Tuesday, June 30, 2009
(IslamOnline.net) – Slovak Muslims find themselves between a rock and a hard place as their religion is not recognized by the state and they increasingly feel unwelcome by the central European Catholic country despite painstaking efforts to reach out to the other.
“Muslim efforts to build Islamic centers or mosques have been dogged by expected snarl-ups though the minority is on the rise and the existing places of worship are really bursting at the seams with the faithful,” Mohammad Safwan, member of the Islamic Waqfs Foundation in the capital Bratislava, told IslamOnline.net Monday, November 14.
Safwan said his foundation owns a 1,000-square-meter in the capital to build a grand mosque and Islamic center, alas, authorities have severally refused to issue a construction license.
“Every time they come up with feeble excuses,” he said, adding that their reluctance was alienating the Muslim minority in the country, which is 68% Roman Catholic.
He went on: “We don’t have an umbrella body to speak for the minority and liaise with authorities simply because the state refuses to recognize Islam.”
PERSONA NON GRATA
The Muslim activist further regretted that lay people were looking down on Muslims due to spreading stereotypes.
“I’m sorry to say that Muslims are persona non grata in Slovakia,” Safwan said. “Slovaks unfortunately are taking these stereotypes for granted, which is the main obstacle to Muslim integration.
“The Slovaks further recall bitter historical memories related to the 150-year Turkish presence in the country, taking it as a pretext to bear grudge towards modern Muslims.”
There are some 5,000 Muslims in Slovakia out of 5.4 million population. Only four mosques have been constructed so far across the country.
But the minority did not give in to the state or public rejection, trying their best to defend their much-stereotyped religion and proving that they can play a pivotal role in society.
“Muslim leaders and activists have embarked on a media campaign through appearing on TV interviews or speaking to prominent newspapers,” Safwan said.
“We are also keen on holding Islamic exhibitions to answer curious questions from many Slovaks.”
Muslim intellectuals have also extensively translated famed Islamic books into Slovak to remove the language barrier, IOL correspondent says.
Safwan said there is a number of success stories for Muslims, who stood as a shining example for Muslims in the country.
“We have a Muslim physician who heads plastic surgery department in one of the leading hospitals in Bratislava in addition to heavyweight Turkish and Arab businessmen,” he said.
Slovak Muslims Fight for Image
Here are some more links:
Web-site of Islamic Foundation in Slovakia(in Slovak language)
Web-site of Islamic Foundation in Slovakia(in English language)
Monday, June 29, 2009
By Marie Aubrechtova, IOL Correspondent
PRAGUE -- Not so long ago the words Czech and Muslim were two polar opposites and it would be almost unthinkable to use them together. But now, two decades after the fall of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, Muslims are increasing in numbers, becoming more active and founding new organisations to represent them.
"About 300 come to the main mosque and at least 200 come to the prayer hall in the centre," Vladimir (Umar) Sanka, one of the managers of the main mosque and prayer hall in Prague, told IslamOnline.net.
He said the numbers of Muslims are slowly but surely growing in the Czech Republic.
"The prayer hall is so overcrowded every Friday that we have been forced to have two Friday prayers and lectures so that all the Muslims can even fit."
The mosque had to hire a sports hall for `Eid Al-Adha, one of the two main religious festivals on the Islamic calendar which was celebrated in December, to accommodate the record-breaking number of 1,500 Muslims who showed up.
The increase of Muslims is linked to the growing number of Czechs embracing the Muslim faith.
"In our mosque in Prague we are honoured and happy to witness a new conversion almost every week," says Sanka.
The last recorded number of Muslims was around 12,000 in 2007, but the latest estimate is around 20,000, including 400 converts.
The first official Muslim organisation, the Islamic Foundation, was established in 1991.
In 1998 it opened its first mosque in Brno and then one year later in Prague.
There were also attempts to build mosques in smaller cities, mainly Spa towns which are popular with Arab clients, but these plans were met with resistance from both the public and churches.
