The Guardian World news: Islam

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Updated: 3 hours 52 min ago

Peace in Gaza needs a return to negotiations | @guardianletters

27 July, 2014 - 20:02

As members of the National Council of Imams and Rabbis we are extremely concerned at the escalation and continuation of hostilities between Israel and Gaza. We are deeply saddened by the violence, hatred, suffering and loss of life. We acknowledge the grief and pain they cause. We call on wise leadership to strive for a ceasefire and a return to the negotiating table to work towards a sustained peace and two-state solution.

With regard to our shared responsibilities here in Britain, it is particularly important that we do not allow what happens elsewhere in the world to affect the cooperation and understanding we have built up between the Muslim and Jewish communities in this country. We seek to replace fear and prejudice with knowledge and understanding and in this way work together for a more peaceful world. May it be Gods will that peace prevail.
Qari Muhammad Asim imam, Makkah mosque, Leeds, Dayan Ivan Binstock rabbi, St Johns Wood United synagogue, London, Sheikh Muhammad Ismail imam, Birmingham Central mosque, Jonathan Wittenberg rabbi, New North London Masorti synagogue, Colin Eimer rabbi, Shaarei Tsedek North London Reform synagogue, Imam Asim Hafiz Islamic adviser to the chief of the defence staff, Abdullah Hasan imam, Masjid Khadijah and Islamic Centre, Peterborough, Dr Margaret Jacobi rabbi, Birmingham Progressive synagogue, Sheikh Ezzat Khalifa imam, London Central mosque, Jason Kleiman rabbi, Bet Hamidrash Hagadol synagogue, Leeds, David Lister rabbi, Edgware United synagogue, London, Ian Morris rabbi, Sinai synagogue, Leeds, Mokhtar Osman imam, York Way mosque, London, Shahid Raza imam, Central mosque, Leicester, Danny Rich chief executive of Liberal Judaism UK, Mohammad Shafiq imam, Darul Ummah Jamme mosque, London, Reuven Silverman rabbi, Manchester Reform synagogue, Daniel Smith rabbi, Edgware Reform synagogue, London, Alexandra Wright rabbi, Liberal Jewish Synagogue, London, Mufti AK Barkatullah Islamic Sharia Council, Leyton 

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Meccas changing face matches the needs of its Muslim pilgrims | Nesrine Malik

27 July, 2014 - 17:57
Every Ramadan the holy city we see on our TV screens looks bigger and shinier than it did the year before

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, is drawing to a close. The last 10 days are considered the holiest, and the focal point is the holiest of the cities, Mecca from where Ramadan evening and dawn prayers are broadcast on a live feed around the Muslim world.

Every Ramadan Mecca and the Grand Mosque, which lies is at its centre, look different: bigger, brighter, shinier. The Kaaba, the small shrouded building at the centre of the mosque, which could once be seen from any of the hills around it, is now obscured. The city has been a large construction site over the past 20 years, and the results are beginning to show. At night, all lit up and crowded with apartments and hotels, Mecca now looks like a Saudi interpretation of Gotham or even Las Vegas. A large, Big Ben-like clock tower looms over the centre, and shopping malls and high-rise blocks are being built in a circle around the pilgrimage zone.

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Holy Warriors review dizzy march of history

27 July, 2014 - 00:05
Shakespeare's Globe, London
David Eldridge's quickstep through the long war between Christianity and Islam veers from portentousness to pantomime

At the Globe, playwright David Eldridge is getting to grips with the complex reasons our world or one key region of it, anyway looks the way it does today. His Holy Warriors examines the medieval clash between Christianity and Islam, as embodied in the battles between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin; and the dizzying march of history that has led directly to the appalling violence still engulfing the Middle East.

The piece, directed by James Dacre, opens as a straightforward history play in the Shakespearean style: two rival rulers, given charisma by John Hopkins (Richard) and Alexander Siddig (Saladin), lead their troops into combat. Eldridge has made a commendable effort to give his female characters stage time: the women heave their corsets, are married off against their will, and in the case of Eleanor of Aquitaine, beautifully played by Geraldine Alexander prove themselves active participants in the fight for Jerusalem.

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My brother, the suicide bomber: why British men go to Syria

26 July, 2014 - 09:30
Waheed was an ordinary boy who played football and loved sci-fi movies. This year, he blew himself up in Aleppo. Abu Jamal left to join the jihadis. Tauqir is an aid worker who can never come home. This is the story of Britons risking their lives in Syria, and the families left behind

The last time Abdul Waheed Majeed spoke to his family, it was on a crackling telephone line from Syria at the end of January. He had arrived six months earlier on an aid convoy organised by his local mosque in Crawley, and had been working in refugee camps along the Syrian-Turkish border, laying pipes and delivering food to those displaced by a grinding civil war.

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When is Eid 2014? It could be Monday or Tuesday, it might be Sunday

25 July, 2014 - 15:24
Eid al-Fitr the feast at the end of Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon. But can you use a telescope, or just the naked eye? And what if it's cloudy?

