British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf

British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf
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Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performs the adhan in Canary Wharf. (Supplied)
British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf
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Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performs the adhan in Canary Wharf. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 May 2020

British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf

British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf
  • Rahman is no stranger to performing the adhan in public
  • He has spent years perfecting the delivery of it in the style of the Grand Mosque’s head muezzin

LONDON: When Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performed a call to prayer in the heart of London’s financial district, he had little idea of the scale of reaction his performance would draw.
Within hours of delivering the adhan at sunset in Canary Wharf, the video had gone viral and Rahman was flooded with messages of goodwill from people of all faiths worldwide.
Rahman, 34, told Arab News that he thought nothing of performing the adhan, which he does in the style associated with the Grand Mosque in Makkah, when he was first asked.
But he said once he was in position outside the One Canada Square Skyscraper with sunset approaching, he started to feel the pressure.
“When I did the sound test, I could see passers-by and drivers stopping to have a look, and by the end of the test there were quite a few people watching me, waiting to see what was happening,” the British-Bangladeshi entrepreneur said. “This is when I started feeling nervous and could feel the pressure.”

Rahman is no stranger to performing the adhan in public, and has spent years perfecting the delivery of it in the style of the Grand Mosque’s head muezzin Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla.
Mulla has been a muezzin at the Grand Mosque since 1975 and his voice is recognized by Muslims worldwide regardless of whether they have visited the holy city.
His voice, which featured on cassette tape recordings of the Qur’an in the 1980s and 1990s, is broadcast on Arab TV channels, and more recently has been used by prayer apps.
Mulla has also been labeled the Bilal of the Grand Mosque, an honorific reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s companion Bilal who was chosen by the prophet to be Islam’s first muezzin because of his beautiful voice.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla since I was a child,” Rahman said. “I have a talent for mimicking people, and as a child I’d accompany my father to Islamic talks and events.
“For the sunset prayer, my father would always put me forward to perform the adhan. He would even talk to the organizers and ask them to allow me to do the adhan.
“This put me under a lot of pressure to perfect the Makkah style adhan, and I’d listen to cassette recordings of it repeatedly every day.
“When I went to Makkah in 2008, I heard Sheikh Mulla perform the adhan live for the first time and I was blown away. It was then that I fine-tuned the version I’d learnt, and I perfected it when I came back.”
Rahman said there is much more room for improvement as Sheikh Mulla’s adhan is “absolutely amazing.”


The London-based entrepreneur was asked to perform the adhan in public in Canary Wharf as part of an event organized by Tower Hamlets London Borough Council, Tower Hamlets Homes and Canary Wharf Group.
“The organizers wanted to show appreciation to the Muslim community and engage with it. Many Asian Muslims live in this area, and this was a goodwill gesture to them during lockdown Ramadan,” Rahman said, adding that he agreed to the request without hesitation.
“The most important thing is that the comments were so positive. Even non-Muslims were commenting on how beautiful the adhan was. It’s amazing. I feel so privileged when I look back at the event.”
Wearing a Saudi thobe and ghutra added a finishing touch to Rahman’s performance. “I performed the adhan in the style of Makkah’s head muezzin, so the way I dressed completed the whole performance,” he said.
“People from all over the world have reached out to me saying how inspired they’ve been by me performing the adhan in Canary Wharf.
“My brother posted the video of me performing the adhan on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. It went viral and spread like wildfire. I didn’t imagine the event to become so big.
“Mohamed Hadid, the father of Gigi and Bella Hadid, also shared the video of me performing the adhan on Instagram.”
The event has motivated Rahman to learn how to perform in styles associated with different regions of the Muslim world.
“After performing the adhan in Canary Wharf, I’ve been inspired to practice performing the adhan in different styles, including the Madinah one,” he said.
“My dream is to be able to perform the adhan at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, even if it’s just a one-off.”

 


Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott

Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott
Updated 51 min 51 sec ago

Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott

Pakistani PM wins vote of confidence amidst opposition protest, boycott
  • Khan was able to secure 178 votes, against the 172 required to win confidence
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan won a vote of confidence from parliament on Saturday in a session marked by opposition boycott and protest.
Khan was able to secure 178 votes, against the 172 required to win confidence, the speaker of the house announced.
Khan had himself volunteered to seek parliament’s confidence after the government’s finance minister lost a high-profile Senate seat election earlier in the week.

