Wednesday 29 December 2021

Hadith: Qadr

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ forbade a person should say, after missing something:”If only I had done such and such, then such and such would have happened.’”

Instead, he ﷺ guided us to what is more beneficial than that, which is to say “Qaddarallahu wa maa sha’a fa’ala”(Allah has ordained and as He willed, He has done).

This is because ‘If only’ opens the door to the Shaytaan”, i.e. it makes you vulnerable to grief and fear, which is harmful to you and is of no benefit. Know that whatever befalls you, you could not have avoided, and whatever does not happen to you, you could not have made it happen to you, as Allah says in the Quran:

‎“مَا أَصَابَ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَمَنْ يُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah . And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. (At-Taghabun, 11)


Tuesday 28 December 2021

Always be kind to people


We all know atleast one person who has left Islam or left practicing Islam or have taken their hijaab off because of someone's tongue.

Someone somewhere said something so harsh, derogatory and insensitive that it flipped a believers heart.

And that is why we have such stringent ahadith about tongue and how we make use of our tongues.

Reading some of these ahadith may scare us. The punishments concerning tongue may seem way too harsh. But when you compare that with the reality of people leaving the fold of Islam, you understand Allah's wisdom and admonishment behind it's guarded usage and the importance of staying silent when angry, upset or on edge.

❄ “Talk to people a little and talk to your Almighty Lord often, for perhaps your heart will see Allah Almighty.”
- Mu’adh ibn Jabal رضي الله عنه
[al-Risālah al-Qushayrīyah 1/248]

Always be kind to people.
Always encourage.
Always speak words that are sweet.
Always show people their talents.
Always highlight the goodness a loved one has forgotten to see.
Always be someone's hype person.

📚 “Whoever restrains his tongue, Allah Almighty will cover his faults. Whoever controls his anger, Allah Almighty will protect him from His punishment. Whoever apologizes to Allah Almighty, He will accept his apology.”
- Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
[al-Ṣamt li Ibn Abī Dunyā 21]

The world we live in is filled with those who criticise, those who pass snarky comments, those who hate you for no reason. Be the light in this dark world.

📚 "Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them, and make them calm (with glad tidings) and do not repulse (them)."
- Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
[Sahih Bukhari] 


Monday 27 December 2021

Which women belong in our society?



Many thanks to Maryam Amir allhamdulilah a role model for us all.

Thursday 23 December 2021

Arrogance is the most insidious disease of the heart


Arrogance is the most insidious disease of the heart and their effects are reflected in the behavior and conduct of the sick person preventing them from entering Paradise. In the authentic Hadith reported by Imams Muslim and At-Tirmidhi, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “One will not enter Paradise, if one has an atom’s weight of arrogance in his/her heart.”

According to this Hadith, arrogance is one of the major sins because it prevents a person from entering Paradise on the Day of Judgment. It is also clear that arrogance is from the diseases of the heart, as also the degree of arrogance varies. The heart can be filled with arrogance, or can have only an atom’s weight of arrogance.

Several verses and authentic Hadiths were revealed censuring arrogance and elucidating its danger.
First, what is arrogance? The Prophet (peace be upon him) defined it in an authentic Hadith reported by Imams Muslim and At-Tirmidhi, “One will not enter Paradise, if one has an atom’s weight of arrogance in his/her heart.” A man asked, “One may love his clothes to look good and his shoes to look good” The Prophet replied, “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty, arrogance is rejecting Truth and looking down on people.”

The different degrees and types of arrogance: The most evil kind of arrogance is rejection of Truth. In this context, many verses were revealed to censure arrogance and the arrogant people. On the Day of Judgment, it will be said to the arrogant people: “Enter the gates of Hell to abide therein, and (indeed) what an evil abode of the arrogant!” (Qur’an, 40:76)

Hellfire is abode of the arrogant people. This is emphasized in the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that is reported by Imam Muslim, “Paradise and Hellfire argued. Hellfire said: Inside me are the merciless and the arrogant people … and Allah has judged between them:… You (Hellfire) are my torture, with you I torture whom I will….”
Allah Almighty turns the arrogant people away from being guided with his signs. He, the Almighty, says “I shall turn away from My Ayah (verses of the Qur’an) those who behave arrogantly on the earth, in a wrongful manner.” (Qur’an, 7:146)

The most severe arrogance is being arrogant against Allah and rejecting submission and worshipping Him. Allah Almighty says, “Verily! Those who disdain My worship (because of arrogance), they will surely enter Hell in humiliation!” (Qur’an, 40:60)

From arrogance is being arrogant against the messengers and rejecting their message and not following them just because they are humans. This is the case of many non-believers about whom Allah Almighty says, “They said: ‘Shall we believe in two men like ourselves.” (Qur’an, 23:47) and “They said to their messengers: “You are no more than human beings like us.” (Qur’an, 14:10)
The tribe of Quraish also said, when it rejected and looked down on the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) because he was an orphan and poor, as Allah Almighty said, “And they say: ‘Why is not this Qur’an sent down to some great man of the two towns (Makkah and Taif)’.” (Qur’an, 43:31)
While describing the real situation of the disbelievers, Allah Almighty says: “And they belied them (those Ayat) wrongfully and arrogantly, though their ownselves were convinced thereof (i.e. those Ayahs are from Allah).” (Qur’an, 27:14)

From the examples of arrogance against the Prophet (peace be upon him) reported by Imam Muslim that a man who came and ate in the presence of the Prophet (peace be upon him) with his left hand, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him, “Eat with your right hand.” The man said, “I cannot.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) then supplicated to Allah against this man, “May Allah, make you unable to use your right hand.” “Nothing prevented him from doing so (eating with his right hand) except his arrogance, so he forever could not lift his right hand to his mouth.”

Allah Almighty explicated for us that arrogance is an exclusive attribute of Himself. In a Qudsi Hadith reported by Imam Muslim that Allah Almighty says, “Dignity is my lower garment, and arrogance is my covering. If anyone competes with Me in either of these two, surely I torture him.” Allah Almighty says, “And do not turn your face away from men with arrogance, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah does not like each arrogant boaster.” (Qur’an, 31:18)

Allah does not like the one who is conceited and arrogant. The Prophet (peace be upon him) says what was reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim, “While a man was showing off his garment, he looked proudly to himself, all of a sudden, Allah immediately crumbled the earth underneath him, and he is still dropping with struggle through it till the Day of Judgment.”

