Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Pakistani Taliban’s Formulation of lex talionis - Farah Jan

After the killing of Osama Bin Laden by the US navy seals on May 2nd, the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) issued a statement in which they threatened to avenge Bin Laden by targeting Pakistan’s army, navy and air force, along with the US and NATO interests. The Latin word lex talionis, translates as, “the law of retaliation.” This principle finds its roots in Biblical times and refers to the precept of “an eye for an eye.” The TTP and other militant groups have affirmed the retaliation pledge, but with no end in sight. 

As the ancient Greeks proclaimed prior to the start of Olympics, “let the games begin!,” so the TTP have issued a similar message in a sinister fashion for the Pakistani government and its armed forces. In the process, the TTP has unleashed its war machine using its most effective weapon, “the suicide bomber.” 

During the last few weeks, we have seen numerous attacks, starting with the twin attacks on Frontier Constabulary headquarters on May 13th, that killed 98 paramilitary recruits and civilians, the assassination of Saudi consulate official on May 16th, the attack on U.S. officials on May 20th, killing a passerby, and now the most embarrassing attack on the Pakistani naval base in Karachi on May 22nd. The TTP has taken responsibility for these attacks, each time issuing a statement afterwards that, “this was revenge for martyrdom of Osama Bin Laden. It was the proof that we are still united and powerful.” (

The May 22nd attack on the PNS Mehran base demonstrates the coordination and strength of the TTP and other al-Qaeda influenced groups. The naval base attack raises serious concerns regarding the ability of militant groups to launch small-scale combat against the seventh largest army in the world. 

Indeed, the militant groups are deeply entrenched in Pakistan’s major cities. Through their recent attacks, they threaten to weaken the security institutions of the state. Incapacitating the state, supposedly the sole institution that has the right to exercise the use of force within the boundaries of the territory over which it rules, threatens to render Pakistan a failed state. According to the Weberian definition, the state is a “human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” Thus the state via its security apparatus and institutions successfully asserts this use of force within its territory, as well as defending this territory from external threats. 

The state of Pakistan today is at a critical crossroad in determining its security and defense from internal and external perils. The ultimate end for non-state actors like the TTP, would be to reconfigure current state structures, and replace them with institutions that advance their extremist agenda. Their short-term objective is to cripple Pakistan’s security institutions, further leading it to collapse.

A failed or collapsed Pakistan would be a regional disaster for South Asia, particularly for the economic and political stability of both China and India. The effects of Pakistan’s failure are not limited to the region, but would have global repercussions. For the United States, Pakistan’s geo-strategic location is crucial. Policy makers in Washington are expecting a forceful response by the Pakistani army against the TTP’s attack on the Karachi naval base . At stake is the Pakistani state’s capacity to use legitimate force for its own self-defense.


Farah Jan is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Garbage People - written by my friend, mentor, and former professor, Stephen E. Bronner

