South Africa’s Open Mosque : Media, Feminist Critiques and “Unopen” Mosques.

Praying at Masjid ul Islam, Johannesburg.

The past month has been controversy ridden for the South African Muslim community, as news of the inauguration of the ‘Open Mosque’ in Cape Town has forced Muslims to tackle issues of gender equality, sexual orientation and religious freedom.Community radio stations, national broadcasters, newspapers and social media have been abuzz with news of the Open Mosque, covering everything from the protests and backlash against such an idea and death threats against the founder, to the alleged clo … [Read more...]

Embracing Women, Inspiring Daughters

Swinging in the Drakensberg.

This post is part of a series of nightly reflections, and was originally written on June 30.Tonight, my reflection is dedicated to all my sisters reading this, as Surah Al Imran was recited in thousands of masaajid around the world and it is a chapter of birth and of life …of Maryam (as/peace be upon her), of Isa (as), of Yahya (as) and of a new community of believers, in the deserts of Arabia, enraptured by the words of Allah.The story of Umm Maryam (the mother of Maryam) is a p … [Read more...]

A South African Muslim Woman’s Memories of Mandela

My daughter outside Mandela's home in Soweto on Saturday night.

I wrote part of this piece when Dr Laury Silvers asked me for a few words she could read in her khutbah at El Tawhid Unity Mosque in Toronto. She wanted to open with words from a South African, and I am grateful to her and the congregation for the oppurtunity to express these words on the passing of our beloved Comrade, President, Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who returned to his creator on Thursday night, December 5 at the age of 95.Tata (father), as we fondly call Nelson Mandela, … [Read more...]

Book Review – Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn Arabi, Gender, and Sexuality

Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn Arabi, Gender, and Sexuality.

This review was originally published at Muslim Views.Research in the areas of Islamic and Gender Studies often overlap when it comes to the question of women in the Islamic spiritual tradition. What does Sufism offer to men and women seeking out paths of equality and egalitarianism? How does maleness or femaleness influence spirituality, and is the notion of the un-gendered soul a tenable one in the context of a hyper-gendered legal tradition? Is it possible to go beyond socially instituted … [Read more...]

Ramadan: The Mother and Activist

Halaqa

Ramadan for me personally has always been a month of compassion, congregation and contemplation. However, last year in Ramadan, my entire days and nights revolved around caring for my then-one-month-old twins.Time passed by like a whirlwind; I have vague memories of feeding, burping, changing, and rocking babies to sleep – all the while trying to maintain some semblance of spirituality. Just one Ramadan before that, I had all the time in the world to pray, attend congregational prayers a … [Read more...]

In the Name of Honour: The Free Aafia Siddiqui Campaign in South Africa

Justice for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

Earlier this year, South African Muslim media was abuzz with the story of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist who was convicted and sentenced to 86 years in prison for assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan. The media campaign served to raise awareness about Siddiqui’s alleged abuse at the hands of the U.S justice system, and to assert her complete innocence. Her story is a difficult one, spanning the vastness of two continents … [Read more...]

Book Review: Desperate in Dubai

Cover of Desperate in Dubai.

Desperate in Dubai, a cheeky exposé novel based on the original blog written by Ameera al-Hakawati (a pseudonym), revolves around the lives of four women who live, love, and labour in the sparkling Gulf city of Dubai.I recently had the chance to catch up with al-Hakawati in Dubai, to chat about her book, her faith, and the politics of anonymous writing as a Muslim woman.British-born Al-Hakawati says she knew she had to write a book about Dubai the moment she arrived in what she … [Read more...]


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