New Age Islam News Bureau
14 November 2020
• Celebrating Deepawali With Her Muslim Malay Friends; Keeping Traditions Alive
• Saudi Arabia Keen On Hosting Women Racers Along With F1 GP
• Gritty Lebanese Film Challenges Marital Rape Impunity In Arab World
• Razan Baker Chosen To Head International Bowling Federation's Women Committee
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
A Religious Ruling That Bans Muslim Men In Russia From Marrying Non-Muslim Women Sparks Backlash
Nov. 12, 2020
Islam is the second-largest religion behind Orthodox Christianity in secular Russia
A religious ruling that bans Muslim men in Russia from marrying non-Muslim women sparked backlash from senior Muslim clerics across the country this week.
The ruling by the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Russia (DUM)'s advisory council of scholars says that interfaith marriages between Muslim men and non-Muslim women are allowed “in isolated cases” that only local muftis can approve.
“Most interfaith marriages result in a number of problems,” the council of scholars known as the ulema said in the ruling, pointing to possible disagreements over raising children and “absolutely different worldviews, cultures and education.”
A number of high-level Russian Muslim figures disagreed with the legally nonbinding ruling when it was made public this week.
The regional DUM’s ulema in the republic of Tatarstan said it disagreed with the scholars’ “direct interpretation of the verses in the Holy Quran,” the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Tuesday.
The Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia, an association of regional Muslim organizations, said it “respects” the ruling but referred to the Quran’s express permission for Muslim men to marry Christian and Jewish women.
The DUM's deputy chairman Damir Mukhetdinov admitted that “in this particular matter, the opinions differ and part of our clergy does not support or only partially supports the fatwa in question.”
The DUM scholars later clarified that non-Muslim women could marry Muslim men as long as they “respect Islamic canon and don’t prevent husbands from raising children in Islamic traditions.”
The ulema’s deputy chairman Ildar Alyautdinov, however, maintained that the controversial ruling was prompted by “increasing divorce rates, society’s weakening religious foundations and lack of spiritual education in families.”
“There are many interfaith marriages in Russia,” he said. “Practice shows that children don’t know what faith they belong to when growing up.”
“In most cases, interfaith marriages are dissolved due to frequent misunderstandings between the spouses and their relatives.”
Islam is the second-largest religion behind Orthodox Christianity in secular Russia, and its estimated 20-million Muslim population is expected to more than double in the next 15 years.
Islamic law prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men while allowing Muslim men to marry “people of the book,” an Islamic term that refers to Jews and Christians.
Celebrating Deepawali With Her Muslim Malay Friends; Keeping Traditions Alive
Mohd Kamal Ishak
As Malaysians, we need to look back and bring back that feeling of ‘muhibbah’ in our lives. FILE PIC
November 14, 2020
ALOR GAJAH: The smell of freshly fried “murukku” emanates from the kitchen of P Ramakrishnan’s home and wafts through the air bringing smiles to the faces of the two tudung-wearing guests.
“Murukku” comes from the Tamil word for ‘twisted’. The traditional snacks are made from a mixture of rice-flour and dal-flour, quickly deep fried. Although they may be eaten all year round, the crunchy spirals are especially enjoyed during festival gatherings.
The buttery, evocative smell of the traditional south Indian snack, precedes Ramakrishnan’s wife P Rama Devi as she enters the room bearing a large plate heaped with the golden treats.
She and her neighbours Nur Hayati Abdullah and Sapura Ahmad prepared the murukku yesterday from her family recipe, and now they are all smiles as they enjoy the fruits of their labours.
For Rama Devi, today is all about nostalgia for a lost world.
When she was younger, at Deepavali the kampungs would be full of people celebrating with their friends of other races. It was noisy and exhilarating and above all—fun.
She misses those days.
The 52-year-old grew up in Felda Mayam in Triang, Pahang, alongside Malay and Indian neighbours, and the festivities were always something she and all of the neighbourhood children looked forward to.
“When I was younger, our neighbours in Felda Mayam would come over in the days leading up to Deepavali to help us prepare for the festivities,” she tells FMT.
