Friday Links — July 31, 2009

  • Female Saudi students in Boston, Mass., take part in educating locals about their country, culture, and religion.
  • Last week, the WISE conference was held in Kuala Lumpur. You can read about it here, here, here, here, and here.
  • The regional coordinator of the Madura Ulema Association in Bangkalan, Indonesia supports a proposed bylaw that would require female students to wear Islamic veils.

  • Rochelle

    First, thanks to all the readers and commentators of MuslimahMediaWatch for your support on the Shadi Sadr case. She is now at home and we are currently getting details on her charges (if any.)

    Second, I appreciated the diversity of links relating to the Canada honor killing issue. With so much crap out there, it’s nice to see a thoughtful debate on the subject.

  • Sobia

    Ugh…as much as I despise the words of Tarek Fatah, and as much as it pains me to say this, I do think he makes some good points in his article. I just wish he wouldn’t paint Muslims in such dichotomous or binary ways. Progressives and liberals against Islamists. He leaves no room for those of us in between. However, as I said, he does make some good points. Just the other day I was in a Toronto Islamic bookstore (probably the same one he refers to) and the vast majority of books were so hard to take. My grandfather noted that of all the books in there only one is worth reading – and I think it was on Mirza Ghalib (so not even religious). There seemed to be a very, very disproportionate amount on the “proper” conduct of a “good Muslim woman” (much of which fell into questionable territory – ie mixed gatherings of men and women are totally haram) and just one that I could see on the proper conduct for Muslim men (and this book was skimpy compared to the other books).

    Our Muslim community really does suffer from viral misogyny and needs to seriously address it. But I’m just not sure how.

  • phil
  • Dude

    Your points have validity. The article, though, is poor. Pity he wrote it that way.

    The mullahs and the mosque leadership may deny their role in ensuring that Muslim women are second-class citizens within the community, but the place they reserve for women in the house of God, the Mosque, reveals their real conviction. Other than one mosque in Toronto, not a single other is willing to let Muslim women sit in the front row. They are sent to the back, or behind curtains, or pushed into basements or balconies, for they are considered not as our mothers or daughters and sisters, but as sexual triggers that may ignite male passions.

    While I can sympathize with the conditions of the prayer area for women in some mosques, I hardly see women praying in the front row as a criterion for anything. Suggesting that not letting women pray in the front row is problematic is suggesting that the Prophet’s actions were problematic. You might as well do away with Islam altogether.

    Additionally, in the mosques where women are relegated to the last row, men are forbidden from praying in the back. How onerous and oppressive it must be for the men!

    Honour killings take place because some Muslims have been convinced by their mullahs that the burden of their family’s honour and their religion is vested in the virginity of their daughters and sisters.

    I’d love to see any realistic study support this claim. I’ve dealt with Arab Mullahs, and South Asian Mullahs – both in the “west” and in their own lands. It’s true that many/most of them put a lot of weight behind virginity. However, none that I encountered even came close to legitimizing honor killings. And at least in South Asian society, all the people I know who seemed to support honor killings or be dismissive of their horrendousness (can’t think of a better term) are the ones who are more influenced by culture than by religion – despite listening to a lot of “Mullahs”. They may claim to be quite religious, but their actions are in contradiction to the very same Mullahs. Culture rules.

    Honor killings routinely occur in Hindu society, and aren’t that rare among Christian Arabs. Is it because of the high value their religious authorities place on virginity? Here’s a case of Liberian refugees in Texas:

    After the 8 yr old daughter was raped, the family did not want her back. Mullahs were responsible?

    Most mullahs acknowledge that according to sharia law, a woman who has consensual sex with a man outside marriage deserves to be lashed in public or stoned to death by an Islamic State or an Islamic court. Don’t these Islamists see how this interpretation can be taken as a license by men to take the law into their own hands?

    Yes, and most such Mullahs often mumble something about four witnesses.

    In another article (same paper):

    As many as 5,000 women and girls lose their lives — most at the hands of family members — in “honour killings” around the world each year, according to the United Nations.

    I often wonder if they count gang members here in the US who murder women who sleep with members of the wrong gang/race? After all, isn’t that what a lot of the honor killings by lower class European “Muslim” men do?

    Well, at least a third article seems to concur:

    Gender violence must be analyzed comprehensively, not viewed as a “cultural problem” among certain communities. If a white man kills his partner and/or children, he is seen as a murderer and a “bad apple.” But when non-whites and non-Christians kill, the crime is often called an “honour killing” and entire communities and cultures are labelled as “backward.”

    Now there certainly may be a culture of mistreating women among some subcommunities within the Muslim community. I’m not suggesting by my comment that it be ignored. And if there is a problem, there should be all kinds of discussions in Islamic centers – workshops, etc. I just hardly see allowing women to pray in the front row at all helping mitigate such a problem.