Marsden High parents received letter citing ‘government requirement’ for register after NSW premier announced prayer group audit
A New South Wales public school has floated plans to keep a register of students who pray together during breaks as concerns build around the Baird government’s audit into school prayer groups.
Parents at Marsden High school in Sydney’s north-west were last week issued a letter citing a “federal government requirement” that a register of attendance be taken during prayer meetings and informal prayer groups.Continue reading...
By Aatifa Shareef
It started in high school. I took the 10-day Classical Arabic grammar intensive taught by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan. I didn't know who he was back then – my family was attending the class so I went. Ten days later, as dramatic as it sounds, my life was changed. For the first time, Arabic was something I could learn, and the Qur'an could impact me beyond the beauty of its sound.
He would teach grammar for three hours, and then at the end of the evening, show us why the few simple things we were learning were so amazing, how these grammar superpowers activated in the Qur'an, affecting the meaning in a way that would affect my life
I remember the example very clearly:وَأَصْبَحَ فُؤَادُ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰ فَارِغًا ۖ إِن كَادَتْ لَتُبْدِي بِهِ لَوْلَا أَن رَّبَطْنَا عَلَىٰ قَلْبِهَا لِتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ١٠
He prefaced this example by asking if anyone in the room had studied psychology. With only one hand shooting up, my brother's, in the primarily Desi/Arab community, he continued by saying that anyone who is interested in the subject should look up the words for heart, soul, mind, body, etc. in the Qur'an as the study of psychology in the Qur'an is mind-blowing. He went on to explain how the ayah uses two different words for the heart based on the changing of its condition.
My mind was already blown. Look to the Qur'an? For psychology? It was the first time it really hit: the Qur'an has something to say about everything, we just have to look. If I truly believe that it is guidance for all mankind, then it does have the solutions to all our problems. It's our job to understand what it's saying and apply it to whatever beneficial “secular” interests we have.
From that point on, I knew I had to study psychology, I knew I had to study the Qur'an, and I knew that I had to work to put these together, be like the Prophet Muhammad , and live the Qur'an. Over time, these things I “knew” developed. Majoring in psychology was not enough. As humans, we're meant to do more than whatever strikes our fancy; we have to work to benefit ourselves and the people around us. If I want to study psychology, I better use it for that goal and a bachelor's degree wasn't enough. In addition, studying the Qur'an requires studying Arabic, and when I had finally made headway in that regard, I realized that it requires studying every other Islamic science as well. I had taken weekend seminars before, but if I were to dedicate my life to this endeavor, I needed to be on more firm ground. Thirdly, putting the two subjects together is not something one can do without any guidance. I needed a mentor who knew where I was coming from, where I wanted to go, and what I needed to do to get there. Finally, outside of my intellectual goals, I realized that to be a truly beneficial human being, I first needed to be comfortable with myself, socially, emotionally, and spiritually, requiring me to be in a good environment around like-minded individuals who shared my passion for educated activism.
But I had no idea where to go.
I could go to any university to continue my education in psychology, but the imbalance between men and women in the field of Islamic sciences is phenomenal. Too many programs only accept men, and when a program does exist for women, it's over flooded despite its sub-par status. We're desperate for knowledge so we'll take whatever we can get, even if there's a wall between us and the teacher. We're expected to interact with what we're learning without interacting with whom we're learning from. We're told this is normal; this is the way things should be.
The cycle of ignorance continues as we hide our women and teach our men that women aren't to be included in their circles of knowledge. Maybe the women educated in that system do have a proper Islamic grounding, but I wouldn't know because I never see them. So we're stuck, with generations and generations of girls, our sisters, mothers, wives, daughters, believing that that we're meant to stay in the dark, that Islam is not for them. If it were, then wouldn't institutions exist to facilitate our education, our piety, our understanding of the religion, our work for the sake of Allah? Wouldn't they exist to teach that modesty is more than clothing, dignity is more than silence, and intelligence is more than emotion?
