Sunday, December 06, 2009

The issue of Minarets seem to take center stage with the Muslims. It should not. We should not fan the fire for it is not about our faith but our tradition. Minarets came into being 80 years after Mohammad's death and after the end of the 4 democratic elect Caliphs. It was establish during the Ummayad Dynasty. it is not part of faith but part of the assecories of a Mosque or the place where Muslims congregate and pray. It is like the amplifier, it helps the Muezzin but it is not part of faith! A Muezzin do the Adzhan to call the faithful to pray but now with the event of technology, hand phones and watches can be programmed to remind the faithful the time of pray, making the work of Muezzin as a tradition and Minarets as obsolete. If the western world feels the Minarets as threatening so be it, do without them, after all they are not stopping as to pray or to built Mosque only Minarets. We must not offend but try to allay their fears not fan it. In the time of Muhammad one thing the Quraish have against Islam was fear. Fear that their way of life would be destroyed. The tribal chief would be strip of power. Muhammad shows this was not so. He respect the tribal chief and why can't we respect the ignorant Westerners who fear us. Why antagonize them and create more schisms when there is none. That is why my answer in the Malaysian Insider were harsh! Do read please

My Comment dont know publish or not in Malaysian Insider

I do not understand the brouhaha about Minarets by the Muslim. I am a Muslim to me the Minarets came after Mohammad and the 4 rightful caliph. It copies the Church during the byzantine era and also influence by the Parsi religion thus the Minaret should not symbolize Islam. If Farish think so than he is stupid! As far as I am concern be gone with the Minarets even the old mosques of Malaysia does not have a Minaret eg in kelantan. As long as the swiss do not forbid us to have place of worship so be it, the Minarets are just assecories so too is the loudspeaker that blars the azan early in the morning without regards to others! It should be ban like in Singapore!

Everything that is wrong with Europe — Farish A Noor

DEC 4 — The recent ban on the construction of minarets for mosques in Switzerland — passed by a majority of Swiss citizens mind you — is symptomatic of something that is far more disturbing in Western Europe today.

The first decade of this century has witnessed the rise of a new wave of extreme right-wing politicians and political parties across Western Europe, some with scant regard for ideological consistency and coherence, with the sole purpose of mobilising the masses against the perceived ‘threat’ of foreigners in general and Muslims in particular.

But historians will note that these developments are neither new nor unique.

After all, Europe has continually been through such prolonged instances of moral panic and mass hysteria when it had to face the fact that it was and is part of a bigger world where other cultural and religious possibilities exist, and where alterity can one day arrive at your doorstep.

Looking back to the 19th century we recall the bad old days when Western Europeans were panicking at the thought of the dreaded ‘yellow peril’, and where fear of the massive and sudden migration of Asians — notably Chinese — led to a backlash that expressed itself through the stereotypes and cliches of Asians as devious and perfidious Orientals who would stop at nothing to eat up your property and sell opium to your children. Then came the recurrent fear of Indian, Africans and of course Arabs.

The present climate of fear over and about Islam and Muslims is therefore something that comes in the train of a long history of Othering the Other, and casting the other as alien, strange, exotic and sometimes potentially malevolent and dangerous.

Except in this case we are talking about a Western Europe where Muslims have become part of the social fabric and where Muslim settlement dates back to the post-war decades of the 1950s, with the migration of Indians, Africans, West Indians and North Africans to the continent.

For a host of reasons, the success and failure of the various immigrant communities in Europe has been uneven. While some communities have successfully climbed up the social-economic ladder, others have lagged behind. Compounding the difficulties are the prevailing stereotypes that make up the normative structure of racialised capitalism and post-colonial race-relations. Arabs in the West suffer particular abuse and racial stereotyping in this regard, for the media and popular culture continue to present them as ghetto-bound misfits and pathologically violent maladjusted figures who stand out in bold relief against the domesticated background of multicultural society.

Until today, the perception remains that Arabs in particular are prone to violence, domestic abuse, misogyny and a host of social ills that seem to point to the primordial past of Europe that Europeans wish to forget. Cast in that light, Arabs seem to be framed as the figures of defeat and failure, as if the Enlightenment project itself could not go that far and could not ‘rescue’ these people who are beyond redemption, due to their culture and religion.

But hang on... Since when are individuals determined essentially and totally by culture, history or religion? And why is it that in the case of Arab-Muslims in particular there is no latitude given to free will, agency and the potential for self-transformation?

