Archive for November, 2009

Caring for Converts

November 24, 2009

Bismillah. Received from Faith Matters:

We (Faith Matters, have been working on developing web-based resources for New Muslims or converts / reverts to Islam.

The web-site is a resource for New Muslims to gather information and to receive signposting to faith institutions, Imams and religious leaders in their areas. This is essential in giving New Muslims some more understanding of Islam and in ensuring that they make contact with relevant organisations and individuals.

The Caring for Converts web-site ( also has a Helpline number which is listed as 0800 028 0826.

This web-site will be a fluid site with changes being made every few weeks. We hope that it will be a useful resource to your work and if you would like to discuss anything, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best Wishes,

On behalf of Fiyaz Mughal OBE FCMI,

Soumaya Amrani,
Personal Assistant,
Faith Matters,
Hamilton House, Mabledon Place,
Fourth Floor, Bloomsbury,
London WC1H 9BB

Mobile: 07548930734


Acid Survivors Pakistan: an appeal for funds

November 24, 2009

Bismillah. The following is from Caroline Bates, a human rights lawyer currently based in Islamabad. Please see the ASP website for more information:, and consider making a donation.

The easiest way to donate is probably via the Acid Survivors Trust International –, click the large DONATE button on the right, select online card payment and choose Acid Survivors Pakistan as the beneficiary.

Dear all,

My lovely friend Valerie Khan works with an amazing NGO based in Islamabad providing support and rehabilitation to survivors of acid attacks. As you may know, sadly, acid attacks on women are frequent and often result from refusal of marriage proposals or family disputes over perceived female behaviour. Sadly there is little help for survivors and reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation is rarely, if ever, available. Women are condemned to painful and often helpless lives, ostracised by their families and communities.

Acid Survivors Pakistan does great work in Pakistan supporting survivors. It provides the only rehabilitation centre in the country and has recently supported a survivor in taking her claim for support to the Supreme Court. Pakistan’s Chief Justice rebuked the Government for its failure to support victims or provide them with assistance to rebuild their lives. Sadly the Government has failed to respond. There will be a press conference in Islamabad this week to highlight the Government’s lack of response.

The NGO and rehab centre is now facing a funding crisis. Its annual running costs are small and its overheads minimal. It survives on costs of around Rs. 350,000 per month (less than £3,000). Whilst it has made various grant applications to international organisations these could take months to be realised. In the meantime it has sufficient funds for only two more months of work.

Acid Survivors is a transparent organisation and is willing to provide copies of its accounts to potential donors. It currently has the support of DFID to screen a documentary on its work to the Pakistani community in the UK and it hopes that organisations linked to the Muslim community in the UK and France will also provide its work with the opportunity to be screened (those of you with links to such organisations and to mosques will be pestered by me at a later date-you know who you are!)

If any of you have not yet decided what to do with your zakat this year then please think about making a donation to this very worthy work. If you are interested I can put you in touch with them directly.

You can see Valerie speak about the work of the organisation on its website ( and I can also provide links to its short films. Please give generously if you can.

Eid mubarak,


All The Dead Stars – Astronomy meets Art

November 20, 2009

Bismillah. More from Katie Paterson. I’m delighted that a brief conversation about supernovae 1-2 years ago at ROG led to an astronomical art display at the Tate.

Katie says:

I went on to contact and then work with Supernova Hunters all over the world, like you suggested. Particularly Prof Richard Ellis, then at Oxford, now Caltech.

It resulted in a huge map of ‘All the Dead Stars’ in the Universe – that was shown at Tate Britain early this year:

A whole 27,000 of them! (Gamma ray bursts, white dwarves, supernova type 1a,b etc)

Ancient Darkness TV

November 19, 2009

Bismillah. This is from Katie Paterson, a musician and artist with interest in astronomy whom I met at the Royal Observatory Greenwich in 2008.

Ancient Darkness TV

Katie Paterson

Manhattan Neighborhood Network

Sunday, November 22 11:59pm

An image of ‘ancient darkness’ from deep space will be transmitted on New York television station MNN. Broadcast for one minute, it will reveal darkness from the furthest point of the observed universe, 13.2 billion years ago, shortly after the Big Bang, and before Earth existed, when stars, galaxies and the first light was beginning to form.

Commissioned by Performa 09. Special thanks to Professor Richard Ellis and the W.M. Keck Observatory.

Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam, the crocodile, hippos and evolution

November 19, 2009

Bismillah. The Times was an interesting read on Tues 17 Nov. They had the following, amongst others:

1. A review of Yusuf Islam’s first night on his comeback trail, dubbing him, “the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens.”

2. The story with awesome photos of a crocodile bitten to death by a herd of hippos.

3. A report on the British Council-sponsored conference in Alexandria evolution as part of Darwin year. Prof. Nidhal Guessoum, an astronomer who is also active in ICOP, lamented the hold of anti-scientific, anti-evolution ideas on Muslim scholars and students. Guessoum correctly said that this was like him teaching his students that planets and stars were not related, etc. I met Guessoum at the UAE conference on Islamic astronomy in Dec 2007.

The article mentioned that Adnan Oktar (aka Harun Yahya) had offered a massive reward (trillions, sic) to anyone who could provide a fossil proving evolution. A strange challenge, since it is not a question of a single fossil, but thousands.
Here is a good article on a new species of Darwin’s finches that has been “seen” evolving:

http://www.wired. com/wiredscience /2009/11/ speciation- in-action/ ?utm_source= feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign= Feed:%20wired/ index%20( Wired:%20Index% 203%20(Top% 20Stories% 202))

The link to “12 Elegant Examples of Evolution” at the bottom of the above page is also worth seeing.

Hajj / Eid al-Adha date 1430 / 2009

November 17, 2009

Bismillah. The crescent-visibility maps and calculations at Websurf and make the following clear:

* Eid al-Adha 1430 (10th Dhul Hijjah) should be on Friday 27 Nov 2009 or Saturday 28 Nov 2009 throughout the whole world. *

1) Conjunction occurred on Mon 16 Nov 2009, but the moon was invisible throught the world.

2) The crescent will be visible tonight (Tues 17 Nov) over Southern Africa and the Americas, God-willing. For countries to which this sighting applies (including all of Europe, Africa and the Americas according to the method suggested by many of us), Eid would be on Fri 27 Nov.

3) The crescent will be visible on Wed 18 Nov over most of the world (including Mecca). This would give us Eid on Sat 28 Nov, and is perhaps the more sensible date for Saudi Arabia.

4) Many Muslim congregations follow Saudi Arabia for the date of Eid al-Adha. It is anybody’s guess as to whether Saudi will announce Eid for 27 or 28 Nov. Both dates have some astronomical and legal justification, so there really should be no big arguments, apart from those over impossible claims of moonsighting that the Saudis and Nigerians are good at.

May Allah bless the people of the world during the coming month of the great Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca).

The Independent today on ex-jihadism

November 16, 2009

Bismillah. Overall a good piece by Johann Hari, but there are a number of inaccuracies and misquotes.

New Kogi film

November 14, 2009

Bismillah. From Alan Ereira:

I’m writing to update you on the new Kogi film, in the hope that you might be able to make a helpful suggestion. I’m sending this to everyone on the mailing list, and it’s probably completely inappropriate to send it to you, but I don’t think I should pre-judge that by leaving you out. So I apologise for annoying you with it if I am just wasting your time.

In April, the Kogi Mamas summoned me back to Colombia and, in a very remarkable meeting high on their mountain, said that the global situation has deteriorated massively and they are now really certain that the world will die unless we change our behaviour. In particular, they spoke about the role of sacred sites in managing the care of nature and the environment, something they say we cannot understand and which they must now demonstrate. They insist that their “spiritual” activities at these sites have visible material results at locations far from the sites themselves, and they want to demonstrate this.

Almost simultaneously I was told that the BBC want to commission Bruce Parry (“Tribe”, “Amazon”) to make a film with the Kogi, and the company they are commissioning, Indus Films, asked if I could help this happen. I took Bruce to the Kogi and they agreed. Filming has to start at the beginning of January and the programme transmitted before the next financial year.The budget is £270k, and the BBC have offered £180k, which Indus hope to push up to £200k, for UK transmission rights. So we could possibly make it work if we can sell rest-of-the-world TV rights, and whole world DVD and theatric rights, for £70k. I am now thrashing around looking for a distributor whose heart is in the right place and pocket deep enough.

It’s a 1-hour film, but we will shoot enough to make a longer version for cinema release if anyone wants that.

Any thoughts most gratefully received.

Alan Ereira
Tairona Heritage Trust
90 Summerlee Avenue
London N2 9QH