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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 21 March 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Europe's Muslim women move equality discussion beyond the veil

Domestic Violence against Women in the Gaza Strip: "A Woman Is Like a Carpet"

Motalakat Radio in Egypt: The Voice of Divorced Women

Iraq: Women's rights in danger

Is France right to ban wearing the burka in public?

Muslim law board enhances its own women quota

'Muslim women can't discard purdah for politics'

Scholar Explores Growth Of Feminism within Islam

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Europe's Muslim women move equality discussion beyond the veil


Nina-Maria Potts

Much of the mainstream debate on Muslim women in Europe has centered on the headscarf. But there's more involved in many women's struggle to combine their Muslim identity with equal rights at home and work.

It isn't easy being the first hijab-wearing woman to host a talk show in the Netherlands.

Esmaa Alariachi, who started a popular TV talk show with her sisters called "The Girls of Halal," said that at first her aim as a host was quite modest.

"My goal… was to just show people that Muslims are also ordinary people: we eat, sleep, go to the cinema, have lunches, go to the theater," she told Deutsche Welle.

About five percent of the Dutch population is Muslim, according to Dutch government statistics. Still, Alariachi says it took time for people to understand that Muslim women could also be Dutch feminists. Early on, she was often pigeonholed into speaking on certain topics.

"Before, people who looked like me - wearing a headscarf - were only invited to address political and Islamic issues. They just put a stamp on your forehead, 'you are the expert on this, we only invite you for this,'" said the 31 year old.

"Now it is different,” she added.

Traditional roles

In her quest for professional success, Alariachi had the support of her sisters. But for many Muslim women, the fight for equal treatment in the workplace is made harder by their families.

Traditional communities often discourage even highly-educated women from working, says Parvin Ali, head of the Fatima Women's Network in the UK.

"If the community from which that individual is coming … doesn't actually support these decisions, it can be very, very difficult for the families to then support them," says Ali.

Changing the workplace

Ali, who consults with governmental departments in the UK on gender and diversity issues, says more should be done to help Muslim women integrate into the work place.

Muslim women often want to remain the primary caregiver for their children, says Ali, so employers should focus on more flexible working conditions.

"That means making sure there is flexibility when it comes to taking time for their care responsibilities," she says, adding that a combination of working remotely and from home could benefit many working women, not just Muslims.

As the debate over integration and women's rights continues, it is clear there is still much work to be done. But women like Esmaa Alariachi and her sisters are proof that it is possible to achieve a balance between being a woman, a Muslim and a European.

"I faced many problems, but I made them into a challenge, and now people see us as celebrities in Holland," said Alariachi.,,5368266,00.html


Domestic Violence against Women in the Gaza Strip: "A Woman Is Like a Carpet"

Ruth Kinet

Since the war in January 2009, Domestic violence against women in the Gaza Strip has markedly increased. The strict rule by Hamas has only worsened the situation. Yet, with the assistance of NGO initiatives, afflicted women can once again experience hope. Ruth Kinet reports

Wafa (name changed by the editors) is 55-years-old. She covers her body with a black veil. It has been six months since her divorce. Finally – after enduring more than 30 years of marriage and innumerable violent outbursts from her husband.

Wafa has six children, five sons and one daughter. She had to wait a long time for the divorce. Medical statements were required. She had to file charges against her husband with the police. Now, she is a divorced woman without her own home. She sleeps in the hallway of a one-room apartment in Gaza City, in which her oldest son, his wife, and their children live.

Wafa doesn't complain about her fate. "This is the lot that God assigned to me," she says. But when she tells of the darkest hours of her life, her eyes fill up with tears and her chin trembles. She tries to remain strong and not give in to the pain. She's had lots of practice.

Torment to the point of torture

"Once my husband threw me on the bed, poured kerosene all over, set it on fire, and locked the bedroom door," recalls Wafa. "I screamed for my very life. The neighbours heard me and rescued me." Her husband once broke her arm. He even tormented the children, sometimes to the point of torture.

