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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 20 Nov 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Girlfriend Culture against Islam, Says Pak Supreme Court

New Age Islam News Bureau

20 Nov 2015

Love Jihad: Sanaullah and Samar at Sarawa village; they were named in the abduction and rape case filed by the woman. Oinam Anand


 Europe’s First Female Suicide Bomber, Hasna Ait Boulahcen, Had No Interest in Religion

 A ‘Love Jihad’ Ends In Peace for Couple but Many Others Feel Wounded For Life

 Geeta’s DNA Sample Did Not Match with Bihar Family: Govt

 Pakistani Woman Challenges Tradition through Ballot

 Australian Muslim Woman Turns Hate into Something Positive

 Grave of Mastani: Hindus Call It Samadhi, Muslims Mazaar

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Girlfriend Culture against Islam, Says Pak Supreme Court

Nov 20, 2015

Pakistan’s supreme court has ruled that there is no place for “girlfriend culture” in an Islamic society while rejecting the bail plea of a man held for creating the Facebook account of a woman he claimed was his sweetheart.

The man, Muhammad Munir, was arrested two months ago by the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) for allegedly creating an account for his classmate Shagufta and uploading her pictures without her consent.

A two-judge bench headed by justice Amir Hani Muslim made the remark when the defence lawyer contended that Shagufta was Munir’s girlfriend and that the account was created with her consent, the Express Tribune reported Thursday.

“Upon this, the bench remarked that there is no culture of girlfriend in an Islamic society as it is a Western concept,” the report said.

Later, the court refused to grant bail to the accused and asked the FIA to submit the chargesheet within 14 days and asked the trial court to decide the matter within six months.

Munir, a computer operator in a government office, was arrested under cyber crime laws after the girl petitioned the FIA alleging that he created a fake account under her name.

Lawyer Masroor Shah who appeared on behalf of the accused expressed apprehension that such kind of cyber laws might be misused.



Europe’s First Female Suicide Bomber, Hasna Ait Boulahcen, Had No Interest in Religion

Nov 19 2015

Terrorist groups are usually using individuals with less or no knowledge regarding religion to carry out terrorist and suicide attacks and such is the case with the latest suicide blast in Paris where a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives during a police raid.

New distressing details have emerged regarding the 26-year-old Hasna Ait Boulahcen who blew herself up, suggesting that she had no interest in religion and had never read the holy book of Islam – Quran.

The incident reminds of Zar Ajam who was originally a Pakistani citizen and was involved in a deadly attack on a private bank branch in Jalalabad city of Afghanistan.

Ajam who was not even aware of the capital city of Pakistan, killed at least 40 civilians and injured over 80 others after storming the bank branch. Later, he was executed for the horrific attack on civilians.

In the meantime, revealing pictures of Europe’s first female suicide bomber have emerged online showing her relaxing in a bubble bath and posing with friends.

Described as party-loving boozer, Hasna had no interest in religion or the Quran, according to her brother whose statement was cited in a report by MailOnline.

Ait Boulahcen’s head and spine flew through a window in yesterday’s anti-terror police gun battle as the suicide bomber screamed, ‘help me, help me!’ and ‘I’m not his girlfriend!’, before detonating her explosive vest.

The ferocious gun battle took place north of Paris, where the mastermind of the Paris bombings, her cousin Belgian ISIS fighter Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed.

Eight people were arrested in the raid, including two found in the rubble of the building close to the Stade de France, where last Friday’s attacks started with suicide bombings during a France-Germany football international, according to MailOnline.



A ‘Love Jihad’ Ends In Peace for Couple But Many Others Feel Wounded For Life

By Irena Akbar

November 20, 2015

He was Muslim, she was Hindu. He was accused of raping her and keeping her in illegal confinement. His Muslim brethren allegedly did worse — they ‘abducted’ her, ‘gangraped’ her, and ‘forcibly converted’ her to Islam. It was a sensational ‘love jihad’ story, one that thrust Sarawa village in Meerut into the spotlight in August last year, making it the centrepiece of political campaigns for by-elections in western UP. A year later, the love jihad story has fallen flat: the woman and the man, Kaleem, are living together at an undisclosed location in Meerut and are set to get married.