A vicious cycle seems to have been created by this dialectic between stereotypes and limited opportunity structures: Arabs are seen as incompatible with the West and whatever the latter stands for, and as such are less likely to be given the chance to succeed and reinvent themselves. I sadly note that in all the years that I taught in Europe, I did not have a single Arab-Muslim student to supervise at Masters or Phd level. The stereotype has become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

It is against this context that the ban on minarets and mosques in Switzerland has to be understood. Coming at a time when Dutch politicians like Geert Wilders are calling for a re-think over the place and belonging of Muslims in Holland; all of this bodes ill for Europe’s own perception of itself and its place in the world.

If Arab Muslims in Switzerland (as in Holland, France, Germany and elsewhere) fit in less today, perhaps these politicians ought to ask themselves what they have done — or not done — to give these people the same opportunity structures they expect and demand for themselves?

Europe’s multicultural project seems to be failing, but that is not because European Muslims cannot fit in or refuse to do so.

The one thing that none of these right-wing European politicians want to admit or address is the institutionalised modes of racism and discrimination that have led to the marginalisation of communities that yearned to belong but were told that they did not. Until that is addressed, banning mosques and minarets will do little or nothing to solve Europe’s own troubled conscience as it seeks to define its multicultural project anew. — My sinchew

These are info about Minarets which I glean from the net


The earliest mosques were built without minarets, the adhan (call to prayer) was performed elsewhere; hadiths relay that the Muslim community of Madina gave the call to prayer from the roof of the house of Muhammad, which doubled as a place for prayer. Around 80 years after Muhammad's death the first known minarets appeared.[citation needed]

Minarets have been described as the "gate from heaven and earth", and as the Arabic language letter alif (which is a straight vertical line).[citation needed]

The world's tallest minaret, at 210 metres (689ft.) is located at the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco The world's tallest brick minaret is Qutub Minar located in Delhi, India. There are two 230 metre (755ft.) tall minarets under construction in Tehran, Iran.[citation needed]

In some of the oldest mosques, such as the Great Mosque of Damascus, minarets originally served as illuminated watchtowers (hence the derivation of the word from the Arabic nur, meaning "light").[citation needed]
Click here to find out more!

Culture Monster

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The Swiss minaret ban: Anxieties, unveiled

December 1, 2009 | 6:15 pm


When Mutalip Karaademi, a furniture salesman and a Muslim who lives in the northern Swiss town of Langenthal, proposed adding a minaret, or prayer tower, to his local mosque several years ago, he likely had no idea the suggestion would help spark international controversy. After all, the structure he had in mind was only going to be 16 feet tall.

But the plan prompted a backlash among some of Karaademi's non-Muslim neighbors, who said they saw the proposed tower as the symbol of an intolerant religion. And that backlash helped galvanize support for a national referendum, passed on Sunday with 57.5% of the vote, to ban the construction of new minarets across Switzerland.

The new law, which will add a single terse line to the Swiss constitution outlawing the towers -- but says nothing about mosque design more broadly -- has drawn fire from religious leaders and editorial writers alike. ("The irrational fear of Islam has struck once again in Europe," the French paper Liberation said.) But the leaders of the referendum movement are uncowed. One legislator from the right-wing Swiss People's Party, Ulrich Schluer, told The Times after the vote that the minaret "is a political symbol against integration" and represents an effort to establish Sharia, or Islamic law, on European soil.

It's still possible that the Swiss government, concerned that the new constitutional language runs counter to international human rights accords, will work to modify the ban. But one thing is clear: At least for the time being, the minaret has replaced the veil as the dominant symbol of the tense relationship between Islam and the West.

For years, efforts to ban veils or head scarves have roiled European countries, stirring up uncomfortable questions about whether Muslims can -- or want to be -- fully integrated into Western society. Now the focus of that debate has moved to architecture. But the shift marked by the Swiss ban is more than merely a leap from one symbolic realm to another. In attaching their fears of Islamic influence on European culture to the minaret, the Swiss have laid bare the new shape of anti-Muslim anxiety.

If the veil represents a population of Muslim immigrants who strike Europeans as reluctant to fully engage their host countries, or determined to hide their faces behind a blank expression of religious piety, the minaret has prompted a hardened fear: that Muslims are putting down permanent roots in the capitals of old Europe, and marking their presence in ways that strike more than a few voters not just as strange or archaic but threatening.

