Canada's Conservatives vow to create 'barbaric cultural practices' hotline

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 October, 2015 - 22:11

Pledge comes on the heels of a surge in opinion polls based on a hardline stance against a woman donning her Muslim headwear during a citizenship ceremony

Canada’s ruling Conservatives have pledged to set up a police hotline to report what it called “barbaric cultural practices”, as it sought to capitalize on a hardline stance which has helped it gain in the polls.

Related: Veil debate becomes big issue in Canada election, putting Conservatives into lead

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Bulgaria: Orthodox Church Says ‘Don’t Let Muslims In’

Loon Watch - 2 October, 2015 - 19:55

Patriarch Maxim of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church participates in an Orthodox Easter service in the golden-domed Alexander Nevski cathedral in Sofia on April 15, 2012. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrated Easter, according to the Julian calendar. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Patriarch Maxim of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church participates in an Orthodox Easter service in the golden-domed Alexander Nevski cathedral in Sofia on April 15, 2012. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church celebrated Easter, according to the Julian calendar. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)

This exemplifies the issue with leaders in an institutionalized religion that is wedded to a certain narrative of xenophobic nationalism. It is not limited to the Orthodox Church but can be seen coming from the voices of far too many religio-political figures. Clearly, these people are out of touch with the original and deep teachings of their faiths.


Bulgaria’s Orthodox Church has called on its government not to let any more Muslim refugees into the country to prevent an “invasion”.

The Balkan EU member has largely been bypassed by the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict and poverty, many of whom set off from Greece through neighbouring Macedonia and Serbia towards northern Europe.

But Bulgaria has still seen Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis cross its southeastern border from Turkey.

“We help refugees who have already arrived in our motherland, but the government must absolutely not let more refugees in,” the church, which claims 80 percent of the population as its followers, said late Friday on its website.

“This is a wave that looks like an invasion.”

It added that the problems in the refugees’ countries of origin “must be resolved by those who created them and the Bulgarian people must not pay the price by disappearing”.

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Friday Links

Muslimah Media Watch - 2 October, 2015 - 16:49
In Montreal, teenagers knocked a pregnant Mulslim woman to the ground by grabbing her hijab. Some have linked the attack to anti-Muslim bigotry fuelled by the federal debate over the place of the niqab in Canadian citizenship ceremonies. Statistics released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) points out that “Muslim female participation in the workforce is [Read More...]

Mosque reopens in south London one week after fire

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 October, 2015 - 16:10

Friday prayers at Baitul Futuh mosque attended by thousands of worshippers and broadcast to 200 countries

Thousands of people have attended Friday prayers at the Baitul Futuh mosque in south London to mark its reopening, almost a week after substantial parts of the complex were gutted by fire.

With an acrid smell of smoke still hanging in the air, regular worshippers were joined by representatives of other faiths, community leaders, local councillors and members of the police service. The prayers were broadcast to 200 countries and translated into seven languages.

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A commentary to Maulana Imran Hosein’s interpretation of the verse.

Imran Hosein - 2 October, 2015 - 13:58

Verse 51 of Surah al-Maidah:

Being a commentary to Maulana Imran Hosein’s interpretation of the verse. 

By: Hasbullah Shafi’iy


Sayyiduna Umar radiyallahu anhu, in his six-line description of the Quran that we are unable to discuss here except one particular word that is relevant to our subject, most aptly said that the Quran is Barakah. Now, this is not a simple word at all. This word may be registered amongst the most frequently used vocabulary of any Muslim from any part of the world, but only that the meaning of this word is simply untranslatable into any other language, at


In Mecca I saw little of Islam’s compassion, but a lot of Saudi Arabia’s neglect | Sabreena Razaq Hussain

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 October, 2015 - 09:00
I am grateful to be alive after a distressing Hajj experience – and urge all Muslims to protest about the inhumane treatment of pilgrims. Radical change is needed

With 2 million people gathered in one small city for the hajj, some discomfort was to be expected. And putting up with it was, I initially thought, an opportunity to exercise the patience so very valued by our faith of Islam and in the holiest of cities. So we marched on hopefully.

