Articles of Interest, December 17th, 2007

Saudi King Pardons Rape Victim

CAIRO — Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has pardoned a gang-rape 19-year-old girl victim, who had been sentenced to 200 lashes for meeting a man in private before her ordeal.

The king’s has taken the decision because it is for the common good, well-placed sources told Saudi Al-Jazirah newspaper on Monday, December 17.

The unidentified girl was gang-raped last year by seven Saudi men in the Qatif region after being kidnapped at knifepoint along with a man with whom she was sitting in a car.

Despite her ordeal, the girl was sentenced in November 2006 to 90 lashes and six months in prison for being alone in a car with a man who was not a relative.

The man in the car, who was also raped by the seven men, was also given 90 lashes for meeting a strange woman in private.

The rapists were given jail terms from two to five years.

But the case hit international headlines only last month when the Supreme Judicial Council, which was reviewing the girl’s appeal, decided to toughen the girl’s punishment to 200 lashes and endorsed the six-month jail term.

The Council’s stance has raised many eyebrows and drew fire from international rights groups and Western governments.

Under pressure, the Justice Ministry issued a statement clarifying that the punishment was stiffened after the unmarried girl had admitted committing adultery with the man in the car.

But a council source the English-language Saudi daily Arab News that the judges decided to punish the girl further for “her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.”

  • Well it’s about time! I am truly delighted that justice was served, however wouldn’t it be a great and novel idea if sentences such as this were never given in the first place and judges ruled with the idea of patience and mercy? These judges, clerics, governments, etc. should pray that Allah (swt) isn’t as “merciful” as they are!

UK Jews Welcome MCB Holocaust Stance

LONDON — British Jews have welcome a decision by the British Muslim umbrella group to end its boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day, though Muslims remain divided on the move.

“I believe this is a step in the right direction,” Rabbi Barry Marcus from Great Portland Street Synagogue, told

“There is still a lot of work to be done to improve relations between the two communities but a serious stumbling block has been removed.”

Earlier this month, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) announced an end to the boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.

“Whilst noting with satisfaction the results of a national survey that gave full support to MCB’s non-participation in the Holocaust Memorial Day in the past, a significant number of respondents have indicated that the MCB should participate in the future for the sake of the common good,” it said in a statement.

“It is therefore resolved that the MCB will participate in the Holocaust Memorial Day.”

The MCB had not attended previous events since 2003, calling for an inclusive commemoration event to remember all worldwide victims of genocide.

While ending its boycott, the MCB reiterated that position.

  • I fully support the MCB on this one. Might I add that the MCB was also one of the major groups that issued a statement against Sudan in their indictment against Ms. Gibbons, the teacher who allowed her students to name a Teddy Bear Mohammad. I believe the MCB has gotten it right yet again, by A: ending their boycott and B: standing by the principle that states that all victims of genocide should be remembered, especially those groups facing genocide right now. It may be political suicide for a Muslim to say anything that can be viewed as against the holocaust, but we have to stand firm to the truth. Yes, the holocaust was and is one of the worst tragedies in human recorded history, however so was the African genocide of upward to half a billion Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, so is what is happening to the Palestinians, people of Darfur, and many other places. Why is it OK to commemorate the holocaust and ignore other peoples. Why continually make reparations and other nice gestures and ignore other groups? Maybe it’s just me, but I am a black American Muslim (triple threat 🙂 )

The Farewell Sermon of the Prophet

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) gave a summary of his teachings in his Khutbat Al-Wadaa` (Arabic for: Farewell Sermon), which can be categorized under three main headings:

1. Belief in the One God
2. Rule of law and morality
3. Rule of justice

Belief in the One God

Monotheism — pure, simple, uncomplicated, and unmixed — is the foundation on which the Islamic system of belief is based.

Only Almighty Allah, whom we cannot see, yet He sees us, is worthy of worship and is worshiped without any icons or other material representation.

He is capable of doing all things, though He is One. He is not only the Creator but also the Master of all, hence the multiplicity of His Attributes expressed by His 99 beautiful names.

The divine attributes or any of them does not stand by itself. As such, no divine attribute is worshiped as an independent entity the way pagans worship multiple gods and meanings.

Rule of Law and Morality

The Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet (the Sunnah) are to serve as the basis of law and a healthy criterion in every aspect of human life. The Prophet said,

I leave behind me two things; if you follow them, you will never go astray; these are Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet. (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

Vendetta and private justice were abolished:

Every right arising out of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived, and the first such right I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabi`ah ibn Al-Harith [a relative of the Prophet who was killed by the tribe Hudhail]. (Abu Dawud)

All believers are equal without distinction of race:

Learn that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. (At-Tirmidhi)

No one is superior to any other, except by individual excellence in piety and fear of Allah. Excellence of moral character is the only criterion of individual superiority in the eyes of Allah. Also, every person enjoys equality in the eyes of the law by reason of being a member of the human race.