 few weeks ago I was in Cairo with a delegation from US Academics for Peace. Trite as it sounds, we had a fascinating driver. He was a Coptic Christian who applauded the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak and his coterie. He accompanied us to the huge and thrilling demonstrations of May 1 in Tahrir Square, birthplace of the democratic revolution, and he talked with us about events that have lately reached the press: the fear of military rule, the rise in crime, the lack of tourists, the collapse of social services, and - most strikingly - the indifference of the selectively present police to assaults upon Christians and other minorities. When we were alone, our driver made me a proposal. He said that if I promised not to mention his name, and write about what I saw, he would take my wife and me on a little excursion to a neighborhood known as "the garbage village."
Cairo is a densely populated metropolis with about 18 million residents that is growing by 1,000 residents per day. It's the largest city in Africa, and it's filthy. The banks of its many brooks, the crevices of its many streets, and even its richer sections are littered with refuse. Our driver noted that fact as we approached our destination. Upon entering the garbage village, hanging from a few buildings we saw large banners with the faces of nine young men killed in assaults by Muslim mobs (that any number of imams later condemned). Above, in the huge caverns of the adjacent mountains, newly adorned with immense carvings of Biblical scenes, churches were built that can hold 10,000 parishioners. These places of worship perhaps offer some solace. Nevertheless, they tower over an insult both to God and humanity.
Poverty has never subscribed to any particular faith. It works on Christians and Muslims alike. Nearly fourteen million residents of Cairo are "poor," four million don't have potable water, three million lack access to a sewage system, and two million are "destitute." But the degree of misery experienced by the 40,000 residents of this garbage village is something special. Its residents collect most of Cairo's trash. The overwhelming majority of them are Coptic Christians who originally raised pigs that fed on the garbage. Spurred by a wave of Islamic fanaticism and fear of swine flu, however, 300,000 animals were slaughtered in 2009 - though no case of the disease was ever documented. Only a few diseased goats now wander about this garbage village composed of ramshackle houses, cheerless cafes, empty shops, and a commercial life powered by refuse. With the waste disposal system privatized, indeed, garbage freely follows the path of the commodity form. Carts dragged by emaciated donkeys, and ancient trucks carry the trash into the village where families living in overstuffed apartments sort it, bind it and prepare it for sale. The product is then taken to recycling plants and resold, thereby creating more garbage in what amounts to a circular process highlighted by exploitation and despair.
Garbage blurs the line between public and private space. It sets the stage on which individuals play out their lives. Its stink fills the air that the garbage people breathe. It lures the swarming flies whose vast number blurs the vision. It carries the germs that produce the countless diseases. It intensifies the already searing heat that often reaches 110 and sparks fires here and there. Grungy children play in the garbage. Wives cook food, wash clothes, and give birth surrounded by garbage. Men work amid the garbage, smoke their hookahs amid the garbage, laugh and cry amid the garbage. Old people with vapid eyes watch listlessly as the garbage is stacked ever higher in the suffocating alleys. Everyone looks as if they are simply waiting to die amid the vermin and the stench and the heat and the dust.
But is the garbage village really such an affront to human dignity? Democratic revolution is underway: there is a new state to be built, a bureaucracy to be purged, an army to be dealt with. Many will say, albeit sadly, that the entire economy is a wreck and that there are issues more important that the plight of 40,000 garbage people. Others will insist that outrage is a product of alien attitudes and that it is illegitimate for outsiders to demand solutions: such poverty is - after all - "normal" in the region. Every city has its poor section, its slum, its ghetto. World travelers will surely note that worse (sic!) horrors can be found in the hellholes of Brazil, China, Congo, Darfur, India, Indonesia or God knows where. An excuse always exists to avoid redressing the inexcusable. It doesn't take much to shift the viewer's gaze from the matter at hand. My memory of our driver and the garbage people is already growing dim. The only reminder is the lingering chill from the words written long ago by Bertolt Brecht:
And there are some who live in darkness 
And there are others who live in light 
And one sees those in the light 
Those in the darkness disappear.

Stephen Eric Bronner is the Senior Editor of Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture, as well as Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of Global Relations at the Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights at Rutgers University. His books include "Reclaiming the Enlightenment: Toward a Politics of Radical Engagement" (Columbia University Press) and "A Rumor About the Jews: Anti-Semitism, Conspiracy, and the 'Protocols of Zion'" (Oxford University Press).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Some of our Greatest Muslim Minds


Rabi'ah Bint Mu'awwad

She was a great scholar of fiqh. The intellectual scholars of Madina like Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abdallah ibn Umar, Salman ibn Yasar, Abbad ibn Walid and Nafi' use to go to her to learn from her. (tahdhib at tahdhib vol.12 p 444)

Umm 'Atiyyah

Some Sahabah and learned scholars among the tabi'een used to come to her to learn various aspects of Islamic jurisprudence from her in Basrah. She also narrated many ahadith of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. Imam Nawawi said, "She was a scholarly Sahabiyah and one of those who went on jihad with Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam." (taghib al asma was sifaat vol w p 364)

A'isha bint Sa'd bint ibn Abi Waqqas

She was the daughter of a great Sahabi. She was very learned in Islamic sciences to the point that Imam Malik, Hakim ibn Utaybah and Ayyub as Sakhtiyani, the famous jurists and scholars of ahadith were her pupils.

Sayyida Nafisa: Granddaughter of Hasan

Known for her commitment to Islam, she would frequently fast, and it is reported that she performed hajj over 30 times. A large number of pupils came to her from different places to learn from her. The scholar Imam Shafi, is said to have learned and been taught from her. Imam Shafi thought so much of her that he stated in his will that he wanted his funeral procession to pass by her home - and when it passed by her home she prayed the funeral prayer. She died during the month of Ramadan whilst reciting the Quran in 208H. (wafayat al-a'yan vol 2 p 169)

