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When making music, faith is incidental

When making music, faith is incidental by Ani Zonneveld (Common Ground News Service) Los Angeles - As a songwriter, my business is to write songs tailored to the style of specific artists. Publishers inform me which record labels and artists are looking for songs for their upcoming albums, and with that information I sit down in front of my computer, which is loaded with music software programs and sounds, to recreate what I hear in my head. Within a day, I usually have the beat and melody lines completed. Within two days, the lyrics are in place. In a collaborative process, an ideal creative environment is one in which a proposed idea is made even better, triggering another idea which is improved upon in turn, and so on. Due to time constraints, one's personal background, faith or politics are hardly discussed. If there is a connection between songwriters, it stems from the chemistry that the music sparks. In other words, one's faith, skin colour, age and gender are irrelevant. The fact that I am a Muslim woman is incidental when it comes to this process. I'm judged based on the success I've had as a songwriter, the body of work I have produced and the awards I have won. Although my faith is largely extraneous to my work, occasionally during conversation my writing partners discover that I am Muslim. When this happens there is an "Ah, let me ask her all these questions I have on Islam" moment. Topics range from the hijab or headscarf, to Muslim men marrying four wives, to my thoughts on politics in the Middle East. Writing with an artist in the room is a very different process than writing for an artist who is not. As a writer, I have my own style of phrasing a melody, marrying words to the music and so forth, so when I am working with artists I have to allow them to "live" with the ideas I've contributed; that is, personalising a musical idea with their own musical interpretation. Two artists I write with are Keb' Mo' and Melissa Manchester. We usually start out by catching up on each other's personal news, exchanging notes about the music industry and even discussing politics and religion. Their musical genre requires a lot more depth and reflection, and the personal connection we have developed over the years helps in creating music that is meaningful and multi-layered. An example of faith coming into play is in the song Thank You for Your Faith in Me, which I wrote with Melissa Manchester. The song is thanking God for believing in us and for not giving up on us. In this case, our spirituality comes from the same space, hers through her Jewish faith and mine through Islam. My relationship with Keb' Mo', a multi-Grammy winning Contemporary Blues artist, goes back 15 years when he used to record guitar parts for my songs in the studio. Our professional relationship doesn't really feel like business because it has evolved into a relationship of mutual respect and friendship based on the common belief in "doin' the right thing" – a spiritual value that Keb' Mo' lives by. One day, he invited me on stage at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles to talk about our songwriting process and then unexpectedly sent me a cheque to thank me for my efforts. Such thoughtful actions are rare. With artists such as Melissa Manchester and Keb' Mo', I'm comfortable talking about my non-professional life – my social activism as a Muslim, and listening to their religious and political perspectives. Perhaps surprisingly, it is these broad personal conversations and the acceptance of each other's diversity that often trigger a song title or theme. Our willingness to listen to our diverse narratives nurtures an organic creative process. Even though we may be engaged in a business relationship, at the end of the day we are all part of humanity. And the foundation for peaceful relationships, no matter what the nature, is our respect and acceptance of each other as equals. ### * Ani Zonneveld is a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles ( and the co-founder and President of Muslims for Progressive Values ( This article is part of a series on joint Muslim-Western business ventures distributed by the Common Ground News Service. Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 20 November 2007,

Lelah Ahmed on Hijab, historical background etc


The Crime of obeying God!

Newspapers all over the world are replete with articles about the sentence for Egyptian Blogger Abdel Karim Nabil Suleiman, who blogged under the name of Karim Amer. The last entry on his unfortunate blog dates back to October 28, 2006 where he mentions that he received a summons to appear at the police station for an investigation. The charges against him, he writes, are the ghost of Al Azhar haunting him, despite him receiving his dismissal paper from Al Azhar university already. He mentions other luminaries and intellectuals that were touched by Al Azhar’s curse, as he calls it, and who were forced to either abandon their ideas or flee the country or paid with their life, such as Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid, Dr. Ahmed Sobhy Mansour, Nawal El Saadawi or Ahmed El Shahawy and the late Farag Fouda. He writes that this only strengthens his courage and resolve. Since that last entry he has been arrested and detained and has no doubt gone through hell. We have all seen enough videos on YouTube of what goes on in Egyptian Police Stations to know that his detention there was probably a nightmare – to say the least. Visits from his family and lawyers were forbidden. The charges against Karim were those of insulting Islam, harming the peace and insulting President Hosni Mubarak. Read more at:

