Local High School Tries to Understand Islam

On November 8th, Middleton High School held a day long event for their Human Rights’ Day called “Understanding Islam.” The event focused on the topics of Islam in the news and women and Islam. Jean Feraca, the host of the Inside Islam Radio Series, moderated the panel on Islam in the news and I was part of the panel on women and Islam.

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Controlling women is not part of Islam

In Saudi Arabia, there is a movement to put an end to the guardianship system that controls the lives of women. Under this system, Saudi women cannot work, study,travel, or even open a bank account without the permission of their guardian–a man. Opponents of this system, like Wajeha Al-Huwaider, a Saudi women’s activist, argue that it prevents women from carrying out normal lives. Supporters, on the other hand, maintain that the guardianship system is in line with Islamic law and have even gone so far as to launch the campaign “My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me.”

Arguing that guardianship stems from Islam strips women of the very rights that Islam itself gives them. For example, education is a right for both women and men. A hadith, saying of the Prophet Muhammad, that is often cited is “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” – [Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74] In this hadith, no distinction is made between women and men.  Also, it is well known that  Ayesha, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad, played a big role in preserving many of the hadiths that directly contribute to our knowledge of him. Continue reading

Child Marriages against Islam

Protestors holding a picture of Fawziya Ammodi, 12 year old who died in childbirth

In 2008, Nujood Ali’s story got headlines around the world. The ten-year-old girl had escaped from her husband, to whom she had been forcibly married, and went to the courthouse and asked for a divorce. Ali was eventually granted her divorce. However, the court asked Ali to pay compensation to her husband because she was the one initiating the divorce.

Under Islamic law, whoever initiates a divorce carries the consequence. So, if the husband initiates a divorce he cannot take back the dowry and must complete payment of it if he has not paid it in full.  If the wife initiates divorce, she must return the dowry to the husband. Unfortunately, the court did not seem to recognize the circumstances of the situation and applied the traditional rules for divorce by asking Nujood to pay. Nujood’s lawyer, though, was able to raise the money.

After her divorce, Ali received fame for her story and was even named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year. Ali’s story called attention to the practice of child marriages in Yemen. Continue reading

Ayesha’s Story: Mother of the Believers

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Update – This program is now available for streaming and free download from the Inside Islam archive.

What do people know about Ayesha, the youngest wife of the Prophet Muhammad? Her age is the focus of any discussion and seems responsible for the controversy around her. Many, however, do not know the extent of her influence on the history of Islam and the role she played in preserving much of what we know about the Prophet Muhammad. Ayesha was a teacher, a political leader, and a warrior.

Kamran Pasha, a Muslim Hollywood screenwriter and television producer and author of Mother of the Believers: A Novel of the Birth of Islam, will join us on our next Inside Islam radio program (July 21) to talk about Ayesha’s story. Continue reading