The generalized and misinformed perceptions of Muslim women speak
volumes to the way they are viewed on campus
The Hijab: Narratives of Muslim Women on American Campus
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Unveils New Fragrance for Women in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Mother of 6 Reinterprets Islamic Law
Survey Contradicts Census Data on Muslim Divorces
Women Taking Notice of Minneapolis Apparel Company
by New Age Islam News Bureau
doesn’t always take the form of hate crimes on a national or international
level. It surfaces daily as illiteracy, insensitivity and indifference to
narratives on a campus that champions its diverse and politically engaged
student body. The generalized and misinformed perceptions of Muslim women speak
volumes to the way they are viewed on campus. Although my father was born into
Islam, I am not personally engaged in the faith. I can’t speak to the women’s
realities from personal experience, but as a student at UC Berkeley, I feel a
proximity to their concerns. The issue is fundamentally about a lack of
understanding and engagement. It’s about a disconnect between ourselves and our
peers, between students and administration, and between our campus and the rest
of the world.
campus lacks is an informed perception of Islam and those who follow it. For
many Muslim women on campus, such as sophomore Shahana Farooqi, sometimes the
extent of those perceptions are the way they choose to dress and the headscarf,
or hijab, they choose to wear. Muslim women often become reduced to their
appearance and subject to the misinformed judgments of those outside the faith.
Islam is not a rulebook and did not force Farooqi to act in any way. “It’s not
just about how you dress,” she said, “it’s about how you conduct yourself and
how you interact with others. The impression of Islam as an oppressive faith in
which women are forced to dress modestly and silenced by men is so distorted it
has become dangerous. The true Muslim narrative has to do with the ways in
which Muslim men and women choose to live their lives, choices that are
internal and self-driven.
Farooqi, deciding to start wearing the Hijab was part of an extended process of
becoming closer to her religion. While it is the most visible step she took,
rediscovering Islam and what it meant to her personally was much more than just
that. She said it was about turning to prayer to improve mental health, finding
fulfilment and direction, and achieving independence and internal happiness.
While she was born into Islam, her discovery of it was entirely personal. “If I
turned to it the way it was meant to be followed, I could thrive within it,”
she said. “Not just exist within it.”
identities and experiences of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide are too often
homogenized in western rhetoric. This is reproduced in the lack of
understanding of veiled women on campus and their decision to wear the Hijab, a
decision that has little to do with external influences and everything to do
with a personal decision to live life according to certain religious values.
Farooqi described the Hijab as not just piece of cloth but a representation of
character. “It has something to do with the cloth because you’re covering your
physical attributes,” she said. “But it’s also about being modest in what you
do and who you are.” She explained that it is related to the very definition of
Islam — the voluntary submission to god. Part of wearing the Hijab means
recognizing “there’s something larger than yourself out there.”
Hijab may be integrated into identity for some Muslim women, but many choose
not to wear it at all. And when I asked about how the way that the Hijab
represents her identity, Farooqi suggested that, while it reflects something
about her, preoccupation with it hides nuance in who she is. “Sure it can
reflect something about you, but most of us have some internal conflict. The
things you see on the outside probably only reflect one side of the conflict,”
said Farooqi. “If we put so much significance on outside things, we are
trivializing our own religion and the way to best follow it.”
Muslim woman narrative is so powerful,” said ASUC senator and UC Berkeley
junior Alaa Aissi, “whether shown to the world or felt internally.” There are
so many Muslim women at UC Berkeley who are outspoken and engaged in the issues
close to them.
as these perceptions remain superficial, the strength of Muslim women remains
overlooked. “The Muslim woman narrative is so powerful,” said ASUC senator and
UC Berkeley junior Alaa Aissi, “whether shown to the world or felt internally.”
There are so many Muslim women at UC Berkeley who are outspoken and engaged in
the issues close to them. Wearing the Hijab in itself puts Muslim women in a
position conducive to activism because the religion they’re engaging in is so visible.
