Dini ni mfumo wa maishani

Dini ni mfumo wa maishani

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

There are Many Great Muslim Footballers as well that Plays in different Top Teams of the World

List of Famous Muslim Football Soccer Players Football also Known As Soccer is the most Popular Sports of The World that is played and watched in almost every part of the World from Asia To America and From Africa To Europe. Recently FIFA Football World Cup 2010 also took place in South Africa that was won by the Spain. Football is also a Popular Sports in many Muslims Countries and their are some good Muslims Football teams and Players as well. Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia has good Football teams and thet have also took part in many World Cups There are Many Great Muslim Footballers as well that Plays in different Top Teams of the World. Mesut Ozil that is a famous Young German Player is also a Muslim and special thing about him is that he Recites Holy Quran before each match. According to him Reading Holy Quran Before matches gives him more power to play in match well. Following i am going to share the names of Some Famous Muslim Football Players. 1 Nicolas Anelka
He is French Footballer and was converted to Islam in 2004 and his Islamic Name is Bilal. 2 Franck Ribery
He is a famous French Footballer who also converted to Islam. His Islamic Name is Bilal Ahmed. 3 Zinedine Zidane
Zidane was also a great French Footballer who played Major role in France World Cup win in 1998. 4 Mesut Ozil
He is a Young Germany Footballer who is called next Diego. 5 Kolo Toure
He Plays For Arsenal Football Club and wishes to Become Role Model For British Muslim Youngsters. 6 Frederic Kanoute
He is a French Footballer and a Practicing Muslim. 7 Mehmet Scholl
He was famous Former Germany Football Player. 8 Christian Negouai
He is a French Footballer and a Muslim while having Name Christian. 9 Hakan Şükür
He was Former Great Turkish Football Player. There are many other great Muslim Football Players as well that are Practicing Muslim but above 9 are my Favourite ones. May Allah Swt Bless all these Players and give them more success.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Iran and Hezbollah issue warnings to Israel

Hezbollah chief Nasrallah says will retaliate to any Israeli aggression, while Iranian President calls state a 'tumour'.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad said that Israel was a 'cancerous tumour' that would one day cease to exist [EPA] Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon-based Hezbollah group, and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the Iranian president, have issued stern warnings to Israel, saying that any aggression on that country's part would be met with a swift armed response. Nasrallah, speaking during a televised address from Beirut on Friday, said that his fighters will make the lives of Israelis "a living hell" if it is attacked. "There are targets in occupied Palestine [Israel] which could be targeted by a small number of missiles," Nasrallah said. "If we are forced to use them to protect our people and our country, we will not hesitate to do so... and that will turn the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists into a living hell," he said in a speech marking al-Quds [Jerusalem] Day. Nasrallah warned that any conflict would involve "tens of thousands of deaths". He also said that if Israel were to undertake any military action over Iran's controversial nuclear programme, "the response will be enormous". Any such action would present Iran with "the opportunity it has been dreaming of" since it was founded in 1979, he said. Last month, an Israeli general warned that the Israeli military would respond "decisively" to any rocket attacks aimed at Tel Aviv. "If we get to another war, Israel will hit Hezbollah decisively, quickly, as fast as we can in order to stop the fire from Lebanon to Israel," Brigadier General Herzi Halevi, commander of the country's northern division, said at a briefing. He also said that towns in southern Lebanon used as launching bases for Hezbollah rocket attacks would be "destroyed". Israel and Lebanon are officially in a state of war, and the former fought a devastating war with Hezbollah in 2006. 'Cancerous tumour' Iranian President Ahmadinejad, speaking in Tehran, said that Israel was a "cancerous tumour" that would one day cease to exist. "Open your ears: there will be no Zionist regime and no United States [domination] in the new Middle East map," Ahmadinejad said. "The occupied territories should be fully returned to the Palestinians," the Iranian president told supporters at Tehran University. "Nobody in the world can say he is in favour of human rights and approve the Zionist regime." In Bahrain, meanwhile, police personnel clashed with protesters who attempted to hold their annual rallies marking al-Quds day. Several people were injured and others were arrested, after police fired teargas, stun grenades and birdshot rounds. The marking of al-Quds Day is a show of support for Palestinians over the disputed holy city of Jerusalem. It is an annual event first introduced in Iran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late supreme leader of Iran, in 1979. Nasrallah also spoke on Friday of the uprising in Syria, saying that leaders of Muslim-majority countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia were not doing enough to end the bloodshed there. Lebanon travel warnings Meanwhile, the governments of the United States and Turkey have asked their citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Lebanon, after a series of kidnappings in the country linked to the uprising in Syria. "The US embassy has received reports of an increased possibility of attacks against US citizens in Lebanon," the embassy said in a statement. "Possible threats include kidnapping, the potential for an upsurge in violence, the escalation of family or neighbourhood disputes, as well as US citizens being the target of terrorist attacks in Lebanon." The embassy also announced the suspension of the State Department's flagship Fulbright and English Language Fellow programmes in Lebanon, cutting short research projects and teaching grants for US university students and educators in Lebanon. The Turkish foreign ministry issued a similar warning on Friday. "It is deemed beneficial if our citizens avoid travelling to Lebanon unless absolutely necessary," said the ministry in a statement. The warning came after around 20 people, including one Turkish national, were taken hostage in Beirut on Wednesday and another Turkish national on Thursday, according to the ministry. Ankara said that it was continuing efforts at a multilateral level for the release of the two kidnapped citizens. Several Gulf countries have ordered their nationals to leave the country immediately in the face of threats, particularly against Saudis and Qataris whose governments are staunch opponents of the Syrian regime. On Friday, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) sought to relieve tensions by saying that it would aid the Lebanese Miqdad clan, who has carried out the kidnappings in response to the kidnapping of one of its members, in the search for the missing person. "We have our group of Free Syrian Army hostages and don't intend to take any more. But if our relative Hassan is killed in Syria, the first to be executed will be the Turk," warned spokesman Maher al-Miqdad. Hezbollah chief Nasrallah said his group was not responsible for the response to the abduction of the Lebanese Shias in Syria. "What happened was beyond the control of Hezbollah and [the] Amal [movement]," he said, On Friday, the Lebanese army said it was stepping up security at religious sites and other public places ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, in response to the tense security situation

