Irish Muslim activist takes on FGM


Ifrah Ahmed. Photo: DigitalJournal.com

In past posts, we’ve attempted to clarify issues around Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Female Circumcision (FC), and their perceived relation to religion and culture. Here are the facts: Islam, Christianity, nor any other world religion mandates any type of FC or FGM. Some forms of FC are considered FGM, depending upon the type of procedure. The practices are either forced upon women, expected of women, or in the rare case, embraced by women. FC and FGM are performed primarily on African girls and women or those from African backgrounds living in the West. A few countries in Asia have also been documented as practicing FC or FGM.

FGM has become a topic of focus for local activists in Africa and Asia, as well as the broader international community. Activists fighting against FGM have found a champion in an unlikely place—Ireland, where a significant number of women (over 3,000) have been subjected to it. Although substantial, the number pales in comparison to the 140 million women and girls worldwide who have undergone the procedure.

Ifrah Ahmed, a 23-year-old, Somali-born, Muslim activist has only been in Ireland for 6 years, but she’s already played a key role in shaping Irish policy regarding the practice. Ahmed underwent double mutilation as a child and still suffers from serious problems as a result of the procedures. She says that sometimes the pain is so bad that “I fall down and I feel like I’m going to die.” Continue reading

Countering Extremism and Highlighting Diversity

MPV President Ani Zonneveld speaks with US Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) at an MPV event.

Exclusion seems to be at the root of many forms of extremism, whether religious, cultural, political, or otherwise. The growing and increasingly influential group Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) hopes to shift extremist attitudes among North American Muslims through their latest initiative, Literary Zikr. Co-founded as a non-profit by Ani Zonneveld in 2007, the group aims to counter Islamic radicalization of North American youth by presenting the work of progressive Muslim scholars in a simple and accessible format.

MPV, law enforcement officials, and academics all agree that Islamic extremists constitute a small percentage of Muslims in North America or anywhere, but MPV and other groups believe that addressing this problem, although small in numbers, is incredibly important and is the primary responsibility of Muslim communities themselves. Zonneveld explains:

We as Muslims should all be working together to counter radicalism… There are many within the [Muslim North American] community that are in denial. You bring up the word ‘radicalism’ and people immediately become defensive. If you’re silent, you’re just as guilty.

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A Muslim Woman Who Challenges Stereotypes

Dr. Hawa Abdi

Among the many stereotypes about Islam is the idea that Muslim women are oppressed and cannot make change and that Muslims never stand up to violenceDr. Hawa Abdi contradicts both stereotypes. She challenged an extremist group within her own country and, along with her daughters, was named Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year. I decided to write about her because of her courage to challenge those in her community who are not acting within the true spirit of Islam.

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Stories of Love and Dating in the Muslim World Today on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders

Photo by Tina Manley

Photo by Tina Manley

Today Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders will air the next program in our Inside Islam Radio Series “Love and Dating in the Muslim World: True Stories of Falling in Love.” The show airs live at 3:00 pm CST today and is re-broadcast at 9:00 pm. To find out how to listen, click here to visit the radio show page for this program. Also on the page, you will find bios for our guests and full audio for the pre-recorded interviews with local Muslims on their stories of love, dating, and marriage.

The topics range from dating in Turkey, hiding relationships from parents, eight-year courtships, the engagement contract, an impromptu proposal in a roadside ditch, modernizing traditions and working wives who are separated from their husbands in school, and even the story of a Catholic convert marrying a Somali woman. All of these are available for you to listen here on Inside Islam: Dialogue and Debates. What is your marriage or dating story and will you share it with us? Please leave a comment below or send us an email with your response.

Women’s Rights Under Islamic Law

Many advocates of Sharia cite Islam’s “fundamental respect for women” as one of their religion’s greatest benefits. The prophet Mohammad is known for ascribing women a right to own property, receive education, and hold a job. When asked by an adherent whom he should give his greatest respect to, Mohammad said, “your mother,” then “your mother,” then “your mother,” only then followed by “your father” (here in the Compendium of Muslim Texts).

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