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Books and Documents

Islam, Women and Feminism

There were three allegations raised against the book. The first was that it departed from the teachings of Islam because it mentions that my protagonist is reading a novel titled "Christ Re-crucified" (whereas the Koran maintains that Jesus wasn't crucified in the first place, the editor). The second allegation is that I accuse anyone objecting to my "lecherous desires" of being joyless soldiers. And thirdly, it was claimed that I offended my mother in the novel, because they consider it an autobiography and think the mother mentioned in the book is identical with my real-life mother. -- Badriya Al-Bishrin, a Saudi writer in an interview with Christoph Dreyer

King, Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia was put forth this question by a TV commentator of a US network: “Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world in which women are not allowed to drive. It seems to be symbolic of a women’s lack of independence. Would you support allowing a woman to drive? ”The king’s response to the question at the time was: “I believe strongly in the rights of women… my mother is a woman, my sister is a woman, my daughter is a woman, and my wife is a woman. I believe the day will come when women drive. In fact, if you look at the areas in Saudi Arabia, the deserts and in the rural areas, you will find that women do drive. The issue will require patience. In time, I believe it will be possible. Yes, I believe we can. But it will require a little bit of time… Our people are just now beginning to open up to the world, and I believe that with the passing of days in the future everything is possible. -- Tariq A. Al Maeena

The fact remains that majority of the people did not even bother to learn the basic facts of the case, yet show strong emotional reactions when encountered with a counterargument. The writer of this article himself heard a prominent women rights activist declaring on Geo channel that she and Mukhtaran would be filing a rupee 10 crore suit each, against Duniya channel for airing a counter narrative. That is the level of tolerance of our liberal class which never misses an opportunity of criticizing religious intolerance. -- Waseem Altaf

Devout women contribute to public face of piety in contemporary Indonesia. Their search for spiritual knowledge, however, and the way they spread it in their families is quite different to the religious pattern of men. The search for spiritual knowledge of these women and the way they spread it in their families, is quite different to the religious pattern of men, who, partly because they have less time, think it enough to attend the mosque once a week. -- Susan Blackburn

 

The Arab Spring has proven an epochal period of activism and change for women, recalling the role of early feminists in the 1919 Egyptian movement for independence from Britain, or the important place of women in the Algerian Revolution. The sheer numbers of politically active women in this series of uprisings, however, dwarf their predecessors. That this female element in the Arab Spring has drawn so little comment in the West suggests that our own narratives of, and preoccupations with, the Arab world -- religion, fundamentalism, oil and Israel -- have blinded us to the big social forces that are altering the lives of 300 million people. -- Shahin and Juan Cole

If a non-Muslim woman is forced to wear a veil or abaya in a Muslim country, no violation of her religious injunctions is involved because nowhere is it said in a Hindu, Buddhist or Christian scripture that a woman should not wear veil or abaya. So Muslims are as justified in demanding that their women be allowed to wear burqa or purdah in a Western country as they are in enforcing Islamic dress code on non-Muslim women in a Muslim country. Should not one respect the laws of the land where he/she lives? Here again Muslims can and do demand exemption.-- James Paul

This so-called cultured western folk are growing exceedingly uncultured in relation to Islam - especially after they saw less impact on the importance of Islam in the West. Many European states have enacted fascist laws restricting Islamic faith. Safe sanctuary From burning of Holy Quran and fanatically filthy drawings on the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to removal of minarets, insulting women for wearing veil to attacking and injuring Muslims - the entire anti-Islamic world, especially the US and EU and their allies plus member states, have become a safe sanctuary of anti-Islamic fanatic leaders and fascist forces. -- Dr Abdul Ruff

Taking part in the raging debate over the ban on the Muslim veil that came into force in Nicolas Sarkozy’s France this week, a reader who identifies herself as “A Muslimah” writes: “Time and time again in ‘free, democratic’ societies women are manipulated and taught to believe that their freedom is directly linked to the removal of their clothing. Such emphasis has never been placed on men, though. It’s the removal of women’s clothing and not the choice to wear whatever they like that – women are brainwashed into believing – preserves their freedom, as is evident from this (French) ban on the veil.”  Her whole post deserves to be read by everyone, and widely shared. But I have to round it off with her closing lines: “Yet, those supporting the ban would have us believe Muslim women are the ones who are manipulated and suppressed. But it’s hardly surprising to see free societies ban women from covering their bodies. These are the nations in which women are used daily as mere commodities for buying and selling. The lands of the living Barbie dolls, where the daily objectification of women and young girls as sexual playthings has reached the mainstream. The female physique has become public property. Women must be on public display at all times.” -- Aijaz Zaka Syed

