No, ‘patriarchy’ isn’t killing the planet: the modern lifestyle is

Indigo Jo Blogs - 12 April, 2015 - 16:08

A picture of a large number of black African women in various colourful clothes and headwraps, in Abidjan, Côote D'Ivoire, for International Women's DayPatriarchy is killing our planet - women alone can save her - The Ecologist

Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, an investigative journalist best known for work on Muslim civil rights and terrorism, wrote the above article for the Ecologist website last month and posted it on the Radical Middle Way Facebook group although it really has nothing to do with Islam other than having a Muslim author. (The Ecologist still has its own website, but merged with Satish Kumar’s Resurgence magazine in 2012.) He starts off with a familiar exposition of the present environmental crisis, about how “our global system is, increasingly, in breach of the natural limits of our environment”, but drops ‘patriarchy’ in at the last sentence before giving a series of examples of how the crisis disproportionately affects women, but at no point spells out how precisely patriarchy is at the root of the global environmental crisis. The truth is that it predates it by millenia; the modern lifestyle is the cause of it.

I put ‘patriarchy’ in quotes because it is a term that is often misused and the same is true here. It does not mean mere male dominance, but a structure in which husbands and fathers have authority based on their responsibility to care for, guide and maintain their wives and children. If we look at men who are called patriarchs, they are usually grandfathers or church leaders (and when that is their title, they are usually celibate priests or monks); I have never heard of a gang leader, whose position is achieved with the use of violence and sometimes cunning, being called a patriarch. It is not the same as the ‘law of the jungle’ in which the ‘fittest’, usually strongest but sometimes the wiliest, survive or dominate. These tend to be young, strong men, in no sense patriarchs. It was noted that during the Estonia ferry disaster, the majority of survivors were young, healthy and male; only seven survived that were over 55, and no children under 12. Compare this to the Titanic, which sank in a much more patriarchal age than the present one, in which men allowed women and children to take their place in the lifeboats. Nafeez Ahmed’s article states that natural disasters consistently claim more women’s lives than men’s, but the breakdown of the kind of chivalry seen on the Titanic may have as much to do with this as patriarchy itself.

The environmental crisis is new, relatively speaking. Patriarchy is not. Patriarchy of one sort or another is clearly mandated in all the world’s major religions. The modern lifestyle coincides with the weakening of most of these; if not a lapse in belief, as with Christianity in Europe, then a weakening of the authority of tradition, as in much of the Muslim world. The environmental crisis has two major causes: climate change caused by the large-scale burning of fossil fuels, and the large accumulation of toxic or non-biodegradable waste which is the product of industry, of consumerism, of technology which continually improves, leaving much obsolete material which cannot easily be reused or absorbed. While human beings have always burned wood and other fuels for cooking, light and heating, the use of fuel on a huge scale for motorised transport and large-scale manufacturing dates back no further than the 19th century. Nations have always traded with each other, but some nations relying on the resources of others for their very way of life, such as oil as well as less obvious things such as the minerals used in mobile phones, is very new.

The modern lifestyle has its origins in the industrial revolution which took place in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. Colonialism meant that this lifestyle took root in Europe, America and japan while other nations were exploited and kept poor, except for a client or ‘comprador’ class in many countries, but in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the breakdown of communism and the opening-up of closed and repressive régimes in the global South meant that billions more people demanded, and got, access to motorised transport and technology. While some of the increased carbon output of places like China is offset by the decline in heavy industry in western countries, the rise in emissions caused by the increase in private car use and air travel in newly industrialised Asian countries is not. The main contributors are those who have access to this lifestyle: historically mostly Europeans, north Americans and Japanese, with a growing class of South and East Asian contributors in the past 20 years. This includes men and women.

Women in industrialised countries have hugely benefited from advances in technology, from the freedom and improved safety afforded by motor and air travel to the ease of communication and organising that comes from telephones, the printing press, computers, the Internet, mobile phones. Yet the cheap mass production and use of these things all requires the extraction of minerals (often from conflict zones), their transportation to factories, the exploitation of workers by cheap labour, the use of electricity (produced by burning oil or coal), its transportation to the place where it will be used (by plane or ship, also requiring the burning of fuel), powering or charging, and finally disposal when a two-year-old device can no longer compete with a new model. The same is all true whether a computer or mobile device is used to plan a war or a feminist consciousness-raising seminar, or keep a group of bed-bound chronically ill people in touch with each other. Women in industrialised countries enjoy the convenience of disposable nappies and sanitary products, yet these all produce waste which has to be incinerated or buried somewhere; reusable equivalents have fallen out of favour in my lifetime, and even though they are nowadays mostly made and sold by women, remain a niche product (of course, when cloth nappies were the norm, they were supplied by mostly male-owned companies). And while the burgeoning human population is commonly cited as a cause of the crisis, a major contributor to that is improvements in medicine, in particular vaccines, which mean children do not die of common diseases like measles — and that means that a woman need not bear twelve children to see any survive into adulthood, as was previously the norm, and remains so in less industrialised countries.

