For many students last Monday marked the beginning of yet another school year. But not so for Yassmin Abdel–Magied who was delightfully surprised to find that she has been appointed by the school to the position of Vice Captain.
At a formal first day assembly at John Paul College, Yassmin became the first Muslim student in the 20 year history of the school to be appointed to such a prestigious position of leadership and responsibility.
As her middle school Registrar said, “Yassmin is a strong young woman with a good solid set of values and will positively influence some of the other young people in high school. We are all so proud of her”.
How badly do you want to go for Hajj?
One man's epic journey
URUS-MARTAN — Seeking the greatest spiritual experience in a Muslim's life, a 63-year-old Chechen criss-crossed 13 countries on his rusting bicycle to join nearly three million Muslims from across the world in performing hajj.
"I was only afraid, and am afraid, of God -- and that I might not reach my goal," Dzhanar-Aliyev Magomed-Ali told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Monday, January 29, after retuning home from the spiritual trip.
Magomed-Ali finished a 10-week trip on his old bike from Urus-Martan, a small village in Chechnya, to the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia.
The distance between the capital Grozny and Makkah is nearly 5,000 kilometers but the aging Chechen clocked up nearly 12,000 kilometers in his circuitous route.
He said the inspiration came from his mother who visited him in a dream.
"She told me... 'You should do the hajj Magomed-Ali,'" he recalled.
"And when I asked her how I was supposed to do it she answered 'You've got a bicycle. Go on that and I'll help you along the way.'"
One of the five pillars of Islam, hajj consists of several ceremonies, which are meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.
Every able-bodied adult Muslim -- who can financially afford the trip -- must perform hajj once in their lifetime.
Determined to make the journey, Magomed-Ali took the precaution of training for his tough road, taking short cycle-rides around Chechnya's war-ravaged landscape.
The elderly Chechen also equipped himself with 11 spare bicycle chains and six replacement inner tubes for his bicycle.
He recalled the unprecedented route he made through 13 states on his mud-splattered "iron horse" as he calls his old bicycle.
He left his village on November 8 heading to neighboring Azerbaijan, where he camped outside the Saudi embassy hoping for a visa.
"The consulate's employees took me to be abnormal and couldn't understand how I planned to get to their country by bicycle," Mogomed-Ali told AFP, wearing his traditional sheepskin hat and woolen jumper.
After 18 days of relentless efforts with the consulate officials, he gave up and headed south across the border into Iran.
But later came the hardest leg of his journey when he reached war-ravaged Iraq, where he faced a dilemma with the US soldiers.
"Because I hadn't got a visa, they broke my bicycle, smashed it against the ground and called me a Russian pig," Mogomed-Ali recalled.
"I told them I wasn't Russian but a Muslim and they seized my passport and pointed to the crosses on the cover."
He was then forced to turn around and head back to Iran and around Iraq through Armenia and Georgia, down through Turkey, Syria and Jordan.
Finally, after further border wrangles, the Chechen faithful reaches Saudi Arabia to seek his cherished destination, Makkah.
In the holy city, Mogomed-Ali was well-received and offered prayers for his family and homeland, before turning round and heading back home.
Despite the hardships he encountered, the old Chechen is now counting his blessings.
"I did the hajj in order to fulfill the will of my mother, who gave me life and taught me love for my homeland, which for me is priceless," Mogomed-Ali said, standing beside the bike adorned with the emblem of Chechen independence fighters.
The small mountainous republic of Chechnya has been ravaged by conflict since 1994, with just three years of relative peace after the first Russian invasion of the region ended in August 1996 and the second began in October 1999.
Some 200 invited delegates from the three Abrahamic faiths will convene in Parliament House for the day on 7 February to discuss ways of "promoting community harmony in times of ease and difficulty".
The objective of the Forum is to promote education and dialogue amongst the groups and to encourage mutual respect and positive community relations. The three faith groups and Multicultural Affairs Queensland have organized the event and the Islamic Women's Association of Queensland (IWAQ) have been funded as part of the Muslim Community Engagement Strategy to administer the event.
The Forum will be addressed by Franceska JordanAM, Revd ProfessorJames Haire and Dr Mohamad Abdalla.
Four workshops will tackle such issues as the role of education and community, political and faith leaders in promoting interfaith dialogue; the media representation of religions and reconciliation between faiths.
Al-nisa would like to thank all the young men and women who participated on its focus group over last Saturday and Sunday at the Kuraby Hall and Madarash.
The discussions were informative and have enabled us to understand some of the issues that are important to and that impact on young people in Brisbane.
