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Our survey of Muslims was as thorough as can be | Letters

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 April, 2016 - 18:37

Miqdaad Versi (What do Muslims think? This skewed poll won’t tell us, 12 April) undermines his own arguments. This poll, in my view – and confirmed by one of ICM’s high-profile competitors, no less – is the most rigorous survey of Muslims that has been produced for many years. The president of the British Polling Council has confirmed that ICM followed the standard methods for polling ethnic minorities in the UK. The poll comprises over 1,000 interviews, selected using classic and orthodox random-location face-to-face techniques that are the bedrock of the highest-quality research undertaken in the UK.

Online polls depend on people voluntarily signed up to a panel to receive questionnaires. If we’re being generous, fewer than 0.5% of the total Muslim population are signed up to such panels. Yet Mr Versi cites the value of one such survey, while deriding ours which represents 51% of the Muslim population. Telephone polls of Muslims depend on people previously researched and willing to be recontacted, while “snowball” techniques seek additional interviews from their friends and family – hardly delivering much in the way of legitimate representation.

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Israel On a Rampage of Destruction In the West Bank

Israeli bulldozers are tearing up Palestinian structures at a rapid pace this year, destroying more than 500 houses and other buildings and displacing more than 650 men, women and children in three short months. The demolition spree is outpacing last year’s rate by more than three to one, and monitoring groups are raising the alarm.

Representatives of the European Parliament have spoken out against the destruction, saying Israel is violating international law. The United Nations and the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem have issued several reports and called for a halt to the demolitions; even the U.S. state department has expressed “concern” over the campaign.

The New York Times, however, has given short shrift to this story, relegating it to wire service reports, which appear neither in print nor in the featured headlines of Middle East news on the website. Only readers who search the site for specific news about demolitions can read about the recent rampage of destruction taking place in the West Bank.

No Times reporter has found it worthwhile to visit Khirbet Tana, for instance, a herding community near Nablus. The Israeli army has carried out demolitions there four times since February of this year, most recently just this past week, when they destroyed tents, houses and animal shelters and confiscated a car, a tractor and a water tank.

Earlier, on March 2 the authorities demolished a two-room schoolhouse with its playground equipment and toilets (as well as nine homes, two tents, 16 animal shelters and one solar panel).

The Khirbet Tana school had been built in 2011 with funds donated by an Italian aid organization. According to the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs, it was one of more than 100 structures “provided as humanitarian assistance to families in need,” which have been destroyed so far this year.

This has become a heated issue with many donor groups, including members of the European Parliament. After a recent EP delegation to Palestine, Irish parliamentarian Martina Anderson stated, “We are incensed by Israel’s increasing number of demolitions of humanitarian structures funded by EU taxpayers. People are losing their homes in the cold and the rain. Israeli policies violate international law and show disrespect for the EU, Israel’s biggest trade partner.”

Her words had no effect on Israeli authorities, who went on to bulldoze the school at Khirbet Tana two weeks later and then spent the next two days destroying structures in eight other communities.

Writer Amira Hass described this follow-up operation in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “The Israelis destroyed tents people were living in, huts, pens, herd enclosures, an access road (which makes it very hard to deliver humanitarian aid to the families), a two-kilometer pipe meant to provide water to 50 families in the area, storage facilities and a dairy. Some of the tents and the pipe were donated by international organizations. Fifty-nine people, including 28 minors, were left without a roof over their heads.”

As of April 4, according to the UN, Israel had destroyed 500 Palestinian structures and displaced 657 individuals this year, compared with 521 structures and 663 persons in all of 2015. As B’Tselem has noted, this is “an unusually massive demolition campaign.”

All this is disturbing enough, but the news that Israeli politicians are shamelessly pushing for continued destruction of the vulnerable herding communities is even more appalling. As Hass reports in Haaretz, Knesset members “have openly pressured Civil Administration officials to step up the demolitions and evict Palestinian communities from Area C.” They have also “demanded that the authorities destroy buildings that international organizations, particularly European ones, have donated.”

