On sexual slavery and the question of what makes something ‘Islamic’

Salwa al-Mutairi, a Kuwaiti politican, gave a cold-blooded proposal for Muslim men to take female slaves, especially non-Muslim female prisoners of war, for sexual use (or rather rape). It has rather unpredictably come under fire.Slavery is one of the most abhorrent forms of abuse of power in this modern age. But the basic principles of al-Mutairi's views have validation in Islamic texts. Like it or not, the Qur’an does not make any mention about ending slavery per se. It does recommend the f … [Read more...]

Between Worlds: Jilbab and Transgender in Indonesia

It is a scene that wouldn't be unfamiliar in France or Belgium: a woman's hijab is snatched away by strangers on the street from her head despite her protest. She is told she shouldn't wear it, or rather, she has no right to because her wearing it mocks other women and femininity itself. But it is not an episode of Islamophobic rage that is recounted by Shuniyya Rumaha Haiibalah, but an incident in her native Indonesia that would later become the title of her best-selling memoir, Jangan lepas … [Read more...]

Is Muslim Feminism More Than Just a Hijab Defense?

There may be 1,001 Muslim feminist critiques on the European burqa ban and its attendant jokes and jibes, insults, and ridiculousness. But what should remain clear is that we Muslim feminists are not just about the hijab. The recent discussion on LGBT acceptance on MMW revealed the cracks in the Muslim “sisterhood” and it began with a post on gay Muslim women in Indonesia.Homosexuality and Islam has always been a divisive topic, a topic that leaves many in breathless contempt for the LGBT com … [Read more...]

Last Say on Niqab Should be From a Woman Who Wears It. Obviously.

I took the a brief moment from work to watch a 12-minute segment on BBC's Newsnight about why British women choose to wear the niqab and why more women are wearing it in unprecedented numbers. Like any Muslim feminist, I hung onto every word and hoped nobody said something that has already been said before, ad nauseam: “Muslim women who cover their faces are deluded and oppressed.”But tonight was a little different: it was a program that provided the panacea to what I've been railing against si … [Read more...]

The Women of Indonesia’s Film Religi: Part II

Yesterday, we examined “the convert” and “the reformer,” two types of female characters in film religi. Today, we’ll examine three more:The idealWho: Aisha, the niqabi with beautiful eyes in Ayat-ayat cinta (2008) and Anna Althafunnisa, the studious Al-Azhar graduate in Ketika cinta bertasbih (When love is an act of devotion, 2009).In most romantic dramas, we have the impossibly perfect female lead, which I will designate as “the ideal.” She is fresh in her twenties, conventionally beau … [Read more...]

The Women of Indonesia’s Film Religi: Part I

Film religi is an Indonesian cultural phenomenon quite unlike any other in Southeast Asia. It is a film genre that is focused on religion (mainly Islam) and its attendant hot issues like polygamy, deviant prophets, interfaith relations, and global 'terrorism'. Riding on the popularity of the hugely successful Ayat-ayat Cinta (Verses of Love, 2008), a string of copycats followed. Mainly love stories, these films work on variations of the single, but winning formula: boy meets girl, a conflict … [Read more...]

Aquila: A New Kind of Muslim Woman?

For those familiar with women's “lifestyle” magazines, the call to be “sexy” in some way or another is not new. We women need to have “sexy” everything: attitude, legs, skin, armpits, you name it. So pervasive is this message that I'm surprised that no one has spontaneously combusted from sexual arousal at the sight of a women's magazine devotee.And then we have the new Aquila magazine, whose key buzzwords are modesty and fabulousness.As the “world's first English fashion and lifestyle maga … [Read more...]


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