Egypt's Morsi to make historic trip to Tehran

President Mohamed Morsi's state-media announced visit to Iran would mark first by Egyptian head of state since 1979.
Morsi, Egypt's first Islamist president, has been expected to improve ties with Tehran since his inauguration Egypt's state news agency has reported that President Mohamed Morsi will visit Iran to attend the Non-Aligned Movement meetings on August 30. MENA said Morsi's visit will be the first such visit by an Egyptian head of state to Tehran since the Iranian revolution of 1979. The agency quoted sources at the Egyptian presidency as saying on Saturday that Morsi "will participate in the summit" on his way back from China. Other Egyptian media reports have suggested Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate who won the poll in June, might send his newly appointed deputy, Mahmoud Mekki, instead. Egypt is the current head of the Non-Aligned Movement, founded during the Cold War to advocate the causes of the developing world. It is set to hand over the chairmanship to Iran in the Tehran meeting. Since Egypt's Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a popular uprising last year, Egypt and Iran have signalled interest in renewing ties severed more than 30 years ago after Iran's revolution that established the Islamic Republic and Egypt's recognition of Israel. However, with western governments pushing Iran to halt its disputed nuclear programme and the United States being a major donor to Egypt's military, any improvement in ties could become a tricky path to tread. Morsi said in June he would sue an Iranian news agency after it quoted him as saying he was interested in restoring relations with Tehran, although his aides later said the that interview was a fabrication. America responds Iran hailed Morsi's victory as an "Islamic Awakening", while Morsi himself is striving to reassure Egypt's western allies wary at the prospect of Islamist rule, and Gulf states that are deeply suspicious of Iranian influence. Richard Murphy, a former US assistant Secretary of State, told Al Jazeera that the US will likely not be pleased if Egyptian-Iranian relations are restored. "America has tried along with Europe to forge a system of isolation of Iran and avoid giving any prestige to the regime in Iran," Murphy said. "And [Iran’s] ability to host this Non-Aligned conference does add to its image internationally and that won’t make America happy." Egypt's formal recognition of Israel and Iran's revolution led in 1980 to the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two countries, among the biggest and most influential in the Middle East. They currently have reciprocal interest sections, but not at ambassadorial level. Egypt's former president Anwar Sadat received Iran's late Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi who fled Iran following the revolution, while one of Tehran's streets is named after the man who assassinated Sadat during a military parade in 1981.

