FaithWorld

Muslim washing rite goes hi-tech with “wudu” machine

wuduA Malaysian company has invented a machine it says will help Muslims purify themselves before prayers without excessively wasting water. The ornate, green-colored machine comes with automatic sensors and basins to curb water usage during wudu, an Arabic word used to describe the act of washing the face, arms and legs before prayers.

The wudu, or ablution, rite precedes the five daily prayers Muslims are obligated to perform. There are more than 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, with the majority in Africa and the Middle East where water supplies are scarce.

Inventors AACE Technologies is counting on rich countries in these two regions to snap up the machines that will be available in the next six months and cost $3,000-$4,000 a piece.

“During the Haj, two million people used 50 million liters water a day for wudu. If they introduce this machine they are saving 40 million liters per day,” AACE Chairman Anthony Gomez said, referring to the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Read the whole story.

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Q+A – What’s next in Malaysia’s “Allah” row?

allah facebook

Facebook group protesting Allah ruling, 5 Jan 2010/Bazuki Muhammad

Malaysia’s government has filed for a stay of execution pending its appeal of a court ruling allowing a Malay-language Catholic paper to describe the Christian God as “Allah”, amid growing Islamic anger in the country. We reported on the dispute here yesterday, including how it has spilled over into Facebook.

What lies ahead in this row threatening to increase religious tensions in the mainly Muslim but multi-racial Southeast Asian country?

Our Q+A asks why this is arousing so much anger, what happens next, whether there will be political fallout from the dispute and whether religious tensions present an important threat to religious, political and economic interests in Malaysia.

Malaysia’s “Allah” row spills over into Facebook

allah herald

The word "Allah" in a Malay-language Catholic newspaper, 29 Dec 2009/Bazuki Muhammad

More than 43,000 Malaysians have protested online over a court ruling allowing a Malay-language Catholic paper to use the word “Allah” for “God,” signaling growing Islamic anger in this mostly Muslim Southeast Asian country.

A group page on social networking site Facebook was drawing 1,500 new supporters an hour on Monday as last week’s court ruling split political parties and even families.  Among those who signed up for the protest were Deputy Trade Minister Mukhriz Mahathir, the son of Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister, Mahathir Mohamed, while Mahathir’s daughter Marina called critics of the court decision “idiots” in her blog.

World halal standard would help $2 trillion industry, Malaysia says

halalMalaysia hopes that Muslim countries can agree on which goods and products are halal, or acceptable to Muslims, a move that would boost the $2 trillion industry, although politics and interpretation of islamic law may complicate the task.
(Photo: Halal label at Kuala Lumpur restaurant, 8 April 2005/Bazuki Muhammad)

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is working on a single standard to be applied in its 57 member countries.  Agreement to regulate the halal industry, which ranges from financial institutions to cosmetics and meat, would help trade and speed up the certification for makers of halal products.“Malaysia’s halal certification is recognised worldwide so perhaps we can play an important role in creating a global standard,” Malaysia’s religious affairs minister Jamil Khir Baharom said in an interview on Thursday. “We need a halal certification that everyone can use easily.”Muslim jurists do not always agree on what is halal. Islam prohibits the consumption of pork and prescribes how animals must be slaughtered, but there has been debate on the acceptability of non-alcoholic beer, collagen and vinegar.See the full story here.

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from Global News Journal:

Southeast Asia’s Islamists try the domino theory

Photo: Jihad book collection in Jakarta Sept.21, 2009. REUTERS/Supr

A half-century ago, Washington worried about Southeast Asian nations falling like dominoes to an international communist movement backed by Maoist China, and became bogged down in the Vietnam War.

Noordin Top, believed to be the mastermind behind most of the suicide bombings in Indonesia -- including the July 17 attacks on two luxury Jakarta hotels -- pronounced himself to be al Qaeda's franchise in Southeast Asia.

Top and his allies in Jemaah Islamiah (JI) aimed to create an Islamic caliphate across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, southern Thailand and Southern Philippines. Even before the 9/11 suicide airliner attacks, they were trying to spark an Islamic revolution with ambitious plots and attacks.

