South African Cricketer Converts to Islam

August 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell announced this week that he converted to Islam this past January.

South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell announced this week that he converted to Islam this past January after a period of personal study and reflection and will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Friday as a Muslim.

He indicated in a statement to the press that he converted after a period of study and reflection, and is considering to change his name to Waleed, which means ‘Newborn Son’.

“While I have not yet decided on an Islamic name I have considered the name Waleed which means Newborn Son, but for now my name remains Wayne Dillon Parnell. I will continue to respect the team’s endorsement of alcoholic beverages. I am playing cricket in Sussex and this is my immediate focus,” said Parnell in his statement.

“As I am approaching my first period of fasting, I ask that this special time is treated with respect. I am a young man, a professional cricketer by trade, and while I can appreciate and am grateful for the public interest in my personal life, my faith choice is a matter which I would like to keep private,” said Parnell.

Proteas team manager Mohamed Moosajee, himself a Muslim, indicated that Parnell’s Muslim teammates Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir did not influence him in his decision to convert to Islam.

“Wayne already decided a few months ago to follow Islam,” Moosajee said to reporters. “The decision to convert was his own decision, but I know nothing of the name change,” he added.

Parnell’s teammates confided privately that Parnell was very serious about his conversion, and that he had not touched any alcohol since the recent Indian Premier League series. The players also reportedly confirmed that Hashim Amla never attempted to convert them to his religion, but they indicated that Parnell was impressed by the discipline and strict adherence that Amla showed to his religion, by refusing to participate in celebrations with them that involved liquor, staying regular with his daily prayers even while on tour, and refusing to wear the uniform sponsored by South African beer brand Castle Lager.

In his first two years with the team, beginning in 2009, Parnell developed a reputation as a partier. In October of 2009, he was kicked out of his provincial team following an incident in a night club in the city of Port Elizabeth in the early hours of the morning. How things have changed, as Parnell just turned 22 last Friday, and he celebrated his birthday, without alcohol, as a Muslim.

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Gulf Islamic Banks Eye Conversion of Conventional Peers

May 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Frederik Richter and Shaheen Pasha

MANAMA/DUBAI (Reuters) – More banks in the Gulf Arab region may convert to Islamic finance in a bid to tap rising demand for sharia-compliant products and to avoid the heavy investment required to launch new banks.

A source told Reuters this month that Qatari investors are planning to buy a 25 percent stake in Ahli United Bank <AUBB.BH> <AUBK.KW> from Kuwaiti investors and have plans to convert Bahrain’s largest retail bank, which itself plans to take its Kuwaiti unit Islamic.

“Converting to Islamic is compelling in the region. In Kuwait Islamic banks have rapidly won market share from conventional ones,” said Sayd Farook, senior consultant at Dar Al Istithmar.

Converting conventional banks would help the industry expand its retail footprint — for instance in countries where no new licenses are given out but conversions are allowed –, which experts say the industry needs to develop a more sustainable business model.

The Islamic banking industry in the Gulf Arab region has mostly relied on channeling the region’s oil wealth into real estate and private equity, and was badly hit by a regional property correction late in 2008.

“I would say between 70 to 80 pct of the Muslim market (in the region) would bank with an Islamic bank….if you are an Islamic bank you get to capture that market,” said Sameer Abdi, head of Islamic finance at Ernst & Young.

Scholars have said they do not oppose converting conventional banks as long as their investments and debt levels are brought in line with sharia, which bans investments in certain sectors such as alcohol, over a grace period.

“There is usually a two-year conversion gap from the moment you convert….during which you need to give away to charity any income from conventional instruments,” said Farook.

Experts say that converting a bank comes cheaper than launching a green-field retail bank, but costs associated with revamping the bank’s work-flow, accounting and core banking IT systems are still high.

“Depending on the scale of the bank and the market in which it operates, it could take two or three years before the investment pays off,” said Hatim El Tahir, a Bahrain-based director at Deloitte & Touche.

Abdi said he estimated that up to 15 percent of existing customers could leave a converted bank, not necessarily because they disapprove of the switch to sharia, but because the bank might struggle to maintain its service level during a difficult transition period.

Bahrain’s Al Salam Bank <SALAM.BH> is converting Bahraini Saudi Bank <BSBB.BH>, which it bought last year, as is Egypt’s National Bank for Development <DEVE.CA> after Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank <ADIB.AD> partially bought the lender in 2007.

But the Gulf Arab region is rarely seeing mergers and acquisitions due to cultural sensitivities and opaque ownership structures, which could be the biggest obstacle to the conversion of conventional assets.

Bahrain’s Ithmaar Bank <ITHMR.BH> this month concluded the transformation from an investment house to an Islamic retail bank to improve its funding base, but could do so because it fully owned Islamic retail bank Shamil.