As their daughter was seven, for instance, he seared her hands with a piece of red-hot iron. He often threw his children out on to the street naked in winter. "He is sick," says Wafa soberly. "He suffers from a hyperactive brain." Yet, he wouldn't submit to medical treatment. Wafa quietly endured all of this for the sake of her children. She never said a word. She didn't want her children to suffer a bad reputation.

Today, Wafa sits in the office of Ola Hassaballa, a psychologically trained worker with the NGO called Palestinian Working Women Society for Development, PWWSD for short. Encouraged by Ola Hassaballa, Wafa has begun to talk about her traumatic experiences. "This has really helped me," she says. "I now feel that there are still good people in the world and this gives me hope."

The PWWSD has six help and information centres in the Gaza Strip, providing places of refuge for women who are victims of domestic violence. Over a period of three months, every woman receives a private session with a therapist. Even after the therapy phase is concluded, the PWWSD psychologists maintain contact with their clients and follow their further development. This work is financed to a significant extent by cdf, a Swiss feminist peace organization.

Domestic violence as a consequence of war

Hysteria, depression, and schizophrenic behaviour – these are the most frequent diagnoses for women who have been the victims of domestic violence, says Hassaballa. For the last year, in particular, the services of the centres have been increasingly in demand. Ola Hassaballa ascribes this to the war of January 2009.

"The women are under a great deal of stress. During the war, many families have broken up. In particular, sexual violence has markedly increased during the war. This is especially the case for families whose houses were destroyed and then were forced to live in tents lacking any kind of private sphere."

Talking freely in a safe space

Deir al Balah is located 20 kilometres southwest of Gaza City. In a ruined building directly next to a bombed-out lot from the last war, twelve women in black veils sit on uncomfortable metal chairs in an austere room with bare walls. The room belongs to the local office of PARC (Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee), an NGO founded 27 years ago to promote development in rural areas and, in particular, to support local women.

Najàd (name changed by the editors) meets with the other women every day at PARC. She speaks unreservedly about what took place in her marriage. She knows that she is safe in this room. "My husband beat me with an electric cable. At first, I endured it and was patient. Then, one night, he abused me with electric shocks. I fled after that."

Najàd has been divorced now for two years. In the 23 yeas she was married, she bore ten children. Her oldest son is 22 and her youngest daughter is three. Her husband married one of his relatives even before the divorce and threw his first wife Najàd out of their common home. Since then, she has been homeless.

The strict rule of Hamas

Because she doesn't have her own home, Najàd is not allowed to keep her four youngest children, who are all younger than nine. And she isn't even permitted to see her older children either. This is in accordance with Sharia law, which rules over all domestic affairs in the Gaza Strip. When a couple divorce, the father is given custody of any children younger than nine. The age limit used to be 15. Since Hamas assumed power, the age was reduced to nine, explains Islah Hassania.

Hassania is a lawyer and she defends women before the religious court. She works closely with Zainab El Ghunaimi, another woman lawyer. She directs a legal consultation centre for women, which, in part, receives support from the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Global Fund for Women.

Every woman exposed to domestic violence can apply for divorce, says El Ghunaimi. But in practice, the judges tend to prolong the process. The procedures are bureaucratic and complicated, she says. Many women have to wait 15 years for their divorce.

"In order for the court to acknowledge that a woman has suffered violence, she has to have been severely beaten. She must offer proof through medical statements and also has to file charges against her husband with the police. And sometimes even this is not enough."

There is no safe refuge in the Gaza Strip for women during the divorce process. To date, it has proved impossible to establish a women's refuge.

"He has the right to beat me"

Violence by husbands against their wives is socially acceptable, complains Reem Al Nairab. She coordinates a programme for the Woman's Affairs Center (WAC) in Gaza City to promote economic independence for women through interest-free micro credit. Al Nairab has frequently heard men say that a woman is like a carpet. The more it is beaten, the cleaner it gets.

"It is incredibly difficult to get such ideas out of people's heads," says Reem Al Nairab. "Many women say, 'My husband has the right to beat me. I am the one at fault when he beats me.' And here they cite the Koran."