So, the modern lifestyle benefits the women who have access to it while being the direct cause of wars and political oppression, and the indirect cause of droughts and floods, in many countries that often do not benefit from it. He gives a few examples of how climate change affects women — such as being “primary collectors of fuel and water for their families” when water is getting increasingly scarcer — but surely, whatever the men are doing (presumably, working in the fields or in some industry or other) is being affected as well, and whoever collects the water, if there is less of it, that affects everyone. He mentions the heightened risk for women in conflict situations, but much as with the heightened risk of abuse for disabled women, just because it is more dangerous to be a woman in these situations, it doesn’t make it is not dangerous to be a male civilian; in some African conflicts, such as in the Congo, the gangs that rape women also rape men.

So, Nafeez Ahmed’s title claim is wrong on both counts: it is the modern lifestyle, not patriarchy, which is causing the environmental crisis, and as for “only women can save her”: which women, and how? The evidence is that women are no less likely to avail themselves of the advantages and conveniences of the modern lifestyle if it is available to them than men, and not greatly more avid to make sacrifices to lessen their environmental impact. People are easily satisfied by very small and superficial concessions to social justice and the environment as long as it keeps the flow of luxury goods and cheap technology going. Every western political movement depends on technology and the energy which powers it, including feminism and environmentalism; nobody has an immediate interest in it being less readily available. It is yet another distraction to blame “patriarchy” for the state of the planet, but history shows that patriarchy did not cause a global environmental crisis for thousands of years, that modern industry, technology and transport did in under 200, and that the countries where women have the most opportunities are among the worst contributors to climate change and have the greatest demands for the luxury goods that require cheap labour and contribute to conflict. All of us who enjoy this lifestyle are responsible.

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Unidentified gunmen attack South Korean embassy in Libya

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 April, 2015 - 13:04

Militants reportedly claiming loyalty to Islamic State fire on the embassy in Tripoli and kill two security guards in the latest in series of attacks on foreigners

Unidentified gunmen fired shots at the South Korean embassy in Tripoli on Sunday, killing two local security guards, South Korean and Libyan officials said.

Militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State said they were behind the attack, according to a statement on social media. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the claim.

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‘Art gets things out in the open’ – young British Muslim artists tell their stories

The Guardian World news: Islam - 12 April, 2015 - 09:30

What does the work of young Muslim artists tell us about cultural tensions in the UK over the past 15 years? As a new generation of poets, playwrights and painters emerges, we meet four who are changing the narrative…

The stories that follow are based on interviews with four successful young British artists – working as actors, poets, playwrights, painters – who grew up in Muslim communities. Three of the artists I spoke to were born in this country; the fourth, Yusra Warsama, arrived as a baby. All in their 30s, they are old enough to remember the relatively relaxed multiculturalism of the 1990s and to have come of age during the increasing tensions, driven by the news agenda of the past 15 years.

The question I was interested to put to them was this: to what degree do they feel a responsibility to use their artistic voices to counter the stridently negative stereotypes that young British Muslims face?

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Will the wheels fall of Maajid Nawaz’s bandwagon now?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 11 April, 2015 - 20:05

Picture of Maajid Nawaz, a middle-aged South Asian man, standing outside a branch of Barclays Bank with a yellow circular badge on his black jacket and leaflets in his handIn today’s Daily Mail there is a report that Maajid Nawaz, the founder of the so-called counter-extremist Muslim organisation Quilliam and Liberal Democrat candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn in the forthcoming election, was filmed in a strip club in Whitechapel last year during Ramadan, where he ‘received’ two five-minute lap dances, got heavily drunk (staff threatened to remove him several times) and tried repeatedly to touch the woman who danced for him, which is against club policy. (The report includes photos and a video of the incident.) Nawaz’s spokesman said that the incident was his stag night which he held with the full knowledge of his now wife; Nawaz himself tweeted:

The Mail report makes much of Nawaaz’s claim to be a feminist and his support for such issues as ending FGM, as if there were no feminists who didn’t regard abolishing the sex industry as a priority. In fact, there is a whole body of feminism which regards sex work — even prostitution, let alone lap dancing — as a job which women (and somen men) make a free choice to go into, and demands such things as the legalisation of brothels — although they do not encourage or condone men sexually harassing women in the industry and trying to touch them when they are not supposed to. I am not sure if Nawaz knows anything of that debate; he seems to be a feminist of the vague “women are people too” variety. Some feminists say that men cannot even be feminists.

