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Books and Documents

Islam, Women and Feminism

Violence against Arab women in Gaza increases?

Indonesia's religious police on hemline frontline:

Citizens stopped for wearing "un-Islamic" clothes

Female Afghan police: good sign of progress

Saudi women at the forefront in all fields: Expat educationist

Hamas encourages Gaza women to follow Islamic code

Iraqi women: A story of injustice through decades

Israeli feminist issue or excuse for anti-Zionism?

The caged and the saved: finding feminism in the Islamic world

Monash: Muslim girl power in the gym

SAUDI ARABIA: 'Polygamy for women' article sparks public row in Egypt, Muslim world

Compiled by Aman Quadri

Photo: Hatem Moussa -- member of PFLP in Gaza (A.P)

 

To add to this is the fear that taking up Muslim women’s concerns might invite the opposition of conservative Ulema or Muslim clerics and stoke inter-communal controversy. This sidelining by ‘secular’ women’s groups of Muslim women’s concerns has been compounded by the tendency, boosted by the state, conservative Muslim leaders and the Hindu Right, to perceive Muslims solely in religious terms. Because of this, often ‘secular’ women’s groups interventions with regard to Muslim women focus simply on issues related to their religious identity (especially, certain aspects of Muslim Personal Law that are seen to militate against women), rather than on their manifold social, economic, and educational problems and concerns. -- Yoginder Sikand

Egypt University to appeal niqab ruling: Supreme Court Allows female students to don the full face veil on campus dormitories

Indonesia: Will women still be bargaining chips?

Photo: Cairo University students wear the niqab

It is agreed that in a diverse country like ours Muslims are not a monolithic community. There are Urdu speaking Muslims, just as there are Tamil Muslims and Bengali Muslims. There are Sunnis, Shias, low castes and OBCs. And then there are men, women and the youth including girls and boys. Apart from faith there is another common factor that has acquired a huge importance in recent times. It is about how they are perceived by the larger world as a community: “Muslims are dirty; Muslims are backward; Muslims are not patriotic; Muslims are terrorists.”

While the challenges faced by the community are of Herculean proportions, the fractured Muslim leadership neither has the commitment nor the competence to address these problems. They are obsessed with non-substantive and seemingly emotive issues. Unfortunately, it suits various Governments that no real demands are made for education, jobs, financial assistance, health facilities, security, etc. All that the latter have to do is to pander to these dubious elements and thus “take care” of almost 15% of the Indian population. The community has paid a huge price because of this. -- Zakia Soman

It is generally thought that movement for women’s rights began with western educated people and in 19th century. But very few people know about Maulavi Mumtaz Ali Khan, a traditional ‘alim, product of Darul ‘Uloom Deoband who was very enthusiastic supporters of gender equality. There are two things to be noted here: one, he was a traditional ‘alim and was not under the influence of western thought and two, he was advocating gender equality purely on the basis of Islamic traditional sources i.e. Qur’an and hadith.

The Maulavi was enthusiastic supporter of women’s rights and was one of the colleagues of Sir Syed. However, Sir Syed had lot of trouble on his hand due to his campaign for a modern educational institution for north Indian Muslims. He was facing stiff resistance from orthodox ‘ulama and did not want more trouble and so he advised Mumtaz Ali Khan not to publish his book Huququn Niswan the manuscript of which he showed to the Syed. However, the Maulavi was very enthusiastic about women’s rights and wanted to educate Muslim men and women and went ahead with its publication.

 Huququn Niswan, I dare say without any exaggeration, is like charter of rights for Muslim women. Mumtaz Ali Khan proves from Qur’an through his interpretations of relevant Qur’anic verses that men and women have equal rights and that women have no authority over women, as believed by Muslim men. This book, because of its advocacy of women’s rights, soon went into oblivion and was not available. -- Asghar Ali Engineer

 [Huququn Niswan is currently being serialized in New Age Islam, courtesy: Daily Sahafat, Mumbai.]

 

Based in New Delhi, Zakia Nizami Soman is one of the founder members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan(BMMA), a movement of Muslim women across India struggling for their citizenship rights.  In this interview with Yoginder Sikand, she talks about the BMMA's work and reflects on the daunting challenges facing Muslim women in India today.

