Monday, 30 December 2013

Unite against oppression!

When orthodox Jews joined with Palestinian youths throwing stones at Israeli police.

Look at these two badasses.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Policewoman, pregnant teacher hanged in southern Afghanistan

Even more of a hell hole for women and in general :(
An Afghan policewoman and a pregnant teacher were hanged and their bodies dumped within a few kilometres of a foreign military base recently handed over to Afghan control, officials said on Thursday.
The two women, policewoman and mother of two Feroza and teacher Malalai - like many in Afghanistan the pair use only one name - were kidnapped on Monday in the conservative southern province of Uruzgan, said Abdullah Hemat, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
"A post mortem examination shows that both were hanged," he said.
Successive, often deadly, assaults on women working in state institutions are fuelling concern that hard-won women's rights promoted by the United States and its allies are eroding ahead of the end of the NATO-led combat mission next year.
Several female police officers have been killed in southern provinces in recent months.
The Taliban are known to target female officials working for the U.S.-backed government, although some attacks have been linked to family feuds and male relatives outraged that the women are going out to work.
The bodies were found in an area of provincial capital Tirin Kot on Wednesday, said provincial police chief Matiullah Khan. He believes both killings were linked to family feuds.
Australian and U.S. forces had managed security in the province since 2005. That ended on Dec. 11 when they formally handed over control of the province to Afghan security forces.
The place where the women's bodies were found is only a few kilometres from the Tirin Kot base where the hand-over ceremony occurred.
Australian forces left the province on Sunday.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Muzaffarnagar riots: Three months on, women worse off

Comment: the country is just a hell-hole for women :(
Hindu women protesting the arrest of their men and the 'false' cases lodged against them; horrified Muslim gang-rape survivors in relief camps; harassment on way to school forcing Hindu girls to stay at home; mass 'panic' marriages of Muslims girls from victim families.
Women have borne the brunt of the September riots in western UP, which were perpetuated in the name of saving their honour. The communal violence, in which 65 people were killed and over 60,000 displaced, only reinforced the region's deep-rooted patriarchy.
Over a dozen women panchayats have taken place in Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Shamli in the past one month. "Such panchayats are adding to the tension and we cannot stop them because any mishandling of women will only deepen the crisis," says a police officer.
While local leaders justify these 'armed' panchayats, saying the women are only protesting against the injustice being meted out to their men, some dailies have published photographs glorifying the women who brandished countrymade pistols and swords as 'chandis' (goddesses) out to protect their honour.
"Women with weapons standing along with their children not only shows the sense of insecurity among them but also how divisive forces have successfully penetrated into the society," said Manju Bharti, a Muzaffarnagar-based activist. "Communalisation of women means the rift will last for generations."
In sharp contrast to these armed women are the scores of those who were sexually assaulted during the riots and who are now living in relief camps. Activists who visited these camps say rape survivors are devastated and do not want to go back to their native villages, where they were violated and their family members were killed.
Over 600 weddings have taken place in the relief camps so far. People claim, somewhat dubiously, that most of the marriages were fixed before the riots and are being solemnized now. Post-riots, new restrictions have also being imposed on the movements of girls. Attendance of girls in schools has registered a huge drop.
For the past two years, instances of sexual assault and harassment were used selectively to whip up communal passions, eventually leading to the horrific violence.
"Men are constructing 'fear' in the name of 'honour' and then using it to impose their decision on women," says activist Roma Malik, who visited the affected areas recently. "Violence against women is common in both the communities, but this time it has been given a communal colour, making it a double whammy."
Muslim rape survivors are keeping quiet, fearing stigma. Many Hindu women, their men behind bars, fear they may be targeted now. And the fear of something untoward happening is making Hindu girls drop out of schools and forcing Muslim families to marry off their daughters.
"The communal forces which instigated the riots have hijacked the khap panchayats infamous for issuing Talibani diktats against the women," says Madhu Garg, state secretary, All India Democratic Women's Association, who has prepared a report on the riots after visiting the affected areas.
All this does not bode well for the status of women. The sex ratio in Muzaffarnagar is an abysmal 889 females per 1,000 males and the child sex ratio is a pathetic 863. Female literacy is 58.69% against the average of 69.12%. Most girls drop out of school after Class 10. Crimes against women are common in the region.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Dr. Abbas Khan: Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un

Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un. This is probably one of the most tragic things that I have ever had the misfortune to read. May Allah reward this brother in the hearafter for his good intentions and noble desire to help people and give his family patience to deal with such cruelty and tragic loss. Ameen.