The Times, however, has little interest in exposing the illegal and inhumane actions of Israeli officials and the consequent suffering (and stubborn resilience) of vulnerable Palestinian families clinging to their land and livelihoods. To do so would expose the lie at the heart of the Israeli narrative—the claim that Israelis are the innocent victims of Palestinian terrorism.

The demolition campaign, however, reveals the helplessness of Palestinian communities, the cruelty of the occupation forces and the criminal actions of government officials. From the Times’ point of view it is all best left unsaid.

Barbara Erickson


Filed under: Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank Tagged: ethnic cleansing, European Parliament, Israel, Israeli army, Media Bias, New York Times, occupation, Palestine, United Nations, West Bank

Most young Arabs reject Isis and think 'caliphate' will fail, poll finds

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 April, 2016 - 08:00

Arab Youth Survey finds declining support for extremist group but lack of jobs is seen as main issue driving terrorist recruitment

The vast majority of young Arabs are increasingly rejecting Islamic State and believe the extremist group will fail to establish a caliphate, a poll has found.

Only 13% of Arab youths said they could imagine themselves supporting Isis even if it did not use much violence, down from 19% last year, while 50% saw it as the biggest problem facing the Middle East, up from 37% last year, according to the 2016 Arab Youth Survey.

Related: My Arab Spring: 'I envisioned a new Syria, but it never materialised'

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Three Islamic schools to keep federal funding after promising greater transparency

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 April, 2016 - 07:52

Simon Birmingham says schools will be subject to quarterly checks after Islamic councils’ role questioned

Three Islamic schools have had their federal funding spared after promising to enact greater financial transparency measures, the education minister, Simon Birmingham, has said.

The schools – in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – will be subject to quarterly checks until the end of 2017 to ensure that they stick to their commitment.

Related: Malek Fahd Islamic school loses appeal to retain government funding

Related: Malek Fahd school accused of unexplained payments to Islamic body and staff

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What do Muslims really think? This skewed poll certainly won’t tell us | Miqdaad Versi

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 April, 2016 - 07:00
Trevor Phillips says that Britain’s Islamic communities are turning their backs on the rest of society. But he’s the one being divisive

What do British Muslims really think? That’s what Trevor Phillips asks in a Channel 4 documentary later this week. It reminds me of the question that I and many other Brits of colour are often asked: “But where are you really from?”

The question here implies that, whatever your Muslim neighbours may tell you, don’t believe them. Phillips, formerly head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, said as much in a Sunday Times article last weekend: apparently the pollsters wanted to ensure the respondents did not “disguise the answer that you think will be all too disturbing for people from a different culture to hear”.

This is not the first time polls have been used to paint a picture of Muslims as at variance with British culture

Related: Prevent gives people permission to hate Muslims – it has no place in schools | Fahid Qurashi

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Dear Trump Supporters – A Peace House Video

altmuslim - 11 April, 2016 - 16:35
Various ethnic, religious and minority groups — from Muslims to Latinos to African Americans — have watched with horror and trepidation the rise and growth of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and more so the thousands upon thousands of supporters pushing him forward and feeding into his soundbites and rhetoric. Viral videos from various Trump rallies [Read More...]

Most British Muslims feel strong sense of belonging – poll

The Guardian World news: Islam - 11 April, 2016 - 00:01

Half disagree that homosexuality should be legal in Britain and 23% want sharia law, according to survey for Channel 4 documentary

British Muslims are more likely to feel a strong connection to Britain than the population at large, according to polling, which also found that more than half think that homosexuality should be illegal.

Extensive polling conducted by ICM suggests that in most cases attitudes held by the British Muslim population do not broadly differ from those held by the population at large, but there are significant differences when it comes to some issues such as homosexuality and women’s rights.

