Sunday, 3 January 2010

Muslim World Almanac- An Encyclopedic Compendium

Muslim World Almanac 2008:
An encyclopedic compendium

Dr. Mozammel Haque

MAKKAH: Muslim World Almanac, published by the Research and Documentation Society,is a reference book which contains the statistical data and current information on the Muslim Countries. This book is a compilation giving an account of the pace of developments in Muslim World, bringing forth issues that put them in news, and making an assessment of their status in various fields like economy or science and technology, which are otherwise not found in the form of any specific research-based work on the Muslim world

There are 1.5 billion Muslims dotted around the entire globe and sixty independent Muslim states in Europe, Africa and Asia. They need a well documented compendium which has never been greater than now. Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, former deputy Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council and present Secretary General of the International Islamic Council for Daw’ah and Relief (IICDR) lamented, “Seldom do we come across a comprehensive exposition of our Faith and its traditions, together with an authentic and up-to-date portrayal of the geopolitical and socio-economic conditions in the Muslim world. All praise be to Allah, here is a response to this challenge.”

A 13-member Editorial Advisory Board of the Muslim World Almanac consists of former editors and academic professors, such as Adil A. Kaki, President, Makkah Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Dr. Ahmad Al-Yusuf, Former Editor-in-Chief, Saudi Gazette, Jeddah; Syed Hasan Mutahar, former Editor-in-Chief, The Muslim World League Journal, Makkah (based in UK); Hisham Kaki, Editor-in-Chief, Al-Nadwah, Makkah; Muhammad Nasir, former Editor, The Muslim World League Journal, Makkah; Dr. Ikram Khawja, Professor Emeritus, Youngstown, Ohio, USA; Professor Dr. Halim Hamid Redhwi, Professor Chemical Engineering, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM), Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; Dr. Mehtab Syed Karim, Professor, Demography, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan; Abu Anam, Jeddah; Dr. Mozammel Haque, former Editor, The Muslim World League Journal, Makkah (based in UK); Dr. Adnan Ali Nehas, Pediatric Diabetologist; M.A. Wahab, Art Director and Ahmad Muaz Qamar, Director, e-product Development and e-Marketing.

A thirteen-member high-powered editorial advisory board, an international team of scholars, produced 1,000-plus pages of Muslim World Almanac, published by Research and Documentation Society, Pakistan. It is “an interesting compilation of information on the Muslim World,” said His Excellency Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and extended his “congratulations and appreciation for your valuable efforts to publish this encyclopedic compendium, which would be a ready source of information for Muslims and non-Muslims alike interested in different aspects of Muslim life.”

“In its 900 pages the Almanac provides a comprehensive coverage of the culture and civilization of Islam and of contemporary Muslim societies. It is global in scope,” observed Dr. Farhan Ahmad Nizami, Director, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and Prince of Wales Fellow, University of Oxford, and added, “One half of its pages are devoted to clear and informative essays on a range of subjects including : the salient features of Islam; leading Muslim academic, cultural and political institutions; Islamic finance; social and economic development; science and technology; environment and commentaries on issues which currently are at the top of the international agenda.”

The Almanac has also short articles on issues of Jihad, terrorism and problems presently facing Muslims such as Jihad, terrorism and problems presently facing Muslims such as the problems of Hijab, the state of the Madrasahs and the need to reform them etc.

The situation of Muslim minorities the world over was extensively dealt with in The Almanac. “The chapter on Current Muslim issues brings out poignantly the injustices and atrocities perpetuated on Muslim minorities in Myanmar, Moro Muslims in Philippines, Muslims in southern Thailand. They bear eloquent testimony to the strength of their faith, their resilience and their capacity to survive against heavy odds,” observed Mr. Saiyid Hamid, Chancellor, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi and former Vice-Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University, India. While a special section brings forth issues of Palestine, Kashmir, the dilemma in Darfur and the struggle of Chechen Muslims into limelight.

There is a growing interest in Islam and Muslims all over the globe. “The Almanac will be useful for non-Muslims looking for authentic information about Muslims and Muslim lands and their history and contribution to the civilization since the seventh century CE,” maintained Dr. Manazir Ahsan, Director General, Islamic Foundation, Leicestershire, UK. “The Chapter on Islam comprising, among others, The Faith and Its Adherents and Salient Features is an objective and perceptive synopsis which altogether avoids polemical hyperbole,” observed Mr. Hamid.

Dr. Nizami also observed, “It is also an important contribution to the advancement of a better understanding of Muslim societies and should help facilitate co-operation between cultures and nations.”

“To be successful in the present age of globalization requires effective dissemination of and fast access to information,” said Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and observed, “I hope that this publication of yours is going to fill in some of the gaps of information sources that is needed to put the Muslim World in the right track of development.”