British doctor Abbas Khan has been "in effect murdered" by the Syrian authorities just days before his expected release from jail, Foreign Office Minister Hugh Robertson said.
He said the death of the 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon from south London was "at best extremely suspicious".
Mr Khan was arrested last year in Aleppo where he was helping civilians.
Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said Mr Khan committed suicide using his pyjamas to hang himself.
He said the results of an autopsy proved this, and Mr Khan's body would be released to his family so they could conduct their own inquiry.
One of Mr Khan's brothers, Shahnawaz Khan, said it was "a lie" and "pure fiction" that his brother committed suicide as he had written to his family saying he was looking forward to coming home and spending Christmas with them.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

How I Met My Granddaughter’s Father

I’m responding in a loving way to my brother Mezba who is married (congratulations!) and has offspring (wonderful!) but is nevertheless about to enjoy the benefit of my sincere, unsolicited advice. I imagined what I would say if a young man came to me with this attitude intending to become the father of my grandchildren, whether it’s my son or someone who would like to become my son-in-law.
It’s especially easy to respond to this article because Mezba is so honest, so naive, and so unapologetic with his outrageous generalizations. Mezba, bro veteran, tell it like it is!
“There were no good girls in Canada.” I’ve never been to Canada, but there are many good girls in America! Either Canada is some kind of country-wide brothel with a small oasis of righteousness, or you weren’t looking hard enough, Mezba! Besides, what is a “good” girl?
“Many of them had been in previous relationships.” I’m tired of the attitude that women should be blamed for the relationships they’ve been in, and I’m frustrated that dating implies sex in the minds of so many Muslims. Spending some time with members of both sexes can be done in a halal way, can lead to a successful marriage in the best case, and (if nothing else) is a healthy way of developing comfort and a mature attitude towards relationships – a time investment that pays off when you get married and when you choose to pontificate later in life.
“They were too old.” Too old for what? Too old for sex? Too old to have babies? The frank truth is that men die younger than women on average, and the limits of childbearing years for women are exaggerated in our communities. Do I really need to bring up Khadija (as)?
“If [raising a proper, Islamic family] meant not keeping up with one’s professional peers, so be it.” A little compromise here goes a long way; what if a woman’s career is more promising than her husband’s? Shouldn’t he be willing to put his career on hold and be the house-husband for the sake of raising a “proper, Islamic family”? Isn’t that a conversation worth having?
“An arranged marriage is where a guy gets a girl he would never have a shot with in real life.” I hope this is a (distasteful) joke! Mezba, arranged marriages are still real life! Why ever would a girl consent to an arranged marriage when she can do better by meeting guys the old-fashioned way?
Reading articles like this reminds me of an episode of “Red Dwarf” where they go to an alternate dimension which is exactly the same as our universe except that men and women are swapped. The humor comes from the protagonists seeing their attitudes towards the opposite sex reversed.
If you’re unsure if you’re being a misogynist, try imagining a role-reversal and see if it seems funny or strange.
Let’s put aside romance for a moment and work this out logically: ideally, women should aim to have their first children when they’re 27 or 28; hence, they should get married to a man when they are 25 or 26. This leaves them time after college to take it easy, go on road trips with the girls, chill, and enjoy life a little before settling down with their husbands, enjoying them for a year or two, and then having that first kid. It doesn’t make sense for her to marry someone who’s also 25 or (God forbid) older: a man with a career of his own won’t want to take time off to stay at home and raise the kids, and, let’s face it: women want a man who is young whom they can enjoy and who won’t leave them an elderly widow at the end of life. An attractive, 25-year-old, career-driven, upwardly-mobile woman should be trying to marry a hot, 21- or 22-year-old man who is just finishing college and who’s willing to sacrifice his career to raise a “proper, Islamic family”.
See what I mean?
The truth is, finding a spouse is tough. People look for so much in a spouse: a companion, a confidant, a parent for their children, a good family member to their family, someone to make babies with, have sex with, and to show off to everyone else – in some order, depending on one’s preference. An arranged marriage can help get you there, but it’s not a magic bullet. Finding The One is a challenge for all but the extremely lucky in every culture.
Our community needs to revise its attitude, lest we leave many Muslim women in the west with only one option: accept that you’ll be judged and marry a non-Muslim, someone that has a shot with you in real life. As it is, after reading such a piece, they must be asking: are there any “good boys” in Canada?

