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 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


Mar 10 2009

Grandma punished

Yesterday we celebrated the International Woman’s Day.

IWD poster 2009

The following news article, once again, one cannot read without wondering and getting really upset. This is NOT  Islam!

Saudis order 40 lashes for elderly woman for mingling

(CNN) — A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced a 75-year-old Syrian woman to 40 lashes, four months imprisonment and deportation from the kingdom for having two unrelated men in her house, according to local media reports.

According to the Saudi daily newspaper Al-Watan, troubles for the woman, Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi, began last year when a member of the religious police entered her house in the city of Al-Chamli and found her with two unrelated men, “Fahd” and “Hadian.”

Fahd told the policeman he had the right to be there, because Sawadi had breast-fed him as a baby and was therefore considered to be a son to her in Islam, according to Al-Watan. Fahd, 24, added that his friend Hadian was escorting him as he delivered bread for the elderly woman. The policeman then arrested both men.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam called Wahhabism and punishes unrelated men and women who are caught mingling.

The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, feared by many Saudis, is made up of several thousand religious policemen charged with duties such as enforcing dress codes, prayer times and segregation of the sexes. Under Saudi law, women face many restrictions, including a strict dress code and a ban on driving. Women also need to have a man’s permission to travel.

Al Watan obtained the court’s verdict and reported it was partly based on the testimony of the religious police. In his ruling, the judge said it was proved that Fahd is not Sawadi’s son through breastfeeding.

The court also doled out punishment to the two men. Fahd was sentenced to four months in prison and 40 lashes; Hadian was sentenced to six months in prison and 60 lashes. In a phone call with Al Watan, the judge declined to comment and suggested the newspaper review the case with the Ministry of Justice. Sawadi told the newspaper that she will appeal, adding that Fahd is indeed her son through breastfeeding…

Please read on the right Panel also my other topics, like Women and Islam.

In Islam there is a punishment for adultery which must be witnessed by four people, a practical impossibility. But even then it is not a death penalty, or corporal punishment:

“And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death comes close to them or God opens some way for them.” (Q.4:15)

The punishment by flogging comes from the Hadith’s and as my readers must know by now,  I am quite critical about  them.

Therefore modern scholars argue that Islam does not favor a harsh punishment, which was practiced before Islam. Like stoning to death was common as it was in  Christian Palestine, too.  We all are responsible for our deeds on the last day, when our good deeds are weighed against our bad deeds. Grandma mingling with two boys who go shopping for her is not a grave sin, in my humble opinion (sorry my sarcasm, cannot help it!)

BUT:  there is a hash punishment for accusing chaste women, and I wish these religious fanatics will get their share on the last day:

Qur’an 24:23: “Surely those who accuse chaste believing women, unaware (of the evil), are cursed in this world and hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement.”

Qur’an 24:2-4: “Those who accuse married women of adultery, then fail to produce four witnesses, you shall whip them eighty lashes, and do not accept any testimony from them; they are wicked.”

Qur’an 33:58: “And those who speak evil things of the believing men and the believing women without their having earned (it), they are guilty indeed of a false accusation and a manifest sin.”

While reading this article I had to think of the gravest sins in Islam:

an invention (which is NOT based on the Quranic teaching) to the practice of faith is one of them.

I cannot imagine that God would not allow women to drive or grandma to send her neighbor’s boys for shopping or stopping by for a chat -   a case like this, where she knows him all his life. In fact I believe the reason for not allowing women to drive  has not so much to do with them but much more with men, who harass women  – it is quite common in Saudi Arabia.

I pray to God to guide Muslims back to the right path!

HE gave us a free will and the ability think, and we should use that gift.  Common sense is all I wish.

Salaam


Aug 30 2008

Democracy and Islam

While watching World News and Mayhem on my TV screen I have long been intending to write about Democracy because the common assumption is that Islam and Democracy do not go well together.  We should not confuse tradition with religion.

In older democracies the path to this day was long and slow. Some reached it earlier, like in Britain the first step was as early as in 1215  known as the Magna Carta Other countries have followed. Although one must sometimes wonder if democracy is the best way to govern. It is always a compromise which naturally is not the best solution to problems. And voters do not always choose the best candidate simply because of lack of knowledge and experience and they can be easily manipulated.  But there is no better way available and the rights and safety of individuals must be guaranteed.

In my opinion in the Quran  we have clear instructions for the early Muslim community to practice democracy:

“O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to God and the Apostle, if you believe in God and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.” (Q. 4:59)

“And their business is (conducted) through consultation among themselves.” (Q.42:38)

“God does not love the public utterance of hurtful speech unless (it be) by one to whom injustice has been done; and God is Hearing, Knowing.” (Q.4:148)

Traditionally, before Islam matters in the pagan Arabian Bedouin communities where already handled democratically. Clan elders discussed problems, set rules and practiced justice as they are still doing it among themselves in a smaller scale, because today we have governments and state laws. Like in almost all early human communities regardless of location worldwide.

It was much later than dictators have taken over motivated mostly by power and material gain.

It is still a long way for many, but I am hopeful that matters will improve. In my opinion the key to success is education, education, education and especially that of the women. They are the ones who educate the children and their influence on the society is tremendous.

Unfortunately in many places religion have been used to segregate women from men denying them the basic human rights the Quran guarantees them! (Please read also the Topic No.6 on the right “Women and Islam”)

As I already wrote, we should not confuse religion with tradition. I am quite critical about the Hadiths. They are orally narrated reports from the time of early Muslim community and were collected as late as 250-300 years after the death of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). Bukhari, for example, examined 600,000 traditions of which he accepted only 7,397!

I have never forgotten an experiment we did in school, I was 11 years old (the last year before changing schools). At the beginning of class the teacher gave us a sentence or perhaps it was two sentences – a short story. We whispered it to each other and by the time bell was ringing for break the teacher asked the last pupil to tell what he had heard. We could not believe what from the story had become, it was unrecognizable!

I am not asserting, that this is the case with Hadith’s, but taken in account the time which passed (200-300 years) even the best-meaning and devoted believer can err. It is human, we are not computers that can record every word forever.

In my opinion we should put less importance on the Hadith’s (put them in perstpective) and more on the Quran, which gives us clear instructions and in this particular case we understand that Islam favors Democracy!

Quoting the late Dr. Lila Fahlman Dr Lila Fahlman

 

Founding President of the World Council of Muslim Women Foundation:

“Man-written Hadith’s have ruined Islam and do not speak to human rights or to equality for men and women, but rather favour the enslavement of women.”…   “Any Muslim who finds the Qur’an difficult to understand would do best to spend his time on the Qur’an rather then on the Hadith’s, which can never surpass the Qur’an as the Hadith is man written.”

 

 


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