Islamic prayer call echoes in Minnesota city for the first time

Agencies
April 25, 2020

From loudspeakers on the roof of a Minnesota mosque, the Islamic call to prayer echoed for the first time ever throughout a Minneapolis neighbourhood late on Thursday as the Muslim community there prepared to begin the holy month of Ramadan.

It echoed again on Friday morning and will continue five times a day during the holy month. 

The simple, short call - known as the adhan - marked an historical moment for Minneapolis and major cities across the United States, community members said. While the adhan is commonly broadcast throughout the Middle East, North Africa and other places, for many Muslims in the US, it is only heard inside mosques or community centres.

"There's definitely a lot of excitement," said Imam Abdisalam Adam, who is on the board of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque, from where the adhan will be broadcast.
"Some people see it as historic," Adam told Al Jazeera. "To the point ... that they're not doing it, able to see it in their lifetime." 

Recited by different representatives from mosques around the city, the call to prayer is expected to reach thousands in the Cedar-Riverside neighbourhood in Minneapolis, according to Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of Minnesota's Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

While Hussein says the community had discussed broadcasting the call for years, it became even more pressing this year when the coronavirus pandemic forced mosques to shut their doors and residents to stay inside. The coronavirus has infected more than 870,000 people nationwide and killed at least 50,000.
"We wanted to touch those individuals who frequent this mosque and this community," Hussein said. "If we cannot be physically together, at least this echo, this voice, this call to prayer can be an extension of us being together at this difficult time. To give some people some solace."
Ramadan - Minnesota.

The Dar al-Hijrah mosque in the Cedar-Riverside neighbourhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota [Courtesy of Abdisalem Adam] 
Ramadan is traditionally a time when Muslims worldwide regularly attend mosques for daily prayers and break their fasts together. But this year, most have been told to pray at home and forgo community iftars in favour of staying safe from the COVID-19 crisis.

Adam, the imam, said while the Muslim community is experience loss this Ramadan, they hope the call to prayer broadcast will create a "semblance of normalcy".

"With the loss of Friday prayers and the regular congregational prayers, we are hoping that this will give a sense of solace and connection to the spiritual needs of community members," he added. 

An avenue to greater investment?

The Cedar-Riverside neighbourhood is a densely populated area of Minneapolis that has historically been an entry point for many immigrants and today is home to large Somali and Oromo communities.

Ramla Bile, a Somali American who lives in a neighbourhood adjacent to Cedar-Riverside, has been active in the community for years. She welcomed the broadcast of the call to prayer, saying it will help people "feel the spirit of Ramadan in a way that is meaningful".

But she also hopes the city of Minneapolis, which provided the noise permit for the broadcast, will make bigger strides to invest in the community in even more tangible ways.

"There's been a lot of need and a lot hurt in the community in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. And then there's the ongoing conversation you've been having," she said, pointing to deep-seated Islamophobia, systemic racism and the need for infrastructure projects like sprinkler systems in high-rise buildings. 

"We need to see greater investments to support the most vulnerable members of our community," Bile said referring to the neighbourhood's elders, undocumented individuals, low-income families and others.

"Right now, we're waiting for a bailout for our micro-businesses who comprise our Somali malls, or a rent freeze for neighbourhood residents," she added.

For CAIR's Hussein and Imam Adam, they hope this Ramadan's call to prayer helps encourage other communities around the US to take similar steps.

"This will hopefully inspire others … to think about what could happen in future Ramadans and beyond," Hussein said.

Adam added that while the virus has devastated communities and upended daily life, it has also shown that "we're in this together".

"It just shows the significance of the global village and how interconnected and interdependent we are as a world community," he said. "I think that there will be a lot of change in our way of life for the better. I hope so."

 

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Agencies
September 18,2020

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Lucknow, Sept 18: The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is reportedly planning to promulgate an ordinance against religious conversions, especially from Hinduism to Islam.

This is being done amidst BJP’s claim of the increasing number of cases of so called 'love jihad' in the state. BJP also claims that in many cases Muslim men have concealed their religious identity to lure Hindu girls.

According to sources, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, during his two-day visit to Lucknow this week, also raised the issue of religious conversion.

The anti-conversion laws in various states seek to prevent any person from converting or attempting to convert, either directly or otherwise, another person through 'forcible' or 'fraudulent' means, or by 'allurement' or 'inducement'.

"The law in Uttar Pradesh would be quite similar in nature which would make religious conversions a complex and cumbersome procedure," said an official in the law department.

At present, eight states have anti-conversion laws -- Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Uttarakhand.

Odisha was the first state to enact this law in 1967, followed by Madhya Pradesh, in 1968.