In Verse 34 of the fourth Sura, men are granted full responsibility and authority over their wives. Women must be submissive and obedient. When they fail in these duties, they should be admonished, be expelled from the marital bed, and, finally, be beaten.

Economic independence is the first step

Reem Al Nairab and her colleagues from the women's centre work against this religiously legitimized oppression of women. Frequently, women speak there for the first time about their violent husbands and they hear about the universality of human rights as well as the equality of the sexes. In video courses, they are shown how to document their violent experiences on film. The final stage, however, concerns the establishment of an independent existence, says Reem Al Nairab.

"When a woman stands on her own two feet economically, she is also in the position to separate from her husband. Even a small business in embroidery or painted glass can be enough for a 'no' to their husbands and a 'yes' to divorce."

Economic independence, however, has been destroyed by war. For most in the Gaza Strip, left barren by the Israeli blockade, it is hardly more than a beautiful dream. But Najàd has since found the courage to dream. "I want a job, a small home, and I want to see my children again."


Motalakat Radio in Egypt: The Voice of Divorced Women

Nelly Youssef

Mahasin Saber wants her "Radio for divorced women" to put the spotlight on the serious deficits in the male-dominated Egyptian society, and to make people aware of the discrimination suffered by women. So far, she's succeeding. Nelly Youssef visited her in Cairo

"Welcome! You're listening to 'Radio for divorced women' in Cairo ... a new life listening to what your heart tells you … a space to speak and to listen." Those were the words with which Mahasin Saber went on air for the first time at the beginning of the year.

She founded her "Radio for divorced women" ("Motalakat Radio") as a spin-off of her blog "I want a divorce." She founded the blog two years ago after her own divorce, and used it to report on her long march through the various institutions on her way to getting her divorce.

She blogged: "When a marriage no longer offers any safety, when a feeling of security is an unattainable dream, then breaking the bonds of marriage becomes a solution for which one yearns."

How did Mahasin Saber move from her successful blog to the idea of setting up her own internet radio? "Egyptians listen more than they read," she says. And certainly now, more people listen to her radio than read her blog.

Volunteers committed to fight prejudice

Saber wants to break down prejudice by giving divorced women a voice and removing inaccurate perceptions. That way, she wants to give space to allow women who have been affected by the problem to win respect in society. She tries to overcome the usual cliché that divorced women are a "disgrace."

Even if divorce represents a personal failure, a woman has to be able to leave this negative experience behind her and take on a positive role in society.

Mahasin Saber also wants "to promote treatment for the psychological problems of divorced women after their separation, and to use the radio to give women the opportunity to express their feelings."

Twenty-three people work for the station; not all of them are divorced, not all of them are even women. The team also includes men, since men make up part of the target audience.

Saber, a 30-year-old with a degree in history, points out that the people working on the project do so out of commitment. They don't get paid, because there isn't any money. There's no office or studio. Each presenter makes his or her programme at home and uploads it to the station's homepage. The public can respond via e-mail or on Facebook.

An affront to conservative Egyptians

In spite of Motalakat Radio's very modest finances and the fact that the station has only existed for three months, it already has proved very popular, not least because of the interest of the conventional media in the project.

In almost every Egyptian family nowadays there's a divorced woman, and so the station reaches a wide public of both sexes. The divorce rate in Egypt is at an all-time high – the official statistics say there's a divorce every six minutes – so it's no surprise that the station meets a need.

The high divorce rate may well be due to the prevalence of early marriages, which take place as a result of family pressure or of a woman's fear that she will be regarded as an "old maid" if she doesn't get married soon.

But Egyptian society is dominated by conservative views, and a station like Motalakat Radio, which is both provocative and courageous, is seen as scandalous. Some men see it as an open call to women to seek a divorce and rebel against their husbands. Women's rights activism is seen by them as sowing the seeds of a culture of family discord.

On the other side there are the station's supporters – especially those women who see the station as a chance to turn their own tragic experience into something positive. They want to create public awareness of the problem and overcome the psychological and social barriers with which divorced women have to struggle.

Saber says she's open to criticism: she has a hard task, since she wants to change things, "and you can't do that overnight."

