Friday, October 13, 2006

A great poem written by my friend Miranda Dunn:

The VeilBy Miranda Dunn
What lies beneath the veil Jack Straw?
What lies cover your eyes striking you blind?
Why does the black veiled womanUncover the darkest corners of your troubled mind?
Shall we all take off our veils Jack Straw?
Is there a truth you hope to find?
The weeping mothers, the limbless men…
Wounds, which open their gaping mouths?
What lies beneath the veil Jack Straw?
Will Salome dance with the Baptist’s head?
What mystic secret will reveal the truth?
Fears your life will end with splattered Meat?
What lies beneath the veil Jack Straw?
Will you be swallowed by desert sands?
Your bones picked white by the vulture of time?
What is hidden by the veil Jack Straw?
What lies behind the veil Jack Straw?
A Muslim woman with an independent mind
Human flesh and human hair.
Eyes that see you as you are.
Do you want to take off your veil Jack Straw?
Will you fold away the tissue of lies?
The half truths that cover us with innocent blood
Will you put off your veil Jack Straw?
Will you put off the Veil?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Came across this site - seems pretty good.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tariq Rammadhan
Always a joy to listen to him!
Jack Straw....
Ok so he has a problem communicating with women through the veil? this guy for real? So whats next ? how about not allowing ladies who show their cleavage or G-strings to attend his office - but i guess he wont be so bothered about the distraction there!!!
Given his track record in bringing the UK into several illeagle wars, im suprised this issue is at the top of his agenda!

Quite frankly, his boss Mr Blair doesnt wear a veil or a burkha and still no one seemed to have got it through his skull that we didnt want to go to war!

Ok thats my friday rant - am off.
A good question I was asked recently on whether Islam and Feminism are compatable or not?
To answer this ill need two parts !

Part I

Although there are some features of the feminist cause with which we as Muslims would wish to join hands, other features generate our disappointment and even opposition. There is therefore no simple or "pat" answer to the question of the future cooperation or competition which feminism may meet in an Islamic environment.
There are however a number of social, psychological, and economic traditions which govern the thinking of most Muslims and which are particularly affective of woman's status and role in Islamic society. Understanding these can help us understand the issues which affect male and female status and roles, and how we should react to movements which seek to improve the situation of women in any of the countries where Muslims live.

(a) Family System
Islamic traditions also prescribe a much stronger participation of the family in the contracting and preservation of marriages. While most Western feminists would decry family participation or arranged marriage as a negative influence because of its apparent restriction of individualistic freedom and responsibility, as Muslims we would argue that such participation is advantageous for both individuals and groups within the society. Not only does it ensure marriages based on sounder principles than physical attraction and sexual infatuation, but it provides other safeguards for successful marital continuity. Tragedy, even divorce, is not so debilitating to either adults or children since the larger social unit absorbs the residual numbers with much greater ease than a nuclear family organization can ever provide.

(b)Individualism vs larger organisation
The traditional support of the large and intricately interrelated family organization is correlative to another Islamic tradition which seems to run counter to recent Western trends and to feminist ideology. Islam and Muslim women generally advocate molding of individual goals and interests to accord with the welfare of the larger group and its members. Instead of holding the goals of the individual supreme, Islam instills in the adherent a sense of his or her place within the family and of a responsibility to that group. This is not perceived or experienced by Muslims as repression of the individual. Other traditions which will be discussed later guarantee his or her legal personality. Feminism, therefore, would not be espoused by Muslim women as a goal to be pursued without regard for the relation of the female to the other members of her family. The Muslim woman regards her goals as necessitating a balance with, or even subordination to, those of the family group. The rampant individualism often experienced in contemporary life, that which treats the goals of the individual in isolation from other factors, or as utterly supreme, runs against a deep Islamic commitment to social interdependence.

Hold you breadth for Part II (differentiation of sex roles - avoiding a "unisex society", polygyny and my views on what I see as Islamic feminism....)