We were back in school from winter break during the year I was studying Arabic at the Bayyinah Dream program. I had just graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology the summer before, and I was still trying to figure out how I could go about actualizing the goals I had set for myself. Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan stands at his desk and says, “I have a surprise for you guys, it's supposed to be a secret though!” And he lays out the information for the first school year of the Qalam Seminary program: one year long, Islamic Studies, small tight-knit class accepting both males and females, practical training focused on benefiting the American Ummah, with direct mentorship from Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda.
Like the فؤاد of the mother of Musa , my heart was on fire: I was sitting in the Dream program as my dreams were coming true.
I had the honor of being a part of the Qalam Seminary's first graduating class. For the first time in my life, I went through a full-time curriculum of Qur'anic sciences, Hadith sciences, fiqh, the principles of each, a study of the life of the Prophet Muhammad , and topics related to being a leader in the Muslim community in America today. My textbooks were the original sources, written in Classical Arabic, but in classic Qalam style, the focus didn't waver from practical spirituality.
I learned that though I am judged by my role as a woman in relation to people – as a wife, mother, daughter, sister – I am only defined by my role as a slave in relation to Allah. I learned that the only difference between people in the sight of Allah is their level of piety (49:13), that piety lies in the heart (Hadith in Sahih Muslim) and the ones who are the most God-fearing are those who are educated, male and female (35:28).
At the Qalam Seminary, there are almost double the number of women in the class as men. With no barrier between teacher and student, equal opportunity to schedule personal meetings with Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, and a weekly sisters-only question and answer session with Shaykh, the too-well-known model of sisters not having the chance to spend time with scholars dismantles. Shaykh Abdul Nasir is every student's teacher, trainer, and mentor, fulfilling the three-pronged mission of the Qalam Seminary for males and females equally.
Maybe if Ustadh Nouman had used an example related to politics or economics or the medical field, my bachelor's degree would have been very different. But the other things on my to-do list still required Qalam – there is no other place in the world, in my eyes, that provides the holistic education I experienced here in a way that makes me feel respected as a woman.
Now having graduated from a psychology program, an Arabic program, and now a full-time Islamic Studies program, I'm using all that I've learned to work as an instructor for Qalam. I teach and mentor the men and women who will insha'Allah be the mentors for others, becoming the solution for problems that have existed for far too long. My classmates have all gone to do the same in their own spheres. Whether it be in their university MSAs, in their workplace, in their families, or in their masajid and community centers, each one of us has used our Seminary experience as a launchpad for further Islamic education and community work.
Imam Ghazali wrote in a letter to his student after graduating:العلم بلا عمل جنون, و العمل بغير علم لا يكون
“Knowledge without action is insanity, and action without knowledge has no reality.” Those of you who notice problems in our community, be it gender inequality, the lack of good role models, or the dearth of practical Islamic education, know that there are solutions, we just have to be them.
Aaitfah Shareef is an instructor at the Qalam Seminary. She also conducts the Sisters Public Speaking Workshop at Qalam Insitiute. She graduated with a degree in Psychology from Northwestern University.
Advocacy group’s submission to royal commission says Muslim women are afraid to seek help because they fear unfair treatment from authorities
The introduction of anti-terrorism laws in Australia has made Muslim victims of family violence afraid to contact authorities for protection, an advocacy group says.
Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence was due to hear from the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights on Tuesday.Continue reading...
They threw molotovs into a sleeping family’s home. A baby, Ali Dawabshe was burned to death and now his father has succumbed to his injuries.
“The Israeli state and its vigilantes have killed 1 Palestinian child every 3 days for the past 13 years. They also detain them as adults, break their bones with stones, try them in military court, shoot them dead as they march w their school bags on their backs, bomb them in their homes with their families, and then criminalize them as terrorists.”
In another post Erakat provides readers with perspective regarding the impunity that Settlers operate under,
“This is not an outlier of bad Zionist settler apples- this is constitutive of settler-colonialism’s structural violence – Jewish supremacy is the corollary to Palestinian ethnic cleansing.