But the conversation is so much deeper than what they wear or even the
intolerance they face because of it. “The societal skills you need to
experience social upward mobility don’t happen when only talking about the
hijab,” said Aissi. The conversation should not be restricted to the negative
attention they face from outside the Muslim community. Aissi said she would
prefer to see the focus placed on the successes and accomplishments of Muslim
women on campus and their contributions to a more informed university and a
more tolerant nation.
men and women are an integral part of rebuilding a multicultural, multiethnic
and religiously tolerant America. Their narratives are a necessary contribution
to the inclusive and progressive objectives of our generation. Farooqi
described her experiences being racialized by people who assume she speaks
Arabic because they see her wearing the hijab. Similarly, Aissi described her
frustration at a time when a professor asked her where she was “really” from when
he didn’t get the original response he was expecting. Second-generation Muslim
Americans and first-generation immigrants live on the intersection between
western values and Muslim ideals. The two can and do exist in unison. “I grew
up in this space,” Aissi said. “This is what I know.”
issue with conversations surrounding Muslim women is that they are trivialized
to conversations about religious dress. “In reducing that conversation,” Aissi
said, “we forget all the things we’re trying to move toward.” In an environment
like UC Berkeley where so many people have the platform to discuss and
challenge social injustices, we have the opportunity to broaden the scope of
that discussion. “Space could be allocated to more fruitful conversations about
where we should be in society instead of what we should look like while we’re
there,” Aissi said. Injustices toward Muslim women worldwide have recently
become more prominent in the media, and, naturally, this has become a popular
issue to discuss. Aissi said she would like the emphasis to be less on Muslim
women’s wardrobe and more on “what they’re doing, the places they are and the
successes they’re experiencing.” She also emphasized that Muslim values do not
contradict feminist ideology. “Feminists that claim they’re feminists and claim
that what I’m doing is wrong — undermine my experience as a female,” she said.
story, Farooqi’s story and the stories of the Muslim women on this campus are
so much louder than the hatred that silences them or the ignorance that minimize
them or any assumption that those stories are contained in the scarves on their
narrative I want to tell my children is not that I wear this scarf,” said
Aissi, “but that I did this.”
Jasmine Tatah at email@example.com
operation has begun to retake Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State -- and it's
a Kurdish woman commanding the Syrian Democratic Forces who could take the city
that brings down the caliphate.
operation called Wrath of Euphrates launched Saturday night and was announced
by the SDF alliance today at a press conference in the Syrian town of Ain Issa.
The SDF includes nine armed groups including Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and
Armenians, and the force pressing down on Raqqa is reportedly 30,000 strong
with 80 percent of the fighters originally from the city.
Secretary Ashton Carter said in a statement that he welcomed the SDF's
announcement "that the operation to free Raqqa from ISIL's barbaric grip
effort to isolate, and ultimately liberate, Raqqa marks the next step in our
coalition campaign plan. As in Mosul, the fight will not be easy and there is
hard work ahead, but it is necessary to end the fiction of ISIL's caliphate and
disrupt the group's ability to carry out terror attacks against the United
States, our allies and our partners," Carter said.
international coalition will continue to do what we can to enable local forces
in both Iraq and Syria to deliver ISIL the lasting defeat it deserves."
Kurdish news accounts reported U.S. Special Forces soldiers on the ground
assisting the SDF.
Three suspected terrorists have entered Balochistan from Afghanistan to carry
out attacks, says an alert issued by the Balochistan Home and Tribal Affairs
to the Balochistan Home and Tribal Affairs Department, “It has been learnt
reliably that a female suicide bomber aged 17/18 has reached Quetta for
also learnt that two terrorists and a girl came from Afghanistan by a private
car via Killa Abdullah last night.
alert issued by the department says, “It is believed that an educational
institution or a women’s institution might be targeted in a couple of days.
details are available about exact date and time of the terrorist act.
they may carry out the attack in near future.
notification urged the Balochistan Police inspector general, Headquarters of
the Frontier Corps Balochistan, commissioner of Quetta Division, deputy
inspector general of (Special Branch) Balochistan and deputy inspector general
of Quetta police to remain vigilant and intensify security in and around the
educational institutions, public places and important offices and buildings to
thwart any untoward incident.
alerted the law enforcement agencies to be vigilant at check posts and check
every suspicious person, including women.
LAUDS SECURITY FORCES ON SUCCESSFUL OPERATIONS
satisfaction with successful counterterrorism operations being carried out by
the Frontier Corps and police in Quetta and other areas of Balochistan, Chief
Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri reiterated that no stone would be left
unturned to bring terrorists and their facilitators to book.
that security forces had been working around the clock to rid Balochistan of
to people and their properties and peaceful Balochistan are the foremost
priorities of the incumbent provincial government,” the chief minister said.
the government had an unflinching determination to deal with the menace of
will be made a peaceful place soon, Zehri said in a press statement.
chief minister directed the police and other law enforcement agencies to boost
security in the entire province, especially in Quetta city.
the security forces to increase monitoring and vigilance at all entrances and
exit points in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.
directed the security agencies to intensify patrol, activate control rooms and
share intelligence with each other.
that people’s cooperation was vital to maintaining law and order in
expressed the hope that people would fully cooperate with law enforcement
agencies in this regard.
