Tuesday 31 March 2015

Latinas converting to Islam for identity and structure



Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female.
VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida – where two out of every three residents is Hispanic – to learn more.

Monday 30 March 2015

Prophet’s Hadiths on Eclipses


 
Volume 2, Book 18, Number 153:
Narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu'ba: "The sun eclipsed in the life-time of Allah's Apostle on the day when (his son) Ibrahim died. So the people said that the sun had eclipsed because of the death of Ibrahim. Allah's Apostle said, "The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life (i.e. birth) of some-one. When you see the eclipse pray and invoke Allah."

Volume 2, Book 18, Number 154:
Narrated 'Aisha : In the life-time of Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) the sun eclipsed, so he led the people in prayer, and stood up and performed a long Qiyam, then bowed for a long while. He stood up again and performed a long Qiyam but this time the period of standing was shorter than the first. He bowed again for a long time but shorter than the first one, then he prostrated and prolonged the prostration. He did the same in the second Raka as he did in the first and then finished the prayer; by then the sun (eclipse) had cleared.
He delivered the Khutba (sermon) and after praising and glorifying Allah he said, "The sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of Allah; they do not eclipse on the death or life of anyone. So when you see the eclipse, remember Allah and say Takbir, pray and give Sadaqa."
The Prophet then said, "O followers of Muhammad! By Allah! There is none who has more indignant than Allah when His slaves, male or female commit adultery (illegal sexual intercourse).
O followers of Muhammad! By Allah! If you knew that which I know you would laugh little and weep much.

More hadith:

Saturday 28 March 2015

#Farkhunda



Such a powerful statement, I think women should always do this when men are their killers and repeatedley fail to protect them.

farkundah 2

Tuesday 24 March 2015

When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'



Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is?
Most people haven’t heard of him.
But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in your stomach as when you read about Mussolini or Hitler or see one of their pictures. You see, he killed over 10 million people in the Congo.
His name is King Leopold II of Belgium.
He “owned” the Congo during his reign as the constitutional monarch of Belgium. After several failed colonial attempts in Asia and Africa, he settled on the Congo. He “bought” it and enslaved its people, turning the entire country into his own personal slave plantation. He disguised his business transactions as “philanthropic” and “scientific” efforts under the banner of the International African Society. He used their enslaved labor to extract Congolese resources and services. His reign was enforced through work camps, body mutilations, executions, torture, and his private army.
Most of us – I don’t yet know an approximate percentage but I fear its extremely high – aren’t taught about him in school. We don’t hear about him in the media. He’s not part of the widely repeated narrative of oppression (which includes things like the Holocaust during World War II). He’s part of a long history of colonialism, imperialism, slavery and genocide in Africa that would clash with the social construction of the white supremacist narrative in our schools. It doesn’t fit neatly into a capitalist curriculum. Making overtly racist remarks is (sometimes) frowned upon in polite society, but it’s quite fine not to talk about genocides in Africa perpetrated by European capitalist monarchs.
Mark Twain wrote a satire about Leopold called “King Leopold’s soliloquy; a defense of his Congo rule“, where he mocked the King’s defense of his reign of terror, largely through Leopold’s own words. It’s 49 pages long. Mark Twain is a popular author for American public schools. But like most political authors, we will often read some of their least political writings or read them without learning why the author wrote them (Orwell’s Animal Farm for example serves to re-inforce American anti-Socialist propaganda, but Orwell was an anti-capitalist revolutionary of a different kind – this is never pointed out). We can read about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, but King Leopold’s Soliloquy isn’t on the reading list. This isn’t by accident. Reading lists are created by boards of education in order to prepare students to follow orders and endure boredom well. From the point of view of the Education Department, Africans have no history.
When we learn about Africa, we learn about a caricaturized Egypt, about the HIV epidemic (but never its causes), about the surface level effects of the slave trade, and maybe about South African Apartheid (which of course now is long, long over). We also see lots of pictures of starving children on Christian Ministry commercials, we see safaris on animal shows, and we see pictures of deserts in films and movies. But we don’t learn about the Great African War or Leopold’s Reign of Terror during the Congolese Genocide. Nor do we learn about what the United States has done in Iraq and Afghanistan, potentially killing in upwards of 5-7 million people from bombs, sanctions, disease and starvation. Body counts are important. And we don’t count Afghans, Iraqis, or Congolese.
There’s a Wikipedia page called “Genocides in History”. The Congolese Genocide isn’t included. The Congo is mentioned though. What’s now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo is listed in reference to the Second Congo War (also called Africa’s World War and the Great War of Africa), where both sides of the multinational conflict hunted down Bambenga and ate them. Cannibalism and slavery are horrendous evils which must be entered into history and talked about for sure, but I couldn’t help thinking whose interests were served when the only mention of the Congo on the page was in reference to multi-national incidents where a tiny minority of people were  eating each other (completely devoid of the conditions which created the conflict no less). Stories which support the white supremacist narrative about the subhumanness of people in Africa are allowed to be entered into the records of history. The white guy who turned the Congo into his own personal part-plantation, part-concentration camp, part-Christian ministry and killed 10 to 15 million Conglese people in the process doesn’t make the cut.
You see, when you kill ten million Africans, you aren’t called ‘Hitler’. That is, your name doesn’t come to symbolize the living incarnation of evil. Your name and your picture don’t produce fear, hatred, and sorrow. Your victims aren’t talked about and your name isn’t remembered.
Leopold was just one part of thousands of things that helped construct white supremacy as both an ideological narrative and material reality. Of course I don’t want to pretend that in the Congo he was the source of all evil. He had generals, and foot soldiers, and managers who did his bidding and enforced his laws. It was a system. But that doesn’t negate the need to talk about the individuals who are symbolic of the system. But we don’t even get that. And since it isn’t talked about, what capitalism did to Africa, all the privileges that rich white people gained from the Congolese genocide are hidden. The victims of imperialism are made, like they usually are, invisible.

