Jul 02 2012

Sisters, brothers and the only right thing to do

Tag: Extremism,Islamic values,Women IssuesMona @ 5:47 am

Brothers and Sisters

Ramadan is on the doorstep again and I’m feeling bad for leaving my readers without attention for so long. Thank you all so much for the overwhelming positive feedback (strangely I hardly get any other kind).

While reading my mails I sometimes wonder what if..?

One lady from Australia f.e. is thanking me for showing her the real Islam and is thinking about converting. “..this website – it is informative and it makes Islam a little more understandable for us non Muslims – Contrary to what we are led to believe Islam is obviously a serene and beautiful religion, which is open and welcoming to every one who desires it and one in which women are held in high esteem… Many, many thanks for helping to open my eyes and my heart!”.

I really do wish she will find the right kind of people guiding her to it.  More asking questions than giving answers here.

Why is it that people who claim to be Muslims do not act like Muslims should do?  Once in a while I hear devote Muslims say that in many ways the real Islam is found more in the modern democracies than in the Islamic world today. Why?!

In a democracy people’s rights are written in law books and there is no way twisting around them. It is their right and they get them, no one is above the other in terms of citizen rights. I am thinking of a letter I got recently from a reader. He was asking for specific quotes on inheritance matters so he could convince with them quarreling siblings.

A father had died 8 years ago leaving 2 sons and 6 daughters behind . He owned 2 houses and some agricultural land. Until this day the sisters have not got anything from their inheritance and the siblings are not even talking to each other since then. One of the brothers claims to be Islamic scholar saying that he has Proof that girls do not have any right to the two houses. Also from the agricultural land the sisters did not get any benefit till this day, not to mention any share.

Being a Muslim does just not mean growing a beard, reading the Quran daily and learning some Hadiths by heart, praying the prayers on the minute, going to Pilgrimage or even giving some Zakah. His fasting in Ramadan is void since he is not talking to his sisters and withholding their legitimate rights.

Islam is how you treat your fellow human beings, and actually all living things.  The only way to please God is to follow his advice in daily life. He forgives missed prayers and disobedience against Himself in  personal lifestyle, but for hurting your next of kin, neighbor or any innocent people is not forgiven by trying to do some extra prayers or doing a pilgrimage hoping that small sins will be washed away.

“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West, but righteousness is this that one should believe in God and the last day and the angels and the Book *, and the prophets **, and give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for (the emancipation of) the captives, and keep up prayer and pay the poorrate; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in time of conflicts these are they who are true (to themselves) and these are they who guard (against evil). (Quran 2.177)

“Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms and prayers? Making peace between one another: Enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots.”  (a Hadith by Prof. Mohammed)

Unfortunately many believers think that some extra worshiping will wipe away smaller misdeeds. I am very skeptical about that. I have often the feeling that people do the bookkeeping of good and bad deeds themselves trusting they will balance each other with the goods ones somewhat heavier!

Here is a huge field of work and need of education from the Islamic preachers, who usually stick to routine sermons, do this, do that.. and God is merciful.

Yes, He is wise and merciful, but believers should not do the weighing themselves. There may be a huge disappointment on the final day of Judgment.

Ramadan kareem, and remember: “you should not eat your fill while your neighbor is hungry”

With greetings, Mona

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* The Book means the Bible, the Torah and the Quran. “People of the Book” is reference for the religion of Prophet Abraham.

** The Prophets are all the Jewish and Christian Prophets with the one difference: Jesus is a Prophet to Muslims and  the last one was Mohammed. One cannot be true Muslim without believing in all of them.

 

 


Mar 20 2011

Old habits are hard to overcome

 

 

Saudi women’s veil versus modernity

Thousands of years old ethnic traditions felt unplaced in 21st century-

from Emirates news:

Husband has not seen wife’s face despite 10 years of marriage

By Staff , Published Sunday, December 05, 2010

After nearly 10 years of marriage that produced five children, Mufleh Mohammed of Saudi Arabia still has not seen his wife’s face.

Mohammed Hilal, another Saudi husband, could not identify his wife who was killed in a road crash until her veil was put back on her face.