Speaking to The Indian Express on phone, Kaleem’s lawyer Zulfikar confirmed, “Yes, they are living together and will get married soon. They fear for their lives and don’t want to meet or talk to anyone.”

It’s a dramatic end to a story of several twists and turns. It began in the last week of July 2014, when the woman, 21, who taught at a madrasa in Sarawa, went missing, after which her father filed a complaint . When she returned on August 3, she registered an FIR accusing Nawab Khan, the village pradhan, and Sanaullah, a property agent, of abducting and taking her to two madrasas, where she was allegedly gangraped and forcibly converted to Islam.

Sanaullah’s wife Samar Jahan and the woman’s friend, Nishat, were accused of helping Nawab and Sanaullah. Six others were arrested, including Kaleem (he got bail two months ago).

In October 2014, she fled her home, landed at the police station and denied her charges, saying she had made them under pressure from her parents. The district court sent her to Meerut Nari Niketan as she said she feared for her life. Last month, she was released after a high court order to decongest Nari Niketans. In her deposition, she said she wanted to live with her lover, not her parents.

Her father says he does not know where she is. “I’ve heard she is living with that Kaleem somewhere in Meerut. Even if she is an adult, how can they let her live with the accused when they are not married?”

Sources say the retraction of the allegations does not change the legal status of the case. The trial is still on. While the couple are looking forward to a new start to their lives, the four villagers named in the original FIR say they have been scarred for life.

Nawab Khan, 43

“Allah ka shukr hai,” says Nawab Khan of the turn of events. The pradhan got out on bail on August 20 after a year in jail, during which his eight children dropped out of school as his family lived on borrowings. “I have to repay my debts before I can send them to school. But who will repay me for the humiliation I have suffered, for the tears my wife and children have shed?” he says.

Khan says the Tyagi community, to which the girl belongs, foisted the case on him in “revenge”. After he was elected in 2010, he says he had run-ins with the Tyagis. In 2011, he says they sued him over repair work on a mosque but lost the case; later, he got a pillar, build on a road by the girl’s uncles, removed. The next pradhan elections are due soon and Khan is contesting again.

Sanaullah, 48; Samar Jahan, 44

“They used to call me Chhota Osama,” laughs Sanaullah, as he recalls the time he spent in a Meerut jail on charges of being the alleged mastermind in the case filed by the woman. His topi and beard — and the fact that he was the last to be arrested – had earned him another sobriquet, “cleric on the run”. “Perhaps my looks made it convenient for them to label me a mastermind,” he says, adding he is no cleric either. “I am a farmer and property dealer,” he says, though he holds the title of hafiz, given to those who have memorised the Quran. In jail, he taught the Quran to other inmates. He says he has no enmity with the woman’s family and believes he was arrested because “Nawab, their main target, is a cousin”.

On August 3, 2014, when the police came looking for him, Sanaullah was in Delhi. “My mobile phone was not working, so I called my family from a PCO. When they told me the police had come to arrest me, I got scared and stayed back in Delhi,” he says. He was arrested on August 13, 2014, and got out on bail on May 23 this year. His wife spent a longer time in jail — arrested on August 3, 2014, she was released on bail on September 22 this year. “That day, the police knocked our door at 4 pm, asking for my husband. I told them he was out of town, but they came again and asked me and my father-in-law to come with them. Then they put me in lockup,” she says.

For someone who could “barely step out of home and would lose my way even in the lanes of the village”, spending over a year outside of home “was unimaginable”. “I would tell my children to imagine I had gone on a long vacation abroad,” she says.

Sanaullah and Samar Jahan’s son Irfan, 20, was a BA student when they were arrested. He dropped out of college, and his five siblings out of school. “Sab khatam ho gaya,” he says. He has a diploma in computer programing and plans to start working “to support my father”. The eldest daughter, Tehzeeb, then in Class VIII, dropped out to “take care of the home” while her mother was in jail.

Nishat, 20

Nishat and the 21-year-old woman studied in the same school and were friends till Class XII. The girl enrolled in a college in Hapur while Nishat stayed home. Nishat sits in a corner, smiling to herself; her mother and brother Asif speak on her behalf. “She is not mentally sound. She had a swelling in her brain because of an infection, and has been suffering from depression for two years,” says Asif, who runs a transport business.

