‘Violence more common’ in Bible than Quran, text analysis reveals

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The Old Testament was found to be more than twice as violent as the Quran

Samuel Osborn

LONDON

AN ANALYSIS into whether the Quran is more violent than the Bible found killing and destruction occur more frequently in the Christian texts than the Islamic.

Investigating whether the Quran really is more violent than its Judeo-Christian counterparts, software engineer Tom Anderson processed the text of the Holy books to find which contained the most violence.

In a blog post, Mr Anderson explains: “The project was inspired by the ongoing public debate around whether or not terrorism connected with Islamic fundamentalism reflects something inherently and distinctly violent about Islam compared to other major religions.”

Using text analytics software he had developed, named Odin Text, he analysed both the New International Version of both the Old and New Testaments as well as an English-language version of the Quran from 1957.

It took just two minutes for his software to read and analyse the three books.

By categorising words into eight emotions – Joy, Anticipation, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, Surprise, Fear/Anxiety and Trust – the analysis found the Bible scored higher for anger and much lower for trust than the Quran.

Further analysis found the Old Testament was more violent than the New Testament, and more than twice as violent as the Quran.

Mr Anderson summarises: “Of the three texts, the content in the Old Testament appears to be the most violent.

“Killing and destruction are referenced slightly more often in the New Testament (2.8%) than in the Quran (2.1%), but the Old Testament clearly leads—more than twice that of the Quran—in mentions of destruction and killing (5.3%).”

However, he adds: “First, I want to make very clear that we have not set out to prove or disprove that Islam is more violent than other religions.

“Moreover, we realize that the Old and New Testaments and the Quran are neither the only literature in Islam, Christianity and Judaism, nor do they constitute the sum of these religions’ teachings and protocols.

“I must also reemphasize that this analysis is superficial and the findings are by no means intended to be conclusive. Ours is a 30,000-ft, cursory view of three texts: the Quran and the Old and New Testaments, respectively.”

 The Independent

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/violence-more-common-in-bible-than-quran-text-analysis-reveals-a6863381.html?cmpid=facebook-post

 

Indonesian Islamic philantropic institution ‘Dompet Dhuafa’ wins 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award

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Jakarta

INDONESIAN Indonesian philanthropic organization Dompet Dhuafa has been named one of six recipients of this year’s prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, which honors leadership in solving society’s most intractable problems.

Dompet Dhuafa has redefined the landscape for zakat — the tax on an adult’s wealth that is a cornerstone of Islamic teachings. The organization has become one of the largest philanthropic organizations in Indonesia today in terms of donations received, totaling some US$20 million and reaching 13 million beneficiaries as of 2015, with at least 20 percent of them moving out of poverty, the Associated Press reported from Manila on Wednesday.

One of the organization’s founders, Eri Sudewo, said the award was a victory not only for Dompet Dhuafa but also for other charity organizations throughout Indonesia.

“The real victory is in how we develop a team to sustain the organization,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

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Eri Sudewo

“We have enormous potential for charity in Indonesia. Dompet Dhuafa simply cannot do it alone.”

Eri said there were about 100 million people in Indonesia who had a disposable income.

“If a person donates just Rp 50,000 [US$3.80] per month, we will have trillions of rupiah per year,” he said.

“We welcome other charities to help manage the fund to alleviate poverty in Indonesia. Each charity would have its own specialty so they could complement each other.”

The award is regarded as Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize and is named after the seventh president of the Philippines, who served from 1953 to 1957. The awards will be conferred on Aug. 31 in Manila.

Other recipients of the award include Bezwada Wilson, an Indian who led a grassroots movement on behalf of the low-caste Dalit community. Wilson established a people’s movement called Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA) that helps liberate the community from the imposed duty to manually remove human excrement from dry latrines.

Conchita Carpio-Morales, the Philippines’ ombudsman, or public prosecutor, is also being honored “for her moral courage and commitment to justice” in tackling corruption, one of the most intractable problems confronting the Philippines.

Indian artist Thodur Madabusi Krishna has been chosen to receive the emerging leadership award for “his forceful commitment as an artist and advocate of art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions”.

The Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers group, founded 51 years ago, sends young adults abroad to volunteer in other communities. The group will be recognized at this year’s ceremony.

Finally, Vientiane Rescue, a Laotian organization, is being awarded for its “heroic work in saving Laotian lives in a time and place of great need, under the most deprived circumstances”.

The Jakarta Post,
Thu, July 28 2016
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Parni Hadi
 http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/07/28/dompet-dhuafa-wins-2016-ramon-magsaysay-award.html
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Two converts to Islam adjust to their new faith and experience their first Ramadan as Muslims

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Mr Muhammad Joy Kumar Paul is all smiles as he gets a warm welcome as a convert from the community at Assyakirin Mosque after prayers.

Neo Xiaobin
SINGAPORE

WHEN train captain Muhammad Joy Kumar Paul turned 25 in May, he celebrated by converting to Islam.

The ceremony was held at the Muslim Converts’ Association (MCAS) and witnessed by his closest friends and fiancee’s family. That same day, he attended his first Friday prayers as a Muslim at Assyakirin Mosque, near his home in Taman Jurong.

Mr Muhammad was brought up in a Buddhist family, but growing up with Malay friends, he knew “how a Muslim behaves, what they are supposed to do and what they do not do”.

Still, he never expected to become a Muslim until he met Ms Syuhaidah Sha’ada, a 24-year-old pre-school teacher.

The couple got engaged in June but it was not an easy decision. They had a serious talk about their relationship in the long term and considered breaking up.

On his own accord, however, he researched and watched videos by Islamic scholars online, as well as talked to Muslim friends, to learn more about the religion.

Mr Muhammad lives with his mother, who is divorced, and elder sister. Both felt it was his decision to make. He also attended beginner courses at MCAS last year.

Every year, about 600 people convert to Islam at the three-storey building located in Onan Road in Joo Chiat.

Also known as Darul Arqam Singapore, the one-stop centre for converts was set up in 1980 to oversee the welfare, religious guidance and problems of new converts.

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All prospective converts are encouraged to take up basic courses on Islam. Mr Muhammad went through Ramadan as a Muslim for the first time this year. The ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan is a holy period of fasting, reflection, devotion, generosity and sacrifice observed by Muslims around the world.

While there have been challenges, he has been touched by the support of his loved ones.

His mother, a Buddhist, cooks the food he wants to eat and made sure there was food in the morning when he woke up to break fast during Ramadan. She buys meat and produce that is certified halal for his sake.

Like Mr Muhammad, Ms Rachel Aryssa Chung, 39, converted to Islam two months ago. The customer insight and communications manager at a gas company found fasting during Ramadan to be particularly challenging.

“What’s more, coffee is not recommended because it dehydrates the body but I don’t function well without coffee. I always tell my colleagues I’m not human until I have my coffee,” she said, laughing.

Divorced for 10 years, Ms Chung has two daughters. She has been dating a Muslim for a year and is still learning about her new faith.

It was her own decision to convert. She said of her new faith: “I feel that it’s a very comprehensive and disciplined faith. How you should treat other people, how you should behave as a person. We’re encouraged to pray five times a day. When you do things like that, I feel that it changes you as a person.”

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/new-faith-new-lives

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Ms Cachola and Ms Bondoc taking a picture with the registration officer after completing the conversion ceremony

http://allexpatnews.com/hungry-and-parched-muslim-converts-find-their-first-ramadan-the-hardest/

 

 

 

 

M’sian cartoonist gets ideas after Subuh (dawn) prayer

LatNur Firdaus Abdul Rahim
KUALA TERENGGANU, MALAYSIA

CARTOONIST Mohd Nor Khalid, or popularly known as Lat, regards Ramadhan not only as the most blessed month, but also the time of the year when he is able to get ideas and inspiration for his work.

Born on March 5, 1951, in Kota Bharu, Perak, Lat, who is known for his cartoon series the ‘Kampung Boy’, said the best time for him to focus on his cartoon work is after the subuh (morning) prayer.

“I can be said to have retired, as my work no longer appeared in the newspapers, but I do still draw just to pass the time and is working to produce a comic book soon.