Mufleh and Mohammed are among many Saudi men who have never seen the face of their wives as they insist on sticking to ancient tradition of keeping their face covered even in front of their relatives or husbands in defiance of ongoing changes brought about by the advent of oil and a massive foreign influx.

In a report on such habits, the Saudi Arabic language daily Alhayat said many women in the conservative Gulf Kingdom that controls nearly a quarter of the world’s oil still defy the winds of change and stick to their ancestors’ traditions.

Even after they get married, they never remove their burqu (face veil), leaving their husbands guessing how they look like. Mufleh is one of those husbands.

“My wife still keeps her face covered all the time even in front of her family and relatives because she has been accustomed to this since she was a child… I have to respect her wishes and not insist on seeing her face,” he said.

“I cannot deny that the woman’s habit to cover her face in front of her family and inside her house is a tradition that my tribe had inherited from our ancestors… but I have thought that social changes and openness will alter some of these habits since they have nothing to do with Islam… but they have not changed… although I have been married to my wife for nearly 10 years and have five children from her, I have not seen her face even once in my life.”

Most Muslim women in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf crude producers still wear face veils as part of long-standing traditions dating back before oil was struck more than half a century ago. But some of them, mainly the new generations, have started to unveil their faces while keeping a scarf on their heads.

In Saudi Arabia, local women taking off their face veils in public still face the wrath of the feared Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which usually deploys thousands of its members in public places to warn unveiled women. Women with “seditious” eyes must fully cover their faces.

Such practices run against recent statements by an outspoken Commission official, who said Saudi women do not have to veil their faces.

Sheikh Ahmed Al Ghamdi, head of the Commission’s Makkah branch, also said there was nothing in Islam to prevent women from driving.

Alhayat said Mohammed was another one among many Saudi husbands who are deprived from seeing the face of their wives.

“I could not identify my wife after she was killed in a road accidents…I asked security women to put the veil back on her face…after they did so, I recognized her and indentified the dead person as my wife,” he said.

The paper quoted an unnamed teacher at a literacy centre as saying she succeeded in persuading two of her female students to uncover their faces in class. But after a while, she noticed that they could no longer concentrate.

“They kept blushing and turning their faces away from their class mates although it is a female centre… after a few days, they quit the school,” she said.

Another Saudi women identified only as Ibta said she had agreed to her husband’s request to take her face veil off at home despite criticism from relatives. “My husband is an educated man so I agreed to his request… but my relatives then started to look at me with contempt and one of them later shouted in my face and said ‘shame on you… how could you do this,’….I stood their criticism with my husband’s encouragement,” she said.

But another Saudi man was not as open as Ibta’s husband. “I don’t see anything wrong if our women stick to old traditions,” said the man, identified as Saleh.

“Every society has its own traditions and habits and we have no choice but to respect them… we do not force them to do anything they don’t like, because some women in our tribe keep their face veil and some do not.”
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From that article I remembered a Saudi woman from Riadh who saw the face of her mother the first time at her funeral, secretly she lifted the veil (as told in her life story, a book) .

 

How did it come that women in ancient times started wearing a full face veil in the vast Arabian desert? People inhabiting that huge inhospitable desert land were in the majority nomads living from their sheep flock and camels. Camel was and still is the Bedouins best friend. It is the “ship if the desert” and it is the source of meat and drink, milk and in Emergency (only*) blood from a vein on the neck when no water is available while a camel can survive for days with one drinking. Small farming communities existed in the oasis and in the coastal cities Mecca and some others flourished import-export caravan trade with spices and silk and other luxury items, badly needed vanities like pearls and perfumes by spoiled circles in Europe and elsewhere between the Mediterranean Sea and the East as far as the ancient China.

 

Photo By: Wendy Cocker,  Aslam Pilgrim caravanserai at Wadi Aslam,  northwest Saudi Arabia; 18th century

 

Let’s imagine the men going about their business looking after the animals. Tribal conflicts were every day matters, blood revenge the order. In that scenario especially the women were vulnerable and I can imagine why it became necessary to protect them, especially if they were still young and beautiful.