Video- Dr. Chung Hyn Kyung on Feminist Theology! This theology is about reading Christian scriptures


Video-Mukhtaran Mai, W.I.S.E. "End Oppression with Education".


When Women get together...(Ani Zonneveld)

Recently, November 17-19, 2006, I attended the first W.I.S.E. (Women’s Islamic initiative in Spirituality and Equity) conference in New York. Spearheaded by Daisy Khan of ASMA Society (, the task at the conference was to create a Shura Council (an advisory board) that will contribute to an interpretation of the Quran and our Islamic traditions in a modern context. Of course not everyone agreed with a need for such a Council. Regardless of whether we agreed or not, however, the one thing that was apparent was that to some degree, we are all getting shafted by our Muslim men. We all agree that women are used, abused, discriminated against despite what the Quran dictates. I see W.I.S.E. as building on the momentum started by Turkey with the abolishment of hadith passages vilifying women, and on the training of women spiritual leaders in Morocco. The fact that these changes are happening in the heartland of Islam speaks volumes about the integrity of my fellow Muslims. After all, gender equality is a struggle found in the western world and in all faith traditions till this century. In attendance were women from all over the world, over 100. I was humbled and proud to see so many women working to empower other unprivileged women. Some by way of lectures, books, and scholarship, as social workers, activists, and government officials, and others through the arts and pop culture. I can’t tell you about all the women I spoke to, but I can give you a peek into some of the extraordinary contributions of a few of them. As punishment for her brother’s alleged crime, Mukhtaran Mai was gang raped by a more powerful family. A hideous punishment commanded by the village council. Usually women would commit suicide after such a punishment, but Mukhtaran decided she was going to teach them a lesson….by fighting back. Fight back she did. Beyond the court cases in which she pressed charges against the perpetrators of this crime, she decided to turn her anger into positive action. She decided to educate her village by establishing a school for boys and girls. At first the school had three students, and the teacher worked for free for 6 months. To pay the teacher’s wages Mukhtaran sewed, earning $1.50 a day and setting aside half. HALF. Would you be willing to contribute HALF of your income to a cause? But Mukhtaran’s sacrifice has brought great dividends. She now has hundreds of students, and has built a shelter for abused women. Rather than taking her own life, Mukhtaran Mai, an uneducated, nonliterate and abused woman turned her anger and pain into a positive force and became an international symbol of courage and dignity. (To view her speak visit my site at: In the video Mukhtaran ends her talk by saying: To remain apathetic is a crime; to remain silence is a crime, is a crime! She has a book out entitled: In the Name of Honour. Mukhtaran is assisted by ANAA (Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Human Rights), Help them eradicate violence against women. Dr. Massouda Jala, a psychiatrist and pediatrician from Afghanistan, provided medical care to women for 23 years. With the Taliban kicked out, her community asked her to run for office. They put her name on the ballot the day before the elections, resulting in her becoming the representative of Kabul in the 2002 loya jirga. At that point she decided that for her to be effective she needed to work to create laws prohibiting discrimination against women; thus, the Women’s Affairs Ministry (Secretariat) came into being. A movie about her entitled Still Fighting by New View Films (in DC) is in the making. An audience member asked her whether the situation for women is better with the Taliban gone. Her response: “It was, but in the past year 300 girls’ schools have been burnt down.” Rima Khoreibi is sort of my equivalent but in a different medium. She is a children’s fiction writer and author of a series entitled The Adventures of Iman. Iman is a teenage Muslim girl, a super hero! The stories teach children about the values of Islam, with passages from the Quran and Hadith as footnotes! These books should be used as text books in our Muslim schools. Then there is Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, an American who spent seven years completing a translation of the Quran into English from a women’s perspective. (The book will be out in spring of 2007, One example of the conventional male-centered and misogynistic interpretations of sacred text is verse 4:34: “Husbands who fear adversity on the part of wives, admonish then, leave their bed, and beat them.” But Prophet Muhammad never beat his wives or any women for that matter. The current translation of ‘bdr’ is “to beat (them)”, but lo and behold there are 25 other meanings to that same word. One means to ‘walk away’, and that is precisely what the Prophet did. Amin to that! I came out of the conference full of hope, of conviction to do more, and rejuvenated by the women around me. But I also came out more disgusted by the hate and injustice perpetuated by men on the women. We should be outraged. I challenge the men to stop dressing like the Prophet but to LIVE like one. Be the feminist that Prophet Muhammad was. We need Muslim women and men to work together and for men to accept us as absolute equals. And to the women who ‘buy’ into men’s supremacy over women and confuse the traditions of patriarchy with the teachings of Islam: READ, THINK. Free yourselves from the mental shackles imposed on us. Some women at the conference are skeptical whereas others are hopeful. But whichever way we lean, we should be agents for change. Muslim women have no choice but to challenge the traditional and oppressive state of affairs in our communities. We have regressed instead of progressed, and for some reason we in the Muslim world have been unable or unwilling to claim our rights. As I sit and listen to Mukhtaran Mai, Masouda and to the many women who have contributed so much, my own life is a blurr of confusion. Does anyone even understand what I do, do they even know I exist, does anyone care? The presence of my sisters and their kind words of encouragement have convinced me, once and for all, that what I do matters. That no matter what my contribution is, it is a pebble creating its own waves. As a friend says to me, “If I see injustice and turn my back, then I am not a Muslim”. That is the reminder that we all need to keep doing what we do. -Ani- * check out the photo gallery and video relating to this journal.