The Muslim World Almanac 2008 comes at a crucial time in our history and helps non-Muslims understand us better and learn more about us. Mr. Moinuddin Khan, Ex=Chief Librarian, Agha Khan University said, “There is a widespread belief in the West that Islam fosters violence, which is utterly untrue. This Makkah-based Almanac is indeed a noteworthy attempt to negate all such wrong notions and speak for a vast majority of people still committed to tension-free world and still happily devoted to a civilized discourse of global goodwill and harmony.”

“This reference work goes a long way to dispel misgivings about Islam by highlighting Muslims’ pivotal role in presenting the true spirit of Islam and bridging the gap between Islam and rest of the world,” added Khan. There are a lot of initiatives from the Muslim side for interfaith dialogue and understanding, such as the World Conference for interfaith in Makkah al-Mukarramah and the World Conference on Dialogue in Madrid.

This is the first time the Muslim World has produced authentic information about Muslims, their Faith, tradition, country, culture and contribution to civilization. Muslim leaders and scholars have great expectation from the Research and Documentation Society and its international team of scholars in the Editorial Advisory Board.

Prince of Wales Fellow, Dr. Nizami wishes “as a landmark publication which, no doubt, will continue to gain in quality and impact with each subsequent edition, it deserves all support and the widest possible circulation.” “Let us hope that the 2009 version of the Almanac incorporates new features and expands the existing ones,” said former Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Saiyid Hamid and added, “On a much larger scale it should serve as an eye-opener and a shock-giver.”

“There is every reason to believe that over time the coming editions of the Almanac will become consistently better, more useful and thought-provoking and acquire increasing recognition as a major reference for all matters relating to Muslims,” expected Dr. Zafar Ishaq Ansari, Vice-President (HSR), International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan.

“I am sure this magnificent work, like other reference publications, will be constantly revised and updated and will receive due recognition and appreciation throughout the world as a major reference work on Islam and Muslims,” said Dr. Manazir Ahsan, Director General of the UK-based The Islamic Foundation.

This Almanac is registered with American Library of Congress, Presidential Library of USA, White House Library and the Library of the Haramayeen Sharafayeen. The Muslim World Almanac was presented to the Governor of Makkah al-Mukarramah and also to the Governor of Sindh Karachi. The Almanac was also sent to the President of Switzerland through Swiss Ambassador in Saudi Arabia. This book is also sent through the diplomatic offices to every head of states, such as President, Prime Minister and also the Information Minister. This Almanac along with the reviews of Anna Perleberg was presented to the 12 Bishops who went to Karachi to attend the Bishop’s Conference.

Muslim World Almanac was also presented on behalf of the Research and Documentation Society to the U.S. President Barack Obama at a private meeting held at Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel in May 2009 by renowned physician, Dr. Maher Fatima Tabatabai. The US President expressed his profound admiration for the Almanac and said that he would carry the book on his historic voyage to the Middle East. “The Almanac has come handy and would be a great input for my forthcoming journey,” President Obama said.

The Muslim World Almanac seeks to present an in-depth, objective and statistical picture of the Muslim World, seeking to portray an authentic and accurate picture of the Muslim people, the lands they inhabit and the creed they profess.

The Almanac was also presented to Lee Roy Baca, the Police Chief of Los Angeles County in the US who said that these books would be very useful tool for the police personnel, 60,000 working for the county. They will know better. This book is very useful as a single compendium to highlight how Muslims live and what they practice.

Muslim World Almanac has been accepted by the rest as unbiased and neutral team of sincere practicing Muslims, as one of the reviewers, Anna Perleberg, has mentioned in her review: “They addressed from a moderate thoughtful viewpoint.” Anne Perleberg posted a review of the Muslim World Almanac on a website Watermarks

“Too often our information on this topic comes from either bigotry, well-meaning cluelessness, or secular academia, but the deeply religious authors of the Almanac consider Islam to be a serious matter of belief, based on scripture and tradition,” she said.

This speaks loudly that Muslims are not presenting their case properly and scientifically. It is also quite clear that the Muslim image-building can only be done by Muslim themselves and we have to admit that not much effort has been made in this direction.

Muslim World Almanac has traveled a long way and got recognition in intellectual world and was appreciated by the press and scholars both Muslims and non-Muslims.

The Muslim World Almanac is edited by Saqib Jawaid Anwar Al-Hassan and its publisher is Jawaid Anwar Al-Hassan. The first edition of the book was printed in Saudi Arabia and another edition of the book was printed in Hong Kong. The Almanac was placed in the internet and its website is:

The international team of Editorial Advisory Board of the Muslim World Almanac is preparing the content of its second volume where the board is introducing some new sections, such as Water from the Islamic Perspective; Islamic banking and finance etc.

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