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22 Apr '16

The History of Qatar

Posted by Nosheen Z in History of Qatar

In the Qatar peninsula, one can trace the first signs of human inhabitation way back in 4000 BC. This is apparent from the discovery of rock carvings and pottery discovered during a series of archeological expeditions from Denmark, Britain and France conducted during the 1960s and 1970s. Since Qatar appears even in many of the early maps, one can say that the travelers and the explorers of the past were aware of the civilized settlements present there. History claims that the first inhabitants of Qatar were Cannanites, a tribe known for its trade and navigation skills.

Qatar is strategically located on the Arabian Gulf. This resulted in the seasonal migration of tribes from the Arabian Peninsula. At the time when the Mediterranean region was flourishing with a number of civilizations, Qatar was enjoying commercial prosperities with exports of fish and pearls. Though there was a significant set back in the trade during the Roman era, Qatar could flourish in trade once again from the 3rd century AD.

In the mid seventh century, Qatar embraced Islam and played a major role in spreading Islam beyond the seas. Turning the pages of history, one is surprised to note the excellent track record of Qatar in the quality of weaving and cloth making and the quality of its horses and camels. During the Abbasid period, Qatar thrived well with wonderful relations with the Caliphs in Baghdad, the testimony of which is borne by the Abbasid artifacts and the architecture found in Moab Fort in western Qatar.

At the dawn of the sixteenth century, Qatar came under the influence of Portuguese who controlled the navigation and trade over the gulf region. In 1538, the Ottomans successfully expelled the Portuguese and held Qatar under their control for four centuries. However, under the directions of the Ottomans, the local sheiks could exercise their full powers.

For quite some time until 1971, Qatar remained a British protectorate. When Britain decided to withdraw from the Arabian Gulf region, the country could declare itself as a fully independent Arab nation adopting a provisional constitution. Islam became the official religion with Arab assuming the status of an official language. The Al Thani dynasty formally took charge of the ruling of the country. During this period, a large number of labour forces entered the country from other Arabian nations.

Since long, the oil reserves in Qatar were purely serving the Anglo-Dutch, French and U.S interests. In 1935, a 75 year oil concession was granted to Qatar Petroleum Company. In 1940, high-quality oil was discovered at Dukhan located on the western side of the Qatari peninsula. During 1950s and 1960s, potential oil reserves were gradually uncovered. This led to a substantially significant phase in the history of Qatar. In a momentous move, the Qatar General Petroleum Corporation took control of all the oil operations of the country. With this, Qatar swiftly entered the roads of modernization and economic prosperity. Huge revenues from Oil and natural gas have enabled Qatar one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.

In 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani assumed power being supported by the ruling family and the people of Qatar. His ascension marked the onset of a revolutionary era of the growth of modernization and democracy. Qatar entered the UN and the Arab League. It also established diplomatic relations with the USSR and China in 1998. The country’s constitution was approved by a democratic referendum in 2003 with a woman appointed as the cabinet minister for education. A highly commendable social and political transformation is on the way and one can hope to see Qatar emerging into limelight in the global scenario as a prosperous modern democratic nation shortly.

22 Apr '16

The Arab Mind - Book Summary By Raphael Patai, 466 pages

Posted by Nosheen Z in The Arab Mind - Book Summary

This book is an analysis of the Arab psyche and their character. The book explains the Arabic language, their history and their habits to describe why Arabs are the way they are. It discusses Islam as the main binding factor for the Arabs and how it binds the Muslim world in general. The relationship of the Arabian people and their perceptions of non-Arabs are also discussed in the book alongwith their relationship with the minorities residing in the Arab world.

  • Provides anthropological analysis of the Arabs
  • Details how the Arab world percieves the non-Arab world
  • Elaborats on the social customs and the habits of the Arabs
  • Describes Honor-Shame cornerstone of Arab society
  • Provides many cultural quirks of the Arabs
  • and more...
22 Apr '16

Islam in Europe

Posted by Nosheen Z in Islam in Europe

Europe has been influenced by Islam ever since the Moors first conquered al-Andalus in what is now Spain and Portugal in the early 8th century.

While Spain came under Muslim rule for more than 700 years, historians report that Islam also reached other parts of Europe under its own steam, from Russia to Italy.

Sicily, some southern Italian islands, Constantinople (now Istanbul), the Balkans, the southern parts of France, the Russian Caucusus, Switzerland and parts of Romania experienced some sort of Muslim settlement when Islam was still in its infancy.

In the modern era, the Muslim-dominated European countries are Albania, Kosovo and Turkey as well as the former Soviet states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Muslims in Bosnia comprise the largest single faction, though they are outnumbered by Roman Catholics and Serbian Orthodox followers put together.

