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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Two-day weekend for private sector: New study underway

JEDDAH: The Labor Ministry has announced that it would conduct a study to determine the viability of having a 2-day weekend and a 40-hour work week for the private sector.
In a post on its Twitter account recently, the ministry stated that it would take into account the input of business owners, and look at the advantages and disadvantages of introducing the measures, including whether it would attract Saudi youth to the private sector.
Sources quoted in the media have suggested that most private companies would introduce the 2-day weekend only if the ministry removes the SR2,400 levy and institutes a 48-hour working week.
According to reports, the authorities face a dilemma as they try to boost private sector employment in a period of low oil prices, which are straining state finances and threatening to slow the economy.
Most Saudi workers are in the public sector, which offers generous conditions such as a 35-hour work week plus big pensions and health benefits.
Most private sector jobs are held by 10 million foreign workers.
To reduce the burden on the public sector and curb the number of foreign workers, the government has been considering a proposal to lure more Saudi nationals into private companies by limiting the working week to 40 hours, down from 48 in many firms, including a two-day weekend.
But much of the business community has argued that the move would hurt the economy by raising companies’ costs, deterring investment and possibly forcing companies to make up for the shorter work week by hiring more foreigners.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Migrant’s rape claims overshadow Australia’s bid for UN rights body

SYDNEY: Australia’s hard-line immigration policies overshadowed the launch of its bid to join the UN Human Rights Council, with the government and rights lawyers arguing bitterly over a pregnant Somali asylum-seeker who claims she was raped.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton accused lawyers of fabricating stories about the treatment of the woman, who human rights advocates said was denied basic medical attention and likened her removal from Australia to CIA-style rendition.
Australia has decided to take 12,000 refugees from Syria on top of its current humanitarian intake quota. The United Nations has said at least 850,000 people are expected to cross the Mediterranean seeking refuge in Europe this year.
That estimate already appears conservative as millions of Syrians flee their homes devastated by war, including widespread air strikes by the US and allies such as Australia.
However, Australia’s controversial policy of turning back refugee boats and holding asylum seekers in prison camps in poor South Pacific island nations such as Nauru and Papua New Guinea has undermined any goodwill.
Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to act on the harsh detention conditions after reports of systemic child abuse and rape. The UN also sharply criticized Australia after an observer canceled an official visit to the detention camps, citing a lack of government cooperation.
“Our harsh and cruel treatment of asylum seekers and refugees is damaging our international reputation and damaging our ability to advance our national interest, whether it’s through being elected to the Human Rights Council ... or in other negotiations,” said Hugh de Kretser, executive director of the Human Rights Law Center.
De Kretser said UNHRC membership would enable Canberra to rebuild relations with the UN. In March, former prime minister Tony Abbott said Australia was “sick of being lectured to by the UN” after a report accused Australia of breaching international anti-torture conventions.
The UNHRC bid came as protesters took to Sydney streets, and as lawmakers and immigration officials scrapped with lawyers over the treatment of the 23-year-old Somali woman, known only as Abyan, who is being held on Nauru and who claims her pregnancy was the result of being raped there.
She was brought to Australia last week for an abortion, a procedure banned on Nauru, but was returned four days later when Dutton’s office said she no longer wanted to terminate the pregnancy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

TORONTO (HOL) - Ahmed Hussen made history  by becoming the first Somali-Canadian elected to the Canadian parliament.

Ahmed Hussein, Liberal candidate of  York South-Weston in Toronto defeated  incumbent Mike Sullivan of NDP.
“This is a great day for Somali Canadians and a day to remember” Said Mahad Shafie, a Somali-Canadian businessman who lives in Ottawa.
Unfortunately the other two Somali-Canadian candidates  running for the federal election, Abdul Abdi of conservative riding of Ottawa West Nepean and Faisal Hassan of NDP riding of Etobicoke North have lost both with Liberal candidates.

Ahmed Hussen of Liberal - Faisal Hassan of NDP - Abdi Abdul of Conservative
Ahmed Hussen born and raised in Somalia, Ahmed immigrated to Canada in 1993 where he settled in Regent Park and quickly gravitated towards public service according to Ahmed Hussen’s website.
Ahmed currently serves as the National President of the Canadian Somali Congress – a Somali community organization that works with national and regional authorities to advocate on issues of importance to Canadians of Somali heritage and strengthen civic engagement and integration