Bloody tribal conflicts were the menace of those times and until today tribal thinking is still strong in some areas.  In fact Prof. Mohamed was invited to Medina as arbitrator between warring tribes and was able to achieve peace between them, the main reason why people of Medina converted to the religion he was preaching, to Islam.

It was the custom in those times that after lost battles women and men were taken prisoners and often sold as slaves, sometimes the women were married legally. We can understand why women needed special protection in those days.

Small scale model of an ancient Arabian city, at Tayabat House in Jeddah

But times change. Today those countries are predominantly Muslim and it should be without thinking clear that women are safe from male harassment without covering their faces.  From religious point of view the face veil  is not required and the most powerful argument against it is the fact that when women perform the ritual pilgrimage (Omrah and Hajj, equally required from both sexes if affordable), they are not allowed to cover their faces in the Grand Mosque of Mecca. And they mix with men while doing it. In the Quran there are only two Suras, which mention in some way the veil. One of them says that the wives of the Prophet are not like other women and one should talk to them through a shade. A word that can be translated in different ways, but the root word can be any garment, a curtains or similar. The face veil comes from that, a shade, a covering, a curtain.

The other verse is in my opinion misinterpreted. While the Prophet was talking about covering bare breast (often the case while nursing, especially slave women) some are interpreting it meaning as an order to draw the head cloth (worn against the heat of the sun) over the face to the bare breast.

This is my personal view and I can see that I am not alone in this. I think that to develop a country it cannot forgo the huge potential of half of its population!  In those oil rich countries today the girls are getting an education but they find it really hard to get a  job. Only in education as teachers in girl’s schools or as women doctors were jobs open, and only if male relatives agreed. But slowly they are getting out and taking on office and administration jobs that until now were done by foreign male employees.

And they are driving cars, occasionally. Until recently foreign male drivers were hired from abroad which is actually Totally against the same old custom that women cannot be in the same room without males who are not close relatives. But it is still just a modest beginning in many areas.

Not to forget the fact that the huge number of foreign employees and workers send their savings back home for families they are supporting. That money is away from the country where it would otherwise stimulate development of the society. The good side of it is of course that poorer countries without oil reserves are profiting from it.

(* Blood and the meat of swine and some other animals are forbidden in islam, but in order to save lives in emergency allowed.)

Salaam for later

Mona


Mar 08 2011

100 years celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th

Tag: Islamic values,Women IssuesMona @ 10:43 am

International Women’s Day March 8th

IWD2011 logo

Today it is hard to believe for instance that as late as 1977 the women of Germany got their legal right to work outside their homes without the permission of their husbands! Until 1953 when getting married the assets of the bride went automatically to her husband and until late 1960’s she could not open her own bank account without the permission of her father or husband.

We cannot but appreciate the wisdom of Islam that introduced 1400 years ago the right for women to inheritance and own wealth. She is not expected to share the cost of bringing up the family which is considered as the duty of the husband. The wife can voluntarily help but it is not required in Islam. The inheritance and the bridal money are clearly regulated in the Quran and applied since then.

In fact the majority of the Muslims is living outside of the Middle East (Far East),  are  more liberal and have little problems with women rights. I would say they are closer to the Quranic message of Righteousness.

Unfortunately customs in many areas are still pressuring women to give up their inheritance share to male relatives. Which is a clear sin for the males because it directly contradicts Quranic regulations. In many Muslim countries women are enjoying these rights but unfortunately in quite many especially in the poorest and most underdeveloped countries this is not the case. Not to forget some of the richest countries, where Islamic sects are distorting the original ideal of Islam and traditions lie heavy on the society.

Let us be optimistic, I am.
Mona

PS. An Article on recent events in the Middle East unrest and how women organisations are fearing a backlash if the Muslim extremists get more influence in the future.  Is revolution in Mid-East bad for women’s rights?


Mar 03 2011

World Press Photo winner 2010

Restoring Honour? Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban

Hello, back blogging again after losing my whole blog content. Luckily I had saved my texts, but it will take some time to put them back again. Sorry, trying to be more focused in the future.

