Saturday, 29 June 2013

Islamic Education in the Western Context-Challenges & Opportunities

Islamic Education in the Western Context:
Challenges & Opportunities

Dr. Mozammel Haque
 One-day Conference on Islamic Education in the Western Context: Challenges & Opportunities was held by the NIDA TRUST in partnership with the Institute of Education, University of London at the Institute of Education, London, on Saturday, the 25th of May, 2013.

Keynote speech
Dr. Abdullah Sahin
In the morning session, three keynote speeches were delivered. Dr. Abdullah Sahin of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, University of Gloucestershire spoke about what is Islamic Education?: Rethinking Islamic Education within the secular context of Western Europe? His paper explored the impact of Islamic education on the identities and faith development of the learners and also focuses on the specific issues and challenges related to the organisation and delivery of Islamic education within the European Muslim diaspora. His paper argued the need to invest in the development of a much needed professional approach to Islamic educational practice and emphasized its significant role in helping diverse Muslim communities in the West to build educational/civic competence in order to engage meaningfully with the wider society.

Akram Khan Cheema
Second keynote speech was delivered by Akram Khan Cheema who spoke about How Islamic Education developed in the West, particularly in the UK. Akram Khan Cheema was very optimistic about the future of Islamic education in Britain and Europe. He said, the future of Islamic education in the UK and wider Europe looks very bright and positive from my experience, even though the irritation of the unreasonable ‘Islamophobia’ is frustrating. He also said that there is much to celebrate about the presence of ‘Islamic education’ in Britain and in Europe. Practical issues related to the organisation (getting better and better with time and effort) and delivery of Islamic education in formal and informal modes, i.e. delivery of Islamic education in part time Madrasah –attached to mosques and in homes, Islamic schools (state sector and community initiated), Muslim teacher training (AMSSCITT), the role of parents in Islamic education (Governors, PTAs, NGOs and Islamic Community and welfare agencies and charitable organisation) curriculum development (NC and RE, daily mainly and broadly Christian religious Assemblies, Citizenship etc), leadership in Islamic education sector as a whole and the role of Islamic education within state schools.

Professor Mark Halstead
The third keynote speech was delivered as a respondent by Professor Mark Halstead of the Huddersfield University. He defined Islamic Education as education that is (a) provided by Muslims; (b) provided for Muslims (c) based on Islamic principles

After defining Islamic Education, Professor Halstead explained what do Muslim parents want? *HIGH ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT: good exam results, preparation for a successful career and for full British citizenship. *CLEAR MORAL VALUES: a disciplined and caring environment where students develop high moral standards as a result of the example set by teachers and the values taught in the school. *A DEEP UNDERSTANDING OF THE FAITH: a school where faith is taken seriously and children can come to understand fully what it is to be a Muslim.

Then, Professor Halstead explained what Muslim schools can provide? *They remove barriers to Islamic religious observance. *They provide a spiritual and moral environment where children can learn sound values. *They enrich children’s understanding of and commitment to the faith. *They present religion as a normal way of life. *They counter the danger of cultural absorption by the dominant culture. *They provide an environment secure from Islamophobic bullying where children can fulfil their academic potential. *They respect children’s Muslim identity and develop their self-esteem. *They increase parental choice. *They demonstrate equity for Muslims in relation to other faith groups. *They symbolise equality of respect and recognition for Islam in the UK

Then Professor Halstead mentioned about the four challenges: number one challenge: overcoming prejudice against Islamic education: The MYTH; the challenge two: Developing a philosophy of Islamic education; the challenge three : providing effective values education for Muslim children and the challenge four is clarifying attitudes to Western values and Western education.

Professor Halstead raised some of the key questions for Islamic education, such as *1. What is the purpose of education in Islam? 2. What different types of education are there in Islam? 3. What is the relation between religious and secular knowledge? 4. Is education about the transmission of knowledge and beliefs, or about the capacity to think critically? 5. Should education permit the questioning of fundamental beliefs? 6. Is it the role of the student to listen, learn and repeat, or to become an autonomous individual? 7. How (or how far, or how well) does Islamic education prepare students for life in the modern world? 8. Should Islamic education exclude any subjects (or parts of subjects) from the curriculum?

Professor Halstead mentioned about the resources for exploring the principles of Islamic education which are as follows:
      1. The Qur’an
2. The traditions of the Prophet
3. Classical Islamic writing on education
4. Contemporary writing on Islamic education
5. The Islamization of knowledge
6. Dialogue with other philosophies of education
7. The development of rational understanding and the process of conceptual clarification

Challenges developing Muslim Teacher
Training Programmes in Europe
In the second session on the Models of Islamic Education in Europe and Sharing Good Practice after the lunch, challenges facing Islamic education in Europe and the way forward, Amina Shaker, Director IRPA, Vienna, Austria discussed the situation of Islamic education in Austria. She said Muslims in Europe are on the way to establishing a new Islamic and pedagogical concept, which enables Islamic educational workers to share modern and context-sensitive Islamic principles and values with modern and contemporary pedagogic understanding, in a non-Islamic environment, with future generations.

