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


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.”
.                                                    ……………………………………………………………….

 

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 30 2008

Movies and Controversy

 

 

Movies and Controversy

In need of information and Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s thoughts I contacted Hirsi Ali at the only address I found, her official website. A few days later I received an answer which I copy here partly, because this is our common interest:

“.. Unfortunately, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s schedule does not permit her to respond to every email personally, but please rest assured your message has been passed on to her.

I understand that you did not find what you were looking for on this website, which does not surprise me, as this is the very first incarnation of the site and was put together quite quickly. We are in the process of redoing the entire site, and will include much more extensive information, including interviews, speeches, blogs, and links to articles, etc. This new website should be up within the first week or two of April. Please feel free to be in touch at any time. Sincerely, Administrator”

As I suspected, she is not managing her website by herself. I invited her as guest writer to my blog, but obviously she is not interested.

Hirsi Ali came to stardom through the murder of her friend Theo Van Gogh (human life is sacred!).

She wrote the text and her voice is heard on the controversial movie he was making about Islam. A stereotyping and simplifying peace of work, “Submission”, a 10-minute film in English.

My theory is, without knowing Ayaan Hirsi Ali personally, that she is being used by these extremist for their agenda without her realizing it. She is outspoken, she is right by criticizing the hundred of years old customs she experienced in her childhood and youth. But what Muslims do is not necessarily Islamic. From the excerpts I have found on the internet she is not familiar at all what the Qur’an really says.

Her close friend Theo Van Gogh was a right wing radical, we could say a Nazi, read for yourself: Theo Van Gogh on Jews, on Women ( including MP Ayaan HIrsi Ali)Quote:” 5. Who killed him and why?
The arrested suspect wrote a rambling five page letter and left it at Van Gogh’s body.
Though his parents were from Morocco, he was raised in The Netherlands in Dutch and apparently did not know Arabic. The letter had nothing on Van Gogh. It was a long ramble on purported quotes from the Jewish Talmud. The suspect was said to be upset by his mother’s death and TV footage of US soldiers killing wounded Iraqi civilians. There is not any proof that he did not act alone.

So, an INDIVIDUAL killed Van Gogh. Not “Islam”. Not even “political Islam.”
Again: not, NEVER ANY excuse for this terrible murder. It seems murderer and victim had something in common: both fairly intelligent but mentally disturbed.

Quoting Wikipedia: “Controversial statements-
Although Van Gogh was known as a friendly, tolerant character in person, in the 1980s he became a newspaper columnist, and through the years he used his columns to vent his anger at politicians, actors, film directors, writers and other people he considered to be part of “the establishment”.He incurred the anger of leading members of the Jewish community by making comments about what he saw as the Jewish preoccupation with Auschwitz. This quote from a 1991 magazine interview is a typical example of such commentary. Van Gogh explained a “smell of caramel” by stating that “today they’re only burning diabetic Jews”. When he was criticized by the Jewish historian Evelien Gans, he wrote in Folia Civitatis magazine: “I suspect that Ms. Gans gets wet dreams about being fucked by Dr Mengele.” He also expressed the wish that she would sue him so that she would have to explain in court why his remarks were false.

Van Gogh rejected every form of religion. In the late 1990s he started to focus on Islam. He caused widespread resentment in the Muslim community by consistently referring to them as geitenneukers (goat-fuckers). Although it is not clear whether Van Gogh actually coined the term geitenneukers, he certainly popularized it. He felt strongly that political Islam is an increasing threat to liberal western societies, and said that, if he’d been younger, he would have emigrated to the U.S.A., which he considered to be a beacon of light in a darkening world.

One of the few politicians who seemed to be exempt from Van Gogh’s criticisms was the conservative leaderPim Fortuyn, who was assassinated in 2002. Van Gogh usually referred to him as the divine baldhead. After the death of Fortuyn, Van Gogh continued attacking the remaining members of the Lijst Pim Fortuyn as he did other politicians. His political idol from then on was Ayaan Hirsi Ali.”

Another controversial movie “Fitna” from the same Dutch right wing corner, this time from from Geert Wilders. Unfortunately the rush to watch this peace of cinematic “peace of art” is so big that the video does not download completely. But I think I am not missing much.

