Sunday, August 28, 2011

Moroccan Boy Wins Interntional Quran Recitation Competition

Here is an piece from The Peninsula on the International Young Quran Reciter contest that was held in Qatar, and the first place winner Abdul Basit Abdul Fattah Warrash from Morocco.
Moroccan wins Quran recitation contest
Sunday, 28 August 2011 03:32

DOHA: Al Jazeera Children’s Channel (JCC) and the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Qatar celebrated the conclusion of International Quran Recitation Competition in “Laylat Al Qaree Al Saghir” (The ‘Young Reader’ night) yesterday.

The Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs H E Dr Ghaith bin Mubarak Al Kuwari and Mahmoud Bouneb, Executive General Manager of Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, handed out prizes to the first three winners namely Abdul Basit Abdul Fattah Warrash from Morocco and Amjad Yehya Nasser from Yemen, and Noura Al Shahama Taqiyah bint Nouri Najmi from Malaysia who have successively won QR100,000, QR75,000 and QR50,000.

A prize of QR50,000 was granted to the best recitation by a non-Arab contestant, which was dually won by Bilal Nour Eddine (11 years old) from Indonesia and Zakaria Faydallah (10 years old) from Bangladesh, and a prize for the best teacher valued at QR30,000 went jointly to Mozah Bint Mohamad Center for Holly Quran and Islamic affairs (Qatar) and Wahat Al Furqan Quran teaching Center (Egypt).

The event, attended by Islamic scholars, teachers and public figures, took place in Katara Cultural Village. “Laylat Al Qare Al Saghir” aired live on JCC and QF Radio, and was also broadcast via JCC website ( and the competition webpage ( addition to the Arab States Broadcasting Union and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

It showcased live participations of children from Al Quds (Jerusalem), Baghdad, Cordoba, Toronto and Brasilia and hosted children from China, USA, Niger, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Tajikistan, and Thailand who have excelled in reciting from the Holy Book.

Over two thousand participants from different nationalities across the globe - aged between 9 and 12 years - took part in the preliminary competition. In the final stage, three children competed by reciting verses from the Holy Quran at the “Laylat Al Qaree Al Saghir” event in front of a panel of qualified jury and judges. The winners were selected based on their diction (Tajweed), performance, melody and voice.

Dr Ghaith bin Mubarak: “We value this fruitful partnership with Al Jazeera Children’s Channel, the children’s channel of choice that took this remarkable competition worldwide and reached out to the young talents in Quran reciting.”

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Moroccan Debate Over Eating in Ramadan and Religious Freedom

Here is an article from the Global Post about daytime eating during Ramadan and the controversy over religious freedom.

Yet, to eat or not to eat during the daylight hours of Ramadan (the month when Muslims believe the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) may not really be the crux of the problem.

Certainly no one is under the illusion that everyone in Morocco (or other Muslim-dominated countries) is fasting as Islam requires. There has to be a delicate balance between personal freedom and the personal sacrifices that come from living as a minority in a place with a dominant culture. For example, for Muslims living in the United States, which is technically a secular country, Christianity is obviously the dominant order. A certain amount of respect has to be given to Christian holidays and beliefs in order to be cordial and be a good neighbor, co-worker etc, even if one fundamentally disagrees with the basis of the faith.

Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, yet there has to be a middle ground based on respect. As the Qur'an tells believers to say to non-believers " To you your way and to me my way." It is going too far to make people renounce Islam in order to eat at McDonalds! Believers can be weak (in faith or knowledge), or they can even have legitimate excuses to eat. At the same time the Qur'an also says that there is " no compulsion in religion." True faith cannot be forced upon someone, and certainly not by laws and police.

Morocco: Controversy over religious freedom

Despite its new constitution and other reforms, Morocco is not a secular state.

Aida Alami August 20, 2011 08:48

CASABLANCA, Morocco — The slogan displayed on the profile pictures of hundreds of Moroccan Facebook users was stark: “In Morocco, Eating Kills.”

The message referred to the incident two years ago when six Moroccans were arrested for having a picnic during Ramadan in protest of a law banning eating in public during Ramadan.

Two years and a new constitution later, Morocco still doesn't have provisions guaranteeing more religious freedom for its citizens.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the debate over the introduction of more secularism is again in the spotlight because of Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code: It mandates a one to six month prison term for anyone "well known for their affiliation to Islam" who breaks the fast in public.

As a result, Moroccans who are non-practicing Muslims are obligated to respect the fast in public, while others escape abroad to avoid the restrictions.

"I am fortunate to live abroad because during Ramadan, Islam is forced upon people regardless of their beliefs,” said Habib, a 27-year-old engineer who lives in Paris. “To most Moroccans, being Muslim is not a personal choice of faith but the identity of an entire community that one is obligated to be a part of.”

MALI ( the acronym in French for Alternative Movement for Individual Liberty), the group that held the protest picnic, was formed in 2009. It campaigns for more individual freedoms. Its members have been arrested and intimidated by authorities and members of the general public since launching their first action, the picnic.

“It was not Ramadan that was 'targeted' but instead, we demanded freedom of religion and conscience, the freedom to believe or not, to practice or not, to be a Muslim or not," said Ibtissame Lachgar, 36, the co-founder of MALI and a political activist. “It is a spiritual choice that is personal and individual. We wanted a symbolic action that can really point the finger at the contradictions between the law and international treaties ratified by Morocco.”

