The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is celebrating 15 years of defending the civil rights of Muslims in the United States. Since 9/11, the organization has been more involved with Congress and law enforcement to advocate Muslim issues and ensure policies and investigations target the right groups while protecting the rights of law abiding Muslims.
To commemorate its success, IslamOnline.net discusses CAIR and its effectiveness with Muslims from an array of backgrounds.
Spanish Muslims have launched an independent, self-regulatory body to train imams in the southern European country, IslamOnline.net reports. The Islamic Union of Imams and Preachers in Spain will be entrusted with training imams and preachers across the country.
Chairman Sheikh Alaa Said explains that “the growing Muslim community in Spain required the launch of an official Islamic body to unify efforts of imams and preachers nationwide”. He admitted that many mosque imams are not well-prepared to do their job: “We have nearly 700 mosques in Spain, most of which are supervised by volunteered imams who have not studied religious sciences or been trained perfectly to do the job.” The new umbrella organization, with specialized committees on fatwa, research, and training, seeks to rectify this lack of training and unify the country’s imams.
In a recent article in Libération, IslamOnline.net received kudos for its development of online fatwa as well as for information about Islam and Muslim news. IslamOnline.net draws three million visitors a month, with many visitors searching for online fatwa. The English side of the bilingual website has nearly 4000 fatwa covering a multitude of topics. Other French media have touted the site, including l´Express and the weekly Courrier International. IslamOnline.net was first launched in October 1999.
IslamOnline.net has posted a feature piece noting the significance of youth and young people in the changing face of US Muslims in their local Islamic centers and communities. “Islamic centers must include youth on their boards and in their decision-making process,” imam Mahdi Bray, executive director of MAS Freedom.
New generations of Muslims top a long list of tough challenges faced by mosques and Islamic centers across the country, citing a relevance for their perspective and inclusion in decision making processes. Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan Chapter, says reaching out to youths should be in both classical Islamic knowledge and its practical application in America. “In this endeavor, Islamic centers need to develop young leaders and encourage them to study Islam academically,” he believes.
Le Bourget, organized by the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF), is considered the largest Muslim convention in Europe. The conference, which takes place every year in the northeastern Paris suburb of Le Bourget, has long been the best destination to raise funds to build mosques. Some 200,000 people, from France and other European countries, are expected to participate in the activities of the four-day gathering.
These two articles from IslamOnline.net examine the variety of services available at the Muslim Convention, from listening to scholars, to buying Islamic literature or clothes, to looking for a spouse. “Tens of young men and women come to Le Bourget to find a future husband or wife,” Maryam La’khdar, who has a special booth to facilitate relations between Muslim couples. Another group is selling t-shirts inscribed with 1330, the approximate number of Palestinians killed in the recent Israeli war on Gaza, to raise awareness and send supportive funds.
IslamOnline.net follows the changing face and of European Muslim converts, and the development of new organizations and meetings where new EU Muslims can share and discuss their experiences and faith.
NEMA, the Native European Muslim Assembly, recently launched its second annual meeting for EU Muslim converts at the beginning of April. The meeting lasted for three days, and was aimed at reinforcing a European-scale network for new Muslims. “NEMA has already held two important meetings; the first took place in Brussels which aimed at getting accurate view of new Muslims, determining the main challenges, and setting an action plan for NEMA’s task while the second one was in Birmingham, UK, where the reverts’ monitors had a series of training sessions,” said Dr. Hany El-Deeb, NEMA’s president.
Members and conference attendants came form a variety of countries – though Greek Muslim participants represent the majority. Lectures during the meeting range from discussing isolation felt by converts, issues of integration, living a balanced Islam, and how to deal with controversial questions about Islam.
Every time the adhan, or Muslim call to prayer is raised in Molenbeek, the call echoes another twenty times. This is because the district is home to 21 mosques, earning the district the reputation of being the Islamic center of Brussels.
In the heart of Molenbeek is the Al-Khalil mosque, which is the largest in mosque in Belgium, and accommodates about one thousand worshippers every Friday for prayers, and also serves as a cultural and social center for the local Muslim community. The number and diversity of the mosques in Molenbeek points to the greater diversity and tolerance in Belgian society, says Abdel-Karim Al-Kebdani, the director of the Al-Khalil mosque.
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The Al-Sahaba mosque in the northern Belgian city of Verviers has granted female Muslim professor Hawaria Fattah to fulfill the position of imam at the mosque. The move is the first of its kind both in Belgium, and in greater Europe. Fattah, along with two male imams, will supervise the preaching activities for women at the mosque. However, she will not deliver the sermon of Friday prayers or lead prayers, stressed Abdel Jalel Al-Hajaji curator at the mosque. The Belgian Justice Ministry has approved of Fattah’s selection. She was born to an Algerian father and a Belgian mother, is 35 years old, and a professor of social and Islamic studies.
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A Taliban spokesperson contacting IslamOnline.net by satellite phone claimed that the Taliban will attack in Afghanistan to impede the planned visit by French First Lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. The spokesman said, “In Afghan society, an attack on a woman is considered a cowardly act. Therefore, we will not hurt her but we may carry out suicide attacks on French troops“. Mrs. Sarkozy had planned to join French artists in a concert to be held at a NATO airbase near Kandahar. It is unclear whether Sarkozy will change her travel plans.
GOTEBORG, Sweden – After years of praying in halls and basements, Muslims in the Swedish city of Goteborg are rejoicing as this year’s Ramadan bings them closer to their distant dream of a stately mosque with a dome and minarat. “This year’s holy month of Ramadan brought good news for us in Goteborg,” Abdulghani Hakki, president of the Muslim Association in the city, told IslamOnline.net. “The construction of the stately mosque Muslims have long dreamed of will begin in the next few weeks,” he added. After two years of planning, the mosque construction will start thanks to Saudi funding. “The construction licence was initially granted in 1996,” recalled Hakki, also a member of the Islamic Awqaf in Sweden which will supervise the building.