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Friday, October 31, 2014

Ashura of Muharram - A Shia and Sunni Muslim Observance | IqraSense.com

Ashura of Muharram - A Shia and Sunni Muslim Observance | IqraSense.com

Assalamu-Alaikum and Greetings !
Ashura of Muharram
With Ashura at our doorsteps, this is a reminder for you to fast the two days of Ashura on the 9th and 10th of Muharram (or 10th and 11th of Muharram 1436 AH). Per Makkah calendar, 9th and 10th of Muharram correspond to Sunday and Monday, 2nd and 3rd of November, 2014.
Another point to note for the month of Muharram is the authentic hadith by the prophet mentioned in Sahih Muslim (hadith # 1163) where he (s.a.w.s.) says, "The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allaah Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night."
Do let others know about this so they, too, can fast on the two days of Muharram as instructed to us by our prophet (sa.w.s.)

10th of Muharram (the day of Ashura / Ashoora) is observed as an important day by both Sunni and Shia Muslims – however, for different reasons.
Most scholars believe that Ashura is named as such because of “tenth” of Muharram (ten is translated as “Ashara” in the Arabic language)
Sunni Muslims look at Ashura as a day of “respect and gratitude” (for Prophet Moosa and his nation), while Shia Muslims believe that day to be a day of mourning and sorrow. The following is an explanation of the difference.

Sunni Muslims

Based on the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (saws), Sunni Muslims celebrate Ashura as the day when Prophet Moses (Moosa) fasted on that day because Allah saved the Israelites from their enemy in Egypt. One of the many Ahadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) that attests to that is in Bukhari that states:
Narrated by al-Bukhaari (1865) from Ibn ‘Abbaas, who said: The Prophet (saws) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashoora. He said, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Moosa fasted on this day.” He (the Prophet Muhammad) said, “We are closer to Moosa (Prophet Moses) than you.”
So he (the Prophet Muhammad) fasted on this day and told the people to fast.
There are many other versions of this Hadith in the books of “Muslim” and “Bukhari”.
According to a version narrated by Muslim,
This is a great day when Allah saved Moosa (Moses) and his people and drowned Pharaoh and his people.”
Sunni Muslims celebrate Ashura by fasting on that day. Usually, Sunni Muslims are recommended to fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram.
Al-Shaafa’i and his companions, Ahmad, Ishaaq and others said: It is mustahabb [recommended] to fast both the ninth and the tenth, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted the tenth and intended to fast the ninth. Based on this, there are different ways of fasting ‘Ashoora’, the least of which is to fast the tenth only, but it is better to fast the ninth as well. The more one fasts in Muharram, the better. (islamqa.info)
In Jewish tradition, this festival is celebrated as the Passover, which is their way to commemorate their liberation over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in ancient Egypt that was ruled by the Pharaohs, and their freedom under the leadership of Prophet Moses. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.
Other Ahadith on the subject are the following:
The prophet observed the fast on Ashuraa (the 10th of Muharram), and ordered (Muslims) to fast on that day. (Agreed upon Hadith i.e. Bukhari & Muslim).
Narrated by Abi Katada: The prophet was asked about fasting on ‘Ashuraa’ (the 10th of Muharram), he said: “it expiates the previous year (for sins).” (Sahih Muslim)
It was proven from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that the best fasting after Ramadan is fasting in the month of Muharram. It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” Narrated by Muslim, 1163.

Shia Muslims Observance

Shia Muslims observance of Ashura is different altogether. They observe Ashura as the day of martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala. Shia Muslims, therefore, consider this a day of sorrow and observe it as such by refraining from music, listening to sorrowful poetic recitations, wearing mourning attire, and refraining from all joyous events (e.g. weddings) that in anyway distract them from the sorrowful remembrance of that day.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rebuilding Somalia - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

Rebuilding Somalia - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

In September 2014, we were invited by the president's office to come and film in Somalia. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is heading up the latest in a series of short-lived administrations since the country's descent into chaos that followed the fall of the Siad Barre dictatorship in 1989.

In order to build peace MP's were selected by elders to represent the different clans and when the government came to power two years ago, it was greeted by a wave of euphoria. It was a recognition of realpolitik: after two decades of conflict, order and a new administration could only be build by compromise.
Now it is high time for the central government to build the federal state and to extend its reach outside Mogadishu. Both, the president and the prime minister have been travelling across the country to speed up the creation of new, regional states. Without a national army and with African Union peacekeeping forces limited in scope the federal state can only be created by building alliances with local power brokers, even if that means brokering a compromise between national and regional clan interests.

Madobe, a former al-Shabab leader who changed sides and came to power with the backing of Kenyan forces operating inside Somalia, is now the leader of the Jubaland Interim Administration. With much international backing the goal is to hold a regional Jubaland reconciliation conference to bring together the opposing clans and to make the new administration truly representative.