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High Valour?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 10 April, 2016 - 12:02

A drawing of a knight in armour about to be projected head first off his horse, while a young girl watches.A number of years ago I heard a play on Radio 4 whose title I can’t remember but I suspect it was called High Valour. It was about a couple who emigrated to Australia where the husband hoped to work for his elder brother’s business. The business had some sort of initiation for ‘serious’ employees called High Valour, the details of which I can’t remember but it involved long hours, time away, a lot of drinking and not much family time. Needless to say, the wife didn’t approve, especially when the older brother’s wife told his wife that she tolerated his use of prostitutes while working away: “he uses a clean whore, and always tells me he loves me”. The elder brother told the husband to adopt the same practice of telling his wife he loved her when going out without her, and towards the end of the play, his wife confronted him and reminded him that the last thing he had said to her was that he loved her: “when you tell me you love me, I don’t want to have to wonder why”.

“I love you” can mean exactly what it says. It can also hide other intentions, in certain contexts. Until last Sunday I had an acquaintance on Twitter who has bipolar disorder and some other health problems. Earlier in the day she’d posted that she felt the worst she’d done for ages and that it would take a miracle to get through that day. Just before 6pm she posted a tweet saying “I love you all <3” and then nothing for several hours. After three hours I called the police; I knew her name from publicity about the 2014 campaign for beds for women at the local psychiatric unit, and roughly where she lived, and told them she was known to the local mental health services. They called and it seems she was fine, although for some reason they also sent an ambulance to her house a few hours later. Looking at her timeline the last couple of days, it appears she did take an overdose and was at the hospital some time that day or night.

However, she was furious about someone having called the police, saying “So I guess I can’t be honest on Twitter now either. I didn’t even say I was unsafe”. Three days later someone messaged her to tell her it had been me, and she and others began tweeting that I had called the police on several other people in the past and that I also sent the ambulance around. This wasn’t true. I did not call the ambulance; the police must have done this. I called the police regarding a Twitter acquaintance on one previous occasion in 2014, when someone posted very clear suicidal intent. It turned out that they had been using a pseudonym so my call had no effect, but the person (who was a psych inpatient) took advice from other online friends and told the staff how she was feeling; her leave was cancelled and she was still alive to make accusations against me on Twitter last Wednesday. I made a blog post about it (without mentioning any names, of course) at the time and, when the woman involved saw it, she told me she was blocking me as she wanted to be able to “be honest” with her Twitter friends.

Tweets from me and Charlotte Walker screenshotted from TweetDeck.One of the people who attacked me on Twitter last Wednesday for calling the police was Charlotte Walker, AKA the Bipolar Blogger. In between the day I called the police and the blog entry that led to me falling out with her and her friend, I told her on Twitter that I had called the police but had got nowhere and that is when I discovered that the name she was using was fake. Walker told me that she had previously called the emergency services on another Twitter friend. So she didn’t object when I told her I’d called the police, as the screenshot on the right demonstrates. However, after I was told I was blocked after posting that blog entry, I tweeted that she was “one less (sic) needy stranger to feel responsible for”, thinking she was no longer reading my tweets, which is the whole idea when you block someone. However, she hadn’t, and brought the tweet to her friends’ attention, which is when Walker first had a go at me about that and about my blog post. It was an unkind thing to say, but I didn’t know her (I thought I knew her name, but was wrong about even that) and had made me worried about her without there being anything I could do. Of course, being friends with someone means you might sometimes be in that situation, but it was she who decided to block me and I thought “good riddance to her and her drama”.