Related: Hajj crush: Saudi Arabia issues over 1,000 images suggesting death-toll rise

I did not see compassion from our hosts, I did not see their concern for our welfare

Related: The Guardian view on the hajj deaths: a test for the regime | Editorial

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Qur'an verses dating from seventh century go on view in Birmingham

The Guardian World news: Islam - 2 October, 2015 - 06:00

Some of the earliest surviving pages of the Qur’an in the world were discovered by an Italian scholar in a volume in the Birmingham university library

The Birmingham Qur’an manuscript exhibition officially opens to the public on Friday, but many of the local Muslim community have already been invited in to see the manuscript, on display in a quiet room under the dome of the Birmingham university’s music building. Many were overwhelmed by the experience.

“Thank God I can attend this exhibition in person,” one visitor wrote in a message left on the noticeboard in the exhibition room. “Please keep struggling to find another piece of the whole Qur’an,” wrote another.

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Redoing My Duas – Mental Illness and Worship

Muslim Matters - 2 October, 2015 - 03:42

By Ethar Hamid

I feel genuinely uncomfortable at the beginning and ending of every supplication. Ever since I was told that I should begin and end my du'a by praising Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and sending peace upon the Prophet, I have had a gnawing at my mind before and after the prayer.

Praise be to Allah, praise be to Allah, praise be to Allah, I would repeat in a murmur (or in a thought, of course). Then, I would reflect on what I had just expressed, just to make sure that it was solid. You know—to make sure the words were really there. Then, I would pray. That part was usually ok. At the end, though, I always felt somewhat imprisoned by the mantra that was supposed to give me relief; praise be to Allah, and may peace be upon the noblest of the Prophets and messengers…

I had no clue that OCD symptoms can manifest themselves in religious practices, before I experienced the illness, myself. I had always thought of religion as a peace-granting institution, shielded from any worldly pain or discomfort. The idea that negativities present in life can intermingle with and taint Islamic rituals we carry out is…distressing, to say the least.


That being said, mental illness is a formidable opponent…it can ruin life to an unimaginable point. And it doesn't mind if you are a pious, God-fearing Muslim, or not. (Sometimes, being firm in faith is actually the driving force behind its strike; it tries to shake your faith in Allah through its blows.) Mental disorder will clutch you in a most painful grasp, and will refuse to let go until either you give up, or it sees that your sabr is stronger than its hold.

My own disorder and I have wrestled some rough brawls. I have suffered through psychosis, depression, and OCD at the hands of mental illness. And yes — I have wondered such thoughts as “why me?” and “when will this end?” in the midst of the battles. But I have learned through my war with mental illness that a good Muslim is not one who never distresses, or who doesn't ever waver in her faith (for, if there was such a Muslim where would Allah's test be in the life of that person?); a good Muslim is one who, after falling down in spirit, rises back up, again, and again.


“Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: “When will the help of Allah come?” Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near!” the Qur'an teaches us (Qur'an, 2:214).


I have the painful fear of my prayerful words fading away into oblivion, when I make du'a. The fact that words do not fade away into oblivion (what does that mean, anyway?) does not help me, while I'm in the moment. While I'm in the moment of making du'a, I am afraid that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). will not answer me, because I may not begin (or end) the supplication with “praise be to Allah, and peace be upon His prophet” sincerely enough…hard enough. So, I repeat the words, over and over, concentrating, firmly, on them. I know that this is irrational, but this is part of my illness. It's a part of my test. And Allah loves those who endure their tests, patiently. alhamdulillah, for that.