It is among the 11,000 settler attacks against Palestinian bodies and lands that have gone unpunished in the last decade. Impunity for these practices ensures their exponential rise- including 144% increase in violence from 2009-2011. This attack is in “revenge” for the demolition of 2 “illegal” buildings in the illegal settlement of Beit Il – because colonial subjects are not human and thus expendable.”
Hundreds of mourners from the northern West Bank poured into the hamlet of Duma to lay to rest a second Palestinian who had succumbed to wounds from a settler arson attack last week. Sa’ad Dawabshe, father of baby Ali Dawabshe who burned to death in the attack, died in the early morning hours in a hospital in southern Israel where he was being treated. His remains were transferred to his parents’ home outside of Nablus.
Seated in her courtyard around dozens of relatives, Dawabshe’s mother wept as she clutched a white tissue cloth. Her son’s body was ceremoniously displayed in front of her atop a low table draped in the Palestinian flag. Journalists clamored around her for photographs and interviews under the canopied patio.
Amid the summer heat wave two relatives fainted while overcome with grief, causing a stir from aiding family members who themselves were also sobbing.
“Killing women, children, the elderly,” said Maitha Selman, 60, an aunt of Dawabshe who stood in the courtyard, “it is not allowed in monotheistic religions. It’s sinful.”
“They say we the Palestinian are terrorists, but no, they—the Israelis—are the terrorists,” Selman continued.
Dawabshe’s remains were then hoisted through the town to the village cemetery, followed by chants of “strike, strike Tel Aviv,” shouted by Palestinians who marched behind Dawabshe’s shrouded body, singing out a protest anthem that was popularized during the last two wars in Gaza.
Police say those arrested belong to the Sri Rama Sena group.
The flag was raised in Sindgi, near Bijapur, on 1 January, leading to angry protests by Hindu organisations and the stoning of a Muslim prayer hall.
Police say Sri Rama Sena was trying to create “communal disharmony” in an area with a sizeable Muslim presence.
Sri Rama Sena is a fringe group that claimed responsibility for attacking women outside a pub in the coastal district of Mangalore in 2009, saying that allowing females in pubs was against Indian culture.
Inspector general of police Charan Reddy told the BBC the situation in Sindgi was “now peaceful”.
“It seems they were out to create communal disharmony,” he said.
Hindu organisations had called for strikes in a number of towns around Bijapur to protest against the flag-raising.
But Mr Reddy said police investigations had led them to members of the Sri Rama Sena, a group founded by Pramod Muthalik after it broke away from the Bajrang Dal, an affiliate of the long-standing Hindu nationalist organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Some good news.
Nigerian troops rescued 178 people from Boko Haram in attacks that destroyed several of the group’s camps in the northeast of the country, an army statement said late Sunday.
Spokesman Col. Tukur Gusau said in an emailed statement that Nigerian troops freed 101 children, 67 women and 10 men.
The Nigerian Air Force reported killing “a large number” of Boko Haram fighters while repelling an attack on a village 30 miles southwest of the army operations that took place around Bama.
Sunday’s statements did not specify when the attacks occurred.
A multi-national joint taskforce made of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin is being set up in the Chadian capital N’Djamena to tackle Boko Haram.
The force was supposed to start operations on July 31 but has been dogged by a lack of funding and political will.
Last week the Nigerian army said rescued 71 kidnapped people.
Hundreds have been freed from Boko Haram captivity this year but none of the 219 girls abducted in April 2014 from a school in Chibok were among those rescued.
One week has passed since a Palestinian toddler died in an arson fire, one day since the boy’s father also perished from burns, and The New York Times has provided us with some half dozen stories on the tragedy. Only one of these was deemed fit to make the front page, however, and this fact is instructive: The favored story was not the original crime or the deaths of two villagers but a report on Israeli angst.