Islam itself was not legally accepted as a religion by the Czech state until 2004.
Until recently, the mosques in the cities of Brno and Prague were the only official bodies representing Muslims in the Czech Republic.
But now new organisations are appearing to meet the needs of the growing and increasingly diverse Muslim community.
Mohamed Abbas is a well-known media figure and publisher of Islamic literature, including the Qur’an and a translation of Riyad us Saaliheen, the only book of hadith so far published in the Czech language.
Abbas is now also one of the founders of a new organisation called the Islamic Community, whose aim is to provide more activities for Muslims.
Currently the Islamic Community is in the process of securing 300 signatures needed to become officially recognised, which will make it the second Muslim body in the Czech Republic eligible for state funding.
"At the moment organizations here represent only a marginal number of Muslims in the country and do not include everybody," Abbas told IOL.
"We want to change this and create an organization for all, and one that is truly democratic and transparent."
Abbas is optimistic about garnering the needed 300 signatures.
"The number of Muslims here is definitely increasing, especially after Czech Republic joined the EU, and they are interested in seeing an active organization serving them."
State registration will give the organization a wider scope.
It will be able to rent, build and manage Islamic centers, establish Islamic schools and after 10 years it can ask for other special rights like taking care of the spiritual needs of Muslims in the army and jails as well as support of state for Islamic marriages in mosques.
Another completely new organization, which is quite different from the ones already being set-up, is a new Facebook Group called Muslims from Czech Republic, created by 21-year-old fresh convert Jitka Cervinkova.
When Jitka first embraced Islam in September of last year she searched Facebook for a group of Muslims in her country.
When she didn’t find any, she decided to create one.
Since its creation in November 2008, the group has grown rapidly and now has over 300 members.
"I think Facebook is great for meeting other Muslims as I don’t really go to the mosque here in Prague because it is too far for me and it seems that women there are mainly mums with children," she told IOL.
"I didn’t meet any young girls of my age when I visited."
Now Jitka, along with other administrators of the group, are faced with the great responsibility of becoming leaders of the fastest growing, and perhaps most influential, Muslim group in the country.
"I feel the Muslim community in the Czech Republic is growing at great speed, although I don’t know any statistics I feel I meet more and more young Muslims here every day."
The Facebook group has attracted mainly a young generation of people and consists of both Czech converts and Muslims from other countries, such as the Arab world or Bosnia, who are living or studying in the Czech Republic as well as non-Muslims who are interested in Islam.
Jitka, who is usually busy studying for a degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic, now also finds time to organise events and post topics to the group.
So far the group has hosted social events for its members and has also organised a film viewing for the general public.
Volunteers from the group translated a film about Islam from English and answered questions about Islam to the non-Muslim audience.
"We have ideas for many projects and events," said Jitka, citing the need for funding and sponsors who could be able to help.
"We are hoping to organise an exhibition about Islam, as well as set up information stalls with leaflets and information," she said enthusiastically.
"We want to hold more lectures and generally host events which portray Islam in a positive light to the public."Original text
DECLARATION OF EUROPEAN MUSLIMS
Expressing the sense of the European Muslims regarding the attack in New York in September 2001, the massacre in Madrid in March 2004, and the bomb explosion in London in July 2005.