O people, [mind that] your Lord is One and your father (i.e. Adam) is one. Except by piety and good deeds, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, a non-Arab have no superiority over an Arab, a white has no superiority over a black, and a black has no superiority over a white. (Ahmad)

Rule of Justice

Each and every human being has three fundamental and inviolable rights concerning selfhood, property, and honor. The Prophet declared,

O people, your blood, your property, and your honor are sacred to you like the sacredness of this day of yours, in this city of yours, and in this month of yours until the Day when you meet your Lord. (Al-Bukhari)

You will indeed meet your Lord and He will ask you about your deeds. (Muslim)

It was declared as a rule that constant accumulation of private wealth of the nation (Ummah) is to be avoided by means of (1) prohibition of interest, (2) obligatory inheritance and distribution of deceased persons’ property among near relatives of both sexes, and (3) restrictions on wills (no more than one third of property or estate can be disposed of by means of one’s will).

The rights of women were also recognized and emphasized. The Farewell Sermon puts it this way:

Fear Allah concerning women. Verily you have taken them on the covenant of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have right over them that they should not allow anyone whom you do not like to sit on your bed. But if they do that, you can chastise them but not severely. Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner. (Abu Dawud)

  • If the Ummah would only listen…..

Hajj – Beyond Rituals

The concrete pillar stood yonder and as I approached it with a handful of pebbles, I felt a certain stir of emotion.

I was brought up on the foundations that there are no idols to be worshipped and that we need no props to reach our Creator, and here I stood ready to pelt an innocuous looking concrete tower, called the Big Satan with stones.

Before I stopped and renounced my obligation of doing what had been ordained, the significance of the ritual I was supposed to embark upon struck me. Yes, we needed no idols but here is Allah Subhanahu wa Taala, telling us that we need to stone this idol called Satan. This exercise meant going against the conventions that I have become used to. This exercise meant that while no props were required for reaching out to Allah, but here we were to violate this conventional wisdom by seeing a concrete pillar as the accursed one and then pelt it with stones. This was an exercise to instill in us the reality that the All-Powerful can command us to accept what is beyond reality as and when He pleases.

The shattering of this mindset also testifies to the fact that the Hajj is beyond symbolism and a set package of exercises, as many would have us assume. The mere act of stoning a concrete pillar was an act to inform us that the Hajj is not an ordinary event but an extraordinary experience where even conventions change. The rituals of Hajj are not to make the pilgrims to go mindlessly through the motions prescribed in textbooks and return home with a ‘certificate’ of having been there.

The act of gathering Muslims from all corners of the inhabited world is much more than making them go through a set of prescribed rituals. If it were so, then we could have been asked to gather in congregations like we do on the two Eids and conduct such an exercise.

However, the largest congregation of people on earth in a single space needs to be examined from the perspective of the Prophetic advise contained in his last Hajj sermon to the believers where he directed them to convey the message to those who were absent from this great assembly.

  • Very insightful and thought provoking article. I have often pondered on some of these very same things, but I await my Hajj InshaAllah, before I come to concrete conclusions.

Smith’s ‘Legend’ grows with $76.5M debut

LOS ANGELES – For the last man on Earth, Will Smith sure has a lot of friends. The Warner Bros. tale “I Am Legend,” starring Smith as a plague survivor who may be the last living human, debuted with $76.5 million, the biggest December opening ever and a personal best for one of Hollywood‘s top box-office champs, according to studio estimates Sunday.

“It’s no wonder Will Smith feels so lonely. Everyone else on Earth is in the movie theater,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers.

  • Go see this movie!!!!!! I went to go see it 11:45pm Saturday night and the reaction of the packed stadium seated theater said it all: “Legend” really is one! I ordinarily don’t even attempt at movie reviews, but I have to at least say that this movie is well worth the hype. Will Smith delivers on many points with a Tom Hanks in “Castaway” mystique about him.

Russia Makes 1st Nuke Shipment to Iran

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia has made its first shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran’s Bushehr plant, which is at the center of the international tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Iran contends the nuclear power plant operation in Bushehr is strictly for civilian purposes, but the project concerns the United States and others who fear Tehran could use it to advance efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Construction at Bushehr had been frequently delayed. Officials said the delays were due to payment disputes, but many observers suggested Russia also was unhappy with Iran’s resistance to international pressure to make its nuclear program more open and to assure the international community that it was not developing nuclear arms.

“All fuel that will be delivered will be under the control and guarantees of the International Atomic Energy Agency for the whole time it stays on Iranian territory,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Moreover, the Iranian side gave additional written guarantees that the fuel will be used only for the Bushehr nuclear power plant.”