Amina Shaker wrote a book entitled Austria-Islam: Fragments of 800 years of common history, published by New Academic Press, Vienna 2013. In this book, Amina Shaker dealt with Muslim Teachers Training College in Austria. She mentioned, “In 1998, the establishment of the IRPA (Muslim Teachers Training College) for the unique education of future religious education teachers. In this year, she mentioned, “The teaching of Islamic theological and pedagogical courses in cooperation with the Azhar University and the Vienna Pedagogic College began. Students had to manage both German and Arabic language.”

Amina Shaker said, “The Muslim Teachers Training  had been improved over time as well as the whole education of Muslims in Austria. Students completed their study with an officially recognized Diploma Degree and were allowed to keep the title  “Diplom-Pädagoge”. They can start with Master Studies afterward.”

This was the situation in 1998 but by 2007, the situation changed. Ms. Shaker said, “IRPA, now independently, offers all courses (Islamic Theology and Human Sciences) with it’s own staff. The cooperation with the Azhar University and the Vienna Pedagogic College was finished, because all courses now have to be in German language (according to ministerial directions) and the Professors for human sciences came to the IRPA to train the teacher there.”

Ms. Shaker gave a picture of the latest situation. She wrote in her book Austria-Islam: Fragments of 800 years of common history, “By 2013, IRPA has 300 students and 40 lecturers; New amendments of the Academy-Law are a challenge; enhances pedagogic academies and therefore allows for a Masters Degree to be offered. Exchange with Catholic Teachers Training College has been increased, as well as with Islamic Universities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Bosnia, Turkey and inshaAllah with MIHE (Leicester). A Common study course is in future plans, which aims to combine religious education with subjects such as Mathematics, German, PE etc.”

As a result of the improvements of European Muslims in the field of scientific and Islamic education, there can be a model perceived off establishing a European-Islamic identity, which takes into consideration that, on the one hand, Muslims are at home in Europe and therefore have the right and are even required to find their own solutions to questions regarding to their context and their life. She said Muslims in Europe are on the way to establishing a new Islamic and pedagogical concept, which enables Islamic educational workers to share modern and context-sensitive Islamic principles and values with modern and contemporary pedagogic understanding, in a non-Islamic environment, with future generation.

Madrasah of the Khoja Shia-Asheri community
Naushad Mehrall, Head of the Madrasah centre of Excellence UK (Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Community) spoke about the challenges faced by the Madrasah were highlighted and possible solutions were debated. He mentioned the history of Madrasah for children in the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri community which has its roots in Gujerat, India and goes back about 150 years. As the community has spread out to East Africa, Europe and North America, the madrasah has always been an integral part of it. In February 2011, the parent body of the community held a 3-day retreat in which madaris from different parts of the world were represented. The theme was “Shaping the Institution of Madrasah to deliver knowledge, spirituality and morality to our future generations.” The challenges faced by the Madrasah were highlighted and possible solutions were debated. A global structure (Madrasah Centre of Excellence) was set up to provide focus and become a central place for Madaris to seek help and support in the running of their institutions. It would realise the vision by coordinating the four work streams.

The Curriculum Development work stream would provide a global curriculum framework that can be tailored to individual Madrasah needs. It would lead to standardisation because all Madrasah would use the framework of the same broad curriculum. The Teacher Training work stream would facilitate the provision of training to meet the training needs of the madrasah teachers. It would also create a body that represents Madrasah teachers globally, providing support and a forum for teachers to interact, share valuable experiences and learn. The Learning Resources work stream would provide a comprehensive resource centre for teachers, parents and students where resources can be shared globally encouraging development of new ideas and innovation. The Continuous Assessment & Evaluation work stream would create a learning environment for all where the students, teachers and institutions are assessed with a view to continually improve.

IRE in Swedish Muslim Schools
Dr. Jenny Berglund, PhD of the Department of Study of Religions, Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden, after giving a brief introduction about the Muslim population in Sweden, spoke about the Muslim school which is part of the “free-school system”. There are 54 Christian, 9 Muslim and 5 Jewish compulsory and 6 Christian Upper Secondary schools. In Sweden, Islamic Religious Education (IRE) is only taught at Muslim schools, within the compulsory school sector. There is no national syllabus for the subject, but instead all schools write their own syllabi. Since the Muslim schools, like all other schools in Sweden are state funded, they have to abide to the rules stated in the Educational Act. Despite these rules, Muslim schools and IRE in Sweden shows a wide variety in terms of organisation, content and outlook. In her short presentation, she presented an overview of how Swedish Muslim schools are organised and what distinguishes the different forms of IRE that is taught within them.

Dr. Jenny Berglund mentioned that Swedish Muslim Schools are fully governmental funding; they have to represent and impart “fundamental values”; have to follow the National Curriculum. They are also non-confessional RE; National Agency of Education controls; Possible to add Islam as extra curricular subject (IRE) and Islam as school ethos

While mentioning about the National Curriculum and “Fundamental Values”, Dr. Berglund said, values that all schools should represent and impart: The inviolability of human life; Individual freedom and integrity; The equal value of all people; Equality between women and men and Solidarity with the weak and vulnerable.

