, Mufid Abu Touq , emphasizing the difficulties of sending bodies back to their country of origin. “Normally for our dead we ship them to their country of origin. But this costs around 3-4 thousand euro, and not everyone can deal with this expense and so some are buried in local Christian cemeteries, although this, to tell the truth” he concludes “is against the rules of Islam.”

Francis calls for mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims in letter to Al-Azhar

September 18, 2013

The Nuncio to Cairo, Mgr. Gobel, has delivered a letter to the Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University calling for a steady return to dialogue

The Al-Azhar University in Cairo – considered one of the most important centres of Sunni Islamic learning  – has announced that Pope Francis has sent a personal message to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al Tayyeb. The most important Catholic website in Arabic, www.abouna.org, published the communiqué issued by Al-Azhar, which mentions that a meeting took place yesterday between Al Tayyeb and the Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt, Mgr. Jean-Paul Gobel. During the face-to-face meeting the Nuncio delivered the message of wishes Pope Francis sent to the Muslim world for the end of the month of Ramadan, along with a personal message from to Pope to Al Tayyeb.

According to Al-Azhar, in his message the Pope stressed the Vatican’s respect for Islam and said he hoped every effort would be made towards achieving “mutual understanding between the world’s Christians and Muslims in order to build peace and justice.” Al Tayyeb apparently replied that the message Al-Azhar wished to get out is one of “respect for people of every religion and the safeguarding of human dignity and the highest values described in the Quran and the Sunnah.” He also said that Muslims are willing “to collaborate to help justice and progress grow among the people of the Earth.”

The communiqué issued by the University of Al-Azhar is important in light of the tensions between the Sunni centre of learning and the Vatican, which exploded in January 2011 after Benedict XVI’s strong condemnation of the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Alexandria. This led the university to announce it was suspending dialogue with the Holy See. Prior to this, a university delegation would hold meetings with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue every two years. Today’s communiqué alluded to this incident, saying that Al Tayyeb apparently told the Nuncio that casting Islam in a negative light is “a red line” that must not be crossed.

The communiqué does not make explicit reference to the resumption of dialogue. But it is important to bear in mind that in June Al-Azhar said it was waiting for a response to the message of congratulations which Al Tayyeb sent Pope Francis after his election. And it expressed the hope that there would be “a clear demonstration of respect for Islam and Muslims”. This was clearly demonstrated in today’s message. The President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran responded by saying that it was Al-Azhar that had interrupted dialogue with the Holy See. The Holy See had kept the door of dialogue open.

The facts seem to suggest that this rift is healing fast: Al Tayyeb and the University of Al-Azhar have proven to be an important reference point for Christians during the difficult past few months in Egypt. Even during Mohammed Morsi’s presidency the Great Imam had tried on more than one occasion to act as a mediator with Christians, attracting the wrath of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Then, after the 30 June demonstrations he openly supported the ousting of the Islamist president by the military. Importantly, when Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attacked him for this, the Secretary of the Council of Churches of Egypt, Fr. Bishoy Helmy came to his defence. The Apostolic Vicar of Alexandria, Mgr. Adel Zaki told Fides news agency that “a strong collaborative agreement between Al Azhar and the Council of Christian Churches is being registered.”

Islamic group urges sobriety – and invests in bar chain

An Islamic organisation that has argued sobriety is an “obligation on Muslims” and a “revolutionary duty” has invested in a bar chain offering £1 “shooters’” and £3 cocktails.

 

Accounts filed by the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s charitable trust in 2009 listed as an investment the Baa Bar Group, a Liverpool-based company with eight locations across the North of England, worth £38,250. Accounts for the year ending 30 June 2012 showed continued investment in the chain, which on its website encourages customers to “follow their own deepest of animal instincts”. The message couldn’t be more different from the IHRC’s own publications. Among these is Quest For Unity by Imam Achmad Cassiem. The report says: “The greatest underminer and saboteur of discipline and confidence is alcohol and so-called social drinking.” It goes on to claim that the “oppressor” is “making enormous profits from liquor” and urges Muslims to refrain from producing, distributing and consuming alcohol.

 

The IHRC did not respond to invitations for a response and The Baa Bar Group declined to comment. However Jacob Campbell, research director for Stand for Peace, an interfaith organisation that campaigns against extremism, is quoted as saying: “Although bizarre on the face of it, it actually isn’t all that surprising. Islamist groups tend to take the view that the ends invariably justify the means… Better by far to become morally bankrupt than financially so.”.

How Reliable is the information about the al Bustanji Controversy?

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.