Posts tagged ‘Islam’

August 30, 2015

Understanding Islam and Muslims

Islam Carole Hillenbrand

Soft spoken, calm and a leading authority on Islam, Carole Hillenbrand is a Professor of Islamic History at both Edinburgh and St Andrews Universities. Her new book, Islam: A New Historical Introduction aims to allow readers to gain a sensitive understanding of the essential tenets of the religion and of the many ways in which the present is shaped by the past.

The author’s hour long event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival was the perfect split between highlights from her book and questions from the eager audience.  I thought this event would be too much of a niche interest but interestingly it sold out. We can’t

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August 18, 2015

Mecca, The Sacred City?

Mecca the Sacred City by Ziauddin Sardar

Ziauddin Sardar at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015

I arrived at the Edinburgh International Book Festival today for my first book event of this year’s packed programme, brolly in hand and wearing two layers of cashmere. Yes, it is August, welcome to Summer in Scotland.

Ziauddin Sardar’s new book, Mecca The Sacred City was the topic of discussion and the charismatic author was full of hilarious anecdotes and opinions of Saudi Arabia that mirror my own. Of course, unlike him, I’m not a respected scholar nor have I spent time living there.

It is in the direction of Mecca and the Ka’aba that all Muslims turn to when (or if) they pray. Mecca is the birth place of the Prophet and pilgrimage to the Ka’aba is one of the five pillars of Islam, a duty for all Muslims. So why do the guardians of the holiest sites in the Islamic behave like ‘cultural terrorrists’? Ziauddin Sardar is no fan of

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April 11, 2015

Jihadi Brides

jihadi brides

BBC2 ran a programme rather late on Thursday night called Jihadi Brides. I happened to see it after reaching saturation point with Question Time on BBC1 so it was an accidental yet intriguing insight into these young girls and women as well as their ideology. I’m a Muslim woman (selectively practicing), too old/wild to be groomed but quite bemused by these holier than thou Muslims. These are some of the opinions raised from the programme:

1. Professional: These young women are not stupid, they are intelligent and educated.

2. Professional: The young women may lack an ability for critical thinking.

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January 14, 2015

Charlie, Muslims & Me

paris protests

Well, I hardly need to explain the title and the background news story. Shocking on so many levels for so many people.  24 hour rolling news, debates across current affairs programmes had almost every angle covered.

In homes and offices over the world the general public debated the meaning of freedom of speech. What does freedom of speech mean to you? The freedom to offend? Standing up for the rights of other people you disagree with to offend? Why should all Muslims apologise for the crimes of crazy people or reassure others that we are not terrorists?

I’m part of a Muslim family in Britain so what was our reaction?

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June 25, 2014

Passport Control

British_passportMurderers and drug smugglers can hold on to their British passports but the British government is considering revoking passports of Britsh born Muslim men/boys who have decided to go and fight in the Syrian war against the Assad regime and the creeping mission to other parts of the Middle East.

Does the British government represent the people or are we under its rule and at the mercy of its whims and disregard of human rights?

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March 17, 2014

Colour Used As Punishment

widow plays holi

The Hindu festival of colour (Holi) was celebrated today and I was drawn to the story in the Indian Express of an NGO, Sulabh International,  that arranged for 1000 widows to celebrate Holi in the City of Widows, Vrindavan.  William Dalrymple dedicated a chapter in his book, The Age of Kali to this city and its unique population of cast out women.

In Hindu tradition, a woman is stripped of colour once she becomes a widow.  She can only wear white irrespective of whether

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October 21, 2013

Fasting: For Him Not Her

Kareena Kapoor karwa chauth

Kareena Kapoor made news in India today as she declared that she will not be starving herself tomorrow in order to prove her love to her husband, Saif Ali Khan.  What’s so special about tomorrow you ask? Well…tomorrow is Karwa Chauth – a one day festival whereby women fast from sunrise until sighting of the full moon (through a flour sieve…) of that same evening and it’s all to ensure the safety and long life of their husbands. Some women also include their sons in this ritual.

Religion is funny business if you ask me and every religion seems to have their few eccentric laws/traditions/customs that remind women they are worthless,

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July 23, 2013

Dubai: The Gloss Peels Off

palm-islands-dubai

News that Dubai has pardoned the 24 year old Norweigian woman’s 16 month sentence after reporting being raped has come as welcome news.  The story became a PR disaster for the country with many newspapers and TV channels musing how to digest the glitzy image Dubai portrays with the sheer daft misogyny of the Norweigian woman’s ordeal.

Of course, in context, she is actually lucky

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May 17, 2013

A Letter To The Independent

Squirrel sisters first

Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, flow sister!!

I have a big sis and she is amazing and loads of fun and even acts like a big brother (why the F*** is that guy staring at you??!)!  She’s also a lawyer, something I mention to freaks around the world that I don’t want to do Bijness (business) with so they back off.

News of the Oxford child abuse ring is once again in the headlines as convictions are passed and the limelight once again falls on the Asian Community and in particular Muslims and Pakistanis.  It’s interesting as my sis and I discussed why it is that our white British friends aren’t asked to reflect on Christianity and feel guilty for child abuse and molestation by the likes of Jimmy Saville and everyone accused since.  We are meant to walk with our heads hung in shame and white Brits can Keep Calm and Carry On…abusing??

So today, my sis sent this letter to the Independent newspaper in response to a reader letter:

Dear Sirs

I am a Scottish Pakistani Muslim and now live in London.