She also mentioned about the School Ethos which are: Morning gatherings; Celebration of Holidays; Dress-code and Halal-food. She also mentioned that there is Co-Education. No tradition of girls/boys schools in Sweden.

Islamic schooling in Austria and Germany
Elif Medeni of Halit Akpinar, University of Vienna, made her presentation on Islamic schooling in Austria/Germany. This paper of Elif Medeni gave a brief overview of Islamic schooling in Austria in the light of a pilot study undertaken in the wider context of a Ph.D. research. During the piloting phase of eight month, classroom observations, document analysis and semi-structured interviews with teachers and parents have been undertaken.

Islam was recognised as a religion in Austria in 1912. The Islam Law acknowledges the IGGiO as an umbrella organisation and representative of the Muslims and moreover guarantees Muslims to establish Islamic schools as well as to maintain Islamic Religious Education (IRE) in public state schools. Islamic Religious Education was introduced as a regular subject in 1982. Thus, Austria has the longest experience and tradition in Islamic Education in the public sphere among European countries. Despite this unique situation and long tradition of Islamic instruction in public schools, Muslim parents search for alternatives such as private schooling.

In contrast to other European countries Islamic schooling is at the very beginning in Austria. Currently, there are six Islamic private schools among the state-funded denominational schools. Although their reputation is discussed controversially in public, the few existing Islamic private schools are often preferred to public schools by some Muslim parents.

Islamic schools were ‘condemned’ to promote parallel societies; allegation of poor  conditions, lack of trained teachers and a general lack of quality were raised, although Islamic teaching and denominational aspects in state-funded Islamic private schools are supervised by specialist inspectors of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiO). Until now, there is no research undertaken on Islamic schooling.

Reflections on the experience of
Shakhsiyah schools in the UK
In this presentation Farah Ahmed looked at the experience of Shakhsiyah schools in developing alternative educational provision for Muslim children through briefly examining some “Principles of Shakhsiyah Education” and their organic growth and realization in Shakhsiyah schools. The principles are: Niyyah, Shakhsiyah, Qadwa, Halaqa, Minhaj al Diraasiyah, Balagha and Taqdeer.

Religious Education in Turkey:
recent policy developments
Professor Dr. Muhiddin Okumular made a presentation which focussed on the recent debate about the growing role of religious education in the Turkish educational system. Turkey has a rich experience in this regard. The different options in the religious education are tested as a compulsory, elective and not given. From 1982 to the present day religious culture and ethics courses are taught in schools as a compulsory. In 2012, the Government has realized major reforms of education systems and compulsory education has been turned into 12 years and formulated in the form of 4+4+4.

Two of the most important innovations by these reforms are the opening of Imam Hatip Middle schools (religious schools) and the increasing number of elective religious courses within the mainstream system. New elective courses are Quran, the Life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Basic Religious Knowledge.  Within these new developments there is a strong possibility that minority religions such as Christianity and Judaism will also be taught. Professor Okumular critically examined these recent significant developments in the field of religious education in Turkey.

Parallel Workshops

The session Three was Parallel Workshops on Educational Leadership by Edris Khamissa; Islamic Curriculum and Educational Leadership by Basma. Elshayyal; Towards a Transformative Model of Islamic Educational Leadership by Imran H Khan Suddahaza and Teaching and Learning linked to Qur’an by Dr.Bill Gent 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Baroness Warsi Championing Islamic Finance in UK

Baroness Warsi Championing
Islamic Finance in UK

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Senior State Minister, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) disclosed recently that the UK Coalition Government has established Islamic Finance Task Force. She said, “I am proud to say that the Coalition Government agrees by establishing the UK’s first ever ministerial-led Islamic Finance Task Force, with the ministerial clout of several departments. It is jointly chaired by me at the Foreign Office and Greg Clark, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.”

UK Islamic Finance Task Force
Baroness Warsi was delivering a lecture on “The Future of Islamic Finance in a Global economy” organised by the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OXCIS), Oxford, held at Taylor Institution, Oxford, on Thursday, 6th of June, 2013.

Baroness Warsi mentioned, it is supported by Alan Duncan at the Department from International Development; Lord Green at the Department for Business; David Willetts the Universities and Skills Minister; and Lord Deighton, the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury.  That’s six Ministers looking to build upon London’s status as a centre for Islamic Finance.

And they are supported by a strong team of industry practitioners – three of whom are Shabir Randeree, Group Managing Director of DCD London and Mutual PLC, Dr Mohammad Abdel-Haq, CEO of Oakstone Merchant Bank Ltd and Richard de Belder, Partner of international law firm SNR Denton. The Task Force has five specific focuses: supporting the market; financing infrastructure; regulation; education; and communications, she said.

Islamic Finance has huge potential
Baroness Warsi argued, “Islamic finance has huge potential in the global economy – not many sectors are predicted to grow five-fold by the end of the decade.”

Baroness Warsi recently visited Malaysia and Indonesia and became aware of the potential of Islamic finance. Baroness Warsi said, “Globally the market has grown 50 per cent faster than the traditional banking sector. Sharia compliant assets rose by more than 160 per cent between 2009 and 2011. And Islamic Finance investments are now already worth $1.8 trillion dollars – with the industry forecasting this to grow to $2.5 trillion by 2015.