“So, the best time for me to get ideas for my work is in the morning, when my mind is still fresh.

“During the fasting month, after the ‘sahur’ (pre-dawn meal) and Subuh prayer as well as doing other religious rituals, I’ll spend time until noon on my cartoon work. That’s the time when I can focus,” he told Bernama.

He was met during an event “Jelajah Potret Penerima Anugerah Merdeka” by Petronas Gallery at the State Museum here recently. Lat is one of the recipients of the award. He received it in 2014.

On how he got himself into becoming a cartoonist, Lat said he had the skill since young and his father was the first person to discover his talent. He said most of his work was influenced by local cartoonists at that time like Raja Hamzah, Alias Kulub, Raja Sulaiman and Saidin Yahya.

“My father was the one who actually encouraged me. I remember during my childhood days, he would take us to the circus and when we got home, asked me to draw the animals which performed at the circus.

“That was how my interest in drawing started and it then progressed into drawing cartoons,” he added. The winner of the 2002 Fukuoka Asian Culture Award has so far published more than 20 cartoon series.

The first when he was 13 years of age. Most of his work depicts the life of the multi-racial society in Malaysia. Referring to “Kampung Boy”, he said it was based on his personal observation, life and experience.

“I don’t know how to create political stories because it is not an element that can last in the cartoon world.

“I prefer elements that are more remembered by the people, like friendship, neighbours and living in a society,” he added. He said the role of a cartoonist was not merely to produce work for people to view.

“At the same time, a cartoonist should be an agent to unite the people, especially in a country with various races, only then there is harmony,” he added.

Bernama

Sunday, July 10, 2016

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– See more at: http://www.bt.com.bn/features/2016/07/10/m%E2%80%99sian-cartoonist-gets-ideas-after-dawn#sthash.BTSk9Hih.dpuf

‘The Straits Times’ says: Mosque’s outreach a shining example

MASJID SPORE

SINGAPORE

THE one-year-old Al-Islah Mosque in Punggol, which has already built close ties with neighbouring institutions and residents, embodies ways in which places of worship can help create a more resilient society in these trying times. While the primary purpose of a religious institution is to serve followers, reaching out to the wider community shows the value it places on face-to-face relations. Al-Islah demonstrates this by partnering nearby schools to distribute food to poor families in the neighbourhood. It also opens its doors to others for free guided tours of its premises. Steps like these help to dispel misconceptions of what mainstream Islam stands for. This is especially important given the way some extremist organisations have taken the religion’s name in vain to cloak their dastardly attacks in a semblance of piety.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore notes that the mosque stands as “an important bulwark of Muslim identity and community integrity” in Singapore, where Muslims constitute a minority living in a society undergoing far-reaching changes. Community-friendly initiatives that benefit both Muslims and non-Muslims, such as blood donation drives and assistance to low-income families, help to integrate mosques into the wider life of the nation.

MASJID ALISLAH

Masjid Al-Islah, Kampong Punjol, Singapore

Mosques are not just the focus of religious activities – although that is an essential function – but must act as centres of social development, too. It is in that spirit that they embrace their social calling in a secular state. Muslims, like followers of other religions in Singapore, are reassured that their religious obligations are respected. Simultaneously, they must acknowledge that no community of believers exists in a vacuum, but as part of a larger whole.

This is where Singapore’s model of religious harmony differs from practices in countries that dichotomise religion and public life to the extent that one becomes an affront to the other. Here, religion is accepted as a legitimate influence on social outcomes so long as no faith claims the right to influence these exclusively. Overlapping spheres of belief are anchored in a national centre. A national consensus has emerged on this policy, which treats all religious communities equally. It will be tested from time to time. Insistent foreign influences, travelling via the Internet, do and will make their way into Singapore. Having no stake in Singapore’s common religious and racial future, these groups have no qualms in dividing people. So that they do not lead impressionable minds astray, it is essential for Singapore to curb such influences with its local resources.

In their very co-existence, mosques and other places of worship show that Singaporeans are capable of not just living with religious diversity but also of thriving on it.

