Entries in Quran (10)


Muslims Around the World Welcoming Ramadan

KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- At sundown Thursday night, Muslims the world over welcomed Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

The ninth month of Islam's lunar calendar, Ramadan is believed to be the month in which the Quran was revealed. During Ramadan, which begins with the new crescent moon, observant Muslims refrain from food, water and sexual relations between dawn and dusk.

Exactly when the holy month begins, however, is a matter of annual debate.

Ramadan technically begins only when Islamic authorities in each country announce that the new crescent moon has been seen. Despite astronomers' ability to accurately predict when the moon will appear, most Islamic scholars insist that confirmed reports of actual sightings are necessary in order to declare the beginning of Ramadan.

Adding to the confusion is the emergence of CCD-camera techniques that can render an image of the moon in broad daylight, Nidhal Guessoum, an astronomer at American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, wrote in a column for the Huffington Post.

"This has further complicated the already complex relationship between Muslim astronomers and modernists on one side and the traditional Muslim scholars ('ulamas') on the other," Guessoum wrote.

In the past several years, mobile app developers have tapped a growing market among Ramadan observers. Some apps calculate sunrise and sunset times at any location, while others notify users of prayer times.

During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to engage in spiritual reflection and worship and to practice self-discipline through the resistance of temptation.

Muslims are encouraged to pray more frequently and read the entire Quran before the holiday of Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan.

This year, Eid ul-Fitr will arrive on the evening of Aug. 17.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Leader Urges Followers to Avenge US Quran Burning

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Al Qaeda is attempting to stir up anti-U.S. sentiment in the Muslim world by once again bringing up last February's burning of Qurans at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

During a new audio posted on radical Islamic websites Wednesday, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahari recalled the incident that led to riots in Afghanistan, which resulted in the deaths of several American service personnel.

Since destroying the Islamic holy book is the ultimate sacrilege, al-Zawahari called on all Muslims to fight "those aggressors who occupied your countries, stole your wealth and violated your sanctities."

Even though the U.S. issued apologies immediately after the incident came to light, the al Qaeda chief said that Americans and their allies only pretended to be sorry for the Quran burning, calling it a "silly farce."

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant messages, verified the authenticity of the audio posting.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Several Killed in Deadliest Day of Afghan Protests over Koran Burning

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Protests over the inadvertent burning of Korans and other religious materials earlier this week by coalition forces in Afghanistan continued in the country for a fourth straight day on Friday, claiming the lives of at least 10 people.

Herat took the biggest hit, with six fatalities reported in and around the city, according to local officials.  Two others, including a child, died in Khost, while one person was killed in Kabul and another north of the Afghan capital in Baghlan.

Friday's demonstrations were the deadliest so far, and come a day after two American members of NATO's International Security Assistance Force were fatally shot by an Afghan Army soldier.

Thursday night, Gen. John Allen, the commander of all foreign forces in Afghanistan, made an unannounced visit to the base where the two U.S. soldiers were killed.

In an impassioned speech, he urged his men not to lash out with their own anger.

"There will be moments like this when you’re searching for the meaning of this loss. There will be moments like this, when your emotions are governed by anger and a desire to strike back. These are the moments when you reach down inside and you grip the discipline which makes you a United States soldier and you gut through the pain, and you gut through the anger and you remember why we’re here.  We’re here for our friends, we’re here for our partners, we’re here for the Afghan people," Allen said.

"Now is not the time for revenge, now is not the time for vengeance, now is the time to look deep inside your souls, remember your mission, remember your discipline, remember who you are," he continued.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Anti-US Protests Pop Up in Afghanistan over Accidental Koran Burning

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Several anti-American protests sprung up across Afghanistan Wednesday in response to the inadvertent burning of Korans and other religious materials by coalition forces there.

The books were mistakenly thrown out with the trash at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul and were on a burn pile Monday night before Afghan laborers intervened around 11:00 p.m., according to NATO and Afghan officials.

Upon hearing the news, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside of Bagram and on the outskirts of Kabul Tuesday morning.  The protests continued the following day, growing in intensity and size.