In Britain, there are great examples of this sector’s successes. Baroness Warsi mentioned, “More than a dozen banks in London delivering Islamic finance transactions, five of which are stand alone Sharia-compliant.”

About the rapid rise of this Islamic Finance industry in London, Baroness Warsi  mentioned, “London’s skyline has been transformed by Sharia deals – the Shard, Chelsea Barracks, Harrods, Olympic Village, all financed in whole or in part by Islamic Finance. Each of these is a powerful symbol of the sector’s rapid rise and a daily reminder of the importance of engaging with potentially lucrative new markets in the Muslim world and beyond. “

9th World Islamic Economic Forum in UK
Baroness Warsi also said, to further cement our world-leader status, London has been chosen to host the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum in October – the first time it’s been held outside the Muslim world. “This rapid increase is, for me, something to celebrate and something to build upon,” Baroness Warsi said.

Baroness Warsi also said what this coalition government is doing to continue moving us in the right direction. She started by giving three reasons why, more than ever, the time is right for Islamic finance. First and foremost, she said, “Economic power is shifting to the east, to China and to India, and also to the burgeoning middle classes in the Middle East and South East Asia. Britain, and British businesses of all sizes, can no longer afford to ignore new and emerging markets. We need to demonstrate to the world that UK is a first class destination for foreign investment and commerce – to show that Britain is open for business. London is sending that message out loud and clear.”

Baroness Warsi also said, “We are facing increased competition from Dubai, New York and Hong Kong, as well as future regional hubs, such as Nigeria, in its bid to become an African financial capital. We must constantly be striving for more, and Islamic finance provides one area where development is possible.

Ethical Finance
Secondly, Baroness Warsi mentioned about ethical finance. She said ethics and business are not adversaries; in the long run they need each other. She cited examples of how people are seeking investments that comply with their philosophy and beliefs. Baroness Warsi mentioned, “Since it adopted it ethical policy in 1992 the Cooperative bank has turned away loan applications worth a reported £900million. We are seeing the effects of this trend across the world. In Turkey the value of assets held by Participation banks, those whose practices are structured in accordance with Islamic law, has increased by 1000 per cent in a decade. The share of these banks has increased from 2% a decade ago to 6%, and the Turkish government is looking to increase this to 15 per cent over the next decade.”

“In America, Sabbath economics, which employ the principles of the Biblical Sabbath and focus on the redistribution of wealth, are thriving. With the simple intention of countering the ‘Wall Street economics’ of getting the greatest possible return, this model aims to do the greatest possible good and getting a decent return in the process,” she said.

Baroness Warsi argued, “With Qard Hassan, the good or benevolent loan, Islamic finance aims to establish a caring society, mobilise wealth, encourage good deeds and help those in need. And that’s something I would like to call on all Islamic banks, indeed all banks, to work to achieve.”

“So Islamic Finance could be a sensible, measured banking option, at a time when confidence remains low and the Government is working with the G8 to improve the transparency of financial institutions,” said Baroness Warsi.

We need to balance and diversify
our economy, says Baroness Warsi
Baroness Warsi argued, “This is the third reason why Islamic finance is an important option because we cannot simply carry on as before. We need to rebalance and diversify our economy. We need to consolidate and protect our existing position. We need to engage with new markets, products and regions. To go beyond the borders of the EU and our traditional trading partners and to connect with the increasingly global economy. But just as we need to re-balance the nation’s economy to promote stability and resilience, we should encourage individual sectors to diversify. And again, there is a place here for Islamic finance.”

Baroness Warsi mentioned about removing barriers and supporting the market-driven growth and innovation. She said, “With a specific aim to maintain a favourable tax and regulatory framework for Islamic Finance to give London a competitive edge, building on what the UK has already done with Islamic mortgages and the tax system to ensure Sukuk are not penalised.”

We are looking at alternative finance schemes
 “So we are looking at alternative finance schemes like Murabahas and Wakalas to give students the option to have their student loans financed in a Sharia-compliant way. And with Green Deal providers we are exploring ways to make the Green Deal available under Sharia principles. In each case, we will consider how to overcome the tax and legislative barriers to them. By working with the industry, we will support it in its aim to broaden the range of products and services, reducing the risk of over-exposure and ensuring that high quality Islamic alternatives are available to customers,” Baroness Warsi mentioned.

Speaking about the role of the Islamic Finance Taskforce, Baroness Warsi mentioned, “The Task Force will consider what role the UK can play in establishing these global standards, and whether financial ratings agencies can adequately reflect the unique characteristics of Islamic institutions. The fourth work stream is looking at ways of promoting and exporting UK Islamic Finance education, training and research expertise.”

“The UK is already a major global provider in the specialist legal expertise required for Islamic finance. 25 law firms provide legal services in Islamic finance. The UK also leads on providing qualifications for the global industry. With more than a dozen colleges, universities and business schools offering a qualification in Islamic Finance. And we will look at the introduction of accreditation for Islamic finance education as well as a regulatory body for training providers,” she said.