Whereas on 11th September 2001 thousands of men and women who had worked at the World Trade Center in New York were killed by a terrorist attack, and on 11th March 2004 hundreds of people who had traveled by a train in Madrid were massacred, and on 7th July 2005 in London many innocent passengers were victims of bomb explosions in London, and whereas all these acts of violence against humanity have been prescribed to “Islamic terrorism”;
Whereas following the New York attack, the Madrid massacre and the London bombing the European Muslims live under the heavy pressure of a collective guilt for “Islamic terrorism” which is constantly being propagated by some politicians and media;
Whereas the European Muslims believe that there is no collective guilt, but an individual responsibility;
Whereas the European Muslims suffer from islamophobia due to an irresponsible coverage of the Muslim issues in Europe by some media;
Whereas the European Muslims love freedom for others as they love it for themselves and appreciate citizenship and human rights in multicultural societies;
Whereas the European Muslims would like to raise their children in peace and security with other religious communities in Europe on the basis of “Ethics of Sharing”;
Whereas Islam teaches Muslims that Jews and Christians are the People of the Book and so all the Jews, Christians, and Muslims should learn how to share their common spiritual roots and their common futuristic hopes without prejudice in order to avoid discrimination, low self-esteem, demoralization, religious and racial hatred, helplessness, lack of control, social avoidance, lack of opportunities, and political underrepresentation;
Whereas Europe is a common continent of many faiths;
Whereas Europe is proud of its road from Slavery to Freedom, from Mythology to Science, from Might to Right and from the Theory of State to the Legitimacy of State as well as Europe’s commitment to the basic values of Human Rights and Democracy;
Whereas the European Muslims want to be part of a European life and prosperity as well as social, political, cultural and moral development of European societies: Now therefore be it
To the European Union that it is the sense of the European Muslims that –
Europe is the House of Peace and Security based on the principle of Social Contract.
the land of Europe is the House of Social Contract because it is possible to live in accordance with one’s faith in the context of ”the principles that free and rational persons concerned to farther their own interests would accept in an initial position of equality as defining the fundamental terms of their association.“ (John Rawls).
a Contract is the man’s dictate of reason, whereas a Covenant is the man’s will of heart/faith. Hence, the Muslim is a man with an allegiance to God as an act of the will of his heart/faith; and the citizen is a man with a duty to the state as an act of the dictate of his reason. By the Covenant man gives his heart to God and receives Inner Security; by the Contract he gives his reason to the state and receives Social Security as an inhabitant of a city or town. A citizen is entitled to the rights and privileges of freeman, he is a member of a state, a native or naturalized person who owes loyalty to a government and is entitled to protection from it of his life, religion, freedom, property and dignity.
the European Muslims are fully and unequivocally committed to the following European common values :
the rule of law;
the principles of tolerance;
the values of democracy and human rights;
and to the belief that each and every human being has the right to five essential values: the value of life, the value of faith, the value of freedom, the value of property, and the value of dignity.
as they try to live decent life in Europe, the European Muslims have the following expectations:
the institutionalization of Islam in Europe;
the economic development of the Muslim Community so that it may have a full spiritual and cultural freedom and independence;
the development of the Islamic schools capable to educate European born Muslims for new challenges of the multicultural societies;
the political freedom that will enable European Muslims to have their legitimate representatives in the European state parliaments;
the relaxation over the European migration policy which tends to be very restrictive towards Muslims recently;
opening the way for the Muslim law to be recognized in matters of personal status such as the Family Law;
and the protection of European Muslims from islamophobia, ethnic cleansing, genocide and the like.
the European Muslims are committed to a comprehensive joint program for religious dialogue that will:
build awareness of the complexities of the secular context in which religions exist today.
promote understanding, respect differences and explore common ground.
affirm religious identities as important instruments to deal with insecurity and conflict, and to learn to respect and live with diversity in situations of conflict.
contribute to ongoing discourse on human rights.
create an understanding of the 'otherness' of the 'other' person.
show the complex relationship between religion, culture, politics and economics, and to highlight the factors which lead towards positive contributions by religions to common efforts for truth, justice and peace.
identify religious principles, moral and ethical values, and norms that are comparable and that can be negotiated for a life together; and those that are distinct to each faith; and to recognize possible differences, tensions and misunderstandings between particular moral and ethical values in different religions.
highlight the positive historical experiences and to recall memories of good neighborhood and living together that are also part of Europe's history.
establish a common platform for religious coexistence in the spirit of a good will that can be found in both the Books of God and the hope for our common future.