That said, if a man wants to be an ally to feminists, he should think carefully before he attends places like this. It is not only that some (but not all) of the women do the work because they are desperate, and some may even have been trafficked, blackmailed or otherwise forced into it (if you have sex with someone in those circumstances, it could well be rape). It’s not only that they attract the sort of men who harass women in the neighbourhood before and after attending the clubs. It’s also that companies use trips to these clubs as ‘rewards’ or as social networking events, and anyone not that way inclined would exclude themselves, and thus be absent when important decisions are made that affect their future. Most women would not want to attend, and neither would most Muslims. The clubs foster discrimination; they are an even more egregious version of the Garrick Club-type all-male “backrooms”. This alone should be enough reason for anyone who ostensibly champions any minority to avoid them.

So, Nawaz dumps on Muslims, much like Quilliam always has done. We already knew that from his, and the organisation’s, antics and public statements. We knew it from Usama Hasan making a show of his belief in evolution (and the resulting ‘death threats’) to the non-Muslim media, and his family trying to treat the Leyton mosque as a family business when the community rejected him and his belief. Drinking alcohol and ‘receiving’ lap dances at strip clubs are both haraam, which every Muslim knows. Of course, we all know there are Muslims who drink, but most don’t make a big show of being a ‘moderate’ Muslim and a role model for anyone looking for a path out of extremism. Not only has he handed a big propaganda coup to the remaining extremists; he gives weight to the idea that refusing to embrace the ‘pleasures’ of the dominant culture is a symptom of extremism, even though many people in the general population regard some of these things as sleazy, immoral or socially harmful themselves.

I suspect his behaviour may have been part of some sort of personal crisis on Nawaz’s part, a rebound from the years spent in HT and in prison, perhaps, or the break-up of his first marriage. If this is the case, he should step down from Quilliam because, if they really are meant to be an organisation representing moderate religious Muslims, they should consider him to be an embarrassment. It is unlikely whether the Lib Dems, which as Julie Bindel noted in Standpoint magazine in 2013 is “overrun by lads and libertines” with a lower ratio of female to male MPs than either Labour or the Conservatives, a libertarian attitude to the sex industry and a history of sexual scandals, will consider this to be worthy of resignation, especially as it may be too late to replace him. But he ought to recognise that he is no longer an asset to the campaign against extremism, or a credible role model. Maajid, step down from your public roles, go and have your fun if you want, but leave us Muslims alone.

Image source: Wikipedia; picture taken by Ross Frenett, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

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Haroon’s Marathon Mission: One Man’s Race to Help Teens Fight Cancer

Muslim Matters - 11 April, 2015 - 15:09

Haroon Mota

Haroon Mota

If all goes well, Haroon Mota will cross the finish line at the 2015 London Marathon about two hours after the winner would have broken the tape.

By the time pre-race favorites such as world record holder Dennis Kimetto, defending champion Wilson Kipsang and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kenenisa Bekele take care of their business, Mota should be about halfway through the 26.2-mile course, pushing his body and mind to come in under his goal of four hours — only twice as slow as the fastest marathoners in the world.

But no matter how many of the 30,000-plus amateur and professional runners who will take to the streets of London on April 26 finish ahead of Mota — and no matter how many of them he beats — he is competing for a cause that ensures he can call himself a champion at the end of the day.

The 29-year-old Youth Support Coordinator for University College London Hospitals is running this year's marathon to support Teenage Cancer Trust, with a goal of raising £10,000 (about $14,786 US dollars) for the trust.

Mota was raised in a Muslim family in Coventry, England. As a teenager he got involved in Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing, and today still practices mixed martial arts occasionally. But in recent years, Mota has essentially turned himself into a distance runner for several charitable causes — sacrificing time he could devote to a sport he loves to instead focus on a sport that allows him to help people.

With a couple of weeks to go before the London Marathon, and closing in on reaching his fundraising goal, Mota talks about his marathon mission and motivation:


MUSLIMMATTERS: What is Haroon's Marathon Mission?

HAROON MOTA: My mission is to run 26.2 miles at this year's London Marathon on April 26th, with the aim of raising £10,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust. Although the actual challenge is to run 26.2 miles on race day, the training regimen and the amount of miles you have to run in preparation is really tough too. So it's also my mission to get to race day in the best physical and mental condition possible.

MM: How did this idea become a reality?