Eid in Syria marred by fighting in Aleppo

New UN-Arab League envoy denies saying it is too soon for President Assad to step down as clashes continue across Syria.
Two children were among at least 19 people reported killed in shelling by the Syrian army, as clashes with rebels continued on the first day of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.
Activists said the children were killed on Sunday during continued shelling on the town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province.
The violence came as Lakhdar Brahimi, the new UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative in Syria, denied making comments that that it was too soon for Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, to step down.
In other parts of the country, troops were also reported to have bombarded the besieged city of Rastan, in the central province of Homs, and the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
Children across the Muslim world were set to receive new clothes and gifts for Eid,
but in Syria there was no respite from the bloodshed which the activists say has killed more than 23,000 people since March last year. "There is no holiday," said Mohammed Radwan, 34, standing near an apartment building in Aleppo's Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood, which was hit by an airstrike the day before. "The electricity comes and goes, the jets fire on us and no one has any work. All we'll do today is clean up the rocks and rubble." Elsewhere,
clashes raged in the Saif al-Dawla and Izaa districts of the northern city of Aleppo, a key battleground of the conflict since rebels seized large swathes from July 20.
Fierce fighting continued to rage between rebel fighters and government forces for control of Aleppo's international airport, a strategic target for both sides. Opposition forces said they were making gains in the city and were hopeful of capturing the airport, an important strategic target. Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, a former US state department military advisor, told Al Jazeera that the rebels have managed to persevere largely because of the nature of urban warfare. "As we always see in urban terrain, the advantages that are held by a technologically superior military, such as the Syrian army, those advantages of aircraft, of tank, those are in many ways neutralised inside a city," said Kimmitt. At least 137 people were killed across Syria on Saturday, including 63 civilians, 31 rebel fighters and 43 soldiers, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. 'Last chance to stay alive'
Amid the violence, Syria's state-run TV aired footage of President Bashar al-Assad performing Eid prayers in a mosque in Damascus on Sunday. It was his first appearance in public after a bombing in the Syrian capital last month that killed the country's defence minister and three other top security officials. The last time Assad appeared in public was on July 4 when he gave a speech in parliament. Assad's appearance comes amid much speculation on the whereabouts of Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa
, who was said by some members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to have defected to the opposition. On Saturday, his office denied the reports and said Sharaa "did not think, at any moment, of leaving the country". Sharaa did not appear in the footage at the mosque with Assad. Leaflet drop
Meanwhile, Syrian helicopters dropped leaflets over Aleppo urging residents not to shelter rebels and warning the FSA it had one last chance to surrender. Some of the leaflets dropped late Saturday, in what rebels and residents said was a first, were designed as official-looking checkpoints passes for supporters of the rebels wishing to surrender.
"The holder of this pass is allowed to cross security forces checkpoints to surrender. The holder of this pass will be well treated and reunited with his family after verifications are conducted," the leaflet read. Other more basic leaflets printed on pink or white paper urged the rebels to put down their weapons.
"Your last chance to stay alive is to give up your weapons because there is nothing you can do against the Syrian army," read one leaflet, in part.
The AFP news agency reported that fighters in Aleppo had laughed off the leaflets and continued to fight, saying that their next step is to take the out two remaining airforce bases, a radar station, and the new army headquarters in the province of Aleppo. UN mission The latest development came as the last 100 of 300 UN monitors who had been in the country prepared to leave Syria on Sunday. UN monitors wind up mission in Syria The UN observers' departure comes after the UN Security Council agreed to end the mission and support a small new liaison office that will support any future peace efforts. In an interview with Al Jazeera on Sunday, veteran Algerian diplomat Brahimi said that for him, it was "too early to have a say" on whether Assad should step down. "I could not talk about such a matter or any other matters unless I arrive in New York or Cairo to see what is the plan to be carried out," said Brahimi. Brahimi had been quoted by news agencies on Saturday as saying that it was too soon for Assad to step down, something he denies saying. Reports of the alleged comments had caused fury among Syrian dissidents and the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) described the comments as "unacceptable". "The revolutionary Syrian people were shocked and dismayed by Mr Lakhdar Brahimi's statements," the SNC said in a statement. "We call on the international envoy - who has not yet consulted with any Syrians on his appointment or his mission - to apologise to our people for taking this unacceptable position," it added. Brahimi told Al Jazeera that he has asked the SNC for an apology. "They should call and ask me to make sure if I said so," he said.