 

Today I am speechless and saddened, Horrified.   First I thought I should not take up this subject, because it could eventually do more harm than good for the task I have taken on. But things do not ever change if we do not address them!

So let’s analyze this.  We should not be too quick putting everything on the Religion, tragedies like these are hard to overcome and they happen quite often in some areas. Sad enough, the word Taliban means “Students of Religion”.  Old habits die hard and thousands of years old traditions are taken for religious practices. We can witness that everywhere and especially in the developing world. In Africa for instance Witchcraft (Voodoo, Vodou) is practiced along the main religions Christianity and Islam, and they do not see any contradiction in it. In the Middle-East there are Honour killings (fortunately not everywhere) denying women their God given rights for dignity. The right of choosing her own husband and eventually to get divorced is set in the Quran. According the Quran she can reject a suitor by saying “no” or if shy by staying silent (meaning she accepts) and a divorce is possible even for the only reason that she does not like her husband.

From old customs we have to remember also the pharaonic practice of circumcision of girls. It is justified in Africa by Islam, although the African Christians are practicing it equally. There is NO mentioning of it in the Quran or even in the Hadiths. I suppose that it came to the Arabian peninsula much later with pilgrims (many of them stayed there for good) from Africa where it is known since times of the Pharaos. Please read my topics on the right for “What the Quran has to say.. ”, “Hadiths”, ”Women and Islam” about them.

 

“If you see an evil, correct it with your hand; if you cannot correct it with your hand, correct it with your tongue (words); if you cannot do it either, feel that it is wrong in your heart.” (Prof. Mohammad)

World Press Photo of the Year 2010: South African photographer Jodi Bieber wins premier award.

Bibi Aisha     bibi aisha disfigured taleban

I quote from the article hoping worldpressphoto.org does not mind:

“The portrait of Bibi Aisha was also awarded First prize in the category Portraits Singles in this year’s contest. It was shot for Time and was featured on the cover of the 9 August issue of the magazine.
Her winning picture shows Bibi Aisha, 18, who was disfigured as retribution for fleeing her husband’s house in Oruzgan province, in the center of Afghanistan. At the age of 12, Aisha and her younger sister had been given to the family of a Taliban fighter under a Pashtun tribal custom for settling disputes. When she reached puberty she was married to him, but she later returned to her parents’ home, complaining of violent treatment by her in-laws.
Men arrived there one night demanding that she be handed over to be punished for running away. Aisha was taken to a mountain clearing, where she was held down, and had first her ears sliced off, and then her nose. In local culture, a man who has been shamed by his wife is said to have lost his nose, and such treatment is considered punishment in kind. Aisha was abandoned, but later rescued and taken to a shelter in Kabul run by the aid organization Women for Afghan Women, where she was given treatment and psychological help. After time in the refuge, she was taken to America, where she received counseling and reconstructive surgery.”

Another article:
“Promised to a Taliban fighter by her father when Bibi Aisha was 12 to satisfy an obligation, she was married at 14 and had been used as a servant and forced to sleep in an outbuilding with her in-laws’ animals. When she fled their abuse, neighbors turned her in. She was jailed briefly, and her father retrieved her and returned her to his in-laws, after being assured they would treat her better. Instead, her husband walked her into a mountain clearing and held her down while his brother chopped off her nose and ears as other Talib watched. Then they left her to die in the mountains where they’d disfigured her. “I passed out,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Atia Abawi. “In the middle of the night it felt like there was cold water in my nose.”

It was her own blood, so much of it, she told Abawi. “I couldn’t even see…”

Somehow Aisha managed to feel her way to her grandfather’s home, where she was hidden and then spirited away to a medical center run by the U.S. military, who eventually transferred her to a privately-run women’s shelter…”

In another article  the photographer Jodi Bieber tells how she felt this woman was beautiful and did not want to portray her as a victim but show her dignity. She was right and is an exceptional good photographer.

Bibi Aisha was very fortunate to get proper medical care after her attackers left her there to die. Hundreds, perharbs thousands of other girls are not so lucky.

After reconstructive surgery now 18 year old Bibi is smiling again

Bibi Aisha after surgery


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