Monday, 16 December 2013

5 Ways to Stop Being Judgmental

If that feeling of, “I’m better than thou,” creeps up on you while comparing yourself to someone else, consider the following:
1. Consider the saying, “Some saints have a past and many sinners have a future.” 
Being a ‘saint’ isn’t guaranteed for any one person for a lifetime. But the path to God’s forgiveness is always open and especially tailored just for the one who makes a mistake and regrets it and seeks to change, even if it’s over and over and over.
2. Think about our sins and shortcomings.
Oh, wait, can’t think of any? If we can’t, we’ve been deceived by Satan and are in an even worse state than any of those whose blatant sins we perceive.
3. Remember the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “No one with the slightest particle of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” (Bukhari)
Sometimes the actions we see others engaged in may be sins, but may not be as serious as the problem of arrogance. In wanting others to act like they’re people of Paradise, let’s be careful not to make ourselves candidates to be barred from it. God protect us.
4. Ask ourselves: Is that person a parent?
If they are and we aren’t, they’re already light-years ahead of our game. If she’s a mom, Paradise is potentially below her feet. If they are a mom or dad, any good they taught their kid and their kid acts upon are rewards going straight back to them. How are we going to compare ourselves to that? If they are and we are, consider: what great work might their progeny do that may be because of one lesson that person taught them?
5. Remind ourselves: We have no idea what another person has gone through or where they’re really coming from.
How many people were physically beaten in order to make them pray, pressured into wearing hijab, or sexually abused by a “religious” individual? Our minute interactions with individuals are not a gateway to their backgrounds and past struggles. We don’t know the pain they’re working through. And sometimes, due to those very painful experiences, people leave the practice of Islam or leave Islam completely. But then they sometimes choose to come back. And when they do, it will take time. They have to work through their emotions, the toxic relationships which originally caused the schism they experienced with Islam and the difficulty in finding a niche in a community after leaving it for some time. And all of that is jihad. Everyday they are waging internal battles.
What they go through cannot quite be compared with the young man or woman who was raised in a supportively religious household, who was a part of a nurturing mosque community, who was put in Islamic school since kindergarten and taken to Qur’an classes everyday. A twenty-year-old hafith (one who has memorized the entire Qur’an by heart) might be impressive and may God bless them and He has raised their status in a special way. But they may not necessarily be closer to God or earning more rewards from God than the struggling servant who has dealt with incredible hardship and is struggling to come back.
So, what can we do when that ‘holier than thou’ feeling creeps in?
Think: Omar, may God be pleased with him, used to be a hostile Islamophobe who would beat his servant for her belief in God. Now, he is known to us as one of those promised Paradise by the Prophet ﷺ himself. Would he have been our role model if we knew him before Islam? Maybe not. But look who he became. You know why? Because, by God’s guidance and mercy, he had a teacher and a community who helped him reach his full potential.
That’s what we need to be for others and allow others to be for us. Be a loving mentor. Be a supportive friend. Be an encouraging counselor. Be a shoulder to cry and lean on. Your awesome love for Islam and “Muslimness” will be communicated simply through your actions of being there for others in an uplifting, genuine way. If applicable, when someone is ready, that person will ask you about Islam and seek your help in becoming the best Muslim they can be, God willing. Or perhaps they’ll be more open to listening to your sincere, gentle advice on something you’re truly concerned about because of your love for them. This perspective does not mean we do not advise others when we’re concerned for them, it simply means we do so while withholding judgment and in a methodically wise way.
Be like the Prophet ﷺ. Engulf your heart so deeply in caring for people’s happiness in both worlds that it simply does not have space for judgment or arrogance. And perhaps, because of your sincere acceptance of another, you’ll soon find that very person being a means of guidance for your own self.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Madrassas in India attract Hindu students

Madrassas are usually thought of as Muslim-only schools where children study only theology and end up as religious teachers or clerics.
After 9/11, many in the non-Muslim world viewed South Asia's tens of thousands of madrassas with suspicion, regarding them as a breeding ground for radical strains of Islam.
But in recent years, defying the stereotype, nearly 600 government-recognised madrassas in West Bengal have introduced a mainstream school curriculum, and non-Muslims are studying in almost all of them.
Currently, about 15 percent of the students in the state's modernised madrassas are non-Muslims, and many of them are expecting to become engineers, doctors, scientists and other professionals.