HM: Many years ago, I began volunteering for the charity Islamic Relief. It was quite a coincidence, actually. I was trekking down Mount Snowdon when I bumped into a group of Muslim ladies who were climbing with Islamic Relief, and when I learned about what they were doing, it really inspired me to get involved with the charity myself. I signed up to one of their sponsored international challenges in 2008 during my final year at University; a trek to Mount Everest Basecamp. This was an incredible two-week trek in the Himalayas reaching 18,000 feet, and I managed to raise £20,000 for their Orphan Campaign. The trek itself and the fundraising was such an enjoyable experience for me, that this passion of sponsored challenges just grew within me, and I've never stopped since, alhamdulillah!

Back then, I was just climbing mountains. I also took on the Peru Trek, the 3 Peaks Challenge and climbed other smaller mountains in the UK.

I took up a job in London back in 2011 to work on the Teenage Cancer Ward at UCLH Hospital, and it was rather strange arriving in London early in the morning every day and seeing so many people running on the streets. I hadn't seen anything like it at home where I live in Coventry, and thought it was amazing. When I learned that the Teenage Cancer Trust were recruiting for the London Marathon, I thought I'd give it a go. I'd never even run a 5k race before — how on earth was I going to run 26.2 miles? That's what I was thinking, but I thought it would be a one-off thing that I'd try. It also made sense to support a charity that funded all the great work we were doing at the hospital to support young people with cancer.

MM: For a lot of people, running their first marathon is enough of an undertaking, but you were also going around getting donations while training for this thing you'd never done before. It seems like a lot to handle at once.

HM: I signed up for the 2012 London Marathon without giving it too much thought. London was hosting the Olympics that year, and there was a real buzz. I thought I'd do something interesting myself. I didn't realize the enormity of the challenge ahead of me when I actually took to the road to commence training. I found it very tough. I ran my first-ever half marathon six months before the full marathon, and I remember completing the 13.1 miles in total exhaustion and asking myself, “How on earth could I turn around and run all of that again? Twenty-six miles is going to be a killer.”

When signing up, the charity requires you to raise a minimum of £2000, but I've always aimed high when fundraising and set myself a £5000 target. This meant that I had to get busy with sponsorship requests both online and in-person. I use Facebook and Twitter quite a bit, and they've really helped me generate support and raise awareness about the causes I've supported.

Every time I take on a challenge I'm amazed by the incredible support I get from the public. I'm not shy when it comes to asking for money. My friends sometimes joke about how shameless I am, but there is no shame when it comes to raising money for great causes. I do it with pride. I was able to raise over £7000 and it really spurred me on.

MM: Were you a runner before you got started with this? What was your athletic background?

HM: I was never a fan of distance running. We were never offered [track and field] or cross country running at school, so it's quite new to me. I don't think I have an ideal physique for distance running either; I'm 83 kilograms with very heavy legs, so it is hard work for me and I have a long way to go.

My athletic background is martial arts. I started kickboxing at the age of 15 after doing very well at Tae Kwon Do as a junior. I competed in full contact kickboxing between 2001 and 2006, but had to stop to focus on University. I still train and practice mixed martial arts; mainly Muay Thai and grappling and wrestling, but it's difficult to balance training regimens when marathon training too. I'm hoping I can find a balance soon and maybe complete in kickboxing again in the near future, God willing.

MM: Would you consider yourself an experienced or high-level runner now?

HM: Running is still rather new to me. I'm still learning so much. But alhamdulillah, I've ran 14 half marathons already. I enjoy these a lot more because you don't have to train as much, and I'm able to run quicker and push myself a lot more over the shorter distance. Although, I wouldn't call running hard for two hours easy. In 2013, I ran four half marathons on consecutive weekends and raised £5000 for Syria, then last year I went a step further and ran five half marathons in as many weekends, raising £5000 for Gaza. These were great campaigns too, and were a real test of endurance and determination.

MM: What is your target time for this year's marathon?

HM: Four hours. I'll be over the moon if I get below four hours. It's going to be very tough, though, and the conditions have to be right. If I can get my pace right and hit halfway without pushing too hard, then I'll have a good chance.

I've lost one kilogram in the last week and hope to lose one more before race day. Over 26 miles, even a pound of weight loss can be a minute advantage.

Haroon Mota

Haroon Mota

MM: Have you ever been in training for a race during Ramadan?

HM: I've never had to train during Ramadan. I usually race in October and start training immediately after Eid. I do like to stay active, though, and will go for a light run once a week to maintain some fitness. Last Ramadan, the Islamic Help Charity held a 10-mile fasting run, and I took part. I had to ensure I hydrated well the night before. It's amazing how much you can push your body even during an 18-hour fast.