Baroness Warsi also mentioned how the Islamic Finance can feed into the UK’s foreign policy objectives. She said the post -Arab Spring countries are currently undertaking political and economic transition. “The governments of the region are promoting Islamic finance, and as a result growth in the sector is expected be significant and could mean that the regional industry is six times larger in 2015 than it was in 2010.”

Baroness Warsi argued, “There is an opportunity for the UK, and the Islamic finance sector in particular, to support this process by providing the expertise, financial innovation and services that this developing industry needs to grow. Supporting economic transition in the region in a tangible and proactive way. Helping these countries to overcome the challenging economic problems that they face.”

Baroness Warsi championing Islamic Finance
Toward the end of her speech, Baroness Warsi said, “Islamic finance has a potential market base of more than two billion people, notwithstanding those drawn by ethical, not religious considerations. In the wake of the financial crisis, the principles upon which Islamic finance are based seem more important, more attractive, than ever before. Principles of balance; shared risk; fairness; due diligence; oversight and transparency. Principles that prevent you from selling what you don’t own or attaching a value to assets that do not exist.”

Baroness Warsi acknowledged, “Of course, there are ongoing conflicting interpretations of what activities are Sharia compliant, which can and do themselves create investor uncertainty.” But at the same time, she argued, “the sector is still developing: the revival of Islamic finance is only 50 years old, whereas conventional banks have been around for 500 years.”

“Modern Islamic Finance is, after all, in relative terms, at the beginning its life cycle. So although it is something that brings immense opportunities – it also has its challenges,” Baroness Warsi mentioned.

Concluding her speech, Baroness Warsi said, “The Government’s role is to create the regulatory and tax frameworks to allow the market to thrive, and, ultimately, help to produce the growth that Britain needs. And by championing Islamic finance I believe we are doing just that.”

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Significance of Lailatul Miraj & Isra

Significance of Lailatul Miraj & Isra

Dr. Mozammel Haque

The Night Journey of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is no doubt a miracle. He was taken to Heaven physically in body and spirit in one night. He led the Prophets for prayers at Jerusalem and he saw paradise and the sufferings of people from punishments in hell-fire.

About the Journey, Adil Salahi wrote in his book: Muhammad: Man and Prophet, “One night, as the Prophet was asleep in the home of his cousin Umm Hani bint Abu Talib in Makkah, the Angel Gabriel came and woke him up and took him by hand to the mosque, where he found an animal smaller than a mule but slightly bigger than a donkey. The animal, which was a quadruped, also had two wings and floated easily as he moved with unimaginable speed. The Prophet’s own description of his movement was that ‘he put his foot at the furthest point to his side.’”

“Together, the Prophet and Gabriel rode the animal, which was called Al-Buraq, a name derived from Barq, meaning lightening. In no time at all they reached Jerusalem in Palestine. There the Prophet met Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other noble prophets. He led them all in prayer. He was then brought three cups: one contained milk, another contained wine, and the third contained water. He drank the milk. When he had finished, Gabriel said: “You and your nation are rightly guided.” When they had finished their business in Jerusalem, they flew up to heaven. The Prophet tells us that as they entered each of the seven heavens Gabriel would confirm to its guardian angel that Muhammad had already received his mission. In each heaven he met one or other of the prophets who preached the message of God’s oneness to mankind.”

On this very important topic, I interviewed one of the very well-known Islamic scholars, Dr. Ahmad ibn Saifuddin Turkistani, Professor at the Al-Imam ibn Muhammad Saud Islamic University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, whom I knew since 1982 when he used to give talk on Islam at the Channel Two of Saudi Arabian Television on every Friday after Jummah prayer. Dr. Turkistani is now in London and I interviewed him about Lailatul Miraj and Isra.

Interview with Professor Ahmad ibn Saifuddin
Miraj and Isra are two words and it took place in one and the same night. Describing Miraj and Isra, Professor Ahmad ibn Saifuddin Turkistani said, “Miracle was given to Prophet peace be upon him in his lifetime. This journey carried him very close to the Ars, the throne of Allah the Almighty. It is known that it is not possible for doing for any human being. But Prophet (peace be upon him) had travelled physically by his body and in spirit, not only in spirit as some people may think and interpret.”

More precisely, people wonder whether it was a ‘spiritual’ or physical journey. The Qur’an answers the question clearly. Professor Turkistani quoted the verse of the Qur’an where Allah the Almighty said in Surah entitled The Night Journey or al-Isra: “Limitless in His Glory is He who made His servant go by night from the Sacred Temple (of Makkah) to the further Temple (of Jerusalem) whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of our signs. He alone hears all and sees all.” (Al-Qur’an; 17:1).

“Allah the Almighty took the Prophet (peace be upon him) from Masjid al-Haram to the furthest Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, Palestine. In fact, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was challenged by the non-believers. The prophet was telling and they asked him to describe the Masjid al-Aqsa. Allah the Almighty brought in his own vision so he can describe in full detail the Masjid al-Aqsa,” said Professor Turkistani.

