Monday, 20 October 2014

The Moderate Path of Islam.

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "The deeds of anyone of you will not save you (from the (Hell) Fire)." They said, "Even you (will not be saved by your deeds), O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)?" He said, "No, even I (will not be saved) unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise).

Sahih al-Bukhari 6463

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Muslim youth summit told female genital mutilation is not part of Islam

 Gambia Muslim FGM summit

Jaha Dukureh, the face of a Guardian campaign to raise awareness of FGM in the US, who has taken her campaign back to her home country, said equipping young people at the event with religious arguments was vital in the battle to end FGM within a generation.
“Almost everyone who practises FGM believes it is a religious obligation, and this religious scholar has told us that this is not the case,” she said.
Jaiteh used the example of altered public health practices caused by the Ebola outbreaks to show that traditions could change, and quickly.
“Shaking hands is an obligation in Gambia,” he said. “But now Ebola has led to that practice being curtailed. Shaking hands is obviously therefore simply a cultural practice – when it is discovered that culture can lead to harm, it is stopped. Islam is here to safeguard and repel whatever causes harm.”
The impassioned youthful audience engaged in the detail of Islamic argument, and some young women urged others not to be afraid to challenge practices and laws made without their consent.
“Women were not there when these laws were being made for them,” said Ruqayah Sesay, attending the summit. “So much injustice is being done to women in the name of Islam and we are afraid to challenge it. But we must not be afraid to challenge, we need to stand up and be part of making these laws ourselves.”
Amie Bojang-Sissoko, a veteran anti-FGM campaigner, who has worked with the Gambian feminist organisation Gamcotrap for more than 20 years, said she hoped young people would go directly to the Qur’an to arm themselves with the facts.
She said: “If the prophet was said to love and care for his children, why can’t we learn from him? If he is this type of person why would he condone cutting a female body in the name of Islam? I don’t think he would.”
Bojang-Sissoko said that the youth summit had given new energy to the campaign to end FGM in Gambia, adding that she hoped young people would continue to push for a law that would make FGM illegal. “I am so proud to be working with these young people. At one point I felt we were losing our activism, but now I feel it has been re-energised,” she said.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Afghan woman, whose genitalia was severed by her husband, fights for justice amid rising violence against women


Sadia quietly entered the room, lifted her burqa and took a seat. She's thin, almost emaciated, and old beyond her years.

"It was the second night of Ramadan," Sadia recounted, and she woke her husband up for suhoor, the morning meal served just before dawn.

"I prepared food and I told him to get up. When he got up he asked me why I didn't make milk tea. I told him I would go make it, but he didn't listen. He just started beating me."

Beatings were frequent over the course of their two-year marriage. Two months in, her husband and his family stopped feeding and giving Sadia clothes. They would shut all the windows and doors of the house and take turns beating and strangling her.

"When they beat me, they would tell me, 'You're all alone, scream as loud as you want, there is no one here to hear you.'"

"I asked from God to die."

Three-time abuse rule

Sadia returned to her family home three times because she was beaten so badly. At the husband's family's request, she was sent back, with a promise that the abuse would end.

Afghanistan's traditional justice system, one deeply woven into society, seemingly functions on a three-times rule. If, after the third time, a woman is still being abused by her husband, then elders, who often preside over the cases, will typically allow for a divorce.

Some families, however, intervene immediately so there is no second time. Others, not at all.

Mohammad Islam, Sadia's father, a poor daily labourer, admitted to seeing his daughter being beaten by her husband - not once, but several times. However, Sadia's husband, part of an armed group, sometimes known as arbakai, is led by a well-known, powerful local commander named Noor Mohammad.

Local armed groups have flourished in order to counter the threat from the Taliban as the central government's control barely runs beyond the capital, Kabul.

Afghan first lady in shadow of 1920s queen?

The growing fragility of the north can be seen on the vital highway linking the provincial capital of Takhar, where armed gunmen dot the road passing through the picturesque hills.

"The commander and his men put pressure on Sadia's family, who then come here and tried to pressure us to send her back. They have gone to the hospital and told the doctors to say this incident never happened," said Razmara.

"They also told the prosecutor to not touch the case. They have tried every means possible to get Sadia back."

As the director spoke, Sadia, probably 19 or 20 as she doesn't know her exact date of birth, leaned into the conversation, her hands clasped in her lap, looking down, continuously shaking her head in agreement.

Before passing out on that second night of Ramadan from the beating, Sadia recalls her husband getting on top of her, sitting on her face and then withdrawing his knife.

"I don't know how much time passed, but when I woke up he started beating me again. His brother's son came to the window and asked what was going on. I got up and walked to the window, my husband followed and continued to beat me. I crawled out of the window and my husband also followed."

When Sadia arrived at the hospital the following morning, according to Dr Safi, the director of public health, and Razmara, they found out that the right side of her major labia (outside fatty tissue covering the vagina) had been severed off by a knife. Her pelvis was mutilated and "abused" by hand, and her vaginal canal had been penetrated - with parts of her insides torn out.

"Violence against women is increasing day by day," Safi told Al Jazeera. "Today we even have a case of a woman with her ear cut off."