James K. Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in 1795

James K. Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in 1795. He graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina in 1818. As a young man he became a successful lawyer, entered politics and joined the Tennessee Legislature. Polk's political career progressed quickly. He served as the Speaker of The House of Representatives from 1835-1839. He served as governor of Tennessee afterwards. In 1844, Polk was elected president of the United States. He was an advocate of manifest destiny (western expansion) and supported the annexation of Texas, as well as acquisition of California and Oregon. Later that year, Polk negotiated a treaty with Great Britain which resulted in his country's acquisition of the Oregon Territory. Although Texas became the 31st state in 1845, the attempted acquisition of California resulted in the Mexican War. Polk initially offered to buy California and the New Mexico territory from Mexico for $20,000,000, plus forgiveness of other debts. The Mexican government refused, which prompted Polk to send general (and the next president) Zachary Taylor and his troops to the region. The Mexicans saw this as a sign of aggression and attacked Taylor's troops. Congress declared war and promptly defeated Mexican forces and occupied Mexico City. At the end of the war, Mexico agreed to give up California and the New Mexico territory for $15,000,000. The new lands increased the land mass of the American nation significantly. In failing health, Polk left the White House in 1849 (he never tried to win re-election). Only 103 days after his last as president, he died of Cholera in Nashville, Tennessee.

Arabian Horse Pictures and Information

There are several characteristics that set the Arabian horse afar from added breeds, the a lot of apparent getting their face. "The Arabian's arch has a appropriate dished contour with a arresting eye, ample adenoids and baby beaker cage (Byford, et al. Origination of the Arabian Breed)."
Arabian horses are able-bodied accepted for getting affectionate and bonding able-bodied with humans. Arabians accept aswell become the brand of best in the ability apple because of their backbone and agility. Due to their affable attributes and alertness to work, Arabians are a accepted best for advisory programs and ameliorative riding. It is alien whether the Arabian was aboriginal bare for plan or riding, but by 1500 B.C. the humans of the Middle East had calm the Arabian horse.
In 1725, Nathan Harrison of Virginia alien the aboriginal Arabian adolescent into the American colonies. In 1873, General Ulysses S. Grant was accustomed two blood Arabian stallions, Leopard and Lindentree, on a cruise to the Middle East by Sulton, Abdul Hamid II of Turkey. Leopard was again anesthetized to Randolph Huntington, who again alien two added stallions and two mares in 1888 from England. This became the aboriginal blood Arabian ancestry affairs in the United States. On September 2, 1908, the Arabian Horse Club of America, Inc. (now alleged the Arabian Horse Registry of America), was founded in New York State. It is now amid in Colorado. Arabian horses appear in abounding colors, grey, chestnut, bay, roan, brown, and occasionally black. A lot of Arabians angle amid 14.1 and 15.2 easily and counterbalance amid 800 and 1,000 pounds as adults.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Eid-Ul-Fitr - Day of Celebration and Reflection

