Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Islam and Freedom of Religion - Excerpt from Demystifying Islam by Harris Zafar

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"We see no example during Muhammad's lifetime in which he ever compelled anyone in matters of religion. He championed freedom of religion, and it is the duty of every living and breathing Muslim today to do so as well."

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Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Demystifying Islam
By Harris Zafar | October 16, 2014

Book Excerpt Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions by Harris Zafar

The most fundamental verse in the Quran in regard to freedom of religion comes in chapter 2, when it declares, "There is no compulsion in religion. Surely, the right way has become distinct from error." The Quran holds firmly to the principle that God has certainly made humans capable of understanding His signs and, thus, distinguishing right from wrong. For this reason, God states very directly—and with no ambiguity—that no compulsion is allowed in matters of religion. He Himself has provided all guidance and clear proofs for the right path, and He has provided humans with the free will to follow that path.

Note that this verse was revealed during the Prophet Muhammad's ministry in Medina, when he was already in a position of authority after being asked by its diverse people to be their head of state. There is immense wisdom in God revealing at that time this instruction that people cannot be compelled in religious matters. Had Muhammad received this revelation in Mecca, some would have had the room to allege that this verse only applied when Muslims were in a weak state, being physically and economically persecuted due to their religion. But Muhammad received this revelation after he had gained a position of authority as a commandment to protect freedom of religion for all people. Consequently, we see no example during Muhammad's lifetime in which he ever compelled anyone in matters of religion. He championed freedom of religion, and it is the duty of every living and breathing Muslim today to do so as well.

Australia needs to talk human rights issues with Indonesia

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The Australian government should also support redress for Indonesia's many victims of abuses committed by government security forces over the years.

Indonesia's new President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was sworn in on Monday
Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | AU Desk
Source/Credit: Sydney Morning Herald
By Andreas Harsono | October 21, 2014

Prime Minister Tony Abbott had the opportunity to restart his "more Jakarta, less Geneva" foreign policy when he attended  the inauguration of Indonesia's new president, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo yesterday. Abbott now also has a rare and vital opening to engage on human rights issues.

Such engagement is crucial for Australia to maintain a strong and sustainable bilateral relationship with its northern neighbour. Indonesia's human rights situation has deteriorated over the decade of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's presidency, and Australia can and should play an important role in encouraging Widodo to act quickly to end increasing abuses.

New Indonesian president must face religious issues, academics say

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"The success of the new government in handling the problems of Ahmadiyah refugees will become a symbol of its success in tackling problems related to religious diversity in Indonesia."

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Ecumenical News
By Miko Morelos | October 20 2014

New Indonesian president Joko Widodo should handle more deftly the religious diversity in the country as espoused by its constitution, say several experts looking into the political dynamics in Jakarta.

At a press conference on Monday, a representative from the University of Gadjah Mada emphasized the need for Widodo to tackle the issue on improving the country's diversity of religions there.

"Three critical problems, namely the issue of houses of worship and religious blasphemy allegations, discriminatory impacts of definitions of a religion and discriminative regional bylaws, need to be immediately resolved," said Mohammad Iqbal Ahnaf, coordinator of the public education division of the university's Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies.

Liberia: Ahmadiyya Muslim-UK, Clinton Health Initiative, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among donors in Ebola fight

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Philanthropic institutions, including the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ahmadiyya Muslim of UK, amongst others, that have also contributed

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int'l Desk
Source/Credit: Liberian Observer
By Liberian Observer | October 21, 2014

Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan has provided an update on financial and material assistance provided thus far by friendly Governments and humanitarian partners across the globe towards Liberia's fight against the Ebola virus.

Responding to a request from members of the House of Representatives to provide them an update on the number of donations coming to Liberia relative to the fight against Ebola, Minister Ngafuan told the body that as a result of frantic international engagements, the Liberian Government, led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has attracted tremendous global assistance in the country's bid to fight the virus.

Chino, California: Baitul Hameed Mosque honored with silver jubilee bash

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With the hundreds of balloons in children hands and dozens tied to the buildings external railings along with banners announcing the event, it turned out to be an exceptional celebration enjoyed by everyone. 

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Ahmadiyya Times
By Staff Report | October 20, 2014

The Baitul Hameed Mosque in Chino, California, has served the needs of its members for two and a half decades, occasionally through difficult times, but if the mosque could talk this last Sunday, it would have told you what a happy day it was -- and for a very special reason. Well, picture this: cakes, balloons, and a lot of friends. OK, you get the idea.

A trendsetter perhaps, the scenes at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s second largest mosque were joyous and faces jubilant as hundreds of Ahmadī Muslim men, women, and children – young and old – gathered to celebrate the silver jubilee anniversary of the mosque. For a structure that can live on for centuries, in human years, this 25th anniversary would probably equate to a child’s first birthday.

Pakistan’s Ahmadis Faced with Death or Exile

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In 1974, under pressure from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s parliament declared Ahmadis as non-Muslim (similarly pressured, the newly independent Bangladesh refused). A decade later, a military dictator made it a criminal offence for them to “pretend” to be Muslims.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: IPS-Inter Press Service
By Beena Sarwar | October 20 2014

BOSTON - Two years ago, gunmen shot dead Farooq Kahloun’s newly married son Saad Farooq, 26, in an attack that severely injured Kahloun, his younger son Ummad, and Saad’s father-in-law, Choudhry Nusrat.

Saad died on the spot. In Pakistan after travelling from his home in New York for the wedding, Nusrat died in hospital later. Four bullets remain in Kahloun’s chest and arm. A bullet lodged behind the right eye of Ummad, a student in the UK, was surgically removed months later.

As an Ahmadi leader in his locality, Kahloun knew he was a target for hired assassins in the bustling but lawless metropolis of Karachi. General insecurity in Pakistan is multiplied manifold if you are, like Kahloun, an Ahmadi – a sect of Islam that many orthodox Muslims abhor as heretic.

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