From coffee to cheques and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life. As a new exhibition opens, Paul Vallely nominates 20 of the most influential- and identifies the men of genius behind them

1 The story goes that an Arab named Khalid was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. Certainly the first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to…

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Giving preference to additional school lessons and extra mural activities over Madressah education is akin to favouring the Dunya over the Akhirah. These were the sentiments of a senior South African Mufti, commenting on the lack of enthusiasm amongst some learners in pursuing a primary Maktab education.

Speaking to Cii Radio's Ulama in Focus recently, Mufti Seraj Desai asserted the important role that parents needed to play in prioritising their children's Islamic educational requirements. Acknowledging the scarcity of learning time and the complicated trade-offs expected from parents and learners alike, he nonetheless argued that the contesting demands of the schooling…

Read more: 'Don't let extra-mural activities wreck your child's spiritual future'

What commercial and cultural propaganda presents as beautiful is rooted in ugly paganism but most blind followers do not know.

By Khalid Baig

There is a group of practices that we can consider as the twin sister of bid'ah. Like bid'ah they flourish on the twin foundations of ignorance and outside influence. Like bid'ah they entail rituals. But unlike bid'ah the rituals have not been given an Islamic face. They are followed because they are considered an acceptable cultural practice or the hottest imported "in" thing.

Most of those who indulge in them do not know what they are doing.…

Read more: Valentine Day, Birthdays, and Other Daze

Muslim Schools are complex institutions, comprising many dimensions and facets. From the members of the Boards of Governors, the management, the staff, the pupils and parents, Muslim Schools are institutions that incorporate all strata and shades of people from the community.
Unlike other Islamic educational institutions where homogenous (one) type of persons are found, the situation in Muslim Schools is not so. It is much more complex and comprehensive. Here people of different levels of understanding, abilities and piety get together. This naturally leads to a situation where a variety of problems are created. Added to this, Muslim Schools are…

Read more: MUSLIM SCHOOLS: LITTLE ISLANDS IN THE MIDST OF STORMY OCEANS

Books essential for freedom - Ramaphosa

Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday said that reading was essential for freedom and a better future.

"Books are essential for freedom... For a nation reading is a gateway to a different, better future," he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Youth Engagement Harare Library in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

"[Books] allow a person to break free from the chains of ignorance and intolerance... Literature is a powerful tool for social dialogue, cohesion and nation building."

Although the country had many good libraries and writers, only 14% of South…

Read more: Books essential for freedom - Ramaphosa