In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful Assalamu Alaikum! As we celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, we ought to put it in mind that Sallah day is not merely a day of celebration alone, but it is also a day on which mankind should seek Allah's blessings and offer supplications to Him. Anas bn Malik (companion of the Prophet, pbuh) reported that Allah's messenger (pbuh) came to Madina while the people were engaged in an annual two-day game and the Prophet (pbuh) told the people of Madina that Allah has substituted something better for them, namely, the day of sacrifice (Eid-ul-Adha) and the day of breaking the fast (Eid-ul-Fitr). Accordingly, acts and celebrations of all kinds are allowed on Sallah day, provided they are in accordance with the Shari'a. Those that could lead to sin or contradict Allah's law or His Prophet's (pbuh) teachings are however not allowed. The Sallah after Ramadan Upon the sighting of a new moon on the 29th day of the month of Ramadan or after the 30th day of Ramadan fasting, the Eid-ul-Fitr celebration is held on the following day. Commenting on Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha, Umma Atiya (a female companion of the prophet, pbuh) enjoined young women, children, adult males and females, as well as menstruating women to participate in the goodness and supplications of Muslims by attending the Eid prayer; but the menstruating women are to refrain from the prayers. This means that no child or adult is exempted from the Eid prayer, which would normally be performed at an Eid praying ground on the outskirt of every town. This is the day of celebration when Muslims should come out en masse to show their number. The Eid prayer Eid prayer is two raka'at. The prayer is performed without Adhan and Iqama (the call to prayer and its beginning). Having formulated the intention (niyya), one utters Takbir - Allahu Akbar (Allah is great) seven times in the first raka'a and five times in the second raka'a. The recitation of the Qur'an (Fatiha and Surah) follows the Takbir. Bukhari reported in a hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) did not go out on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, unlike the day of Eid-ul-Adha, until he had had some food or dates. Therefore, it is recommended that Muslims should eat before going to the Eid-ul-fitr prayer ground. The Prophet (pbuh) used to perform the ritual bath before going to the Eid prayer ground. He used to recite Allahu Akbaru-Allahu Akbar; La'ilaha'illallah. Allahu Akbaru-Allahu Akbar; walillahil hamdu. (Allah is great, Allah is great. There is no deity worthy of worship except him. Allah is great, Allah is great, All praises are due to Allah) on his way from his house up to the Eid prayer ground and back. The above recitation is to be continued upon arrival at the Eid prayer ground until the prayer begins. After the prayer, the recitation is to be continued until one return to his home. The Imam will offer the Khutba (sermon) after the Eid prayer. He will stand facing the people, who should remain seated in their rows, as he preaches to them and exhort them. Listening to the sermon is as much Sunnah for all in attendance as the prayer. Bukhari and Muslim reported this as the practice of the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) used to offer two raka'at on his return home from the Eid prayer. Bukhari reported that Allah's Messenger (pbuh) would return home on an Eid day by a different route from the one he had taken when going out. The faithful are enjoined to follow the example of the Prophet (pbuh), that they may testify to the worship of Allah and make the splendor of Islam more prominent. The above rulings on Eid-ul-fitr are by no means exhaustive. Zakat-ul-fitr or Sadaqat-ul-Fitr (Fast breaking charity) This is an obligatory charity to be extended by all well-to-do Muslims before the prayer of Eid-ul-fitr. It is valid when given before the Eid prayer, or two or three days before the Sallah day. The essence is to enable the poor Muslims to participate in the celebration, who may otherwise have nothing to put on the table on a day that all Muslims should be celebrating. The Prophet (pbuh) enjoined Muslims to give out Zakat-ul-fitr to the poor, so that they are freed from going round begging on the day of Eid-ul-fitr. Allah's Messenger (pbuh) prescribed the Zakat-ul-fitr payable by a slave, freeman, a male and a female, the young and the old among the Muslims upon coming to an end of Ramadan fasting, before going to Eid prayers, as one Sa'i (about 2.5 kilogramme) of dried dates or barley for all the family members irrespective of age and commanded that this should be given out before the Eid prayer. Therefore, if there are ten members in a family for instance, it means ten Sa'i should be given. Zakat-ul-fitr is given out from the common food of a given community. We should fear Allah to give out Zakat-ul-fitr from what we can afford. The person that can afford rice, for example, should not give out maize. Ibn Abbas (companion of the Prophet, pbuh) reported that Allah's Messenger (pbuh) prescribed Zakat-ul-Fitr to purify the fasting person from empty and obscene talk and feed the poor. If anyone gives it before the Eid prayer, it will be accepted as Zakat. If given after the prayer, it is counted as sadaqa (alms). This hadith is considered sound by Al-Hakim. This implies that Sadaqat-ul-fitr (fast breaking charity) given after Eid prayer does not absolve one from the obligation of Zakat-ul-fitr, nor does one get the reward associated with it. However, the act shall not go in vain, as one will get the reward of an ordinary act of charity. Below are highlights of some mistakes which we might have committed during Ramadan and their rulings: • Anyone who eats, drinks, or engages in any other acts that break the fast - intentionally - between dawn and sunset during the month of Ramadan, has committed a grave sin (kabeera) and must repent before he dies. The punishment for this act is greater than kaffara (fasting for sixty consecutive days, feeding sixty needy people, or freeing a slave). Such a person must continue to seek Allah's forgiveness and has to sincerely repent and execute more nafil (voluntary worship) deeds, fasting, and other acts of worship to avoid shortfalls in his/her obligatory deeds, that Allah might accept his/her repentance. • Bukhari reported in a hadith that the Prophet (pbuh) said: "Whoever forgets while fasting and eats or drinks should complete his fast, for Allah has fed him and given him drink." He doesn't have to repay. • Having sexual intercourse during the day is a major offence during the month of Ramadan. Its punishment is either to fast sixty consecutive days, feed sixty needy people, or free a slave. If a person has intercourse during the day on more than one occasion during Ramadan, he must offer this expiation for each day as well as repeat the fast for each day. In line with questions of many readers; below are highlights of some permissible deeds in Ramadan, which may answer such questions: • The person that needs to break his/her fast to save someone whose life is in danger may do so, but should make up for it later. • It is permissible for one to kiss, hug, embrace, touch, or repeatedly look at his wife or concubine provided he controls himself. Bukhari and Muslim reported A'isha (wife of the Prophet, pbuh) in a hadith as saying that the Prophet (pbuh) used to kiss and embrace his wives whilst he was fasting, but firmly controlled his desire. Therefore a person that easily gets aroused and cannot control himself or herself is forbidden to kiss or embrace the opposite sex while fasting. • When the day breaks while a person is still in a state of Janaba (impurity following sexual intercourse), the person's fasting is not affected. • If a person that is fasting has a wet dream while asleep, the person's fasting is not affected. • The emission of wadiy or masiy (a thick and sticky substance emitted after urination with no sense of physical pleasure) does not break the fast. • According to a hadith reported by Tirmidhi, the Prophet (pbuh) said that, "whoever vomits unintentionally does not have to make up for the fast later on; but whoever vomits on purpose does have to make up for it." • Nose bleed does not break fasting because it is beyond one's control. • It is permissible to use siwaak (toothbrush) and is even Sunnah for the fasting person at all times of the day. If a person who is fasting uses siwaak, detecting and swallowing some taste from it does not break the fast. • Smelling pleasant fragrances, using perfume or applying scented creams and the like is permissible during fasting. • If a person breaks his/her fast thinking that the sun had set when it had not, the person must refrain from eating until the sun sets but it would not be necessary to make up for the fast. This brings our contribution on some rulings on the observances of the holy month of Ramadan, this year, to an end. We ask Allah to help us remember Him, thank Him properly, and earn His forgiveness with our Ramadan observances, that we may be saved from the hellfire and celebrate our Sallah peacefully with the fear of Allah. We also ask Allah to forgive us the mistakes we made in the course of writing this column and in our other deeds. We sincerely appreciate our readers' contributions to this work. Thank you very much; we shall, inshaAllah, come your way next year.