Umrah Bint Abdu Rahman

Regarded as an authority of hadith and fiqh, she was the grand daughter of one of the famous companions, Asad ibn Zararah Ansari (radhiAllahu anhu). The scholar, Imam Bukhari said that she was like the secretary for Aisha (radhiAllahu anha), the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)'s wife, and one of her best students. People who sent Aisha gifts/presents and letters, would send it through her.
Imam Ahmad said, "She was an eminent theologian and a great scholar. She was tutored in the lap of 'A'isha (radhi Allahu anha), narrated many ahadith from her and she is very reliable, had an excellent memory and is one whose narration can be accepted." Ibn Habban says the same about her. The scholar Ibn Hajr Askalani said that she was one of the scholars of the early Muslims as she was an authority on the hadith transmitted by Aisha (radhiAllahu anha). The scholar Ibn Hibban said she was the best person who had knowledge of the hadith of Aisha (radhiAllahu anhu). The scholar, Imam Zuhri said that when he wanted to learn hadith he would go to Umrah, saying that when he would meet her he found her in a 'deep sea of knowledge'.
'Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, the great Umayyad Khalif, who is rightly described by historians as one who was of the caliber of the khulafa ar rashidun, respected her narrations to the point that he asked Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Hazm to record them. Great scholars like Abu Bakr ibn Hazm and Yahya ibn Sa'id, who were great jurists, went to her to learn hadith.
The chief Judge of Madinah, Umrah's nephew, was asked to collect hadiths with the following order from the Caliph (ruler) of their time, "Umrah's ahadith are to be despatched to the Caliph in black and white". The scholar, Imam Malik said that Umrah would correct the mistakes her nephew, the Chief Judge of Madinah, would make. The scholar Imam Dhahabi classified her as a Jurist. She died aged 77.

Zaynab: daughter of UmmSalama

Like her mother, she was also an expert in jurisprudence. Ibn Abdul Barr said, "She was a theologian of greater status than others of her contemporaries." (al isti'ab fi asma' al as hab)

Umm Ad Darda

She was the wife of the famous sahabi Abu Darda' and was learned in the sciences of hadith. Imam Bukhari referred to her as an authority in sahih al Bukhari: "Umm darda used to sit in tashahhud in her prayers like a man ( in worship) and she was an expert theologian." Ibn Adbul Barr calls her "an excellent scholar among women, and a woman intellectual, being at the same time extremely religious and pious." (al isti'ab fi asma' al as hab)

Fatimah bint Qays

Her learning was so deep that she discussed a juristic point with 'Umar and 'A'isha radi Allahu anha for a long time and they also could not change or challenge her views. Imam Nawawi said, "She was one of those who migrated in the early days, and possessed great intellect and excellence." (tahdhib at tahdhib vol.2 p 353)

Umm Salim: Umm Anas

She was the mother of the famous sahabi Anas. She was a highly respected Sahabiyah. Ibn Hajar says, "Her laudable qualities are too many to mention and she was very famous." Imam an Nawawi calls her an excellent scholar among the Sahabiyah." (tahdhib at tahdhib vol.2 p 363)

Aisha bint Talha

The grand daughter of Abu Bakr (radhi Allahu anhu), she was taught by the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)'s wife Aisha (radhi Allahu anha). Abu Zahra, the early Muslim said, "Aisha was cited because of her authentic knowledge." Aisha was also graced with physical beauty. Once Caliph Hisham invited her to his court where she engaged dialogue with eminent scholars of different fields. The Caliph was so impressed with her knowledge that he gave her a gift of 100,000 dirhams.

Hafsah bint Sireen (d. 101H)

The sister of the scholar Muhammad ibn Sireen, she had memorized the Quran by the age of 12, and by the age 14 she was well versed in the exegesis (explanation) of the Quranic verses. She became famous for her beautiful recitation of the Quran. Her recitation was of such a high standard that when her brother had difficulty with recitation he would ask her to correct him.

Ukhtul Mazni

The sister of al-Mazni, a noted student of Imam Shafi, she was a highly placed scholar of Islamic Jurisprudence. It is said that because of her knowledge her opinions were highly respected including the difference of opinion she had with Imam Shafi regarding the zakat which was to be paid on minerals.

Rabiyah Khatun

The sister of the Muslim General Salahuddin al Ayubbi, she was well educated and established a great institution for religious learning near Damascus. She established a waqf (trust) in the form of an endownment of a very large property which met the expenses that were generated by the institution.