I looked at the the tweets last Wednesday in response to the revelation that I called the police. Amid a few generic insults some people were saying I must have “white knight” or “hero syndrome”, that my blog and timeline are full of my campaigning for others’ rights. Actually, most of my campaigning is in some way connected to abuse in residential care environments, which I have personal experience of, and I consider a lot of the people I’ve met or become acquainted with online through campaigning as friends (I had disabled friends before I started seriously campaigning on disability issues — not just through this blog, I hasten to add — in 2010). But getting help for someone in danger, which includes someone in a mental health crisis who posts what looks like a threat of suicide, is not being a hero (it doesn’t put you in danger or take much effort to make a phonecall); it’s just what you do and one of the people who joined in criticising me for it last week has done so herself. Other people may have judged differently and some weren’t glued to Twitter all evening, but I’d like to think most people wouldn’t do nothing if they thought someone was in danger and they could do something.

Image source: The Victorian Web.

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Losing my religion: life after extreme belief

The Guardian World news: Islam - 10 April, 2016 - 11:00

Fleeing the grip of a sect can be a matter of life or death. Megan Phelps-Roper, and two other former believers, reveal how they lost almost everything when they lost their faith

My first memories are of picketing ex-servicemen’s funerals and telling their families they were going to burn in hell. For us, it was a celebration. My gramps was the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, so it wasn’t just our religion – it was our whole life. I don’t remember much before the picketing. I was allowed to mix with other kids early on, but over time my world shrank.

My mom was so broken by the news – I’d never seen her face like that before

I lived a double life: I had the version of me that fitted in with the community, and then I had my interior life

I was scared, but I also felt it was my duty

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Podcast 1- Self Love/self awareness – SoundCloud

Single Muslim Mums - 25 February, 2016 - 19:32

Please tune in to our Podcast where founder of Single Muslim Mums – Misbah Akhtar talks about overcoming hurdles and achieving self love as a single mother.

 

Listen to Podcast 1- Self Love/self awareness by single muslim mums #np on #SoundCloud


9 Tips For A Happy And Healthy Pregnancy

Single Muslim Mums - 21 August, 2015 - 00:12

Positive-Pregnancy-Test

Mostly, when we think of divorced or widowed mums we think of those left behind with children in their care. However, what we forget is that sometimes these women become single mothers whilst still pregnant; imagine how tough that must be subhanallah! At a time when one perhaps needs their partner the most, to suddenly realise you have no-one there must be quite overwhelming; especially when it took two of you to become pregnant. Does this then mean that these women should not enjoy their pregnancies and that no positivity can be derived from this? Should they hide away and not celebrate this wondrous occasion?! I don’t think so! Remember, the situation you now face has already been decreed 50,000 years before the Earth was created by Allah swt in ‘The Preserved Tablet’ where everything that will come to pass has been recorded. Why then should women feel negative about something that was bound to happen anyway, especially if they were not to blame?!

Still, it’s not easy when all you see around you are ‘happy’ couples excitedly awaiting the arrival of their little bundles of joy. I know I felt left out and once again like I couldn’t relate to those around me. In that moment I was determined to enjoy what could well be my last pregnancy in a way I had previously not done so, by cherishing each and every moment – both the ups and the downs. I have compiled a list of tips that make for a healthy but also happy pregnancy in the hope that anyone who  is alone during pregnancy need not feel like they are the only ones to find themselves in such a situation. In sha Allah, this eases the anxiety for a mum out there and gives her something to hold on to in her time of need.