Russia reports 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, 441 deaths

Russia reports 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, 441 deaths
Updated 06 March 2021

Russia reports 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, 441 deaths

Russia reports 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, 441 deaths
  • The government’s coronavirus taskforce said that 441 people had died in the last 24 hours

MOSCOW: Russia on Saturday reported 11,022 new COVID-19 cases, including 1,820 in Moscow, taking the national case tally to 4,312,181 since the pandemic began.
The government’s coronavirus taskforce said that 441 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the Russian death toll to 88,726.


Indian farmers mark 100th day of protest with road blockade

Indian farmers mark 100th day of protest with road blockade
Updated 06 March 2021

Indian farmers mark 100th day of protest with road blockade

Indian farmers mark 100th day of protest with road blockade
  • Farmers stood on tractors and waved colorful flags while their leaders chanted slogans via a loudspeaker atop a makeshift stage
  • The farmers have remained undeterred even after violence erupted on Jan. 26 during clashes with police that left one protester dead

NEW DELHI: Thousands of Indian farmers blocked a massive expressway on the edges of New Delhi on Saturday to mark the 100th day of protests against agricultural laws they say will devastate their income.
Farmers stood on tractors and waved colorful flags while their leaders chanted slogans via a loudspeaker atop a makeshift stage.
Thousands of them have hunkered down outside New Delhi’s borders since late November to voice their anger against three laws passed by Parliament last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says the laws are necessary to modernize agriculture but farmers say they will leave them poorer and at the mercy of big corporations.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha, or Joint Farmers’ Front, said the blockade would last five hours. “It is not our hobby to block roads, but the government is not listening to us. What can we do?” said Satnam Singh, a member of the group.
The farmers have remained undeterred even after violence erupted on Jan. 26 during clashes with police that left one protester dead and hundreds injured. But they could soon run into problems.
For 100 days, Karnal Singh, has lived inside the back of a trailer along a vast stretch of arterial highway that connects India’s north with New Delhi. He camped outside the capital when it was under the grip of winter and smog. Now, the city is bracing for scorching summer temperatures that can hit 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).
But Singh, like many other farmers, is unfazed and plans to stay until the laws are completely withdrawn.
“We are not going anywhere and will fight till the end,” Singh, 60, said on Friday, as he sat cross-legged inside a makeshift shelter in the back of his truck.
The mood at the Singhu border, one of the protest sites, was boisterous on Friday, with many farmers settling into their surroundings for the long haul.
Huge soup kitchens that feed thousands daily were still running. Farmers thronged both sides of the highway and hundreds of trucks have been turned into rooms, fitted with water coolers in preparation for the summer. Electric fans and air conditioners are also being installed in some trailers.
Farmers say the protests will spread across the country soon. The government, however, is hoping many of them will return home once India’s major harvesting season begins at the end of the month.
Karanbir Singh dismissed such concerns. He said their community, including friends and neighbors back in the villages, would tend to farms while he and others carried on with the protests.
“We’ll help each other to make sure no farm goes unharvested,” Singh said.
But not all farmers are against the laws. Pawan Kumar, a fruit and vegetable grower and ardent Modi supporter, said he was ready to give them a chance.
“If they (the laws) turn out to not benefit us, then we will protest again,” he said. “We will jam roads, and make that protest even bigger. Then more common people, even workers, will join. But if they turn out to be beneficial for us, we will keep them.”
Multiple rounds of talks between the government and farmers have failed to end the stalemate. The farmers have rejected an offer from the government to put the laws on hold for 18 months, saying they want a complete repeal.
The legislation is not clear on whether the government will continue to guarantee prices for certain essential crops — a system that was introduced in the 1960s to help India shore up its food reserves and prevent shortages.
Farmers also fear that the legislation signals the government is moving away from a system in which an overwhelming majority of farmers sell only to government-sanctioned marketplaces. They worry this will leave them at the mercy of corporations that will have no legal obligation to pay them the guaranteed price anymore.