Philippines massacre: women thought they were safe. They were wrong

Progressive Women Protest Billboard for 7th Day Regardless of Male Bullies

Overly hairy woman charges job descrimination in lawsuit

'Gender Jihad' in the Service of Women's Rights

How a Muslim became a \'co-worker\' of Blessed Teresa

A Woman's Act...Brief Report on the VIII Women Playwrights Conference, Mumbai 2009

Multicultural Crime Blotter: Male Medics, Police Touch Muslim Women

The Hajj and Women's Dress

Muslim women seek even playing field in football

KARACHI: Women police station opened

Hazrat Hajira in tradition

Alex Scott launches Muslim women’s sport project

Book Review: Position of women under Islamic Law

Trouser woman: I may not return to Sudan

Report: Women Face Rampant Abuse

Photo: Indian film actress Katrina Kaif on her recent and previous visit to Ajmer

 

Mosques and burqas stir opposition in Europe

Malaysian woman tries to reverse Muslim conversion

Malaysian ‘Muslim’ woman battles to be declared Hindu

French foreign minister praises courage of Sudan’s trouser journalist

Muslim woman faces hate in US over Fort Hood shooting

Plea over Saudi 'witchcraft' case

Hindu woman fights claim that she converted to Islam

SAAYA holds program to create awareness among Muslim women about govt. welfare schemes

Philippine 'monsters' murdered pregnant women: relative

Fair share of women at Afghan pavilion

Photo: Natasha Fatah at the King Fahd mosque in Buenos Aires. Not her usual attire.

Millions of Saudis, of course, still adhere to the strict religious and social conservatism that dates to the 18th century pact made between Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a puritanical preacher, and the founder of the Saud dynasty Mohammed ibn Saud. And many conservatives resent the social changes the King is pushing. "Those around King Abdullah use his peaceful positions to impose secular values," says conservative cleric Mohsen al-Awajy. "But Saudi society is a special, tribal society, and neither King Abdullah or anyone else can impose his own interpretation of Islam. They can do nothing without Islam. There is no Saudi Arabia without Islam. There is no royal family without Islam." (Read: "Pope Benedict's Latest Take on Islam."). There's evidence, too, that many women don't want radical change. A government poll in 2006 — one of the few attempts to gauge women's opinions — found that 86% thought women shouldn't work in a mixed environment, and 89% agreed women shouldn't drive. Iman al-Alqeel, the editor of Hayat, a conservative magazine for girls, says most of her readers find the thought of working or studying around boys and men intimidating. -- Andrew Lee Butters

 

"NIQAB" NOT MANDATORY

While identifying the paarts of a woman’s body which should be covered, the Qur’an also gives us evidence to refute the claim of those who associate "Niqab" (Veils, face covers) as an ingredient of a woman’s dress code ordained by Allah. THE EXAMPLE OF MARY the mother of Jesus (p) is mentioned in the Qur'an as the woman chosen and purified above all the women of all the worlds. "And when the angels said: O Mary! Surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of all the worlds." (3:42). She has been acalled as an example for the believers and her conduct is called to exemplify: "And Allah sets forth an example to those who believe . . . Mary, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, so we breathed into her of Our inspiration and she accepted the truth of the words of her Sustainer and His books, and she was of, the obedient ones. (66:11-12). -- Ahlul Bait News Agencya

 

Row over hijab for MPs divides Kuwait: The issue of female ministers and MPs not wearing hijabs in the national assembly has grated with Islamists ever since women received full political rights in 2005.

Burka denies equality to women

Women wore trousers and no headscarf

BHUBANESWAR: Muslim women rally for Hindu victims

In service of Muslim women

Life after talaq: Orissa women want to be included in BPL list

Photo: Female MPs Salwa al Jassar, left; Rola Dashti, centre; Massuma al Mubarak, right; and Aseel al Awadhi, top; at a parliament session in Kuwait City. Yasser al Zayyat

Women Never Forced to Wear ‘Niqab’: Grand Mufti of Dubai

Burka should be woman's choice

Lucknow, India:  Muslim Women Workout At Gyms

Indian Muslim women for empowerment

Lucknow: More women in Muslim body sparks row

Azerbaijan gave voting right to women in 1918: conference

Malaysian women: Islam, secularism, ethnicity debates continue

Afghan Women's Freedom In Jeopardy

 

No covering up Egypt's niqab row: There have been demonstrations by women students in Cairo after a leading cleric backed moves to ban the wearing of full women's veils, known as the niqab, in classrooms or dormitories.