TIPS

  1. Look after number one! I know this may sound silly, but all too often we are caught up in the daily running of our lives: be it kids, work or something else. Throw in a break-up into the mix and you have chaos threatening to ensue if you can’t keep it together; making time for your wellness gives you a break from it all and helps you to regain focus. I let myself go in my pregnancy and I was the one who suffered. During pregnancy I suffered from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, this was caused by too much fluid being inside my veins especially in the Carpal Tunnel which is located inside your hand. As a result my fingers would go numb and tingly and often be accompanied by severe pain, bad enough that it kept me awake in tears at night. I never bothered getting it checked out as I never made time for myself. By the time I did, I had been suffering alone for months. Had I seen my GP earlier I could have saved myself a lot of trouble! Various exercises, a splint and drinking plenty of water eased my conditions thankfully!
  2. Listen to your body! By becoming attuned to your body you can save yourself so much headache in the long run. Rest when you need to rest and don’t try to push yourself too hard. I would get so sleepy during my first trimester and I would nap for long periods of time. With my other children I hadn’t had the chance to nap much when pregnant as there was only a year’s gap between them. I always sought to do housework over sleeping as I was worried I would be labelled as lazy but the absence of a man in my last pregnancy meant there was no-one to complain about a dirty house! My children were also 10 years older so they were in school and old enough to look after themselves if I needed a nap. Guilt free napping is a rare gift!
  3. Put your feet up with a cuppa! Some women suffer miserably with swollen feet and ankles; thankfully I didn’t suffer from this. I like to think that part of the reason why is that I always had my feet up when sitting down. I really miss my recliner now, but anything that raises your feet can be used to make a makeshift footrest if  you don’t have one. Alternatively, I would also soak my feet a lot to refresh them. I love tea tree oil products – they make your feet feel rejuvenated and re-energized!
  4. Embrace your situation, don’t fight it! I always imagined that one of the toughest aspects of being a single mum during pregnancy would be those dreaded hospital appointments alone. Like with most things, if you change the way you look at something you change the way it affects you. Instead of being miserable that I didn’t have my husband at my scans I embraced being able to savour this sacred moment all to myself – just me and peanut. In an ideal world it would be great to have a gushing husband declare how amazing seeing your baby for the first time is whilst he caresses your hand and then whispers how much he loves you. From experience I can tell you most men are NOT like that. The moment with a man is more often than not an anti-climax where they watch on awkwardly, not understanding how you can be so moved to tears by a blob on a screen. Experiencing this moment with a friend can actually be more of a moving experience than with a man; or better yet alone! Don’t lose sight of the big picture: you are going to be a mummy to a beautiful darling baby who will only have to look at you to melt your heart. Allah swt has showered you with such a precious gift that not all are fortunate to receive! When you have your little baby in your arms, you wont even remember the hospital visits!
  5. Go natural! Allah swt says in the Glorious Qur’an that man has been created impatient and we see examples of this all the time when it comes to having patience with ailments and problems. Instead of reaching for prescription or over the counter medicines to alleviate morning sickness such as Zofran (which is not FDA approved to treat morning sickness and is linked to an increase in birth defects such as heart defects) stick to healthier and safer natural remedies. Ginger biscuits or any plain dry biscuits are great when nausea strikes. Tea can also work wonders especially herbal and watermelon is another one that did wonders for me. If you do decide that you require medication to manage your nausea, then please make sure you research it properly first including side effects. It’s a small price to pay for your baby’s health and well-being.
  6. Fresh air and walking is vital!! I was very lazy in my pregnancy and I paid the price big time! I wish I had been so much more active but I fell into bad habits subhanallah. Allah swt has given us an amazing free cure with simple fresh air – it lifts your mood, provides you with a clear supply of oxygen and is a massive aid during labor. The more you walk, the easier it will be in sha Allah. It will also make it easier for you to get back into shape after having the baby. Listen to something soothing as you walk or even a lecture, I listened to the Qur’an recitation a lot before bed and the effects when the baby was born were amazing mashallah! It used to calm her right down!
  7. Stay Positive! A healthy mind and heart leads to a healthy and happy pregnancy! We have so many blessings to be grateful for in our lives: our sight, our hearing, our limbs, our health, our minds. Even if this was all that we were given then it is still more than so many have and we should be thankful to Allah swt because it could have been so much worse. Look to those worse off to see just how much you have been blessed with. Focus on acts of worship a lot to bring you closer to Allah swt which will lighten the heart too. Remember, Allah swt says in the Qur’an that we are not burdened with more than we can handle. Allah swt gave us these challenges unique to us because He knew we would get through it and could handle it. Allah swt believes in you, do you believe in yourself?!
  8. Eat and drink yourself healthy! It’s never too late to start! drinking plenty of water flushes out toxins and makes your skin smooth and supple; it maintains your youth for so much longer. I suffered from bad cramps and gas when pregnant, so to avoid this and heartburn I cut out all the fizzy drinks and fried, greasy foods. I ate smaller portions of healthier snacks often – especially during my first trimester when all I seemed to do was graze on food! I also tried to eat dinner early to give me enough time to digest it before bed.
  9. Laugh and smile daily! A recent study found that laughing for 15 minutes a day can burn up to 40 calories! It lifts your mood, makes you more beautiful and compliments your pregnancy glow. It will also help you to feel more positive and more confident and shows your gratitude to Allah swt as you try to be content with His decree.