  • I believe it’s time we realize the inevitable……Iran has nuclear capability. Do they have the potential or will to create a nuclear weapon? No one truly knows. However, I believe it would probably be in our best interest to accept this fact and work toward a diplomatic resolution that will at the least help us to know what their intentions are and if we sustain formal relations, we may not have to worry about nuclear weapons. The best thing I believe we can do is accept and attempt at control. It’s almost like a teen having pre-marital sexual relations, you can either reject that and try to lock them in the house and watch their every move, or you can realize that they will find away even around your ideas, and just accept it and educate them on “safe sex” and other protections. You may not be able to stop the sexual behavior, but you can at least help prevent a disease or unplanned pregnancy.

Experts warn major Israel quakes fast approaching

As if political instability and rampant insecurity in the Middle East are not worrying enough, Israeli experts are warning that a major earthquake could strike the region at any time. Three minor quakes over the past month have served as a reminder that Israel and the West Bank sit atop one of the most sensitive fault lines in the world, where earthquakes have a history of causing havoc.

“We can say with certainty that an earthquake of a magnitude of six on the Richter scale could take place in the coming years,” said Yefim Gitterman from the seismology department at the geophysical institute of Lod, near Tel Aviv.

“It can happen tomorrow or in years to come,” he said. “Statistically, there is a major quake every 80 years.”

Under that assessment, Israel and the Palestinian territories should brace for a major earthquake soon, as the last one happened 80 years ago, on July 11, 1927, in British mandate Palestine when 300 people were killed in Jerusalem and Jericho.

A similar quake measuring seven on the Richter scale and with an epicentre in the Hula Valley, today in northern Israel up from the Sea of Galilee, devastated the town of Safed and killed some 4,000 people in 1837.

“Stronger earthquakes of a magnitude of seven are statistically less common,” Gitterman said. But that could be bad enough.

The Lod institute estimates that if a magnitude seven earthquake strikes the northern Jordan Valley or the Dead Sea, between 8,200 and 9,500 people could be killed, more than 20,000 injured and more than 20,000 left homeless.

Running north to south, the Hula Valley, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, the Arava Desert and the Red Sea lie on what is known as the Syrian-African fault line.

Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who saw Jerusalem fall to the invading Romans in 70 AD, also wrote that around 30,000 people perished in an earthquake whose epicentre was in the region of the Dead Sea in 31 BC.

The Lod institute, part of the infrastructure ministry, is on standby day and night to brief the Israeli authorities on the epicentre and magnitude of a powerful tremor within 10 minutes in order to mobilise an emergency response.

  • I read this article and it made me wonder what would happen? Would the Palestinians and the Israelis let humanity prevail over politics and religion, or would they help each other along ideological lines? God is trying to tell us something whether this happens or not, and often man refuses to accept it or listen. Once we began to look at mankind as one family and accept and respect differences, then maybe the healing can begin. Sometimes I believe it would take an “Independence Day” or “War of the Worlds” moment for us to unite and help one another. Maybe it would just take an earthquake……Let us pray we listen beforehand.

Videotape shows Sharpton cutting a deal

With a hidden FBI camera rolling inside a New York hotel suite in 2003, an unsuspecting Rev. Al Sharpton, Democratic candidate for president, spoke candidly.

Sharpton offered to help Philadelphia fund-raiser Ronald A. White win a multimillion-dollar business deal, if White helped him raise $50,000 for politics.

White offered $25,000. “If you bring my guys up on this hedge fund, and I have the right conversation,” White said, “I’ll give you what you need.”

“Cool,” Sharpton said.

The Inquirer obtained an account of the May 9, 2003, conversation, which was recorded as part of the Philadelphia City Hall corruption case. The tape helped spark a separate inquiry into Sharpton’s 2004 campaign and his civil-rights organization, the National Action Network. The FBI-IRS probe resurfaced publicly Wednesday, when Sharpton aides received subpoenas.

  • We all know what this suggests, but beside that, the one thing that concerns me is the admission that the bureau was secretly recording in Sharpton’s hotel room. Maybe it’s just me, but that in of itself is a “little” troubling….

Buck Young

Outside Phoenix store, border debate rages on

On East Thomas Road in Phoenix, the national shouting match over immigration unfolds week by week in a neighborhood that has changed in the same ways Arizona has.

Sheriff’s deputies patrol the parking lot at M.D. Pruitt’s Home Furnishings each Saturday, ensuring that no day laborers trespass on the property. Day-labor advocates mount protests nearby, blaring Mexican folk music while children dressed in traditional garb dance on the sidewalk.

Pruitt’s opened 57 years ago, but only recently did day laborers gather in large numbers to seek work on the sidewalks and parking lots of nearby businesses. The subdivisions that stretch back from Thomas Road have seen more and more Hispanic families arrive, changing the character of the neighborhood.

  • Look, I don’t know why this is so hard for some, but illegal immigration is just that: Illegal. Why should Americans tolerate an entire group of immigrants who are here illegally? Why should Americans be forced with the idea that we should be OK with people who willfully break the law? Let us not forget that in order to stay here illegally, many commit felonies such as false identification to get by the system. I personally do not get why people can’t see some Americans anger…..not to mention the economic impact(s)!


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