Morocco's current political system is not compatible with the establishment of a secular state following the Turkish model, said Pierre-Jean Luizard, a historian and researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research in France.

“Morocco is a special case since the king is also the Commander of the Faithful," he said. "The Moroccan political system is based on the religious legitimacy of the sovereign, which gives secular claims a revolutionary character, and which is not the case in other Arab states. However, this does not mean that secularism is an absent claim as a value, with its corollaries: equality of citizens, freedom of conscience and religion and women's rights.”

One element that Morocco shares with other Muslim countries is that Islam, having been the main framework of anti-colonial struggles, became the language of the society, said Luizard. “What can be perceived as the conservatism of an entire society is also a reaction against the West and against overbearing authoritarian and corrupt regimes — like Morocco — supported by the West itself,” he said.

Abdelillah Benkirane, the leader of the main opposition party, The Islamist Justice and Development Party, condemned demands for a more secular state during a meeting in June, a few days before Morocco’s ruler, King Mohammed VI, introduced the new constitution to the people.

“They want to pervert the faith of this nation and Ramadan to no longer be sacred," he said. "They want to picnic during the holy month and set an example for young people, for your children. It seems that future reforms will restore 'sexual deviance' [homosexuality] — we may see people who say publicly that they are 'sexual deviants'."

Benkirane warned his audience that establishing more religious freedom in a new constitution would threaten the country’s foundations. "If the king adopts it, we will have a serious problem," he said. "Morocco is a Muslim state, and the country’s religion is Islam.”

But an ideological commitment to secularism on the part of the state is not necessarily a prerequisite for democratization, according to Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, a professor at Northwestern University specializing in religion and politics.

“There are many, many modalities for managing and negotiating across lines of religious difference, both historically and today, that do not fly under the flag of the doctrine of secularism,” she said. “Advocates of democratic change, wherever they find themselves, would do better to work for a deep pluralism that engages both 'religious' and 'secular' views conventionally understood rather than boxing themselves in with a commitment to secularism.”

Other Moroccans, like Sara, a 19-year-old student from Marrakesh don’t feel too concerned about the lack of religious freedom. “Except the other day when I tried to eat at Mcdonald’s in Marrakesh: I was asked to leave or they would call the police,” she recalled. “They told me they couldn’t let me eat there unless I proved I wasn’t Muslim. I asked myself right away, how do you prove such thing?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Latest Ramadan Lecture at the Royal Palace in Casablanca

Here is a piece from the state-run Moroccan press (MAP) about the latest Ramadan lecture given before King M6 and broadcast on TV. It covered the subject of family in Islam.

HM the King Chairs New Ramadan Religious Lecture

Casablanca - HM King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, accompanied by HRH Prince Moulay Rachid and HH Prince Moulay Ismail, presided, on Thursday at the royal palace in Casablanca, over a new religious lecture, the sixth such talks held during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The lecture was delivered by Bahija Cheddadi, member the local ulema council of Kenitra, on "the foundations of the family in Islam", drawing on the Quranic verse: "And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect."

The speaker stressed, from the very start, the need to renew Islam’s conception of the family with regard to many issues that challenge today this fundamental nucleus of society, in the context of changes taking place in the world, especially in the economic field and in connection with the exercise of freedoms.

Islam, in this regard, lavished great attention to the family with the establishment of standards and legal provisions that govern the behaviour and practices each of its members, she said.

The constitutive act of marriage is the most decisive element in conjugal life, said Cheddadi, stating that its provisions are intended to preserve the interests of the spouses, the sustainability of this relationship, and the avoidance of any defect or failure that could affect the validity of this sacred act.

In the conclusion of the marriage, the validity of the form is as important as for contractors who must be converged with the objectives of Sharia’ (Islamic law) in the matter.

Following the lecture, HM the King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, was greeted by several Muslim figures and scholars coming from all over the world.

Last modification 08/19/2011 04:00 PM.
©MAP-All right reserved

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

King M6 Distributes Ramadan Foodstuffs to the Poor in Temara / الملك يطلق عملية رمضان

Here is a short piece from the Moroccan National Press on some Ramadan charity being carried out by King M6. Another Moroccan publication, Hespress has video of the distribution here. Ramadan Mubarak to all!

HM the King Launches in Temara Foodstuff Distribution Operation on Occasion of Ramadan

2 August 2011

Temara — HM King Mohammed VI handed out, on Tuesday the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, food baskets to needy people in Al Massira neighbourhood in Temara (near Rabat).

- Around 58 million dirhams earmarked to finance the "Ramadan 1432" operation.

- The initiative will benefit 2.37 million people from 473,900 households.

This marks the launching of a 58 million dirhams ($7.2 mln) operation which consists in delivering foodstuffs to the needy, especially the widows, the elderly and the disabled.

The operation is to benefit 2.37 million people from 473,900 households, 403,000 in rural areas, across the Kingdom.

Each household receives a basket containing 10 kg of flour, four kg of sugar, five litres of cooking oil and 250g of tea.

5,000 people are mobilized to carry out this operation monitored notably by two field-based committees to ensure the supply of these centers, identify the beneficiaries and distribute the foodstuff.