Mar 17 2013

“Solar Mama”

 

Empowering rural illiterate women in remote areas.
Film about Jordanian Bedouin mother premieres at HRW Film Festival in London
2013-03-16  Jessica Holland/ The National

• The Human Rights Watch Film Festival will be held at venues across London from today until March 22. The screening of Rafea: Solar Mama and Q&A with filmmakers will be on Friday and Saturday. Visit www.ff.hrw.org for more details

 

A very inspiring documentary by two Egyptian woman filmmakers Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief about a Jordanian Bedouin woman who was chosen to participate  at the “Barefoot College” –  a school in the Indian state of Rajasthan that invites illiterate grandmothers from rural parts of Afghanistan, South Sudan, Peru and elsewhere in the world to take a six-month course on solar engineering.

Unfortunately I was not able to watch the premiere in Jordan but we can get an idea of the story in the official movie trailer on YouTube (please click on the picture.)

 

The film was received in Jordan with standing ovations on International Women’s Day in a huge theatre. “The audience was roaring and crying the whole time. It was amazing.”

There is wave of change and empowering woman in most conservatives Muslim societies, Al Hamdulillah. It is a wrong notion to argue  that women should stay home and have no say in the daily struggles of the society. Islam paved the way for women when in most parts of the world at that time women were nowhere near the freedom and chances as they have today. Unfortunately in later centuries the message somehow got lost.

 

If we read with open mind the relevant passages in the Quran and in the many Hadiths remembering that those are orally told reports of that time collected, sorted out to reliable and to less reliable ones and written down as late as 200-300 years later. Therefore they should be taken with caution. Not everything in the Hadith’s  is the absolute truth as human memory can err (please read Topic No. 8 on the right panel, too).

Not the right but the Duty is on every Muslim, male and female to search for education.. “even from as far as China.” (Prof. Mohammed)

“Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers.“ (Prof. Mohammed in his farewell speech on his last pilgrimage)

 

With best Greetings

Mona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Jul 23 2012

Understanding Afghanistan, one woman’s fight

 

 

Last winter I read a moving story about two women’s lives in the war torn country. The Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini paints a vivid and often sad but still hope filled picture of the Human Spirit winning all odds. It has staid with me, an intriguing saga of solidarity. I recommend it without hesitation to all who care to understand our diversity and the value our differences.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Now I had the chance to read the powerful memoir of  Fawzia Koofi, a known women rights campaigner and the first female Speaker of the Afghan Parliament.

 

The favored daughter, by Fauzia Koofi

 

It was captivating read and I finally started to really understand the fabric of Afghan society.  And I only can wish from my heart that the country could  recover from decades of terror and horror. Her story captures the political and cultural complexity in Afghanistan. Coming from the northernmost remote, very poor and very conservative province of Badakhshan she grew up as the 19. of the 23 children of her father who had seven wives. According to Islamic law he had to divorce some of them in order to remarry. Fawzia Koofi was left to die in the sun after birth by her mother, but she survived and became her favored daughter. Through extreme hardship and threats to her life she has emerged as a beacon of hope for the country.

As it was customary in her village girls were given to marriage as young as 12-year olds despite the legal marrying age of 16 years. She escaped this  by losing her influential father and being a child refugee in Faizabad. She was the first girl in her family to be allowed to have a school education. Although her father was a well known politician who represented the province in Kabul parliament girls education was not appropriate in her village. Education was not seen necessary for girls as they were to marry and their husbands would be in charge of everything.  She was overjoyed to get this opportunity as her widowed mother insisted. And now a widow herself and a mother of two girls she is an outspoken advocate of women and children rights and is planning to campaign for the 2014 parliamentary elections. For a future for Afghanistan and her daughters.

When reading of women of stature and high moral character and their determination one cannot but wish more of their kind would be given the reigns of power to change the course of history, by some magic might. Would the world have a better chance then? Today it looks like we do not have a chance in the face of rapid population growth, hunger due to climate change, swindling natural reserves and the wars over them.  Men have done their best, although I’m not convinced.  What if..

Ramadan Kareem, my dear readers!

Mona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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.

 

 


Jan 22 2012

What went wrong?

 

Yesterday I stopped. There was a lighthearted discussion between friends about life in general and then talk about testimony in a disagreement. Someone said jokingly  “is it enough to have two female testimonies to prove you wrong?” Something in that direction.  We all knew the history of that ruling and it was a joke after all!

How did it come that things are in such a bad shape today in many Muslin countries especially with women rights and tolerance? And why is it that they are backward in many areas despite the immense material wealth under their feet in oil, minerals, gas etc.? One could argue that this wealth have been contributing to that fact, the reasons for it are open for discussion. Why is it that some Muslim countries with very little natural wealth have progressed better in areas of human rights and social welfare than those with riches?  This could be a very interesting research topic for a student thesis!

The birth of Islam 1400 years ago was a beacon light for humanity: no racism (all are equal before God), equal rights for all and caring for the less fortunate.  For instance the ruling that two women’s testimonies are worth of that of a man was revolutionary for the pagan Bedouin tribes of Arabian Peninsula.  At that time in Europe people were living in deep superstition despite of their Christian faith. And still 1100 years later witch-hunt and burning suspect (mostly women) alive authorized by the Church was common practice.

Christianity wrong understood by the religious elite. There were virtually no women rights at time in Europe. Only in the last couple of centuries women have reached through long campaigning equal rights, although they often still do not get the same salary for the same job done even in the most advanced countries.

Why is it that in too many Islamic countries that should be in the forefront in this battle of humanity backwardness and intolerance is dominant?  And women in the most conservative corners of societies are less fortunate in many ways than in the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh). Not necessary to mention that the first wife of Prof. Mohammed was a confident businesswoman and his employer and after his death his wife Lady Aisha was an accepted Islamic scholar and became active in politics.

How can it be that today some scholars argue that women have no right to express their opinion, no rights in many ways when it is Clearly ruled in the Quran and no believing Muslim can argue against it?  In my opinion the reason can be found in the overemphasizing of  the Hadith’s, memorized stories from the lifetime of the Prophet and the years thereafter that in some Islamic rulings overrun clear statements of the Quran.

As the late Dr. Lila Fahlman (Founder of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women ) once wrote: “Man-written Hadith’s have ruined Islam”.

Islam introduced women rights concerning her own property, inheritance and the right to choose her husband. Please read on the right panel Topic No. 8 “Women and Islam”, too. For example

Qur’an 2:228 “Women shall, in all fairness, enjoy rights equal to those exercised against them.” (This statement occurs in the context of divorce.)

Qur’an 2:282. “O you who believe! When you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; and the scribe should not refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so he should write; and let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should be careful of (his duty to) Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it; but if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding, or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness; and call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other; and the witnesses should not refuse when they are summoned; and be not averse to writing it (whether it is) small or large, with the time of its falling due; this is more equitable in the sight of Allah and assures greater accuracy in testimony, and the nearest (way) that you may not entertain doubts (afterwards), except when it is ready merchandise which you give and take among yourselves from hand to hand, then there is no blame on you in not writing it down; and have witnesses when you barter with one another, and let no harm be done to the scribe or to the witness; and if you do (it) then surely it will be a transgression in you, and be careful of (your duty) to Allah, Allah teaches you, and Allah knows all things.”

Arab women gathering at the Town wall, by American Orientalist painter Frederick Arthur Bridgman  (1847-1928)

Wishing you a happy, healthy and spiritually rewarding 2012 and hoping that this little drop in the ocean could initiate some small scale awakening to the realities of the modern world!

Mona


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