Can a Muslim Woman Wear Pants?

wb4701tanOne of the assumptions about Islam that never seems to dissipate is that Islamic law is this rigid and incredibly harsh system that exacts punishments that are beyond what is tolerable in Western societies. Moreover, so the common discussion goes, when this law falls on women, it often means that they will be unfairly subjugated. Is any of this true? An article in the New York Times about Lubna Hussein, the Sudanese journalist who faced lashing for wearing pants, reminded me how much these issues infiltrate discussions on anything in the Middle East and Islam. Continue reading

France and Veiling

burqa

Photo from BNP News

How does a Muslim woman really assert her rights? This seems to be an underlying question in many discussions on Islam worldwide and touches on issues of choice and self-determination. However, questions like this can never be answered in one way because of the diversity of Muslim communities that cannot be defined by one culture, one outlook, one interpretation of faith, or one context. Not only must we address this reality, we must truly engage it and work with the consequences. Although a topic that seems so overly debated, Muslim women’s bodies continue to be a part of different political landscapes. The veil–along with all its numerous manifestations–needs to be critically assessed by women (enough discussions by men) and appropriated in a way to represent what they choose about their faith. Continue reading

The Musawah Movement

A group of women from around the world met in Malaysia to launch the Musawah movement for gender equality and family law reform (photo via Musawah.org).

A group of women from around the world met in Malaysia to launch the Musawah movement for gender equality and family law reform (photo via Musawah.org).

Soon after religious authorities outlawed yoga earlier this year, Muslim women asked, “what next?” Irritated and outraged by their mistreatment and angered by the horrors of domestic violence, hundreds of Muslim women from around the world gathered last February in Malaysia. This global meeting marked the official launch of the Musawah movement for equal rights and family reform.

An organization of working professionals called Sisters in Islam led planning of the movement and the launch event. For an interview with Sisters in Islam program manager Norhayati Kaprawi, visit the page for our Inside Islam radio show “Women and Sharia.” Women involved in the Malaysian conference also included scholars, doctors, lawyers, and even bloggers who represented countries from across the globe.

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Passionate Uprisings in Iran

Author Pardis Mahdavi wrote Passionate Uprisings from personal experiences during the seven years she spent observing politics and sexuality in post-revolution Iran. Mahdavi claims that the country is undergoing a momentous generational shift away from religious traditions toward democratic values. This changing image is missing from mainstream news in the west but in fact, Mahdavi says, people in the west have a lot in common with this new generation that embraces individual freedoms.

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A Listener Responds to ‘Women and Sharia’

Dave Wood, a listener of the Inside Islam radio series on Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders, writes:

I wish I was writing with typical accolades but unfortunately I’m sending a note about my disappointment in your Inside Islam series. I think it not only lacks objective reporting but, even worse, it whitewashes Islam leaving your listener less prepared to identify radical Islam’s threat to our freedom and culture. Perhaps most important, your program does not challenge Muslims to face the profound human rights issues their religion faces.

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Inside the Minds of One Billion Muslims

Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies Dalia Mogahed was interviewed last week by host of Interfaith Voices Maureen Fiedler. The interview “Inside the Minds of One Billion Muslims” takes a look at one product of the Muslim West Facts Project, an initiative that was featured on Inside Islam in November. Mogahed summarizes the data collected by the center in a book she co-authored with John L. Esposito, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think.

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Questions from Today’s Radio Program on Women and Sharia

In today’s radio program “Women and Sharia” host Jean Feraca brought up a couple engaging questions that we’d like to follow-up on here on the blog. Jean introduced the show by saying:

Every year in Muslim countries throughout the world women are reported gang raped, imprisoned, mutilated, stoned to death and otherwise killed in the name of Shari’a, Islamic law. Is this really Shari’a? How can custom be separated from law? Who speaks for Muslim women?

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“Women and Sharia” Radio Show Airs Live Today

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.

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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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