Al-nisa will continue running these focus groups until the end of February with the view of developing an action plan for the two youth workers to implement inshaAllah.
We anticipate to be able to have the workers in place by March.
If you or your friends are between the ages of 15-25 years we would love to hear from you and listen to your ideas and views on those issues that impact on you on a daily basis an how we can work together to address them.
Drop us a line at
firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and contact phone number or give us a call on 0433182520 (Susan Al-maani) and we shall let you know when the next session is.
All information collected is confidential and will only be used for public reports and program development.
The Jewish school where half the pupils are Muslim
King David, in Birmingham, is a state primary where the children learn Hebrew, recite Jewish prayers, eat kosher food and wave Israeli flags. So how come the majority of pupils are followers of Islam?
It's infant prize day at King David School, a state primary in Moseley, Birmingham. The children sit cross-legged on the floor, their parents fiddling with their video cameras. The head, Steve Langford, is wearing a Sesame Street tie.
A typical end-of-term school event, then. But at King David there's a twist that gives it a claim to be one of the most extraordinary schools in the country: King David is a strictly Jewish school. Judaism is the only religion taught. There's a synagogue on site. The children learn modern Hebrew - Ivrit - the language of Israel. And they celebrate Israeli independence day.
But half the 247 pupils at the 40-year-old local authority-supported school are Muslim, and apparently the Muslim parents go through all sorts of hoops, including moving into the school's catchment area, to get their children into King David to learn Hebrew, wave Israeli flags on independence day and hang out with the people some would have us believe that they hate more than anyone in the world.
The National Youth Affairs Research Scheme (through FACSIA) is funding a research project looking at diversity in young people’s participation in community and government decision making.
The Cultural & Indigenous Research Centre is looking to recruit
young people to a Youth Advisory Group (YAG). The YAG is a group of people that give advice to the research team on how the research should be done. We believe that young people are experts in their own lives, and their involvement will help to ensure that the research is respectful of young people’s beliefs and cultures and accurately reflects their experiences!
With the wedding season upon us, CCN is undertaking the task of compiling a list of do's and don'ts. Send us your pet rules to email@example.com and we'll add it to the list (and judge it worthy of a gift in the process).
To kick start the collection here's one we prepared earlier:
If you have been given an invitation with a RSVP, then you are expected to reply. The bride is too busy organizing things to read your mind.
If the invitation states just the husband and wife, then that means no children, not even if your child will be on your shoulder asleep when you get there, it still means NO children.
If the invitation states Mr. & Mrs. and family, that means your children, not your nieces, cousins, single sister etc.
You should never, ever ask if you can bring an extra friend along because they haven’t been to a wedding in Australia.
Ladies attending Mendhi functions are required to remember that it is a festive occasion, and bringing a smile along, even a fake one, would make the night more enjoyable for all concerned.
Placecards have been arranged on tables after a lot of thought by the bride and groom, it is not your job to play musical chairs with them, so you can get a better view of the bride.
When the hors d’oeuvres are being served take one or two, filling up your napkin with 20 chicken nuggets looks bad, remember that you will get a bigger feed soon.
Gifts are difficult, but it will be obvious to everyone that the faded box from your spare room cupboard is not something you just bought, so go and buy something new.
Generally, the closer you are to the bride or groom, the more you spend on them, but it is never alright to buy your wedding presents at Crazy Clarks, The Warehouse, or any other discount variety store.
Giving a gift is done to assist the bride and groom for their married life, so giving artificial flowers, cleaning supplies, and pre read books is not allowed.
If you are going to wait for the bride to throw the bouquet, remember it is not a rugby match and you cannot push, slap or knock over another girl in your attempt to grab the flowers.
As many couples are requesting it, giving money is now acceptable as presents, but please remember to round off the dollar amount as coins are not appropriate.
Things never to say to the bride “Why didn’t you get a professional to do your makeup?”.
Things never to say to the groom “That other girl you liked was much nicer”.
No, you are not allowed to cut yourself half of the wedding cake to take home.
Everyone wants to take photos of the happy couple entering, cutting the cake etc. it is not recommended that you stand beside them at these times, because no one wants your photo.
You cannot ask for seconds if you are being served your meal.
Going to the buffet twice is acceptable, if you are going more than that then next time eat before you come.
The cost of your present is not equivalent to how much food you must consume, you do not need to get your moneys worth of food.
You may not pick up, shake, open or compare any of the presents.
The General Responds
In the last issue of CCN we showed a student addressing a conference and take on Pakistan's president General Pervaiz Musharaf in particular.
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