MM: What do you do in your day job at the hospital?

HM: I work on Teenage & Young Adult Cancer Wards at UCLH as a Youth Support Coordinator, providing recreational, therapeutic and emotional support to young people who have cancer.

I grew up being involved in a lot of youth work, so I had vast experience with young people. After graduating from university with a degree in Sports & Exercise Science, I found it difficult to secure employment in my preferred field, but thought I could apply myself well in the health industry with the experience and skills I had. I have a very rewarding job; being able to help young people and their families cope with cancer is a huge blessing, and I don't need much encouragement to run marathons if it means raising funds to support the very young people I work with.

MM: What other sports are you into?

HM: I'm a huge fan of football and usually play every week, although I have to stop playing when marathon training to minimize injury risk. I'm also a huge fan of Ashtanga Yoga. The stretching really helps reduce the muscle tightness I get from running and the core strength and flexibility work really compliments my martial arts, too. I also love mountaineering. There's nothing more enjoyable than reaching the summit of a mountain then running back down again!

MM: What about Islam appeals to you?

HM: I like that we have guidance — through the word of Allah and the Sunnah — for all aspects of life. There is an answer to everything and we have the most incredible role model and example to follow in Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). I'm blessed to be Muslim and it's easy to forget and be ungrateful of it, alhamdulillah!

I love the unity and brotherhood that Muslims can have. The salaam is just beautiful; how we can be anywhere on the globe but have a universal greeting that binds us.

MM: We see minority athletes and athletes who come from Muslim-majority countries mostly dominate distance running on the elite professional level, but I'm not sure if there is as much representation on the recreational or amateur level. From your experience, is there a shortage of minorities and Muslims involved in running? And females in particular?

HM: Ethnic minority individuals and communities are known to have low participation levels in exercise and physical activity, and it's not surprising that we also have the greatest health inequalities, too. So for the benefit of health, staying active is paramount.

When I'm running marathons it's very clear that ethnic minority and Muslim communities are underrepresented. After my first marathon appearance I made it my mission to encourage participation. For the past three years at the Coventry Half Marathon, which takes place in my hometown, I've managed get many others to join me in support of good causes. I had a team of 17 guys the first year and it was a huge success, as all of the team completed the half marathon, raising £7000 for the local Muslim school. The following year I had a team of 23 join me, including seven ladies, and again it was a great campaign.

These ladies had never done anything like this before, but they united together in team spirit, completing the 13.1-mile distance by jogging, running and walking, which was a great achievement. Several of these ladies came back again this year to run, and it's great to see that they've been inspired and motivated to continue taking part.

MM: Because there aren't a lot of Muslims out there, do you see yourself or your team as — whether you like it or not — ambassadors for Islam when you're running?

HM: The news headlines are constantly dominated by negative stories about Muslims. One story dies out, and another replaces it, and (here) it's the British Muslim public that pays the price on the streets. The British Muslim community has much to celebrate with the fantastic work that goes on, but headlines never seem to pick this up. Whenever I'm involved in a charity campaign or a sponsored challenge, I do hope that the public can see that Muslims are just ordinary people trying to do good things in society, and see us in a more positive light.

CLICK HERE to donate to Haroon's Marathon Mission to support Teenage Cancer Trust

Haroon Mota and teammates at the Coventry Half Marathon.

Haroon Mota and teammates at the Coventry Half Marathon.

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Social Media and Marriage Problems – Art of Connection with Belal Khan

Muslim Matters - 11 April, 2015 - 14:51

It seems that Millennials are trying to reconcile between ideas of friendship vs intimacy, privacy vs attention, and love vs significance.

Are they mutually exclusive?

I read an article recently that was exploring the idea that the marriage problems of the Millennial generation come up as a result of technology and social media.

Is that really true though?

There's a time and place for each of those facets of an individual's needs.

Perhaps technology magnifies the symptoms of a deeper underlying problem.

The problem of not knowing how to connect with one another and build a relationship, especially with those are closest and dearest in our lives.

How do you make sure that a marriage relationship is strong?

Perhaps it has to do with an understanding of oneself.

Understanding one's capacity and willingness to compromise their own needs and wants so that the spouse's needs and wants can be fulfilled.

Perhaps it's also knowing and understanding what connects with the spouse the most.

I've learned one thing in marriage. The saying, “Do onto others as you would like to have done unto yourself.”

That does NOT apply in marriage situation.

When it comes to one's spouse, do on to them as they would like to be done unto them.

There's a fantastic book by Dr. Gary Chapman called “The Five Love Languages.”

He proposes the idea that what makes you happy and what you consider to be an action of love and endearment most likely isn't the same for your spouse.