Nishat smiles and says she “liked” it in jail. “She is like a murti. Place her anywhere and she will sit there comfortably,” says Asif.

Nishat spent eight months in jail and was released on bail five months ago. Her mother, Vasila, says she has a court hearing every 15-20 days. “Her reputation has been tarnished. How do we find her a match now?” she asks, adding Nishat was engaged before her arrest but the boy’s family called it off.



Geeta’s DNA sample did not match with Bihar family: Govt

November 20, 2015

The government on Thursday said the DNA sample of speech and hearing-impaired Geeta — an Indian national who returned from Pakistan recently after inadvertently crossing the border more than a decade ago — did not match with the Mahato family from Bihar, even as many other families have come forward to claim her as their daughter. Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will travel to Indore on November 23 to meet Geeta and enquire about her well-being. Geeta is currently staying at a rehabilitation centre for deaf and mute people in Indore.

“It is true that we had conducted the DNA test. The Mahato family had come forward and, after seeing their pictures, Geeta had perhaps felt they were her parents. Their DNA test was also conducted. But the test result was negative,” Swarup said. The report, prepared by AIIMS, has been sent to the Mahato family, he said. After arriving in India, Geeta had failed to recognise the Mahato family, though she had earlier identified them after seeing their photographs. Swarup said other families have claimed Geeta as their child and the government has sent their pictures to her, but she hasn’t reacted to any photograph. Geeta’s story came to light after the release of Salman Khan-starer Bajrangi Bhaijaan, in which the hero unites a little girl separated from her Pakistani mother who was visiting India.



Pakistani Woman Challenges Tradition through Ballot


Nov 20, 2015

MULTAN: Of the over 1,400 women voters of Mauza Mohripur in Khanewal district, only one woman turned up at the polling station on Thursday to cast her vote in local government’s second phase elections.

Fauzia Talib refused to follow decades old tradition that bars women from going to the polling station.

“I’m breaking the tradition for the betterment and empowerment of the women of my area,” she asserted on Thursday.

“The step will encourage other women to come forward and cast their vote. Today, I was the only voter, the next time many other will come out of their houses to cast their vote.”

The polling staff established for females at the Government English Medium Girls’ Higher Secondary School kept waiting for the voters but only one female dared to cast her vote.

Fauzia had also initiated a legal battle seeking government’s help to empower women against the polling ban.

Months before the elections, she, through her counsel Haji Muhammad Tariq Khokhar, lodged a petition with the Lahore High Court, Multan bench, seeking directions for several respondents to ensure women’s participation in balloting.

The respondents were: the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the provincial election commission, the district election commissioner, the district coordination officer, the district police officer and the Punjab government.

She had sought that the respondents be directed to ensure the participation of women in voting in the local bodies’ election in Mari Sahu union council.

On Sept 9, Justice Mirza Viqas Rauf referred the petition to the district election commissioner of Khanewal with the direction to take necessary steps.

On Oct 22, Joint Provincial Election Commissioner Ashfaq Ahmed Sarwar through a letter informed the ECP secretary that the necessary assurance as directed by the high court would be not possible through the district election commissioner. He asked the ECP to take appropriate steps and issue requisite directions to the authorities concerned.

District administration officials met with residents several times only to be told that local women were not willing to cast their vote.

The authorities closed the chapter here but Fouzia stood undeterred even though she had to pay a heavy price.

Qaisar Abbas, Fauzia’s husband, said they had been treated as social outcast since he encouraged his wife to rebel elders’ anti-women policies.

Candidate for Mohripur union council chairman Mian Hammad Raza Sahu said he had tried to convince the people to allow their women to cast vote but in vain.

He said the administration, instead of motivating the elders, threatened them with police action which created resentment among the people.

Another candidate Haji Karamat Ali Sahu said that the women of Mohripur had not been casting their vote for a long time as the polling station for them was established 10 kilometre from the village.

He said the women were banned from casting vote after an election-related clash decades ago.

Kabirwala Assistant Commissioner Akbar Zahoor said it was unfortunate that only one vote was polled at one polling station and nine votes at another polling station in Mauza Mohripur.



Australian Muslim woman turns hate into something positive

Nov 20, 2015

Amal Al-Sibai

Racism and bigotry, sadly, are prevalent in almost every society. Muslim women dressed in the hijab are, at times, the targets of such hatred and racism in Western countries.