To the Muslims who live in Europe that it is the sense of the European Muslims that –
the Muslims who live in Europe should realize that freedom is not a gift given by anyone. The Muslim freedom in Europe must be earned. And the Muslim overall status must be recognized in spite of a xenophobic opposition.
the Muslims who live in Europe should be more concerned now about their responsibilities than about their freedoms because by assuming their responsibility in the European economical, political and cultural life, the Muslims who live in Europe will earn their right to freedom. Hence, the freedom of the European Muslims will not be somebody’s mercy, but a possessed value which can neither be denied nor taken away.
Muslims who live in Europe should present Islam to the western audience as a universal Weltanschauung, and not as a tribal, ethnical, or national culture. The Muslims cannot expect from the Europeans to appreciate the universal message of Islam if they are constantly faced with an ethnical or national color of Islam. It is not only that the European Muslims can impress the European public by a universalism of Islam, but also Europe is a good place for the Muslims themselves to discover the power and beauty of the universality of Islam.
it is in the West that many Muslims discover Islam in a totally different way from their homeland because here they meet their fellow Muslims from other parts of the Muslim world and thus begin to appreciate the diversity of Islamic experience and culture. The Muslims who live in Europe have the right, nay the duty to develop their own European culture of Islam as a proof of the third interaction between the East and the West and as a need for a new renaissance that will lead the humanity to a better and safer world.
the young generation of Muslims who live in Europe should be spiritually strong and intellectually bold to break the Muslim’s own stereotypes about Islam before asking others to change their stereotypes. Muslim youth must take the lead into their future, not to wait for the elders to do their job. The Muslim youth should not be shy to take the lead into a better future of the Muslims who live in Europe.
the Muslims who live in Europe should commit themselves to the following imperatives of their faith:
Read and Learn! The revelation of the Qur’an did not begin with the imperative of faith, but with the imperative of knowledge. God Almighty did not ask Muhammad, a.s., to believe, but He has asked him to read and learn what and how to believe. This is so because man is born with faith. There is no need, therefore, to ask man to believe if that is already in his soul. But there is a need to remind man that he ought to read and learn what is in his soul. So man needs knowledge with faith as well as faith with knowledge.
Believe and work hard! Man lives neither in a pure spiritual world without matter, nor in a pure material world without spirit. The secret of success is that man unites in himself these two values: his spirit and his body. In other words, the purpose of man’s life is in the activity of his spirit, and that is his faith, and in the activity of his body, and that is his hard work. There cannot be Muslim dignity unless the big gap between the faith of heart and the power of mind is closed.
Be pious and respect your parents! The Qur’anic emphasis on the link between the worship of God and the respect for parents has a strong massage both to the East and the West. The message to the East is not to concede to the pressure to give up on the family values; and the massage to the West is to stop the hazardous game with the future of humanity. The institution of family tradition has no alternative. The issue of the family values is not only a moral demand of human society, but also an existential condition of humanity. The attempt to break the common law of family life is equal of an attempt to break the common law of the nature of the Sun rise from the East. No one has been able to change the nature of the Sun rise; no one will be able to break the law of the family life as long as the Sun rises by the will of God Almighty.
Be honest and fight for your rights! The success here and the salvation in the hereafter do not come by themselves. One should go after his/her success. One should fight for his/her rights here and now. Also one should work for the salvation in the hereafter; one should deserve God’s mercy. The difference between the East and the West is in that that the East believes more in God’s mercy than in hard work, whereas the West relies more on hard work than on the mercy of God.
Be aware of tomorrow! There is a clear proof in the Holy Qur'an that we have the right, nay the duty, to plan our future and to believe that our future may be better than our past. It is really peculiar how some came to the idea that Muslim future is hopeless and so the hope is only in the Muslim past as a way of life and a goal of history. This idea has no foundation in Islam. It is not only that God Almighty teaches us that our future might be better than our past, but also the common reason tells us that we cannot change our past, but we can, with God's help, shape our future. So, we are not responsible for the past Muslim history, but we are responsible for the future Muslim history. The Muslims should not be afraid to think about their future in the same way as they should not be possessed by their past. The Muslims have future because they have faith in God. And they have faith in God because they believe that the truth and justice will prevail.