Orgram and other madrassas in the state have undergone modernisation offering courses in physics, chemistry, biology, geography, mathematics, computer science, English language and literature and other regular subjects.
Islamic studies and the Arabic language course form a small part of the curriculum.
Funded by the state, the madrassas which are located mostly in rural Bengal charge no fees, and offer free school uniforms and mid-day meals, making them especially attractive to students from poor and lower middle-class families.

Examples of Muslim students who attended the madrassas and are now successful in their careers have spurred many non-Muslim families to send their children to the madrassas, many say.
"In Hindu-dominated society until some time back, madrassas - identified as Muslims only institutions - carried a stigma. Non-Muslims and even many Muslims used to stay away from them," Dr Khandkar Fariduddin, an eye surgeon and an alumnus of a modern madrassa told Al Jazeera.
"But, now that they have known that a madrassa student can also become a doctor, engineer or other good professional, they are shedding their inhibitions and sending their children to these modern madrassas," he said.
"Now the modern madrassas are part of mainstream education infrastructure in West Bengal."


Monday, 9 December 2013

Somewhere In America #MIPSTERZ

Have you ever seen a Muslim woman skateboarding with heels? A Muslim veiled woman fencing at Olympics level? A veiled woman performing handstands, or juggling in the street?
Well you might see me doing one of those things if you check out a two-and-a-half minute video shot by two Brooklyn-based friends, Habib Yazdi and Abbas Rattani.
The video features a dozen Muslim women; all of us veiled, dressed modestly but wearing the latest trends. Our hair is partially covered, totally covered, or sometimes wrapped in a turban. Mixed with the Jay-Z's "Somewhere in America" soundtrack, the video offers an antidote to prevailing western stereotypes of Muslim, veiled women as inactive, passive, uniform in their appearance, and hidden.
Shot in five cities--New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Hillsborough, S.C.--the mission of the video is to project a positive, rarely seen image of veiled Muslim women living IN the West. A year after participating in the video, I am pleasantly surprised to find it doing just that, offering an image that is both joyful and realistic.
Released on Nov. 30 the video is rapidly attracting viewers on Youtube and being heavily shared on Facebook and other websites. It was removed from Vimeo on Dec. 3 for copyright infringement involving the soundtrack, but had amassed 70,000 views within three days of being made public.
I took part in that project as a model for the New York-based Underwraps agency. We shot in a cold Saturday afternoon in December 2012 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, with two others models and the head of the agency, Nailah Lymus.
From climbing on trees to scaling to the top of shipping containers to performing stunts, the intense activity on that shoot made us almost forget the biting cold.
Habib Yazdi directed us with the help of a producer named Sara Aghajanian. They said they wanted to project an image of strong and confident veiled Muslim women. They wanted something that mainstream media has never showed. The one and only rule they gave us was "Be yourself and have fun!"
A few days ago, I sat with Yazdi, a 27-year-old American Muslim of Iranian heritage, at a diner in Manhattan and learned more about what the project meant to him. Born and raised in Texas, he said he was ridiculed and taunted in high school for having a mother who wore the hijab.
"It was always on my mind, 'why is it ridiculed that my mom dresses like this?' And 'why is it seen as something lesser or inferior to other women?' I think that kinda stayed with me for a long time," Yazdi said.

Finding Fashion in Iran

After being teased in the United States by those who had no understanding of the veil that his mother was wearing, Yazdi remembered being pleasantly surprised when he encountered Iranian women wearing the veil in a country where it is mandatory.
"I saw a lot of young women who were forced to wear the scarf but they do it in such a fashionable way such as it defied the whole meaning behind why you are supposed to wear it. I was really taken by their strong sense of fashion there and how they use these restrictions imposed by the government to rebel within these restrictions," he said.
Yazdi has not showed the video to his mother yet but he's sure she will like it.
With its lack of narration, its trendy look and dynamic hip hop soundtrack, Yazdi and Rattani adopt a commercial approach meant to popularize the image of veiled Muslim women as "bold, powerful, young, rebellious, and fashionable women," Yazdi said. "We want to give people a different experience of what they tend to see and hear about Muslim women. You see how easy it is to manipulate images to create an idea, so for us it was like, why don't we do the same thing? Why don't we do our commercial and manipulate the images in our favor?"
If this kind of media were more widespread, the director thinks it could help change perceptions about Islam and women.
"Imagine if these images of Muslin women we have in the video are more prevalent, it becomes cool, it becomes hip, it becomes something that you are exposed to," said Yazdi. "If you see this and it is presented in such a fun and cool capacity, everyone is going to respond to that."