From the very first pictures I realized that he is taking suras of the Qur’an out of context – suras from war situations (the Qur’an came in fractions in the course of 22 years, on different occasions, pls. read the topics 2,3 and 4 on the right panel, too). Sadly enough, I must admit that the Islamic extremists are doing exactly the same while the Qur’an as a whole is an appeal for humanity, equality and righteousness.
As I suspected all along, this campaign against Islam has to be seen in a larger concept. In my opinion the main forces behind it is the worldwide Jewish community (which by the way is very influential in the country which is their main ally, USA!)

Remember the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and the Caricature contest with the theme “Islam”, the responsible editor Flemming Rose is from Jewish faith. By black-painting Islam they are trying provoce violent response from Muslim youth and “prove” that there is no peace making possible with Muslims. By now image of Muslims in the world is at its lowest point. And as the time goes by Israel is creating facts on the ground, there is not much terrirtory left for a Palestinian state.

Geert Wilders Wikipedia: “.. The Dutch newspaper Telegraaf reported in May 2007 that Geert Wilders had been shadowed by the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service for years, when he was foreign affairs spokesman for the VVD. During that time, Wilders had been regularly meeting officials at the Israeli Embassy in The Hague.[8] Sources in the security service said that the agency was surveilling conversations between Wilders and Israeli personnel.[9] The security services denied the allegations, insisting it had never shadowed or eavesdropped on Wilders.[10]“

The State of Israel is delaying the Middle East process by ever enlargening the illegal settlements and by the enclosure of the remaining Palestinian lands. One could write volumes about this theme.

But people who have closely watched the peace process since the first Oslo peace agreement cannot oversee the systematic sabotage of this undertaking. Israelis see the whole West Bank and some more conservative circles even larger areas like South Lebanon and parts of syria and Sinai to be their Promised Land.

The latest attempt yesterday by the outgoing pres. Bush was sending Ms. Rice to Israel for negotiations, which went with the same routine as usual: the same day or the day after Israel officially announces building new settlements or enlargening older ones while these activity is prohibited in occupied territories by international law and especially a part of the Oslo Accords.

Quoting USA Today“AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had barely left Israel on Monday following her latest peacekeeping mission when Israeli officials announced plans to build 1,400 new homes on land Palestinians claim for a future state.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to keep building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, dismissing Palestinian claims that construction on contested land is the greatest obstacle to peace.

The disclosure of the construction plans immediately after Rice’s visit demonstrated the intensity of the political pressures that Olmert faces, but it threatened to make it even harder for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to convince skeptical Palestinians that diplomacy, not violence, would win them a state….”

To be continued soon..

 


Sep 03 2007

Sep. 11th 2001 – Tragedy in the US

 

This post was published in my first blog shortly after the incident at http://islam4women.8m.com/articles/tragedy.html

 

Sep. 11th 2001 – Tragedy in the US

I would like to express my deep condolences to the families of the victims. This horrendous crime has nothing to do with Islam. The aim of these people is to launch a war, “a clash of civilizations”. We must never allow them succeed! We must do our best to stop them and the best way to do it is INFORMATION; explaining the world the real message of Islam, promoting tolerance and cooperation between peoples. May God help us and prevent an escalation of the events. (September 2001)

“There shall be no compulsion in religion”. (Qur’an 2:256)

“Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.” (Qur’an 2:62)

“Do not argue with the people of the scripture (meaning Jews and Christians) except in the nicest possible manner – unless they transgress – and say: ‘We believe in what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you, and our God and your God is one and the same; to Him we are submitters.’ ” (Qur’an 29:46)

“You shall invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kind enlightenment, and debate with them in the best possible manner. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who are the guided ones.” (Qur’an 6:125)

“God does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. God loves the equitable.” (Qur’an 60:8)

“Say: ‘We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord; We make no difference between one and another of them, And we submit to God.” (Qur’an 2:136)

“… and do not aggress; God dislikes the aggressors.” (Qur’an5:87)

“….. You shall not kill – God has made life sacred – except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you, that you may understand.” (Qur’an 6:151)

“And do not kill any person – for God has made life sacred – except in the course of justice, and whoever is slain unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority, so let him not exceed the just limits in slaying; surely he is aided.” (Qur’an 17:33)

“…You shall resort to pardon, advocate tolerance, and disregard the ignorant.” (Qur’an 7:199)

“Truth comes from your Lord. Let anyone who will, believe, and let anyone who wishes, disbelieve” (Qur’an 18.29)

“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.” (Prophet Mohammad, p.b.u.h.)

 


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