She explains the attacks on her as an attempt to defend old traditions: "We criticise traditions and customs which Egyptians take in with their mother's milk. A divorced woman is seen here as something bad, and as a result, she hasn't got a right to say what she thinks – let alone to open a radio station!"

Broad spectrum of counselling and information

She sees the first signs of social change in the fact that men also respond to what's on the radio. "Some people believe we only let women on the air if they are complaining about their fate or wanting to overturn the men's world," she says.

For example, there's a programme called "Before you say yes to divorce," which is directed at married women, and which tries to warn them against the mistakes which divorced women have made. Another programme is called "Oh, how misunderstood we are!" which looks at how divorced women deal with the daily burdens and the daily harassment to which they are subjected as they have repeatedly to justify their position.

In addition there are programmes like "How do I bring up my children" and "Stories from under the bed" in which divorced women can find out from psychologists and sociologists how to make the best of their children's education or how to help them come to terms with their parents' divorce.

The station also deals with the psychological problems which women may have as a result of their divorce, and with ways of turning these negative experiences into something positive. There are also programmes for young people like "Girls' heart" or "Facebu'" in which a young student of medicine makes fun of the latest trends in Facebook.

Saber says that among the main reasons for divorce in Egypt are violence against women and men leaving their wives. Most of the women she has had to do with, either in court, or in connection with the station, have been physically abused or abandoned by their husbands.


Iraq: Women's rights in danger

By Dahr Jamail and Abdur Rahman

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq, women working in the public and government sectors were entitled to receive a year's maternity leave under family laws enforced by the former Saddam Hussein leadership.

In the seven years since the US-led invasion which ousted Saddam, however, maternity leave has been cut to six months.

Since the Personal Status Law was enacted on July 14, 1958, when Iraqis overthrew the British-installed monarchy, Iraqi women have enjoyed many of the rights that Western women do.

But the statutes governing the status of women since 1958 have been replaced with Article 2 of the new Iraqi Constitution, which states that "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation."

Sub-head A says "No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." Under this Article the interpretation of women's rights is left to religious leaders.

Islamic governance

Yanar Mohammed, a women's rights campaigner in Iraq, believes that the US has "let go of women's rights" in the war-ravaged country.

"Political Islamic groups have taken southern Iraq, are fully in power there, and are using the financial support of Iran to recruit troops and allies," she says.

"The financial and political support from Iran is why the Iraqis in the south accept this, not because the Iraqi people want Islamic law."

According to the post-2003 Iraqi constitution, parliament should be comprised of no less than 25 per cent female candidates. As a result, the amended electoral law of December 2009 stipulated that parliament should comprise 82 female representatives.

Each party and coalition list must ensure that 25 per cent of its nominated candidates are women. However, the women's quota has not been filled since 2005 and as a result, the elections commission said "special measures" must be implemented to ensure the quota is met.

Women's rights groups in Iraq and abroad have complained that the Iraqi parliament has not provided information on what the measures involve or how it would go about implementing them.

According to Maha Sabria, a professor of political science at Al-Nahrain University in Baghdad, women members of parliament "stand up to defend their party in the parliament, not for women's rights".

Lack of infrastructure

Sabria also makes a direct link between the deteriorated status of women in the country to the lack of infrastructure, political and economic stability, and security. She believes that women bear a "double burden" as they have lost many of their freedoms due to, and under, the US occupation.

"The violation of women's rights [is] part of the violation of the rights of all Iraqis," she says.

"More men are now under the weight of detention, so now women bear the entire burden of the family and are obliged to provide full support to the families and children. At the same time, women do not have freedom of movement because of the deteriorated security conditions and because of abductions of women and children by criminal gangs."

Women, she says, are also now under pressure to marry at a younger age in the hope that a husband (including his family and tribal affiliations) will bring added security.

Sabria says that the abduction of women "did not exist prior to the occupation. We find that women lost their right to learn and their right to a free and normal life, so Iraqi women are struggling with oppression and denial of all their rights, more than ever before."