Allah Almighty will not look with mercy, on the Day of Judgment, at the one who lengthened his clothes out of arrogance. The Prophet (peace be upon him) says reported by Imams Bukhari, Muslim, and other, “Whosoever drags his clothes out of arrogance, Allah will not look at him on the Day of Judgment.” Abu Bakr said: “O Messenger of Allah, my garment slips (slightly off his waist) to the ground but I lift it!?” The Prophet replied, “You are not among those who do it out of arrogance.”
After we have heard all these verses and Hadiths about the dangers of arrogance and how bad the consequences are, we should be cautioned and get away from it and from its effects and its characteristics. So we teach ourselves to follow the truth when we know it, and humble ourselves in front of others. Imam Muslim reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “....And no one has humbled himself for the sake of Allah, but Allah has elevated him.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) is the best example of humility in his life. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that “The prophet used to pass by children and give Salaam to them (greet them).” Imam Bukhari reported that, “A female slave from Madinah use to take the Prophet’s sleeve and take him wherever she wants.” Imam Bukhari also reported, “That the Prophet used to be at the service of his family.” 


Wednesday 22 December 2021

A mother's prayers


 When Imam Bukhari was 3 years of age, he lost his eyesight.
His mother promised herself that she would pray #tahajjud salah until Allah restores her son's eyesight back.

And that's exactly what she did. She prayed tahajjud every night until one night in a dream she saw Ibrahim (as) give her the good news that Imam Bukhari's eyesight had been restored. She ran to her son and when he awoke, he found himself with vision again.
Lessons for me: This mother didn't go into a state of helplessness after her young child lost his eyesight. Being a single mother, she didn't lose hope and become disheartened with the difficulty she would have to face with bringing up a son with a disability. She knew very well the power of dua. She knew the beauty that lies in praying tahajjud salah. She knew Allah comes down to the lowest heaven asking his servants to make dua to Him at this time. Her taqwa, her conviction in the Might of Allah is what led her to consistently pray. To pray tahajjud salah means you sacrifice your sleep. But she did it without fail. It wasn't a "sacrifice" on her behalf but a most needed task.

When we read about the life of Imam Bukhari or know what his contribution to Islamic history and education is, how can we not look back at the household he grew up in. The mother that raised him. The mother that made dua for him in the darkness of the night.
A widow, a single mother. But she had a wealth many of us fail to embrace. She devoted herself as a slave.
These women are our role models. These women are who we look up to. Not because we know how pretty or amazing they were in looks. But because in the face of tests, they remained close to Allah. With a history filled with women who brought up men like Imam Bukhari and others, how can we feel demotivated when it comes to our own children.

If we want good for our children, and see them grow up to be good slaves, we need to take the necessary steps to become a good slave too.

This reminder about this mother's dua came at such a perfect and apt time for me. A time when I've become extremely worried about my children. This reminded me that dua is no small thing.

- Gilded Dunya

Monday 20 December 2021

A Woman Better than 1000 Men! Shaikh Khalid Ar-Rashid (Al-Sirat Al-Mustaqeem)

I get a lot of questions about the early Muslim women and their roles in the establishment and propagation of Islam. Many people say they were never taught about these women, they were never mentioned in madaris/masajid,some insist they never existed or woman did not play a significant part. Alhamduliah for the shuyukh now prepared to talk about this and spread much needed knowledge.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Navigating Christmas as a Muslim | Dr. Shabir Ally


So much love for Dr Shabbir Ally he is one of the most valuable and relevant Islamic scholars in the West today.

Tuesday 14 December 2021

Forgive and forget



Do you know 'Utba married the Prophet's daughter, Sayyida Ruqayyah and divorced her out of spite before he accepted Islam. He came to Rasūlullāh ﷺ years later. Guess what? The Prophet ﷺ forgave him and he accepted Islam. The son of Abu Jahl waged war against him for two decades. Guess what? He came years later and Rasūlullāh ﷺ told people not to speak about his father in front of him, forgave him - and he accepted Islam. The Prophet's ﷺ daughter, Zaynab fell off a camel and suffered a miscarriage because of a man named Habbar who was trying to prevent her from migrating. Many years later, he came to Rasūlullāh ﷺ but guess what? The Prophet forgave him and he accepted Islam. 

Wahshi killed the Prophet's uncle Sayyiduna Hamza. He came years later and guess what? Rasūlullāh ﷺ forgave him and he accepted Islam. Uthman ibn Talha would prevent him from entering the Ka'bah before he accepted Islam. Rasūlullāh ﷺ conquered Makkah and guess what? The Prophet ﷺ gave him and his family the keys for the Ka'bah until the end of time. Fadala came to assassinate Rasūlullāh whilst he was making Tawaf and guess what? He placed his hand on his chest, forgave him, and he accepted Islam.
Allah said, 'Surely you have in Rasūlullāh ﷺ a beautiful example.' The crimes of people were great but his mercy ﷺ was greater. Dear ummah, forgive people. Wouldn't you love for Allah to forgive you? 

From Shaykh M.Aslam FB

Thursday 18 November 2021

Patriarchy, give me my country back


I was four years old when it first happened. A middle-aged man, who ran a small departmental store in the Dhaka neighbourhood I lived in, was babysitting me while my mother went out to fetch some notes from her university. It was difficult raising a child all on her own, and my single mother was grateful that she could leave me in safe company.

I was sitting cross-legged on the floor opposite my babysitter when he pulled me close to his body and put his tongue down my mouth. At first, I was fascinated—I had seen adults kiss each other in tv shows and films. Children, at that age, are curious about the liberties that adulthood offers. But soon after, a dirty feeling came over me. My mouth froze. He attempted to force his tongue on me a few more times before I pulled away and rushed to the bathroom. I had a rabid compulsion to clean my mouth; I brushed my teeth, again and again, hoping to remove his traces so that my mother would never know, and I could pretend it never happened.

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Two years later, a security guard at the apartment complex we shared with my aunt groped my chest and motioned that he would put his "thing" inside me. I thought I should stay quiet, because I was ashamed, but the constant touch from him and the resulting pain became so unbearable that I rushed to my mother as she was boarding a rickshaw to go to the supermarket. "He's hurting me," I told her. She looked at me in surprise. Hurting? How? Where? I eventually revealed all the details to her, and he was dismissed shortly after.

I used to be a very talkative child, but with every experience of physical violation, I grew quieter, more watchful of my words, more concerned about what I could talk about to anyone.

When I was seven, I realised that my parents had separated because my father would physically abuse my mother, the floor frequently turning bloody.

When I was eight, a law enforcement officer asked my mother to sleep with him. She refused and was sanctioned.

When I was nine, a male relative lay down beside me while I was resting and put his arms around my waist. He turned me around, and there it was, again, a foreign tongue inside my mouth, unwelcome, unwanted. I flinched and immediately left the room.