A Realistic Depiction

I can't speak out enough about the importance I see of this effort. The woman that I am in that video--doing a handstand among other things--is the woman that I am every day. In addition to my commitment to journalism, I am a very active woman. I'm into sports. I love being creative through fashion. Today I no longer wear the hijab but I covered my hair for nearly two years. During that time--as in none other--I found I had to show and prove that I was not inferior.
I decided to remove the veil just a few weeks before the Underwraps Agency put me on the set for this shooting, with my hair wrapped in a black turban.
People unfamiliar with Islam often assume a woman cannot workout, cannot play sports, cannot go out on her own, must be accompanied by a male relative, and so forth. In some parts of the world--such as Saudi Arabia--these restrictions might apply. For most of us, fortunately, they do not.
To combat the reductive stereotypes, we need more media that reflects our multi-faceted identities as Muslim women. It might not be every day that you witness veiled Muslim women wearing heels and skateboarding. But if you are ready to perceive us, you will come across plenty of active, funky, joyful, confident Muslim women who are also wearing the veil.
Each model in the video offers strong examples of what it means to be Muslim woman in America. There's Marwa Atik, co-founder and designer of Vela, a Los-Angeles based hijab company; Ibtihaj Muhammad, the American Olympic fencer; and Noor Tagoori, a young CBS radio journalist whose dream is to become the first Hijabi anchorwoman or talk show host on American television.
Jay-Z's song "Somewhere in America" has roused some controversy online because of two curse words in the track. Yazdi and Rattani have since released another video with a sanitized version of the song.
Otherwise, the music is essential to the message of "all things being possible in America," Yazdi said. "It is almost a shout out to say okay there are some good things here. As much as this country is to blame for the images that were very harmful for Muslim women, it is still a place where you can dress like this, act like this and be like this."
I strongly share that view. When I decided to wear the hijab, I felt comfortable doing so because I was living in the United States where freedom of belief really does seem to exist. As a French citizen, I was never AS uncomfortable as when I traveled home with my hair covered. Wearing hijab is not allowed in school and public jobs in France and covering your hair is often perceived as a lack of social integration. In the United States, by contrast, it can be a way to follow the director's orders and "be myself and have fun."

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Shaikh Yasir Qadhi on Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela has returned to his Creator. 

The Prophet (SAW) praised Mut`im b. Adi because he was a man who stood up for what was right, and helped the downtrodden Muslim community at a time when the Quraysh was guilty of the height of injustice. 

It is my opinion that if there was one man in our time who truly embodied that spirit of Mut`ims struggle, it was Nelson Mandela. Of the rewards that Allah gives a person in this life is respect and fame, and it is very likely that the genuine love all felt towards him was a result of his sincere efforts to help the weak and oppressed of his nation, and fight the unjust, tyrannical, inhumane and un-Islamic notion of white supremacy and Apartheid. 

Another benefit that we as Muslims can derive from Nelson Mandela's life is that truth shall always win in the end. For much of his life, Mandela was labelled a terrorist (even by the US and UK). Eventually, he won the Nobel prize and became his country's president. 'Terrorists' are relative, and when one is fighting for the truth, in a legitimate and Islamic manner, eventually his cause shall be victorious, even if the opposers of truth despise it. 

May Allah guide us all to truth, humility and sincere action.

Shaikh Yasir Qadhi

Monday, 2 December 2013

Honour killings: India's crying shame

Some gruesome cases that have been reported in the media in recent times from different regions in the country include that of 23 year old Dharmender Barak and 18 year old Nidhi Barak, who paid a heavy price for defying their families and falling in love.

The couple, from a village in Rohtak district in Harayana, were tortured, mutilated and killed by the girl’s father and their relatives when they tried to run away and marry. A friend whom the couple had confided in, leaked their plans to the girl’s parents, who lured them back with assurances, only to allegedly kill them in the most cruel manner. The police is treating the ‘double murder’ as a ‘honour crime’.
In September 2013, the Haryana police arrested a police sub-inspector in connection with the killing of a 19 year old girl from Panipat. Meenakshi had eloped with her lover and the cop had tracked her down and handed her over to her family, who then allegedly murdered her.

On October 24, 2013, in another case from Haryana, a 15 year old Muslim girl from Muzzafarnagar was banished to her uncle’s house to prevent her from seeing the boy she was in love with. Her uncle allegedly murdered her and buried her in Panchkula District in Haryana.
While the cases of ‘honour killings’ continue to pile up, convictions are few and far between.

Full article.