This maneuver was just one more piece of evidence that the Times has tried to provide an Israeli spin to this story. The paper has also adopted the government line that the concern here is extremism, not official policies and actions, and it has failed to provide the full context of settler violence in occupied Palestine.
When the story broke, the Times placed the news that 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh was burned to death on page 4 of the Aug. 1 of the print edition. The brief article about his father’s demise appears on page 9 today. Other stories—concerning protests, accusations and additional responses to the news—were also on inside pages.
It was only when Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren filed an article on Israeli “soul searching” that the editors saw fit to give the story a prominent spot in its Friday edition.
The print article, “Two Killings Make Israelis Look Inward,” received a favored site on page 1 above the fold. This, the editors are saying, is the real news here—not the shocking death of a helpless child, the lingering and painful death of his father or even the legacy of settler attacks—but the feelings of ordinary Israelis.
The arson attack has received this much attention in the Times only because it was impossible to ignore: It made headlines worldwide and forced Israeli officials to condemn the act and vow to take action. But the Times stories have failed to report the full extent of violence against Palestinians and official complicity in these actions.
Readers of the newspaper are unlikely to know that Israeli settlers have often resorted to arson and that their actions have never, until now, caused much concern among government officials. B’Tselem, an Israeli rights group, reports that “in recent years Israeli civilians set fire to dozens of homes, mosques, businesses, agricultural land and vehicles in the West Bank. The vast majority of these cases were never solved, and in many of them the Israeli police did not even bother taking elementary investigative actions.”
B’Tselem also notes that West Bank Palestinians are tried in military courts, with minimal rights and protection, while settlers living in the same area appear in civilian courts. Most shocking of all: The conviction rate for Palestinians in military courts is 99.74 percent.
The Times has acknowledged the charges of unequal treatment in an Isabel Kershner story titled “Israeli Justice in West Bank Is Seen as Often Uneven,” but the headline leaves the impression that we are dealing with opinions here, not facts, and the story fails to provide the data that would reveal just how uneven the system is.
In fact, B’Tselem reports that over an 11-year period only 11 percent of settler violence cases resulted in an indictment, nearly a quarter of the cases were never investigated and in the few cases where settlers were tried and convicted, they usually received “extremely light sentences.” The numbers are even more glaring when we note that Palestinians, knowing the outcomes and facing obstacles, often fail to file complaints.
These percentages, however, are less scandalous than the statistics concerning security forces. The Israeli monitoring group Yesh Din reports that 94 percent of the investigations into complaints about Israeli soldiers suspected of violence against Palestinians and their property are closed without action.
Yet the Times, following the lead of the Israeli government, has focused on “extremists” as the problem, ignoring the officially sanctioned destruction wrought by the military: In defiance of international law, the army helps the state confiscate land and destroy property to make room for illegal Jewish settlements.
In recent weeks and months, the Israeli army has been responsible for widespread destruction of Palestinian property in the West Bank. Here are a few examples:
- On July 22 the army invaded the village of Beit Ula and destroyed a Roman-era water well and 450 olive trees.
- On July 2 the army uprooted an acre of agricultural land west of Hebron and issued demolition orders for a home and a water well.
- On June 15 the Israeli army uprooted dozens of olive tree saplings over five acres in Husan, a village west of Bethlehem.
- On May 4 the army evacuated the residents of Wadi al Maleh in the Jordan Valley for “training exercises” and set fire to grazing land using live ammunition. Residents were denied access to the land to put out the fires.
- During the month of June in the Jordan Valley the army forced hundreds of Palestinians from their homes for “military maneuvers” and used live ammunition that set fire to acres of grazing land.
- As of Aug. 3 the army was responsible for demolishing 302 Palestinian structures in 2015, displacing 304 people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Times readers almost never read of these actions taken by the military with the official blessing of the government, and they rarely learn of most settler attacks. (Nor do they learn that settlers are allowed to carry weapons while Palestinians are denied even the most basic arms for defense.)