launched its signature fragrance in the Kingdom, which is inspired by the
spontaneous energy and downtown style of New York City. The perfume, which was
launched at the Coach store at Jeddah Boulevard, is spirited and sparkling, yet
sensual and feminine. It’s full of contrasts, which is a blend of bright,
sparkling raspberry and creamy Turkish roses, with a dash of sensual suede of
musk base. The signature scent was created by perfumers Anne Flipo and Juliette
just the fragrance that embodies the luxury brand but also the bottle. A
tribute to the heritage of the original American house of leather, the feminine
oval bottle references many of Coach’s iconic codes. Its spray cap is shaped
like a gold turn lock, imitating the signature clasp on Coach bags. A hangtag in
ebony leather and polished metal adds a distinctive finishing touch. A horse
and carriage logo, an enduring symbol of coach craftsmanship, is subtly
engraved into the glass. Adding a nod to femininity, the soft pink packaging
features Coach’s iconic horse and carriage logo.
Executive Creative Director Stuart Vevers cast Chloë Grace Moretz as the face
of the fragrance campaign. Moretz has worked closely with the brand for the
past two years and embodies the Coach values – an all-American girl who is
youthful, modern, and authentic with her natural beauty and free spirit.
honor to be the face of this fragrance,” said Moretz. “To me, it’s everything I
love about Coach. It’s modern, happy and perfectly captures the spirit, energy
and excitement that Stuart has brought to Coach.”
18, started acting at the tender age of seven, and has worked in over 30 highly
today, is a New York design house of modern luxury accessories and lifestyle
brands, pairing exceptional leathers and materials with innovative design.
Stuart Vevers’ collections for women and men are effortless and personal, with
a downtown attitude. As fragrance is a very important part of Coach’s story,
Stuart has been involved in every step of the creative process, ensuring an
authentic representation of the Coach brand.
wanted to create was something different, an alternative to what’s already out
there. For me, it was about finding what makes Coach unique. It’s that
lightness of American spirit with the known and familiar – and now new
proportions,” said Vevers. — SG
Saudi Arabia (AP) — When Souad al-Shammary posted a series of tweets about the
thick beards worn by Saudi clerics, she never imagined she would land in jail.
up images of several men with beards: An Orthodox Jew, a hipster, a communist,
an Ottoman Caliph, a Sikh, and a Muslim. She wrote that having a beard was not
what made a man holy or a Muslim. And she pointed out that one of Islam’s
staunchest critics during the time of Prophet Muhammad had an even longer beard
frank comments are typical of this twice-divorced mother of six and graduate of
Islamic law. Raised a devout girl in a large tribe where she tended sheep,
al-Shammary is now a 42-year-old liberal feminist who roots her arguments in
Islam, taking on Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious establishment.
paid a price for her opinions. She spent three months in prison without charge
for “agitating public opinion.” She has been barred by the government from
traveling abroad. Her co-founder of the online forum Free Saudi Liberals
Network, blogger Raif Badawi, is serving a 10-year prison sentence and was
publicly lashed 50 times. Her father disowned her in public.
it was enough to keep her quiet.
rights that I don’t view as against my religion,” says al-Shammary. “I want to
ask for these rights, and I want those who make decisions to hear me and act.”
the Arab world, female Islamic scholars and activists have long been pushing
for interpretations of Sharia law that consider men and women as equals before
God. Al-Shammary is one of the most vocal and high-profile religious and
women’s rights activists within Saudi Arabia.
very sure of what she’s saying — she doesn’t hesitate,” says Sahar Nassief, a
friend and fellow Saudi activist. “She literally comes from a Bedouin
environment, a desert environment. She’s very proud of her background, but this
makes her a bit blunt with everyone and very blunt in what she says.”
grew up the daughter of a peasant farmer in Ha’il, a landlocked province. As
the eldest of 12 children, she was in charge of the sheep. She was not just
religious but a practicing Salafi, a Muslim who adheres to a literalist
interpretation of Islamic law.
graduated from the University of Ha’il with a degree in Islamic studies and
became a public school teacher. At 17, she married a man twice her age from the
same tribe. She had a girl, Yara, was divorced at 20 and then re-married, this
time to the chief judge in Ha’il who’d overseen her divorce proceedings.
journey to activism began on the day her daughter was taken from her.
as soon as Yara turned seven, her ex-husband gained custody. Since al-Shammary
had remarried, the court ruled that the girl should live with her father rather
than in a house with another man.
they took her and said, ‘this is Allah’s will’ and ‘this is Islam’, this is
when my internal rebellion was sparked,” says al-Shammary. “There is no way
that there is a God in this universe that would accept this injustice and this
pain on the basis that I am a woman.”
