Thursday, April 19, 2007

What does a nonMuslim make of 3 million people gathered for three days of prayers, lectures, and ruminations on how to be a good—and peaceful—Muslim?

A journalist from 'Slate' attends the bishwa ijtema in Bangladesh and files in a report on "a gathering, hosted by Tablighi Jamaat, a massive organization of Muslim missionaries that espouses a strict, yet nonpolitical, interpretation of Islam."
Interesting, if irreverent (so what else is new?), grassroots reporting on the Muslim-majority country of roughly 145 million people.
A sample:
"Tablighis, as the group's followers are known, shun bristle toothbrushes in order to clean their teeth with miswak, an aromatic stick used by the Prophet Mohammed. They also drink every glass of water in three sips, the same way the prophet did. They are fundamentalists in every sense of the word. But they are mostly harmless."
link courtesy: SunniSister

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Guess who've been called "model citizens" in Britain in the latest Gallup poll?

Poll reveals Muslims as model citizens
The Times
Contrary to popular stereotypes, Muslims in London have almost twice as much confidence in the Government as the general public and are noticeably more trusting of the judicial system, elections and the police.
More than half identify very strongly with Britain, and about four in every five believe that it is important for integration to master the English language, get a better education and find a job.
The findings, to be revealed tomorrow, are the result of an independent survey of Muslim attitudes by the Gallup Organisation, and point to a much more hopeful outlook for integration than recent reports of extremism, alienation and a ghetto mentality have suggested.
The poll also finds that almost nine out of ten Muslims in London believe attacks that target civilians are unjustified and morally wrong — only 4 per cent fewer than the view of nonMuslims. Some 81 per cent also condemn violence even if used in a noble cause — a figure that is 9 per cent higher than the general public’s view.
But Muslims are overwhelmingly more likely to identify very or extremely strongly with their religion than nonMuslims — 69 per cent compared with 30 per cent.
Only 13 per cent of Muslims say it is necessary to remove the face veil (niqab ) for integration in British society, compared with 55 per cent of nonMuslims who see this as essential. Even fewer, 6 per cent, believe it necessary to remove the headscarf (hijab) compared with 21 per cent of nonMuslims who do think so.
The findings are part of a global survey of Muslim attitudes carried out by Gallup, which conducted face-to-face interviews with individuals aged 15 or older in 40 Muslim countries. As part of this survey, Gallup looked last year at how integrated Muslims were in three European countries — Britain, France and Germany — and how much they identified with their nations, their faith and their ethnicity.
Loyalty to Britain was high: 74 per cent (compared with 45 per cent of nonMuslims). So too was respect for other religions: 82 per cent, compared with 54 per cent. Nevertheless, Muslims were twice as likely to say that they had experienced racial or religious discrimination in the past year, with 28 per cent reporting this. The 14 per cent of nonMuslims who suffered discrimination includes a cross-section of all London’s other ethnic and religious minorities.
Gallup found that there were still striking differences between London’s Muslims and nonMuslims on moral issues. Only about 10 per cent believed that sex outside marriage was acceptable, compared with more than 80 per cent of the general public. Even fewer — less than 5 per cent — found homosexual acts acceptable, compared with 65 per cent generally. Slightly more Muslims than nonMuslims accepted “honour killing” and crimes of passion, but the numbers in each case were tiny, at about 2 per cent. Abortion was acceptable to more than three times as many nonMuslims as Muslims, and there were similar big discrepancies on suicide and viewing pornography. Only on the death penalty were the figures fairly close, with about 36 per cent approval by Muslims and 43 per cent by nonMuslims.
The Gallup poll echoed similar polls which have shown that British foreign policy plays a large role in Muslim attitudes.
Gallup found that 59 per cent thought the ousting of Saddam Hussein’s Government by US and British forces was not justified, compared with 40 per cent of the general public. By contrast, only 14 per cent of Muslims thought that the invasion of Iraq was justified, compared with 23 per cent of the public.
The poll is financed by the Gallup Organisation, and so claims that it has no partisan interest in any of the findings. It will be welcome news to many British Muslims, who complain that they are misrepresented as insular, extremist, mistrustful of the police and unwilling to integrate into British society.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What do Muslims think about dogs?