"Tribal, backward laws"

Since 2003, many Iraqis sought refuge in the tried and tested security offered by tribal affiliations and allegiances.

As contemporary Iraqi society fell apart in the face of lawlessness, abductions, revenge killings and overall lack of security, the tribal system offered both refuge and order.

Some Iraqis believe that the decline in the modern and secular standard of living since 2003 propelled the social dynamic back by several decades.

"The real ruler in Iraq now is the rule of old traditions and tribal, backward laws," Sabria says.

"The biggest problem is that more women in Iraq are unaware of their rights because of the backwardness and ignorance prevailing in Iraqi society today."

Fleeing Iraq

Compounding the severity of the situation is the fact that many women also fled their homes because their husbands were arbitrarily arrested by occupation forces or government security personnel. A household without a male figure became far more vulnerable since 2003. Women sought refuge with relatives and failing to do so fled to Syria or Jordan.

According to United Nations estimates, more than four million Iraqis have been displaced in the past seven years, including approximately 2.8 million registered as internally displaced persons.

Many live as refugees mainly in neighbouring countries, according to a report by Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings Institution-University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement.

The report, titled, Going Home? Prospects and Pitfalls For Large-Scale Return Of Iraqis, says most displaced Iraqi women are reluctant to return home because of continuing uncertainties.

Obstacles to repatriation

For its part, the Washington-based Refugees International (RI) says in another report - Iraqi Refugees: Women's Rights and Security Critical to Return - that "Iraqi women will resist returning home, even if conditions improve in Iraq, if there is no focus on securing their rights as women and assuring their personal security and their families' well-being".

The RI report covered internally displaced women in Iraq's semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region and female refugees in Syria. "Not one woman interviewed by RI indicated her intention to return," the report says.

"This tent is more comfortable than a palace in Baghdad; my family is safe here," a displaced woman in northern Iraq told RI.

The situation continues to be challenging for women within Iraq. Yanar Mohammed believes the constitution neither protects women nor ensures their basic rights. She blames the US for abdicating its responsibility to help develop a pluralistic democracy in Iraq.

"I am an employee, and everyday go to my work place, and the biggest challenge for me and all the suffering Iraqis is the roads are closed and you feel you are a person without rights, without respect," a 35-year-old government employee, who asked to be referred to as Iman, said.

"To what extent has this improved my security," she asked. "We have better salaries now, but how can women live with no security? How can we enjoy our rights if there is no safe place to go, for rest and recreation and living?"

Dahr Jamail is an independent American journalist who reported from Iraq for eight months in 2003-2004. He is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq.

Published under an agreement with IPS.

The views expressed in this article are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.


Is France right to ban wearing the burka in public?

By Mona Eltahawy and Stephanie Street

21 March 2010

Egyptian-born columnist and lecturer Mona Eltahawy argues in favour of the proposed French ban on the burka in public; actor and playwright Stephanie Street takes the opposite view


YES: Mona Eltahawy

Egyptian-born columnist and lecturer on Arab and Muslim issues

As a Muslim woman and as a feminist I support banning the face veil, everywhere and not just in France where they are to vote on a resolution and possibly a ban on wearing the garment in public places [hospitals, schools and public transport, but not in the streets] after regional elections end.

I am appalled to hear the defence of the niqab or burka in Europe. A bizarre political correctness has tied the tongues of those who would normally rally to defend women's rights but who are now instead sacrificing those very rights in the name of fighting an increasingly powerful right wing.

Every time I return to Cairo from New York City, where I now live, I wonder what Hoda Shaarawi, the pioneering Egyptian feminist, would say if she could see how many of her sisters are disappearing behind the face veil. Returning from an international women's conference in Italy in 1923 – yes, we had feminists that early in Egypt – Shaarawi famously removed her face veil at a Cairo train station, declaring it a thing of the past. We might not have burned our bras in Egypt but some have described Shaarawi's gesture as even more incendiary for its time.

And yet here we are, almost a century later, arguing over a woman's "right" to cover her face. What is lost in those arguments is that the ideology that promotes the niqab (the total body covering that leaves just the eyes exposed) and the burka (the garment which covers the eyes with a mesh) does not believe in the concept of women's rights to begin with.

