Friday, December 31, 2010

Hope of a New Dawn

I was recently introduced to this Pakistani band called Laal. The guys are AMMMMMMAYYYYZING!!!! Each one of their songs I've heard so far has been a meaningful one -- SO touching, SO moving -- 'cause they're all for the people, you know? They sing FOR the people, they stand WITH the oppressed, they're all for freedom of speech and freedom for humanity. I feel like I just now started living!! And their videos are SO thought-provoking, tooooo! Check out the following video, for instance. It's called, in Urdu (they sing in Urdu), Umeed-e-Sahar, or "Hope of a New Dawn." They remind people that they are powerful, that they have a say in what happens. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What is "Islam"?

Pre-post: My thoughts here are very disorganized, but you'll bear with me. Thanks for understanding!

For the longest time now, I've been wondering what "Islam" actually is, and that's why I can't help but put it in quotations. I'm gonna paste my comments from friends' blogs 'cause I really don't have the energy or the good health at the moment to write it (am terribly ill. You understand) and will hope that'll do for the moment. One day, I'd also like to write a long piece on what Islam is and what it means to believe/submit.

We always hear Muslims saying, "That's not Islam." Really? Then what is Islam? If Islam isn't as difficult as they claim, then why is no one practicing the Islam that's not difficult, the Islam that's so easy to practice? Almost all (if not completely all) Muslims will also agree that they do not practice Islam the way they are supposed to or the way they understand they should be. Why not? Obviously, it's not easy, then. Obviously, it's not understood what Islam is or how it should be practiced -- or there are strong disagreements.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Western Woman: Plague of the West

I share here my response to an article titled "Woman: The Plague of the West," by Abu Osama. The introduction of the article reads:
This short work has been compiled to expose the fallacy of the Western nations and the culture and civilisation they profess to believe in and live by. Its aim is to educate those in the Muslim world the true picture of life in the Western countries with a view to demolish the myth that the west has the solution to all the world’s problems. Rather the West is the cause and source of all the worlds’ problems!” Abu Osama's thesis is that the Shari'a is the only solution to the problems of the west, where women are“ sexually denigrated, alcoholic and drug dependent, abused, attacked and raped" and "constant thoughts of suicide and self harm, deeply depressed, pandering after equality such is the nature of the liberated Western woman!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Zakir Naik on Women: Part 3 - Women in Politics

 For part 2, please click here.

Zakir Naik emphatically and incessantly argues that Islam promotes the equality of women and men, often citing Qur’anic verses such as 9:71, which reads, "The men and the women are supporters of each other." He asserts that the term "supporter" here means that they are each other’s supporters not only socially but politically as well. He lists women’s political rights as their rights to vote, take part in law-making, and join battlefields. His example for women’s participation in lawmaking is rather interesting:
According to the famous Hadith in which Hazrat Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) was discussing with the Sahabas, and considering the putting an upper limit on ‘Meher’, since young men were discouraged from getting married – a lady from the back seat objected and said “When the Qur’an says in Surah Nisa Ch. 4, Verse No. 20 that ‘You can even give a heap of treasure, a heap of gold in Meher, when the Qur’an puts no limit on ‘Meher’, who is Umar to put a limit (May Allah be pleased with him)?” And immediately, Hazrat Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘Umar is wrong and the lady is right’.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Books I Highly Recommend on Gender/Islam

To my non-Muslim readers, sorry that this list revolves around Muslims/Islam only! It's just, since the last couple of years, I've been seeking Muslims who saw what I saw in the traditional interpretations of Islam and having found the following has been a blessing! And had it not been for a research mentor who suggested I compile an annotated bibliography of "feminist and progressive interpretations of Islam," this would never have happened -- at least not yet. So please bear with me as I complete the list for now!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letter to Dr. Laura

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.
a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?
g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?
i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Zakir Naik's Views on Women: Part I

Pre-script: This post, and Zakir Naik's personality and "scholarship," should explain to many Muslims why I am a feminist and why I'm worried about Muslim women, especially those who follow Zakir Naik and his likes like he's a prophet or something. I'm truly sorry for all such women ... although knowing that men, too, follow him doesn't help 'cause those men, after listening to Naik, go home only to put women in a lower position! For instance, a husband might tell his wife, "You can't work anymore because Zakir Naik said the woman shouldn't work." Or "I have the right to beat you up because verse 4:34 tells me I can." Like, yo, what's this guy doing to the future generations?! And, mind you, he often gets his Quranic verse numbers wrong . . . Yep. Of course, I verify him each time he mentions a surah/verse number, and he's wrong many times. I just wonder why no Muslims actually notice that. Does anyone ever, EVER bother to verify the information he spoonfeeds them? Wake up, folks!!! Oh, and ... not that anyone should be surprised, but he also makes up names of all these random nobel-prize winning "scientists" (such as those who don't believe in evolution... 'cause, oh you know, that is proof that evolution indeed is not true!). It's adorable, really. Oh ... this is still the pre-script. Sorry, I'll continue to the actual post now. 