This world and everything in it is temporal. This message is stated throughout the Qur’an. From this we learn that nothing stays constant and eternally in this life – our worries; sadness; and problems included. This life is so short and is a gift to us; none of us know when we may pass from this world; do you really want to waste precious moments crying over what was not meant to be in your life rather than welcoming that which is? Pregnancy is a gift bestowed upon us from the One Who Created us all, let’s make the most of it and enjoy every moment that we can:)


Khulla, the right of women or men?

Single Muslim Mums - 23 June, 2015 - 13:56

“And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back (from your wives) any of your Mahr (bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) which you have given them, except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allaah (e.g. to deal with each other on a fair basis). Then if you fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allaah, then there is no sin on either of them if she gives back (the Mahr or a part of it) for her Al-Khul‘ (divorce)”
[al-Baqarah 2:229]

The Khulla is the right of the woman in Islam to ask for an annulment of her marriage in order to dissolve it. “Khula’ means the separation of the wife in return for a payment; the husband takes the payment and lets his wife go, whether this payment is the mahr which he gave to her, or more or less than that” (Islam qa).

Why is it then that a khulla appears to be the right of a man because he ascertains whether she can have an annulment or not?  The argument here is not as to whether the wife has justification to end her marriage or not, but whether she has the means.

Subhanallah, I have had many sisters come up to me and complain that they cannot afford the cost of a khulla and what is already a hard time is made tougher by sharia councils with no heart or compassion. Many women are therefore forced to stay in miserable marriages, some of which are abusive because their voice once again is not heard. For an Ummah that prides itself on stating how women have a high status in Islam we sure have a hard time following suit.
I decided to investigate these complaints and put it to the test. There was no way, I reasoned; that these appointed judges could NOT have mercy upon desperate women. I mean, these are scholars we are talking about!! Surely they would have more fear of Allah swt than the common man! They are revered and respected because they should obviously be fair, Muslim men of good character. Allah swt has honoured them with a high status allahumma barakh lahum! I Googled ‘Sharia council London’ and got two main results. The first place I called was islamic-sharia.org.

I am fairly certain the brother who answered is a well known scholar but as I am not 100% sure I won’t divulge any names. He was soft spoken. I told him I wanted a khulla. I said I had checked the website and saw the prices were fairly steep (think it was about £250) but I couldn’t afford it as I don’t work and receive benefits and am a single mother. He said if I show proof of receipt of benefit he would reduce it from £400 to £300. £400?!! Subhanallah, that’s more than I originally thought it was!! I said it was still too high and he said I could pay in installments and I again said I could not. He then said I could go to the National Zakaat Foundation and they could pay as they had done for other sisters. Maybe it’s just me, but I consider that money and money from charities to be for the poor and those who can’t make ends meet. It isn’t that I don’t have the money in my account, it’s that is my savings for my kids.

So I asked him what if they refused to give me the money, did that then mean that I would have to forgo my right to a khulla? How was this fair or from the sunnah? He asked why I couldn’t go to the charities and ask. I knew he wanted to get me off the phone and I was offended at how cold he sounded and his lack of sympathy. I didn’t feel I could continue this conversation further or that he welcomed me to speak my mind. I felt belittled subhanallah and unheard. I thanked him, gave him salaam and hung up.