Malaysian Muslims charged for cow-head protest against Hindus

cow-head-protestSix Malaysian Muslims have been charged with sedition after they marched with a cow’s head to protest the construction of a Hindu temple in a case that has stirred racial tensions in the country. The men were from a group of about 50 who had marched on Aug. 28 with the head of a cow, which is sacred to Hindus, to protest a plan to build a Hindu temple in their mainly Muslim neighbourhood. (Photo: Protesters stomp on cow’s head, 28 Aug 2009/Samsul Said)

The incident has angered Malaysia’s mainly Hindu Indians who make up 9 percent of this mostly Muslim country of 27 million people.

Analysts say the protest reflected the increasingly difficult task Prime Minister Najib Razak has in narrowing ethnic and religious differences to win back ethnic minorities who abandoned the government in last year’s polls. “The trial shows how precarious race and religious issues still are in Malaysia, and how a small issue like the relocation of a temple can spark off a potential race riot,” said James Chin, a politics professor at Monash University in Kuala Lumpur.

Why beer doesn’t mix well with mainly Muslim Malaysia

beerBeer, which as an alcoholic beverage is forbidden in Islam to its believers, has long had it easy in mainly Muslim Malaysia. The country’s population of 27 million is made up of about 55 percent Malay Muslims and mainly Chinese and Indian ethnic minorities who practice a variety of faiths including Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism. The personal right of the non-Muslims to drink alcoholic beverages is legally recognised, a sign of tolerance despite the special status of Islam under Article 11 of the Malaysian constitution.  So beer is not difficult to find in convenience stores, supermarkets and entertainment outlets. (Photo: Beer drinkers, 20 July 2009/Nguyen Huy Kham)

But this easygoing attitude towards beer has hit the rocks of late amid what some suspect has been a growing religiosity of the country’s Muslims.  Last month, 32-year old Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarnor very nearly became the first woman to be caned in Malaysia for drinking alcohol under rarely enforced Islamic criminal laws.  Caught drinking beer in a hotel lobby in the eastern state of Pahang by religious enforcement officers, she was sentenced to six strokes of the cane and a fine.  This was possible because Malaysia practices a dual-track legal system. Muslims are subject to Islamic family and criminal laws that run alongside national civil laws.

malaysia-1A Malaysian Islamic appeals court judge ordered a review of Kartika’s sentence, but a public debate is still raging. Opinions are divided even among Islamic scholars with some questioning what the exact punishment for the offence, which isn’t specified in the Quran, should be. Others are in full support and believe that Kartika’s sentence was mild.

Does Malaysia caning herald a more Islamic state?

MALAYSIA-CANING/

A Malaysian state is to proceed with the caning of a Muslim woman who drank alcohol once the holy month of Ramadan is over. Does this herald a more islamic state in the country? See a Q & A by my colleague Niluksi Koswanage on this topic here.

See more of our coverage here and on the video below.

(PHOTO: Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno talks to her father Shukarno from a van belonging to the Islamic Religious Department at her father’s house in Sungei Siput, about 300km (186 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia’s state of Perak August 24, 2009. REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim (MALAYSIA SOCIETY RELIGION CRIME LAW)

from Global Investing:

Islamic finance faces diversity crossroads

Is diversity of opinion boon or bane for Islamic finance?

Market participants gathered for a conference at Thomson Reuters’ London headquarters earlier this week discussed the need for more convergence in the industry estimated to be worth $1 trillion.

Of particular focus was the role of sharia scholars who rule on whether investment products are in line with Islamic teachings.

“Sharia scholars who sit as advisers have a crucial role to play in retaining public confidence,” Rifaat Ahmed Abdel Karim, secretary general of the Islamic Financial Services Board, an international standards-setting body for the industry, told the forum.

from Global News Journal:

Sex education again in Malaysia, thanks to the courts

By Niluksi Koswanage

Gay Austrian fashionista Bruno will not be making an appearance on Malaysia's screens this summer for fear of corrupting this mostly-Muslim nation's youth.

But Malaysia's parents will still not have it easy as the country's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim  is again on trial for sodomy in a re-run of a 14-month case that in 1998 generated endless sexually explicit headlines and questions from curious children.

Photo: Anwar enters Kuala Lumpur courtoom with wife Wan Aziza Wasn Ismail for his sodomy trial on July 15/ Reuters (Zainal Abd Halim)