Clothes are personal and changeable, removable on a whim or change of heart. MinaretposterArchitecture, on the other hand -- even in the age of globalism and multiculturalism -- is among the most prominent ways for societies to announce common, immovable values. For many supporters of the ban passed on Sunday, a minaret is a fixed statement of religious attitudes that they have convinced themselves they can't abide.

Though there are just four minarets in all of Switzerland -- which has about 350,000 Muslim residents, most from Turkey and Kosovo -- for supporters of the ban the towers carry heavy architectural and cultural weight. "The minaret is a symbol of a political and aggressive Islam," another lawmaker from the Swiss People's Party, Oskar Freysinger, told BBC News earlier this year. "The minute you have minarets in Europe it means Islam will have taken over." One prominent anti-minaret poster, right, showed a phalanx of black towers rising like missiles from the red field of the Swiss flag.

But building a minaret in a European city is arguably the opposite of a secessionist or defiant act. When it rises among steeples and chalets in a Swiss alpine village, of course, a minaret is an expression of separation from, and maybe defensiveness against, the dominant culture. But it also signals an interest in joining the mixture of building types that make up any cityscape -- in lining up in public view. If a veil steps back and is silent, a minaret steps forward and has something to say.

On top of that, mosque design historically has tended to be a good deal more flexible and open to cultural influence than other forms of religious architecture. According to Islamic tradition all that’s really needed for a building – or a simple prayer room -- to qualify as a mosque is a marker pointing the way toward Mecca. The diversity of mosque architecture -- and minaret design, for that matter -- through the centuries is remarkable, wide enough to include buildings with Middle Eastern, South American and North African roots.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, many mosque architects in this country and in Europe have responded to the controversy that inevitably surrounds their projects by making sure they offer a blend of Islamic and Western elements. The 2-year-old Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, below, a mosque designed by the American firm Steffian Bradley and the Saudi Arabian architect Sami Angawi, combines a row of peaked arches, an Islamic trademark, with New England-style red brick. If that’s not an assimilation-minded piece of architecture, I’m not sure what is.

Bostonmosque Those conciliatory architectural gestures are more common in America than in Europe, and there are certainly examples in both places of Muslim congregations who have been resistant to adjust the design of their mosques to match local taste. In general, though, mosque design has been one of the few places where Western cities have been able to explore the idea of common ground between their traditions and Muslim ones.

That's one of many reasons the vote in Switzerland is disheartening: because it is a misdirected burst of electoral pique in a country that speaks proudly of its reputation for tolerance and openness. By banning minarets outright instead of moving to restrict their size or style -- or, better yet, to open up a broad debate about how a mosque in a Western city ought to look in an age of Islamic fundamentalism and Muslim immigration -- the Swiss have slipped behind their own veil of mute distrust.

-- Christopher Hawthorne

Photo credits: Illuminated minaret in Zurich, top, by EPA/Alessandro Della Bella; anti-minaret poster, middle, EPA/SVP; Islamic Society of Boston, bottom, by Joshua Roberts/Los Angeles Times.

Minarets: A falsehood about citadel Europe — The Straits Times

DEC 2 — The Swiss are not known to be religious bigots in a Europe which wants to box Islam up in a cultural ghetto. The nation's leaders in mainstream politics, the church and community organisations are therefore at a loss to explain the bizarre referendum at the weekend which outlawed the building of minarets, those elegant cylindrical prayer towers atop mosques. The constitution guarantees freedom of worship, and the building of mosques and other non-Christian houses of worship is permitted. But minarets run counter to a Christian skyline of Baroque spires in the idyllic setting of alpine central Europe, of which Switzerland is the registered trademark. This makes the exclusion of an architectural detail nothing but a shameful act of pettiness, meant to offend. After the vote, the Berne government was at pains to reassure the 400,000 Swiss Muslims (in a 7.5 million population) that the minarets ban was not to be taken as a rejection of their beliefs and culture. With the best will they can summon up, any religious minority will remain to be convinced.

Switzerland cannot plead mitigation in that the referendum was approved by only a minority of the nation (57.5 per cent for and 52.2 per cent opposed, on turnout of 53 per cent.) The right-wing fringe which forced the vote spoke the language of European cultural and ethnic exclusionism in blindly linking Islam and its practices with terrorism, militarism and regressive social mores like honour killings. The hijack of Islamic precepts by fundamentalist groups in Europe, fighting what they call the infidel underworld, has to be countered with moral reasoning and tolerance. The minarets vote will do nothing of the sort; it empowers hate-mongers of all faiths. Bottom line: the Swiss nation will have to dig deep into its reserves of social tolerance and political neutrality to undo the damage to its reputation.