 
The next number I found was for shariacouncil.org. This time I thought about what I wanted to say and prepared my speech… The brother who answered was an older Pakistani (us Pakistanis can recognize each other even by our voices!). I think he was probably in his 50-60’s. This council was only charging £175. I again explained my situation and told him I couldn’t pay and he said he could knock £50 off. I said that that was still too much and he said he didn’t have the authority to offer more of a discount. I asked who did have that authority and he said the chairman wasn’t here as he was on holiday in Egypt till September. He also said he didn’t think the man would go any lower. I then asked who was second-in-command and he said no-one. I said there must be someone but he maintained there was no-one else. I then launched my speech.

I told the brother that whilst I understood they had offices to run and bills and salaries to pay I was sure they understood risq comes from Allah swt. I told him who I was and about my organisation and how many sisters come to me desperate because they can’t get a khulla as they can’t afford it. I told him charities are for the poor and I didn’t feel it was right to use the money for issues like this. I said the khulla was the right of the woman; it wasn’t fair that this was in the hands of a man, because he determined whether she even got heard, because of cost. I pointed out that this wasn’t from the sunnah. I said some women want to escape abusive marriages where they are beaten and raped and now they couldn’t because the judge who is a scholar (and therefore should know better that risq is in the hands of Allah swt) wouldn’t even hear them out. I asked why men who are oppressors and abusive in their marriage couldn’t be made to pay the fee. I asked why the fee couldn’t be wavered fi sabillilah and given as sadqa (because don’t these shayukh give sadqa?!!).

I said that I couldn’t talk for the scholars but that this brother knew that today a sister came to him asking for his help; that he had been blessed with a higher status Islamically than me and was in charge of my safety and well being. I said to the brother that he wouldn’t be able to say on Yaum-al-Qiyamah to Allah swt that he did not know this sister was in need, asking for her freedom. That she came to him for his help and that he told her he could not help as she could not afford to pay. I asked if he was willing to give up gaining barakah for helping someone just for money?!! I also said any good deeds done in this month were worth so much more alhamdulillah. Finally, I said that whilst I knew he said he couldn’t make any decisions, I wanted to give him something to think about in the month of Ramadan; we all have rights over one another, scholar or not. He said he would pass on my thoughts and feelings to the chairman.

 
I put it to you all: is this really fair? In a country where legal aid is available and where concessions are made for those who cannot afford full college courses or marriage counseling, are you telling me that the sharia council is so rigid that their main goal is money and they cannot budge from their fee or offer a low rate?!! How is this proving to others that Islam is the best, most fair, religion? Is this from the sunnah?!! I personally have come across rakhi’s  and sisters who do hijama who either say ‘give what you can’ or do it for free when you say you have no money. Do they then fear Allah swt more than these brothers?!! Women go to these men who they look up to, and leave feeling even more humiliated and degraded. Asking for a khulla is not a matter of pride, us divorcees know the stigma we face because of divorce. It’s not easy to tell someone our marriage has failed, knowing we might be judged. Is it fair these judges belittle us and make us feel inferior?

 
Who will stand up for us and voice our concerns, complaints and rights?

The wife of Thaabit ibn Qays ibn Shammaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, I do not find any fault with Thaabit ibn Qays in his character or his religious commitment, but I do not want to commit any act of kufr after becoming a Muslim.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to her, “Will you give back his garden?” Because he had given her a garden as her mahr. She said, “Yes.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to Thaabit: “Take back your garden, and divorce her.”(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5273).

 

Where in this hadith is payment referred to? Where does it say that the sister in question had to pay admin fees, that her rights had a price attached to them made payable to a judge?!! How can we claim to follow the sunnah when we ignore and forget this?!!