For example, just because you appreciate when someone does an act of service toward you, doesn't mean that your spouse will too.

Maybe they would much rather have just time well spent, words of affirmation, touch, or simply gifts.

What is your spouse's language of love?

Once you know it, are you willing to speak it?

Reality could be that although you may or may not be fluent in that love language, you simply may not be willing to speak it.

It helps to know that before the relationship gets started out.

Just because one isn't willing to speak a particular language, it doesn't mean any more or less of the individual. It's just that personalities may not work out in that regard.

That's just my thought.

In summary, being willing to give up the fulfillment of one's own needs and desires toward the fulfillment of the spouse and knowing what the spouse's love language and speaking it is where we can address the challenge of most marriages of millennials.

What do you think?

Is technology really something that interfering with the lives and connection between spouses?

Let me know in the comments below.

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Friday Links

Muslimah Media Watch - 10 April, 2015 - 11:27
A local council in Victoria, Australia asked non-Muslim women to wear hijabs to raise awareness and combat islamophobia, stirring controversy.   A group of Muslim Pakistani-American women are pushing the boundaries on how Muslim women are perceived, especially when it comes to the comedy scene. They say: “Nobody expects Muslim women to be comedians.”   [Read More...]

Muslim woman tries to close Thrace’s sharia inheritance law loophole

The Guardian World news: Islam - 10 April, 2015 - 11:24
A legal consequence of historical wrangling between Greece and Turkey is finally set to be challenged at the European court of human rights

Well out of sight, in her pleasant flat in Komotini, Thrace, in north-eastern Greece, Chatitze Molla Sali is speaking quietly. At times she is barely audible. It’s the voice of a tired 65-year-old, who for many years “lowered her gaze and accepted everything”, as she puts it. But she livens up at any mention of her new determination. She is the first woman from Greece’s Muslim minority to have taken a case to the European court of human rights, disputing a ruling based on sharia law that stripped her of part of her inheritance.

When her husband died in March 2008, he left her all his possessions in a will certified by a Greek solicitor. His family promptly disputed the legacy, complaining to the local mufti that under sharia Muslims are not allowed to make a will. Sali appealed to the civil courts, which endorsed her claim. But in October 2013 Greece’s supreme court ruled that matters of inheritance involving members of the Muslim minority must be settled by the mufti, as required by sharia law.

The treaty recognised that the community enjoyed the right to live according to its existing customs

The members of the minority are first and foremost Greek citizens, then Muslims, and their rights must be upheld

This case is a historic opportunity to put an end … to this discriminatory situation

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Trust Allah in All of Your Affairs, and You Will Never Be Disappointed

Muslim Matters - 10 April, 2015 - 05:27

Sleeping bag, flashlight, rain poncho. The list of items needed for my daughter's weekend trip to Girl Scout camp stretched on and on. Non-scented chap stick-so as not to attract raccoons, sunblock and shower shoes. I checked each item off the list as I perused the isles of Walmart, Dollar General and Target, but my mind was preoccupied. I was supposed to be focusing on responding to my upcoming segment on the Today Show, gearing up to face critics and possibly, even some Muslim backlash.

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Instead, I rushed to and fro from store to store, looking for the last unchecked item on my list-a metal kit of eating ware.  I couldn't find it anywhere. Having already tried three stores, I finally emailed my troop leader- Does it have to be metal? I asked her. Isn't there an alternative?

She replied back right away. Yes, it can be hard plastic. But I was determined to fulfill my list. I went from store to store, asking the sales representatives if they carried metal camping plate sets. Cheap ones preferably. They shook their heads and looked bewildered.

I had poured over tons of lists in the days leading up to taping the Today show- what to say in an interview, how to sit, what not to wear, how to talk. Checking each item again and again, making sure I felt ready. Worries occupied my mind- would they ask me about terrorism or ISIS? Will I remember not to slouch? What will the Muslims think? I stayed up late cleaning the shower to clear my head, then ironed every last wrinkle out of my hijab. I was prepared, or at least I hoped I was.

Allah says in the Qur'an, “He arranges each matter from the heavens and the earth.” (Qur'an 32:5) Regardless of how much we plan, Allah's plan is already in place. As believers, we have to trust Him to guide us in our own planning, and know that Allah's plan will always be fulfilled.

So when I sat down that day with Willie Geist of Today, all my lists melted away. We chatted for a while about his kids and my kids. We laughed about the complexities of parenthood and the debate of having more kids. Then suddenly the camera was rolling and I wasn't in a room filled with tons of camera equipment and a production crew. Instead, my host and I just chatted about family, life and my journey towards peace with my mother.