As we start following the president on a series of meetings with elders and warlords from Kismayo we begin to understand how perilous this situation is. Our first encounter is with former warlord Ahmed Madobe, now in charge of Jubaland, one of Somalia's newest regional states.
This is far from easy. Back in Mogadishu we meet Barre Hiraale in the presidential office, another warlord, also from the Kismayo region who is opposed to Madobe.
Over the last years, Hiraale's fighters had repeatedly clashed with Madobe's forces and only a week earlier Hiraale given himself up and conceded defeat. Now he is negotiating with the president the conditions under which he hopes to join the Jubaland reconciliation, strong official post is likely to bring him into the fold, too small an offer will turn him into a spoiler.
Jubaland is one of the most advanced new, federal Somali states but the reality is that not all clans have come on board and al-Shabab is still very present. According to the Kenyan army nearly 200 al-Shabab fighters have been killed in the four weeks since our filming creating a possible vacuum that a new and representative representation needs to fill if it is to last.
But not all clans have come on board and attacks in Kismayo are still frequent. Ultimately, both the lasting defeat of al-Shabab and the integration of the remaining clans will depend on the ability of the central administration to present itself as transparent and willing to devolve power.
But therein lies yet another problem, transparency seems a long way off. At Mogadishu airport, we meet representatives of a Turkish construction company tasked with building the new terminal. Development aid given to Somalia by Turkey, and contracts granted in the other direction have given rise to a debate about the 'special relationship' between the two countries. After the president's inspection of the new terminal we headed to Mogadishu seaport to meet protesting workers. The contract to modernise the seaport had been given to Turkish company but was rejected by MP's for lack of transparency.
Over the past two years, UN investigators have repeatedly criticised the government for striking up secret contracts and cooperation agreements. This has led to a review of major international contracts by the the newly installed Finance Governance Committee, a watchdog with an IMF and World Bank presence.
Back at the airport we were witness to yet another - but unplanned - encounter. It was small but revealing: The president and the prime minister collided over the use the airport VIP lounge for meetings with a visiting US delegation. Both men assured us that their relationship is cordial but the clash over the recent cabinet reshuffle and the position of the justice minister makes this all but questionable.
After 25 years of warlord rule and a brief reign of al-Shabab, we saw a government that feels pressured to reward its allies in order to build relationships that move the country forward whilst struggling to also remain accountable. In the absence of any alternatives, both Somali citizens and the international community are willing to lend support. But patience is wearing thin. If it is not seen to be transparent, clean and independent this once hopeful government could run the risk of taking the country back to the brink.

UAE female students sign up for national service - Al Arabiya News

UAE female students sign up for national service - Al Arabiya News

Female students in the UAE were seen applying to join the country’s national service during an Armed Forces pavilion in Abu Dhabi this week, Gulf News reported on Wednesday.
While national service is optional for Emirati women, the decision to enroll is supported with benefits from the state, “including priority for jobs in government institutions and private businesses, marriage grants, housing plots and scholarships,” Gulf News reported citing a draft law.
“The most significant accomplishment towards gender equality in the UAE, and even in the region, is most visible through women’s participation in the military. Emirati women expressed a great desire for preparation in defending this country this year,” Azza Jasem, a trainer at a military school in Abu Dhabi, told the newspaper.
Earlier this year, the UAE issued a law making military service compulsory for Emirati men in a move highlighting the Gulf state’s concern over unrest in the region.
The law applies to all males between the ages of 18 and 30 and in good medical health. Men who have a high school degree or its equivalent will serve nine months, while those who do not have a high school diploma will serve for two years, state news agency WAM reported.

UAE official warns of potential for IS-Shabab link - US News

UAE official warns of potential for IS-Shabab link - US News

The United Arab Emirates' top diplomat warned Wednesday that the Islamic State group could team up with Islamic militants in Somalia, saying that more should be done to prepare for such a threat.
The Islamic State group that now controls large parts of Iraq and Syria — also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh — and the Somali militant Islamic group al-Shabab share a common pedigree in that they both have had links to al-Qaida. They frequently use similar tactics such as explosives-laden cars, suicide bombers and attacks on civilians.
They operate independently for now, but the Emirati foreign minister, Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, suggested that could change.
"What really scares us now is what we see from Daesh, and are we going to see in the future any sort of collaboration between different terrorist groups like Daesh and al-Shabab?" Sheik Abdullah said in an address at the opening of a conference focused on counter-piracy in Somalia.
"I think we should start to ask ourselves: how ready we are as countries, companies and international organizations in facing these big threats," he added.
Sheik Abdullah did not cite any specific intelligence pointing to active collaboration between the groups, but there has been speculation that the Somali rebels would shift their allegiance from al-Qaida to the Islamic State group.
The Emirates is a Western-allied, seven-state federation that includes the Gulf shipping and commercial hub of Dubai and the oil-rich capital, Abu Dhabi. It is home to a sizable Somali expatriate population and is among the most prominent Arab allies taking part in U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State group.
Al-Shabab last month named a new leader, Ahmad Umar, and reaffirmed its alignment with al-Qaida after its longtime head, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed in a U.S. airstrike 105 miles (170 kilometers) south of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
The Islamic State group itself began as an Iraqi affiliate of al-Qaida, but it was kicked out of the terror network earlier this year.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Somali security forces arrest suspected Al-Shabaab collaborators, seize weapons