But Kuwaiti banks and merchant families have been badly hit by the financial crisis and are trying to sell down their international assets, which could be a way in.

Their ownership in many banks in the off-shore banking center Bahrain, both Islamic and conventional, could migrate to Qatari investors and banks that are awash with cash, bankers and analysts say.

“Qatar is a small economy…the bigger banks are looking at other markets,” said Janany Vamadeva, banking analyst at HC Brokerage, adding that Qatari companies would also be best positioned to raise money in current capital markets.

(Reporting by Frederik Richter and Shaheen Pasha; Editing by Dinesh Nair and Louise Heavens)

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IAGD Badminton Tournament

February 28, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By Faraz Haq, haq.faraz786@gmail.com

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC On the 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th of February 2010, Islamic Association of Greater Detroit (IAGD) hosted its first annual men’s badminton tournament. This tournament was quite popular as the IAGD Board of Trustees chairman Dr. Ghaus Malik, Board of Directors President Br. Syed Hussain Akbar, Tawheed Center president Dr. Khalid Javed, Imam Aly Lela, and Imam Hafiz Ahmed Rabbani, and Mayor Bryan Barnett of Rochester Hills were all in attendance on the final day. The tournament was a hit as a fair amount of spectators were present throughout the tournament including many of the youth as well. Tasty food was available on all days and kids activities were planned on February 14th.

The tournament began with a short speech given by Dr. Malik emphasizing the importance of such sporting events being held at the Mosque and pledged his full support for the future. The teams represented the communities of IAGD of Rochester Hills, MCWS of Canton and the Tawheed Center of Farmington Hills. The tournament was highlighted by star player Azam Abbasi of Tawheed Center, who is a former university champion of Rajiv Gandhi Univ. of Health Sciences in India. 16 teams participated in doubles action, with 12 teams participating in singles action. The teams were divided into four groups. Teams played on a single league basis within their groups followed by the playoffs.

In singles action, Azam Abbasi defeated Syed Najam of IAGD to advance to the finals. His opponent in the final match was Amin Hashmi of IAGD who was able to defeat Syed Zia of IAGD. In the finals Azam was able to defeat Amin in a best of 3 series by a score of 15/4 for the first game, and 15/5 for the second. Azam displayed his repertoire of different shots including beautiful drop shots, powerful smashes, and sound backhands. He seemed to covering the court with great ease and made the game look effortless. Amin provided great competition, however, he proved to be no match for the skills of Azam.

In doubles action, Syed Najam and Mahmood Akhtar of IAGD defeated Mansoor Khan and  Shahid Ahmed of IAGD to advance to the finals. Their competition was the team of Azam and Irfan Bhatti of Tawheed Center who were able to defeat Nasir Husain and Amin Hashmi of IAGD in the semifinals. The doubles finals turned out to be the most intense encounter of the event. The team of Syed and Mahmood won the first game by a score of 15/6. Azam and Irfan came back strong to win the second game by the score of 15/10. In the third and final game, the score was tied at 14, with both teams having to score one point each to win. Azam performed one of his powerful smashes just to the left of Mahmood’s outstretched arms and was awarded the championship point of the tournament. Both teams were exceptional, performing a wide array of shots and giving 100% effort.

Winners and Runners teams of Singles & Doubles events received trophies from Mayor Barnett and IAGD president Br.  Akbar. Cash awards for Winners and Runners were given by Br. Shahid Tahir.

The first annual IAGD men’s badminton tournament was a big success. There was great game play, with a big audience in attendance. Mayor Barnett expressed his joy at watching the wonderful badminton game play, and emphasized the need for healthy competitions which bring the different communities together. IAGD president Hussain Akbar was thrilled with the event and praised all who took part in organizing the tournament.

IAGD Gym committee sincerely appreciates the support from Mutahir Jamali of MCWS and Tariq Tahir of Tawheed Center for making sure that their teams participated in the tournament. Gym committee also appreciates the effort of Muqueem Sports for setting up a sales booth in the gymnasium from where players and fans purchased badminton rackets, birdies, and other accessories.  Many thanks are also due to the hardworking volunteers: Muhammad Faisal, Asad Sabir Ali, Asghar Ali, Shan Haq, Syed Zafarullah, Shahab Khan, Faisal Sultan, and Sr.  Durdana Shamim. Special thanks to Dr. Nasir Husain for actively participating in the tournament. The tournament generated such a buzz that the IAGD Gym Committee is considering holding youth badminton and cricket camps to promote future youth tournaments. Once again, the IAGD Gym Committee Chair Shahid Ahmed and Vice Chair Muhammad Faisal are truly grateful to all for making this wonderful event possible and inshallah many more will be organized in the near future.