Zakir Naik, giving a lecture on women's "rights" in Islam

So, as many of my readers know, I'm writing my honors thesis on Zakir Naik and his views on women. I've written a chapter of it so far (it was for my Gender and Sexuality in Islam course), and I'm learning that as I write more, more and more ideas come to me about how to interpret his talks/lectures! In this one chapter, I argue that his views subtly put women in an inferior position, despite his insistence that "women and men are EQUAL in the eyes of God." More on this later but for now ... 

Needless to say, it's complete torture -- TORTURE, folks, TORTURE!!! -- to hear and listen to Naik's lectures and analyze them and critique them. ~cries desperately~ Imagine hearing Quranic verse 4:34 as the ONLY reason for virtually everything -- from why you can't work unless you are absolutely *required* to, why God never send female prophets, why you can't have certain jobs (or any jobs, rather, because the responsibility is solely the husband's), to why you have to sit in the back of his lectures, why your husband has the right to beat you up or discipline you (yes, he's comparing women to children, you see, children who need to be beaten and disciplined by their parents. Clearly, women aren't intelligent or wise enough and therefore NEED men to discipline them. Sickness, I tell you!), and oh yes why YOU don't have the right to initiate a divorce and your husband can divorce you any time HE feels like it. It's disparaging to say the least! I don't know what kind of a woman accepts such stuff as "authentic" or "Islamic." Sure, we know how things SHOULD be in the ideal Muslim world, but he doesn't at all address those situations in which things are not what they're supposed to be. But I'll give you examples of this in future posts. Patience. For now, lemme just complain about what all I have to go through listening to someone many Muslims see as a "scholar"!

Often, I have to listen to each one like 50 times 'cause each time I listen to him, I hear him differently, and a new interpretation of his seemingly feminist ideas come to my mind. And, of course, Qrratugai has GOT to respond to those! The one thing that pushes me to keep going is that ... if I don't introduce him to the academia, no one will. This is my way of reminding Muslims that there are more than one way to read what he's feeding you, and there are miserable consequences for the sorta information he forces down your throat without your realizing it. I plan to distribute this paper if it's accepted by the department.

So, I'm reading his book titled Women's Rights in Islam: Modern or Outdated? As one would expect, it's nothing more than an attack on the west. No, wait - it's not an attack on the west; it's an attack on America alone. At these random times, he'll say things about America and American women and their treatment to make it seem like women are just so, oh so degraded in America but so, oh so respected in "Muslim" countries! Sure, it goes both ways. But who looks at that?
Lemme introduce the guy first. Zakir Naik is a 40-year-old Indian televangelist / preacher deemed a "scholar" by many Muslims, especially Muslims of South Asian background. It's disturbing, folks, it's disturbing. You can look him up. He's all over the net. And you can even follow him on Facebook, like I do, and check his status and try so OH SO hard to control yourself from responding to his comments (status messages) because you know that your message/comment will be hidden within minutes.
The reason I chose to write my thesis on him and not anyone else (e.g., Ahmed Deedat) is as follows.

When I first heard of Zakir Naik in 2006, I was impressed with his “logic” and teachings. I remained his acolyte for approximately two years, until I began to note contradictions and double standards in his explanations to questions asked of him. I therefore empathize with those who support him and deem him an authority on Islam. He continues to influence many of my Muslim friends, particularly those from a South Asian background, to such an extent that when I mention that I am pursuing Islamic Studies, the first thing I am asked is, “What do you think of Zakir Naik?” as though my opinion of him will determine whether or not I am studying the “right” Islam: If I do not think highly of him, I am being taught the “western” and “modern” Islam against which Zakir Naik preaches; if I think well of him, I am on the “right” path.
I'd have to have a long, long blog post for each comment he makes, but here's what you may expect: His views on female prophets, women leading their families (he says that if a woman is forbidden in Islam to lead her own FAMILy, then how can she lead an entire nation? I'm convinced!), women in politics, women on the battlefield (he says Islamic history tells us that women healed the wounds, serving as nurses, so Muslim women are ALLOWED to be on the battlefield -- but they're forbidden to fight in the war, unless there are absolutely no men around), and his views on non-Muslims' right to practice and preach their religion in a Muslim land.

I like the last one first, even though it doesn't have anything to do with women. It's just to introduce you to him so you know what to expect from his views on women, so you know what sort of "logic" he uses, so you understand why I felt the utter need to write on him in the academic world (while Ahmed Deedat is written on constantly, Zakir Naik is absolutely unheard of in the scholarly world).

Enjoy the video I'm about to share! Much more to come later.You might also want to take a look at this video: Zakir Naik and Women's Rights in Islam.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Am I Pretty?"

For those females who always ask, "Am I pretty?" here's your answer.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Khutba by a Woman

Something very, VERY interesting -- and uplifting -- I'd like to share here.

Sa'diyya Shaikh
giving a khutba (the Friday sermon). I've personally met Sa'diyya Shaikh, and she's one of the most pleasant people ever, so friendly and sweet and warm! What she does with South Asian women in South Africa, I'd like to one day do with Pukhtun women . . . but we'll see, ka khairee.

here to watch.

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