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India: Jaipur Jama Masjid Panel ‘Backtracks’ On Allowing Entry to Women to Offer Prayers

New Age Islam News Bureau

5 Jul 2016 

Photo: A woman offers namaz at Eidgah in Jaipur. (HTFile Photo)


 Pakistani Clerics: ‘Burning Women Alive Is Against the Teachings of Islam’

 Three More Young Danish Women Feared To Have Left Country to Join the Islamic State

 Iran: Female Parliamentary Group Elects Presiding Board Members

 Hijabs and Swim-Skirts: Modest-Fashion Sites Unite Jews, Muslims And Mormons

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





India: Jaipur Jama Masjid Panel ‘Backtracks’ On Allowing Entry to Women to Offer Prayers

Jul 04, 2016

Clerics of the Jama Masjid in Jaipur have reportedly backtracked on a decision to open its doors to women devotees, disappointing many who were hoping to offer prayers at the city’s biggest mosque.

“We were very happy to read about the announcement that a place has been marked for women in Jama Masjid, and we will be allowed to enter it. I was even looking forward to go there on Friday with my friends and family. But then, they announced the following day that women should pray at home. That was very disheartening,” said Khushboo Ali, a teacher residing in Hasanpura. “Women should be allowed to pray in mosques. Islam is all for equality.”

Khushboo’s mother, Naseem Akhtar, said Jama Masjid Committee chairman Naim Qureshi had backtracked under pressure from fundamentalists.

However, Qureshi – when contacted over the phone – told HT that the published reports were false, and no such arrangement for women devotees had been made. Then he hung up.

Dr Iqbal Siddiqui of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind echoed his sentiment. “I had a word with Naim Qureshi, and he told me that no special provision for women was created. There is only a space for women who are out shopping, and want to offer prayers,” he said.

Nishat Hussain, Rajasthan convener of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, couldn’t hide her disappointment. “We were so happy to know that women were getting their rights. But discouragement followed the very next day, when they said that the space is for women who have come to shop – and female devotees should pray at home. The mosque authorities should have stood their ground,” she said.

Had the Jama Masjid committee stuck to its decision, the mosque would have been the first to open its doors to women in the state. “Mosques in Kerala have separate spaces for women. The Jama Masjid in Delhi and Hazratbal in Kashmir also have spaces marked for women,” said Navaid Hamid, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawrat.



Pakistani Clerics: ‘Burning Women Alive Is Against The Teachings Of Islam’

JULY 5, 2016

Most of the time, the women who are killed to “preserve a family’s honor” have done what many, if not most, Americans would consider very benign things. Usually, these occurrences involve a woman marrying a man which the family did not choose, or if a woman is accused of sexual relations before marriage, particularly if she becomes pregnant. The fact that a woman’s own mother, brother, father, or uncle could murder her in cold blood is disturbing enough, but the ways in which these killings are carried out is something out of a horror movie. Many times, in order to make a statement to other young women who may be considering “going wayward,” these killings are done right out in public, often in the street.

It has happened to thousands of young women; she is dragged into the street in her night-clothes by the hair, and then her own family proceeds to stone her to death, stab her, shoot her, strangle her, and the most recent method of tying her up and burning her alive. In one incident, it was reported that a family invited all their friends and extended family for a dinner, then had a ceremony of drowning their 17-year-old daughter in the family swimming pool. Her crime? She’d become engaged to a man she loved, not the man her parents had arranged for her to marry.

How can this be legal? For decades, the Pakistani law says that killings to preserve honor are legal as long as the decedent’s family members forgive those who killed her. Naturally, a wife in Pakistan has been raised to be subordinate to her husband, so even if she didn’t agree, she “forgives” him to the police. Now, it has become commonplace for women to perform the killings.

However, as most societies experience cultural shifts, the younger generation of Pakistan’s citizens are deciding this is not in line with the teachings of Islam, the country’s primary religion, according to Religion News Service. In Lahore, a group of Pakistani clerics has issued a “fatwa,” or religious ruling, opining that “honor killing” over perceived damage to a family’s honor is against the teachings of Islam, and anyone who carries out such a murder is a heretic, or one who goes against the teachings of Islam. The Sunni council of more than 100 clerics issued a statement decrying the practice.

“It seems were are moving towards an age of barbarism. Burning women alive for marrying by their choice is against the teachings of Islam. Considering any killing in the name of honor to be justified is heresy.”

