Monday 27 June 2011

Missing Pages: Muslims Who Saved Jews During WW2

Missing Pages is a campaign by Exploring Islam Foundation to highlight the role Muslim's have played in helping Jews through the period of the Holocaust and before.  The Missing Pages website tells the stories of Muslim's and their families who hid Jews and helped them to safety:

Isak Kormaku:
We lived in the town of Elbasan. I was twelve years old, and my two other brothers are younger. It was just a few steps from here that our father sheltered six Jews in a stone house much like the one we lived in.

It is in the Koran that in the name of God we help all humans. They were Raphael Cambi, Chaim Isaac and Leon Isaac with his wife and two children. The Isaac family spoke Serbo-Croatian, as did our father. In 1945, they all left for Yugoslavia.
Leon Isaac came back for a visit in 1948. He and his family were living in Macedonia. To show his gratitude for saving the lives of his family, he wanted to give my parents a restaurant in Macedonia and offered to pay all their expenses for ten years. Our mother did not want to live in Macedonia so we stayed in Elbasan. After 1949, we lost contact with the Isaacs. The communists then imprisoned our father.
We have never sought recognition, but we are glad for this opportunity to have our father remembered. It is in the Quran that in the name of God we help all humans.

Mehmet Yshref Frasher:

My father was a scholar. He owned a printing press and was well known in our country. My great grandfather was a member of the government before King Zog. Our family is well respected with a long tradition of learning.

All through the Nazi years we were never afraid to save lives. All through the Nazi years we were never afraid to save lives. In 1943, we sheltered Sebita Meshon Gershon, his wife Berah, and their two daughters Hana and Stela. They left for Yugoslavia at the end of 1944. We sheltered Jakov (Jasha)
Altarac in our other home in Kamez. He came from Poland and had escaped from an Italian camp in Burrel in 1943. We also sheltered Joseph Lazar Gertler from Germany who had likewise been interned in Burrel by the Italians. Our neighbours never knew.
My father received a warm letter from Joseph Gertler from London in 1956. In 1990 I made contact with Hana and Stela Gershon who were both living in Brazil, and with Jasha Altarac who was in Israel.
After the war, the communists arrested and imprisoned my father. He was guilty of being an intellectual. We lived the Quran’s teaching to take care of the other.”

Edip Pilku:
My brother and I were young boys during the war. My father, Njazi Pilku, was a devout Muslim who had designed mosques here in Albania. In 1942, my parents sheltered a Jewish family in our home in Durres, hiding them for almost four years between there and our seaside home. They were the Gerechters – father, mother, and daughter – from Hamburg, Germany.

My parents sheltered a Jewish family in our home for almost four years They had sought asylum in Albania after Kristallnacht. They had been interned by the Italians, and were later arrested several times by Albanian collaborators, before they were rescued by my father. My mother, Liza Pilku, was German, so the Nazis often visited our seaside home. We introduced the Gerechter family as our relatives from Germany. Naturally, they were terrified.
Once in Durres, the Gestapo cordoned off the streets and searched with dogs for Jews. My mother came out of her house and scolded the Gestapo in German. She told them never to come back, to remember that she was German too. The Gestapo left.
After the war we lost all trace of the Gerechters. The communists took power and forbade contact with anyone from the outside world. My father was arrested in 1944. In 1945 the communists killed him. Our seaside home was confiscated.
Since the fall of the communists we have made contact with the Gerechter’s daughter, now Johanna Neumann, who lives in America. Johanna gave written testimony of her family’s rescue, and my parents were recognised by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.”

The wescite also features a book by Norman Gershman entitled  ‘Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II’ about the code of honour in Albania called Besa that instructeed Muslims to protect others from danger at all costs.

The book forms the basis for a moving documentary "Besa: The Promise"

Yoou can find out more at the website here or at the Gods House Film website here.

Saturday 25 June 2011

The Growth of Islamic Finance

The Independent (15 June 2011) carries an article entitled "The specialist sector where the sky is the limit" about the growth of Islamic Finance, or more specifically the marketi value of an MBA in Islamic finance:

"The Islamic finance industry is growing rapidly. There are currently an estimated 270 Islamic banks globally, with total assets of $265 billion. The global economic crisis has encouraged its increasing popularity as an alternative financial system where risk is shared between lenders and borrowers, and any form of interest is banned.

Along with the spread of Islamic finance comes a demand for graduates who are familiar with this specialised market.

Though there are just four Islamic banks operating in the UK, the leading auditing firms – PriceWaterhouseCooper, KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte have established independent Islamic finance divisions, and HSBC, Deutsche Bank, UBS and other financial services companies are, meanwhile, entering the Shariah compliant market.