Fatimah Khanum

Seven centuries had passed since the Zubaydah canal which brought water to Makkah from outlying springs. The passage by now had reached a bad state of repair, with the wells and springs having dried up and the canal now being full of sand and stones. It was 965 AH (1557 AD) when a Turkish princess Fatimah, daughter of the Uthmani ruler Sultan Salim came along. She took on the task of rebuilding the 'Zubaydah canal'. The rebuilding of the canal was extremely difficult ad involved Egyptian, Syrian and Yemeni engineers and masons. On the canal's route, there was a large rock 50 feet wide and 2000 feet long which looked as if it was going to stop the efforts. The chief of the project lost heart in fear of not being able to overcome it. Fatimah refused to accept this as a permanent obstacle. In this time period dynamite did not exist, rather the only way to cut through such large rocks would be to heat them up with coal to high degrees and then to cut the stones with sharp tools. It took hundreds of workers, who burnt millions of tons of fuel. In 979 AH (1571 AD) the rock was conquered. Soon afterwards water again began to flow to Makkah on the repaired Zubaydah canal. The event was celebrated with a great feast. Due to her commitment to rebuilding the canal, Fatimah was nicknamed 'Zubaydah Thani' (Zubaydah the second).

Shad Khanum

A descendant of the famous conqueror Amir Taymur, she was a master of calligraphy with no one else in her time being able to match her skills of calligraphy of the Quran. It was said that in 1045 AH, she sent a gift of the Quran written by her calligraphy to the then ruler, which he most appreciated.

The Mother of Imam Bukhaari

Imam Bukhaari, Abu Abdillah Muhammad Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Al-Mughirah Ibn Bardizbah Al-Bukhari, was born in 194 AH/810 CE in Bukhara in the territory of Khurasan (West Turkistan). Imam Bukhaari was one of the greatest compilers of ahadith. His father died while he was still in his infancy and his upbringing was left entirely to his mother, who looked after his health and education very carefully and spared nothing in order to provide him with the best education. Historians relate a remarkable incident that occurred during the Imam's childhood. He became blind at a young age. He had recourse to many famous and skilled doctors of his time but their treatments made no difference. His mother was a pious worshipper and a righteous woman. She cried to Allah the Almighty for help for her child and begged for the restoration of his eyesight. Because of the endless prayers of his mother and her nights spent weeping, the Imam's sight was miraculously restored. The Imam's mother was informed by means of a dream in which the Prophet Ibrahim (alaihissalam) had appeared and said: "Allah has restored the sight of your son because of your intense and beautiful invocations." In the morning, as Imam Bukhari got up from his bed, his eyesight was fully restored. [From the biography of Imam Bukhari (ra) located in the beginning of Sahih Al Bukhari 9 Volume English Translation. Additional details were provided by Shaykh al-Hadith Allama Ghulam Rasul Sa`idi]

Fatima Al-Fihri – Founder of the Oldest University in the World - Hezreen Abdul Rashid

 It was a clear sunny day when a noble family journeyed from Kairouan, Tunisia to Fes in Morocco. It was in the early ninth century and many families chose to migrate to the bustling city in the west. For Mohammed Al-Fihri, a wealthy merchant from Tunisia, Fes was excellent avenue for him to continue the family business. Both his daughters, Fatima and Mariam were well educated. After inheriting a large amount of money from their father, the girls vowed to spend their entire inheritance for the benefit of their community. Whilst Mariam headed the construction of the grand mosque Al-Andalus, Fatima planned on the building of another mosque called Al Karaouine which was said to be the largest in North Africa. It was in the midst of the construction of the mosque that the University of Al-Karaouine ( which is still part of the mosque today) was set up.

The University of Al-Karaouine was highly regarded back then as one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world. Today, the Guinness Book of World Records has recognised it to be the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world.

Fatima Al-Fihri was certainly a lady of foresightedness for the location of the university within the compounds of the mosque attracted scholars from far and wide. Fes, being the most influential cities in the Muslim world has been renowned for centuries as the centre for religion and culture. The university produced great thinkers such as Abu Al-Abbas al-Zwawi, Abu Madhab Al-Fasi, a leading theorist of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence and Leo Africanus, a renowned traveler and writer.

That was not all, the university played a leading role in cultural and academic relations between the Islamic world and Europe. A renowned Jewish philosopher and theologian Maimonides (Ibn Maimun) studied under Abdul Arab Ibn Muwashah. Apart from that, Ibn al-Arabi Ibn Khaldun and Al-Bitruji (Alpetragius) were all connected with the university either as academicians or as students.

As time went by, the university gained the patronage of politically powerful sultans. It compiled a large selection of manuscripts that are currently kept guarded in the library. Among those manuscripts are volumes from the famous Al-Muwatta of Malik written on gazelle parchment, the Sirat Ibn Ishaq, a copy of the Qur’an given to the university by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur in 1602, and the original copy of Ibn Khaldun’s book Al-’Ibar.