“Back then, there was no such thing as ready-made murukku flour, so the ladies would come over and help my mother pound rice into flour, and they would chat and laugh for hours,” she says, smiling at the memories.
“My parents always hosted an open house, and all our neighbours would come over,” says the mother-of-four. “Of course, we also used to prepare bowls full of halal food for all of our Malay friends and guests.”
Sadly, these days very few ladies come over to Rama Devi’s current home in Alor Gajah, Melaka, to enjoy helping to pound rice into flour to make murukku.
Everyone’s just too busy to do things the old way, and many of her friends have stopped making murukku altogether.
“When I ask my friends how they make their murukku, most of them say they just buy them from the market or bakery as they really don’t have enough time to do everything needed to make them,” she says.
She still makes them by hand but, as she admits with a small smile, even she buys ready-made flour now.
Rama Devi is not about to give up on the good old days she remembers so well. She goes out of her way to keep the festive cheer going.
So, as she does every Deepavali, Rama Devi has invited her neighbours over to join her in making more murukku and other Indian snacks.
Nur Hayati tells FMT, “Every year we come here to celebrate Deepavali. We always come the day before to make murukku together.”
Neighbour Sapura says celebrating the festivities together is a very important part of maintaining the bonds of friendship.
With Covid-19 travel restrictions in place this year, Rama Devi’s home will be a little quieter as two of her children are based in Johor and Sabah and will be unable to return for Deepavali.
“I really hope we can all continue to live in peace and harmony together regardless of our race and religion,” she says with a smile, about to pop a small piece of murukku into her mouth.
Today she is happy because just like when she was a young girl growing up in Felda Mayam, she is surrounded by her friends. And that’s what’s most important to her.
Saudi Arabia Keen On Hosting Women Racers Along With F1 GP
By Alan Baldwin
NOVEMBER 13, 2020
LONDON (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia would welcome hosting the women-only W Series as a support race for the country’s first Formula One grand prix next year, the head of the Saudi Arabian Motor Federation (SAMF) said on Friday.
W Series announced on Thursday a deal for it to support Formula One at eight, as yet undecided, rounds on the 23-race 2021 F1 calendar.
Formula Two, the feeder series one rung below Formula One, has races scheduled already for the Saudi Arabian GP weekend in Jeddah on Nov 26-28.
“Hopefully we will be one of the lucky countries to host them,” Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, president of the SAMF, told reporters in a video briefing when asked about W Series.
“We would like to inspire our locals and bring them these types of events. We would like to see more women racing in Saudi Arabia.
“Sport is for all and we are really pushing women in motorsport in Saudi Arabia and we are really taking it seriously... so hopefully we can get an agreement and host it with Formula Two.”
Saudi Arabia’s first female racer Reema al Juffali, who comes from Jeddah, has been competing in the British Formula Four championship.
Women were not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia until a ban was lifted in 2018. At least a dozen prominent women’s rights activists, who had campaigned for the right to drive, remain in jail.
“The bitter irony over a Saudi Grand Prix is that the very people who fought for the rights of Saudi women to be able to drive are now themselves languishing in jail,” said Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s Head of Campaigns.
W Series founder and chief executive Catherine Bond Muir said the 2021 season might not stretch as far as the November street race in Jeddah.
“I have no objection about going to Saudi Arabia, provided we can establish a meaningful relationship,” she told reporters separately. “And I think that would take some time to put together.”
Gritty Lebanese film challenges marital rape impunity in Arab world
NOVEMBER 5, 2020
By Ban Barkawi
AMMAN (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In a short film set in Lebanon, where marital rape is not a crime, filmmaker Farah Shaer tackles one of Arab society’s biggest taboos and highlights the difficulties women face when reporting domestic and sexual violence.
“Shakwa” (meaning Complaint), which debuted at Egypt’s Gouna Film Festival on Oct. 25, tells the story of Hoda, a young woman who tries to file a rape accusation against her abusive husband - only to be told he has not broken the law.
