Community News (V13-I23)

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Minnesota Muslim group receives award

FRIDLEY,MN–A Fridley-based organization has received a rare honor as it prepares to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its founding,

Islamic Resource Group (IRG) won a special recognition award in May honoring its mission of building respect for human rights, the Patch reported.

The award, which isn’t given every year, came from Advocates for Human Rights (AHR), a group based in Minneapolis that bills itself as the largest volunteer-based human rights organization in the Midwest.

Every individual in the community should be treated with respect and without discrimination, said AHR Executive Director Robin Phillips in praising IRG.

“They have done a great thing in our community in making sure human rights are respected for Muslims in our community,” Phillips said. “They’re a really positive force in our community.”

‘Intro to Islam’ course at UCLA

The Undergraduate Students Association Council is the official student government of UCLA’s undergraduate students. Academic Affairs Commissioner Raquel Saxe is working to get class syllabi online before enrollment. Her office is also in talks with the Muslim Student Association regarding a proposal to develop an “Introduction to Islam” undergraduate general education course. The association said it hopes to have a plan for such a class ready by fall.

Hillary Clinton Launches “Muslim Civilization” Science Exhibition

LOS ANGELES, May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, launched an award-winning exhibition about scientific achievements from the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization, with a special video message at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The 1001 Inventions exhibition, which has attracted more than 1 million visitors over the past year during an international tour, opened for a VIP launch day on May 25th attended by LA County Sheriff Lee Baca and Ambassadors from LA-based foreign consulates.
In her pre-recorded message, Secretary Clinton praised the work of the 1001 Inventions initiative for “celebrating a millennium of science and innovation in the Muslim world,” and described the launch of the exhibition as “an exciting day.”

Mrs. Clinton remarked that “the Muslim world has a proud history of innovators” and highlighted the achievements of pioneers like Fatima Al-Fihri, who founded the world’s first modern university, and master engineer Al-Jazari, who created the crank mechanisms that drive every plane, train and automobile on the planet.

Prof. Salim Al-Hassani, Chairman of 1001 Inventions, commented, “We’re honored that Secretary Clinton agreed to launch our exhibition here at one of the most prestigious science museums in the world. California Science Center has an international reputation for excellence in providing engaging and entertaining science experiences for young and old alike.

“The goal of 1001 Inventions is to highlight the astounding contribution that Muslim civilization has made in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and how those advances still affect our lives today. More than a million people have already visited the 1001 Inventions exhibition during the first year of its global tour and that is the greatest endorsement we could ever hope for.”

The 1001 Inventions exhibition is currently on a five-year global tour, sponsored by ALJ Community Initiatives. Following blockbuster runs in London, Istanbul and New York, it will open to the public at the California Science Center, in Los Angeles, on May 27, 2011 for a seven-month run. The exhibition explores the scientific contributions made by men and women during the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization. Through interactive displays, guests will explore basic science principles that are often taken for granted, in such fields as optics, time-keeping, hydraulics, navigation, architecture and mathematics.

1001 Inventions highlights the contributions of scholars from a diverse region stretching from Spain through China during the 7th to 17th centuries. Visitors will discover how scholars from this region, of various faiths and cultures, preserved, nurtured, and advanced the world’s knowledge in science and technology.

The 1001 Inventions exhibition was recently crowned “Best Touring Exhibition” of the year at the annual Museums and Heritage Excellence Awards in London – considered by many to be the “Oscars” of the Museum world – fighting off stiff competition from some of the world’s biggest names in exhibitions.

I’m delighted to send greetings to each of you at this year’s 1001 Inventions, celebrating a millennium of science and innovation in the Muslim world. This exhibition honors the remarkable accomplishments of Muslims throughout history. From a woman who founded a University in the ninth century, to a thirteenth century inventor and mechanical engineer, to a surgeon whose writings influenced European medicine for hundreds of years, and so many more.

And of course, we’re looking at the impact of technology in the Muslim world right now as young people throughout the Middle East and North Africa find new ways to use social networking to get organized and to express their aspirations. Connection technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity. A platform through which everyone, from farmers to students to entrepreneurs, can exchange ideas and hatch plans for the world’s next great invention.

But technology does not decide the future. People do. So as this exhibition shows, the Muslim world has a proud history of innovators. Now is the time to tap in to that legacy to harness the power of science and technology, and to create new pathways to prosperity. This is an exciting day and thank you for letting me share it with you.

