A Conversation on the Speaking in God’s Name Conference, Part I

Last weekend, I attended a conference entitled “Speaking in God’s name: Re-examining Gender in Islam”in London. Organized by Inspire, a Muslim women’s consultancy that aims to inspire and empower Muslim women. The purpose of the conference was to have a conversation about re-negotiating how we understand gender in Islam. The conference featured some big names, such as Amina Wadud, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, and Dr. Khalid Abou El Fadl, and Mukhtar Mai. The conference also launched the start of a new orga … [Read more...]

A Gay Girl in Damascus Tells It Like It Is

Amina Abdullah is being celebrated as the unlikely voice of Syria’s revolution. She is a 35-year-old Syrian-American woman living in Damascus. On her blog, she writes candidly about her life as a lesbian in Syria. She garnered international attention after a post describing how her father was in an altercation with the state police.Abdullah’s blog is not only significant as an account of someone in the midst of Syria’s revolution.  It is also important because it is creating more opportunities … [Read more...]

Bin Laden’s Wife and the Stereotyping of Muslim Women

This was originally published at The Guardian's Comment is free.Women played an interesting role in the account of the final hours of Osama Bin Laden's life. Three wives, as well as nine of his children, lived in the compound where he was killed, along with the families of two Pakistani brothers. Initially, it was erroneously reported that Bin Laden had used one of his wives as a human shield. However, as we began to learn more about the compound in Abbottabad and the events that made it … [Read more...]

Nothing Says Empowerment Like Sexy Face and an Oil Rubdown

Sila Şahin, a Turkish-German actress, shed her clothes in order to “free” herself from her conservative Muslim background. The Daily Mail says: Ms Sahin's declared intention was to used the controversial Playboy photoshoot as a call to action for other Turkish girls who suffer the effects of their strict backgrounds, where women's choices are often limited, husbands are chosen for the girls and chastity closely controlled.I am skeptical that this was actually about social commentary as much as … [Read more...]

Wiam Wahhab’s Trash-Talking Politics

Wiam Wahhab is the leader of the Tawhid Movement in Lebanon. A former MP and journalist, he is also a close ally of Syria. In a rant against Syria’s rival, Saudi Arabia, Wahhab compared Saudi women to “garbage bags,” in reference to the black niqab that is common in the country. Sparking the anger of protesters, Wahhab eventually retracted his statements, clarifying that his comments were not meant to insult the veil, but rather the lack of human rights afforded to women in Saudi Arabia.While a … [Read more...]

Knight in Shining Armor or Idiot in Tinfoil?

Dear Bill Maher,Hey there, Billy. I’m pretty sure I can call you that now, since you have taken a personal interest in saving my life. Recently, you made the statement that Muslim lands will not get democracy without a “sexual revolution.” Muslim men, in your opinion, are sexist demons, which are an extension of states that crush the rights of women.Let’s be clear: a lot of screwed up things happen “over there,” and some of those things are “far worse” than “here.” You’re right about that. Bu … [Read more...]

Is it Fair to Scrutinize Arab First Ladies?

In a recent article, Nesrine Malik discusses the scrutiny placed upon the wives of Arab leaders in relation to revolution in the Arab world.  Designer-clad extensions of their husbands’ regimes, Malik points out the focus placed upon their lifestyles. Mostly, she draws upon the example of Tunisia’s Leila Ben Ali, Egypt’s Suzanne Mubarak, and Jordan’s Queen Rania. Critiqued as symbols of the greedy and corrupt antics of their husbands, they also represent some of the confusion about what a progres … [Read more...]