International pop star Lady Gaga was recently denied a concert permit for her upcoming Jakarta concert due to pressure from a few conservative Indonesian-based Muslim groups. The majority of Indonesians are likely offended by some of Gaga’s music and her concert performances, as her art is viewed as immodest and out of line with Islamic principles. However, the overwhelming majority of Indonesians have also taken little interest in actively preventing Gaga from taking to the stage on June 3. Interestingly, however, Indonesian authorities, supposedly following secular laws, have had a poor track record on cultural and religious tolerance, and since 2008, socially conservative Islamic organizations have successfully campaigned against a variety of western artists from performing in Indonesia: Mötley Crüe, N*E*R*D, Rihanna, Akon, 50 Cent, and Avenged Sevenfold have all cancelled their shows due to similar types of pressure.
This past week, Malaysia banned an Islamic sex manual put out by the controversial group Obedient Wives Club, whose statements have caused a stir. The Obedient Wives Club maintains that wives meet only 10% of their husbands’ needs and thus this manual instructs Muslim women to be subservient and obedient to their husbands sexually. Furthermore, they maintain that it is the wife’s job to prevent her husband from being adulterous by acting like a prostitute. Finally, they encourage polygamy. Although the manual does not contain any pictures, it is very descriptive. Moreover, the manual suggests that it is acceptable for polygamous men to have sex with all their wives at the same time. Continue reading
This month a new reality show will start airing in Malaysia. Solehah, which means “pious one,” is a reality show where women compete to be named the best preacher. Contestants will be judged on their religious knowledge, personality, and oratory abilities.
What makes this show unusual is the fact that women are competing in a field usually reserved for men. There is already a hit reality show called Imam Muda in Malaysia where men compete to be the best imam. Women can give dawah (call to Islam) but men are often at the forefront. This show, however, demonstrates the role that women play in communicating the faith. Continue reading
“Imam Muda” (Young Imam), a Malaysian Islamic reality show searching for the next young imam, just began its second season this week. The show, based on “American Idol” and “The X Factor,” first aired in 2010. The show now has a bigger following and has drawn over 1,000 possible contestants from around Southeast Asia.
Only a short time ago, green was just another color in the crayon box. These days, saying “green” sparks images that go well beyond Christmas trees and the Green Bay Packers. Greenhouse gases, green technology, or simply “going green” are phrases that we now hear peppered in daily conversation. But “green-friendly” ideas are anything but new for the people of the Indonesian island of Java.
This is a guest post by Anna M. Gade, Associate Professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia and the Religious Studies Program at UW-Madison, and the author of The Qur’an: An Introduction. She will be the guest of today’s Inside Islam radio show on Wisconsin Public Radio March 11 at 3 p.m. CT (4 p.m. ET).
A way to introduce the Qur’an to students in a classroom in Religious Studies is to present the text as religious Muslims experience it daily: embodied in voice and sound, expressed in rhythm and pitch. If listeners do not immediately understand the meanings of all the Arabic words they hear, they may share this experience with about four-fifths of the world’s Muslims who are also not native Arabic speakers. Approaching the Qur’an in this way, hearing real voices render what is believed to be God’s unchanging speech, can help learners to imagine the diverse global contexts across space and over time in which the Qur’an is faithfully rehearsed. Continue reading
Last month, three women were caned in Malaysia for extramarital sex. The Malaysian government said that these canings were carried out under sharia, Islamic law. These women were the first to receive this kind of punishment. Many in Malaysia and in human rights groups have condemned these canings and have called for Malaysia to stop using this kind of corporal punishment.
This story for me raises a number of issues related to Islamic law. First, it raises the question of what exactly Islamic law means for people nowadays. If these women were in fact receiving a punishment in accordance with religious law, is it really possible that all the conditions were met?According to Asifa Quraishi, a law professor at UW-Madison, who was on the Inside Islam radio show Women and Shariah, there are specific conditions that must be met in order for an individual to receive corporal punishment for extramarital sex that include having four people testify that they witnessed the actual act. They also have to concur on all the details. How likely is it that these three women were seen in this situation? Continue reading
The complicated relationship between music and Islam has been something which has interested Inside Islam from the very beginning. Even though religious chanting is allowed–even encouraged–in Islam, there is an ongoing debate whether other music is permitted. Some Muslim communities ban non-chanting music all together, while others allow it as long as it doesn’t contain messages (e.g. sex, alcohol) that go against the teachings of Islam.
The Muslims in Indonesia adopt the latter attitude. As Prof. Anderson Sutton told Inside Islam, Islamic music is not only allowed but is also a huge part of the popular culture in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world. You can listen to the whole interview by clicking on the player below.
The first understanding of Islam beyond stereotypes for many non-Muslims starts with a Muslim friend. That’s the case with Francis Bradley, a PhD candidate in the Department of History at UW-Madison. The personal connection with a friend from Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, not only introduced him to Muslim culture, but also played a critical role in his research and career. He sat down with me earlier this month to talk about his experience with Islam. Continue reading
In my conversation yesterday with Norhayati Kaprawi, the program manager of Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian women’s rights advocacy group, I got a feeling of déjà vu. So much of what she told me about the group’s efforts to educate and empower women about their rights reminded me of what American women went through in the sixties when we begat a social revolution just by talking with one another around our kitchen tables.