eight years, she fought her parents, her community and anyone who stood between
her and Yara, whom she wasn’t able to see.
became crazy, but in front of my parents and my husband the judge, and the
tribal community around him, and because of my position in the community and my
name, I was expected to just sit like this and be a hero,” she says, making an
expressionless face and clasping her hands.
five children from her second marriage, but it wasn’t long before she was
Yara’s father fell ill and the grandmother passed away, he finally allowed her,
then 16, to live with her mother again. Al-Shammary relocated to the more
liberal city of Jiddah with all her children finally under one roof.
her knowledge of Shariah as a legal adviser for women in need. Sometimes her
advice was more Machiavellian than pious. Once she told a friend to wear some
make-up, find out which judge was slated to oversee her case, and then cry in
front of him and plead for her court date to be moved up. It worked.
shared her thoughts online on how Islam sees people, including women, as born
free and equal, ideas she found in line with liberalism. So began a war of
words — and of images.
she posted the pictures of men with beards, top clerics and other conservatives
in the kingdom called her a hypocrite, a disbeliever, wicked and evil. Her
outspokenness and her appearances on television talk shows without a face veil
were not easy on her family in Ha’il. Her younger brother, Fayez, recalls being
told by a community elder: “You aren’t a man. How can you allow your sister to
behave like this?”
says he left Ha’il for about seven years because the comments became
unbearable. His marriage proposal to a girl from another tribe was rejected
because of his sister’s reputation. He also came to blows with one of his
younger brothers who cursed her flagrant disregard for social norms, with the
two ending up in the hospital.
Yara opposed her at first. And kids at school would taunt her sons. In turn,
they sometimes lashed out against their mother, Fayez says.
was detained at the women’s section of Jiddah’s Briman prison on October 28,
2014. She was accused of agitating public opinion. She was never tried or
prison, al-Shammary continued her advocacy behind bars, telling women that
music is permissible and explaining their legal rights. She says female Muslim
missionaries began appearing in prison more often, telling women their time
there was the will of God. The television was always turned onto the religious
released from detention on January 29, 2015. She had to sign a pledge to reduce
her activism. And a male relative, Fayez, had to sign for her release. She
continues to tweet to her more than 207,000 followers, though she says she
weighs her words more carefully than before.
supports her mother’s activism, although she still wishes al-Shammary would not
argue against the hijab or with influential religious figures.
“She is so
encouraging to me,” Yara says. “She survived stuff that you can’t survive.”
Survey Contradicts Census Data On Muslim Divorces
The Mumbai-based Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan is among the organizations
pitching for reform in the Muslim Personal Law, including a ban on Triple
Talaq. Incidentally, the BMMA rejects the uniform civil code and, in the same
breath, urges the government to initiate urgent measures towards reforms in
Muslim Personal Law. It has written to the Prime Minister voicing the demand
for codification of Muslim family law. It has also come up with a draft of
Muslim Marriage and Divorce Bill (renamed as Muslim Family Law Bill) for
enactment by the Government.
released a 100 case studies of triple talaq in a study titled 'No More Talaq
Talaq Talaq'—and calls for a ban on this "unIslamic" practice. The
BMMA has also conducted a National Study on Muslim Women's views on Reforms in
Muslim Personal Law and published the findings in a 212-page compendium titled
"Seeking Justice Within Family." As part of the Survey, 4,710 Muslim
women were interviewed. The study was aimed at ascertaining the status of Muslim
women in matters relating to marriage, divorce, maintenance, custody of
children etc. The survey also obtained their views on legal provisions
concerning these aspects.
Study report, authored by BMMA co-founders Dr Noorjehan Safia Niaz and Zakia
Soman, was published in March 2015. The study covered Muslim women across 10
States (Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh,
Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal). Out of the 4,710 respondents,
55 percent were below 35 years of age, 79% were home makers and 73% had annual
incomes below Rs 50,000. Almost 92% were Sunnis, 4% Shias and 4% belonging to
other sects. Over 46% respondents hailed from upper castes (Syeds, Pathans,
Mughals, Ashrafs etc), 26% from OBCs, 5% from Dalits and 23% from unclassified
groups. Nearly 55% followed Sunni Jamaat jurisprudence while 25% owed
allegiance to Barelvi, Deobandi, Wahhabi and Ahle Hadees schools of
total 4,710 respondents, 77% were currently married, 9% were widowed, 11% were divorced,
2% were deserted and one percent were unmarried. Almost 47% of the married
women had one or two children, 46% had 3 or more children and 7% had no
children. At the time of marriage, 15% were below 15 years of age, 40% were in
15-18 age-group, 33% in 18-21 age-group and 11% above 21 years of age. Over 63%
said they had Mehr amount fixed at below Rs 5,000.