Serious question: when is Eid? There's a joking-but-actually-quite-accurate pie chart that breaks down when you know the month of Ramadan is over. The largest chunk suggests: "just keep fasting until phone explodes with Eid texts". It's not bad advice.

The Islamic calendar is lunar, which is why the timing of Ramadan is not a fixed thing, and consequently why Eid wanders a bit. In the old days, the patriarch returned from the mosque one evening around 29 or 30 days into the month to say: "Look lively it's Eid tomorrow." I was brought up with the understanding that when the new moon is sighted in Saudi Arabia (signalling the start of the month of Shawwal), it's time for Eid. But of course, as with all things around religion, there are shades of grey. Some scholars, for example, argue that the moon must be seen with the naked eye, while others say it is just as valid if seen through the lens of a telescope. There are some who say an astronomical calculation is good enough, and people who argue this is a fallacy.

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Iraq: Isis warns women to wear full veil or face punishment

25 July, 2014 - 14:21
Sunni insurgents issue guidelines in mosques on how clothes should be worn to prevent women 'from falling into vulgarity'

Islamic State (Isis), the al-Qaida offshoot that seized large swathes of northern Iraq last month, has warned women in the city of Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment.

The Sunni insurgents, who have declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and have threatened to march on Baghdad, also listed guidelines on how veils and clothes should be worn, part of a campaign to violently impose their radical brand of Islam.

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Isis militants blow up Jonah's tomb

24 July, 2014 - 18:45
Militants say revered Muslim shrine in Iraq, believed to be burial place of prophet swallowed by a whale, has become place for apostasy

Islamic State (Isis) militants have blown up a revered Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the prophet Jonah in Mosul, residents of the city said.

Residents said on Thursday that the militants first ordered everyone out of the Mosque of the Prophet Younis, or Jonah, then blew it up.

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Iraqi Christians in Mosul told by Isis to convert to Islam or be executed

24 July, 2014 - 12:54
Thousands of Christians flee largest city in northern Iraq after Isis gives stark choice: convert, pay a religious tax, or face death

Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee the northern city of Mosul under threat of forced conversion or execution by jihadists have spoken of their terror as churches were turned into mosques and their homes and property confiscated.

The expulsion of one of the world's oldest Christian communities provoked condemnation and anguish from figures as diverse as the pope and Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who lambasted the Islamic State (Isis) for its "criminality and terrorism".

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Families of abducted girls fight Boko Haram and a supine government

24 July, 2014 - 09:59

Distraught parents cling to hope, 100 days after Islamist rebels kidnapped nearly 300 of their daughters from a school in Borno state

Samuel Yaga was describing his missing daughters dream of becoming a doctor when the air went from his lungs. One hundred days after Sarah was abducted, the raw emotion still has a tendency to detonate unexpectedly. Could a child who would always fall asleep clutching a book survive so long in the grip of a sect whose opposition to western education has led them to burn schoolchildren alive, he wondered.

It would be better if we had a body to bury, he began, then took a deep, shaky breath.

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Muslim Council of Britain rejects findings of Trojan horse report

23 July, 2014 - 21:05
Religious body insists that claims that Islamists were plotting to take over Birmingham schools are 'patently absurd'

The Muslim Council of Britain has warned education authorities "not to be sidetracked by culture wars initiated by divisive commentators", as it rejected many of the findings of a government-commissioned report that found a co-ordinated effort by extreme Muslims to take over some Birmingham schools.

The MCB said the report, written by Peter Clarke, the former Met counter-terror chief, was guilty of "conflating conservative Muslim practices to a supposed ideology and agenda to Islamise secular schools".

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For Arab Christians and secular Arab nationalists, Isis may be the death knell | William Dalrymple

23 July, 2014 - 16:47
In a Middle East rebuilt on intolerant ideologies, there is likely to be little place for beleaguered minorities

The past decade has been catastrophic for the Arab world's beleaguered 12 million strong Christian minority. In Egypt revolution and counter-revolution have been accompanied by a series of anti-Copt riots, killings and church burnings. In Gaza and the West Bank Palestinian Christians are emigrating en masse as they find themselves uncomfortably caught between Netanyahu's pro-settler government and their increasingly radicalised Sunni neighbours.

In Syria most of the violence is along the Sunni-Alawite fault line, but stories of rape and murder directed at the Christian minority, who used to make up around 10% of the population, have emerged. Many have already fled to camps in Lebanon, Turkey or Jordan; the ancient Armenian community of Aleppo is reported to be moving en masse to Yerevan.

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Uproar over Hindu nationalist MP 'force-feeding' Muslim during Ramadan

23 July, 2014 - 12:42
Angry scenes in Indian parliament over footage of Rajan Baburao Vichare trying to push chapati into fasting man's mouth

India's parliament erupted in anger on Wednesday after television footage showed a hardline Hindu nationalist politician apparently trying to force-feed a Muslim man during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Opposition Congress MPs launched raucous protests, saying the politician in question had violated the man's religious beliefs by aggressively trying to shove a chapati or piece of bread into his mouth.