"Uttar Pradesh could soon become the ninth state," said the law department official.

The state government has set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe 11 cases of so called 'love jihad' in Kanpur.

Comments

Khalid
 - 
Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

Allah SWT will guide whoever he wishes. Your discriminatory human laws mean nothing. People have a natural desire to give up the worship of hundred false deities in favour of One true God.

Fairman
 - 
Saturday, 19 Sep 2020

The more you try to prevent, the more people will have curiosity and urge to know the truth.
This is something true,
- Islam is getting more attracted through the world.
- As Islam is very much practical religion, the God says, as God is one, he ordered to follow Islam and he does not accept any other religion. Therefore Muslims follow it and propagate to others.
- Our constitution approves its citizens to follow any religion of his/her choice, like in other countries. It also allows every religion in India to propagate it to others.
- As Islam is the practical religion, it is widely attracted by others to accept it.
- I would like ask our Hindu brothers, to study their religion like Vedas and understand it. Islam is also fully inline with Vedas, therefore Hindus accept Islam. I have seen many young Hindu priests who are expert in Vedas, have accepted Islam.

Fairman
 - 
Saturday, 19 Sep 2020

First of All, Islam does not allow to forcefully convert.

The message is very clear, Muslims have to follow what they believe and they just convey others.
This is by setting as an example by themselves by practicing its teaching and then explain others.

No force, or enticing is allowed by offering money, house, food etc.
It is upto the person, if he/she understood the message and ready to accept it.

People should be given free choice to think, and decide what is best for them to choose.

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Agencies
September 19,2020

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New York, Sept 19: Wall Street capped another turbulent week of trading Friday with a broad slide in stocks that left the S&P 500 with its third-straight weekly loss.

The S&P 500 fell 1.1per cent, led once again by a sell-off in technology companies, with Apple, Amazon and Alphabet weighing particularly on the market.

Technology stocks and other companies that powered the market's strong comeback this year have suddenly lost momentum this month amid worries that they have become too expensive.

The sell-off tempered later in the afternoon but still wiped out what had been a solid start to the week. The S&P 500 is on track for its first monthly loss since March. September is historically the worst month for stocks.

The market has been poised to just pull back, take a breather," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

"Raising capital is prudent during a month that is known statistically, historically for being difficult for the market.

The S&P 500 fell 37.54 points to 3,319.47. The decline marks the the first 3-week losing streak for the benchmark index since last October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 244.56 points, or 0.9per cent, to 27,657.42.

The Nasdaq composite shed an early gain, losing 116.99 points, or 1.1per cent, to 10,793.28. Smaller stocks also fell, with the Russell 2000 index of small caps giving up 5.82 points, or 0.4per cent, to 1,536.78.

Stocks have swirled this week despite the Federal Reserve's saying it expects to keep short-term interest rates at record lows through 2023.

Low rates typically turbocharge the market by encouraging investors to pay higher prices for stocks, but some investors may have been looking for the Fed to be even more aggressive.

Growth in some areas of the economy has also slowed after unemployment benefits and other aid from the federal government expired, and partisan disagreements in Congress are holding up a possible renewal of support. Investors say it's essential that such aid arrives.

To the extent that you don't get an additional fiscal cushion, the economy is going to be impacted by it, said Brian Levitt, global market strategist at Invesco.

Rising tensions between the world's two largest economies are also continuing to keep markets on edge. The United States said on Friday that it will ban downloads of the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat on Sunday. It cited national security and data privacy concerns.

President Donald Trump's targeting of the Chinese tech industry has caused intermittent worries in the market about a possible retaliation against the U.S. industry.

Big Tech stocks have stumbled sharply this month on worries that their prices have grown too expensive following their virtuosic performance through the pandemic. Surging shares of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and others helped carry Wall Street back to record heights, even as the pandemic walloped much of the economy, as the coronavirus accelerated work-from-home and other trends that benefit them.

But they suddenly lost momentum two weeks ago, causing the market to swing with them. Because these companies have grown so massive, their stock movements have huge sway over broad market indexes, such as the S&P 500.

We certainly got a little short-term overbought and we headed into a time of the year that is not great for markets, Levitt said.

On Friday, several Big Tech stocks continued slipping. Apple dropped 3.2per cent, Microsoft fell 1.2per cent and Amazon slid 1.8per cent.

Also on the long list of concerns for markets is how the pandemic progresses, whether a vaccine for COVID-19 could indeed be available in early 2021 as many investors expect and what November's U.S. presidential election will do to the economy.