Monday 23 March 2015

Dalia Khalifa: Gaza's 'unbreakable' girl


Nine-year old Dalia Khalifa was in the living room of her family home in the Zaytoun district of the besieged Gaza Strip when an Israeli strike hit their house during last summer's Operation Protective Edge.
On the dawn of 1 August, 2014, she was rushed to Gaza's Shifa Hospital, where other members of her family – and many compatriots – were being treated.
Covered in blood and unable to open her eyes, with her younger sister clinging to her crying out "I love you," she wasn't aware where she was and what her surroundings were until she gradually recovered.
Her story was narrated by Mohammed Asad, a photojournalist from Gaza, who happened to be in the same hospital documenting civilian casualties of Israel's military offensive.
"When I saw her, the image of the Afghan girl Sharbat Gula came to my mind," Asad told MEE, in a reference to the famous photo by Steve McCurry published in the National Geographic.
Asad took a photo of Dalia on 9 August, 2014, noting that despite the shrapnel wounds to her face, she did not cry. The name given to the photo was "Assiyat al-Damea," which translates to "the one who does not cry easily". The English name given to the photo was simply "unbreakable".
The photo has recently become the Grand Jury Winner in a photography competition organised by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Middle East and North Africa (OCHA).
Asad met Dalia again on Tuesday, taking new photos of her with family and classmates.
"She is still strong-willed today," said Asad, adding that her question to the Israelis remains: "What have we done to you to deserve this?"
Her mother, Um Zuhair, and father, Rizk, recalled to Asad the events of that tragic night.
"A tank-shell fell on our house at around 3am without any prior warning. We were all sleeping in the middle of the house and the will of God dictated that we'd all survive," she said.
"But the children had been injured and the neighbours came to their aid and took them to hospital," she added.
Dalia's father said that while some of the traces of shrapnel on her face are vanishing, her body remains riddled with shrapnel scars. What's worse, he added, is the more serious medical case of her younger sister Remas, whose skull was injured as a result of the Israeli strike.
Both girls need medical attention as well as cosmetic surgery, but the shut borders with Egypt and Israel means that they can't travel to receive treatment in Turkey nor receive specialist doctors who are willing to travel to the besieged Gaza Strip.