Signs of Haj Mabroor

When the pilgrims return to their home countries after the journey of Haj, they return spiritually refreshed, forgiven of their sins, and ready to start life anew, with a clean slate.
Family and community members often prepare a celebration to welcome pilgrims home and congratulate them on completing the journey. Those who have performed the Haj are often called by an honorific title, “Haji,” (one who has performed the Haj).
According to the Qur’an, “…Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to Allah by all who can make their way to it…”(Aal ‘Imran, 3:97). According to a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Umrah to the next Umrah is a kaffarah (expiation) of all sins one commits between them, and an accepted Haj (Al-Haj Al-Mabroor) is a supreme action, the reward for which is paradise.”
He also said, “Verily there shall be no reward for a Haj Mabroor (an accepted Haj) except Jannah (the Paradise).” (Bukhari, Muslim)
How fortunate are these souls who are blessed with the following words from the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Whoever performs Haj for the pleasure of Allah and therein utters no word of evil, nor commits any evil deed, shall return from it (free from sin) as the day on which his mother gave birth to him.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Mind you, there is a particular significance to each of the modes of worship in Islam. The significance of establishing Salah (prayers), for example, is to remember Allah Almighty. “…And establish Salah (prayers) to remember Me.” (Qur’an, 20:14) The significance of observing Siyam (fasting) is to cultivate Taqwa (God-consciousness) in oneself. “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be conscious of God” (Qur’an, 2:183). Likewise, the significance or essence of Haj is making sincere repentance to Allah Almighty and seeking His forgiveness. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: “I heard the Prophet say, ‘Whoever performs Haj and does not commit any Rafath (obscenity) or Fusooq (transgression), he returns (free from sin) as the day his mother bore him’.”
It is unfortunate that there are some people who turn these modes of worship into mere rituals. Circumambulating the Kaaba for instance or running between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa or performing other rites and rituals of Haj do not have any deep meaning with such people. Consequently, the conditions of their lives do not change for the better even after their Haj. As for those pilgrims whose attitude, conduct, lifestyle, and relationship with their creator and His creation show a positive transformation after the pilgrimage, they are the ones inshaAllah, who are blessed with the rewards of an accepted Haj. Just as Salah (the daily prayer) prevents one from indecency and wrongdoing, and connects one to Allah, and Siyam (fasting) makes one more mindful of Allah the Almighty, so should Haj reconnect one with one’s creator. If these ends are not achieved through these modes of worship, then all the hardships endured in performing these acts of worship are in vain. Analogically, just as the efficacy of a medicine becomes known when a sick person is healed, likewise, an accepted Haj manifests itself in the change that takes place in the condition of the pilgrim to an extent that is pleasing to Allah the Almighty.
The pilgrims should focus their attention toward certain points, which are necessary and of utmost importance and which many pilgrims ignore because they are unaware of their significance.
First of which is his sincerity. Sincerity of intention should remain even after the performance of Haj. There should be no pomp or show. One should not wish to be called or recognized as a Haji.
Many people adopt the habit of talking frequently about their journey in order that people may come to know of their Haj. They talk about the expenses incurred in the way of Allah, their charity among the poor and the needy, their devotion and worship, their assisting the weak and old, etc.; and all is mentioned only with the intention of gaining fame. This is a deceit from Satan who ruins the devotion without the person even knowing it. It is therefore of great importance that the pilgrim does not talk about his Haj without necessity as it may lead to ‘Riyaa’ (show, insincerity). However, if necessity arises and one must talk about his Haj then he is at liberty to do so. But, he must not indulge in this type of conversation unnecessarily.
Secondly, repentance, revitalization of faith, and renewal of covenant are the three things that need to be done by all Muslims individually and collectively, and most especially the pilgrim in order to mend matters and emerge successful both in this life and the next. This is because Haj epitomizes all these three aspects beautifully.

How can one know whether one’s Haj is accepted or not?
The basic sign of a ‘Haj Mabroor’ or an ‘accepted Haj’ is that upon one’s return, his life changes from worst to good. He becomes totally punctual in fulfilling the commands of Allah Almighty. His love and inclination toward the Hereafter increases and love for the worldly pleasures decline. Therefore, it is essential that the pilgrim is watchful over his actions and should try his utmost to instil in himself good characters and refrain from all types of evil. He should try his best to fulfill the obligations laid down by Allah and avoid all the things forbidden by Him.

Remaining grateful to Allah

People in general turn to God in humility, expressing obeisance only when they feel to do so that is mainly during an occasion when it brings good news to them, or so.

The question is however do we require a particular occasion to thank Allah Almighty? Haven’t then we reduces this whole relationship with God to a mere ritual? We need to answer this and look into reasons behind this religious observance that God commanded to His servants? How is it described in the Qur’an?

Giving thanks to God, which can be described as feeling grateful at every moment and expressing it verbally and through one’s demeanor, is a very important religious observance frequently mentioned in the Qur’an and it has to be done all throughout one’s life.

