Yoginder Sikand on “unveiling the hidden history of women ulema”

Yoginder Sikand has an informative book review of a pioneering book written in Urdu (yes, Urdu; for a change, something enlightening on gender relations will be translated in the other direction) on women scholars.Sikand is a treasure, btw. He's being churning out illuminating studies of Sufism and Islam in India based on hard to find primary sources for many years.Book review: unveiling the hidden history of women ulema | TwoCircles.net Books in English and Urdu on Muslim history rarely, if … [Read more...]

Oil, the bane of Muslim women

Check out this fascinating examination of the role of oil in retarding the advancement of women in developing countries like Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. Yet another example of how the contemporary Muslim problems often facilely ascribed to "Islam" or "Muslim culture" can be sociologically explained. That is, if you're willing to roll up your sleeves and consider them scientifically rather gleefully file them away as ammunition for culture wars.The sooner they run out of this … [Read more...]

The infinite varieties of hijab

Doing a web search, I came across an entertaining cartoon drawn by Syrian cartoonist Puppeteer cataloging the many styles of hijab out there. Its focus is on Syria, but aside from the Kubeisya it seems pretty universal to me. And every community has its well-meaning but unnerving glarers who more or less share the aesthetic (if not the trademark coat...or the cartoon's unibrow). [HT:  My Adventures in Syria]Brilliant and wonderfully playful.  I especially like the "ninja", who's ready to p … [Read more...]

Free yourselves, Muslim women!

I don't have time to comment at length, but check out this gem of neo-colonial paternalism, unvarnished prejudice and ironic sexism from the youth wing of the hardline Danish People's Party.  They have launched a campaign directed towards Muslim women entitled "Free yourselves" ("Befri jer selv").  They're referring to Islam, of course. You can order a poster and get postcards for spreading the good news that they are waiting with open arms to receive Muslim women … [Read more...]

Turkish govt to censor hadiths

I blogged elsewhere about a harebrained and counterproductive Turkish scheme to publish a "politically correct" hadith collection that is free of any traditions that violate modern gender sensibilities. Promoting reform by hacking up sacred texts - Eteraz.org In a move reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson's rationalistic rearrangement of the New Testament, the Turkish government is planning to bowlderize hadith collections so as to eliminate traditions deemed misogynistic. This strikes me … [Read more...]

The curious history of the codpiece

I generally steer away from racier topics, schizophrenic quasi-prude that I am.   On the one hand, the romantic (Or is it elitist snob?) in me can't get enough "Murder She Wrote", "Rumpole the Bailey", and "Brideshead Revisited", but I'm probably better known among friends for switching on David Chappelle or, history's funniest movie ever, "Booty Call" (to which I'm not going to provide a link, beta).  In fact, "Booty Call" was, … [Read more...]

Go Lady Caliphs!

I have a heretical admission to make, given that March Madness is underway. Now that I no longer live in Boston and now that professional sports teams are gangs of spoiled prima donnas lacking any local roots and/or loyalty to their "hometowns", it's pretty hard for me to identify enough with a team to get terribly worked about about its success or failure (of course, my indifference lifted briefly during the Red Sox' historic triumph over the Curse of the Bambino at the 2004 World … [Read more...]

Polygamy in American life

I came across some interesting articles on polygamy on the occasion of  the controversial HBO series "Big Life" (which concerns a polygamous marriage in Utah).  One journalist who normally covers economics has written a limited defense of polygamy ("I do, I do, I do, I do: The economic case for polygamy") in Slate.  Among other things, he argues that, as counterintuitive as it may be, polygamy can increase some women's bargaining strength with prospective … [Read more...]