Alongside the Qur’an and Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), other subjects that were also taught were grammar, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, history, geography and music. Gradually, a broader range of subjects were introduced in the university particularly natural sciences, physics and foreign languages.
Today, Fatima Al-Fihri is highly respected and looked upon by Moroccan women for her wisdom, perseverance and kind-heartedness. It was her personal sacrifice that has made her to be an inspiration to all women. Even today, young Moroccan ladies speak greatly of their foremother who not only brought fame to Fes but has carved a name for being the only Muslimah who has built the oldest university which is still running today.

The Qur’an and the Hadith (teachings of the Prophet) inspires every man and woman to seek knowledge. This unique story of Fatima Al- Fihri has shed some light on the role and contribution of Muslim women to Islamic civilisation- It is this role which will hopefully denounce the narrow-mindedness of the western mind of Muslim women. Fatima has shown to us that even in the early centuries that women who are shrouded with the veil are just as willful and intelligent as those of us today.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And the Ummah Remains Silent: Violence against women rose 13pct in 2009 - Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Cases of violence against women witnessed a 13 per cent increase in 2009 in one year, statistics collected by team of Aurat Foundation show.

Addressing a Press conference here on Monday, the foundation’s representative Rabeea Hadi said that 8,548 incidents of 
violence against women were reported in the four provinces and in Islamabad last year. Of them, 5,722 incidents were recorded in Punjab, 1762 in Sindh, 655 in NWFP, 237 in Balochistan and 172 in Islamabad. She said that 7571 incidents of violence had been reported in 2008.
In Islamabad, the 172 incidents included 39 cases of murder, two of ‘honour’ killing, 52 of abduction/kidnapping and 18 of domestic violence.The figures are part of a report yet to be published.

“The state, honourable judiciary, free media, the women’s rights and human rights organisations and common citizens must know that 1384 daughters of Pakistan were murdered, 928 were raped, 683 committed suicide and 604 were killed in the name of ‘honour’ in year 2009,” said Ms Hadi.

“With extreme pain and anguish, we express our outrage and resentment over this state of affairs where women and girls are being murdered, kidnapped and subjected to various forms of violence, including killings in the name of ‘honour’, suicides, acid throwing and stove-burning with shameless impunity and the state functionaries are doing nothing except lip-service before TV cameras and that too only in some high-profile cases,” she said.

Having no expectations from the interior ministry or provincial governments, she said she would urge the Ministry of Women’s Development and Women’s Parliamentary Caucus headed by the Speaker of National Assembly and the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) headed by a renowned women’s rights activist to do something about this horrible situation.
The number and percentage of the cases of abduction and kidnapping in 2009 are -- 1987 (23.25pc), murder 1384 (16.9pc), rape/gang-rape 928 (10.86pc), suicide 683 (7.99pc) and ‘honour’ killing 604 (7.07pc) followed by cases of sexual assault 274 (3.21pc), stove burning 50 (0.58pc), acid throwing 27 (0.60pc) and offences of miscellaneous nature around (23.13pc). Around 1,977 cases of violence were of miscellaneous nature such as vanni/swara, custodial violence, torture, trafficking, child marriages, incest, threat to violence, sexual harassment, attempted murder, suicide and rape.

The highest increase in the number of reported cases i.e. from 281 in 2008 to 608 in 2009 was in domestic violence. However, the reported murder incidents decreased from 1,422 in 2008 to 1,384 in 2009.
Of the 5,722 incidents of violence in 35 districts of Punjab, there were 1698 cases of abduction/kidnapping, 752 cases of murder, 245 of ‘honour’ killing, 786 of rape/gang rape, 448 of suicide, 227 of sexual assault, 33 of stove burning, 42 of acid throwing, and 1220 cases of miscellaneous nature.

Of the 1,762 incidents reported from 23 districts of Sindh, 288 were of murder (one of the highest ratio of crime against women reported from the province), 284 of ‘honour’ killing, 160 of abduction/kidnapping, 176 of suicide, 122 of rape/gang rape, 122 of domestic violence, 44 of sexual assault, 10 of stove burning, 9 of acid throwing and 535 of miscellaneous nature.
Similarly, of the 237 incidents of violence in 28 districts of Balochastan, 59 were of ‘honour’ killing, 39 of murder, 13 of abduction/kidnapping, 4 of rape/gang-rape, 10 of suicide, one of stove burning and 22 of miscellaneous nature.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saudi Arabia: A Woman Challenges the Law by Driving in Jeddah - Mona Kareem

Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive. One Saudi woman recently claimed that right when she drove her children to school in Jeddah. Netizens debate the move, with many applauding the woman, Najla Hariri, for her heroic feat.
The debate to allow women to drive cars has been ebbing and flowing in the oil-rich conservative kingdom for many years. The religious authorities have always viewed this right, if granted, as something that will ruin women and the whole of society, while liberals, along with a lot of Saudi women, say it is a basic right that women should naturally have, especially those who cannot afford to employ a driver.
Najla Hariri's feat stormed the Internet, and on Twitter, the long debate continued between those who refused what Najla had done and those who praised her courage and struggle to prove that society is wrong in banning women from driving cars. Hariri reacted kindly to the praise she got in comments through her Twitter account saying [ar]:
أعزائي، جعلتم مني رائدة ورمز، أنا لست أي من ذلك، انا أم وجدت نفسها في احتياج لأخذ زمام المبادرة، ففعلت من غير بطولات ولا انجازات
You have made me a leader and an icon, when I am not any of that. I am just a mother who found herself in need to do something, so I did what I've done without looking for heroic acts or achievements.
Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan wrote a comment [ar] on what Mrs Hariri had done, saying:
ما قامت به الأستاذة نجلاء حريري من قيادة سيارتها يوم أمس في جدة وتوصيل أطفالها هو حق حلال ومشروع ومصادرة الحق ظلم
What Mrs Najla Hariri has done driving her car in Jeddah to give a ride to her children is a legitimate [Halal] right and taking this right away is unfair.
Another Saudi tweep, Abdulrahman Kattoa, praised what Najla did, describing [ar] her as another Rosa Park, the African-American civil rights movement activist:
ما يكسر حاجز الخوف إلا الشجعان زي ما كسرت الأمريكية في الباص الاضطهاد العنصري في أمريكا
No one breaks the fear wall except the brave, just the way an American woman broke racist oppression in a bus
A Saudi male doctor, Rami Niazy, expressed his feelings of disappointment to see Saudis still debating the issue of allowing women to drive cars. He wrote a tweet [ar] saying:
كلما تذكرت أننا لا زلنا نناقش المرأة تسوق ولا لأ في سنة ٢٠١١ ٬ اشعر بإحباط شديد. الناس طلعوا القمر من ٤٠ سنة
Whenever I remember that we are still debating whether to let women drive or not in 2011, I feel terribly disappointed. People went to the moon 40 years ago!
Saudi columnist Essam Al-Zamel wrote in his Twitter account a side comment on the debate of women driving saying [ar]:
أتمنى أن لا يحول التيار الإسلامي قيادة المرأة إلى صراع بين الاسلاميين والليبراليين. فقيادة المرأة تخص المرأة وليس الليبراليين
I hope the Islamic movement will not convert the issue of women driving cars to a clash between Islamists and Liberals because driving a car is an issue concerning women, not Liberals.
Kuwaiti columnist Abdullah Zaman wrote a tweet in English to Mrs Hariri praising her courage:
Najla, I envy you for what you did today. You got the guts to be a symbol of the will in the women’s world.
Saudi political activist Waleed Abu Alkhair pointed out [ar] the importance of what Mrs Hariri had done:
باختصار سياقة نجلاء حريري لسيارتها في وسط جدة ووقت الذروة ولمسافة طويلة دون أي مضايقات يبدد ما يشاع عن مجتمعنا أنه سوف يؤذي المرأة إن ساقت
In short, Najla Hariri driving her car in the middle of Jeddah City during the rush hour for a long distance without getting harassed, should end what has been rumored in the society about women getting hurt if they would drive.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

THE MUSLIM WOMAN & HER LORD (Taken from the Ideal Muslimah - Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi)

She Worships Allah
It is no surprise that the true Muslim woman enthusiastically worships her Lord, because she knows that she is obliged to observe all the commandments that Allah has enjoined upon every Muslim, male or female. So she carries out her Islamic duties properly, without making excuses or compromises, or being negligent.

She Regularly Prays Five Times a Day
She offers each of the five daily prayers at its appointed time, and does not let domestic chores or her duties as a wife and mother prevent her from doing so.

Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said: "I asked the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him): 'What deed is most beloved by Allah?' He said, 'To offer each prayer as soon as it is due.' I asked him, 'Then what?' He said, 'Treating one's parents with mercy and respect.' I asked him, 'Then what?' He said, 'Jihad (fighting) for the sake of Allah.'"