Shaer, whose last film “Soukoon” (2019) addressed abortion within marriage, said her fictional protagonist’s struggles were based on the real experiences of women in her homeland.
“There are so many stories behind closed doors in Lebanon related to women and their control over their bodies and one of them is marital rape,” Shaer said.
“Who controls a woman’s body in the Arab world? It’s her parents, her family, her husband, her society, her whole country, and the religious figures,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Set in a police station where Hoda’s credibility is repeatedly challenged, the film focuses on her growing desperation as she seeks safety before her husband finds out where she is.
Lebanon passed legislation in 2014 establishing protections for domestic violence victims for the first time, but women’s rights advocates expressed outrage that the law stopped short of specifically criminalising marital rape.
An initial draft included a provision outlawing rape within marriage, but it was removed from the version passed by parliament following pressure from religious authorities.
Shaer’s stark film depicts a web of legislative and bureaucratic obstacles that discriminate against women, embodied in the character of the callous police officer who takes Hoda’s statement.
“He represents the whole patriarchy,” she said.
“That’s why you see (Hoda) surrounded by men and you barely see their faces but you hear their voices and you see their attitude.”
She said criticism of her film on social media reflected the persistent belief that it is a husband’s right to have sex with his wife with or without her consent.
‘THEIR RIGHTS ARE STOLEN’
In almost all Arab countries, laws either do not contemplate marital rape or explicitly exclude it as a criminal offence, with the exception of Tunisia which outlawed spousal rape in 2017.
In Lebanon, the law criminalises a spouse’s use of threats or violence to claim a “marital right to intercourse” but does not outlaw the rape itself.
While the 2014 law marked important progress in the nation, gender-based violence remains common with about one in two people saying they personally know a domestic abuse victim, according to a 2017 report by the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).
Shaer said reporting abuse can be a complicated and costly process that requires medical proof, something particularly difficult for less-educated or poorer women to access.
“Their rights are stolen inside their homes, in their own state. How can they afford to pay for their medical exams?”
“Shakwa” won praise following its screening at the Egyptian film festival last month, including from male audience members, several of whom expressed sympathy with Hoda’s plight.
But Shaer cautioned that the views of a “progressive” minority did not necessarily reflect those of decision-makers and the wider public in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Arab world.
In the meantime, she said she would keep working to challenge patriarchal attitudes through her films.
“Cinema is my only tool... for cultural resistance,” she said.
“Through these films and through shedding light on these stories, (my aim) is one day that those in power will listen to us.”
Razan Baker chosen to head International Bowling Federation's women committee
November 13, 2020
JEDDAH — Razan Baker has been appointed the chairperson of the International Bowling Federation’s Women in Sport Committee.
Baker currently serves as a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Bowling Federation. She is a specialist in corporate social responsibility in sports and a sports columnist.
Growing up in a sports-loving family, Baker followed her dream to become a sports columnist, where she noticed the limited number of sporting role models that young women in Saudi Arabia had to emulate.
In order to combat this issue and together with the support and guidance of the President of the Saudi Bowling Federation (SBF), Bader Al-Alshaikh, she supports Saudi women bowlers by working to further develop their sporting skills so that they play a role on the international sporting stage.
A breakthrough in this initiative came in 2019 when for the first time in Saudi’s women in sports history, the SBF sent a women’s team to compete at the World Bowling Women’s Championships in Las Vegas. Baker served as the team manager.
Over the past two years, the SBF has more than quadrupled its athlete membership numbers. An achievement that has been realized by the outstanding work that the federation has done to support its women in sport initiative.
IBF President Mohammed Al-Sabah said: “The Saudi Bowling Federation has already achieved so much to pioneer the sport of bowling amongst women within its country. Baker has been a big part of this success and therefore her appointment to lead the IBF’s Women in Sport committee was not a difficult decision. I and the IBF executive board look forward to working with her in the future to champion our female athletes to the next level.“
Baker will lead a team of committee members on the Women in Sport Committee where amongst other objectives. They will aim to set strategies that advocate for increased participation of women athletes within bowling and in leadership positions within the IBF and its member federations. — SG
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