With gold scarce, India’s Hindu festival season loses its shine

(An artist blows gold powder paint on an idol of Hindu Goddess Laxmi (goddess of wealth) ahead of Diwali festival in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh October 19, 2008. REUTERS/Ajay Verma )

A scarcity of gold and high prices are pushing Indians to look to silver or diamond jewellery as alternative gifts this festive season, adding to the gloom in the gold trade after government measures to restrict imports.

Indians are the biggest buyers of gold in the world and many believe that buying and giving it on holy days brings good fortune. Friday marks Dhanteras, a huge festival associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and another festival, Diwali, falls on Sunday.

“So far, we have sold just two gold rings today. It’s a far cry from what it was during Dhanteras last year,” said executive Sanjay Kumar at Chawla Jewellers in New Delhi. Saleswomen in bright traditional sarees sat idle.

Outside the shop, a big banner trumpets a 1,000 rupee ($16) discount on gold market prices and a discount of up to 50 percent on diamond jewellery.

Kenyan crackdown on militant Islamists fuels Muslim resentment

(A police officer holds his position outside the Masjid Mussa mosque during an operation to to suppress demonstrators reacting to the killing of an Islamic cleric at Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Joseph Okanga)

A Kenyan police crackdown on Islamists is fuelling Muslim resentment and moderate preachers say it undermines their efforts to counter recruiting by al Qaeda militants with links across the border in Somalia.

Smashing Islamist recruitment networks among its Muslim minority has become a priority for Kenya, however, as it tries to end attacks by Somali militants bent on punishing it for sending troops over the frontier to fight al Shabaab rebels.

Mystery of Gestapo chief’s fate is solved … and it shocks German Jews

(A Star of David is pictured on a fence at Grosse Hamburger Strasse Jewish cemetery in Berlin, October 31, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch )

Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller, the most senior Nazi whose fate has until now remained unknown, died in Berlin in 1945 and, in a chilling twist for an organiser of the Holocaust, lies in a Jewish cemetery, a German historian says.

Müller, who ran the Gestapo secret police before and during World War Two, was last spotted in Adolf Hitler’s bunker in Berlin the day after the Nazi leader committed suicide in 1945.

Malaysia PM Razak says curb on use of the word ‘Allah’ is key to stability

(Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak addresses the World Islamic Economic Forum in London October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor )

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak defended a court ruling banning a Christian newspaper from using the word “Allah” to refer to God, saying on Thursday it would help ensure stability.

The court decision this month fanned religious tensions and raised questions over minority rights in the mainly Muslim country.

Islamic finance scholars launch global professional association

(People withdraw cash from an automatic teller machine at a CIMB Islamic branch in Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur August 26, 2013. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad )

Some of the world’s most well-known Islamic finance scholars are launching a self-regulating professional association that will develop training and professional conduct standards for the gatekeepers of Islamic business.

The Association of Sharia Scholars in Islamic Finance (ASSIF), a British-registered charity, will address a longstanding problem in the industry: the lack of a clear, commonly recognised set of qualifications for scholars.

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti urges youths not to go fight in Syria

(A Free Syrian army fighter walks with his weapon through a hole in the wall in Aleppo’s Karm al-Jabal district, October 13, 2013. REUTERS/Saad Abobrahim)

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, the highest religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, has urged young Saudis to refrain from fighting in Syria.

The kingdom has backed the rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad, publicly calling on the world powers to “enable” Syrians to protect themselves, but is wary that fighters could return home ready to wage war on their own dynastic rulers.

Use Aristotle to de-fluff business-society debate

(Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC/National Museum of Rome)

By Edward Hadas*

It is relatively easy to gather 120 people in an elegant building in central London to discuss how businesses can better serve society. “Blueprint for Business”, a group organised by the Catholic diocese of Westminster, did exactly that last Thursday. The group’s goal is to offer a realistic agenda for corporate virtue.

Virtue may rank some way down the agendas of most chief executives and boards of directors. They tend to measure their success in financial terms: revenue growth rates, returns on capital, shareholder value. While companies say nice things about social responsibility, the reality is that they consider it as little more than fluff. Ethics, they think, is someone else’s business.

Saudi Arabia frees man jailed 20 months for Mohammad tweets – sources

(Saudi blogger Hamza Kashgari/photo issued by Kashgari)

A Saudi blogger was freed on Tuesday, 20 months after he was detained for publishing an imaginary conversation with Islam’s Prophet Mohammad on Twitter, his friend and a lawyer said, though there was no confirmation from the government.

Hamza Kashgari fled Saudi Arabia for Malaysia in February last year after his tweets enraged some conservative Muslims and triggered death threats. He was extradited back to the kingdom days later and imprisoned.

“He was freed this morning,” the 24-year-old’s friend told Reuters, but declined to comment further. Prominent human rights lawyer Abdulrahman Allahim congratulated Kashgari on his release on Twitter.

India police say Islamists behind attack on Hindu nationalist opposition rally

(Smoke rises after a bomb exploded near a public ground where Gujarat’s chief minister and Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi was to address a rally in the eastern Indian city of Patna October 27, 2013. REUTERS/Krishna Murari Kishan )

An Islamist militant group is believed to be behind an attack on a rally by Indian Hindu nationalist politician Narendra Modi that killed six people and wounded more than 80, police said on Tuesday.

Modi, who has a good chance of becoming India’s next prime minister, is seen as a target of militants who hold him responsible for riots a decade ago during his first term as chief minister of Gujarat state. At least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in the rioting.

Traditionalists warn Anglican Communion rift over gay issue may widen

(Kenyan worshipers arrive at the All Saints Cathedral Church for a evening service at the capital Nairobi, November 3, 2003/Reuters)

Western churches risk widening a rift in the Anglican Communion if they follow North America by blessing same-sex marriages or allowing sexually active gays to be bishops, a leader of a traditionalist group said on Friday.

The global association of 80 million Anglicans has split deeply since Canada’s Anglican Church began blessing same-sex couples in 2002 and the Episcopal Church, its U.S. branch, ordained Gene Robinson as its first gay bishop in 2003.