"But," he continued, "I have never seen anything like this before … not anywhere."

"In order for her to fully recover she needs plastic surgery. We can't do this in Afghanistan, she would need to go outside the country. We were also not able to give her a proper checkup, so we don't even know the full extent of the damage," Safi said.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

Online abuse of women in Pakistan turns into real-world violence

 Internet abuse of women in Pakistan is triggering real world violence against them, but large social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, are moving too slowly to stop it, internet rights group Bytes for All said.
Women face online threats globally, but they run a unique risk in conservative Muslim Pakistan, where there is a tradition of men killing women seen as having injured a family's honour, besides punitive laws against blasphemy.
With law enforcement too weak to fight the violence sparked by online campaigns, activists want giant internet firms to roll out greater protection for users, from streamlining how they tackle complaints to faster action against threats of violence.
"These technologies are helping to increase violence against women, not just mirroring it," said Gul Bukhari of Bytes for All, and the author of a report released this week as Pakistan experiences a surge in sectarian hatred, attacks on minorities and blasphemy quarrels.
"A lot of the crime we are witnessing would not have been possible without the use of these technologies."
There have been more than 170 complaints of cybercrime against women this year in Pakistan's most populous province of Punjab, the Federal Investigation Agency says. No figures were available for the remaining three provinces.
None of the cases was successfully prosecuted because women usually reached a compromise with the suspect, said Syed Shahid Hassan, an official with the cybercrime office in the provincial capital, Lahore, where 30 employees work full-time.
Since police rarely act when women are harassed online, few cases are reported, activists say.
About 32 million of Pakistan's 180 million people use the Internet, the group said in its report, mainly on mobile telephones. About 12 million are on Facebook and some 2 million use Twitter, domestic media say.
In one case documented by Bytes for All, an online hate campaign last year urging the rape and murder of a prominent human rights defender culminated in shots being fired at the woman and her husband.
She received hundreds of threats and the addresses of her family were posted online, along with pictures of her and her daughter.
"She suffered nightmares of being raped, of family members being harmed because of her," the group said.
Facebook took down the pages, but had to do so again when they were posted by a different user, the group said, and Twitter took a month to deal with her complaint.
Twitter declined to comment on specific cases but says it took tough steps last year to protect privacy and tackle abuse.
Facebook is "passionate" about protecting users, says its content policy director Monika Bickert, who formerly worked at the U.S. Justice Department to target sex traffickers and crimes against children.
"My background has given me an appreciation of how serious this issue is," Bickert said.
But the woman is unlikely to get justice, as police have lost all the evidence, and the sole witness has died.
In another case that spotlights the limitations of Pakistan's police, a 14-year-old girl was blackmailed into submitting to repeated gang rapes after her boyfriend threatened to post online a video he had secretly shot of the two together.
The slight, shy girl told Reuters she was too ashamed to tell her family and gave into her abuser's demands.
Bukhari's investigation showed police got the girl's age wrong and did not charge her abusers with statutory rape.
"She's 18," one police officer told Reuters, but admitted he had not looked at school records to ascertain her age or searched for evidence of the abuse online.
Though the case is nearly two years old, authorities have not asked Facebook for evidence, the girl's lawyer said. The site said it would investigate if the rape video proved to have been posted on its pages.
Twitter and Facebook had made it easier to report abuse but more needs to be done, said Bukhari.
"The companies are responding a bit better to women in the West," she said. "But voices in other countries are not being heard with as much seriousness and that puts women in danger." 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The condescension and racism behind American praise of the female pilot who bombed ISIS

 View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
This may be the subtlest but most destructive trope of all, because it treats women's progress in the Middle East as primarily something that matters when it can be used to humiliate Muslim men. It co-opts Mansouri and Muslim women generally into a sort of practical joke that we Americans get to play on our enemies. This may help explain why commentators praising Mansouri are so often ignorant of the actual facts about the status of women in the Middle East: they care about what she represents for jingoistic insults of America's enemies, not for what she represents for female advancement.
The idea that Mansouri's gender would be an ideologically crippling humiliation for ISIS is, in itself, based in racist and Islamophobic misconceptions.
Mansouri's gender is frequently described as such a big deal because ISIS fears female soldiers. The militants, it is often said, believe that they will not go to heaven if they are "martyred" by combat with a woman. This is false, and ISIS even fields its own all-female battalions in Syria, which it uses to terrify civilian women and enforce their compliance with its oppressive laws. This misconception, which actually understates ISIS's brutality toward women, is based in reassuring Islamophobic tropes about "72 virgins" and infantalizing notions of Muslim men. If we were told that any other group of battle-hardened fighters feared female soldiers, we would laugh the idea off as ridiculous, but with Muslim groups this notion is readily embraced.
These misconceptions and stereotypes all seem to reinforce the core theme of American praise of Mansouri: our conversations often begin with the assumption that Arabs and Muslims are inherently less advanced, should be held to a lower set of standards, because that is just how they are. Our praise for Mansouri, no matter how much she deserves it, only demonstrates our unconcern for the actual status of women in the Arab Middle East.