- See more at:

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Sayyida al-Hurra, the Beloved, Avenging Islamic Pirate Queen

 Sayyida al-Hurra, the Beloved, Avenging Islamic Pirate Queen

Sayyida (as she's commonly called) was also known as Hakima Tatwan, which means governor of Tétouan, the northern Moroccan city that she ruled. She was born sometime around 1485 to a prominent Muslim family in the kingdom of Granada, which is part of present-day Spain. Her early childhood was happy, but in 1492—the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue—Sayyida's life changed dramatically. Catholic Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella conquered the Muslim Granada at the close of the Reconquista, and Henry Kamen estimates in Spain 1469-1714: A Society of Conflict that Spanish armies murdered and enslaved up to 100,000 Muslims and forced another 20,000 to flee.
Among the refugees were Sayyida and her family. Sayyida never forgot the indignity of being forced to flee her home, and she vowed to avenge herself on her Christian enemy.
Sayyida decided to play the long game—she didn't enter piracy until 23 years after her family's exile. In the meantime, she and her family settled in Chaouen, a city in present-day Morocco. She she married a man named Abu al-Hasan al-Mandri, a man many years her senior to whom she'd been promised to as a child. Al-Mandri was the head of another prominent refugee family from Andalusia who lived in and governed nearby Tétouan. (Some sources claim she married the son, al-Mandri II, and not the father, but it seems from the place she obtained in Tétouan's government that she most likely married the elder al-Mandri.)
Despite the age difference, there seemed to be genuine affection, or at least respect, between the pair. Sayyida was her husband's "partner in the diplomatic game," according to Fatima Mernissi in The Forgotten Queens of Islam. They ruled the city side-by-side, united in their hatred of the Spanish and the Portuguese. Together the al-Mandris restored Tétouan, which had been destroyed in 1490. The high walls that fortified the city were re-erected first, and then the Grand Mosque was built. Narrow, mazelike streets warded off invaders, where jewelers and and leather workers hawked their wares in front of low, white houses. The Old City of Tetouan is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, in part due to the restoration work done by Sayyida and her husband.

Monday 16 March 2015

Islam and Feminism: through the lens of modesty



Another feminist argument is that Islam objectifies women by comparing them to flowers and pearls, as objects of beauty. This sort of analogy is often used by rape apologists to blame the victim. For example, in the recent documentary “India’s Daughter” about the gang rape of medical student Jyoti Singh, one of the defence lawyers argued that, “A female is just like a flower…if you put that flower in a gutter, it is spoilt; if you put that flower in a temple, it will be worshipped”.  However, the first part of the statement must be separated from the second part, which is an assumed logical conclusion according to the lawyer. Nowhere in Islam has it been said that a woman who does not dress modestly deserves to be raped, or that it is a natural consequence of her being dressed that way. The analogy to pearls and flowers in Islam is not a devaluation of women to mere beautiful objects; rather it is a statement of their intrinsic spiritual beauty and value in God’s eyes. Thus, any sort of victim blaming or shaming in rape is not an Islamic attitude, but a cultural attitude that can still be seen in some religious communities.

Modesty is a key value within Islam, and cannot be separated from its teachings. I have deliberately avoided using the word hijab for modesty, because it has become synonymous with the headscarf, and the head scarf has become much more about our identity as Muslim women rather than the value of modesty. Hijab is a philosophy of life that applies to both men and women, and without this understanding, the headscarf remains an accessory to complement an outfit, rather than an expression of modesty and devotion to God. When it is attacked as oppressive by secular feminists, we cannot just defend it as a matter of Muslim identity or a violation of civil liberties, but as a manifestation of this core value of Islam: modesty.

Friday 13 March 2015

Meatless Like Muhammad? ﷺ


Muslims strive to follow the Sunnah, by living and following many of the actions and examples of our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ (Peace Be Upon Him). We get closer to God by following his actions, such as smiling and donating to charity. What about following the Prophet’s eating habits? We also strive to eat like him, such as cooking with olive oil and enjoying pomegranates from our trees. We know that if he ate something it must have been beneficial.
However, one of his dietary habits is very significant for our health, but is mostly overlooked today. According to the Hadith literature (sayings and characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad), the Prophet ﷺ ate meat very rarely, and when he did it was mostly on special occasions or as a guest. His habitual diet actually consisted of favorite foods like dates, water, vinegar, honey, yogurt, barley bread, and grapes. Meat was available only occasionally, and when it was he favored sheep’s shoulder/foreleg. The Prophet ﷺ never ate his fill of bread and meat. As a guest he was once served gourd (pumpkin) and meat stew, and picked out the gourd to eat. The Prophet ﷺ and companions looked forward to Fridays, because a local woman served them a meatless meal with a meat substitute. Early Muslims continued the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ habit of rarely indulging in meat.
As the second Caliph (ruler), Umar ibn al Khattaab notably stated: “beware of meat, for it is addictive like alcohol.”
He once chastised his son for giving in to his craving and buying meat. Umar is a strong example for us as well, since the Prophet ﷺ said, “If there were a prophet after me, it would be Umar.” So in fact, eating little meat is the Prophetic Sunnah and follows early Islamic tradition.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Busting Muslim Myths About Female Sexuality



From the excellent:

http://thesalafifeminist.blogspot.co.uk/


When one sees Muslim leaders attempt to take on serious and relevant issues to the Muslim Ummah such as sexually dysfunctional marital relationships, one truly hopes for the best. Alas, well-meaning though they may be, there becomes glaringly obvious a lack of knowledge and understanding regarding female sexuality.