The Straits Times
Wednesday, 6 July 2016

MASJID AL-ISLAH

Muslims performing prayer and reading al-Quran at Masjid Al-islah in Kampung Punjol, Singapore.

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/mosques-outreach-a-shining-example

‘Mobile mosque’ makes praying easier in gridlocked Jakarta

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Kiki Siregar
JAKARTA

AS THE call to prayer rang out across the Indonesian capital, Sutikno faced a dilemma — the devout Muslim needed to set off through Jakarta’s notorious traffic to pick up his wife but did not want to miss out on worshipping.

However, for him and others juggling the demands of hectic, 21st century life and piety in the crowded capital of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, a solution has just pulled up.

The “mosque-mobile” started cruising through Jakarta in June as the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan drew to a close, aiming to ensure Muslims did not miss out on prayers by setting up in busy places, such as near festivals and sports events.

Sutikno, a middle-aged office worker who like many Indonesians goes by one name, came across the van parked between a sports stadium and shopping malls, and it proved a godsend.

“I was supposed to go to a mosque that is quite far away but then I saw this one,” he told AFP.

“I just parked my car and performed my prayers here. I can save time and go and pick up my wife faster.”

The green and white van has been specially adapted to become a mobile place of worship. At prayer time, the sides of the vehicle open up and a small stage is extended, from which the imam preaches.

Prayer rugs are rolled out in front of the van, with space for up to 100 people, and a handful can worship inside the vehicle. It also provides special robes for women and a tank of water for the faithful to ritually cleanse themselves before praying.

The mosque started operating in Jakarta with a team of four in the final week of Ramadhan, a month of fasting and piety, but plans to continue afterwards.

The van offers its services between 3pm and 7pm for two prayer sessions, at a time traffic is bad as millions flood out of downtown areas and head back to satellite cities. Muslims are supposed to pray five times a day.

During Ramadhan, the crew running the Jakarta “mosque-mobile” also serve snacks to people stuck in gridlock when it is time to break their fast.

The van is run by the Archipelago Mosque Foundation, an organisation that sets up and maintains mosques, with funding provided by Adira Sharia, a group that provides Islamic-compliant financing for motor vehicles.

“We were concerned that there was a lack of places of worship at crowded spots such as music concerts, festivals and football games. Sometimes people intend to pray, but because there are no facilities, they skip it,” said Hamzah Fatdri, director of the mosque foundation.

The Jakarta mosque-on-wheels has hit the streets after the foundation launched a mobile place of worship in the city of Bandung, southeast of the capital on the main island of Java.

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The Bandung mosque proved a success, offering prayer sessions at 50 different locations in its first year of operation, and the foundation hopes the van in the capital — which is slightly larger than the Bandung model — can do even better.

Indonesia is already home to some 800,000 mosques, including a large number in Jakarta and other major cities.

But with many people stuck in gridlock at prayer time — particularly during Ramadhan — and ad hoc festivals and sports events typically failing to provide facilities for praying, the foundation believes the “mobile-mosque” will be a great help.

It is the latest innovation to offer relief to residents of Indonesia’s booming but overcrowded, traffic-choked cities, where hundreds of new vehicles are hitting the roads every day as the middle class rapidly expands due to strong economic growth.

Motorbike taxi-hailing apps that whisk passengers quickly through the gridlock have been a chief beneficiary, and have expanded their businesses into other areas such as food delivery and courier services.

Still, some worshippers were not immediately taken by the mosque-on-wheels.

“Maybe because this was a new experience, I felt a bit awkward and embarrassed to pray in an open, public space,” student Mahtashal Harbi said after worshipping for the first time at the Jakarta van.

AFP
Tuesday, July 6, 2016

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http://www.bt.com.bn/features/2016/07/06/%E2%80%98mobile-mosque%E2%80%99-makes-praying-easier-gridlocked-jakarta#sthash.osvoVcLZ.dpuf

Royal revolution as Indonesian sultan taps female heir

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Olivia Rondonuwu
YOGYAKARTA

COURIERS in elaborate outfits danced to the gentle tinkling of Javanese music as the Sultan of Yogyakarta looked on, a scene that has played out in much the same way for centuries in the tiny Indonesian kingdom.