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U.S. Drone Missile Kills Filipino Bomber in Pakistan

January 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Inquirer.net, News Report, Philippine Daily Inquirer

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — An alleged Abu Sayyaf demolition expert wanted by the United States for $1M is believed to have been killed in an American drone strike close to the Afghan border earlier this month, Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday.

If confirmed, the death of Abdul Basit Usman would represent another success for the U.S. covert missile program on targets in Pakistan. There have been an unprecedented number of attacks this month following a deadly Dec. 30 bombing of a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Afghanistan.

There had been no previous indication that Usman, who was captured by Philippine authorities in 2002 but escaped months later, was in Pakistan.

If the reports of his death are true, it may indicate stronger ties between the worldwide terror group al-Qaida and Southeast Asian extremist groups than previously thought.

In Manila, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it was verifying the report.

AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. told reporters military intelligence was still checking if indeed it was Usman who was killed in Pakistan.

Brawner said an intelligence report “sometime last year” indicated Usman was still in Mindanao. “We are still waiting for the report from our intelligence,” he said.

But if the report of Usman’s death was true, it would “to some extent” cripple the capability of the Abu Sayyaf, Brawner said.

MILF Welcomes Report

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) expressed relief at the report.

“We are happy and we welcome the report. We hope it is true,” Eid Kabalu, MILF civil-military affairs chief, said.

Kabalu said Usman’s death vindicated the MILF, which had been accused by the military of coddling the alleged bomber.

Usman was linked to a series of attacks in Mindanao, including the 2006 bombing in Makilala, North Cotabato, that killed half a dozen people.

In 2002, cohorts sprang him from the Sarangani provincial jail. He escaped along with Pentagon gang leader Alonto Tahir.

Maguindanao Tribe

Kabalu said Usman belonged to the Maguindanao tribe, having been born and raised in Ampatuan town.

There were also reports that Usman was involved in extortion activities of the Abu Sofia and the al-Khobar gangs, which have been linked to the Abu Sayyaf.

Kabalu said Usman had never been an MILF member but that his brother, Ustadz Mohiden, belonged to the MILF’s religious committee. Mohiden disappeared in 2004 after government agents seized him, Kabalu said.

“He (Usman) was not a member (of the MILF) but he trained many MILF members in bomb-making,” said Maj. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command.

On Most-Wanted List

Two military intelligence officers in northwestern Pakistan said Usman was believed killed on Jan. 14 on the border of Pakistan’s South and North Waziristan tribal regions. Another 11 militants were also killed in the strike on an extremist compound.

The US State Department’s list of most-wanted terrorists identifies Usman as a bomb-making expert with links to the Abu Sayyaf bandit group and the Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiyah network.

The State Department has put a bounty of $1 million for information leading to Usman’s conviction, and says he is believed responsible for bombings in the southern Philippines in 2006 and 2007 that killed 15 people.

Home to Terrorists

Waziristan and other parts of Pakistan’s border region have long been home to militants from all over the world, primarily Arabs and central Asians.

Up to several hundred Filipino and other Southeast Asian militants traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1980s and ’90s to fight the Soviets and attend al-Qaida-run camps, but they are no longer believed to be in the region in significant numbers.

The apparent presence of Usman in Waziristan may raise fresh questions as to links between al-Qaida in Pakistan and extremists in Southeast Asia, which has seen several bloody bombings and failed terror plots since 2000. Many were carried out by extremists who had returned from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Pakistani officials cited extremist informers as the source of the information on Usman’s death—which could not be independently confirmed. One of them said Usman had been in Waziristan for one year after arriving from Afghanistan.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media on the record.

Pakistani government officials rarely confirm the identities of those killed in US attacks.

Unmanned Planes

Islamabad publicly complains about the US missile strikes because admitting to cooperating with the United States would be politically damaging, but it is believed to provide intelligence for many of them.

US officials, also, do not often talk about the missile strikes or their targets, but they have in the past confirmed the deaths of several mid- and high-level al-Qaida and Taliban fighters.

Most of the missiles are fired from unmanned drone aircraft launched from Afghanistan.

Asked about the drone program during an interview with local Express TV, visiting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said: “I’m not going to discuss operations but I will say this: These unmanned aerial vehicles have been extremely useful to us, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan.”

Shadow Aircraft

Gates said he was expanding the program by buying more of the aircraft. He also said the United States was considering ways to share intelligence with the Pakistani military, including possibly giving it US-made drones for intelligence and reconnaissance purposes.

U.S. officials said Gates was referring to a proposed deal for 12 unarmed Shadow aircraft.

With reports from AP; Jocelyn R. Uy, in Manila; and Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

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