10 Secrets of the Vatican Exposed

Vatican City may have fewer than 1,000 citizens and span only 110 acres, but it also has a multimillion-dollar budget and an unbelievably complex history. Understanding how it all works requires parsing through centuries of religious texts. Is the Vatican confusing and mysterious? Is the Pope Catholic? Here’s a look behind the scenes.
1. Regular Exorcise! Baudelaire once said that “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” But in modern-day Vatican City, the devil is considered alive and well.
The former Pope John Paul II personally performed three exorcisms during his reign, and
the current Pope Benedict XVI is expanding the ranks of Catholic-sponsored exorcists throughout the world. In fact, Father Gabriele Amorth
, the Church’s chief exorcist,
claims to expel more than 300 demons a year from the confines of his Vatican office, and there are more than 350 exorcists operating on behalf of the Catholic Church in Italy alone.
Amorth also teaches bishops how to tell the difference between satanic possession and psychiatric illness, noting that those who suffer from the former seem to be particularly repulsed by the sight of holy water and the cross. 2. Where Thieves Go to Prey
With 1.5 crimes per citizen, Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world. It’s not that the cardinals are donning masks and repeatedly robbing the bank, it’s just that the massive crowds of tourists make Vatican City a pickpocket’s paradise. The situation is complicated by the fact that the Vatican has no working prison and only one judge. So most criminals are simply marched across the border into Italy, as part of a pact between the two countries. (The Vatican’s legal code is based on Italy’s, with some modifications regarding abortion and divorce.) Crimes that the Vatican sees fit to try itself—mainly shoplifting in its duty-free stores—are usually punished by temporarily revoking the troublemaker’s access to those areas. But not every crime involves theft. In 2007, the Vatican issued its first drug conviction after an employee was found with a few ounces of cocaine in his desk
3. The Worst ConfessionsSome sins are simply too much for a local bishop to forgive. While priests can absolve a sin as serious as murder (according to the Church), there are five specific sins that require absolution from the Apostolic Penitentiary. This secretive tribunal has met off and on for the past 830 years, but in January of 2009, for the first time ever, its members held a press conference to discuss their work. Three of the five sins they contemplate can only be committed by the clergy. If you’re a priest who breaks the seal of confession, a priest who offers confession to his own sexual partners, or a man who has directly participated in an abortion and wants to become a priest, then your case must go before the tribunal to receive absolution. The other two sins can be committed by anyone. The first, desecrating the Eucharist, is particularly bad because Catholics believe that the bread and wine transubstantiate into the body and blood of Christ. Messing with them is like messing with Jesus. And then, there’s the sin of attempting to assassinate the Pope. That one’s pretty self-explanatory. The meetings of the Apostolic Penitentiary are kept confidential because they’re a different form of confession. The sinner is referred to by a pseudonym, and only the Major Penitentiary, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, decides how the sin shall be dealt with. Presumably, a bunch of Hail Marys doesn’t cut it. 4. Read the Pope’s Mail
The Vatican Library. (Image credit: Flickr user Francesco Costa) The Vatican’s secret archives haven’t been truly secret since Pope Leo XIII first allowed scholars to visit in 1881. Today, it’s even more accessible. Outsiders are free to examine the correspondences of every pope for the past 1,000 years, although there is one catch: Guests have to know exactly what they’re looking for. With 52 miles of shelves in the archives, the librarians prohibit browsing. The most famous letter there is probably Henry VIII’s request that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon be annulled, which Pope Clement VII denied. Henry divorced Catherine anyway and married Anne Boleyn (and four other women), leading to Rome’s break with the Church of England. The archives also contain an abundance of red ribbons, which were used to bind 85 petitions from English clergyman and aristocrats. 5. The Pope Likes to Text Message Pope Benedict XVI routinely sends text messages of his homilies to mobile subscribers around the world, and in 2009, the Vatican opened up an official YouTube channel to show various Papal addresses and ceremonies. The Vatican even released an iPhone application that contains multilingual versions of the Breviary prayer book and the prayers of daily mass. But the Pope’s enthusiasm for technology isn’t limited to cell phones and the Internet. The Vatican has also added solar panels to the roof of the Pope Paul VI auditorium as part of its commitment to fight climate change. 6. They Have the Finest Swiss Bodyguards