One intelligent, energetic, and creative Australian Muslim woman, Susan Carland, thought of a way to transform the negative energy of hate into something positive, and actually turn evil into goodness.


Susan Carland says that for a long time she had been receiving hate messages on Twitter and Facebook about the way she is dressed, about her religion. Anonymous haters charge her with being a woman who loves oppression, murder, war, and sexism.

“Their online abuse ranges from requests to leave Australia, hope for my death, insults about my appearance (with a special focus on my hijab), accusations that I am a stealth jihadist, and that I am planning to take over the nation, one halal meat pie at a time,” Susan Carland said in a report she wrote for the Australian newspaper, The Age.


She had attempted engaging them in conversation and responding to their comments in a respectful dialogue, but it was pointless, and she achieved nothing. Most cyber-bullies and trolls have a fixed mindset of hate and anger. They didn’t even try to understand her explanations of why she wore the hijab and what she believed in as a Muslim.

She put deep thought into the appropriate way to respond to such unpleasant and hostile messages. Blocking, muting, ignoring, and replying hadn’t worked so well.

Turning to her faith, she read parts of the Holy Qur’an to find inspiration, to guide her to the best way to respond, without compromising her principles, but at the same time, standing tall as a strong and confident Muslim woman.

She came across the verse in the Holy Qur’an, {And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better}. (Chapter 41, verse 34)

As a devout Muslim woman, she had to be the better person, have a bigger heart, take in all the hate with a peaceful smile on her face, and in return do something good for the world.

In her report in The Age, she said, “So, in response to all the hate I receive simply because I am Muslim, it was only natural that my response would be rooted in the fact that I am Muslim.

I felt I should be actively generating good in the world for every ugly verbal bullet sent my way.

And so the idea of donating $1 to UNICEF for every hate-filled tweet I received came to me. I particularly liked the idea of giving to UNICEF, as so often they were assisting children who were in horrific situations that were the direct outcome of hate – war, poverty due to greed, injustice, violence. These children seemed like the natural recipients for the antidote to hate. And donating to them every time I was abused felt like tangible good in response to virtual hate.”

Carland has two children of her own and she wants to set a good example for them, and build their Muslim character.

So far, and in just two weeks, Carland has raised more than $1,000 in funds to be sent in humanitarian aid to children, through UNICEF, as she recently announced on her Twitter account. She is surprised by the overwhelmingly positive feedback to her anti-hate campaign. Her friends and followers too can donate to UNICEF through her account, without sending hate messages.

Great ideas, just like a candle flame is contagious and once it touches other candles, it spreads its light. Others have already started their own accounts to donate to UNICEF, for children’s programs that provide nutrition or education.

Susan Carland is in the process of completing her PhD. She is a professor at Monash University, lecturing on gender studies, politics and sociology, with a focus on Muslim women and Muslims in Australia.

Carland grew up in an open-minded, warm Christian household. At the age of 17, she started looking into different religions, except for Islam, because she had the presumption that it was a sexist, outdated religion. However, after sifting through all the media hype and going to credible sources on what the religion was truly about, it made sense to her. She was drawn to Islam both intellectually and spiritually. At the age of 19 years, Carland embraced Islam.

She described her conversion to Islam, not as a rejection of Christianity, but more like a continuation or a crystallization of her faith.

Carland is married to Waleed Aly, an Australian writer, academic, lawyer, media presenter, and co-host of a news program on Australian television. “By refusing to let the hate of others mold me, I am more secure and relaxed in my own identity than ever. Their hatred of what they believe Muslims are has encouraged me to recommit to the beauty of my tradition,” Carland wrote in her op-ed piece in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Light is stronger than darkness; donations and support for her campaign staring pouring in from all over the world. She has encouraged others to donate to UNICEF, and she has also sparked the curiosity and interest of many people to try to educate themselves on the true meaning of Islam.



Grave of Mastani: Hindus Call It Samadhi, Muslims Mazaar

By Garima Rakesh Mishra

November 20, 2015

In 2009, when thieves had ruined the grave of Mastani in Pabal by digging it up to find a diamond which she is believed to have swallowed to end her life, the Muslims and the Hindus of the village had gathered to put pressure on the local administration to restore it. Within a month, the grave was restored by the archaeological department. For the Hindus based in the village Pabal, the grave of Mastani is her ‘Samadhi’, while the Muslims call it a ‘Mazaar’.

