A Worship that Works

Image provided by the author.

My son is already almost six months old, but I haven’t fully absorbed the fact that I’m a mother to someone. I always found it funny when people said mak orang (lit. “someone’s mother”) in Malay, but this time it’s me they’re talking about.Don’t get me wrong: I love my son and I love mothering. Soon after I last reflected on fasting while breastfeeding, I decided to give it a try. We started Ramadan in the Netherlands, where there was 19.5 hours of daylight. With a cold circulating in our … [Read more...]

Qatar’s Modest Proposal: Dignity or Diversion?

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Originally published at Aquila Style.Qatar has revived a modesty campaign dating from 2012, when it was known as “One of us” and originally started by a group of Qatari women.[i] Due to be relaunched on 20 June 2014 – just in time for Ramadan – as “Reflect your respect”, the campaign is targeting public spaces with flyers and a social media poster showing various dress choices.[ii] Four stick bodies represent clothing choices that are deemed unacceptably immodest for revealing shoulders, arms … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Hijab of Cambodia

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This post was originally published at Aquila Style.Stories of gender-based violence, especially in times of conflict, is nothing new. But what pulled me towards this book was the geopolitical situation and demographic of conflict: the Khmer Rouge regime (also known as Democratic Kampuchea) of 1975-1979, and women of the targeted minority group of Cham Muslims. The sober dark purple and black cover foretells the sinister atrocities that I am set to read about; stories told by Cham Muslim … [Read more...]

Hijab Removal, Iranian Women, and Freedom of Dress

Image via the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page.

This post was originally published at Aquila Style.The liberal feminist organisation Femen and its members’ naked breasts have had their media run. Now a more modest sort of uncovering is happening, this time in Iranian social media. Last month, London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad started a movement on Facebook and Twitter, translated as “My Stealth Freedom”, to highlight the “legal and social restrictions” faced by women in Iran.Secular and Muslim women all over Iran are p … [Read more...]

Indonesia’s trans Muslim Maryani: “Seeking Paradise is not limited to our sex or clothing”

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An article in the Jakarta Post last week followed the latest developments on a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) for transgender people in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Although it is called a boarding school, the Pondok Pesantren Waria Al-Fatah functions more like a religious school where students can learn classical religious subjects like fiqh and Qur’an recitation, as well as a community centre where students gather to break the fast together during Ramadan.It was opened in 2008 by the late M … [Read more...]

Marilyn Monroe in a Burqa: Commentary or Cliché?

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Walking home recently, I rounded the corner from my apartment and noticed a poster that was banal and startling at the same time. I had previously written about the (mis)use of images of Muslim-looking women by Dutch non-profit organisations as an attention-grabbing device, which may or may not be related to the actual work being promoted. Here was another prime example: a film festival poster showing a pair of female legs and high heels peeking out under a blue burqa, blown about above a vent à … [Read more...]

Entrenching Stigma: Malaysia’s Cross-Dressing Law

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2013 ended with another decision, somewhere in the world, to entrench the persecution and ostracisation of a minority group. I'm referring to a new syariah law introduced by the Pahang Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council (MUIP) in early December 2013, which would imprison for a maximum of one year or fine up to RM1000 (USD 304) a man who dresses like a woman, or a woman who dresses like a man.The deputy director of the Pahang Islamic Religious Department (JAIP) added that the ruling … [Read more...]


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