It is an ideology that describes women alternately as candy, a diamond ring or a precious stone that needs to be hidden to prove her "worth". That is not a message Muslims learn in our holy book, the Qur'an, nor is the face veil prescribed by the majority of Muslim scholars.

It is instead a pillar of the ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam known as Salafism. It is associated with Saudi Arabia, where I spent most of my adolescence and where it is clear that women are effectively perpetual children, forbidden as they are from driving, from travelling alone and from even the simplest of surgical procedures without the permission of a male "guardian". I detest the niqab and the burka for their erasure of women and for dangerously equating piety with that disappearance – the less of you I can see, the closer you must be to God. I defend a woman's right to cover her hair if she chooses but the face is central to human interaction and so the ideologues who promote its covering are simply misogynists.

I abhor the rightwing Muslim ideology behind the veils but I equally abhor the political rightwing xenophobes of Europe. The European political right – be it President Nicolas Sarkozy, his ultra-right rival Jean-Marie Le Pen (who did alarmingly well in the first round of those regional elections) or Dutch provocateur Geert Wilders – do not give a rat's ass about Muslim women or their rights: they are merely using the issue in an attempt to win votes.

The racism and discrimination that Muslim minorities face in many countries — such as France, which has the largest Muslim community in Europe, and Britain, where two members of the xenophobic British National party were shamefully elected to the European parliament — are very real. But the silence of the left wing and liberals isn't the way to fight it. The best way to support Muslim women would be to say we oppose both the racist right wing and the niqabs and burkas which are products of what I call the Muslim right wing. Women should not be sacrificed to either.

Mona Eltahawy can be reached at


NO: Stephanie Street

British Asian actor and playwright

Over the last five years I interviewed 43 British Muslim women for my play, Sisters, a verbatim piece constructed from those interviews. My intention was to dispel the ludicrous notion that there is a single, fixed Muslim female identity. As a non-Muslim who grew up in Singapore surrounded by Muslim women, I was shocked by the mainstream response to 9/11 and 7/7 which was, obliquely, the polarisation of "us" and "them". Probably the most offensive thing about it all was how few commentators and analysts in the media, or people in positions of power, had ever spoken in person to a Muslim woman.

I wonder how many niqab-wearing French citizens Nicolas Sarkozy has sat with and talked to. I imagine not many. Because if he had, he could not with a clear conscience say that "the burka is not a religious sign (but) a sign of subservience, of debasement". He is right to assume that there are significant problems with the status of women in certain Muslim communities. This, however, is not oppression on religious grounds but rather, cultural. And the hypocrisy of what he is doing is surely transparent – he, in condemning what he sees to be a symbol of oppression of women by men, is oppressing women's rights to practise their faith as they choose.

To whatever extent a Muslim woman chooses to practise it, modesty is a central concern within the religion (for men as well, although this is often ignored). Everyone I spoke to who wore Islamic dress did so because this issue of modesty is sacrosanct, and they felt liberated not being judged on their appearance. And those who choose to wear the niqab are doing that to an extreme.

Only one character in my play wears the niqab, but the issue of Islamic dress came up in every interview I did. Azra (not her real name), who wore the full covering, was young, had a job and wore it against her parents' wishes. They felt that she would be discriminated against for wearing it.

She took it off when she went to work because she had to, knowing she was "going to get the reward for the time I was wearing it, making God happy by fulfilling his covenant to me".

She related to me an incident that took place when she had her photo taken for her university ID. They requested she remove her niqab, so she asked for a female photographer. When the male photographer at the adjacent booth asked if she'd like the men to look away, she told them not to worry about it, not wanting to cause a scene. And when he did still turn away, she was touched: "I thought, I just wish people could be kind like that."

France clearly needs to address why immigrant Muslims and French converts are rejecting western identity so demonstratively, but this proposed ban is not the way. There is the not insignificant problem that it might contravene articles 8 and 9 of the European convention on human rights which protect the individual's right to a private life and personal identity and freedom to manifest one's religion.