Treasury yields remain very low, showing the powerful strength of the Federal Reserve and continued expectations by bond investors for only modest economic growth and inflation. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 0.70per cent from 0.69per cent late Thursday.

A preliminary report on Friday said that consumer sentiment is improving at a faster pace than economists expected, which is key for an economy where spending by consumers is the main driver. But it follows other reports this week that showed growth in retail sales slowed last month and the number of layoffs across the country remains stubbornly high.

One factor that may have helped make trading bumpier than usual Friday is an event known as quadruple witching, which marks the expiration of futures and options on stocks and indexes. The event can drive swings in prices.

Other stock markets around the world made mostly modest moves.

In Europe, the German DAX lost 0.7per cent, and the French CAC 40 sank 1.2per cent. The FTSE 100 in London fell 0.7per cent. Markets in Asia closed mostly higher.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 0.2per cent to USD40.89 to per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 0.8per cent to USD42.95 per barrel.

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Agencies
September 13,2020

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United Nations, Sept 13: Upon the conclusion of their annual meeting, the Group of Seven (G7) Speakers and heads of Parliament have agreed to focus on the need for strong international action to combat the disparities in health and financial security that have been highlighted by the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

They observed that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations this year were among the highest averages ever recorded.

"We, Speakers/Presidents of Parliament of the member states of the G7, affirm that the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis require a robust and coordinated international response," said a joint declaration after the virtual G7 Speakers' meeting concluded on Saturday.

The meeting included participation from all G7 nations and the European Union.

"By passing legislation, by approving national budgets and by holding governments to account, Parliaments are a key element in the commitment of states to the well-being of our citizens and the environment.

"As leaders in the international community, we commit to act with urgency to provide a healthy, clean and sustainable environment for our children and grandchildren and generations to come.

"The world is reeling from COVID-19. As of September 12, 2020, there have been more than 28 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the disease has claimed the lives of more than 900,000 people across the world.

"The pandemic has disrupted the regular life of our citizens, disproportionately hurt our most vulnerable communities and at-risk populations, including women and children, and destabilized our economies.

"We declare that our response to COVID-19, including vaccine development and its equitable distribution, will be based on science and medicine, focused on wide access rather than profitability, and informed by the knowledge that the pandemic will continue until it is addressed worldwide," said the declaration.

"As G7 nations, we have a moral, scientific and economic duty to serve as the standard-bearer for this global commitment.

"Unfortunately, the climate crisis does not pause as governments address the pandemic. Our nations cannot choose to ignore the climate emergency while we address the immediate crisis presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Both the health and climate crises have and will continue to require unprecedented government action.

"As Parliaments develop legislation to rebound from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, clean energy and other climate investments can power short- and long-term economic recovery.

"The climate crisis is the existential threat of our time, jeopardizing the health and well-being of every family in every community around the world.

"Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in 2020 are among the highest averages ever recorded. The planet suffered through the second hottest year ever in 2019. As the earth heats up, climate-related impacts, including heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and flooding, are worsening," it said.

The statement went on to say: "The great rivers of our world are beginning to dry up, depriving millions of water, food, jobs, transportation and commerce. The degradation of the oceans is also a great matter of concern as we stated in Brest last year.

"We shall also pay particular attention to environmental justice for economically vulnerable and frontline communities.

"Committing to fight against environmental injustice requires providing a healthy environment, equal opportunity and meaningful involvement in environmental decisions to all people, regardless of race, colour, gender, orientation, national origin, belief, or socio-economic condition.

"Climate policy can end the perpetuation of systemic inequalities.

"We reaffirm the central role played by parliaments in democratic life. Parliaments, which are the assemblies that bring together all the components of society, are the key institutions of democracy: parliaments represent the expression of the people through their legislative and oversight roles.

"We therefore call upon all parties to take action on the climate crisis in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

"We pledge that we will maintain contacts between parliaments to ensure a high level of mobilization concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate, the regular raising of questions linked to these crises and the dissemination of good practices.

"We believe that our parliaments must play a pivotal role in the response and recovery to COVID-19 and the fight to address the climate crisis with economic and environmental justice for all."

In the run-up to the G7 Speakers' meeting, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in a video message informed the participating nations that they should think of the whole world as interdependent and of the entire seven billion human beings as one human community.

"Global warming is very serious. Many people suffer. We must pay more attention," he said.

The participants comprised US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of Canada's House of Commons, Canada Anthony Rota, President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli, President of French National Assembly Richard Ferrand, President of the German Bundestag Wolfgang SchAuble, President of Italy's Chamber of Deputies Roberto Fico, Speaker of Japan's House of Representatives Tadamori Oshima and Speaker of UK's House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle.

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