When I was eleven, construction workers next door would make untoward gestures every time I went to the veranda, and I eventually completely stopped going outside.

When I was 13, I was severely bullied about my weight and the lack of feminine curves—disparaged for not meeting societal beauty standards.

When I was 14, a teenage crush of mine spread stories about being physically intimate with me, and my classmates hurled numerous insults my way while somehow, in their eyes, he was now "cooler."

When I was 15, my friend's boyfriend locked the room behind us and attempted to pinch my private parts, but I immediately unlocked the door and left the room.

When I was 16, my male cousin confessed that his peers could not see their female counterparts as anything more than sex objects.

When I was 17, a man older than my father proposed a sexual relationship with me in exchange for expensive gifts and financial security.

When I was 18, my school's principal, upon my insistence on wearing shorts while playing sports, gawked at me and said, "What will I do if one of the security guards rapes you?"

When I was 19, I left Bangladesh, and I have not returned since.

Begum Rokeya, the prominent feminist thinker and social reformer, once dreamt of a world led by women in her famous short story "Sultana's Dream." Kazi Nazrul Islam, the national poet of Bangladesh, wrote, "I sing the song of equality; in my view, there is no disparity between man and woman." Why, then, according to Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, were there 2,711 incidents of violence against women and children, including rape, between January and October in 2020?

Why, according to a 2015 survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), did more than 70 percent of married women or girls face intimate partner abuse, including physical violence? Why indeed, according to Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), were at least 235 women murdered by their husbands or members of his family in the first nine months of 2020? How, in the country of Begum Rokeya, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Sufia Kamal, can rape be justified because of what a woman is wearing?

The consequences of patriarchy are a pervasive reality in Bangladesh. According to a 2018 study by Brac, 94 percent of Bangladeshi women report being sexually harassed while commuting via public transport. Poor women, including those from rural areas, face multiple forms of oppression, including lack of access to quality education and unpaid productive work. Women from religious minorities continue to be persecuted for their beliefs. As part of a community facing landlessness issues and a lack of civil rights, non-Bengali indigenous women in particular face further challenges at the intersection of indigeneity, gender, and food insecurity. Gender-variant people are not spared from these challenges either: hijra people are marginalised in social and economic spheres. In 2015, they were denied government jobs because they "failed" a genitalia-based medical examination.

Despite my personal experiences and the grim statistics on gendered oppression in Bangladesh, I have begun to speak up. I am fortunate to have had the opportunities to study around the world and grow as a person, but I still feel the wound of being a second-class citizen in my own country. I want to reclaim my home. I ask the women reading this article, what about you? 


Tuesday 16 November 2021

Domestic violence against Women in Pakistan


Despite strict laws and social awareness, domestic violence is prevalent in Pakistan at an alarming rate. Almost one in three Pakistani women report facing domestic physical violence by partners, in-laws, and in some circumstances by their brothers and parents. The informal estimates are much higher. Such violence, when widespread in society, is also normalized. According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Statistics, more than half of the women respondents in one province believe that it is acceptable for a husband to beat his wife under certain circumstances; and such sentiments also prevail in the rest of the country. According to media reports, more than 51,241 cases of violence against women’ were reported between January 2018 and October 2020.

According to a survey conducted on 23 September 2018, by Thomson Reuter Corporation, Pakistan was ranked as the sixth most dangerous nation on the planet for women. The predominant power structure in Pakistan is patriarchy, in which the male figure is in control of all affairs, public and private, thus assuming a dominant position. Women have been excluding from settling on choices and are considered socially and financially dependent on men. Women have to face discrimination and violence daily due to the cultural and religious norms that Pakistani society embraces.

About 70 to 90 percent of Pakistani women are subjected to domestic violence. Domestic violence perpetrated upon a spouse can precede the mistreatment of children; this can, in turn, leave a long-term emotional and psychological impact such as behavioral disturbances, with the child replicating the abuse. Women who have experienced domestic violence or abuse are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing a range of mental health conditions including, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide. Domestic violence and oppression of women, especially at home, is unacceptable, and needs to be treated as such.

Recently, a heart-wrenching video of a rebellious young man beating his mother went viral. Similarly, painful videos of women’s abuse have also surfaced in recent times. A recent case was of Sadaf Zahra, a married woman whose body founded hanging from the ceiling fan by a bedsheet tied around her neck and a ladder lying close by. The deceased’s friend has held her friend’s husband responsible for her death. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of women across the country face the same plight but have not been able to lift their voices.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, Pakistan witnessed regression of women’s rights laws, which have been amending to reflect this discrimination. In the last 10 to 15 years, there has been some success in passing policies to prevent practices such as early-age marriages, honour killings, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape. Pressure needs to be maintained upon the central and provincial governments to tackle domestic violence and treat it as a priority; this is a problem that impacts society as a whole. As part of a dialogue recently organized by the KP office of UN Women and the KP’s EVAW Alliance, the scholars have signed a declaration condemning gender-based violence and vowing to spread awareness in their relevant communities to put an end to the practice. The increased focus of religious sermons on ending violence against women can make a notable difference over time.

The time is right to act on this issue in Pakistan. Society, too, needs to step up for its women. Regardless of the introduction of pro-women laws that criminalize domestic abuse, the barriers to ensuring justice to the victims are too many. Merely introducing laws that lack proper implementation and establishing helplines do not mean that the state has fulfilled its responsibilities regarding women’s protection. The law also needs further improvements and clarity in its language. It is the responsibility of the state to give protection to its citizens in public and private spaces. There is no way the state could allow its citizens to be subjected to abuse just because it takes place in a personal setting. If we do not address violence against women and girls, sustainable growth will remain elusive.
Successive governments have also taken steps to put a stop to the exuberant women abuse. The Constitution of Pakistan ensures women’s security against any form of violence in its Articles 3 and 11. Besides, the National Commission on the Status of Women Bill 2012, the National Policy for Development and Empowerment of Women (NPDEW) 2002, and the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act (PPWVA) 2016 are among the measures adopted to protect women from domestic violence in the last decade. PPP Senator Sherry Rehman tabled the Domestic violence Bill on the floor of the Senate for debate, in July 2020. Under the bill, offenders were to be punished by domestic violence which was criminalized. In recent times Shireen Mazari, the Human Rights Minister in the PTI government, started a helpline to enable women and children to report instances of domestic violence.

The time is right to act on this issue in Pakistan. Society, too, needs to step up for its women. Regardless of the introduction of pro-women laws that criminalize domestic abuse, the barriers to ensuring justice to the victims are too many. Merely introducing laws that lack proper implementation and establishing helplines do not mean that the state has fulfilled its responsibilities regarding women’s protection. The law also needs further improvements and clarity in its language. It is the responsibility of the state to give protection to its citizens in public and private spaces. There is no way the state could allow its citizens to be subjected to abuse just because it takes place in a personal setting. If we do not address violence against women and girls, sustainable growth will remain elusive.