There is no denying that in certain countries the burqa is a manifestation of the oppression of women, but in the west it is nearly always worn out of choice. It is an issue of how a person chooses to practise their faith, and in a democracy we cannot deny any human being that.


Muslim law board enhances its own women quota


The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) may been silent on the women's reservation bill. But when it came to reconstituting its executive body, it unanimously increasef the representation of women from one to five.

Announcing this on the last day of the board's three-day annual convention at the Nadwa Darul-Uloom Islamic university here, AIMPLB spokesman-cum-legal adviser Zafaryab Jilani told reporters Sunday: 'We have nominated five women this time on the board's executive committee.'

Socialite Begum Naseem Iqtidar was the lone woman on the committee till now.

The new entrants are Ruksana Lari, Safia Naseem (Lucknow), Noor Jehan Shakil (Kolkata) and Asma Zohra (Hyderabad).

At the convention, Nadwa-Darul-Uloom Rector Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadvi was unanimously elected the board president for a third consecutive term. Renowned Shia cleric and scholar Maulana Kalbe Sadiq was named as senior vice president.

AIMPLB has raised the overall strength of its executive committee from 41 to 51. 'We have inducted representatives from far off regions like Ladakh and the northeast to make the board more broad-based', said Jilani.

The board has 251 members of which 102 are founder members .


'Muslim women can't discard purdah for politics'

Manjari Mishra

Mar 12, 2010

LUCKNOW: Soft spoken and mild-mannered Maulana Saidur Rehman Azmi Nadvi heads Nadva-tul Ulema, the biggest Islamic seminary in north India.

However, his tone hardens at the mere mention of women's reservation bill. He says politics makes an unlikely profession for well brought up 'khawateen'.

"Islam doesn't permit women to discard the purdah, deliver lectures in public (taqreer) and demand their due. They have clear guidelines to follow — stay at home in hijab, and take care of household chores. They are also free to get educated and serve the nation," he says, but is quick to rule out any compromise over their entry into politics.

"Contesting elections is by no means a cake walk. There's only one option for female aspirants — turn into 'mard' (man)," says the maulana, who is also a senior member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

Darul Uloom, Deoband, is severe in its chastisement of the worrying "un-Islamic behaviour' of politically oriented women. It had said the same thing five years ago while announcing a fatwa against women contesting elections.


Scholar Explores Growth Of Feminism within Islam

March 11, 2010

by Francesca Norsen

St. Joseph’s College’s second annual Khatib Lecture in Comparative Religions will bring to Brooklyn prominent Middle East and Islamic scholar, Dr. Margot Badran.

Dr. Badran, who will present “Islam and Gender Journey Into the 21st Century,” is a specialist in gender studies. Her extensive experience in the study of Islam began with a teaching fellowship with the University of Cairo in 1962-63, and included a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship during the 2008-09 academic year. She is the current fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a senior fellow at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. She earned her doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University.

Previously, Dr. Badran was the Edith Kreeger Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Religion, and preceptor at the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa at Northwestern University. Dr. Badran’s most recent book is titled Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences. She also authored Feminism beyond East and West: New Gender Talk and Practice in Global Islam.

The annual lecture, this year being held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 22, is named for Dr. Reza and Georgianna Clifford Khatib. The mission of the Dr. Reza and Georgianna Clifford Khatib Chair in Comparative Religions is to promote interfaith dialogue, with the study of Islam being an integral part of the initiative. Each spring, St. Joseph’s hosts a noted scholar who lectures, leads faculty discussions and teaches a course that will be video-conferenced to both campuses. These activities aim to expose St. Joseph’s students to insights that enhance their understanding and appreciation for other people, cultures and faiths in an increasingly globalized society. The lecture takes place in the Tuohy Hall Auditorium, 245 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn, and is free and open to the public.

St. Joseph’s College, founded in 1916, has campuses in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood and in Patchogue, Long Island. The college offers degrees in more than 23 majors; and has certification, affiliated and pre-professional programs, as well as a School of Professional and Graduate Studies.