This council holds significant weight in the eyes of many Muslim people in the territory of Punjab, where about half of the country resides. As of last week, the number of people killed in this fashion this year is 233. Last year, 500 perished at the hands of their family.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has denounced the practice, but in a country that looks more to their religious leaders than their government, no changes have been made. This council of clerics, however, sends a strong warning that is likely to cause serious turmoil between the young regime and old regime, which is reportedly very unhappy with the clerics’ statement against honor killings.

A middle-aged woman, hiding most of her face behind a white scarf, said that the ruling is very wrong.

“Young women have an obligation to their family to be honorable, to do nothing to cause shame. They must not do anything to dishonor their parents. The problem is that now we send girls to school with the boys and they fall in love. This is wrong. I will not send my girls to school where the boys are. We decide who they marry, or their punishment is deserved.”

Near an area where a 16-year-old girl was burned to death a month ago, little girls played together in the street. When asked about “being in love with a boy” most of them giggled shyly. But an older girl, age 11, looked down at the ground. When asked her thoughts, she looked stricken and shook her head.

“A girl was killed right near here for being in love with a boy she met on these streets. She was strangled and burned to death. I was scared.”



Three more young Danish women feared to have left country to join the Islamic State

July 4th, 2016

Three young Danish women from Ishøj have disappeared and their parents fear that they have left Denmark to join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The three women – one Danish/Kurdish and two ethnic Danes are 21, 18 and 18-years old respectively. The girls have not been heard from in nearly two weeks.

The Danish father of the Danish/Kurdish woman said that he fears that his daughter may be on her way to join IS.

“I hope not,” the father, who wishes to remain anonymous for reasons of security, told TV2 News. “They may abuse her.”

The father is headed to Istanbul to see if he can find his daughter.

“I have not slept. My wife has not slept. We are very frightened,” he said.

Searching Turkey

Another Danish father recently appeared on Turkish television to ask for help in finding his 19 and 24-year-old daughters that he has not heard from in over a month.

He also fears that his daughters are on their way to join IS, and, like the three young women from Ishøj, his daughters are alleged to have been recruited from Brøndby Strand, where, according to the Danish/Kurdish politician Ibis Tas, girls as young as 14-years-old are being actively recruited.

“It is a big problem,” he told TV2.

Actively recruiting

Reports say that as many as eight women may have left Denmark to join IS in recent months.

“In the last eighteen months IS has been recruiting families and friends to head south, not necessarily to fight, but to live in a caliphate, which they believe in,” said Tas.

The Danish/Kurdish father said that neither his daughter nor the family in general had ever been particularly religious. She became more radicalised after marrying a Kurdish man who joined IS shortly after the wedding.

“I was shocked,” he said. “The whole family was shocked. She was a normal, happy open girl.”



Iran: Female Parliamentary Group Elects Presiding Board Members

July 4, 2016

TEHRAN – The female MPs, forming a faction for defending family and women’s affairs, elected their presiding board members on Sunday.

Parvaneh Salahshoori was elected as the head of the faction with the majority of the votes, ISNA reported.

Tayebeh Siyavashi and Nahid Tajedin were respectively elected as the first and second deputy chiefs of the parliamentary group, ISNA quoted Salahshoori as saying.

Ma’soumeh Aghapour and Fatemeh Zolghadr were elected as the first and second secretaries of the faction and Zahra Saeedi was named as the spokeswoman of the faction, she added.

The 290-seat parliament has more women than the last parliaments, with 17 women, setting a new record for the Islamic Republic, with the previous highest number of female MPs being 14.

The parliamentary elections were held on February 26, when more than 60 percent of some 55 million eligible voters cast their ballots at around 53,000 polling stations across the country.

The run-off votes were also held in late April to fill the remaining seats.



Hijabs and Swim-skirts: Modest-fashion Sites Unite Jews, Muslims and Mormons

4 July 2016

One day last year so many people from Utah tried to shop on the Jerusalem-based modest-clothing website that the site crashed. When ModLi – then just a few weeks old and featuring 30 Israeli designers – was up and running again, it had hundreds of orders for items ranging from swim-skirts to high-neck T-shirts to ship to addresses in the western United States.

American-born ModLi founder and CEO Nava Brief-Fried attributed the sudden interest that overwhelmed the site to an article about it that appeared that February day in the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City-based publication owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as Mormons. According to church tradition, women are supposed to wear skirts and dresses, rather than pants, and avoid showing too much skin.

The article, under the headline “Jewish woman launches modest online marketplace for women around the world,” was shared more than 17,000 times on social media by Deseret News readers.

A few weeks later ModLi also got its first order from a Muslim woman in Dubai. Staff worked with her to find a way to ship the package out via an address in Europe, since the United Arab Emirates holds to a 1972 law prohibiting business dealings with Israel, including direct import of products manufactured there.