We're Not That Boring You Know!

When Dr. Wafa Sultan demanded respect from a Muslim cleric after being called a heretic, I cheered her on. When she criticized the Muslims who react violently in typical knee-jerk fashion, I was smiling with glee. And she nailed it when she said Muslims should learn from the example of the Jewish community who command world respect with their accomplishments despite decades of anti-Semitism and the decimation of the Holocaust. How could anyone disagree with that? But when Dr. Sultan in her LA Times interview is quoted as saying Islam is beyond repair, riddled with teachings that exhort Muslims to kill non-Muslims, subjugate women, and disregard human rights; when she says “I don't believe you can reform Islam,” and that the only reason the vast majority of the world’s Muslim population is peaceful is because they can’t read Arabic and don’t know what the Quran teaches, that’s when I stop cheering. I’m a practicing Muslim. I’m peaceful. I don’t have any intention of killing off non-Muslims, and I don’t believe my religion asks me to. In fact, Islam teaches me to value every life, and that murder – of Muslims or of non-Muslims – is wrong. And there are about 1.2 billion of us who agree with me. What is it with people? Why can’t so-called intelligent people make the distinction between theology and human nature? Muslims throughout the world read the Quran and find a message of peace, of social justice, and of compassion and care for all people. They are inspired by verses regarding the equality of all human beings, and particularly the equality of men and women, to eradicate misogynist, racist, and classist discrimination. Is it Islam’s fault that human beings are cruel, sexist, or violent, or is it the fault of human beings, who all too often ignore the teachings of their religion? Dr. Sultan says, “Islamic scriptures are riddled with violence, misogyny and other extremist ideas.” When she quotes snippets of Quranic verses dealing with warfare out of context and in isolation, then she is doing exactly what the militants who use the very same snippets to justify their actions do – distorting the message of the Quran. How is that going to reform anyone’s mind? There are so many Muslims in America challenging unjust cultural traditions, confronting the established American Muslim institutions in religious practice, and calling for a humane implementation of Islam. The Progressive Muslim Union is one such organized entity. It is considered a pariah by some Muslim organizations because of its insistence that a woman’s spirituality is equal to that of a man, its advocacy for the human and civil rights for all, its unwavering commitment to the separation of church and state, and its promotion of freedom of conscience and religious practice. Why are these progressive Muslims not on the front pages of American newspapers and news channels? Why aren’t non-Muslim organizations throwing money at progressive groups if change within Islam is what they claim to be advocating? What is it about Dr. Wafa Sultan that so intrigues the American media? Is it because she is an ex-Muslim “tattle-taleing” on her “people?” Is it because she has rejected a religion, which many in this country have branded as “the enemy?” Or is it simply because she’s a feisty, gutsy, woman? If it’s the latter, I can introduce you to many feisty, gutsy Muslim women who believe that reform is best achieved from within. We’re not that boring you know! Ani Zonneveld