Date of Miraj?
Miraj took place after the revelation of the Qur’an. Qur’an was revealed in the month of Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was taken as a prophet. About the exact date of Miraj, Professor Turkistani said, “Qur’an was revealed in the Lailatul Qadar in the month of Ramadan and Miraj took place in the month of Rajab; Allah knows better. There is no definite date. But it could probably in the month of Rajab. When Abu Bakr was told by the unbelievers what Prophet’s (peace be upon him) was saying about his Night Journey into Jerusalem and back again to Makkah at the same night; he believed it. He said it I believed it. Abu Bakr said: “I believe you; you always tell the truth.”
What happened on that Night
Speaking about what happened on that night, Professor Turkistani said, “It is reported in the Hadiths, what he had done at that night. Prophet (peace be upon him) did that night. He went by an animal called al-Buraq from Makkah to Jerusalem and he led prayer at Masjid al-Maqdas. Miraj is like it took him to high heavens where he saw people. You will find this in Hadiths of the Prophet peace be upon him; i.e. that is Miraj.”

Met some of the Prophets
Professor Turkistani said, “Many things took place on that night as the Prophet (peace be upon him) was carried from first heaven to the second heaven until he reached seven heaven and then he reached the curtain, the last curtain, where a person, any human that is the highest position and closest to Allah the Almighty. In that first heaven where Jibrail opens the door for him, he saw Adam (peace be upon him) in the first heaven and he gave Salam and then he went to second heaven where he met Yahya, Zakariya and Issa ibn Mariam (peace be upon them all) and they returned the salam to him. Then he went to third heaven and he saw Yusuf (peace be upon him) and then went to fourth heaven, he saw Idris (peace be upon him) and then he went to fifth heaven and in the sixth heaven he saw Musa (peace be upon him) and then when he passed him he saw him crying and he asked him why you were crying; he said because a young boy who was sent after me went to Paradise and has more believers than my own Ummah; that’s why he was crying. In the seventh heaven he saw Ibrahim (peace be upon him).”

Five time Salah was ordained
After that Prophet (peace be upon him) went to Sidratul Muntaha, where he was close to Allah the Almighty, very very close. Allah revealed to him the Five Salah ordained upon Muslims there but he went back because Allah the Almighty first it was revealed fifty prayers day and night. Musa (peace be upon him) told him: ‘Your people would not be able to do it so go back to Allah, go back to your Lord; asked him and he went back again to Allah the Almighty. He kept going back and forth. Allah said there would be five in performance but fifty in rewards; because every hasana is multiplied ten times,” said Professor Turkistani.

Then Professor Turkistani narrated Prophet’s visit to the heavens and other places: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) saw people who were suffering from the punishments from the hell-fire and there were kind of people to receive such punishments. Some Hadiths said in details and some Hadiths always referred to authentic Hadiths.”

Celebration of that Night:
Not to do anything
Speaking about the celebration or observance of that Night of Journey, Professor Turkistani said, “One important thing is the celebration of that night. We do not know any Hadith or any Tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him) asking people to celebrate the miracle something that happened. Not even fasting; not even holding sessions where we do this or that. Nothing of that. I advice: not to do anything; because we do not know exactly the date of the Lailatul Miraj. Some historians say it took place one year before Hijra, migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah; some say it was one year two months or four months before Hijra before Prophet (peace be upon him) migrated from Makkah to Madinah.

“I would like people to benefit; benefit is not invented in deen, anything that is added. To celebrate Sab-e-Miraj, in fact, people should do nothing. Thanks Allah that He made Prophet (peace be upon him) go by night from Makkah to Jerusalem. This is one of the evidences of Prophecy. Thanks Allah in any way than celebrate or add things in this regard,” advised Professor Turkistani.

I enquired Lailatul Miraj is a miracle and Muslims want to thank Allah the Almighty for this. Professor Turkistani said, “Thanking Allah or praising Allah is a form of Ibadah or worship and any worship has to be in accordance with the Sunnah; whether the Companions celebrated this or any prayer made for this. So we have to follow Sunnah in this regard. Always thanks Allah the Almighty at any time, not occasion.”

In this connection, Professor Turkistani also mentioned about the celebration of Lailatul Barat, 15th of Shabaan or Maulud-i-Nabi. “We have to be very careful; not to add to these things. Remember all these events that took place at that time. Alhamdo Lillah, they showed the greatness of Islam, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and bounties but in no way we should add to them or trying to change religion.”

“If we want to celebrate these events, at least we should distribute sweets or enjoying our life like Eid as a happy day but in no way first of all as they said we are not sure when it took place. There are reports that it took place in Rajab, there are also reports that it took place in any other month. So there is no particular date we know for certain” said Professor Turkistani.

Comparing with modern science
When people are trying to explain this Night Journey scientifically and compared with modern science, Professor Turkistani said, “We are trying to convince non-Muslims that from one side of the earth to another planets going very very fast way. But Allah the Almighty can do anything that He wanted. We know about the angels. Now the angels are so huge. Jibrael (peace be upon him) has 600 wings and one wing of Jibrael (peace be upon him) can cover the whole horizon. That’s why we need to be very careful comparing this journey with the modern science.”

