One of the most persistent stereotypes about Islam is that it is oppressive towards women. While it is true that there are many instances of abuse and oppression of Muslim women and problematic interpretations of religious texts, there is no justification for that behavior in the faith. In fact, it is clear from the Qur’an and the hadith that the relationship between men and women should be based on respect, kindness, and love. In this post, I would like to focus on a few examples of hadith that underscore these core values and illustrate that the Prophet Muhammad himself displayed these characteristics in his interactions with the women in his life. Continue reading
On March 11th, Amina Filali, a 16-year-old Moroccan girl who had been raped, committed suicide by swallowing rat poison. Filali killed herself after she was forced to marry the rapist. This was in accordance with a controversial section of the Moroccan penal code called Article 475, which states that a “kidnapper” of a minor can marry the victim to escape persecution. The article has been extended to include rape victims. Many Moroccans are outraged by Filali’s suicide and have begun Facebook petitions to change the article. Twitter has also been used to get Filali’s story out. Continue reading
Last night, TLC aired the second episode of All-American Muslim, an 8-part series that follows the lives of five Muslim American families in Dearborn, Michigan. As I wrote in an earlier post, the show aims to dispel the stereotypes that surround Muslims and Islam. As a Muslim American, I had high expectations of the show. I was excited that an entire program would focus on the Muslim American community and would generate more discussion on this minority group. Well, the show certainly created more discussion, after watching two episodes of All-American Muslim as well as Anderson Cooper’s daytime show about it, I am a bit disappointed by certain aspects of the show. Continue reading
On Friday, October 7th, three women were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: Tawakul Karman from Yemen and Ellen Johnson Surleaf and Leymah Gbowee from Liberia. Tawakul Karman is a Yemeni journalist and activist. Karman, 32, mother of 3, and the first Arab woman to win the prize, has been a central figure in Yemen’s revolution to remove President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Referred to by some as the “Mother of the Revolution,” she began her activist work several years ago. 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
Last month, in Tajikistan, religious authorities banned the use of text messages by Muslim men to divorce their wives. To those not familiar with the practice, this may seem an odd thing to worry about. But divorce by text message has become a problem in Tajikistan because an increasing number of migrant workers there are not returning to their countries of origin and so need a remote method to divorce their wives from home. Text messaging specifically impacts Muslims seeking a divorce because they are being used to issue the “triple talaq,” the process by which a husband ends a marriage by stating his desire for divorce three times.
There always seems to be a fascination with how Muslim women cover. Whether they wear a hijab, a niqab, or the full-on burqa, the intrigue around it never seems to be abate. The interest goes beyond why they cover to why some Muslim women do not cover, and more specifically to why a Muslim woman would put on a hijab and then take it off.
On March 23rd and 24th, Muslim Voices, an organization that “aims to increase intercultural dialogue and understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims,” held a conference at Indiana University titled “Re-scripting Islam: Muslims and the Media.” The conference explored the multiple narratives of Islam and Muslims in the media.Various panelists spoke about different avenues that Muslims and non-Muslims are using to engage in discussions about Islam.
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 violence. Dr. 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.
With so many people traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, the focus in the news has been the new TSA security procedures. At some airports, full body scanners are being required for everyone and if someone opts out of the scan they are subject to an “enhanced pat down.” Muslim groups are among the many who oppose these new procedures, especially the full body scanners.