To the Muslim World that it is the sense of the European Muslims that –
the Muslim World is a Universal Community of Muslims who are brothers by their common faith in One God and in the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him .
the idea of a global awareness should not be a strange thing to Muslims. In its essence, Islam is a universal faith and a global phenomenon. It would have been fully appropriate if the Muslims had come with an agenda of a globalization in terms of a global freedom and security because Muslims are scattered almost everywhere on the Globe and so their freedom and security are of a global importance.
it is not only that Muslims have failed to come with a genuine idea of globalization, but they are, generally speaking, failing now to live a global world. Muslims have no global strategy; they have no global mind and head; they have no global calendar to save them form the embarrassment of the confusion about the date of Eid al-Adha. Unfortunately, they have the image of threatening freedom and security of the world; they have a stigma of global terrorism.
It is because of the stigma of Islamic terrorism from which Muslims are unjustly suffering today that a Declaration of the European Muslims to the Muslim Word should be worked out in order to emphasize the importance of a change from a bad global image to a good global image of Muslims, especially in matters of their faith.
the center of Islam should take the lead in providing global guidance in practical matters of our universal faith; in global issues of our time; and in global dialogue with our neighborhoods.
the Muslims, wherever they may be, should prove to the whole world that Islam is both sincere faith and rightful religion; that it is both attractive culture and peaceful politics; that it is both good people and rich land; and that Islam is both the wise man of the East and the rational man of the West.
it is wrong to accuse Islam for the lack of democracy in the Muslim world; it is sin to violate human rights in the name of Islam; it is crime against Islam to tolerate a high rate of illiteracy in the Muslim world and to witness a huge gap between enormously rich and extremely poor people in the Muslim world.
the European Muslims have the right and the duty to raise these and other issues which have an impact on the future of their children as they are trying to figure out who they are and what they are supposed to do as Muslims in a European environment.
the European Muslims call for a global Muslim Community to take the lead in promoting the peace and security in the world.
the Muslim World is a legitimate Ummah that should be capable to carry out the duty of a morally good, rationally balanced, economically just and globally proactive Community which is trustworthy of partnership and friendship everywhere.
We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere!
Friends are God’s way of care of us!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Bismillah is part of muslim's everyday life. Muslim is suposed to start everything he does by pronouncing bismillah.
Here is the first version:
English: In the name of God, most Gracious, most Compassionate
French: Au nom de Dieu, le Clément, le Miséricordieux
German: Im Namen Allahs, des Allerbarmers, des Barmherzigen
Spanish: En el nombre de Allah, el Misericordioso, el Compasivo
Italian: In nome di Allah , il Compassionevole, il Misericordioso
Swedish: I GUDs namn, Den Barmhärtigaste, Den Nådigaste.
Romanian: În numele lui Dumnezeu cel Milos şi Milostiv
Albanian: Me emrin e All-llahut, Mëshiruesit, Mëshirëbërësit
Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin: U ime Allaha, Milostivog, Samilosnog
Czech: Ve jménu Boha, Milosrdného, Slitovného
Danish: I Allahs den Nådiges den Barmhjertiges navn
Dutch: In de naam van Allah, de Erbarmer, de Meest Barmhartige
Norwegian: In de naam van Allah, de Erbarmer, de Meest Barmhartige
Polish: W Imię Boga Miłosiernego i Litościwego
Portogeese: Em nome de Deus, o Clemente, o Misericordioso
Russian: Во имя Аллаха, Милостивого, Милосердного
Turkish: Rahman ve rahîm olan Allah'ın adıyla
Greek: Στο όνομα του ΑΛΛΑΧ του Παντελεήμονα, του Πολυεύοπλαχνου
Hungarian: Allah, a Felettébb Könyörületes, a Felettébb Irgalmas nevével