Thursday 11 November 2021

To the broken hearted.....

Adam عليه السلام needed Hawa (Eve) عليه السلام to enjoy living in the Garden
- The need for love and intimacy is not codependency
Maryam’s عليه السلام greatest honor was being the mother of Esa عليه السلام
- Being a single mother is not a disgrace
Lut’s (Lot) عليه السلام wife didn’t listen to his instructions
- Even great partners can be betrayed by their spouses
Asiyah was killed by her husband, Pharoah
- Your abusive partner is not your fault
Ayyub عليه السلام battled sickness and repeated trials
- Chronic illness is nothing to be ashamed of
Nuh’s عليه السلام own son rejected him
- Effective parenting doesn’t guarantee successful children
Musa عليه السلام had to flee his homeland in pursuit of safety
- You can be a refugee or migrant and build a new home
Ibrahim’s عليه السلام father threatened to kill him
- You can overcome a bad childhood and oppressive parents
Zakariya عليه السلام struggled to have a child
- Infertility isn’t a sign that God is displeased with you
Yusuf عليه السلام was put in prison for something he didn’t do
- Sometimes innocent people are unjustly imprisoned
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was an orphan, a widower, and had to grieve the loss of his own children
- The best of mankind experienced these trials too
In your broken heartedness, remember that you are not alone
"Even if you have no one, you are in the care of ALLAH"

- Sister Naimah A
(From her book - In the belly of the whale)


Tuesday 9 November 2021

O Allah, compensate me for my hardship and replace it with something which is better.


When Umm Salamah lost her husband, one of the early converts to Islam and a most beloved companion, she mourned him bitterly.
But she turned to Allah with patience (sabr) and Dua:

“Allahuma ajirni fi museebati wakhlifli khayran minha - O Allah, compensate me for my hardship and replace it with something which is better.”
Even as she was saying the Dua she thought “Who could be better than Abu Salamah?”
The Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ  was the man better than Abu Salamah, and Allah blessed her with marriage to the noble Prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ .

No matter what you’ve lost in this world, Allah can ALWAYS substitute it with something better.
During tough times do your best to envision a positive future and never give up on hope and good expectations of Allah. 

Hope is more valuable than we give it credit.
Hope remembers all the times in the past that you made it through.
Hope teams up with faith and believes the impossible.
Make dua and forget and know that Allah never forgets. When Allah empties our hands it's only to fill it with something greater, better and eternal. 

🤲 May Allah bless us with the best of deen, duniya and akhira - Allahumma ameen. 

From IdealMuslimah

Thursday 4 November 2021

A group of women from the tribe of Ghifar approached the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ


A group of women from the tribe of Ghifar approached the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to seek his permission to tend to the wounded during the battle of Khaybar. The Prophet ﷺ welcomed their request, giving them permission, stating, “By the blessings of God.”

He ﷺdidn’t simply say okay dismissively. He didn’t say, “No. This isn’t for women.” Or, “Why are you trying to with men?” Instead, he specifically gave them the blessings of God.
With this group of women was a young girl named Umayyah bint Qays. She shares with us her own part of the story: 

“Then we set out with him. I was a young girl. He made me sit on his she-camel behind the luggage. I saw the bag had got traces of blood from me. It was the first time I had a period. Then I sat forward on the camel [to hide it] and I was embarrassed. 

“When the Messenger of God ﷺ saw what happened to me and the traces of blood, he said, “Perhaps you have had menstrual bleeding?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Attend to yourself. Then, take a container of water, then put salt in it, then wash the affected part of the bag, then come back.” I did so.
“When God conquered Khaybar for us, the Prophetﷺ took this necklace that you see on my neck and gave it to me and put it on my neck with his own hand. By God it will never be parted from me.’
“She wore the necklace her entire life and stipulated that she should be buried with it.”
When the Prophet ﷺ saw her blood, he did not embarrass her. He ﷺ did not turn away in disgust or shock. He ﷺ didn’t order her to leave his presence now that she was an accountable young woman. Or hastily walk away in silence, and then avoid her for the rest of her life.

Instead, he ﷺ taught her the fiqh of purification in that moment. He ﷺ acknowledged her literally going through puberty in front of him ﷺ with gentle humility and support. He ﷺ gave her a necklace, which he ﷺ personally placed on her with his blessed hands, and helped her feel honored and special in that moment. He ﷺ didn’t tear her down emotionally; his ﷺ response built her up.
I’ve heard many period stories where women speak of incredible embarrassment in the moment but can laugh it off 10-15 years later. But I’ve never heard a story in which a woman says she felt closer to God because of what was a humiliating moment of her life as a young person.

The way he ﷺ responded not only impacted this young companion’s sense of self, her self worth, her self esteem- but also, her relationship with Islam. He did this while leading a military expedition! As the head of state! Yet he ﷺ took time to sit and make a little girl at a critical crux of her life feel seen.
The Prophetﷺ mentored people in ways they felt nurtured, cherished, and critical for the community. How do you think that impacted the way they felt about their faith?
How would it impact ours if we did the same? 

(Hadith reference: Ibn Sa’d’s Tabaqaat viii.293 as mentioned in Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars of Islam by Dr.Akram Nadwi)
- Ustadha Maryam Amir

Monday 4 October 2021

‘Shown their place’: Muslim livelihoods under attack in India

New Delhi, India – Not everyone in India is excited about the upcoming festive season in October and November.

For Afzal, a mutton seller in Greater Noida – a suburb in Uttar Pradesh state neighbouring capital New Delhi – who did not wish to give his real name for fear of reprisal, it would mean a loss of business for nearly 10 days.

“We have nowhere to complain. The police and the municipality officials side with such groups,” adds Afzal, with some trepidation.

Afzal has been fortunate: though he has been targeted, he has not faced any physical violence. Many others have not been so lucky.

On September 23, two Muslim men in Mathura, a temple town in Uttar Pradesh, were badly beaten up for carrying meat. Earlier this month, the government decided to make a large part of the city alcohol- and meat-free.

About a month ago, in Indore city of Madhya Pradesh state, also governed by the BJP, a Muslim bangle-seller, Tasleem Ali, was beaten up because he was selling his wares in a “Hindu locality” allegedly under an assumed Hindu name.

Within a week or so, in Ujjain city in the same state, a Muslim scrap dealer was forced to shout “Jai Shri Ram” (Victory be to Lord Ram), a war cry used by Hindu supremacist groups.