Pakistan does not present  the world with immigrants from one all-binding culture, so why don’t some of your readers stop forcing one label on to all of us?  All  of my cousins are university educated

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May 4, 2013

Guest Post: Asia House Literature Festival

The Bastard of Istanbul Elif Shafak

Women, Freedom and the Islamic World

The diversity and eloquence of this all-female panel gave a fascinating insight into what female freedom means in Muslim states today

By Hannah Thompson

Asia House is no stranger to distinguished figures discussing complex issues, and this, the second event in this year’s Festival of Asian Literature, was no exception.

Although technically a pre-event (the festival proper begins on May 7th, with guest Michael Palin, no less) the guests were just as renowned and the topic just as wide as if a central element of the festival itself. Women, freedom and the Islamic world – one could hardly have chosen a more expansive, nebulous discussion, and yet the writers on the panel addressed the idea with characteristic thoughtfulness and poise.

asia_house_logo

Chaired and led by journalist and presenter Samira Ahmed, the panel included Turkish author Elif Shafak (The Bastard of Istanbul; Honour), Iraqi political activist and author Haifa Zangana (Dreaming of Baghdad) and Iranian journalist and self-professed “memoirist” Kamin Mohammadi (The Cypress Tree).

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October 15, 2012

Marriage and Prejudice

Dear Diary,

I have been with my partner for over ten years. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, in the beginning we were just friends but then one day I realised that we were not going out to dinner as friends: we were on a date.

I am from Pakistan, though I have lived abroad for many years. My boyfriend is white British. I knew it wasn’t going to go down very well if my parents found out about him, they made no secret of how they felt about inter-racial marriages.  One day, while back in Pakistan on holiday, my mum found out about my boyfriend.  She made me promise to break up with him which I, very reluctantly, said I would do.

But I didn’t as I never intended to. My boyfriend and I continued our lives in London but I kept him a secret from most of

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September 28, 2012

Burqas Behaving Badly

Lady Gaga opened Philip Treacy’s London Fashion Week exhibition with a bang in a hot pink transparent burqa and how fab it was!

I’m a Muslim, no one in my family wears head scarves or burqas therefore unsurprisingly I am in the burqas-are-opressive camp.  Apparently not all women who wear them are forced

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August 21, 2012

Blasphemy

An 11 year old girl, Rifta Masih, with Down Syndrome could face the death penalty in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy. Mehdi Hasan reported in Huffington Post that the child was arrested for burning pages from the Quran. The police say she was arrested for her own safety as approximately 500 people gathered outside her home in outrage.

This is the legacy of General Zia Ul Haq who brought in these laws in the 1980’s to wage war in Afghanistan and to take a harder stance against India. It is not a divine-mandate, as seen by some Pakistanis.

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January 26, 2012

Hajj @ The British Museum

Launched today at the British Museum is a new breath taking exhibition, Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam.

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October 25, 2011

British Pakistanis Discuss

Yesterday evening the RSA hosted an event with the practical title of: British Pakistanis and Pakistan: 21st century citizenship and diasporas.  I attended with my sister and although the event was disappointingly less the promised discussion and more a lecture it was interesting and I recommend listening to the panel here.  There was an assumption that British Pakistanis should give two hoots about Pakistan, a country that some of them have never even visited and a country that doesn’t care about the diaspora unless it’s for hand-me-outs or arranged marriages.

It was fascinating to hear

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October 10, 2011

The World is 6,000 Years Old

At least according to a Muslim school in Leicester it is.  Famous atheist, scientist and writer Richard Dawkins recently visited various faith schools in Britain and while he dislikes all of them he was scathing about Muslim schools in particular and the story made the front page of one of the broadsheets.

As a part-time Muslim I do find his experience cringe-worthy.  I remember reading a prospectus for a Muslim Girls’ School in England

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August 1, 2011

Ramadan Rumbles

Sounds gross but have you ever had a three course breakfast in the space of 45 minutes?  Sleepily munching your Rice Krispies, followed hastily by daal and chapatti and finishing with fruit, cake and tea all before sunrise?

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July 26, 2011

Sadness And A Strange Relief

The atrocities in Norway were I’m sure shocking for all of us as we listened in disbelief at the loss of life in and the sadistic manner in which the killer carried out his killing spree.  However, even while the news broke as a non-practicing Muslim my stomach turned twice: once for the victims and their families but secondly for the wrath of the media

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June 24, 2011

Zip Your Lips

A Dutch court ruled yesterday that the right-wing politician was not guilty of inciting hatred but his comments came under free speech.  While Islamic groups in The Netherlands won right of appeal the politician is declaring a day of victory for freedom of speech (a pretty over-used declaration).

The politician compared the Quran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and called for a halt to Muslim immigration.  While I think all types of right-wing extremists have jaded views I do think he is right to also declare that he won the right to debate Islam in public.

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June 6, 2011

The Obedient Wives Club

A Malaysian group called “The Obedient Wives Club” seem to have nailed what it takes to have a successful marriage. To obey your husband and provide good sex. According to a member, a good wife is a good sex worker to her husband. Apparently, this will stop your husband misbehaving and straying.

The club was set up by a fringe Islamic group called Global Ikhwan who honestly believe that in Islam, a woman is the possession of the husband and it is a wife’s duty to be obedient and serve her husband. With 800 members since its launch on Saturday, the group claim that by educating women to be submissive and better in the bedroom,  they can solve the problems of domestic violence, infidelity and divorce.

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May 15, 2011

Toolkits for Mosques

Last weekend, a series of toolkits were launched during a national conference in Manchester to help Mosques better engage with women and young people. The toolkits are a result of  findings of workshops held around the country which highlighted poor representation and engagement of women and young people in Mosques.

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April 11, 2011

Burqa Banned in France

France has banned the Burqa. Protests are taking place as I write. This legislation has the world divided. What are you views?

 

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