Any comments on these points raised would be welcomed!
It makes my heart sadden to read the plight of the Afghani women. Here is a report by RAWA . Well done US for creating the taleban and miseducation the afghan youth on what islam is.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Welcome to my blog!
Because of a belief in a liberated, equitable and dignified position of women outlined in the Qur'an, many Muslims, men and women alike, are calling for reevaluation of attitudes and practices that, although done in the name of Islam, are actually contrary to the basic messages found in the primary sources. To question and possibly oppose entrenched positions that are based on archaic laws, weak Hadith, or cultural trends, requires courage and conviction on the part of religious leaders. But this is necessary and worth any risks in order to enable women to achieve liberation through Islam as originally intended.Major problem areas that need to be addressed include the following (which i hope my blog will synergise!):

  • Family laws pertaining to marriage and divorce that reinforce the image of relationships based on a hierarchy with the rights of the husband superceding those of the wife and that prevent women from being in control of their lives.
  • Violence against women which occurs in the home, community, and as a consequence of warfare which is claimed by some to be allowed by Islam when it is not.
  • Abuse of certain Islamic practices that affect women negatively, such as polygamy and temporary marriage, when applied out of context and without abiding by Islamic restrictions.
  • Excluding women from religious activities such as attendance in the mosque which has clearly been established as the Muslim woman's right.
  • Failure to promote the importance of a woman's contribution to society beyond child-bearing.
  • Failure to enable women to take advantage of rights of property ownership and inheritance outlined by Islam.
  • Focusing on the behavior of women as a marker for morality in society and subjecting them to harassment, intimidation or discrimination.
  • Lack of awareness of the important role of men in contributing significantly in sharing household responsiblities and child-rearing as exemplified by Prophet Muhammed.

Until recently, because of a pervasive sexist and oppressive presentation of women in Islam, Muslim women often felt the only way to be liberated intellectually, socially, politically and economically was by abandoning Islam. There appears to be a growing movement of Islamist women who are demanding that the rights guaranteed by Islam must be applied in their communities.

Gender Equality in Islam
In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

If i received a pence for everytime I come across a slur for wearing a veil and being taunted for being subordinate to my male brother counterpart - i'd be a very wealthy lady! Its a sad state of affairs when islamic doctrine has been hijacked by mullas most of whom have mixed their own cultural strains of "islam" and present this as being mainstream.
Fortunately we still have the Quran and Sunnah (sayings of the prophet (saw)) ...

"I shall not lose sight of the labor of any of you who labors in My way, be it man or woman; each of you is equal to the other (3:195)"

Spiritual equality, responsibility and accountability for both men and women is a well-developed theme in the Quran. Spiritual equality between men and women in the sight of God is not limited to purely spiritual, religious issues, but is the basis for equality in all temporal aspects of human endeavor.

The concept of gender equality is best exemplified in the Quranic rendition of Adam and Eve. The Quran states that both sexes were deliberate and independent and there is no mention of Eve being created out of Adam's rib or anything else (ill let the christians explain their own doctrine - nothing to do with me!). Even in the issue of which sex was created first is not specified, implying that for our purpose in this world, it may not matter.

"O mankind! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity (nafs), and out of it created its mate, and out of hte two spread abroad a multitude of men and women. And remain conscious of God, in whose name you demand your rights from one another, and of these ties of kinship. Verily, God is ever watchful over you! (4:1)"

Quranic translators disagree on the meaning of "nafs" in the above verse which Muhammad Asad translates as "living entity." Many claim that "nafs" translates as "person," that is, Adam. But according to Asad and other scholars, God created humankind and its sexual counterpart out of its own kind. The Arabic word referring to mate (zawj) in the above Quranic verse is grammatically neutral and can be applied both ot male and female interchangeably. So it is not clear, nor should we conjecture, that Adam was created first, Eve was created out of Adam, or that Eve/woman is innately subservient to Adam/man. The fact that this Quranic verse does not specify one specific sex over the other is proof of gender non-bias and equality. It is commonly (and mistakenly) argued that Adam was created first, and that by this gesture God finds the male dominant and superior to the female; however, the wording of the Quran in the aforementioned verse does not support this claim.

So now we come to the infamous tree...the Quran describes how Adam and Eve were told to avoid a specific tree, which they both approached. For this act of disobedience to God, they were consequently banished from the garden; however, later both repented and were forgiven by God. The Quran does not allude to Eve tempting Adam to eat from the tree and being responsible for their downfall. In the Quranic version, both were held accountable and both paid the price for their choices, proving that gender equality is an intrinsic part of Islamic belief. (See Quran 2:30-37)

Women are independent individuals, as exemplified by the fact that all human beings will be accountable for their own intentions and deeds on the Day of Judgment when "no human being shall be of the least avail to another human being" (82:19) If men were ultimately responsibile for women (fathers for their daughters, husbands for their wives, etc.), then this accountability would be solely on men's shoulders to bear until the Day of Judgment?. But this is not the case:
"And whatever wrong any human being commits rests upon himself alone; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden..." (6:165)Consequently, we cannot be judged according to our own deeds unless we have the freedom of choice to do so. This free choice carries with it the responsibility to make the right choices or paying the consequence for wrong ones.

A great read here too !