But the recent ceremony to mark the 70th birthday of Hamengku Buwono X, Indonesia’s last sultan with real political power, had one key difference from previous celebrations — many of his relatives refused to attend.

A bitter feud has erupted at the heart of the kingdom on Java island, after the Muslim ruler signalled he wants his eldest daughter to become the sultanate’s first female monarch after he leaves the throne.

Indonesia is home to numerous small kingdoms. But while other provinces now elect political rulers and their sultans are largely ceremonial figures, Yogyakarta’s sultan serves as both royal leader and governor of the city and its surrounding areas.

Jakarta allowed the Yogyakarta royal family to keep power as the central government was grateful for the sultanate’s support for independence in 1945 after a long period of Dutch colonial rule.

The sultan still maintains many of the trappings of Javanese royal rule in the kingdom, which has a history stretching back to the 16th century.

His main residence is a traditional Javanese palace complex, known as a Kraton, and important events are celebrated with much pomp and circumstance.

But the sultan’s push to make the eldest of his five daughters — he has no sons — the first female monarch of Yogyakarta has transformed him into an unlikely champion for gender equality, and threatens to overturn hundreds of years of tradition in the Muslim, conservative sultanate.

It has sparked a furious row with his family, who say he is breaking rules laid down to govern the sultanate, amid speculation that his brothers were jockeying to fill his position.

“A female sultan is an impossibility,” the sultan’s cousin, Kanjeng Raden Tumenggung Jatiningrat, told AFP.

“One symbol in this palace is a rooster — so if we have a queen should we change it to a hen?”

The rooster is a symbol of bravery.

He added that a female ruler could not oversee rituals in the mosque or other ceremonies that have traditionally been led by men.

Hamengku Buwono, who has been on the throne 27 years, last year set in motion the process for his daughter to become monarch by giving her the title “Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Mangkubumi.”

While he has not confirmed publicly that she is the crown princess, in Javanese culture — where much is conveyed through symbolism rather than anything said out loud — the signs are clear.

The title Mangkubumi, which translates from Indonesian as “the one who holds the Earth”, was the same one given to the sultan when he was made crown prince several decades ago.

She was also entrusted with the task of “attempting to bring safety, happiness and prosperity to the world”, another indication she would succeed her father.

And the sultan made small changes to his own lengthy royal title — removing a word normally only used by men and tweaking another — to make it gender-neutral, opening the door for a woman to take over.

The sultan has defended the move, saying there is nothing stopping him from making changes in his kingdom and he has to adapt as Indonesia modernises.

“The Yogyakarta palace doesn’t have a hereditary tradition that can’t be changed, and all ruling sultans can introduce changes,” he told local media.

Still, many disagree with him, from his relatives to local Muslim groups.

“The king should maintain the tradition as it was originally, because this is an Islamic kingdom,” said Abdurrahman, from local hardline group Islamic Jihad Front, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

But it is not the first time there has been a female monarch in diverse Indonesia – nowadays Muslim-majority, but which has had Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms over the centuries and is home to about 300 different ethnic groups.

Queens at times ruled over the ancient Majapahit empire, which covered large parts of what is now Indonesia from the late 13th to the early 16th centuries, as they did in Aceh, on western Sumatra island, when it was an independent sultanate.

And the sultan’s approximately four million subjects in Yogyakarta and the surrounding area, who view him as a demi-God, have had only a muted a reaction, with most preferring to keep out of royal affairs.

Nevertheless the row looks unlikely to be resolved any time soon, and it cast a long shadow over the recent celebration, which marked the anniversary of the sultan’s coronation as well as his birthday.

The solemn melodies from the “gamelans” — a traditional Indonesian instrumental ensemble, made up of bronze percussion instruments — were a million miles from the seething tensions swirling around the royal succession.

“About 90 per cent of the family don’t respect him anymore,” raged Gusti Bendoro Pangeran Haryo Prabukusumo, a step-brother of the ruler who snubbed the event.

AFP
Wed, 29 June 2016

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http://www.france24.com/en/20160629-royal-revolution-indonesian-sultan-taps-female-heir