Now the Times, in the face of an international scandal, has done what it can to minimize the damage to Israel, muting the charges of unequal justice, placing Israeli “soul searching” on prominent display, joining the Israeli effort to blame extremists and ignoring the officially sanctioned crimes against Palestinians.
Israeli angst is fit to print in the Times, but Israeli crimes against Palestinians are something else again. If they are deemed worthy of notice, they may come to light in the back pages, under evasive headlines—all part of an effort to protect Israel at the expense of our right to be informed.
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Duma, Israel, Israeli army, New York Times, Palestine, Settler violence, West Bank
After years of operating in the shadows, the industry is booming following religious edict that fashion and modelling are permissible under Islam
In northern Tehran’s Oxygen Royal health and fitness centre, a group of 20 young men have gathered, each wearing identical black T-shirts inscribed with a big white DFW, the abbreviation for Darab fashion week.
The centre is located in the affluent and historical district of Gheytarieh in the foothills of the Alborz mountains, which tower over Iran’s capital. With its VIP members and advanced exercise machinery, you may as well be in Beverly Hills. Instead, the centre is the venue for Iran’s male models to practise strutting the catwalk under the aegis of a professional trainer, who will also prepare them for the castings that will follow.
Before this if I were to mention to the authorities that I wanted to found a modelling agency nobody would listen to me
There has been progress but big challenges remain. Some people still have negative views about fashion in IranContinue reading...
Wanted: A Very Personal Assistant is another part of BBC Three’s ongoing season of programmes about disability, Defying the Label. In this two-part series, four young people with mobility impairments of differing severity were matched with carers by another disabled man who apparently specialises in matching carers to disabled people. This programme sought to get unemployed and inexperienced young people into caring jobs under the premise that there were all these unemployed young people and all these disabled people who needed carers or assistants. The result, as you might imagine, was that some of the recruits were very poorly matched indeed. (If you’re in the UK, you can watch episode 1 here for the next two weeks, and episode 2 here for the next three.)
The disabled people featured were Jasmine (right), a young woman with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA); Josh, who is a survivor of a brain injury from a cycling accident when he was 12; Rupy, who has cerebral palsy; and finally Michael, who is a quadriplegic following a diving accident while at university. With the exception of Josh, all of them are power-wheelchair users who are fairly successful; Josh, who can walk but has impaired arm function,. is a comedian who does a routine in comedy clubs styling himself “the disabled gangsta” and cracking jokes about disability. Josh is seeking to break away from having his parents do his personal care for him by having an assistant his own age, and believes having his father around when he is socialising is getting in the way of ‘pulling’ girls; the other three have no such concerns, but need the assistant to do cook, clean, wash and dress them and in some cases help them in their work.
The carer matched to Michael thought she could stomach emptying his bladder and bowels manually, but despite having done it to a dummy while in training, could not bring herself to do it for Michael, which resulted in his having to call an agency carer. (This job cannot just be left, as an overfull bowel or bladder can result in a life-threatening complication called autonomic dysreflexia or AD in a person with a high-level spinal cord injury.) The next day, she emptied his bladder, but was so disgusted when she got splashed with his urine (they did not say whether it went on her skin or her clothes — and she was wearing long sleeves) that she resigned. She eventually got a job as a legal secretary, then moved to Bahrain according to the closing captions; this rather suggested that she had no intention of pursuing a career in care (and let’s face it, it’s not well-paid, something this programme didn’t mention at any point).
The best match was that of Jasmine with Emily, and crucially she was the carer who was most like the person she was caring for: same sex, same age, looks so similar they could be cousins at least, and a similar cultural outlook. Emily and Jasmine got on extremely well and Jasmine had no complaints about how Emily washed and dressed her, but both did worry about how her lifestyle and lack of cooking and cleaning skills would impact on Jasmine’s health; Jasmine at one point revealed that a friend of hers had died just weeks ago because of an infection. Fortunately, one day while Jasmine was out doing something or other, Emily cleaned her flat from top to bottom, much to Jasmine’s satisfaction. Emily was the only one to keep the job.