Before the segment, Geist surprised me in saying how he had also written a book with his dad. In Good Talk, Dad, he was finally was able to address topics he and his dad had never discussed as a kid. Everybody's family has issues, I thought to myself, as we began talking about his own family struggle.

And then miraculously, I forgot about my thousands of lists and worries and had a conversation with someone who could relate to the idea of talking through the important issues in life. My preoccupation with nailing the interview no longer distracted me as we talked about the interfaith faith struggle in my family, and my conversion to Islam.

I was present, and Allah was in charge.

The interview ended up going smoother than I had expected, with the production crew following us to the masjid for prayer. We called in advance, informing the imam that a camera crew would be filming inside the masjid. When we arrived, a sister who tends the masjid was busily tiding up any messes that she could find. She graciously offered the crew water and ice cold sodas. A feeling of extreme gratefulness came over me, as I realized that Allah had planned for this to go well. No negative backlash from the story came my way, no one objected to filming in the masjid. It all went as smoothly as Allah had planned.

A few hours after the show aired, I raced into Dick's, a local sporting goods store, in search of that last stubborn item on my camping list. I finally found it, a small box of aluminum plates and bowls on sale for $5.99. I picked two up, one for my daughter and one for myself, then sighed, realizing that my obsessiveness has officially stressed me out, and wondering if the other parents where as concerned about their lists.

I spend another late night awake again-washing clothes and tying up loose ends before day light arose. At 3 a.m. I finally zipped the last bag and I decided not to spend any more time obsessing over the camping trip. I checked my list again, discovering I was actually a few items short. I decided not to worry. Instead, I found hope in trusting that God's plan will be fulfilled despite my forgetfulness and concerns. Allah is in charge. He has a plan for me, a plan for my family and a plan for all of us that trumps any list we can arrange. We can find peace in that fact-hoping that God in His wisdom will lead us in the right way.

My daughter and I left for camp in a hurry to make the 4:30 p.m. opening ceremony. I turned left, and was automatically transported into Tennessee's backwoods. I meandered along the single lane highway, glancing from time to time at the Cumberland River to my right. A few drops of rain fell on my windshield, then suddenly it was a downpour. My windshield wipers couldn't keep up. I couldn't see a thing. A half a dozen cars pulled over into the shopping center parking lot to my right. That can't be good, I thought. I pulled over too, parking right in front of a Domino's pizza delivery store.  I looked at my phone. A tornado watch for Anders County was in effect exactly where I was sitting. My heart began to race. The rain started to sound like hail. After all my planning, I realized that I might not even arrive.

Say, Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector. And upon Allah let the believers rely.” In Surah 9 verse 15, the Qur'an instructs us to rely on Allah because he will guide us as we travel in life. We can plan as much as we want, but without Allah's guidance, we are lost.

So, I decided to take a risk and we drove on. The wind and rain pounded on my driver's window. Again, I pulled over right away, this time into a veterinarian clinic a few feet down the road. I laughed at the irony of possibly having to go home and unpack after all that planning.

The clouds raced across the sky and the rain began to let up. “Look for a rainbow,” I called to my daughter in the back seat, “the storms passing.” I thanked Allah for the reminder-Allah's plan will follow through, despite our own plans.  I thanked Allah again as I remembered that I packed our rain jackets, then headed out the car door, my daughter happily skipping in the rain puddles beside me. I splashed along with her, looking up into the emerging sunlight, feeling hopeful in what Allah had planned for my day, and knowing that He will see it through.

The post Trust Allah in All of Your Affairs, and You Will Never Be Disappointed appeared first on

Islamic school ban sparks protest in Sydney

Islamophobia Watch - 9 April, 2015 - 21:18

Hundreds of people have protested against a government’s decision to scrap plans to build an Islamic school in Australia’s biggest city, Sydney. Parents and prospective students have said the decision was unfair and racist.

Plans to build an Islamic school for 1,200 students in the Sydney suburb of Bass Hill survived objections from residents, the local council and legal challenges only to be scrapped at the last minute by the New South Wales government. Construction was due to begin but the state has intervened to buy back the land it sold several years ago.

Busloads of angry parents and their children have demonstrated outside the education department, calling on the authorities to allow the project to go ahead. A spokesman for the protestors, Rafik Hussein, says the government has made a big mistake. “We do not accept that decision. It is un-Australian,” Mr Hussein said

Some campaigners have said the debate has been laced with racial and religious intolerance. Supporters of the plan to build the Islamic school believe that residents’ concerns about noise and traffic congestion have become a euphemism for prejudice.

