Category Archives: Women

Islamic Laws and Women:Why Reinterpretation is Needed

This is an intelligently argued article sent to us by Miss Kiran Rizvi. She rightly argues that laws are eventually an outcome of the peculiar circumstances of the prevalent time period. Therefore laws have to be judged in the context of those circumstances. This way of  looking at the laws also makes it essential to rethink the current interpretation which is rooted in those times. Miss Kiran’s  argument is that the spirit of Islam itself provides justification for reinterpretation  of the laws, particularly those which pertain to women.

by Kiran Rizvi

Contrary to the popular belief Islam neither favors nor victimizes women. What I mean by this is that Islam doesn’t go out of its way to hurt or protect women because of their special status in the society. The current interpretation of Islamic laws is more consistent with the circumstances and laws prevalent in the 7th century Arabia. Therefore it affords the same treatment of compassion to ALL members of the society which are disadvantaged, such as slaves, orphans, women and seniors. However no special treatment is given to women outside the general category of the ‘disadvantaged’.

Feminists believe that Islamic laws are barbaric and demeaning to women. They site divorce laws, rape laws, bearing witness, wife-beating, unfair distribution of property and lack of autonomy to make decisions etc. to make their case. They are correct and incorrect at the same time. Islamic laws are a combination of tribal laws as they existed (and were well accepted in the society at the time) and some modifications brought out by Islam to steer these laws in favor of those who ended up holding the short end of the stick. It is not the “Islamic” portion of the tribal laws that is barbaric, but the “tribal” portion of the Islamic law! And yes, it is very hard to distinguish one from the other.

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Filed under Islam, Justice, Pakistan, Society, Women

Do Muslim Women Get a Fair Deal?

This is an incisive article sent by Ms Taji M which raises several intelligent and debatable points. Right now we are witnessing a debate on need for reform in religion. This article provides a woman’s perspective and argues that due to orthodox and literal interpretation of religion women in our society are not getting a fair deal. We expect healthy debate on this article.

By Taji M

I have a friend, university educated, upper class, stylish and religious but not an extremist way. She is a on the whole a very sensible person. Over the years we have debated religion extensively; I have more reformist thoughts and she is more mainstream. She is of the firm belief that present orthodox version of Islam offers the best position for Muslim women; in one of our debates she said something like this “Look at me, I am much better off than the western women slaving away in offices and then scouting for boyfriends and eventual husbands. Before marriage my father took care of me, he treated me and my brothers equally. During his lifetime he divided the property between me and brothers and I ended up getting a larger share as I got a lot of gold in my jahez also. I got married without going through the humiliating boyfriend search, and now have a loving husband and two cute kids. I am a stay-at-home mom out of choice not due to my husband’s insistence. And the nice house we live in is in my name. I am protected under the safety of Islam which offers the best to all good women”.

She is not alone in coming to that conclusion, a large number of educated class Muslim women share this attitude. They have been convinced that they have gotten best deal possible. I have a problem with this belief though. And I have told her and other similar women, that their experience is not out of the fruits of orthodox version of religion, but of the good luck of being associated with decent men. In case of my friend, her father bypassed the law and divided his estate in his life time so that she won’t get half share later on. Her husband, a really nice guy, ensured her financial security by keeping the house in her name. Otherwise in case of widowhood, the wife gets one of the smallest shares, and if there is a divorce she gets nothing from the family wealth. Of course she gets the Meher, but how many women can survive for long on that amount. Continue reading

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Filed under human rights, Islam, Pakistan, Religion, Women

Pakistani College Becomes Focus of a Social Struggle

The GT Road Blog

BySteve Inskeep

In Lahore, the University of the Punjab attracts middle- and lower-income Pakistani students hoping to make better lives for themselves. But the school’s campus is also the scene of an ongoing struggle over education and Islam.

Alfred Cooper Woolner May 1878 – January 7, 1936, was a noted Sanskrit scholar and professor as well as the Vice Chancellor of Punjab University, Lahore. He died in Lahore

Many of the 35,000 students wear jeans and T-shirts. Punjab is a state school, like one of those big American universities in the Midwest. Students attend class in brick buildings, and study on lawns cut almost as short as putting greens. But life here is less peaceful than it looks.