The most interesting story was that of Josh and Francesca, a rather prim, middle-class arts student who described herself as a committed feminist. Josh obviously came from a working-class background, liked his drink and called himself “the mong with the big dong”. He was rather obsessed with ‘getting laid’ and believed that all the other young lads were doing it, and that he wasn’t only because of his disability. Josh wanted Francesca to help him ‘pull’, but she was clearly uncomfortable in his world and was not much help. Then he decides to go on a trip to Amsterdam, which she is thrilled by, only she has ideas of visiting all the museums and art galleries and he wants to go to the Red Light district and, perferably, sleep with a prostitute. (She liked the idea of going to one of Amsterdam’s cafés but neither of them mentioned stronger chemicals than caffeine.) She has strong moral objections to this, regarding it as exploitation, and said she would resign if he actually did this. They agreed to both visit the galleries and tour the red light area, but he would not avail himself of their services.
In the event, he is nonplussed by the art (when Francesca explains that the bright colours in one painting were the result of the painter’s emotions colouring his view of something, Josh replied “maybe he was just colourblind”) although he says he loves Francesca’s company; Francesca is made profoundly uncomfortable by the women on display and men leering at them in the RLD. The pair meet with a dominatrix who explains that many of the girls are in fact in the ‘trade’ by choice, but Francesca feels that she and Josh have ganged up on her. In the end, Francesca insists on going back to the hotel early, which gives Josh a major disappointment as he had agreed to “do Francesca’s shit” and that she would do his. However, the next morning, they are both in a better mood, and Francesca suggests that they build an online dating profile for Josh and he accepts that his manner may be putting women off. In the end, the two stay friends but Francesca ceases to be his carer, as the two don’t want a “job” getting in the way of a beautiful friendship.
The premise of the programme — that the multitudes of unemployed should mean it’s easy to find assistants for all those disabled people who need them — was really not sound at all. While I’m very well aware that there are too many jobs out there where employers demand experience when it is not really needed, providing personal care or assistance to a severely disabled person is not something to do just because you need a job. It did not appear that any of these candidates had ever provided personal care for anyone, and they were not asked whether they had assisted in the care of an elderly relative or a baby. The issue of whether some of the disabled participants wanted a male or female carer was not asked, and they all got women (which nobody objected to here although it’s not always appropriate); a disabled female friend who advertised for a female PA a few months ago told me when I tweeted about this aspect that she had received a number of applications from men. It was possible, she agreed, that some of these had applied just to apply for as many jobs as possible to please their JSA “advisor”. And a good many of my disabled friends who have employed PAs or carers for themselves or relatives (for a variety of impairments from autism to motor neurone disease) have complained of incompetence, lateness, no-shows and in one case, theft.
I was on Job Seekers’ Allowance for two years (2008 to 2010) and although my interest in disability issues only really started halfway through that, the idea of inflicting myself on a quadriplegic when I couldn’t stomach emptying their bowels or changing another adult’s dirty nappies never occurred to me, nor was it suggested. If anyone is suggesting this to an unemployed person with no care experience, they should be stopped immediately. This series demonstrated, if inadvertantly as the issue really wasn’t discussed, that the job of providing intimate day-to-day care for a person with a severe mobility impairment is not a job to be left to anyone who walks in off the street: they need to be professional and not squeamish. If an agency provided too many carers like the one Michael got in this series, they would not last long in the business.
Possibly Related Posts:
- Review: Don’t Take My Baby
- Close the units down?
- Review: Kids in Crisis
- Hard come, easy go
- So, Maisie’s home, but …
Government says there are ‘five dead, two injured’ on the Malian army side and ‘two killed’ on the insurgent side
Five foreigners were evacuated and a number of hostages freed after they were trapped by gunmen in a hotel standoff with soldiers in central Mali that left at least seven people dead, military sources said early on Saturday.Continue reading...