I ask you to support our sisters by sharing this with everyone you know. I am considering starting a petition so the councils know how many women feel the same way I do and how many are not willing to accept this injustice. Please keep our sisters in your dua. Barakhallahu feekum.


Single mothers in UAE will shoulder the blame after most divorces

Single Muslim Mums - 9 May, 2015 - 21:46

Since she separated from her husband, Fatma Salim has been through a tough journey that started on the very first day after the divorce. First and most importantly, she faced obstacles as she fought over the custody of her son.

Her 10-year-old would often beg her to move back in with him and his father so that the three of them could live together as they once did. And so she had to convince her son that it was better for him – and for her and her former husband – for them to live apart. It reached a point where the son knew that the only way he would be able to live with his mother again was for his father to pass away. It was a heartbreaking realisation.

Being a single mother is a challenge for any woman, regardless of which country she lives in. Under any circumstances, parenting is an enormous challenge that requires consistent effort and sacrifice. But in some societies, including in the UAE, social stigma adds another dimension to a single mother’s struggle.

Ms Salim is just one example of a woman who lost custody of her child, after authorities found in favour of the father. But then she had to fight another battle against the society that surrounds her. Unlike many others, however, she wanted to tell her story, and she told me that many people blamed her for leaving her husband. She also has to tolerate constant questions about the reasons why she divorced, and not-so-subtle suggestions that she should have stayed with her ex-husband regardless.

Her son was the one who paid the price for the divorce, but that did not mean that his mother was guilty of some sort of dereliction of parenthood – in her marriage, divorce seemed like the only solution.

Ms Salim also told me that she felt that many women looked at her as a bad role model for their young daughters. And men who want to get to know her with a view to marriage always change their minds when they find out that she has a child, even though her son does not live with her all the time.

Her case is somewhat rare among divorcees in the UAE, as women are generally awarded custody of their children until they reach majority, as long as the women meet specific conditions and do not remarry. And so many divorced mothers will not even consider getting married again given the risk that they might lose custody of their children, especially if they are very young.

This sometimes means that single mothers will have to take the entire responsibility for their children, as the breadwinner as well as the caregiver, when their ex-husbands start new lives and new families. In this society, men typically have more opportunities to start over than women do.

According to the letter of the law, fathers are required to continue to financially support children and provide a residence. But in practice, many fathers abandon this responsibility and provide very little assistance – “deadbeat dads”, they are called in the United States – and so many cases end up in court.

A friend told me about her mother, who has four children and faced many difficulties after she left her husband because he chose to marry someone else. Without my friend’s grandmother, the family would not have been able to survive financially. Many newly single women have never held a job in their lives.

In that case, the children were lucky to have a grandmother around to lend support. In other cases, single mothers rely on family members for support, but are seen as a burden, and treated poorly as a result.

Divorce rates are increasing in the UAE. According to a survey by Euromonitor International, the total number of single-parent households more than doubled between 2006 and 2011, to more than 110,000. There are some single fathers, but most of these households are headed by single mothers.

These women face so much pressure from society, which in most cases blames women more than men. That adds to their emotional burden as many of them are made to feel that they are the reason that their children live without fathers, even if divorce or separation wasn’t their decision.

As many of these women face difficulties starting new lives and finding new husbands, if they so choose, many of them have to fight the perception among some men that they are “easy”. And some men do try to take advantage of their situation.

Single mothers – separated, divorced or widowed – all need community support. Blaming divorced mothers for not holding their families together, as if it was their fault alone, achieves nothing. Sometimes divorce, even if it is unfortunate, is the only solution. Single mothers deserve another chance to start new lives, and need respect from society to do so.

Ms Salim’s family respected her decision and her right to choose what she thought was best for her and for her child. But so many women in our society struggle to fight a negative social stigma and mistreatment, sometimes coming from their very own families.

aalmazrouei@thenational.ae

On Twitter: @AyeshaAlMazroui

Original Source: http://www.thenational.ae


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