The Somali security forces on Monday conducted house to house search operations in Mogadishu, arresting dozens of people accused of working with Al-Shabaab and seizing quantities of weapons stored in secret houses used by Al-Shabaab in the capital.
The spokesman of the cabinet, Ridwan Hajji Abdiweli said 140 militias and nine senior Al-Shabaab fighters accused of holding illegal firearms have been arrested in the operation.
Abdiweli said that the security forces will continue the operation to disarm militias carrying unregistered weapons that could be used in the city.
Abdiweli added that the Al-Shabaab militias disharmonize security during the night time and hide in their houses during the daytime, but he said that the security operation will continue to undermine their activities.

UN Secretary-General and World Bank Group President arrive in Mogadishu, pledge support for regional peace, security and development | Le Béninois.net

UN Secretary-General and World Bank Group President arrive in Mogadishu, pledge support for regional peace, security and development | Le Béninois.net

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, arrived in Mogadishu to pledge support for Somalia’s transition and for efforts to strengthen security and development across the wider Horn of Africa region.
The joint high level visit comes at an important time for Somalia which continues to make significant security gains against the Al-Shabaab insurgency, and is pushing forward essential political reforms with the goal of holding national elections in 2016. The delegation also includes Islamic Development Bank President Ahmad Mohamed Ali and senior representatives of the African Development Bank, the African Union, and the European Union.
“The UN, World Bank Group and indeed the international community as a whole are committed to helping the Somali people. Somalia is on the right track and I am confident that its people will rise to the challenges its country still faces. We are here to tell Somalis that they are not alone and that we will redouble our efforts to help them protect the gains made in recent years,” Ban Ki-moon said.
Somalia faces political, security, development and humanitarian challenges from its over two decades of conflict, but recent advances, including the creation of regional administrations in close cooperation with the Federal Government, are encouraging. Building a more stable Somalia will ensure greater security and economic prosperity across the Horn of Africa.
Somalia’s most vulnerable and marginalised communities, including the displaced, returnees, women and youth need to be included in the process of peacebuilding and statebuilding. Continued political unity will be essential for Somalia to meet its goals for democratic transformation.
“Somalia’s transition is a unique opportunity for the nation and the wider Horn of Africa region to improve the livelihoods of the people by engaging them in productive economic activities,” said Kim. “Political stability and human security are important pre-requisites for reducing extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity for the Somali people.”
The United Nations and the World Bank, in cooperation with other partners, are committed to accelerate their programmes on the ground to support Somalia’s political, security and development goals, as set out in Somalia’s “New Deal” Compact agreed last year. The peacebuilding process and the scaling up of international assistance will require inclusive and transparent efforts by all.
The government and its partners also need to find a more sustainable solution to the frequent drought and famines, which have left the majority of the population poor and vulnerable. Access of the poor and marginalized to economic opportunities is a key priority. In this context, the Secretary-General also called for international partners to help meet the funding gap for humanitarian assistance to Somalia. Over 3 million people in the country are in need of assistance, while the humanitarian appeal for 2014 remains only 34% funded.
The high level delegation will meet with Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud to discuss the country’s transition and its critical importance to human security and economic prospects in the region. They will also meet with Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, Speaker of the Federal Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari, senior Government officials and representatives of Somalia’s civil society.
The trip marks the Secretary-General’s second visit to Somalia – he previously visited in December 2011 – and the first visit for the World Bank President. The Bank has stepped up its engagement in Somalia in recent years, evidence of the country’s ongoing transformation after a generation of conflict.

SOURCE 
UNITED NATIONS

SOMALIA: EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS: Banki Moon and World Bank President to pay a historical visit to Mogadishu Tomorrow, Adden Adde Airport operations halted | RBC Radio

SOMALIA: EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS: Banki Moon and World Bank President to pay a historical visit to Mogadishu Tomorrow, Adden Adde Airport operations halted | RBC Radio

United Nations Secretary General Banki Moon leading a high level delegation including world Bank President Jim Yong Kim are scheduled to land Somali Capital’s highly guarded  Adden Adde international Airport In Mogadishu on Wednesday.
Exclusive reports obtained by RBC Radio indicates that the operations of Adden Adde International airport are halted for a complete lock down where preparations to welcome the United Nations and World heads are underway in the airport.
This delegation led by Banki Moon, United Nations Secretary General is expected to hold meeting with top Somali federal government leaders.
Banki Moon is also expected to hold meeting with Somali President Hassan Shiekh Mohamud and Prime Minister Abdiweli Shiekh Ahmed amid deep political dispute between the president and the Prime Minister.
This will be a historical visit of United Nations Secretary General Banki Moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to Mogadishu, The Somali capital that had suffered the utmost of the nation’s over two decades of upheaval.