Protests, tear gas in Myanmar after UN envoy urges action

Protests, tear gas in Myanmar after UN envoy urges action
Updated 06 March 2021

Protests, tear gas in Myanmar after UN envoy urges action

Protests, tear gas in Myanmar after UN envoy urges action
  • Myanmar has been plunged into turmoil since the military overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1
  • More than 50 protesters have been killed, Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener tells UN Security Council

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations special envoy on Myanmar called on the UN Security Council to take action against the ruling junta after the killings of protesters who have continued to defy security forces at demonstrations against last month’s coup.
The Southeast Asian country has been plunged into turmoil since the military overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, with daily protests and strikes that have choked business and paralyzed administration.
More than 50 protesters have been killed according to the United Nations — at least 38 on Wednesday alone. Protesters demand the release of Suu Kyi and the respect of November’s election, which her party won in landslide, but which the army rejected.
“How much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?” Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener told a closed meeting of the 15-member UN Security Council on Friday, according to a copy of her remarks seen by Reuters.
“It is critical that this council is resolute and coherent in putting the security forces on notice and standing with the people of Myanmar firmly, in support of the clear November election results.”
A junta spokesman did not answer calls requesting comment.
The army says it has been restrained in stopping the protests, but has said it will not allow them to threaten stability.
On Saturday, in the southern town of Dawei, protesters chanted “Democracy is our cause” and “The revolution must prevail.” Protesters were also gathering in the biggest city, Yangon.
People have taken to the streets in their hundreds of thousands at times, vowing to continue action in a country that spent nearly half a century under military rule until democratic reforms in 2011 that were cut short by the coup.
“Political hope has begun to shine. We can’t lose the momentum of the revolution,” one protest leader, Ei Thinzar Maung, wrote on Facebook. “Those who dare to fight will have victory. We deserve victory.”
At least one man was killed by security forces in protests on Friday. An official from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and his teenage nephew were also stabbed to death by military supporters, local media reported.

Outrage
The killing of protesters has drawn international outrage.
“Use of violence against the people of Myanmar must stop now,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a tweet, calling for the release of Suu Kyi and other detainees and for the restoration of democracy.
The United States and some other Western countries have imposed limited sanctions on the junta and independent UN human rights investigator on Myanmar, Thomas Andrews, has called for a global arms embargo and targeted economic sanctions.
But in an effort to preserve council unity on Myanmar, diplomats said sanctions were unlikely to be considered anytime soon as such measures would probably be opposed by China and Russia, which have veto powers.
“All parties should exercise utmost calm and restraint,” China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said, according to remarks released after the UN meeting. “We don’t want to see instability, even chaos in Myanmar.”
The army took power over allegations of fraud in last year’s election which had been dismissed by the electoral commission. It has promised to hold a new election at an unspecified date.
That plan is rejected by protesters and by a group representing lawmakers elected at the last election that has begun to issue statements in the name of a rival civilian administration.
On Friday, it listed four demands — the end of the junta, the release of the detainees, democracy and the abolition of the 2008 constitution which left significant political representation and control in the hands of the military.
Instead, it said Myanmar should have a federal constitution — an appeal to the ethnic groups in the country’s borderlands which have chafed under domination of the Bamar majority both under the military and Suu Kyi’s party.
On Friday, thousands of people rallied in the southeastern Karen state, accompanied by fighters from the Karen National Union (KNU), one of the ethnic armed groups engaged in long-running wars.
During the rally — the strongest indication yet of support for the anti-coup movement from one of the country’s myriad ethnic armed groups — KNU troops flashed the three-finger salute popularized by protesters and handed out water bottles.


American Airlines says 737 MAX experienced ‘mechanical issue’

American Airlines says 737 MAX experienced ‘mechanical issue’
Updated 06 March 2021

American Airlines says 737 MAX experienced ‘mechanical issue’

American Airlines says 737 MAX experienced ‘mechanical issue’
  • The 737 MAX was Boeing’s fastest-selling aircraft until it was grounded over a faulty flight handling system

NEW YORK: An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX jet flying to Newark, New Jersey from Miami landed safely on Friday after pilots shut down an engine during the flight, the US air safety regulator said.
The MAX returned to skies in the United States late last year after it was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following two deadly crashes.
In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said “pilots reported shutting down an engine in flight” but the plane was able to taxi to its gate on its own power, and the agency will investigate the incident.
American Airlines confirmed to AFP that the issue was related to an engine oil pressure issue and not the faulty flight handling system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which was implicated in the crashes that killed a total of 346 people.
“All customers deplaned normally, with no reported injuries to passengers or crew,” American Airlines said.
The 737 MAX was a big hit with airlines, becoming Boeing’s fastest-selling aircraft until its grounding, which forced the manufacturer to revamp MCAS and implement new pilot training protocols.
The grounding plunged the American aviation giant into crisis, which was exacerbated by the global downturn in travel caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and airlines canceled hundreds of orders for the plane.