All across Europe where there are Muslim communities of some size, the common space that permits pollination of diverse cultures has shrunk alarmingly. Even Turkey is beginning to tire of knocking on the door of Christian citadel Europe. If Muslims make the mistake now of withdrawing from the continent's civic life, an even more rabid form of Muslim-baiting will arise. The 2005 Danish cartoons which parodied the Prophet Mohammad were defended by European opinion, with tongue firmly in cheek, as freedom of expression. But the Swiss voters who objected to minarets must have misunderstood that the Danes had in mind expression in all spheres. Europe cannot justify cultural exceptionalism. This is a falsehood in the civilisational debate that has to be exposed.

Babylon & Beyond

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IRAN: Outrage, and a warning, over Swiss vote to ban minarets

December 5, 2009 | 1:07 pm

An East-West clash over a Swiss referendum last week banning the construction of mosque minarets heated up today as Iran's foreign minister warned of unspecified "consequences" if the ban were enforced.

Manouchehr Mottaki spoke on the phone with his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey. Switzerland and Iran generally have good relations. The Swiss serve as Washington's representative in the Iranian capital in the absence of formal relations between America and the Islamic Republic, giving them exalted status in Tehran's diplomatic circles.

But Mottaki had harsh words for Switzerland, saying enforcement of the ban on new minarets was “against the prestige of a country which claims to be an advocate of democracy and human rights" and would "damage Switzerland’s image as a pioneer of respecting human rights among Muslims' public opinion," according to a report by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA.

The Swiss ban on minarets, a feature of Islamic mosques, has roiled the Muslim world. The Swiss government has said it would abide by the vote even though the government and parliament had opposed the referendum.

Iran's population is 90% Shiite Muslim. But it permits construction of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, though some Sunni Muslims have complained they have a tough time building houses of worship in some parts of the country.

“Values such as tolerance, dialogue and respecting others' religions should never be put to referendum,” Mottaki told his Swiss counterpart. He expressed hope that Bern would soon “take necessary steps and find a constitutional way to prevent imposition of the ban.”

An Iranian cleric today also condemned the minaret ban. Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamadani, said the move was "at odds with the protection of Muslim citizens' civil rights and will hurt the feelings of Muslims across the world," according to Iran's state television.

Calmy-Rey told Mottaki her government would "use all its means to support Muslims rights," according to IRNA.

-- Borzou Daragahi in New York

Photo: A minaret stands illuminated over the Khadija mosque in Berlin. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
minaret (mĭnərĕt'), tower, used in Islamic architecture, from which the faithful are called to prayer by a muezzin. Most mosques have one or more small towers, which are usually placed at the corners. The earliest structures specifically built as minarets were the four low square towers at the four corners of the Mosque of Amr in Egypt (A.D. 673). The square form remained in use in Syria until the 13th cent. and in the Maghreb until modern times; the minaret of Giralda in Seville (A.D. 1195) is famous. The free-standing conical minaret surrounded by a spiral staircase, probably deriving from the ancient Babylonian ziggurat, was built at Samarra, Iraq, and in Cairo in the second half of the 9th cent. The most typical Egyptian development is seen in the octagonal minarets of the two 15th-century Cairo mosques of El-Azhar and Kait-bey; both have two balconies, the upper smaller than the lower, over projecting friezes of stalactite vaulting and are surmounted by an elongated and bulbous finial. The most distinctly Persian development (see Persian art and architecture) are the two pairs of slim, towering minarets flanking the huge entrance arches of the Isfahan Masjid-i Shah (c.1612); the conical shafts terminate in covered balconies and are entirely encased in brilliant blue tiles. See Islamic art and architecture.

Tower associated with a mosque.

The minaret has been used for centuries by muezzins (Arabic mu'adhdhinun, Muslim criers) for the call to daily prayers, but its original use is unclear. The earliest mosques in Arabia had no minaret, and the first towers in seventh-century Cairo (Egypt) and Damascus (Syria) may not have been built expressly for the call.

Minarets have been designed in many styles over time and space. Early ones were often square or octagonal, some with winding exterior staircases, while the sixteenth-century Ottomans built needle-thin, cylindrical minarets with conical peaks. Today, the muezzin does not always climb the minaret to call for prayers; minarets are often outfitted with loudspeakers.


Blogger Yusf said...

now with internet, radios, TVs, we do not need minarates. Loud speakers will do.

12:37 AM  

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