In Jalalabad, demonstrations began in two different locations on Wednesday.  After the situation became a little heated, police opened fire and, according to health officials, one person was killed and eight others were injured.

Over in Kabul, people gathered in front of U.S. base Camp Phoenix started burning tires and tried to burn public assets before the Afghan National Police arrived and got the situation under control.  One person died and 10 got hurt, according to officials from the Ministry of Public Health.

Protests were also reported in the provinces of Laghman and Parwan.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul tweeted on Wednesday, "The Embassy is on lockdown; all travel suspended. Please, everyone, be safe out there."

Camp Phoenix and all other U.S. installations in Kabul were also placed on lockdown.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has formed a commission to investigate the matter and has asked parliament for a special meeting on Thursday to discuss the incident.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Were Islamic Religious Texts Mishandled by Afghan Coalition Forces?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(BAGRAM, Afghanistan) -- Troops on the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan have inadvertently burned Qurans and other religious materials, triggering angry protests and fears of even larger demonstrations as news of the burning spreads.

The books were mistakenly thrown out with the trash at Bagram Air Field and were on a burn pile Monday night before Afghan laborers intervened around 11:00 p.m., according to NATO and Afghan officials.

The workers doused the flames with their jackets and mineral water before marching out of Bagram in a fury, carrying with them the charred remains, according to Sabir Safar, secretary of the provincial council of Parwan, the province where Bagram is located.

By Tuesday morning, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside of Bagram and on the outskirts of Kabul.  Some shot into the air, some threw rocks at the Bagram gate, and others yelled, "Die, die foreigners." More troubling, many of them were the same people who work with foreign troops inside the base.

At one point, apparently worried that the base would be stormed, guards at the base fired rubber bullets into the crowd, according to the military.

NATO officials scrambled furiously to contain the fallout, tweeting and emailing reporters not long after the first protests began.  Gen. John Allen, the commander of all foreign forces in Afghanistan, released a statement, then a video statement, followed by an interview to NATO television.  In his and all of NATO officials' communication on Tuesday, each emphasized that the burning was unintentional.

"Those materials were inadvertently given to troops for disposition and that disposition was to burn the materials.  It was not a decision that was made because they were religious materials," Allen told NATO TV.  "It was not a decision that was made with respect to the faith of Islam . It was a mistake, it was an error.  The moment we found out about it we immediately stopped and we intervened."

Allen launched an investigation and promised to take steps that the same incident would not be repeated.

"This is not who we are. These are very, very isolated incidents," Allen said. "We've been dying alongside the Afghans for a long time because we believe in them, we believe in their country, we want to have every opportunity to give them a bright future."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Did Karzai's Condemnation of Koran Burning Spur Afghan Violence?

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Did Afghan President Hamid Karzai have an indirect hand in causing the deadly riots over the burning of a Koran by a Florida pastor?

There's speculation by Western officials that there would have been no protests leading to violence had Karzai not publicly condemned the March 20 Koran burning, four days after it happened.

The event by Pastor Terry Jones, who runs a Gainesville church with about a dozen congregants, received little notice by the U.S. media.  However, that didn't stop Karzai from publicizing it in Afghanistan, which inflamed a population already upset by the long foreign occupation of their country.

At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured in three days of violence that also cost the lives of seven United Nations workers in northern Afghanistan on Friday.

A spokesman for Karzai said, "This is a very religious Islamic country, and the president is the leader of this Muslim country.  The president saw it as his moral and religious duty on behalf of the Afghan people to condemn this."

The White House, which has strained relations with Karzai, hasn't criticized the Afghan leader for his actions, focusing its condemnation instead to Jones and those who desecrate the Muslim holy book.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghan Protesters Rally for Fourth Day Over Quran Burning

U.S. State Department(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In the only eastern Afghan city earmarked for transition to local security forces in July, about 500 villagers filled the streets of Mihtarlam Monday, shouting death to America and death to the pastors who burned a Quran more than two weeks ago, according to the local police chief.