Similar incidents were reported in Uttar Pradesh as well in the same month.

The owner of a horse carriage in Lucknow was forced to chant “Death to Pakistan” on the basis of a fake claim that he had hoisted a Pakistani flag on his carriage.

Then again, in Mathura, a Muslim eatery owner was forced to change its name from “Shrinath Dosa” to “American Dosa Corner” because right-wing groups objected to him using the name of a Hindu god.

All these incidents were recorded in a series of disturbing videos that went viral. The common thread in the videos is that they showcase Muslim vendors and small traders being assaulted because of their religious identity.

Also, the assaulters in all such cases are alleged members of Hindu right-wing groups, who feel emboldened under Modi’s government and exercise significant impunity.

Such incidents are being seen as part of a larger attack on the livelihoods of Muslims, many of whom are self-employed or are engaged in low-paying jobs.

Nearly 46 percent of Muslims are self-employed in urban India, the largest as compared with any other community, according to data from the government’s National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), 2013.

The report adds that Muslims are the poorest among all religious groups in India and are concentrated in low-paying jobs in the informal sector.

Jeremy Seabrook and Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, in their book People Without History: India’s Muslim Ghettos, have documented a gradual “de-skilling of Muslim workforce” due to globalisation, which has forced them into low-paying jobs.

If these frequent incidents of attacks on Muslim livelihoods are seen “in consonance with some policy measures which the BJP government has taken in different states in the last few years, then it is a worrying trend indeed,” Abdul Waheed, professor of sociology at the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh, told Al Jazeera.

In 2017, when the BJP government came to power in the northern state, one of its first moves was to shut down slaughterhouses and meat shops. The ostensible reason was that such places were not following legal regulations.

However, till date, no related regulation has been enacted. “The absence of any regulation in this regard makes it clear that the intention behind such a move was to destabilise Muslim businesses,” Manoj Singh, journalist and researcher in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur city, who has been tracking the rise of the BJP in the state, told Al Jazeera.

In March this year, the city council in Gurugram in Haryana state – also governed by the BJP – decided to close all meat shops and ban all restaurants from serving non-vegetarian food on Tuesdays to respect “Hindu sentiments”.

Such measures are likely to affect Muslims adversely. “This is a clear attack on Muslim livelihoods since, traditionally, it is primarily Muslims who are engaged in the meat and poultry business in India,” says Waheed.

Singh argues that such incidents belie the Uttar Pradesh government’s claim that it is interested in the development of all. “We do not see members of such vigilante groups arrested which only means that they have the tacit support of the government.”
Shalabh Mani Tripathy, BJP’s spokesman and media adviser to Uttar Pradesh chief minister, counters such claims.

“The state government is popular even among Muslims because of its various schemes. A narrative is being built by vested interests that the government is anti-Muslim which is not true,” Tripathy told Al Jazeera.

“Some of these videos and incidents have turned out to be fake. Others are being probed; therefore, it will be premature to comment on them. Let me assure you that no one is above the law in the state.”

Economic marginalisation
It is well-documented that Muslim properties have been targeted during various communal riots in India. But focused attacks on small traders and hawkers seem to be a new trend.

As the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in India last year, Muslim fruit-sellers were targeted and scapegoated for allegedly spreading the virus. Posters were put up in several villages announcing that Muslim vendors were not welcome in those areas.
The National Hawker Federation, an association of street vendors across 28 states in India, issued a statement in April 2020, condemning the profiling and harassment of Muslim vendors.

“These attacks are sure to make the economic situation of Muslim hawkers more precarious,” Waheed told Al Jazeera.

“It is an effort to create terror and insecurity in the minds of Muslims and restrict their free movement. Now an average Muslim trader will have to think twice before venturing into a Hindu locality. Such restrictions will only mean that their businesses will suffer.”

It appears that such attacks are happening due to an ideological motivation to hit Muslims economically by driving them out of their professions, so that they are forced to convert eventually.

In January 2021, at a Hindu panchayat (mass gathering) in Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut, anti-Muslim preacher Swami Anand Swaroop said the Hindus “should decide that they will not buy anything from Muslims”.

“If you destroy them socially, politically and economically, they will begin converting to Hinduism from Islam,” he told a crowd of hundreds.

Journalist Singh links the current spate of attacks against Muslims to the upcoming state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, in which the BJP is seeking to retain power.

“The BJP government has been speaking against Muslims since it came to power, but just speaking against them is not enough to win the hearts of their Hindu supporters in the politically charged state,” he said.

“The Muslim community has to be brought to its knees by economically marginalising them even further. This is being done in order to send a signal to the Hindu electorate that Muslims are being shown their place.” 


Monday 20 September 2021

Love thy neighbour...


The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “(The angel) Gabriel kept recommending to me to treat (my) neighbors in a kind and polite manner, so much so that I thought that he would order (me) to make them (my) heirs." Sahih Al-Bukhari

The Prophet (pbuh) also said: "By God, he does not believe! By God, he does not believe! By God, he does not believe!" When he was asked by the people who he was referring to, the Prophet (pbuh) said: "That person whose neighbor does not feel safe from his (or her) evil." Sahih Al-Bukhari

When asked what the rights of the neighbor are, the Prophet Mohammed answered: “The least of a neighbor’s rights on him is that if he asks him for a loan he should grant it to him. If he asks for help, he should help him. If he wants to borrow something from him, he should lend it to him. If he needs him to donate something to him, he should do so. If he invites him, he should accept his invitation. If he gets sick, he should go and visit him. If he passes away, he should attend his funeral procession.” [Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, v.2, p.79]

“One who spends the night with a full stomach while his neighbor is hungry, has not believed in me. One who spends the night clothed, while his neighbor has no clothes, has not believed in me.” [Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, v.2, pp.78-79]



Monday 13 September 2021

Spread of 'sexual terrorism' seen in Pakistan: Report


With Pakistan reporting a number of incidents of rape and sexual assaults, the country is undoubtedly witnessing the spread of "sexual terrorism" according to a report published in Friday Times.

Nazeer Arjio, writing in the Friday Times said: "The Minar-e-Pakistan tragedy on Independence Day has not only brought national embarrassment but also reaffirmed that the Pakistani society is full of sexual predators and their supporters. Man has crossed all limits when it comes to unleashing sexual atrocities, while the state watches on."

The psychological, social, and practical baggage emanating from sexual assaults is immense. But the victim of the Minar-e-Pakistan assault is just the latest to be left helpless, Arjio said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan last month stated that sexual crimes are rising in the country due to misuse of mobile phones, according to local media.