However, a great many people have different ideas about this practice and believe that it needs to be done only when something they want happens or when they receive new blessings.

Yet giving thanks means feeling grateful to God unconditionally, and in every waking moment of one’s life, regardless of the circumstances being positive or negative. It means considering everything from God as beautiful, knowing that there is a great wisdom behind everything created by God and surrendering to destiny fully and submitting to God completely and earnestly.

At this point one might ask: It is quite expected for one to give thanks when something good happens but why should he give thanks when things go awry and how he should do it?

In order for a person to be able to give thanks to God no matter what the circumstances are, he has to have a very deep and unconditional love towards God. He also has to comprehend the astonishing qualities of God.

A person who knows God, who loves God very much and attached to God with a very deep love, will want to express his love for Him at every opportunity. For this reason, giving thanks is one of the ways of showing his admiration, his love for God, both verbally and through his demeanor.

He will want to express and show this deep and intense love in his heart all the time. Just like he cannot live comfortably without breathing, he cannot live without remembering, talking about and thanking his Love. With his soul, his heart and all his being, he feels God at every moment and comprehends the infinite evidence and manifestation of God’s existence everywhere.

In every direction he looks, he will see God and will want to talk about His infinite art, power and will wish to express it every waking moment. This desire will naturally make him give thanks for everything that comes from God.

A lover of God is also aware of the fact that he is surrounded by blessings from God and that he cannot have slightest control over any of them and that he has all these blessings only because God gave them to him.

He knows that the causes do not really matter, and that every blessing and everything that happens comes from God only. He will never get tired of giving thanks to God as his love God is never tired of giving him blessings. He will never get tired of loving God as his love as God is never tired of loving him.

One aspect of giving thanks is being content with whatever God gives him. He will always be content with his situation no matter what happens. He continuously remembers and praises his love God.

There are some people who say that they love God and that they are happy with everything that He creates. Yet when things don’t go according to their plans or when they don’t get what they wanted, when a person they love doesn’t reciprocate their love, when they think that they are not appreciated, or perhaps they cannot go on that vacation they have been planning, or when they lose money, health, or success, their attitudes might suddenly change.

Overwhelmed by feelings of defiance and pessimism, such a person’s thoughts suddenly take a turn for the worst. He continually asks himself ‘Why did I get sick when everyone else is healthy? Why am I struggling so much when everyone else is living so comfortably? Why am I not appreciated although I’m working so much?’

Such thoughts put him in a vicious circle. Because he gives in to these negative thoughts and after a while he becomes incapable of segregating right from wrong. Such people have one problem: Not knowing God enough; not understanding that He can do anything, not grasping His love and compassion.
A person who knows God with all His names, who knows that He does everything with a perfect reason and wisdom and that He loves His servants very much, will not be disheartened no matter what happens and will not lose his hope in God. He has one answer to such negative thoughts, in other words, the whispering of the satan: ‘Whatever my Lord does, He does it with a perfect reason. There is definitely a beauty, a blessing in this for me.’

This is not a consolation, but a fact. God creates everything with a perfect reason. Nothing He does is to make His servants suffer or to upset them. Since this world is a place of testing, it is necessary for people to be trained and achieve the morality that will be worthy of Paradise.

To be able to achieve that morality, it is important that people are sometimes tested with difficulties, diseases, problems and poverty. For this reason every person is tested with different things.

A lover of God knows this and patiently goes through everything that happens. He always gives thanks, no matter what happens and continues to watch his destiny unfold and even if he cannot understand the wisdom of the things that happens, he says, ‘My Lord, you created this with a perfect reason. I’m happy with everything you give to me, and need every good deed you give to me.’ He always prays to God continuously and expresses his gratitude.

It is important to understand the times of testing and to these opportunities to prove oneself, to give thanks and to show happiness with everything God created.

It is also very important to avoid becoming one of the ungrateful when things go bad. If one cannot see the beauties behind the difficulties, then he is not able to appreciate God and is not giving thanks to God the way he should.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Here is a look at what you need to know about the Islamic New Year.
Islamic New Year will begin on Thursday, October 15, 2015. Exact date varies depending on method used to determine start of new year: using local moon-sighting or using astronomical calculations for new moon.
The Islamic New Year begins on the first day of the first month of the Islamic calendar.
The first month of the Islamic year is called Muharram.
The Islamic New Year has been observed in this way since 622 A.D. when the prophet Mohammed fled from Mecca to Yathrib (now called Medina) to escape religious persecution.
This migration is called Hijra in Arabic, also spelled Hegira.
The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar year.
The Islamic calendar has 12 months but only 354 days.
The Islamic New Year is usually celebrated with low-key religious events.
The day is an official holiday in some Muslim countries, but is a regular working day in others.