(Image credit: Flickr user Robert Young) Nowadays, the Swiss have a reputation for pacifism, but back in the 1500s, they were considered an unstoppable military force. Swiss armies were renowned for the their mastery of a weapon called the halberd, a deadly combination of a spear and an axe, and their ground troops were famous for routinely demolishing legions of enemies on horseback. After Pope Julius II witnessed their ferocity in battle 500 years ago, he recruited a few soldiers to become his personal bodyguards. Ever since, Swiss Guards have pledged fidelity to the Pope, sometimes dying for the cause. During the sacking of Rome in 1527, for instance, three quarters of them were killed while providing cover for Pope Clement VII to escape. Today, the hundred or so members of the Swiss Guard spend most of their time bedecked in Renaissance garb, twirling their halberds in ceremonies or manning checkpoints around the Vatican. When the Guards are actually protecting the Pope, they wear plain clothes and carry distinctly modern weapons. 7. The Mafia Dipped into the Collection PlateIn The Godfather: Part III, a shady deal between the mafia and the Vatican leads to the murder of the Pope. Was this based on a true story? Possibly. On the morning of September 29, 1978, Pope John Paul I was found dead, sitting up in his bed, after only 33 days in office. Although Vatican officials claimed the 65-year-old pope died of a heart attack, there was never an autopsy, and at the time, the Vatican definitely had ties to organized crime.
Sure enough, in 1982, Vatican Bank president Father Paul Marcinkus resigned from his post after a series of scandals exposed the bank’s ties to the mafia.
Eventually, the bank had to repay more than $200 million to its creditors. But Marcinkus was never indicted of a crime. And though he was suspected of being involved in several mysterious deaths, including Pope John Paul I’s, Marcinkus successfully claimed diplomatic immunity in the United States and retired to Arizona in 1990. 8. There’s No Vice-Pope Once a cardinal becomes the Pope, he’s the designated leader of the Catholic Church and God’s representative on Earth for the rest of his life. As with Supreme Court justices, he can resign before his death, but that’s unlikely. (It’s been more than 500 years since the last papal resignation.) Further, as modern medicine improves, even seriously ill people tend to stick around longer, meaning that a Pope could be alive but unable to perform his duties for years, as was the case with John Paul II. What happens then? Well, no one is really sure. A cardinal can take over the Pope’s responsibilities as the Vatican’s head of state, but no one else is allowed to carry out his ceremonial duties. In the end, many masses and benedictions simply go unperformed until the Pope either passes away or recovers. 9. Faith-Based EconomicsThe Vatican needs several hundred million dollars per year to operate. Its many financial responsibilities include running international embassies, paying for the Pope’s travels around the world, maintaining ancient cathedrals, and donating considerable resources to schools, churches, and health care centers. So where does that money come from? Catholics pay tithes to their local parishes and donate about $100 million every year to the Vatican itself. But collection plates aren’t the Vatican’s only source of money. The city-state also gets cash from books, museums, stamps, and souvenir shops. (Get your limited-edition Vatican euros here!) But that’s not always enough. By the end of 2007, the city-state was $13.5 million in the hole. Part of the problem was the weakened American dollar, which translated into less purchasing power. Another contributing factor was the lackluster performance of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. To boost subscriptions, the Pope has asked the editor to spice up the layout with more photos and allowed him to cover world news stories in addition to the traditional religious fare. 10. Even the ATMs Are in Latin
(Image credit: Flickr user Seth Schoen) The Vatican Bank is the only bank in the world that allows ATM users to select Latin to perform transactions. That’s just one symbol of the Holy See’s continued devotion to the language. Pope Benedict XVI has been particularly passionate about reviving the language and purportedly holds many informal conversations in Latin. (Pope John Paul II generally spoke Polish.) The Vatican’s Latin Foundation tries to keep the language relevant by translating modern phrases into the ancient tongue. In 2003, they released an updated dictionary that included the terms “rush hour” (tempus maximae frequentiae) and “dishwasher” (escariorum lavatory). Interestingly, the translations can have serious consequences. A recent U.S. lawsuit was brought against the Vatican for conspiring to protect a child-molesting priest, and it was held up for months as the Church’s experts rejected the prosecuting team’s Latin translations of terms such as “conspiracy to commit fraud.”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pope, Saudi king, hold historic meeting