She Prays Sunnah (Voluntarily) Prayers
There is no clearer indication of the great status attained by the believer who draws closer to Allah by performing Sunnah (Voluntarily) deeds than the Hadith Qudsi where Allah says:

"My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I will love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it."

She Performs Her Prayers Properly
The true Muslim tries hard to perform her prayers properly, with deep concentration and precision of physical movements. She thinks about the meaning of the Ayat she is reciting, and the words of praise and glorification that she is uttering. Her soul is flooded with fear of Allah, and with gratitude to Him and sincere worship of Him.

She Pays Zakah on Her Wealth
Zakah is a clearly-defined financial obligation and act of worship which Allah has enjoined upon every Muslim, man or women, who owns the minimum amount (Nisab) or more.

The Muslim woman knows that everything belongs to Allah, and wealth is held by her as a trust. This trust must be discharged, moreover, as instructed by God, as that portion of her wealth legally belongs to other people and must be given to them. If she refuses and hoard this wealth, it is considered impure and unclean.

The word in Arabic implies "purification" and it is understood to mean that a person "purifies" his holdings of wealth from greed and stinginess.

She Fasts During the Day & Prays at Night in Ramadan
The wise Muslim woman must strike a balance, during this all-too-short blessed month, between her domestic duties and the opportunity this month brings to draw closer to Allah through worship and good deeds. She should not let her household chores distract her from performing the obligatory prayers at the appointed times, or from reading Quran or praying Nafl prayers. Nor should she let traditional late-night family gatherings keep her from praying Qiyam al-Layl, and making Du'a'. She knows the great reward and abundant forgiveness that Allah has prepared for those who stay up to pray during the night in Ramadan:

"Whoever spends the night in prayer during Ramadan out of faith and hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven." Sahih Bukhari and Muslim

She Observes Sunnah (Voluntarily) Fasts
The true Muslim woman also observes Sunnah (Voluntarily) fasts at times other than Ramadan, if it is not too difficult for her to do so. So she fasts the day of 'Arafat, and 'Ashura', and the ninth day of Muharram, because fasting on these days and others is one of the righteous deeds that may expiate sins.

She Goes on Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah
The true Muslim woman intends to go on Hajj to the House of Allah when she is able to do so and it is easy for her to travel. It will also be the equivalent of jihad for men, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) described it in a Hadith narrated by 'A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her):

"I [Ayshah] said: 'O Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), can we (women) not go out on military expeditions and fight in jihad with you (men)?' He said, 'You (women) have the best of jihad, and the best of it is Hajj, a blessed Hajj.'" Ayshah said, "I should never stop going for Hajj after I heard this from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)." Fath al-Bari, 4/72

She is Obedient to the Commands of Allah
The true Muslim woman does not forget that she is duty bound to perform all the religious duties that Allah has commanded her to do. In this regard her situation is the same as that of a man, and there is no difference between them except in a few regulations which apply exclusively to either men or women. Other than that, women and men are equally responsible before Allah.

She Always Bears in Mind the Words of Allah
(It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.) [Quran 33:36]

She Accepts the Will & Decree of Allah
The Muslim woman who is obedient to the command of her Lord naturally accepts His will and decree, because this is one of the greatest signs of faith, obedience, Taqwa and righteousness in a person. So the Muslim woman who is guided by the teachings of Islam always accepts whatever befalls her in life, whether it is good or bad, because this attitude of acceptance is good for her in all cases, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) explained:

"How amazing is the affair of the Muslim! His affairs are all good. If he experiences ease, he is grateful, and that is good for him. If he experiences hardship, he faces it with patience and perseverance, and that is also good for him."

She Turns to Allah in Repentance
The Muslim woman may find herself becoming neglectful and slipping from the Straight Path, so she may fall short in her practice of Islam in a way that does not befit the believing woman. But she will soon notice her error, seek forgiveness for her mistakes or shortcomings, and return to the protection of Allah.

She Understands the True Meaning of Being a Servant of Allah
The true Muslim woman has the firm belief that she has been created to serve an important purpose in life, which Allah has defined in the Quran:

(I have only created jinns and men, that they may serve Me.) [Quran 51:56]

She is Distinguished by Her Islamic Character & True Religion
No doubt the true Muslim woman is distinguished by her Islamic character, and she is proud of the high status which Islam gave her at a very early stage, before women in other nations attained anything like it. Fifteen centuries ago, Islam proclaimed the full rights of women for the first time in history, and Muslim women enjoyed human rights centuries before the world had ever heard of human rights organizations or witnessed any "Declaration of Human Rights."