Muslims-R-Us has a site-meter that allows administrators to see the referral link that a visitor has followed to visit the site. Funnily enough, the maximum number of hits we get are for "Muslim dating" , following, I presume, an article from the New York Times that we linked to, that talked about pre-arranged marriages and likened them to blind dates.
Recently, I discovered that a visitor came to this site looking for an answer to "Why do Muslims dislike dogs?" A Google-search reveals all kinds of misinformation on the position of Muslims regarding dogs -- ranging from the outright malicious to the hilariously off key.
So, I thought it would be worthwhile compiling a coherent answer form various sources on what Muslims really think about dogs:
Fatwa (religious ruling)from Sh. Ahmad Kutty from, on owning dogs
“A dog can be owned for purposes such as the following:
1. A trained dog for hunting. Remember in Islam we are only allowed to hunt for food; there is no such thing as hunting for fun, for we are not allowed to kill or torture animals or drive them out of their habitats for the fun of it.
2. A trained dog as a guide. This would be the case if a person is blind and he/she has no choice but to keep a dog for essential services. In this case, it is permissible for him/her to keep a dog inside the house once it has been trained for service, but it is still recommended that the dog have its own sleeping arrangement. 3. A dog trained for police duties.
4. A guard dog to guard houses or property.
5. A dog used by farmers to shepherd cattle and sheep.
Do Muslims think dogs are dirty?
There's actually a difference of opinion among scholars on that, with some ruling that only the *saliva* of a dog is considered dirty, while the dry fur is not. God knows best.
Are dogs dirty by normal (meaning non-religious) criteria:
This is an enlightening article on zoonotic diseases -- diseases carried and transmitted by household pets, I'm quoting the part about dogs:
"Rabies is the disease most commonly transmitted from cats and dogs to humans. Saleh noted that pets should be vaccinated annually against the disease from the age of four years. Animals that are kept at home are safe from the disease. However, the problem can arise when they are taken outside, like when you take your dog out for a walk. "If the animal is bitten by another infected animal it can contract the disease," he explained.
When dealing with rabies, it is important to note two things, Saleh said. The first is that the disease is only transferable through biting. The second is that a quick response is vital should this occur.
"If you have a dog and notice any kind of behavioral changes such as mad behavior or lack of recognition of the owner, you need to immediately send the dog to a veterinarian hospital. If for any reason medical attention for the animal can't be sought, then it must be put to sleep immediately or it becomes a health hazard," he said.
Saleh explained that there are two kinds of rabies; furious and dumb. In furious rabies, the symptoms are evident. Dumb rabies is more dangerous because the infected animal does not show any symptoms but still carries the disease. "In both cases there needs to be a history of being bitten by another animal," he said.
So what should one do when bitten by an animal? This depends on the degree of laceration (tear) in the bite as well as its location. The disease enters through the nerve fibers that feed the area of the wound. Hence, the closer the bite is to the brain, the more dangerous.
As soon as the bite occurs, the wound needs to be flushed out with water. "When doing that, the patient is in fact doing two things: mechanically removing the virus or diluting it. Also, the wound should not be covered or stitched because the virus is more potent when isolated from air," explained Saleh.
The second step to take after being bitten is to receive rabies shots. The first shot against rabies should be taken immediately on the same day of the bite. The following shots are taken three days later, then after one and two weeks. The final shot is taken 28 days after the bite. The animal that bit the person should be located and placed under observation. If the animal is rabid then it will die within two weeks. At this point the person must take all five shots. If the animal lives, then the two remaining shots are not necessary.
Dogs can transfer roundworms to their owners. In some extreme cases these worms can cause damage to the liver, eyes or brain. Dogs need to be taken on a regular annual visit to their doctors for de-worming and their stool should be checked every six months, said Saleh.
A parasitic dermatological disease that could be passed on to humans from their dogs is
mange (or scabies in humans). The parasites make tunnels under the skin. "Symptoms for dogs include itching, hair loss, wrinkling skin and a terrible smell. As soon as a dog contracts the disease, it needs to be treated in a pet hospital and to be isolated from people. If the disease becomes difficult to treat, the vet may need to put the dog to sleep in order to avoid contaminating humans and other dogs," he said.
If the dog or the owner show symptoms of itching, medical attention needs to be sought immediately. An important note, Saleh said, is that dogs normally shed hair twice a year and this should not be confused with mange. However, if circular or irregular patches of hair loss are discovered, a visit to the vet is a must."
I'm thinking of the distressing news that surface regularly about *pet* dogs viciously attacking their masters, members of the family...or even killing little children, as one more reason why it makes sense to keep a physical distance from dogs.
Interestingly, many *non-believers* consider dogs dirty because of their "disgusting" eating the comments on this's not only a Muslim thing!
The bottomline: there are numerous Prophetic narrations that exhort Muslims to treat animals with kindness...keeping one's physical distance does not equate cruelty.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

What's the latest news on the Aishah Azmi case?