Writer Ethar Hamid is a Sudani-American who finds inspiration in her mental illness and says “the issue of mental wellness is not one of being forever free from mental distress, but one of coping with and thriving despite of mental health issues”. She writes creatively about her mental health struggles on


French School Identifies Non-pork Eaters With Yellow Tags

Loon Watch - 1 October, 2015 - 22:32


An elementary school in France thought color-coded tags to be worn by students who don’t eat pork and meat was a good idea, until parents complained. This is occurring in the backdrop of rising Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

JTA Sep 29, 2015 2:36 PM, via. Haaretz Elementary school in small French city swiftly withdraws initiative that used colored tags to identity students who do not eat pork and meat.

A French municipality launched a probe into an elementary school’s use of red and yellow tags to identify pupils who do not eat pork and meat, respectively.

The city of Auxerre, located 105 miles southeast of Paris, opened the investigation on Friday after parents complained to local media about the school’s initiative, in which neck strings bearing red and yellow plastic discs were placed on pupils ahead of lunchtime at the school cafeteria.

The pupils wore the tags for one day before the faculty was instructed to stop using them.
The debate on the availability in public schools of pork-free dishes is a divisive issue in France, where rightist parties and other politicians advocating strict separation between religion and state see it as proof of a creeping influence on the public sphere, mostly by Muslims immigrants.

Malika Ounes, a conservative member of the Auxerre city council, told the news website “It’s revolting. It brings back memories of dark times,” in reference to the requirement in Nazi-occupied France that Jews wear yellow stars on their clothes.

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Call For Writers!

Muslimah Media Watch - 1 October, 2015 - 19:01
MMW is looking for more writers to analyze and critique media representations of Muslim women. If you’re interested, email with two or more writing samples, any experience you have (school- or job-related), and tell us a little bit about yourself: why you’d like to write for us, and what you think your perspective could [Read More...]

Niqab as an #Elxn42 Issue? Ridiculous

Muslimah Media Watch - 1 October, 2015 - 18:55
This post originally appeared in New Canadian Media. The recent decision in Canada by the Federal Court of Appeal that ruled in favour of Zunera Ishaq, who challenged the ban on the niqab at Canadian citizenship ceremonies, has resurrected a non-issue into an election topic. During last week’s French language leaders’ debate and in the political commentary that [Read More...]

There’s nothing misguided about the left’s concern for Muslims | David Shariatmadari

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 October, 2015 - 15:49

When Maryam Namazie’s invitation to speak at the University of Warwick was blocked, Twitter erupted. What motivated the students who didn’t want her there?

On Saturday reports emerged that Warwick University student union had blocked an event organised by its Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society. The guest of honour was Maryam Namazie, who campaigns against religious ideology, with a particular focus on Islam. A student union official wrote to the society, saying, “There are a number of articles written both by the speaker and by others about the speaker that indicate that she is highly inflammatory, and could incite hatred on campus.”

The response was immediate and empassioned. A petition calling for the decision to be reversed was set up: 5,000 people signed it. The National Secular Society described it as “part of a worrying wave of censorship that we’re seeing across British universities under the guise of ‘safe spaces’”. The writer Kenan Malik called it “the latest act of student union free speech idiocy”. Richard Dawkins tweeted: “She’s a hero to all a university stands for. But cowardly useful idiots of Warwick have banned @MaryamNamazie.”

That’s really all we’re talking about: a student body’s messy weighing up of which values it wants to endorse

Related: Why Islam doesn’t need a reformation | Mehdi Hasan

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Veil debate becomes big issue in Canada election, putting Conservatives into lead

The Guardian World news: Islam - 1 October, 2015 - 12:43

One woman’s insistence on her right to conceal her face has become a central issue, dividing voters and giving the Conservatives a late boost

Zunera Ishaq describes her choice to wear a veil in public as a “trivial and minor issue”.

But for 35 million Canadians, this woman’s stubborn insistence on her right to conceal her face has become a central issue in the ongoing election campaign, giving a late boost to a Conservative government that had previously seemed doomed to defeat.

Related: Canada election 2015: Tories seek out 'Australian rottweiler' Lynton Crosby

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