A clash over religious traditions recently brought about the beating of a professor in his office — and forced the school to close for about three weeks. Continue reading

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Filed under Blogging, Education, Identity, Islamism, Lahore, Pakistan, Punjab, Religion, Women

Iran Bars Music in Private Schools, May Impose University Code

 From Saudi Arabia to Iran to Afghanistan to Malaysian and Indonesian provinces, we can be sure of one extremely important social measure that an Islamic religious government takes when it comes to power; enforce women modesty. An Islamist may not have much of a social or economic agenda. But he will make sure that a woman is covered first and foremost. For our readers more in tune with the current Iranian social and political situation, your comments on this thread would be most appreciated. (PTH)

Published at Bloomberg.com

By Ali Sheikholeslami in London

June 1 (Bloomberg) — Iran has barred private schools from teaching music, saying it clashes with the  establishment’s Islamic values, following a push to enforce moral standards that may lead to a national dress code for university students.

“The use of musical instruments is against the principles of our value system,” Ali Bagherzadeh, head of the private- schools office in the Education Ministry, said in a phone interview from Tehran today. Iran’s 16,000 private schools have 1.1 million students, the Islamic Republic News Agency said.

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Filed under human rights, Iran, Islam, Pakistan, public policy, Religion, Rights, Women

The Journey of a Pakistani Muslim

I was born into a Sunni Muslim family in a northern city in the UK. The city is home to a large Muslim minority from Pakistan. I come from an educated and broad minded family with middle of the road type of values. Religion was never really a huge issue but I did the usual cultural thing of learning how to read the Quran in Arabic till I was 10 years old.

 At around the age of 14, I became interested in Islam and joined the Young Muslims UK. This was my first real exposure to practical Islam. We would attend camps and have weekly meetings usually to discuss the Quran and the Hadith of Muhammad. For all intents and purposes everything was going well and my family was happy that I had decided to take it upon my own back to learn about the religion of my ancestors. I remember walking two miles to a shop from school to hire Ahmed Deedat debates and shouting “Allah-hu-Akbar” whilst watching other less worthy opponents beaten to a pulp.

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Filed under Activism, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Citizens, culture, Democracy, Egalitarian Pakistan, Europe, human rights, India, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Islamism, Pakistan, Philosophy, Religion, Rights, violence, war, Women, youth

Sex is no laughing matter in Pakistan

SHAZIA MIRZA

April 18, 2010

IN ALL the countries that I have travelled to to perform stand-up comedy – the US being a regular destination – I have never been held up or interrogated at customs. Or I hadn’t, until I arrived in Pakistan.

I spent six hours at Lahore customs, as I did not have a visa in my British passport to enter the country. The people who organised my gig had mistakenly assumed that because my parents were born in Pakistan and I, too, am brown, they would automatically let me in.

The customs officer asked: “Are you Pakistani?” Yes. “Where were you born?” England. “That makes you a foreigner.”

He looked through my passport, which is filled with US visas. He said: “Are you a spy?” No, I’m a stand-up comedian. “What’s that?” I tell jokes. “And will you be doing that in this country?” Yes. “Oh, is this the entertainment for the Taliban?” he asked, quite seriously. No, I replied. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Pakistan, psychology, sex, Women, youth

The Niqab Debate; Niqab is not a Religious Argument

By Adnan Syed

It does not matter if niqab is indeed mandated by Islam or not. For those few hundred women out of 1 Million Muslims living in Canada, or for that matter in Europe or anywhere in the world, niqab is mandated by Islam. They prefer to move around behind this hideous and dehumanizing dress, happy with their chastity preserved, away from the prying eyes of lustful men, and feeling liberated while being covered from head to toe.

They and I can go on quoting our versions of whether niqab is mandated by Islam, or it is a redundant cultural attic from tribal and patriarchal societies that we just do not want to part with.

There are many pseudo religious practices that the modern societies have banished. From the extreme Hindu religious practice of Sati, to the female genital mutilation that is still disturbingly practiced in the Muslim African societies, the world has taken a clear stand against the atrocities in the name of religion. Such practices go against the principles of equality and welfare of the population; where members of the society are either coerced into acting in a certain way, or are too young and helpless to stop their own genital mutilation.

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Filed under culture, Democracy, human rights, Religion, Rights, violence, Women