THE Muslim teaching assistant who sparked a nationwide debate by wearing a veil in class yesterday lost her discrimination case appeal.
Aishah Azmi, 24, was suspended last year after refusing to remove the veil despite pupils finding it hard to understand her.
She was later sacked when an employment tribunal rejected claims of discrimination and harassment. Yesterday her appeal against the tribunal decision - which ruled asking to remove her veil in class was not discrimination - was dismissed.
Kirklees Council said: "We were disappointed Mrs Azmi decided to pursue an appeal but satisfied the original ruling was supported."
Mrs Azmi, of Dewsbury, West Yorks, was originally awarded £1,000 for "injury to feelings" after the row at Headfield CofE junior school.
Local MP Shahid Malik said: "I was confident the school was right. I hope she leaves this alone now."
Ed: I'm wondering why do Muslim MPs and other Muslim 'spokespeople' come across as so patently unsympathetic to Muslim women's causes in the UK (read the local MP's statement above)?
Similar statements were issued in the Shabina Begum case, and in the sauna incident (below) that indicated discomfiture/embarrassment at Muslim women's insistence on dressing up in Islamically appropriate attire...what's up with that?

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Is Canada's Passenger Protect Program nothing less than a “No-Fly” List?

By Faisal Kutty

As the Canadian government forges ahead with its cleverly named Passenger Protect Program, the timing could not be better to seriously reconsider what is for all intents and purposes a no-fly list.
...hasty and ill considered national security initiatives which are essentially aimed at managing perceptions more than they are in really addressing legitimate and manageable security concerns are not harmless.
In fact, they cause disproportionate harm in return for very minor gains in terms of intelligence and law enforcement. The innocent and unintended victims of such initiatives are real human beings with lives, rights and dignity. When not properly designed to address the negative impacts such initiatives can significantly disrupt and even destroy lives.
...religious and racial profiling, no matter how vigorously it is denied, is too often the reality for a growing number in Canada’s Muslim and Arab communities at least in the national security context. In fact, this was confirmed by none other than the Department of Justice in a report leaked a couple of years ago.
The proliferation of government watch lists is a troubling development in the “war on terrorism.” The challenges of such lists include differences of opinion on who’s actually a security threat, consolidating information across agencies by making the computer systems communicate the with one another. In fact, Canada’s Auditor General Sheila Fraser found in 2004 that watch-lists used to screen visa applicants, refugee claimants and travelers seeking to enter Canada were in disarray because of inaccuracies and shoddy updating.
And now we have another list to worry about.
(read the complete article here


Does good news about Muslims often get buried under a barrage of bad news?

Muslim cab drivers offer free rides to the blind accompanied by dogs as goodwill gesture

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, with hundreds of waiting taxi drivers behind a nearby SuperAmerica station, has become a focal point of the angst. Nearly 75 percent of the 900 licensed cabbies are Muslim, mostly Somali. And six prayer-leading imams are suing airport management after being pulled from a plane in November.
Airport commissioners have expressed concern about cabbies refusing to pick up fares because of Islamic prohibitions against carrying alcohol. They also worry that Islamic rules about dogs might prompt drivers to decline rides when 300 visitors with guide dogs attend the American Council of the Blind convention in Minneapolis this summer.
Abdinoor Ahmed Dolal, a Muslim cab driver from Kenya, was stunned by the commissioners' concerns. The Qur'an places high value on assisting the disabled, he said. So Dolal says Muslim cabbies have offered to give blind conventioneers free rides to Minneapolis, forgoing the $30 fares as a sign of good will.
"The issues we have are so simple and have nothing to do with extremism or fanaticism," Dolal said. "We are Muslims and we are Minnesotans and if we sit down and listen to each other, we can work things out."

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