Give me a Break!

Dear Friends, This is the first time I’m sending you a political announcement instead of a musical invitation. As you all know I sing songs of spiritual content and most of you know how I lean politically and socially. In a world where Muslims have a special prison dedicated to them at Guantanamo, where right-wing governments in Europe have become of choice on an anti-immigration platform, where slander against Islam is common in mainstream media…..I guess these lame caricatures proved too much. As a Muslim I am sick and tired of Islam getting bashed in day-in and day-out but I am NOT outraged by the caricature of Prophet Muhammad. I am outraged that ‘Muslims’ are killing people in the name of Islam, I am outraged that Muslims have manipulated Islam for their political gain, I am outraged by the lack of respect for other faiths and women’s rights DESPITE what the Quran says, and DESPITE Prophet Muhammad’s peaceful example. Slander is simply disgusting, but the reactions of some Muslims are even more disgusting. After 9-11, Muslims were lumped in as terrorist sympathizers. I hated that. So in support of the NON-racist Danes, Norwegians and all the Europeans out there, I will not boycott their products. As a matter of fact I will continue to buy my very creamy Havarti Danish cheese. If you haven’t had it before, go buy it! In peace, Ani

Right Islam vs Wrong Islam Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam Muslims and non-Muslims must unite to defeat the Wahhabi ideology. BY ABDURRAHMAN WAHID Friday, December 30, 2005 12:01 a.m. JAKARTA--News organizations report that Osama bin Laden has obtained a religious edict from a misguided Saudi cleric, justifying the use of nuclear weapons against America and the infliction of mass casualties. It requires great emotional strength to confront the potential ramifications of this fact. Yet can anyone doubt that those who joyfully incinerate the occupants of office buildings, commuter trains, hotels and nightclubs would leap at the chance to magnify their damage a thousandfold? Imagine the impact of a single nuclear bomb detonated in New York, London, Paris, Sydney or L.A.! What about two or three? The entire edifice of modern civilization is built on economic and echnological foundations that terrorists hope to collapse with nuclear attacks like so many fishing huts in the wake of a tsunami. Just two small, well-placed bombs devastated Bali's tourist economy in 2002 and sent much of its population back to the rice fields and out to sea, to fill their empty bellies. What would be the effect of a global economic crisis in the wake of attacks far more devastating than those of Bali or 9/11? It is time for people of good will from every faith and nation to recognize that a terrible danger threatens humanity. We cannot afford to continue "business as usual" in the face of this existential threat. Rather, we must set aside our international and partisan bickering, and join to confront the danger that lies before us. An extreme and perverse ideology in the minds of fanatics is what directly threatens us (specifically, ahhabi/Salafi ideology--a minority fundamentalist religious cult fueled by petrodollars). Yet underlying, enabling and exacerbating this threat of religious extremism is a global crisis of misunderstanding. All too many Muslims fail to grasp Islam, which teaches one to be lenient towards others and to understand their value systems, knowing that these are tolerated by Islam as a religion. The essence of Islam is encapsulated in the words of the Quran, "For you, your religion; for me, my religion." That is the essence of tolerance. Religious fanatics--either purposely or out of ignorance--pervert Islam into a dogma of intolerance, hatred and bloodshed. They justify their brutality with slogans such as "Islam is above everything else." They seek to intimidate and subdue anyone who does not share their extremist views, regardless of nationality or religion. While a few are quick to shed blood themselves, countless millions of others sympathize with their violent actions, or join in the complicity of silence. This crisis of misunderstanding--of Islam by Muslims themselves--is compounded by the failure of governments, people of other faiths, and the majority of well-intentioned Muslims to resist, isolate and discredit this dangerous ideology. The crisis thus