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How outsourcing terror cases to the US can inadvertently result in a fair trial | Arun Kundnani and Jeanne Theoharis

23 July, 2014 - 07:00

The UK government tried to disappear Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad to the US, but the basic rules of evidence were unexpectedly applied

Days after Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad were extradited to the US in 2012, the home secretary, Theresa May, began her speech to the Conservative party conference by asking : Wasnt it great to say goodbye? For the government, it must have been a relief to have outsourced the problem, when the pair were flown to the US, 3,500 miles away.

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Radical preacher back in Melbourne after deportation from Philippines

23 July, 2014 - 03:59

Police question Musa Cerantonio, but Isis supporters offensive' social media posts not found to breach Australian law

Radical Islamic preacher Robert Musa Cerantonio has arrived in Melbourne after being deported from the Philippines.

Cerantonio, who was under surveillance by Philippines police for five months before his arrest two weeks ago, landed at Melbourne airport early on Monday morning and was met by Australian federal police (AFP) officers.

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The Guardian view on Michael Gove's legacy: undergoing modification | Editorial

22 July, 2014 - 20:10
The new education secretary, Nicky Morgan, says she is continuity Gove. But she has prepared the ground for retreat

Michael Gove sat in unaccustomed silence in the chief whip's place on the end of the government frontbench in the Commons yesterday. His face was impassive as his successor Nicky Morgan began picking up the pieces of his school reforms after the collision of practice and ideology revealed by the Trojan horse affair. Ms Morgan claims that she is continuity Gove. She says she has no intention of undoing his revolution: only days into the job, and months out from an election, she could hardly be expected to say anything else. But the logical implication of her statement yesterday in response to Peter Clarke's report into extremism in Birmingham schools could be seen as just that. The fundamental weakness identified by Mr Clarke was lack of oversight, the flip side of the very autonomy so treasured by the former education secretary.

Mr Gove's decision to send the former Met counter-terrorism chief to investigate the Trojan horse affair was a deeply flawed response to allegations that a small group of Muslim extremists was running an entryist plot in some schools. Perhaps Mr Gove imagined that the move would distract attention from the systemic weakness of his reforms. It did not. The draft of the Clarke report obtained by the Guardian last Friday found that the city's academies, lacking proper oversight, were in a state of what the draft called benign neglect, "vulnerable to those without good intentions". It is indicative of the resistance to the message at the report's heart that in the final version published yesterday the phrase "benign neglect" is missing.

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Muslims aren't shocked to discover we are watched. But we won't be scared | Laila Alawa

22 July, 2014 - 11:15

Can revelations about 'sting' operations move the government beyond 9/11-era discrimination? Because you can't stop terrorism by alienating a generation of people

Even after immigrating as a child from Syria, for a new life, I learned to view my new government with a certain level of suspicion. My parents drilled into my head the understanding that law enforcement and government officials were there to protect "the community" but whether that protected community would be mine, well, that felt like an open question in the United States after 9/11.

Our parents had to caution my siblings and I to be wary of strangers at the various mosques and community centers that we frequented, just in case those strangers might try to convince us to participate in radically-informed activities. My father himself was no stranger to the odd men who would appear out of nowhere, spout plans to commit "jihad" against the "horrible American government" and then disappear entirely once they discovered that nobody else was particularly enthusiastic about their quest.

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Government agents 'directly involved' in most high-profile US terror plots

21 July, 2014 - 14:30

Human Rights Watch documents 'sting' operations
Report raises questions about post-9/11 civil rights

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says.

Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

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Sudanese editor beaten up after calling for closer ties with Israel

21 July, 2014 - 08:13

A gang of armed, masked men stormed the headquarters of the Sudanese newspaper Al-Tayar, beat up its editor-in-chief, Osman Merghani, threatened other employees, and then stole their computers and cell phones.

Merghani, who was repeatedly struck by the gun butts, was unconscious when taken taken to hospital, reports the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (Anhri), which denounced the attack.

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Findings of the Kershaw report into Birmingham's 'Trojan horse' schools

18 July, 2014 - 23:30
Report suggests governors were disruptive but council failed to respond and Ofsted did not 'identify dysfunction'

A number of "key individuals, predominantly men of Pakistani heritage ... are encouraging and promoting certain Islamic principles in schools in the Birmingham area, and the evidence suggests a pattern of these individuals moving between schools in the area". This included governors, deputy headteachers, teaching staff, trustees and parents, with some swapping between roles or holding a number of different posts across several schools.

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Convert, pay tax, or die, Islamic State warns Christians

18 July, 2014 - 23:19
Insurgents issue ultimatum to Iraq's dwindling Christian population to abide by 'dhimma' contract or face the sword

Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq's dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement issued by the Islamic State (Isis) and distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul. The al-Qaida offshoot that led last month's lightning assault to capture swathes of northern Iraq said the ruling would come into effect on Saturday.

In the statement, Isis said Christians who wanted to remain in the "caliphate" declared earlier this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a "dhimma" contract a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as "jizya". "We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword," the announcement said.

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