In their fourth day of demonstrations, the protesters threw stones at police and had sticks in their hands, but in a good sign, police dispersed them by firing into the air -- rather than into the crowd, as they did in Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday and Kandahar on Saturday.

The protesters were stopped well before they were able to reach the center of the city, where the local United Nations office and the Laghman province governor’s house is located.

No injuries were reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Controversial Fla. Pastor: Afghan UN Violence 'Proves My Point'

Mario Tama/Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who oversaw the burning of a Koran last month, tells ABC News that he does not feel responsible for the violent protest at a United Nations compound in Afghanistan on Friday that left at least 11 dead. Instead, he said the violence proved his point.

"We wanted to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element," Jones said. "I think [the attack] proves that there is a radical element of Islam."

As for the 11 dead, which included seven U.N. staffers and guards, Jones told ABC News Nightline anchor Bill Weir, "We do not feel responsible, no."

The deaths followed a protest march in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday against the Koran burning that Jones supervised last month, while another pastor, Wayne Sapp, soaked the Koran in kerosene and burned it.

"We decided to put the Koran on trail," Jones said. "I was the judge but I did not determine the verdict. I was just a type of referee so that people got their time to defend or condemn the Koran."

Jones said that a "jury" of people from all over Florida debated the radicalism of Islam, and the "Koran was found guilty."

Police told ABC News the protest in Afghanistan started peacefully but took a violent turn after a radical leader told those gathered that multiple Korans had been burned. People angrily marched on the nearby U.N. compound, despite police who fired AK-47s into the air in hopes of subduing them.

Police eventually turned their weapons on the protesters, killing at least four, police said, before they were overtaken and had their guns stolen. Using the police weapons, the protesters killed four U.N. guards from Nepal and then three foreign workers in the U.N. building -- a Norwegian, a Romanian and a Swede.

Despite an onslaught of attention Jones got when he initially made his threat to burn the Muslim holy book in September 2010 -- including a personal plea from President Barack Obama -- the actual burning of the Koran last month went relatively unnoticed in western media.

President Obama condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" in a statement.

Jones initially cancelled his plans for the book burning on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks. The stunt, according to Jones, was a protest for the Muslim-backed community center that was to be built near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Protests in Kandahar Leave At Least Nine Dead

ABC News(KANDAHAR, Afghanistan) -- Violent protests in Afghanistan flared for a second day Saturday, enflamed by outrage over the burning of a Koran by Florida pastor Terry Jones.

Nine protesters were killed Saturday in Kandahar, where hundreds marched holding copies of the Koran when security forces shot into the air to disperse the crowd.

Zalmai Ayubi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said it is unclear how the protesters were killed.

Anger over Terry Jones' burning of the Koran began on Friday in the town of Mazar-i-Sharif, when 11 people were killed -- including seven United Nations workers -- at a United Nations compound.

Jones oversaw the burning of a Koran last month and told ABC News that he did not feel responsible for the protests.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghanistan: UN Workers Killed In Response to Fla. Quran Burning

Mario Tama/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Several United Nations staffers were killed Friday after protests broke out over a recent Quran burning by two Florida pastors.

Protesters in northern Afghanistan stormed a U.N. office following Friday prayers, killing a number of workers. This comes after preachers made mention of the Quran burning during their sermons.

Demonstrators began shooting at U.N. guards before making their way inside the compound, which they later burned down.

Four Nepalese guards and three international U.N. staff members -- one Norwegian, a Romanian and a Swede -- were killed in the attack. Afghan police said some were beheaded.

Less than 30 people were on hand last month when the two pastors -- including Terry Jones, who garnered worldwide attention last year when he threatened to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks -- burned a Quran at Jones' Gainesville Church.

President Obama condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" Friday, and offered his condolences to the injured, as well as to the family members of those who were killed.

"The brave men and women of the United Nations, including the Afghan staff, undertake their work in support of the Afghan people," the president said in a statement. "Their work is essential to building a stronger Afghanistan for the benefit of all its citizens. We stress the importance of calm and urge all parties to reject violence and resolve differences through dialogue."

Last week, Pakistan's president denounced the actions of the Florida pastors in front of parliament.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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