Women Choosing Full-Face Veil Has Egyptian Authorities Worried

Italy Wants to Prosecute Burqa Women

Unlike other countries in West Asia, Syria is the only Arab country that has not closed its borders with Iraq. In fact it continues to extend sympathetic support to refugees fleeing from death and persecution in that war-torn nation. But the high numbers of refugees has put a significant strain on Syria's economy as well as on its education and health infrastructure, which are open to all refugees. "The Iraqi refugees have all basic rights except for two - the right to vote and the right to work," says Kinda, a former registration clerk at the main Refugee Registration Centre situated on the outskirts of Damascus. "Unable to work legally, they can get exploited and the most vulnerable are the women and children who are forced into survival sex or child labour," she observes. -- Nitin Jugran Bahuguna

 

Unfortunately, the pressure generated by Muslim fundamentalists through ‘secular’ media effectively compelled Katju (Supreme Court judge) to publicly backtrack from his progressive position….The debate over religious symbols in secularized classrooms has been hugely problematic for the secular state of India. Authorities have feigned helplessness in their inability to strictly enforce secular ethos in a highly religious society. Such argumentation is actually a smokescreen for hiding the intimidating instincts of Semitic faiths who unlike Hinduism theoretically and otherwise do not differentiate between public and private spaces.

 Islamists including India’s first education minister, Maulana Azad used to gloat on how their presumably totalitarian religion controls not only every aspect of life but also politics. No wonder, the sense of ‘denial’ of their religious freedom in secularized spaces emerges most vociferously from Muslim quarters. ‘Secularists’ and ‘liberals’ reinforce such regressive attitudes by politics of appeasement. In contrast, majority Hindus whose children of all ages routinely face hostility, abuse and even corporal punishment for wearing anything from bindis to kumkum in certain Christian institutions have not shown any willingness for organized protest. Neither have any liberals spoken for them. -- Saurav Basu

 

The building consensus against Muslims in Europe is legitimized by the notion that European modernity has to be defended against a medieval religion and its violent adherents. Since racism and religious bigotry aren’t respectable any more, white Europe is now defended in the name of the Enlightenment. Muslims and their faith are unwelcome intrusions because they don’t conform to rationality, to democracy, to science and most of all because they deny the West’s greatest modern achievement, the emancipation of women. -- Mukul Kesavan

 

We find even more shocking ahadith ascribed to the Prophet regarding women. One such hadith found in Sahih Bukhari and narrated by Sahl ibn Sa’d which says “Evil omen was mentioned before the Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH) said, “If there are evil women in anything, it is in the house, the woman and the horse.”

This was prevailing social attitudes of men towards women which made them create such ahadith so that they could rule over them and women could not use Qur’an to claim equality with men. Qur’an was revealed to the prophet so that he could give equal dignity and status to women but society was not prepared for this in any case and sought to lower the status of women by producing such ahadith as they could not temper with the Qur’an they used another weapon to bring down status of women.

It is unfortunate that still our Ulama are not prepared to critically evaluate these anti-women ahadith. On the contrary they keep on quoting them to keep status of women lower in the society and under the thumb of women. It is precisely for this reason that non-Muslims think very adversely about Islam and how Islam has ‘suppressed’ dignity and status of women. -- Asghar Ali Engineer

Studies show that it is better to have a quota for women in Parliament

In the current Pakistani Parliament, there are 75 women in the 342-seat National Assembly — 60 through the quota and 15 in general seats. At nearly 22 per cent, this is better than any other Asian democracy and is more than several western democracies, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

The statistics are interesting. According to the Aurat Foundation, the 73 women members in the last Parliament moved 42 per cent of the private member bills and 27 per cent of the total number of questions. There were 3,698 interventions by women legislators; they asked 2,724 questions; participated in debates 380 times; raised 306 points of order; moved 101 private member’s Bills, 99 calling attention notices, and 69 adjournments and privilege motions. -- Nirupama Subramanian

 

Assiya says she was inspired by Mukhtar Mai, a young woman from this remote village of Meerwala who was gang raped in 2002 on the orders of a village council. Mukhtar prosecuted her attackers and used the compensation money to start a school. I decided to prosecute because I don’t want the same thing to happen to anybody else.

