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The Damascene men are as matter-of-fact as, say, a Tambrahm, and not given to the flowery compliments that seem to endear other Arab men to women. But they are superbly polite, confident creatures and it’s nice to see so many handsome male faces at once. Damascenes show appreciation discreetly, making sure it registers but never in an annoying or crude way. As residents of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, they’ve seen it all, done it all, writes Renuka Narayanan in the Hindustan Times

 
Thousands tune in to banned Dish TV
Joy Sengupta, Anwar Ahmad and Adel Arafah

Despite a blanket ban on subscription of Dish TV, a product of the India-based Zee TV, many shops in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are selling the service after allegedly smuggling the receivers into the country. 'People are inclined more towards the Dish TV as they have all the sports channels from around the world as well as movie channels at a cheaper rate.’ The Ministry of Economy has, however, directed the port authorities across the UAE to confiscate TV decoders being smuggled into the country, says a report in The Khaleej Times by staff reporters Joy Sengupta, Anwar Ahmad and Adel Arafah .

 

Encouraged by the exemplary success of a madrasa student in the civil services exam (2007), a group of clerics in the city have decided to prepare more madrasa candidates for the elite services. A centre, to be entirely funded by the community, will take off soon. Mohammed Wajihuddin, TNN, reports.

 

A few months ago, the trustees of Madrasa Azizia in Mumbai had suggested an alternative source of income for the charity-run institution: a factory that would fund it. But Maulana Mazhar Alam Qasmi who heads the 35-year-old madrasa, a branch of the famous seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in Uttar Pradesh, rejected the offer in no uncertain terms. Reason: "A madrasa must not be rich enough to become corrupt like other educational institutions." Mohammed Wajihuddin of TNN reports.

 

REMEMBER 14-YEAR-OLD Amina, who was rescued by an airhostess on a Hyderabad- Delhi flight? The girl had been married off to a 60- year- old Arab, who was taking her to Saudi Arabia for a ‘better life’.

The airhostess alerted the police and Amina was rescued. That was in 1991. Seventeen years on, little has changed. Young girls barely into puberty are being married off under the plea of poverty, tradition or merely because they are seen as a “burden” on their families.

Sometimes even the courts uphold the marriage as legitimate because it falls under the purview of certain personal laws. Early this week, the Delhi High Court upheld the provisions of the Muslim Personal Law, to allow Afsana, a minor girl, to “decide her own fate and future”. In an accompanying piece Sujata B. Shakeel and Anindita D. Choudhury report for Mail Today, New Delhi. Rohit Wadhwaney reports on rampant child marriages in Delhi.

 

Writers argue about where Egypt stands today—on the brink of a brighter future, or on the edge of an abyss?

 

Saudi Marriage Officiant Dr. Ahmad Al-Mu'bi: "Marriage is actually two things: First we are talking about the marriage contract itself. This is one thing, while consummating the marriage – having sex with the wife for the first time – is another thing. There is no minimal age for entering marriage. You can have a marriage contract even with a one-year-old girl, not to mention a girl of nine, seven, or eight. This is merely a contract [indicating] consent. The guardian in such a case must be the father, because the father's opinion is obligatory. Thus, the girl becomes a wife... But is the girl ready for sex or not? What is the appropriate age for having sex for the first time? This varies according to environment and traditions. In Yemen, girls are married off at nine, ten, eleven, eight, or thirteen, while in other countries; they are married off at 16. Some countries have legislated laws forbidding having sex before the girl is eighteen."

 

With the publication of "Muslim World Almanac 2008," a group of individuals based in Makkah and Jeddah has done a remarkable job. Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef has rightly said in his preface: "Seldom do we come across a comprehensive exposition of our faith and its tradition, together with its authentic and up-to-date portrayal of the geopolitical and socioeconomic conditions in the Muslim world. Here is a response to this challenge, covering, inter alia, the current state of affairs in the Muslim regions, ethnic and demographic composition including the historical turns and twists that characterize our worldwide community. The Makkah-based treatise is indeed a noteworthy attempt." Shaheen Nazar of Arab News reports.

 

Female voters would exercise their right to vote for the first time ever in the urban areas of Pakistan’s northwest district of Battagram in North West Frontier Province in tomorrow’s by-election on the PF-59 electoral constituency seat for the provincial legislature. Sources said that the contesting candidates and the male voters had reached an understanding that the women in the rural areas of the district would be kept away from the polling stations.

 

The Dubai Women Establishment (DWE) has signed a strategic co-operation agreement with the Dubai Statistics Centre (DSC) to share crucial data that will further the goals of both organisations to provide better understanding on the status of UAE women. The agreement was signed by Mona Al Marri, Chairperson of the board of Dubai Women Establishment, and Arif Obaid Al Muhairi, CEO of the Dubai Statistics Centre, recently. The DWE aims to source relevant updated data on women that will aid the establishment to  provide an in-depth analysis of their status and their individual and collective capabilities to contribute to the national economy.

 

A Malaysian city has urged Muslim women not to wear brightly colored lipstick, tight clothes or high-heeled shoes while working, an official said Tuesday. "Nowadays the way women dress attracts unwanted attention. It could lead to all sorts of vice," said Azman Mohd Daham, public relations director of the city council in Kota Bharu, capital of conservative northern Kelantan state. We do not advocate tight clothes, too much lipstick or thick make-up, and even the headscarf should not be too transparent," he told AFP. "Women should dress modestly, this is what Islam requires."

 

Academics and writers at a function in Dhaka on 19 June called for taking inspiration from poet Sufia Kamal’s works to establish rights of women.  Addressing the programme organised to celebrate the 70th anniversary of publication of the poet’s first collection of poems, Sanjher Maya, they said Sufia Kamal had become an inspiration to all Bangalis through her 70-year of devotion to poetry. ‘Sufia Kamal believed that it was impossible to attain progress without establishing equal rights of men and women,’ Selina said, and urged all to take spirit from her poems to establish women’s rights.

 

“Farouk Saad Hamad Al-Zuman, the first Saudi to leave his footprints on Earth’s highest summit, is the real hero of this great nation with exceptional courage and conviction,” said Prince Sultan ibn Salman, secretary-general of the General Commission of Tourism and Antiquities (GCTA), while congratulating him yesterday.

 

Illiterate and unemployed Muslim parents are interested in the revision of madarsa syllabus. Similarly, madarsa teachers want the setting up of an All-India Madarsa Board. This is the conclusion that has emerged out of a survey that was conducted by the Hamdard University, New Delhi.

 

Normally, Rehmatullah would sit patiently with his co-accused on the narrow bench in court. But at the nth hearing of his 13-year-old case, as he trooped out with his 20-odd co-accused, the normally stolid-looking silent man, looked worried. "Can I skip the next date?" he asked his lawyer. "I have to go to my village. My daughter's getting married." This was the old man's second daughter's marriage. Like her elder sister, this one too was marrying a Hindu. Columnist Jyoti Punwani profiles a Muslim who has Hindu daughters.

 
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