A few claims that are being made and circulated en masse (and dangerously so) are the following:

  • Muslim women (especially from ‘conservative, practicing families’) do not really experience sexual arousal or any feelings of intense sexuality before marriage.
  • Women’s fitrah is such that they are automatically less sexual than men.
  • Muslim women are intimidated and scared by even discussions about sex prior to marriage; if a Muslim man wants to discuss it with his fiancée, he shouldn’t lest she run in the opposite direction.
  • Women don’t ‘need’ to orgasm as much as men do; their sexual feelings are minimal and what they truly seek from sexual encounters is not necessary physical pleasure, but emotional connection.

Not only are all these claims inaccurate, but to perpetuate them on a massive public forum – and by an individual with significant influence over large numbers of Muslims – is extremely dangerous due to the fact that the Muslim community already suffers from a horrific lack of knowledge and awareness about sex and female sexuality.

Despite the fact that Islamic texts fully recognize women’s sexual needs and in fact protects them as a religious right, many male Muslim leaders perpetuate cultural stereotypes about the nature of female sexuality and falsely pass them off as Islamic guidance. Such ridiculous ideas include the belief that women have a lesser need and appreciation for the physical aspect of intimacy; that they do not experience intense sexual arousal prior to marriage; and that the very idea of sex is disturbing and unnatural to them, or that they are unable to comprehend the true nature of intercourse before marriage.

In all fairness, even Western cultures and scientific thought has long held faulty and inaccurate beliefs regarding female sexuality (most famously, the views of Sigmund Freud and the Victorian phenomenon of ‘hysteria’). However, it is also true that Western society has moved along with considerable speed with regards to knowledge of female sexuality than many Eastern (and Muslim) cultures have. It must still be kept in mind, though, that the amount of studies and research collected on female sexuality is dwarfed by those about men, and that there remains a great deal to be discovered about female sexuality in general.[1]

Going back to the claims being publicly taught, there is first of all a severely erroneous conflation between the reality of culturally ingrained attitudes about sex, and the actual innate physical desires and needs that women have for sex.

While it is absolutely true that many Muslim cultures teach women unhealthy negative attitudes about sex and equate female sexual desire with being dirty or impure, this in no way actually reflects the physiological need for sex that exists in the female gender as a whole.

No matter how much cultural brainwashing women receive regarding their sexuality, most women will still inevitably experience feelings of sexual arousal at some point in their lives – and for those who do, it will generally first happen before marriage.

Furthermore, the arousal a woman feels can and does reach strong levels of intensity, including orgasm; for example, in a wet dream. This was acknowledged even by RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who confirmed Umm Sulaym’s question regarding female wet dreams.[2] 
Even outside of wet dreams and masturbation however, women can and do feel intense sexual stimulation – anything from wearing a new pair of jeans or sitting on a massage chair. This is not to be crude, but simply realistic.[3] [4]

Nor are such experiences purely involuntary; many women are curious about their bodies and are actively aware of what stimulates them both physically and mentally (after all, the brain is the most powerful sex organ). Sexual curiosity exists in women just as it exists in men; since many girls mature physically and mentally faster than boys, they can be ahead of the game when it comes to being curious about sex.
Whether it’s reading romance novels (and anyone who thinks that girls read romance novels just for the emotional fluff is fooling themselves) or magazines like Cosmopolitan, girls crave information about both the romantic and the explicitly sexual.

Communication about sexual issues is another matter, one tied much more strongly to the aforementioned cultural brainwashing about intimacy than the idea that women have an inherent and instinctive fear or aversion to sex. Advising Muslim men to ‘just pray Istikhaarah, ya akhee’ instead of respectfully discussing or asking questions related to sex with their fiancées is harmful and, quite frankly, insulting to both the man and the woman. We should not be perpetuating attitudes of embarrassment, shame, and stigma about sexual issues but rather, encouraging men and women to approach the topic with respect, dignity, and honesty. It may be uncomfortable at first or awkward, but then, all positive growth and change is by necessity.
It is necessary to say here that a great deal of work needs to be done in training Muslim men and women on how to discuss matters related to sex and marriage in a respectful, dignified, and mature manner.