His remark came after, a Pakistani TikToker, on August 14, was captured being "brutally attacked" by hordes of men in Lahore's Minar-e-Pakistan even the country celebrated its Independence Day and for a while, the incident was among top hashtags on Twitter #minarPakistan and #400 men were among the hashtags being used by outraged netizens who expressed their shock and disgust at the violence against the woman.

Following the Minar-e-Pakistan incident, women's studies professor Shahla Haeri said, "Rape in Pakistan is often institutionalised and has the tacit and at times the explicit approval of the state."

Citing the few incidents, Arjio wrote, "In Thatta, a dead body of a 14-year-old girl was raped. In Khairpur, a 14-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped by an influential money-lender owing to her father's failure to repay borrowed money. Earlier this month, another 14-year-girl was raped at gunpoint in Khazan."

"In June, an elderly woman was held hostage at gunpoint and subsequently subjected to sexual assault by influential people in Muzaffargarh, to avenge her son's love marriage," Arjio said, adding "Pakistan is undoubtedly witnessing the spread of sexual terrorism."

"Women's struggle against sexual victimisation will not end until the mindset that sees woman as an object of sexual pleasure is changed. While establishing true gender equality would require time, right now it is pertinent that the state declare a sexual terrorism emergency to protect its women," Arjio added.


Friday 10 September 2021

Lost History of Women Scholars in Islam


It surprises people to learn that women living under an Islamic order could be scholars, that is, hold the authority that attaches to being knowledgeable about what Islam commands, and therefore sought after and deferred to.

The typical Western view is that no social order has (or aspires to have) more 'religion' in it than Islam. The more "religion' a society has in it, the more restricted the scope in that society for women to enjoy agency and authority. Behind that is the assumption that religion is 'really' a human construct, done mainly by men and therefore done to secure advantages for them at the expense of women. Muslims, of course, do not share this view.

In the Quran and Sunnah, Muslims believe they have a framework of guidance that is strictly impartial and sufficient because God's knowledge and mercy encompass all beings and all their pasts and futures. Any human derivation from and within that framework is subject to revision, but the framework itself is not. Accordingly, in the Islamic tradition, to say 'God says in His Book' decides the argument.

Where it is not certain how the guidance of the Quran is to be acted upon, Muslims look to the example of how God's Messenger acted in the same or a similar situation. The record of his example (Sunnah) is now, for all practical purposes, conveyed through a body of texts, known singly and collectively as hadith (lit. 'saying). A man who becomes an expert in knowledge of the hadith is called a muhaddith; a woman, muhaddithah (plural, muhaddithat).

The Quran rebukes the people of the jāhiliyyah (the Ignorance before Islam) for their negative attitude to women. When news is brought to one of them of [the birth of] a girl, his face darkens, and he is chafing within! He hides himself from his folk because of the evil he has had news of. Shall he keep it in disdain or bury it in the dust? Ah - how evil the judgment they come to! (Quran, 16:58-59)

The costly prospect of bringing up a daughter (a son was expected to enhance a clan's military and economic potential) perhaps explains this negative response to the birth of a girl. Burying infant girls alive was a custom among some (not all) of the Arab tribes of that time. The Quran warns of retribution for this gross atrocity on the day When the infant buried alive shall be asked for what sin she was killed (Quran, 81:8-9)

Human rights and duties indicated in the Quran are pegged to two fundamentals that are the same for men and women - namely they being creatures and slaves of God, their Creator, and Lord, and they being the issue of a single human self. God has said in the Quran;  O humankind, be wary of your Lord who created you from a single self, and from it created its pair, and from the pair of them scattered many men and women. Be wary of God, through Whom you ask of one another [your rights and needs] and close kindred:! God is ever-watchful over you. (al-Nisa 4:1) And (al-Araf, 7:189): He, it is Who created you from a single self, and made from it its mate, so that he might settle at rest with her. Male and female are created for the same purpose: I have not created jinn and humankind except so that they worship Me (al-Dhariyat, 51:56). The Quranic term 'abd signifies both 'worshipper and 'slave' in relation to God.

The duties owed to God, and the virtues that ensue from the effort to do them, are the same for men and women. This is affirmed in a well-known Quranic verse. The verse and the occasion of its revelation are recorded in this hadīth, narrated by Abd al-Rahmān ibn Shaybah:

I heard Umm Salamah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ say: I asked the Prophet ﷺ Why are we [women] not mentioned in the Quran as the men are mentioned? [...] Then, I was alerted that day by his call on the pulpit. [...] At that moment, I was combing my hair. I gathered up my hair and went to one of the rooms; I listened hard. I heard him saying on the pulpit: O people, God says in His Book: The Muslim men and Muslim women; the believing men and believing women; the men who are obedient [to God] and women who are obedient [to God]; the men who are truthful and the women who are truthful; the men who are persevering and patient and the women who are persevering and patient; the men who give alms and the women who give alms; the men who are humble and the women who are humble; the men who fast and the women who fast; the men who guard their chastity and the women who guard their chastity, and the men who remember God much and the women who remember God much - God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward. (AL-HAKIM, al-Mustadrak, ii. 416. The verse cited is al-Ahzab, 33:35)

Having 'the knowledge' and the conscientious preserving, transmitting and understanding it is the strong basis for the public authority that learned Muslims, men and women, were able to command. Sometimes there were different opinions on the import of the knowledge people had. Still, the differences were not settled based on the gender or the tribe, or socio-economic class of the person who conveyed it.

A striking case is that of Amrah bint Abd al-Rahmān, the great tabi'iyyah (Successor), muhaddithah and faqīhah, who intervened in a court case in Madinah to prevent a miscarriage of justice. It is remarkable enough that she knew that the case was in progress and the circumstances of it and what sentence the qādī had passed but not yet carried out. Many famous men jurists were residents and active in the city; none of them intervened. What is astonishing is that she did intervene, and no one questioned her right to do so. The defendant was a non-Muslim, not known to Amrah except as the defendant in this suit, in which she had no personal, private interest. The qãdi reversed his decision and released the defendant only because he could have no argument against the authority of the hadith she was able to cite. He did not know or remember it, or simply failed to bring it to bear when reaching his judgment. Once he knew the hadith, he did as a Muslim should – he acted upon it.

The Quran speaks about women in general and specific terms. It does not associate womanhood with inferiority or deficiency of any sort, any primordial sin, or any disposition to sin not also found in men, or any disposition to induce sin in others not also found in men. It does not regard women as an appendage of men but as distinct beings, each called individually, just as are men. The language of the Quran, Arabic, like many others, uses masculine forms to mean women also unless the context expressly excludes them. The grammar does not require women to be expressly included; therefore, when that explicit inclusion occurs, it is all the more striking. The above verse 33:35 enumerates the virtues, distinctly for men and women. Starting with the next verse in that sūrah, here are a few more examples:

It is not for a believing man or believing woman when God and His Messenger have decided a matter [...] (al-Ahzab, 33:36).

Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, male or female (Al Imran, 3:195).

Whoever does righteous deeds, male or female, and is a believer, him We shall enliven to a good life, and We shall pay them certainly a reward proportioned to the best of what they used to do (al-Nahl, 16:97).

Whoever does righteous deeds, from among the male or the female, and he is a believer, those will enter Paradise [...] (al-Nisa, 4:124).

The believing men and believing women are protecting friends (awliyā') of one another, they bid to good (al-maruf), and forbid from evil (al-munkar); they establish the prayer and give the alms (zakah) and obey God and His Messenger (al-Tawbah, 9:71).

The Quran and Sunnah are replete with examples that give women the right to attain high rank in all spheres of knowledge. 


Thursday 2 September 2021

Victim Blaming


Over the past few years Pakistan has witnessed a phenomenal rise in rape, assault and abuse cases. Some cases are reported by the victims or their families while most of the cases remain unreported. The reason behind that is pressure from the family and society. Also a big reason that stops victims from reporting is the lack of trust in the judicial system. However the reported cases are mostly pending in courts and the culprits get away due to weak prosecution.

Pakistan is a country with an approximately 49 percent female population. Here, women play a vital role in the economy and progress of the country be it in the fields of politics, journalism, business, education, or others,  but this is one side of the picture.

The other side has been quite horrific and devastating. On 14th August,  a mob of 400 men openly abused and assaulted a female TikToker, who was filming a video in front of Minar-e-Pakistan which happens to be the national monument of Pakistan.

A stable and balanced society is built only when women are safe, respected and honoured by all. There should be no space for misogyny in our society. Pakistan needs to work on creating awareness and implementing strict laws to punish the culprits and encourage the victims to report any sort of assault. The impact of recent horrific assault cases will be severe on women and children of our society. They need a safe and protected environment to live and most importantly there should be an end to victim blaming once and for all
Nobody came to rescue the victim from the mob of vultures. There was rage in social media for her justice, and many influential political leaders like Bilawal Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto raised their voices immediately for the victim and demanded justice for her. The civil society, human rights activists, and social activists, have largely condemned the barbaric act but unfortunately in this same society  there are some sadistic minds who believe in blaming the victim for being assaulted, this was one of the many cases that infuriated the society.

Noor Mukaddam, a 27-year-old girl, was recently beheaded brutally in Islamabad by an acquaintance who is currently under trial; the civil society and the entire nation condemned this barbaric act but as usual some insensitive souls started to blame the victim by giving bizarre reasoning and justification for the murder.  This polarization in our society is somehow suppressing humanity and haunting the victims and their families who need support and healing after being traumatised. This is the reason why most of the rape cases are not reported; the problem lies is the justice system and disturbing social behaviour for the victim.

Prime Minister ImranKhan in an earlier interview had blamed victims of rape for wearing skimpy clothes; and that it had an impact on men unless they were robots. This statement backfired and later he had to take a U-turn on this, but the damage was already done. Such an insensitive statement coming from the head of government was a shock for the nation. Also, his earlier statement gave a feeling to the assaulters that they could get away with any sort of molestation or abuse as the Prime Minister himself had put the burden of assault on the victim’s shoulders.

Recently a horrific case of necrophilia wrenched the hearts of the country when some beasts dug up the grave of a 14-year-old girl who had died of natural causes and raped the corpse.

Such  incidents show the ugly side of the society we live in. The victims are never at fault, rather they are the ones who need empathy, care and respect from the society and especially from the government.

Any insensitive comment can cause them extreme psychological trauma as they suffer isolation after assault, it is important for the society to treat the victims with the same honour as they treated them before and not isolate them.

A rotten theory is advocated by some misogynists that wearing provocative clothing stimulates sexual aggression in men. This theory must be dumped in the garbage bin as no victim ever asks to be abused. Even the victim of the Motorway rape case that sparked national outrage was blamed by a senior police officer for not chosing a busy road and not checking her fuel.

Victim blaming and judging a woman’s character is a deep rooted dilemma of our society which needs to be removed. If the society acts responsibly and the justice system solves such cases on priority basis then many other women who face domestic violence would get hope to register cases against the assaulters.

A stable and balanced society is built only when women are safe, respected and honoured by all. There should be no space for misogyny in our society. Pakistan needs to work on creating awareness and implementing strict laws to punish the culprits and encourage the victims to report any sort of assault. The impact of recent horrific assault cases will be severe on women and children of our society. They need a safe and protected environment to live and most importantly there should be an end to victim blaming once and for all.


Monday 30 August 2021

Is the Taliban’s treatment of women really inspired by Sharia?


According to Human Rights Watch, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group whose stated goal was to create a state based on the biblical 10 commandments, kidnapped and killed tens of thousands of people in the 1990s and 2000s.

Their practice of abducting boys to train them as soldiers and girls to force them into sexual slavery has been documented and put before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, resulting in an arrest warrant for Joseph Kony, the group’s founder, along with four of his senior leaders, for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Although according to its leadership, the armed group was a Christian army acting in God’s way, few op-eds have had to be penned arguing that the LRA’s actions are not in congruence with normative Christianity. It is just (rightly) assumed.

Unfortunately, a completely different set of rules is applied when it comes to Muslims. The commentary surrounding the most recent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is but one example.

Reports have emerged that Afghan women are being forced to marry Taliban fighters, quit their jobs and schooling, as well as endure public flogging.

Rather than call for expanding asylum programmes or even exerting political pressure on the Taliban to reform, right-wing politicians in Europe and the United States have instead weaponised the ongoing instability in this war-torn country to score political points against their Muslim citizens and immigration proponents.

As Muslim citizens of Western nations, we have yet again found ourselves defending our community and faith against those wishing to exploit this tragedy to propagate Islamophobic tropes – the same tropes that were used to justify invading Afghanistan two decades ago.

We are now, as we were then, expected to clarify, condemn and distinguish our faith from the actions of a militant group claiming to act in its name, an unfair and exhausting demand not made of our Christian compatriots, regarding any armed group or war criminal claiming to act in Christ’s name.

Still, despite the double standard, we must take these moments as opportunities to educate. So let me be clear: The normative teachings of Islam are antithetical to the Taliban’s reported treatment of women.

The teachings of Islam, in all their diversity, encourage a woman’s spiritual aspirations absent an intercessor between her and God and define her identity as first and foremost a servant of The Divine, whose rights constitute a sacred covenant. In seventh-century Arabia, Islam’s advance took a woman from being treated as property to a fully independent agent who had control over her financial decisions and possessions and who had the right to choose to marry and divorce.

