The Accolade, an all-female Saudi rock band has received big-time media attention, including an interview with NPR and a feature in The New York Times. Despite the fact that the band cannot play in public because of their gender, Dina, Dareen, Lamia, and Amjad have developed a large virtual following on Facebook and MySpace.
From The New York Times article “In Booming Gulf, Some Arab Women Find Freedom in the Skies:”
Far more than other jobs they might find in the gulf, flying makes it difficult for Muslim women to fulfill religious duties like praying five times a day and fasting during Ramadan, the Egyptian attendant noted. She said she hoped to wear the hijab one day, “just not yet.” A sense of disconnection from their religion can add to feelings of alienation from conservative Muslim communities back home. Young women whose work in the gulf supports an extended family often find, to their surprise and chagrin, that work has made them unsuitable for life within that family.
Reactions to the article after the break.
Host of the award-winning podcast Islamophonic and journalist for the Guardian UK Riazat Butt takes a critical and witty look at the Muslim community beginning at home in her native Great Britain. Each month, the program deals with complex cultural and political issues in the news by tackling topics like marriage, extremism, secular democracy, and others.
Riazat refrains from making overarching conclusions about Islam without buffering them with humor. Also, the programs rarely deal with spiritual matters. Instead, Islamophonic tackles the difficult task of reporting the individual stories of living in Muslim world.
Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA) held their 2008 Annual Conference in Philadelphia last month. The conference focused on a range of topics and perspectives from guest speakers. Amad, a writer for MuslimMatters, concluded his blog series on the conference today. It’s an innovative, thought-provoking piece of new media because it transcends the image of Islam that you hear and see in mainstream sources.
Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders did a really fun and enlightening radio program related to Inside Islam last week. It was on Arabic and Islamic influences in American culture. The author of “Al America” Jonathan Curiel joined me live on the air to talk about the roots of Islamic influence in Americana, from the Alamo, to the French Quarter, to the Mississippi Delta, even in popular music. It made us think about doing a program on the Call to Prayer and its influence on secular music – both in the Muslim world and in America.
Fellow Wisconsinite and blogger Aziz Poonawalla contacted me after reading about Inside Islam on ReadWriteWeb. He has two interesting web projects, the Brass Crescent Awards, ending this Friday so vote now, and the group blog Talk Islam. After a description of these, you can read more about Aziz’s bio with his other sites below.
Eco-Islam describes green, environmentally friendly development projects led by local Muslim communities. Topics within this broad category focus on how to apply Islamic principles to local culture to protect the environment and encourage steady spiritual development.
To conclude our commemoration of Eid, Tarek Amr from Egypt joins us on Inside Islam as a guest blogger to write about Eid, the hajj, and symbols associated with the feast of sacrifice. Tarek is a bilingual blogger who writes about technology in English on Gr33nData and in Arabic on another site called Kelmeteen, or “a few words.” His social, religious, and non-technical writing is posted on Not Green Data. Last, Tarek also writes and translates for one of the best online resource for content from around the world Global Voices Online on an ongoing basis.
Tarek addresses an aspect of Eid al-Adha that we have yet to mention in this series: the fact that the holiday also marks the end of hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. For those interested in a visual look at this year’s celebration in Mecca, The Big Picture presents “The Hajj and Eid al-Adha.” Welcome, Tarek.
Symbols of Eid Around the World
by Tarek Amr
It was early in the morning somewhere in the Middle East, when Amina, a ten years old girl, woke up and went to her father’s room to wake him up. Today is the tenth of Zul-Hajja and it is Eid El-Adha. They have to go to pray in the mosques now then get back to their home to sacrifice that sheep that they bought last week and kept in their home’s backyard.
It was late in the afternoon somewhere in Europe, when Alan, a ten years old boy, was watching the television with his parents and saw footage of millions of people covered with white cloth and revolving around some building in Mecca. There were also other videos of other people sacrificing sheep and calves in other parts of the Muslim World.
By the end of that day, both Amina and Alan were aware that at that time of the year, Eid El-Adha is celebrated across the whole Muslim World. They both learned that at that day hundreds of millions sacrifice animals at that part of the world. They also knew that in that day some Muslims go to practice pilgrimage – Hajj – in Mecca. But they had many questions in the minds. They both were wondering why people sacrifice animals like this. Why do they cover themselves in white cloth and revolve around El Kaaba during Hajj.
They both had dozens of questions in their minds; they kept asking their parents, and went online to search for answers or find books that may answer their questions till they knew that it all started thousands of years ago when Ibrahim (Abraham) was order by Allah (God) to sacrifice his own son, Ismael (Ishmael). Ibrahim hadn’t have any children till he got really old, and he was really attached to his son. Ibrahim went to tell his son about that divine order, and the son as well as his parent agreed that they have to submit to Allah’s will.
At that moment Allah rewarded them both with a sheep to sacrifice instead of Ismael. We sacrifice sheep till now and give their meet to the poor ones. We do so as a symbol of submission to Allah’s will. We all have our own Ismael’s, some are attached to their sons like Ibrahim, some others are attached to their wealth, fame, etc. And that’s why we do sacrifice sheep every year in order to remind ourselves with that thousands years old incident and to learn to submit to Allah’s will even if it is against ours.
They also kept reading and asking till they knew that white cloth is called Ehram. Changing your own clothes with the Ehram is the first step of Hajj. Our clothes are always a symbol of our identities in this life. The quality of our clothes may reflect our wealth; their style can reflect what we do, where we come from, etc. And that’s why people do put on the Ehram, in order to be all equal.
Also in Islam people are seen as a combination of body and soul, where body is the part that bounds us to earth and to our life on it, while soul is our heavenly part, and that’s why the Ehram looks like the cloth people are covered with when they die, and putting it on is a symbol of getting rid of our mortal part and evolving towards our heavenly part. They then orbit around the Kaaba, which is also known as the House of Allah. Millions of people orbit around the Kaabe in the same time all of them wearing the same clothes and moving as a single unit.
The Hajj is a multi-day trip that people are required to do at least once in their entire life as long as they are capable of doing it. And that trip if filled of many symbols and it needs many books in order to elaborate its inner values. I am sure I cannot describe it in one or two posts, and I am sure I am not aware of every single detail of it and their meanings, but it’s always a pleasure to read more and more about it and get to know its details and symbols more, and it is even better to go practice it yourself someday and feel the pleasure of Hajj.
More on Eid:
Three guest bloggers joined Inside Islam to commemorate Eid this year. Naeem Mayetas wrote Thursday’s guest entry. In it he shared his Eid experiences growing up in South Africa. Another blogger from ProductiveMuslim wrote a post yesterday on Abraham’s story of sacrifice.
Rather than look at this past week’s celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid from the outside in, I have invited other bloggers to share their personal experiences. Thursday’s guest entry asked readers, “are we losing the spirit of Eid?” Today, a blogger from ProductiveMuslim joins us on Inside Islam to explore this topic further. The entry below tells the story of Abraham and the meaning of his infamous sacrifice from an Islamic perspective.
Rather than look at this week’s celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid from the outside-in, I thought it would be more interesting and thought-provoking to focus on personal experiences and local celebrations. I looked for stories about Eid in the news and asked bloggers to share their thoughts on the holiday with us here on Inside Islam.