VATICAN CITY, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah held a historic meeting on Tuesday and discussed the situation of minority Christians in the Islamic country where the Vatican wants them to have more freedom. At the first meeting between a Pope and a Saudi monarch, the two also discussed the need for greater collaboration between Christians, Muslims and Jews and prospects for a Middle East peace. They spoke for about 30 minutes in the Pontiff's private study with the help of interpreters in what both the Vatican and reporters described as a cordial atmosphere. A Vatican statement said "the presence and hard work of Christians (in Saudi Arabia) was discussed" -- seen as a clear reference to the Vatican's concern over the Christian minority. Vatican sources said before the meeting that they expected the Pope to raise his concern over the situation of Catholics and other Christians in Saudi Arabia. The Vatican wants greater rights for the 1 million Catholics who live in Saudi Arabia, most of them migrant workers who are not allowed to practice their religion in public. They are only allowed to worship in private places, usually homes, and cannot wear signs of their faith in public. King Abdullah, custodian of Islam's holiest sites in the cities of Mecca and Medina, wore his traditional white robes. The Vatican said other topics discussed included inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue and "collaboration among Christians, Muslims and Jews for the promotion of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values, especially those which support the family". The Pope and the king also discussed the Middle East, particularly the need to find "a just solution to the conflicts that afflict the region, in particular the Israeli-Palestinian (conflict)". POPE GETS SWORD Muslims around the world protested last year after Benedict, speaking at a university in his native Germany, used a quote that associated Islam with violence. In that speech at a university in Regensburg in his native Germany, Benedict quoted the Byzantine emperor Manuel Paleologus as saying to a Muslim: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." The Pope later said he was misunderstood and has several times expressed esteem for Muslims. At the end of the meeting, the king gave the Pope a gold and silver sword studded with precious jewels, in keeping with a bedouin custom the Saudis also follow when foreign leaders visit their country. The king also presented Benedict with a small silver and gold statue depicting a palm tree and a man riding a camel. In an interview with Reuters on the eve of the meeting, the bishop in charge of Catholics in Saudi Arabia called on the country to guarantee more freedom and security for minority Christians and allow more priests in to minister to the faithful. "What I am hoping is that there can be more security and freedom for our people in a very low profile manner," said Bishop Paul Hinder, a Swiss national who is based in Abu Dhabi. "I am not expecting to be able to build a cathedral. But at least (we need) the freedom to worship in security," he said. Vatican officials often ask why church construction is banned in Saudi Arabia while Muslims can build mosques in Europe.