There is one final issue – the idea that women are innately ‘less sexual’ than men. While there is no denying the biological differences between men and women, including sexually, there is a big difference between recognizing the difference, and claiming that women simply aren’t as sexual.[5] More accurate would be to state that what men and women find sexually appealing and arousing, how they react to such stimuli, and the levels at which they respond to such urges differ greatly – but do not take away from the inherent sexuality of women.

It is also a fallacy to say that the sole or primary benefit or reason that women engage in sex is for an emotional connection; rather, while some women do enjoy sex more because of the emotional connection, it is not a necessary component of their actual satisfaction or orgasm. In fact, the vagina – specifically the clitoris – has thousands more nerve endings than the penis, which means that its orgasm can be correspondingly much, much more intense than the male orgasm, and contradicts the belief of those men who are convinced that women don’t really ‘feel it.’[6] [7] (Not to mention that women are capable of different types of orgasm[8] [9] [10] [11] [12]and multiple orgasms.[13])

The claim that women have fewer or less intense desires, or a somehow less important need for orgasm, is in fact an unhealthy way of minimizing female sexuality and its priority in a relationship. This takes place both amongst Muslims and non-Muslims and is a sign of how misogyny permeates our attitudes such that we automatically do not consider women to be of equal footing even in bed (and God help any woman who shows any sign of initiating sexual interest or contact!).
While the argument may go on to rage over who is ‘more’ sexual (keeping in mind that new studies continue to emerge on the topic, with sometimes paradoxical results), there is no benefit to be gained from pushing the view that women are simply less sexual beings.

In fact, it does the opposite, by telling men that they do not have to consider their wives’ sexual needs to be as important or necessary (the caveat that ‘a woman’s right to sexual satisfaction is guaranteed in Islam’ does nothing to change the final message). It is also implying to women that they should give up hope of true sexual satisfaction because it’s unrealistic and biologically unnecessary for them to experience it (but hey, all women reallywant are snuggles and warm fuzzy cuddles, right?).

It is high time that we begin to provide qualified individuals in the Muslim community who can discuss sex – and especially female sexuality – from a more nuanced and accurate perspective. Otherwise, Muslim leaders who take it upon themselves to talk about the subject are simply contributing to the already terrible state of Muslim intimacy, and the continued struggles of Muslim women seeking satisfaction and fulfillment in their own marriages.

What truly needs to be encouraged, emphasized, and taught is the importance of men and women alike to improve communication with their spouses about matters of intimacy. From there, it should become much easier for husbands and wives to become comfortable with their own and each others’ bodies; and for husbands to understand the various factors affecting women that may be significantly responsible for obstacles to sexual fulfillment. Just as men have their own unique preferences, levels of libido, and so on, so too are the tastes and desires of women varied and vast.

To truly seek an improvement to the sex lives of married Muslims, the first step should not be to make sweeping generalizations of female sexuality that are based on androcentric perspectives. Rather, it must be recognized that championing outdated ideas causes a great deal of harm to both men and women. A more nuanced and accurate understanding of female sexuality must be collectively pursued in order to see significant positive change in Muslim marriages.

The Salafi Feminist is fed up of people passing off half-truths, cultural stereotypes, and utter nonsense about female sexuality as being the complete and unalterable truth. She impatiently awaits more Muslims to step up to the plate and become licensed sex therapists in order to combat this ridiculousness. In the meantime, she blogs athttp://www.TheSalafiFeminist.blogspot.com and posts Salafi feminist refutations of Ahlul Misogyny to her Facebook page (The Salafi Feminist). 



[2] Umm Salama (Allah be pleased with her) relates that Umm Sulaym (Allah be pleased with her) came to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, Surely, Allah is not shy of the truth. Is it necessary for a woman to take a ritual bath after she has a wet dream?” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) replied: “Yes, if she notices a discharge.” Umm Salama covered her face and asked, “O Messenger of Allah! Does a woman have a discharge?” He replied: “Yes, let your right hand be in dust [an Arabic expression said light-heartedly to someone whose statement you contradict], how does the son resemble his mother?” (Sahih al-Bukhari 130)