What about women’s employment? From the first generation of believers, women served as everything, from medical workers to warriors. For example, Rufaida Al-Aslamia was a surgeon recognised by the Prophet for her care for the wounded, her training of other women as nurses, and her role in establishing the first field hospital for the community. Nusaybah bint Ka’ab was known as the “Prophet’s shield” for defending him in battle, even when many men fled.

Islam’s teachings also emphasise the importance of seeking knowledge, for both men and women. In fact, the first known university in the world, the University of al-Qarawiyyin in the Moroccan city of Fez, was founded more than 1,000 years ago by Fatima al-Fihri, a Muslim woman. It is the oldest existing and continually operating educational institution in the world.

Fatima and her sister, Mariam, were highly educated and devoted to their faith. Upon her father’s death and her inheritance of his fortune (yes, Muslim women could inherit property centuries before their European counterparts), she and her sister decided to use their wealth to build an institution of higher learning.

The al-Fihri sisters’ dedication to the pursuit of knowledge is far from an isolated example. Four years ago, while on a speaking tour of the United Kingdom, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Professor Mohammad Akram Nadwi, who authored an encyclopaedia of the Muhaddithat, the female scholars of Hadith, Islam’s collection of prophetic narrations.

He told me he had set out to write a short book about what he thought would be a handful of female Hadith scholars, and ended up completing 57 volumes (which he had to condense to 40 for publication) on about 9,000 of them. He continues his research and says there are thousands more women he could write about. I learned from him that many of the scholars we consider the pillars of our tradition had female teachers (not just students).

It is also worth noting that Dr Nadwi set out to study just scholars of Hadith. Many of these women also were scholars of fiqh (law), tafsir (scriptural exegesis) and other sciences along with Hadith. I remember wondering what the number would be had he set out to study Islam’s female scholars in general.

And yet these realities stand in sharp contrast to the image of Muslim women in the popular imagination, an imagination easily persuaded that the Taliban represents Islamic devotion, not deviance, in its treatment of women. According to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding’s Islamophobia Index, the stereotype of Muslim misogyny is the most pervasive anti-Muslim trope tested among Americans.

Western political figures have long instrumentalised the image of the oppressed Muslim woman in need of Western saviours to justify European, and then later American invasion and exploitation of Muslim lands. While this tendency can be traced back to the Crusades, in the modern context, it takes the form of biased media coverage of Muslim women.

According to a Stanford study conducted by Dr Rochelle Terman, who based her analysis on data collected from 35 years of New York Times and Washington Post reporting, US news coverage of women abroad is driven by confirmation bias. Journalists are more likely to report on women living in Muslim and Middle Eastern countries if their rights are violated, but report on women in other societies when their rights are respected.

Some may argue that this is simply a reflection of reality. Women in Muslim majority countries, they contend, are violated more often. But this is not the case. Terman writes, “Even if the nations rank more or less equally on the women’s rights index, women in Muslim countries are shown suffering misogyny, while women in Western countries are portrayed in more complex ways.”

Even when their lived realities are similar, Muslim women are depicted as more mistreated than their counterparts of other faiths, reproducing the false notion that misogyny is exceptionally and inherently Muslim.

We must become critical consumers of information, questioning double standards and challenging bias, and not allow anyone to use the actions of a militant group to propagate bigotry. This is the only way we will truly stand with the Afghan people, women and men, who must lead any effort to support them.


Tuesday 24 August 2021

Eight-year-old becomes youngest person charged with blasphemy in Pakistan

An eight-year-old Hindu boy is being held in protective police custody in east Pakistan after becoming the youngest person ever to be charged with blasphemy in the country.

The boy’s family is in hiding and many of the Hindu community in the conservative district of Rahim Yar Khan, in Punjab, have fled their homes after a Muslim crowd attacked a Hindu temple after the boy’s release on bail last week. Troops were deployed to the area to quell any further unrest.

On Saturday, 20 people were arrested in connection with the temple attack.

The boy is accused of intentionally urinating on a carpet in the library of a madrassa, where religious books were kept, last month. Blasphemy charges can carry the death penalty.

The Guardian knows the name of the boy and family members, but has chosen to protect their identities for their safety.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, a member of the boy’s family told the Guardian: “He [the boy] is not even aware of such blasphemy issues and he has been falsely indulged in these matters. He still doesn’t understand what his crime was and why he was kept in jail for a week.

“We have left our shops and work, the entire community is scared and we fear backlash. We don’t want to return to this area. We don’t see any concrete and meaningful action will be taken against the culprits or to safeguard the minorities living here.”

Blasphemy charges filed against a child have shocked legal experts, who say the move is unprecedented. No one this young has ever been charged with blasphemy before in Pakistan.

Blasphemy laws have been disproportionately used in the past against religious minorities in Pakistan. Although no blasphemy executions have been carried out in the country since the death penalty was introduced for the crime in 1986, suspects are often attacked and sometimes killed by mobs.

Ramesh Kumar, a lawmaker and head of the Pakistan Hindu Council, said: “The attack on the temple and blasphemy allegations against the eight-year-old minor boy has really shocked me. More than a hundred homes of the Hindu community have been emptied due to fear of attack.”

Kapil Dev, a human rights activist, said: “I demand charges against the boy are immediately dropped, and urge the government to provide security for the family and those forced to flee.”

He added: “Attacks on Hindu temples have increased in the last few years showing an escalating level of extremism and fanaticism. The recent attacks seem to be a new wave of persecution of Hindus.”

Footage circulating on social media appears to show an angry mob attacking and vandalising the temple with iron bars and sticks last week.

Ahmad Nawaz, a spokesperson for the Rahim Yar Khan district police, said: “Police are hunting the attackers and police teams are conducting raids to arrest the culprits but there has been no arrest made yet.”

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, condemned the mob attack on Twitter and said he has ordered the provincial police chief to take action against anyone involved, including negligent police officers. He promised the government would restore the temple.

In New Delhi, India’s external affairs ministry summoned a Pakistani diplomat to protest the attack and demand the safety of Hindu families living in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

In December last year, a large violent mob of conservative Muslims demolished a century old Hindu temple in the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to a report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedoms, published last year, Pakistan reported the highest number of incidents of mob activity, mob violence, and/or threats of mob violence as a result of alleged blasphemous acts.

Four countries account for nearly 80% of all reported incidents of mob activity, mob violence, and/or threats of mob violence as a result of alleged blasphemous acts in countries with criminal blasphemy laws between 2014 and 2018.