“The discrimination against women on a global basis is very often attributable to the declaration by religious leaders in Christianity, Islam, and other religions that women are inferior in the eyes of God,” former President Jimmy Carter said last week. Many traditions teach that while both men and women are equal in value, God has ordained specific roles for men and women. Those distinct duties often keep women out of leadership positions in their religious communities. What is religion’s role in gender discrimination?  “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Here, in Ephesians 5, attributed to St Paul, we have in a nutshell the church’s attitude to the respective positions of man and woman. The man’s role is to be the head, the woman’s to submit to him. The meaning is crystal clear, unmistakable; and yet, despite the fundamentalists who firmly believe such Iron Age prejudices still apply today, there are many liberal Christians who have the decency to cringe at the primitiveness of such instructions and who therefore bend over backwards to pretend they’re not as bad as they quite patently are. “Ah yes,” they say, “but Paul goes on to say that husbands must love their wives. -- Paula Kirby

A bare few months ago, Shabana, a famous Pashto dancer, was killed and her body left to rot in the middle of the town for days. Hundreds of schools have been burnt and tens of thousands of girls condemned to illiteracy in the wake of an insurgency that shows few signs of abating. Even educational institutions in cities like Multan, considered to be far from the reaches of the insurgency in the tribal areas, have, in recent days, received threats for allowing men and women to study together. Signs have been put up at restaurants in Quetta and markets in Swat prohibiting women from the premises. Unquestionably, as the women of the world commemorate the International Women’s Day tomorrow (March 8), the women of Pakistan have little to celebrate and even less to look forward to. Given this, it is crucial to recognise that the privatisation of Pakistani women and their systematic relegation to the private sphere is not an accidental by-product of the insurgency, but an integral component of it. -- Rafia Zakaria

Islam did not introduce veiling or seclusion to the Arab region, nor are these institutions indigenous to Arabs. Strict seclusion enforced by eunuchs and the veiling of women were fully in place in Byzantine society some evidence indicates that in the south western Arab region, only two clan ( the Banu Isma’il and Banu Qahtan )  may have practiced some form of female veiling in pre- Islamic times. No seclusion or veiling existed in ancient Egypt either, although according to one reference some women may have been using a head veil in public in the later period, during the reign of Remises  III (20th dynasty ) . -- Sadat A. Khan

 

The women of the Prophet’s time enjoyed the full range of rights and freedoms that Allah and the Prophet allowed them. There were many prominent Muslim women in that generation who were outspoken and contributed to building the Islamic society. Their names have been recorded. Quran is insistent on the full participation of women in society and in the religious practices. The history of Muslims is rich with women of great achievements in all walks of life from as early as the seventh century. Since the beginning of Islam, Muslim women have made strong contributions in the development of Islamic Societies. -- By Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi

For Turkish women the killing never stops

A woman leading change in Yemen

Don’t try to control our lives, say Saudi women

Saudi women follow developments in Libya with concern

The 'Arab Spring': A new era of change, risk

The way forward: True gender equality

Istanbul Modern Cinema celebrates Women’s Day with special film program

Women's employment and conservatism

Something rotten about the state of press freedom in Turkey

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Lebanese women from Hariri's Future Movement wave national flag at the seafront road where former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a suicide bombing in 2005, as they celebrate International Women's Day, in Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday

 

In the raucous crowd, she stepped on a water jug to catch a glimpse of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, who had stood with the demonstrators before Hosni Mubarak was ousted as President. “I see him! I am really happy!” she exclaimed, beaming, one voice among thousands. “Raise your head high, you are Egyptian!” they chanted. Egypt's popular revolution was the work of men and women, bringing together housewives and fruit sellers, businesswomen and students. At its height, roughly one-quarter of the million protesters who poured into the square each day were women. Veiled and unveiled women shouted, fought and slept in the streets alongside men, upending traditional expectations of their behavior. The challenge now, activists in Cairo say, is to make sure that women maintain their involvement as the nation lurches forward, so that their contribution to the revolution is not forgotten. -- Sharon Otterman