Universality of the Islamic Message
Writing on this subject, Adil Salahi in his book observed, “At Jerusalem, Muhammad led the other Prophets in prayer. …For the Prophets to pray together at Jerusalem signifies the continuity of their messages and their unity of rank and purpose. Jerusalem thus occupies a unique position as a sacred place for all followers of the Divine religions. That unique prayer of the Prophets led by Muhammad also signifies that as Islam has crowned all Divine messages and brought them to their final form, Jerusalem, the spot revered by all religions, belongs to the Muslims who follow Muhammad, the recognised leader of all Prophets.”

God created all the laws of nature
Majority of Islamic scholars believe that the Prophet peace be upon him did physically, in body and spirit, go on this night journey. But some people may find it hard to believe because it involves preternatural powers. Adil Salahi observed, “The answer is that whatever powers such a journey required, they were easy for God to provide.”

He asked, “Look back only one hundred years and imagine what would have been the reaction of people if someone had told them that anyone would be able to travel the distance between Bahrain and London in a little over four hours, in luxurious comfort.”

“In tackling such events as the night journey, one needs to remember only that they occur because God has willed that they should occur. To Him there is no such thing as ‘nature’ or ‘preternatural’. He has created all the laws of nature, whether they are familiar or not. To Him the operation of all laws is equally easy. What is not understood of His actions is readily accepted, because the fact that His power is limitless is already accepted,” mentioned Adil Salahi in his book mentioned earlier. 

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

IIROSA presents relief aid to over 31 million individuals since inception

IIROSA presents relief aid to over
31 million individuals since inception 

Dr. Mozammel Haque
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: The 8th General Annual Meeting of the International Islamic Relief Organization Saudi Arabia (IIROSA) was held at Crown Plaza, Hotel, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Thursday, 9th of May, 2013. The meeting provided the favourable tidings of its achievements of the previous year 1433 (2012).

Under the supervision of the Secretary General of  The Muslim World League , The president of the Board of Directors, Dr. Abdullah Al-Muhsin Al-Turki. IIROSA has achieved 1342 projects and programmes that benefitted more than four and a half million needy people with a total amount of SR 120 millions. These expenditures come from the money given by the donors the majority of whom belong to the generous King Government and people of Saudi Arabia

Plight of Syrian people
Last year has witnessed the worsening plight of the Syrian people. Their suffering was alleviated when the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz launched a popular campaign to relieve them. IIROSA is one of the first organisations that responded to the campaign by distributing thousands of food baskets to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Moreover, IIROSA has provided 1,052,00 blankets and thermal quilts, 145 thousand stoves and 135 thousand meals. Moreover, the IIROSA has established centres for receiving Syrian refugees in Lebanon and provided them with diesel used for heating during winter

IIROSA is also performing simple and major surgeries for patients and wounded persons as well as distributing free medicines in addition to implanting artificial limbs for some Syrian refugees who suffered from amputation when leaving their country. Thanks to Allah those people have become able to lead their lives normally. Saudi Ambassador has visited the centre that was established by IIROSA for receiving Syrian refugees in Bakaa region. HE has expressed his pleasure of the role played by IIROSA and its continuous and unremitting efforts to assist the refugees and alleviate their suffering. In the inauguration ceremony three protocols of coordination were signed between the IIROSA and Lebanese service sectors. Furthermore, the IIROSA has sponsored more than 8000 male and female students of Syrian refugees.

IIROSA’s activity during the fiscal year 2011-12
IIROSA’s activity during the fiscal year 2011-12 has reached 57 countries in the world starting Jakarta in the east to the Sao Paulo in the West translating its slogan relief development and rehabilitation.

IIROSA manages its charitable works through 7 main programmes. Through the Social Welfare Programmes in terms of expenditure during the fiscal year 2011-2012 as the total spending on its programmes has reached SR 32.5 millions. The programmes benefitted 37,195 orphans in 26 countries.

Second: This programme is followed by the Emergency Relief Programme with a total amount of SR. 29 millions. That benefitted 3 million affected people in 13 countries.

Third: The Community Development and Seasonal projects Programme with a total amount of SR. 27.4 millions.

Fourth: the Engineering Department with a budget of more than SR. 11 millions for mosques building and wells drilling. The programme benefitted 43 thousand people by establishing 98 mosques and 115 wells.

Fifth: The Education Welfare Department with a total amount of SR 8 millions that benefitted 54 educational institutions that accommodate 56, 125 male and female students in addition to sponsoring 29 teachers and providing 349 scholarships.

Then the Health Care Programme with a total amount of SR 7 millions that benefitted 334 thousand patients through 35 health projects in 20 countries.

Sixth: The Holy Qur’an Programme with an amount of SR. 4.8 million that was used in sponsoring 338 preachers and 304 Qur’an teachers in 29 countries.

As IIROSA’s mission is pioneering the humanitarian and institutional work in a way that serves man and achieves reconstruction and development and as it is a widespread international organization IIROSA has chosen the partnerships and alliances as its strategic choice. Thus, IIROSA is currently a member in 16 councils, organizations, initiatives, in forums, unions, offices, networks and committees on the locals and international levels.

IIROSA has also coordination and partnership relationship with more than 13 UN international and regional organizations. Furthermore, it has signed a number of partnership and cooperation agreements in Saudi Arabia and abroad to implement relief, developmental health and environmental projects.