afflicts Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with tragic consequences. Failure to understand the true nature of Islam permits the continued radicalization of Muslims world-wide, while blinding the rest of humanity to a solution which hides in plain sight. The most effective way to overcome Islamist extremism is to explain what Islam truly is to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Without that explanation, people will tend to accept the unrefuted extremist view-- further radicalizing Muslims, and turning the rest of the world against Islam itself. Accomplishing this task will be neither quick nor easy. In recent decades, Wahhabi/Salafi ideology has made substantial inroads throughout the Muslim world. Islamic fundamentalism has become a well- financed, multifaceted global movement that operates like a juggernaut in much of the developing world, and even among immigrant Muslim communities in the West. To neutralize the virulent ideology that underlies fundamentalist terrorism and threatens the very foundations of modern civilization, we must identify its advocates, understand their goals and strategies, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and effectively counter their every move. What we are talking about is nothing less than a global struggle for the soul of Islam. The Sunni (as opposed to Shiite) fundamentalists' goals generally include: claiming to restore the perfection of the early Islam practiced by Muhammad and his companions, who are known in Arabic as al-Salaf al-Salih, "the Righteous Ancestors"; establishing a utopian society based on these Salafi principles, by imposing their interpretation of Islamic law on all members of society; annihilating local variants of Islam in the name of authenticity and purity; transforming Islam from a personal faith into an authoritarian political system; establishing a pan-Islamic caliphate governed according to the strict tenets of Salafi Islam, and often conceived as stretching from Morocco to Indonesia and the Philippines; and, ultimately, bringing the entire world under the sway of their extremist ideology. Fundamentalist strategy is often simple as well as brilliant. Extremists are quick to drape themselves in the mantle of Islam and declare their opponents kafir, or infidels, and thus smooth the way for slaughtering nonfundamentalist Muslims. Their theology rests upon a simplistic, literal and highly selective reading of the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic traditions), through which they seek to entrap the world-wide Muslim community in the confines of their narrow ideological grasp. Expansionist by nature, most fundamentalist groups constantly probe for weakness and an opportunity to strike, at any time or place, to further their authoritarian goals. The armed ghazis (Islamic warriors) raiding from New York to Jakarta, Istanbul, Baghdad, London and Madrid are only the tip of the iceberg, forerunners of a vast and growing population that shares their radical views and ultimate objectives. The formidable strengths of this worldwide fundamentalist movement include: 1) An aggressive program with clear ideological and political goals; 2) immense funding from oil-rich Wahhabi sponsors; 3) the ability to distribute funds in impoverished areas to buy loyalty and power; 4) a claim to and aura of religious authenticity and Arab prestige; 5) an appeal to Islamic identity, pride and history; 6) an ability to blend into the much larger traditionalist masses and blur the distinction between moderate Islam and their brand of religious extremism; 7) full-time commitment by its agents/leadership; 8) networks of Islamic schools that propagate extremism; 9) the absence of organized opposition in the Islamic world; 10) a global network of fundamentalist imams who guide their flocks to extremism; 11) a well- oiled "machine" established to translate, publish and distribute Wahhabi/Salafi propaganda and disseminate its ideology throughout the world; 12) scholarships for locals to study in Saudi Arabia and return with degrees and indoctrination, to serve as future leaders; 13) the ability to cross national and cultural borders in the name of religion; 14) Internet communication; and 15) the reluctance of many national governments to supervise or control this entire process. We must employ effective strategies to counter each of these fundamentalist