“When these things first happened, I was shocked. I guess I assumed we would mostly get orders from Jews, because I am Jewish,” said Brief-Fried, 25, who immigrated to Israel from Boston with her family at age 4. “But now we get orders all the time from Mormons, from Muslims, from people in Europe, Dubai, Saudi Arabia.”

ModLi, an Etsy-like enterprise that has created a marketplace for individual designers, boutiques and other retail businesses seeking to reach a global audience, has expanded in less than two years to include fashions by more than 100 designers from around the world – many of them Jewish, but many others with Christian, Mormon, Muslim or other backgrounds – with a total of about 5,000 items for sale. The site now records more than 100,000 unique visitors a month, employs eight people in Jerusalem, and is in the midst of raising capital for further expansion. About 85 percent of its sales are to the United States, with the rest going to European and Middle Eastern countries.

The fast-growing ModLi, where shoppers can use filters to sort products by skirt and sleeve lengths, reflects the increasing global demand for modest clothing and how the internet has connected different, often insular religious communities.

“The modest fashion market is still divided by religious affiliation,” said Kulsoom Gul, founder of New Jersey-based online boutique B. Zarina, which features hijabs, maxi skirts and blouses. Gul said one of her goals was not to be labelled a Muslim designer per se, but to be thought of generally as a creator of modest clothing – and ModLi is helping with that.

“It brings together designers and customers of all backgrounds into one place,” Gul said. “Now you are starting to see trend in modest fashion across the board.”

Brief-Fried said the diversity of designers evolved naturally, with many boutique-owners seeing the site and requesting to join as retailers.

When Brief-Fried launched ModLi early last year her goal was simply to bring together local purveyors of modest clothing, and offer a one-stop-shop for women seeking fashionable, fuller-coverage clothing. This was something that she, as an Orthodox Jew, had long struggled to find in mainstream stores; even in Jerusalem, finding proper attire often demanded trips to multiple boutiques rather than a quick stop at the mall. She was tired of having tailors lengthen her skirts and dresses so they reached her knees, and of having to wear undershirts under low-cut tops.

“I was just trying to solve my problem, my friends’ problem, but there are millions of women who deal with this issue,” said Brief-Fried, wearing a knee-length black cotton dress and gauzy floral shawl, and sitting in ModLi’s office in central Jerusalem. The city has become a burgeoning startup scene in the last few years, but has yet to catch up with Tel Aviv.

Ramadan collections

In general, attention among designers and fashion chains to the modest-clothing market is growing. Outlets like Mango and DKNY have been launching Ramadan collections for the last couple of years. In May, Istanbul held the world’s first International Modest Fashion Week. The value of the Islamic fashion market alone is estimated at around $230 billion and projected to reach $327 billion by 2020, according to a report from Thomson Reuters.

“One of the things that has facilitated the development of the modest-fashion market has been the internet,” said Reina Lewis, author of "Muslim Fashion: Contemporary Style Cultures," and a professor of cultural studies at University of the Arts London.

“If it’s a bricks-and-mortar store, it’s less likely to get an overlap of people from different backgrounds, particularly in an area of ethnic or cultural clustering,” explained Lewis, who has studied the development of the market for modest clothing and its crossover between religions.

Within walking distance of ModLi’s office are ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods with signs instructing women to dress modestly. This is exactly the oppressive and isolated image of modest fashion that Brief-Fried's company seeks to change. ModLi recently started a fund to help young designers create collections or single items that will interest customers; the company also maintains a blog called Cover Gal, posting stories about everything from what Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wore on her official visit to India, to Dolce & Gabbana’s new line of hijabs.

“We want to make it a movement, not just a place to shop,” Brief-Fried said. “We are trying to show how women want these styles, how they are [both] classy and decent. It is not something imposed on them, it is from the ground up.”

ModLi also seeks to help modest fashion make its way into the mainstream.

“This isn’t a shop hidden in someone’s basement – we’re out in the open,” Brief-Fried added. "It is something the designers selling on the platform appreciate.

For her part, Gul said, “We initially sold our clothes to Muslims,” but ModLi has helped her reach more diverse customers.

This initiative has also apparently created a sense of community among a diverse group of designers, who often feel they are on the fringes of the mainstream retail and fashion industries.

“When you start a modest clothing company, you feel like a lone wolf, like an outsider,” said Camille McConnell, a Mormon from Temecula, California, who founded in 2012 to sell fuller-coverage clothing but recently began to sell through ModLi as well. “It’s really nice to see that you are not alone.




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