Assiya’s mother, Iqbal Mai, told me that in her despair, she at first had prayed that God should never give daughters to poor families. “But then I changed my mind,” she added, with a hint of pride challenging her fears. “God should give poor people daughters like Assiya who will fight.” -- Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times

Dar ul-Ulum at Deoband issued a fatwa forbidding Muslim women from contesting elections. Shortly after, however, he rescinded this fatwa and issued a fresh one, declaring it permissible for Muslim women to participate in elections. I do not know why, and on what basis, he changed his opinion, but this case illustrates the fact that, slowly, the views of some traditional Indian ulema on issues related to women are beginning to change. Today, however, we have an increasing number of younger ulema who are more socially engaged, have knowledge of contemporary issues and an awareness of the demands of modern world. They know the concerns and problems of the new generation—and this includes the issue of women’s employment—and desire to provide appropriate leadership to it. I am optimistic that these ulema will come to play an important and more socially relevant role, including as far as women’s issues are concerned, in the coming decades. -- Maulvi Waris Mazhari (Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

Much to my amusement, I find men very vehement in their fight for female "modesty and rights" in choosing to wear the burqa. But sadly, their voices seem to choke when it comes to family planning, triple talaq, a widow’s right to the guardianship of her minor children and other such matters. ...

I have heard since childhood that Islam is more about intent – to become a good, god-fearing human being – rather than the peripheral rituals that change from place to place and culture to culture. When, for instance, one is praying to god almighty, it is actually the connection with the supreme creator that is at the centre of it all. The way one prays is perhaps of lesser consequence but a certain method and manner have evolved over the years for the sake of uniformity and possibly even for the health benefits to be reaped from the exercise. -- Zohra Javed

What the Muslim women really need to cudgel against is the gender bias prevalent in Muslim societies. They must realise that the Muslim patriarchy rallies around them when they demonstrate against issues such as the proposed ban on burqa (which could be easily circumvented), but the support of the clergy is conspicuously absent when it comes to pressing problems like instant triple talaq, hedonistic polygyny or child marriage. -- A. Faizur Rahman

Above all, to question the veil, Muslims must challenge what the US-based academic of Hyderabad origin, Muqtadar Khan, calls the “epistemological hijab”, the curtain that the male Muslim clergy has kept between Islamic scripture and women. Muslims engaged in ripping apart this epistemological curtain can see that during the lifetime of the Prophet and for a while thereafter, the Muslim woman was acknowledged as an autonomous human being. She was considered a person in her own right, not just a mother, sister, wife or daughter. Over fourteen centuries ago, it was both an obligation and a right of Muslim women to participate actively in the religious, economic, social and political life of the community. The clergy must explain how it happened that the female sex subsequently got pushed out of the common public space. The “pious burqa” is but a manifestation of this subversion of early Islam. -- Javed Anand  

I have to confess that I don’t get it when some women say that being behind a veil liberates them from the prying eyes of the male gaze and makes them feel safer. It’s become just about the most clichéd explanation. ...Essentially, classic western feminism hits a dead-end when it comes to a complex word called choice. Traditions that seem patently unequal find refuge in the argument of choice. And we can debate forever whether it’s about free will or socialisation by a patriarchal regime, but there’s not much you can say to a woman who chooses to drape herself in swathes of black cloth. I still remember Kamala Das, the eccentric — but fiercely independent — poet arriving on my television show in a burqa. She had recently converted, and this she said, was her choice. How could anyone argue against that? -- Barkha Dutt
A reproduction of the Taliban dress code The reality of the matter surpasses the burqa itself. This is seen clearly in the fear that swiped France in reaction to the burqa, which appears like a reproduction of the dress code imposed by the Taliban on women in Afghanistan. the reality of the matter surpasses the burqa itself. This is seen clearly in the fear that swiped France in reaction to the burqa, which appears like a reproduction of the dress code imposed by the Taliban on women in Afghanistan. The historic implications of the burqa are those of radicalism and extremism, thus the stir is not an expression of racism against Muslims, as some claimed, but simply a fear of a drift towards sectarianism. There is no doubt that immigrants, in general, are subject to injustice and restrictions in France for many reasons not related to the burqa, but to the country's economic and social situations. Surely, there are some fanatics in France, but they remain a minority, just like in all other countries. -- Mohammad Makhlouf

 
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  • Nice bhai and right.
    ( By Md samir ansari )
  • Very sensible and prudent column.
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
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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 )
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  • Very interesting discussion, specially the brand new concept of "duty-free divorce." But....
    ( By Sultan Shahin )
  • No doubt, debate on Islamic ideologies must happen.
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    ( By Usha Jha )
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  • These terrorists are weakening Muslims and therefore are playing the role of agents of anti-Islamic elements. '
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  • لإخوان يستحلون قتل المخالف ولو كان ضعيفا محروما مقهورا، وفي أقل الأحوال يعملون على تشويهه وتقديم المبررات لاغتياله. '
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