strengths. This can be accomplished only by bringing the combined weight of the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims, and the non-Muslim world, to bear in a coordinated global campaign whose goal is to resolve the crisis of misunderstanding that threatens to engulf our entire world. An effective counterstrategy must be based upon a realistic assessment of our own strengths and weaknesses in the face of religious extremism and terror. Disunity, of course, has proved fatal to countless human societies faced with a similar existential threat. A lack of seriousness in confronting the imminent danger is likewise often fatal. Those who seek to promote a peaceful and tolerant understanding of Islam must overcome the paralyzing effects of inertia, and harness a number of actual or potential strengths, which can play a key role in neutralizing fundamentalist ideology. These strengths not only are assets in the struggle with religious extremism, but in their mirror form they point to the weakness at the heart of fundamentalist ideology. They are: 1) Human dignity, which demands freedom of conscience and rejects the forced imposition of religious views; 2) the ability to mobilize immense resources to bring to bear on this problem, once it is identified and a global commitment is made to solve it; 3) the ability to leverage resources by supporting individuals and organizations that truly embrace a peaceful and tolerant Islam; 4) nearly 1,400 years of Islamic traditions and spirituality, which are inimical to fundamentalist ideology; 5) appeals to local and national- -as well as Islamic--culture/traditions/pride; 6) the power of the feminine spirit, and the fact that half of humanity consists of women, who have an inherent stake in the outcome of this struggle; 7) traditional and Sufi leadership and masses, who are not yet radicalized (strong numeric advantage: 85% to 90% of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims); 8) the ability to harness networks of Islamic schools to propagate a peaceful and tolerant Islam; 9) the natural tendency of like-minded people to work together when alerted to a common danger; 10) the ability to form a global network of like- minded individuals, organizations and opinion leaders to promote moderate and progressive ideas throughout the Muslim world; 11) the existence of a counterideology, in the form of traditional, Sufi and modern Islamic teachings, and the ability to translate such works into key languages; 12) the benefits of modernity, for all its flaws, and the widespread appeal of popular culture; 13) the ability to cross national and cultural borders in the name of religion; 14) Internet communications, to disseminate progressive views--linking and inspiring like-minded individuals and organizations throughout the world; 15) the nation-state; and 16) the universal human desire for freedom, justice and a better life for oneself and loved ones. Though potentially decisive, most of these advantages remain latent or diffuse, and require mobilization to be effective in confronting fundamentalist ideology. In addition, no effort to defeat religious extremism can succeed without ultimately cutting off the flow of petrodollars used to finance that extremism, from Leeds to Jakarta. Only by recognizing the problem, putting an end to the bickering within and between nation-states, and adopting a coherent long-term plan (executed with international leadership and commitment) can we begin to apply the brakes to the rampant spread of extremist ideas and hope to resolve the world's crisis of misunderstanding before the global economy and modern civilization itself begin to crumble in the face of truly devastating attacks. Muslims themselves can and must propagate an understanding of the "right" Islam, and thereby discredit extremist ideology. Yet to accomplish this task requires the understanding and support of like- minded individuals, organizations and governments throughout the world. Our goal must be to illuminate the hearts and minds of humanity, and offer a compelling alternate vision of Islam, one that banishes the fanatical ideology of hatred to the darkness from which it emerged. Mr. Wahid, former president of Indonesia, is patron and senior advisor to the LibForAll Foundation (, an Indonesian and U.S.-based nonprofit that works to reduce religious extremism and discredit the use of terrorism.