She Reads Quran Often
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

"The likeness of a believer who reads the Quran is like a citron, whose smell is pleasant and whose taste is pleasant; the likeness of a believer who does not read the Quran is like a date, which has no smell, but its taste is sweet; the likeness of the hypocrite who reads the Quran is like a fragrant flower which has a pleasant smell but whose taste is bitter; and the likeness of a hypocrite who does not read the Quran is like a colocynth (bitter-apple), which has no smell and its taste is bitter."

"Read the Quran, for it will come forward on the Day of Resurrection to intercede for its readers."
Sahih Muslim

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Turning Points: The Voice of Sara Khan

What could be ways to truly help these women out?

1)Education-Islam does not say that women are the breadwinners but education helps because it provides an income for tough times, additional monetary support that may help in the future (if a husband dies), makes the arrogant male realize that his bad behavior will not be tolerated. However, many South Asian men have used this for their own advantage and seek wives with very grand academic ambitions (doctors, etc) that they can work as animals. Therefore, it shouldn't be a way for a single woman to advertise her net worth (alongside dowry, beauty, etc) but a way for her to provide for herself and support her husband, if the need.

2) Women need to support one another. Too often women, even Muslim women, challenge the virtue of marriage and seduce married men. I do not blame the women more but she can help in this aspect. Also, in-laws refuse to treat the daughter in law as a real daughter. Finally, women, like men, have their flaws and backbite quite too often. We live in a world of men and let what men want to hear be the way we communicate. Too often, this means slighting a woman. If we cannot have the courage to speak honestly, then let us atleast be silent...because Allah will speak both ways.

3) Women should not fear hard work. If women get divorces for real reasons (if there is simply no option left), they must learn to work hard. Good men do not like to see their women have to work but as women we should have it an obligation to ourselves that life is work and we should not fear this work, but embrace it as we do taking care of our children and homes.

Where are the Muslimahs? I think the point remains that, though much has changed, there are a few traditional values that persist in all cultures, though much more prevalent in Middle-eastern and South Asian (and Asian) cultures. A man success STILL comes from his economic standing whereas a woman's success parallels how successful of a man she marries. This is an unspoken truth masked by growing academics in women and "independence". It isn't something talked about but it is something felt. Furthermore, life for a woman on her own is difficult--culturally, economically, etc. For most Muslimahs, it is best to be thankful if they are not effected by the situation to remain out of it and feel blessed that they aren't. Most men, even good men, think that women rights movement is a direct attack on their manhood and ungratefulness. Therefore, the wives of these women make it simpler for themselves because they can. Is it selfish? Yes. However, if I didn't have a widowed grandmother, a divorced mother, I wonder if I wouldn't take the same path. Finally, if you can agree with me that marriage is the best way to have respect for women in these days STILL, then the very very very few "bad apples" will put down this movement bc it may give them access to the catchiest men. I have knownn women to say to their husbands that these women are trying to be like men and dishonoring men and that they don't know how to take care of themselves. These lines directly massage a man's ego because most good men, especially the successful, would like nothing more but to cherish their wife and show their power by how well they can provide for there family. Most men in America do not practice the acts in our country but they too seek self interest. The good men could careless bc they are doing well. The bad men will downplay these movements. The bad women will use this movement and black-mail it. The scared women/somewhat selfish women will remain silent and let time tell.

Finally, the Muslimahs who do have a voice in this matter do not say it in a way that is very effective. Women rights movement is not saying "Men, you are cruel and I want to work in the way you do. I want to be like you. I don't care for marriage or family or a husband. All I care about is my education." The women rights movement should say "Men, please see us as women, not items. There is a difference. The good men treat us like trophies to take care of, but not as humans with feelings and values. The bad m en take the power out ont hem in abusive ways. I simply ask to be recognized as your wife, a mother, a person who can study and work bc I have those facilities but my priority is my family. This may be through work or through the home or both. I want to be a good mother and a good wife. I want to be married and respect you as a man...just respect me as a woman." Most women who speak for women rights cannot say these lines, because most of these women have been betrayed by men. These lines would look desperation if the women rights women spoke them. However, this is not the case. And because these women could not speak them, do not have suiters lined up... other women take advantage of this women in a way most negative or, if they lack confidence, just watch the show. Is it right? No. However, men are the same way. Therefore, I do not blame my gender, even the worst of the women in it, more than I do men. They are trying to survive. Some by silence. Some by indifference. Some, and the ones I stay far from, in a way to turn good into evil.