Thom Polson, a director of the Geneva- based Islamic Wealth and Asset Management consultancy, did a Masters in Islamic banking at Bangor Business School and has some advice for MBA students. “Do a taster course in Islamic banking if you have any ambitions to work globally. In the Middle East Islamic banking is growing almost as fast as the skyscrapers.”

You can read the full article here.

Unity in Iraq

Local Iraqi leaders across the spectrum – Arabs and Kurds, Christians and Muslims – jointly pray with Christian Iraqis in a church in Kirkuk. The event was a public bid to reduce tensions in the disputed northern city of Iraq.
Photograph: Marwan Ibrahim/AFP/Getty Images (image source)

Muslim Dads in Utah

The Salt Lake Tribune has  a feature about Muslim fathers in Utah called "Utah’s Muslim dads lead by example, and stress choice, not force"  which describes the family life of a number of Muslim fathers living in the state:

"Sometimes portrayed as unyielding disciplinarians, many American Muslim fathers say the opposite is true. Yes, many expect their children to pray and abstain from dating, alcohol and pork, but they try to lead by example rather than force. Above all, they aim to rear good people.

In Islam, every day is supposed to be Father’s Day and Mother’s Day in the sense that children should always honor and appreciate their parents.

Shiekh Maqbool Ahmed sits down to dinner with his wife, three children and daughter-in-law almost every night.His two unmarried children, ages 21 and 28, still live in his Kaysville home.  The key to rearing successful children is setting a good example, Ahmed said. Forcing them to follow rules and customs doesn’t work. They must be taught to want to follow the faith.  "We instill in the children that Allah is watching you," Ahmed said. "If I am not there to watch you, if your mother is not there to watch you, if your friends are not there to watch you, Allah is watching you."

Sajid Faizi and his son place caps on their heads and his wife and daughters don head scarves, or hijabs.  The 47-year-old Cottonwood Heights father kneels in front of the family, leading them in prayer for about 10 minutes, facing toward the home’s large front window, toward Mecca.

Though Sajid Faizi is often working, he couldn’t be more dedicated to his family, says his wife, Shazia, who started Utah’s first Muslim Girl Scout troop.  "The kids and us and me," Shazia Faizi said, "that’s his first priority."

When Ahmed, an Arabic language instructor at the University of Utah, prays, his 2-year-old daughter, Laila,is usually "kind of floating around."  "She kind of knows what’s going on," said Ahmed, 35, "but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know it’s a prayer."   She just thinks it’s "fun." That’s the same word Ahmed, who also has a 7-month-old son, uses to describe fatherhood in general.

"I’m enjoying being a father immensely because my role in the household is more of the fun role. I’m getting the better part of the deal," jokes Ahmed, who is also working on earning a doctorate from the U. in syntax."

You can view the full article here.

Monday 6 June 2011

Ride 4 Haiti

Muslim hands is working with the Cyclists’ Touring Club to raise funds for Haiti by having cyclist Javed Saddique ride the 1,400 miles across the UK from Lands End to John O'Groats this summer.

The route will be covered from 4th July to 24th July with opportunities along the way for families and individuals to join in.

Muslim Hands teams were amongst the very first to reach Port au Prince in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, racing against time to supply food, water and medical aid to those most in need.  The Ride 4 Haiti describes some of the work being carried out:

"Despite appalling conditions, distribution networks were secured: staff and volunteers hit the ground running and aid was being delivered within 2 days of arriving.

As most of the world’s media moved on, Haiti quietly struggled to cover even the most basic needs of survivors. Time for Muslim Hands to step up its operation:

The second team, focusing on Relief and Rescue is dispatched to the earthquake zone on 25th January 2010. Led by Captain (Dr) Sohail Nasti, a specialist in disaster relief and recovery, they work closely with the UN to provide vitally-needed aid to the worst-stricken areas. Here are his words:

Helping to create order from chaos was the key challenge: how best to provide the most appropriate aid to vulnerable families.

Supported by donors in the UK, the MH teams worked flat out around the clock coordinating aid efforts in different areas."

Find out more or download a sponsorship form here.

Muslims donate $26,000 to the Greater Chicago Food Depository

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago has been supporting charities the city through a donation to the Greater Chicago Food Depository:

"Under the visionary leadership of Zakat Chicago, a committee of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, on May 5, the Greater Chicago Food Depository received a check for more than $20,000 to provide supplies for food pantries across Chicagoland. The Northern Illinois Food Bank received another $6,000 for food for the needy in the collar counties.
"Zakat Chicago has been supporting local food pantries for three years, but this year we decided to take this route to ensure that all the money is spent on food and the system is more centralized," said Maqsood Quadri, board member of CIOGC who played an instrumental role in this project. "At a time when hate against Muslims is on the rise across the nation, it is crucial to be proactive in letting our neighbors know that Muslims are helping anyone who needs assistance."

Find out more here.
Thanks to Samana Siddiqui at Positive Muslim News for the link.