It has formed a team of outstanding Saudi competencies to supervise the implantation of the programme. In a step that considered a quantum leap and excellent way in providing services to the beneficiaries IIROSA has conducted an agreement with Deloitte and Touche Co. to implement the Restructing Project; project that may take to new horizons of quantitative and qualitative development in the world of management of money. This restructuring is related to the developmental aspects of IIROSA’s activities in the aim of keeping pace with modern requirements of relief and development work based on quality and transparency.

As IIROSA is keen to sustain its projects and protect them from the effects of the Economic fluctuations, it has started investing in many endowments in Makkah to use their income for its several programmes. This organisation is currently working on four giant endowment projects, that include tower hotels, as follows Beyout Allah Relief endowment project No (7)  the 3rd Ring Road, Orphans Relief Endowment, Project No (8), Ajyad Al-Sad, Community Development Relief Endowment, Project No. (11) Ibrahim al-Khaleels Street, Misfalah, Health Care Relief Endowment, Project No. (12), Aziziah Main Street.

IIROSA has implemented some programmes in Saudi Arabia to prove its local presence and to contribute to the community development as recognition to this favour and proceeding from the principle of social responsibility. These programmes include Employment and Training programme that aims at providing job opportunities to the Saudi citizens, males and females and qualifying young people by training them. This programme has benefitted a number of prisoner’s families in order to protect them from deviation as well as a number of university graduates and high school certificate holders.

Moreover, IIROSA has implemented Local Programmes for the productive families that aims at empowering women and supporting her role in the family. This programme has benefitted groups of widows, divorcees and orphans living in the charity houses.

Moreover, IIROSA has connected electricity to 33 houses of poor families at Jommah village at Lith and has also paid electricity bills as part of its keenness to provide comfort to the needy people.

New Executive Leadership
Last year, IIROSA has witnessed the transition of its executive leadership from its former Secretary General Dr. Adnan Ben Khalil Basha to Mr. Ehssan Ben Saleh Taieb. The inauguration of the Acting Secretary General has concurred with many important activities which reflect IIROSA’s regional and international status. Thus the Secretary General has participated in many local and international activities, including the Consultative Meeting called for by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)  and hosted by Qatar Charity to provide relief assistance to the Rohingya people in Myanmar; The Consultative Humanitarian Meeting for Syria that was held in Istanbul; The International Conference in Fatwa held in Indonesia by the Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League (MWL).

The International Islamic Relief Organisation emanating from the Muslim World League (MWL) and functions internationally. IIROSA coordinates with donors by delivering their donations to needy and distressed people all over the world in order to strengthen their belief of Islam, relieve them, alleviate their sufferings and develop their communities.

IIROSA has a legal personality and an administrative and financial entity of its own, within the framework of its constitution and byelaws.

Its Objectives
The objective of the IIROSA is to be among the first three organizations that provide relief for the disaster-stricken areas around the world; to be a reference in the field of charity work; to make performance levels of staff on par with global professional ones; to implement the international quality standards; to achieve strategic partnerships with countries, organizations and individuals in the same field; to be one of the best 10 internationally accredited organisations in developing and implementing the reconstructions and development programmes; to achieve self-financing for all projects; to make the media  one of the main foundations of its work and to contribute to preserving the environment and natural resources by rationalization of the consumption of electric power and power as well as reducing paper clutter.

Its activities
Since its establishment, IIROSA has always been associated with the needy, distressed, orphans and displaced people all over the world. Moreover, during its relief and humanitarian history, IIROSA has been and still a symbol of credibility and transparency that reflects the message of faith, spiritual radiation and the meanings of giving and communication between the philanthropists and needy people under the Islamic tolerance. With Allah’s grace and the support of the philanthropists of this generous

IIROSA has been capable to do such leading role through 7 main programme whose total cost during the fiscal  1432-1433 (2011-2012) amounted to SR. 118,989,038,05 for implementing and operating 1,42 projects for the benefit of 4,529,934 individuals in 57 countries (30 African countries; 19 Asian countries; 7 European countries and one country in South America, Brazil.

First: Social Welfare Programme; it has 25 projects; 10 orphanages and 15 centres that benefitted 37,195 orphans, 50 supervisors & coordinators in 26 countries.

Second: Emergency Relief Programme: 13 projects that benefitted 2,985,139 in 13 countries.

Third: Community Development & Seasonal Projects Programme: 45 Projects; beneficiaries 965,376 in 45 countries.

Fourth: Engineering Department (Mosques & Wells): it has 98 mosques, 115 wells and 9 other projects that benefitted 143,097in 17 countries.

Fifth: Education Welfare Programme: It has 54 educational institution that benefitted students of the educational institutions: 56,125. Scholarship students 349; teachers 29.

Sixth: Health Care Programme. It has 35 health projects that benefitted patients 333,739; workers in the health professions 149.

Seventh: The Holy Qur’an & Dawa Programme. 642 Qur’an Projects; 306 Qur’an Centres and Circles that benefitted teachers & supervisors 304; students 8,044 and preachers 338.