BBC News, 27 July 2009

See also ABC News, 24 July 2009

Muslim charities in UK say banks blocking donations

Loon Watch - 9 April, 2015 - 20:55

(Reuters / Chris Helgren)

(Reuters / Chris Helgren)

Islamic charities lose millions as ‘risk-averse’ banks block donations – think tank

Millions of pounds worth of donations to British charities have been blocked or returned by global banks, amid terror financing concerns. Humanitarian operations in Syria, Iraq and Gaza are in jeopardy as a result, a think tank warns.

In recent months, a slew of international banks including HSBC, UBS and NatWest have frozen accounts held by UK-registered charities and global NGOs that deliver aid to crisis-ridden conflict zones.

International development think tank, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), warns banks’ “overly risk-averse action” towards charitable organizations and NGOs in Britain is a direct result of UK counter-terror legislation.

Continue reading …

Also see Al Jazeera :

Muslim charities in UK say banks blocking donations

Questioning the ‘ISIS Brand’ of Islam

altmuslim - 9 April, 2015 - 20:26
By Madiha Waris Qureshi Some analysts insist ISIS is a natural and unavoidable product of Islam. They couldn’t be more off-base. Since the alarming rise of the Islamic State, many political analysts and pundits across the world, especially in the West, have taken it upon themselves to inform more than 1.5 billion Muslims of the [Read More...]

Rand Paul's foreign policy speech raises more questions than it answers

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 April, 2015 - 19:33

While the Republican presidential hopeful said he would not support ‘frivolous’ wars, he also won’t shy away from defending the US against ‘radical Islam’

Rand Paul raised more questions than he answered about the foreign policy he would pursue if he became president with a much-anticipated speech in front of the aircraft carrier the USS Yorktown on Thursday.

“I see an America strong, strong enough to deter foreign aggression, yet wise enough to avoid unnecessary intervention,” the Kentucky senator told the audience in South Carolina.

Continue reading...

On Sex Work and “Muslimness” as a Fetish

Muslimah Media Watch - 9 April, 2015 - 13:44
Before I go right into this post, I think I should make some things clear. This is not a post about the “moral” or religious side of sex work. In fact, very much the opposite. It is rather an analysis of how sex work is depicted in intersection with Muslim identity and traditionally Muslim garments [Read More...]

Families issue pictures of Yorkshire teenagers thought to have fled to Syria

The Guardian World news: Islam - 9 April, 2015 - 09:54

Further plea for information about Hassan Munshi and Talha Asmal, both 17, who are thought to be travelling to join Islamic State fighters

The families of two “ordinary Yorkshire lads” who are feared to have travelled to Syria have issued pictures of the teenagers.

Hassan Munshi and Talha Asmal, both 17 and from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, are thought to have fled to the war-torn country after catching a holiday flight to Turkey on 31 March.

Continue reading...

Yasmine Taeb: Notorious Islamophobe To Address Members Of Congress

Loon Watch - 8 April, 2015 - 22:11


By Yasmine Taeb, ThinkProgress

In a post for ThinkProgress last month, I discussed how a tightly-knit group of anti-Islam activists and organizations in the United States are in fact collaborating with and at times funding similar discriminatory and bigoted elements in Europe.

In a recent apt example, notorious anti-Islam and far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders has announced he will be addressing members of Congress at two events later this month. Wilders, who has called for a ban on the Qur’an, the construction of new mosques, and Muslim headscarves, boasted on his blog of his invitation to the United States by members of Congress. His invitees are none other than far-right congressmen Steve King (R-IA), known for his vociferous anti-immigrant stances, and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), infamous for his House floor tirades about “terror babies” and claims that “radical Islamists” are pretending to be Hispanics to come to the United States. The trans-Atlantic alliance is in fact a match made in heaven, as Wilders’ conspiratorial and xenophobic views align well with the extreme right fringe of the Republican Party.

After inquiries to Gohmert’s office for additional details about the April 29 reception, his staff merely told me that Gohmert had invited the Dutch politician to speak on Capitol Hill but that Gohmert is not hosting the reception. Wilders is also expected to speak at a breakfast the same day for lawmakers belonging to the Conservative Opportunity Society, a group that was founded by former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich. “I feel deeply honored by the invitations. In my speeches I will warn my American colleagues of the dangers of Islamization,” wrote Wilders on his personal blog.

This is of course not Wilders’ first speaking engagement in the United States. Wilders spoke at a 9/11 commemoration rally in New York City in 2010 where he voiced his opposition to Islam. During a visit to Denver, Colorado in 2012, Wilders warned an audience at the Western Conservative Summit of the threat of “Islamization,” called Islam a “dangerous, totalitarian ideology” and argued for banning the construction of new mosques in the United States.

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