 

Arab women have often been stereotyped as passive, voiceless, politically apathetic and religiously repressed. But scenes around the Middle East have complicated preconceptions, with women seen as active political players in trade unions, grass roots activism and other political organisations. On Tuesday's Riz Khan we discussed how Arab women have long been committed to fighting for a more equitable society. We were joined by Rabab al-Mahdi, a professor of political science at the American University in Cairo; Frances Hasso, a professor of Women's Studies at Duke University; and Nadje al-Ali, a social anthropologist at the University of London. – Al-Jazeera

 

Video: Riz Khan hosts debate on Arab feminism for Al-Jazeera

 

The protection and security of women in the society can be ensured only when we have the same degree of sympathy for the life of others as our own kin. The dowry murders are committed because people do not value the life of the daughters of others more than material things. Islam established a system that gave importance to moral values more than anything else and the killing of an innocent human being was declared the killing of the entire humanity. The practice of burying alive or killing of daughters was banned. -- Izharul Islam Hashmi, NewAgeIslam.com

Unknown heartless men threw acid on two orphan and real sisters in Killi Hashim of Tehsil Dalbandin in Chagai district in April 2010 when they came out of their home to purchase some domestic items from nearby shop. After three weeks, another acid throwing incident occurred in Kalat district, in which unidentified men riding on bike hurled acid on three girls identified as Saima, 08, Shakila, 14, and Fatima, 20. All these victim girls received burn injuries in their face and body. It is pertinent to mention here that a banned organization claimed for responsibility of throwing acid on these girls, warning other women that they would have to face such ruthless attacks if they come out of their homes without their any relative. Although, the government took notice of the cruelty but no accused of the heinous crime was arrested so far while the incident created panic amongst women. – From A report compiled by Javaria Tareen

The "Islamic feminist", as she defines herself, is working on a "Third Way" that is clearly distinct from fundamentalism and based on humanist ideals that she finds in the Koran. The holy book, says Lamrabet, speaks of women's autonomy and right to freedom. To date, she claims, the Koran has only been interpreted on a "patriarchal and discriminatory" basis, bringing Catholic liberation theology into the equation.

"We have to free religion from political aspects," is Lamrabet's call. In her view, it was political Islam, Islamism, that first made faith a source of oppression. For her, feminism is a universal approach, which she has adopted from within the context of the Islamic state of Morocco. -- Wolf-Dieter Vogel

A community whose leadership is given to women is destined to doom

Earlier this month (03.01.2011) night, in a Peace TV program, a questioner asked one Maulana (not Dr. Zakir Naik but a traditional Maulana without a suit) this question: “In view of a Hadith (quoted verbatim by him) describing woman as fitna, how far was it right for the Muslim woman to become MLA or MP?” The Maulana replied that it was un-Islamic for a woman to become MLA or MP especially in view of other Hadith (again quoted) in which it has been told that a ‘qaum’ (community) whose leadership is given to women is destined to doom. ...

But the Maulana hit the nail on the head when he stated another Hadith which says that a ‘qaum’ whose leadership is given to women is destined to doom. This statement is generic and not specific. It contains a principle which can be interpreted comprehensively to give shape to a society as a whole.  This is the correct sociological statement of Islam. Islam does give primacy to men to run the affairs of the society. Let me speak a rustic tongue. It is either man or woman (the position of eminence). Why not man? Why should I give the reins to a woman, even if she is my mother? I will bow to her feet out of respect and love, but why should I jeopardize the whole family including her, by giving her the reins. -- Manzoorul Haque, NewAgeIslam.com

Sir Syed’s perseverance with modernism and modern education caused Muslims of that time to he was “England-obsessed”; they blamed him for emulating the English and not the Arabs. Yet this great visionary was ahead of his time, and was aware of the importance of women’s education in modern India. It topped his agenda: the very first Siddons Club debate was held on the subject of female education. “The first Vice President of the students’ union was Khwaja Sajjad Husain, and the first secretary Syed Muhammad Ali, both staunch supporters of female education,” writes AMU PRO Rahat Abrar, in his book on female education. In early 20th century India, when home tuition was the best Indians could think of for their girls, AMU was producing graduate and post-graduate women. The first post-graduate women passed out of AMU some 85 years ago, in 1925. The first chancellor of the university, Sultan Jahan Begum, also happened to be a woman. – Arfa Khanum Sherwani

Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) life was characterised by gentleness and forgiveness. He repeatedly suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hands of individuals and groups, but his response was not militancy but clemency. Muslims know the Taif incident in which Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was jeered at and injured with rocks and the angel Gabriel came to him and said that if Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) wanted, the people of Taif could be destroyed. But Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) prayed for his own relationship with the Almighty rather than making death wishes for the people of Taif.

Another current day ludicrous event is the arrest of Dr Naushad Valiyani, again on charges of blasphemy, this time for throwing the business card of a pharmaceutical representative named Muhammad Faizan in the trashcan. Dr Valiyani is an Ismaili, another minority Shia community in Pakistan. If this perverse logic is to be extrapolated, no one with the name of Muhammad, which happens to be the most common in the world, should be punished, reprimanded or questioned for it would activate the blasphemy laws. ... It is not Aasia Bibi who deserves to die or Dr Valiyani who merits persecution; not only should there be a repeal of the blasphemy laws, Pakistan needs an ultra-rapid detoxification from its rabid mullahs that have hijacked Islam and misrepresented the Prophet (PBUH). They are the true blasphemers. -- Mahjabeen Islam

If you can't kill the snake, try taking out the sting. Sherry Rehman's proposed changes aim to take out most of the venom. I think a government besieged from all corners cannot be expected to even amend these laws. A government led by Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) is not likely to take up this cause. Other than PPP, Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement, no party can be expected to join hands to alter these laws. And, right now even that is not possible.”

This is a widely held view. “I don't think our federal government, which is presently hostage to ethnic and sectarian militants, would even think of preventing misuse of the blasphemy law by incorporating necessary amendments in section 295C of PPC or consider adopting administrative measures to prevent this rampant misuse of blasphemy law in Pakistan to satisfy all kinds of prejudices of the complainants in vast majority of cases. This is unfortunately a most painful state of affairs,” laments Mr. Haider who, as part of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Cabinet, had attempted to amend the law in 1994 in vain. -- Anita Joshua

Photo: Aasia Bibi

 

The case of Aasia Noreen aka Aasia Bibi illustrates how far Pakistan has to go to secure freedoms for its religious minorities. Christians and Hindus are not the only minorities who are persecuted for their beliefs but it is also Muslim minorities such as the Ismailis, Ahmadis, and Shiites who are routinely harassed, discriminated and also killed. Sadly, it is the case of Aasia Bibi that has brought some much needed attention to Pakistan’s sad state of affairs towards the treatment of its religious minorities.

Several sections of Pakistan’s Criminal Code consist of its blasphemy laws and of all the Muslim countries of the world that have anti-blasphemy laws, Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws are by far the strictest. There is section 295 that forbids damaging or defiling a place of worship or a sacred object. Then there is section 295-A that “forbids outraging religious feelings.” There is also 295-B which prohibits defiling the Qu’ran and was originally punishable by life imprisonment but has since been amended to up to three years imprisonment. -- Manzer Munir

Tony Blair’s sister-in-law announced her conversion to Islam last weekend. Journalist Lauren Booth embraced the faith after what she describes as a ‘holy experience’ in Iran. She is just one of a growing number of modern British career women to do so. Here, writer EVE AHMED, who was raised as a Muslim before rejecting the faith, explores the reasons why. Daily mail reporter, Rejecting her faith: Writer Eve Ahmed was raised a Muslim

Much of my childhood was spent trying to escape ¬Islam. Born in London to an English mother and a ¬Pakistani Muslim father, I was brought up to follow my father’s faith without question. But, privately, I hated it. The minute I left home for university at the age of 18, I abandoned it altogether. As far as I was concerned, being a Muslim meant hearing the word ‘No’ over and over again. Girls from my background were barred from so many of the things my English friends took for granted. Indeed, it seemed to me that almost anything fun was haram, or forbidden, to girls like me.--Daily Mail Reporter Eve Ahmed

Photo: Changing values Camilla Leyland, 32, pictured in Western and Muslim dress, converted to Islam in her mid-20s for 'intellectual and feminist reasons'.