Muslims with deep roots in Europe also make up significant minority populations in countries such as Russia, Bulgaria and Macedonia while mostly immigrant Muslims can be found in large numbers in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The number of Muslims throughout Europe is estimated to be about 115 million, with Turkey’s 67 million, France’s 6 million and Germany’s 4 million accounting for most of them.

While Muslims have tried to integrate into society in countries in which they are a minority, they have faced problems given the mistrust many Europeans harbor toward Islam.

Recent frictions, fueled by the perception of Muslims are terrorists have not helped. In France, the government has banned women from wearing hijab to schools (in addition to symbols of faith from other religions), Denmark had to deal the reaction of Muslims to newspapers cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) as a terrorist while xenophobic abuse is not unusual in many European countries.

22 Apr '16

What could be the ultimate gain for the sacrifice of one’s comfort, freedom and admiration from others?

Posted by Nosheen Z in value of hijab

Quranic injunctions are aimed at preparing the Muslims for a dignified life in this world and receiving Allah’s favor in the life of the Hereafter. What appears as freedom and flattering admiration is momentary pleasure and vanity. The Quranic message to a practicing Muslim is:”The provision of this world is short, and the Hereafter is better for him who guards against evil.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:77)  Again in Surah At-Tauba “The enjoyment of this life is only a trifle compared with the Hereafter.” (Quran 9:38)

A true Muslim woman who has grasped the underlying value of hijab would not mind a small sacrifice of comfort or so-called ‘freedom’ for the greater benefit of Allah’s favor.

22 Apr '16

Islam in Russia

Posted by Nosheen Z in Islam in Russia

Islam is rising in Russia with an estimated 30 million devotees representing up to 20 per cent of the population. Experts predict the figure to go up to more than 30 per cent within a few years as the birthrate among ethnic Russians drops, mortality rate rises and the Muslim population increases.

Millions of Muslims from the Caucasus and Central Asia have also settled in Russia since the break-up of the Soviet Union while ethnic Russians start to show more interest in Islam as a way of life and an escape from the commercial pop culture being encouraged by the West. Latest estimates put ethnic Russian Muslims at six per cent of the country’s entire Muslim population.

Most of the Muslims in Russia, though, are focused among the minority races living in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea areas. These include the Adyghes, Balkars, Nogais, Chechens, Circassians, Ingush, Kabardin, Karachay, and numerous Dagestani groups. Large populations of Muslim-dominated Tatars and Bashkirs can be found in the middle Volga Basin while you also find Muslims, mostly Tatars, in Perm Krai and Ulyanovsk, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Tyumen, and Leningrad Oblasts.

The Arabs first arrived in Russia during the eighth century, according to some reports after which Muslims settled in the Dagestan area. A series of conquests from the 16th to the 19th centuries meant the Russian Empire expanded to include Muslims from Dagestan, Chechnya and other areas.

Therefore, it is safe to say that the Muslim areas of what is now Russia were annexed by the federation during their expansionist years, which included the time of the Soviet Union, although its break-up resulted in many Muslim states winning independence. About 90 per cent of the Muslims inside Russia are Sunnis while the rest are mostly Shias. There is also a branch of Muslims who adhere to Sufi rituals.

Relations between current and past governments and the Muslims have been strained, at best. Russia is trying to prevent the spread of political Islam, the kind of which has caused conflict in Chechnya with the rise of Islamic nationalism in areas close to the central Asian republics.

This is why the Russian government supports the dictator-style leadership of those breakaway states, which marginalize Islam.

There are two major Islamic bodies in Russia that were created during the Stalin era – one responsible for European Russia and Siberia, the other for areas of the North Caucasus and Transcaspian regions. However, several Muslim groups have broken away from these two boards and formed their own “muftiates”.

Amid tensions in Chechnya, the Russian government is now trying to make conciliatory gestures to Muslims by offering them more freedoms. Pilgrimage to Makkah has increased since the end of the Soviet era, with a record 18,000 Russians performing the Haj in 2006.

In addition, more copies of the Quran are being printed while the number of mosques being built in Muslim-dominated cities and towns have increased. During the Soviet era, there were only around 500 mosques in Russia. That figure has risen to in excess of 5,000.

Still, more places of worship need to be built with Moscow boasting only four mosques to cater for its 2.5 million Muslims, the largest population of any European city.

Recently, Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s first Deputy Prime Minister, announced plans to build Europe’s largest mosque in the Chechen capital, Grozny, in an attempt to drive youngsters away from militancy and attract them to mainstream Islam.

The Nur All-Russia Muslim Public Movement is a political party that defends the rights Muslim and other minorities while Islamic schools, magazines and newspapers have sprouted up throughout the Muslims areas.