Irrespective of their beliefs, people from both the community visit Mastani’s grave with equal devotion. “Because Mastani was Maharaja Chhatrasal’s daughter, the Hindus of Pabal consider her as a Hindu. The Muslims think she was a Muslim as her mother, Ruhaani Bai, was a Persian-Muslim. Despite their respective faiths, there’s never been a dispute in the village on this matter,” says Sanjay Ghodekar, the principal of a Padmani Jain Mahavidyalaya in Pabal, who has done M.Phil on Mastani as a subject in 1997 based on his six-year long extensive research.

Situated at a distance of 60 kms from Pune in the village Pabal, the grave of Mastani is located in the middle of a 2,000 sq ft land surrounded by a boundary wall and three doors, while the fourth side has an elevated platform made for reading the namaz.

On one side of the grave is a ‘Taboot’ (diya kund), where the caretaker of the grave Mohammed Inamdar lights a diya every day. ““The day when the grave was restored, while the rituals were performed as per the Muslim tradition, the Hindus too joined in with garlands to place it on the grave,” says Baba Inamdar, nephew of the caretaker, who is also the vice-president of All India Muslim and OBC Organisation. “There’s no restriction on anyone’s entry here, no matter who belongs to which religion,” he says. Mastani was the second wife of Peshwe Bajirao I of the Maratha Empire. The legend goes that when the king of Bundelkhand, Maharaja Chhatrasal was attacked by Mohammad Khan Bangash, Chhatrasal sought help from Bajirao I, who succeeded in rescuing the king. As a gesture of thanks, Chhatrasal gifted Bajirao I, one-third of his empire as well as his daughter Mastani. “Chhatrasal had 13 wives and one of them, Ruhaani Bai, was a Persian-Muslim. Though Bajirao was already married to Kashi Bai, he also married Mastani with the required rituals,” says Ghodekar. However, the fact that she was a Muslim, didn’t go well with his family members. Though initially she stayed at Mastani Mahal in Shaniwarwada, owing to the intolerance from family, Bajirao shifted her to a palace in Kothrud. Later, when conflicts failed to end, he shifted her to a palace specially made for her in Pabal. Today, there’s no sign of the said palace in the village. The money collected as tax from three villages – Pabal, Tendur and Loni – was used by Bajirao for maintenance of Mastani, says Ghodekar. “If Maharaja Chhatrasal, Bajirao and Mastani did not allow religion to come between them then who are we to decide whether Mastani belonged to Muslims or the Hindus,” says Baba Inamdar. Inspired by the unique love story of Bajirao and Mastani is renowned filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming film Bajirao Mastani. Interestingly, Shivaji Jadhav, a villager, reveals that though earlier not many people visited this village, from the time the news about Bhansali’s film has caught up, the footfall has increased. “Many people are curious about Mastani’s grave. People click their photos with the grave. Earlier, no one cared. Unfortunately, no one from the film production house have visited the village so far,” claims Jadhav. Pabal also has a huge well in the centre of the village. Another legend goes that even when Mastani was housed in Shaniwarwada, a special house-help would travel all the way from Pune to Pabal to take water for Mastani from the well, which stands dried today. “A few decades ago, a sword was found in the village. Assuming that it may have once belonged to Mastani’s security guards, it was kept safely in the office of gram panchayat, although there’s no proof about the sword’s history,” said Ghodekar. The village remembers the beautiful queen in many other ways. Padmani Jain Mahavidyalaya takes out an annual magazine as a tribute to Mastani. Besides, the college also organises a state-level debate completion named Bajirao Mastani Debate Competition which sees participation of students from across the state. People raise objections to Pinga, call it ‘insult to Marathi culture’ The song ‘Pinga’ from the film Bajirao Mastani has received flak from a section of Maharashtrians, who feel that the song is an insult to Marathi culture and the Peshwas. People are raising objections to portrayal of Kashi Bai dancing on a song that they feel looks like an item number and even the fact that ‘pinga’, the folk dance of Maharashtra, has been depicted as lavani.