About 1001 Inventions

1001 Inventions is a global educational initiative that promotes awareness of scientific and cultural achievements from the ‘Golden Age’ of Muslim civilization and how those contributions helped build the foundations of our modern world. This period lasted approximately 1000 years from the 7th century onwards. The 1001 Inventions exhibition and educational products all highlight the scientific and technological achievements made by men and women, of different faiths and cultures, who lived in or were connected with broader Muslim civilization.

Originally funded by the British government and launched in the United Kingdom in 2006, 1001 Inventions was created by the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilization (FSTC). FSTC is a British-based non-profit, international network of the world’s leading academics with expertise in the history of science and technology. Both 1001 Inventions and FSTC are non-religious, apolitical organizations and have received support from various arms of the British government, the Wellcome Trust and the British Science Association. Prior to its London launch in January 2010, the content of 1001 Inventions was rigorously reviewed by its inaugural host, the London Science Museum.

13-23

Australia Muslims Push for Rights

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Patricia Karvelas

australia_kangarooMay 17, 2011 THE nation’s peak Muslim group is using the Gillard government’s re-embracing of multiculturalism to push for the introduction of sharia in Australia, but it says it would be a more moderate variety of Islamic law that fits with Australian values.

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the government’s new multiculturalism policy, argues that Muslims should enjoy “legal pluralism”.

In an interview with The Australian, the organisation’s president, Ikebal Adam Patel, who wrote the submission, nominated family law and specifically divorce as an area where moderate interpretations of sharia could co-exist within the Australian legal system.

In the submission, the AFIC acknowledges some Muslims believe Islamic law is immutable, regardless of history, time, culture and location.

“They claim that Muslims may change, but Islam will not,” it says.

The AFIC argues this is not the case and sharia can be applied in a way that fits in to Australia and is not extreme.

“This means most of the regulations in Islamic law may be amended, changed, altered, and adapted to social change.

“Therefore, Muslims Australia-AFIC takes the position that Islamic law is changeable according to the requirements of different places and times, and therefore suits the values shared by Australian people,” the submission says.

A hardline reading of sharia confers unilateral divorce rights on men, while women who initiate divorce are stripped of their property and financial entitlements.

A more moderate interpretation and common practice in Islamic countries is to recognise divorce by mutual consent.

In the interview, Mr Patel said: “I’m saying that instead of letting the extremists within Islam take over the agenda, we are saying there is a path whereby it will work for all the communities in a moderate way.

“It is important for someone who is Muslim or a practising Jew that aspects of our religion which can be incorporated within the greater legal system are introduced.

“This is about personal issues about family, and won’t affect any other Australian,” he said.

“It’s about a system that does not impinge on the rights of any other Australian.”

In its submission to the inquiry, the AFIC says criticisms of sharia as being biased against women and treating them as second-class citizens are wrong.

“It is important for Muslims to seriously consider this criticism,” the submission says.

“But it is also important for the Australian government to respect the rights of Muslim women who want to keep and maintain the way they dress, eat and interact with others, as long as such behaviour does not inflict harm to others.

“Muslims in Australia should accept the Australian values, and Australia should provide a ‘public sphere’ for Muslims to practise their belief. It takes two to tango.

“This approach demands a compromise from Islam, which should be open to other values, and also to make a similar demand of Australia.

“It is not only Australian Muslims who should reconcile these identities, but all Australians.”

Mr Patel says the AFIC, as the peak body of Islamic organisations in Australia, “strongly supports that multiculturalism should lead to legal pluralism . . . and twin tolerations”.

The submission cites regulations governing Islamic finance and halal certification in Australia as examples of how legal pluralism can work.

British law since 1996 has allowed for alternative dispute resolution through sharia tribunals, the rulings of which are enforceable in county courts and the High Court.

The submission calls on the inquiry members to consider “hard questions” from Muslim communities.

“Muslims are required to have social integration with the majority of people in Australia: what does this really mean? Should Muslims remove the hijab, dress like others, drink alcohol and go to the pub to demonstrate they have actually integrated?”

In most Western countries, the submission notes, the idea of an “Islamic family tribunal or arbitration is likely to fuel the debate on radicalism and liberalism”.

“But is it true that Australia will never consider Islamic law?” it asks.

“It seems that in two areas, namely Islamic finance and halal food, the Australian government has been actively involved.

“So although the Attorney-General ruled out introducing Islamic law, or sharia, at the same time Australian financial institutions are encouraged to do much more to attract Muslim business by developing innovative products which comply with Islamic law.

“Apart from the economic motive, how can we reconcile the conflicting statement and fact?”

From: The Australian

13-22