Islam united to stop Female Genital Mutilation

Finally!! Lets hope this translates on the ground. ani --------------------------------- afrol News, 9 November - Ministers, politicians and religious leaders from almost 50 Muslim states were gathered for two days in the Moroccan capital at the first Islamic childhood conference. The resulting "Rabat Declaration" puts special emphasis on female genital mutilation and other harmful practices discriminating girls, underlining it is against Islam. Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is also called female circumcision, is most widespread in sub-Saharan Muslim cultures, but Muslim scholars for decades have emphasised that there is no Islamic basis for the very harmful practice, which causes many deaths among young girls each year. The growing number of anti-FGM activists today found solid support among the most important decision-makers in the united Islamic world, united in Rabat. The first Islamic Conference of Ministers in Charge of Childhood - organised by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) - today issued a strong-worded declaration condemning FGM. The Rabat Declaration called upon all Muslim states to "take the necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls and all harmful traditional or customary practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation." The protection of children "from all forms of exploitation, abuse, torture and violence" was high on the Ministers' agenda. The Declaration urged all Muslim countries where FGM is practiced to act strongly against the non-Islamic tradition. Governments were asked to "enact and implement proper legislations and formulate, where appropriate, national plans, programmes and strategies protecting girls," the Declaration said in reference to the FGM practice. The other issue specially mentioned by the Ministers' declaration was the case of "honour" killings of girls, a practice that is more common in Asia than in Africa. The conference urged Muslim states to take "appropriate legislative and administrative measures and devise suitable programmes" to fight crimes against women and girls committed in the name of honour. Further issues high on the agenda in Rabat were the fight against poverty, preventable diseases and armed conflicts - issues that to a great degree victimise children in too many Muslim countries. "Necessary resources" needed to be allocated to the health system in the OIC countries, to enlarge access to social services, to secure good nutrition and to provide medical care to children, the Declaration said. Delegates had been reminded that an estimated 4.3 million children under five die each year from preventable disease and malnutrition in Islamic countries, while about 6 million children under five suffer from malnutrition in the form of stunted growth, about 23 percent of the total population have no access to safe drinking water, and 45 percent lack adequate sanitation. The progressive Declaration has already been welcomed by observers to the conference. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) found the OIC's call for an end to female genital mutilation an important step to fight the harmful practice. The Rabat Declaration "addresses head-on all of the major challenges confronting children in OIC countries and does so in a way that calls for action to be supported by ever greater Islamic solidarity," UNICEF Deputy Director Rima Salah told the closing session yesterday. The conference had been characterised by "frank and open discussions," UNICEF held. The declaration will be submitted to the next meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers and the next Islamic Summit, for adoption and support. With the support of the countries' ministers in charge of childhood, observers expect the Summit to pass the resolution by a large majority. By staff writer

God Loves Beauty Arts and Music Festival

This festival is an interfaith event I started up with Father Rick Byrum of St. James' Church in Los Angeles. We held the visual arts at the Islamic Center of Southern CA and the performing arts at the Church. Next year's festival will be held on April 23rd 2006 and will include Catholic and Jewish communities.

#1 on the Japanese Charts

Ani Zonneveld also contributed three songs to Yuki's latest album 'Joy'. #1 on the Japanese Charts for 3 weeks, and sold out concerts. (April 3, 2005)

Grammy Certified

NEWSFLASH!!!!! Ani's song entitled "One Friend" on artist Keb' Mo's album entitled "Keep It Simple" won the Grammy in the Contemporary Blues category, February 13th, 2005.

AIM Music Awards, Malaysia

AIM Awards (Malaysian equivalent of the Grammy) with #1 Asian singer Siti Nurhaliza and co-writer Zul

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singer / songwriter / producer / activist

I'm really excited about this new collection of songs in a new genre "Islamic Hymns". I'm co-writing & co-producing it with George Landress with backing vocal arrangement by Michael Mishaw. The music borrows from classical music with lots of choral arrangements. The lyrics is in English and Islamic in content. 

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