91% were married only once, 6% married twice, and one percent each were married
thrice and more than three times. One percent respondents were not married. Of
the divorcees, 64% were divorced within 5 years of marriage and 36% were
divorced after 5 years of marriage. About 28% divorced women had sought divorce
(Khula), 60% were divorced by their husbands and 12% got divorced due to
pressure from in-laws or parents.
to the mode of divorce, it was pronounced orally in 346 cases, conveyed by
letter in 40 cases, communicated over phone in 18 cases, conveyed by SMS in one
case and sent by e-mail in 3 cases. It was done through other methods in 117
cases. Of the total 525 divorced women, 110 were divorced in the court, 46 in
Darul Qazaat, 68 in Jamaat, 38 in panchayats, 19 women in voluntary
organisations' offices, 220 in their families and 24 in other places.
Significantly,only 76 divorced women said they were victims of Halala while the
remaining 448 divorced women said they did not suffer this ignominy.
the BMMA Survey presents an alarming picture of divorces among Muslim women
which contradicts the 2011 Census data released by the Registrar-General &
Census Commissioner of India. For instance, almost 11 percent of the 4,710
respondents were divorcees as per BMMA study whereas the Census data shows that
only 0.49 percent (just half-a-percent) of the Muslim married women were divorcees.
Projecting the BMMA survey findings to the population of ever married Muslim
women in India would mean that the number of divorcees should be almost 47
lakhs but it is only 2.12 lakhs in reality.
Census 2011, the number of ever-married Muslim women was 4.29 crores. The
currently married Muslim women were 3.76 crores, or 87.77% of the ever married
Muslim women. Similarly, there were 47.44 lakh widowed Muslim women, accounting
for 11.07% of the ever married Muslim women. There were 2.88 lakh separated
Muslim women, or a mere 0.67 percent of the ever married Muslim women. The
number of divorcees was 2.12 lakhs, or less than half-a- percent (0.49 percent)
of the ever married Muslim women. The separated and divorced Muslim women
together numbered 5 lakhs, that is, 1.16 percent of the ever married Muslim
percentages for different indices among Muslim women do not vary in any way
among Hindu women as well. This is apparent from the Census data. There were
27.61 crore ever married Hindu women at the time of 2011 Census. The currently
married Hindu women totaled 23.79 crores or 86.16% of the ever married Hindu
women. There were 3.57 crore widows, accounting for 12.92% of the ever married
Hindu women. Similarly, there were 19.04 lakhs separated women or 0.69 % of the
ever married Hindu women. There were 6.18 lakh divorcees or a mere 0.22 percent
of the ever married Hindu women. If we take separated and divorced Hindu women
together, the number comes to 25.22 lakhs or 0.91 percent of the ever married
author is an MLC and also a journalist)
of the 4,710 respondents, 55 percent were below 35 years of age, 79% were home
makers and 73% had annual incomes below Rs 50,000.
Almost 91% were married only once, 6% married twice, and one percent each were
married thrice and more than three times
the total 525 divorced women, 110 were divorced in the court, 46 in Darul
Qazaat, 68 in Jamaat, 38 in panchayats, 19 women in voluntary organisations'
offices, 220 in their families and 24 in other places.
women are taking notice of Asiya.
tiny, brand new Minneapolis company founded by two women, Fatima Hussein and
product is culturally modest active wear — moisture wicking sport hijabs to
team uniforms to workout clothes.
mission is to give Muslim girls the freedom to move, to play, to compete in
started an all-girls hour of play at the Brian Coyle Community Center in
Minneapolis," said Fatima Hussein. "I noticed that the Muslim girls
needed clothing that was suitable for them."
from the University of Minnesota Extension discovered the participation rate of
Muslim females in sports is half that of their peers.
believes that sports can set girls up for success in life, from establishing
healthy lifestyles to academic performance.
Researchers say competing in sport could help develop self-confidence
and leadership skills.
saw in the Muslim community is a group of girls for a variety of reasons were
not participating," said Jamie Glover. "We were super excited to
remove one of those barriers which is clothing and help Muslim women feel the
freedom they should feel while being active."
our girls to have leadership skills that can come from participating with their
peers,” said Hussein. “Many of the girls tell me they feel more comfortable and
part of the team while wearing the sport hijab.”
month, Asiya kick started online raising more than $26,000 dollars. The
co-founders say that money is for either hijab pre-orders or to sponsor an
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