Experts believe that violence directly contributes towards low indicators of human development including low intelligence. If today, the clergy of Pakistan accuses the women of low intelligence and calls them unfit to run the affairs of the country; they should blame themselves for it since low intelligence among the women of Pakistan is not a biological defect but a malfunction deliberately caused by the male-dominated society to enslave the women. Lack of literacy and awareness, ensuing in the wrong interpretation of Islamic scriptures, has created a society where women often live like a pariah. In the name of upholding Islamic principles and moral values, the male-dominant illiterate society often forces the women to remain secluded within the four walls of their homes and subjugated to their men folk. Many customs including honor killing which are adopted by men as social norms basically encourages crime against women.

Pakistan is signatory to the United Nations convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women which guarantees equality for both genders in the society. Yet more than seventy percent of Pakistani women continue to face violence in the form of injuries, death, honor killing, forced nude display in public, molestation, acid burns, mutilation, rape, social boycott, harassment during professional duties, denial of monetary assistance, and discrimination in educational and health institutions and businesses.[1] Women in many parts of the country continue to face death on mere suspicions of having illicit relation or daring to challenge the norms of the man-dominated society. The situation has compelled many women to abandon education and professions to save their lives. -- MEP Ryszard Czarnecki, Member, European Parliament, Vice-Chairman, Friends of Gilgit-Baltistan, speaking in  a Debate Organized by Friends of Gilgit-Baltistan (FOGB): A Caucus of the European Union Parliament, Brussels on November 30, 2010.

 


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NEW COMMENTS

  • Nice bhai and right.
    ( By Md samir ansari )
  • Very sensible and prudent column.
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
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    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
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    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • UN has lost its credibility. It is simply a forum of debate. Hardly does...
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  • Adopting Christianity means adopting true religion of Allah.
    ( By Mahender Kumar )
  • Islam promotes violence ......etc against Khafirs.
    ( By Dr.A.Anburaj )
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  • Saying that Islam emphasized education is hardly hubris except in the...
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  • کیوں نہ اہل ذکر سے مراد ماہرین لئیے جائیں یعنی جب بھی کوئی مسئلہ ہو اس علم کے ماہر سے پعچھع
    ( By qasim raza Tirmiz zi )
  • it is time for muslims globally - not just in india) to get out of their superiority...
    ( By hats off! )
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    ( By Dr. Sharifah Munirah Alatas )
  • Good article! The author talks sense.
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Hats Off hates any Muslim who favors peace, education and modernization....
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    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
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    ( By hats off! )
  • Very interesting discussion, specially the brand new concept of "duty-free divorce." But....
    ( By Sultan Shahin )
  • No doubt, debate on Islamic ideologies must happen.
    ( By gholam ghouse )
  • I appreciate your thoughts.
    ( By Usha Jha )
  • If this is a religion of peace, then why is it not believed so by Jihadists and some Extremist non Muslims?,...
    ( By Talha )
  • These terrorists are weakening Muslims and therefore are playing the role of agents of anti-Islamic elements. '
    ( By Anjum )
  • لإخوان يستحلون قتل المخالف ولو كان ضعيفا محروما مقهورا، وفي أقل الأحوال يعملون على تشويهه وتقديم المبررات لاغتياله. '
    ( By عادل الشعبی )
  • Asking Zakir Naik to stop belittling the religions of others is tantamount to defanging him! He knows nothing else!
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Personal and family laws should be the responsibility of civil society. Religious scholars should keep out of....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • The United Kashmir Peoples National Party (UKPN) advocates a united...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Next move should be to bring the RSS on the path of Gandhi and Nehru...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • It is not just Arab wealth. It is also Arab racism. The Prophet's last sermon....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
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    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
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    ( By hats off! )
  • Ilhan Omar never said she represents all Muslims, or even Muslims....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
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    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
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    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin Faruki )
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  • are kafir admi ye Sarah edan BHI Muslim Nahi hai yahudi hai
    ( By Syed Mohammad Faizan )
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    ( By dr.A.Anburaj )
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    ( By Aayina )