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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 11 Jul 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Karima Baloch Leads Baloch Students in Struggle for Independence from Pakistan

New Age Islam News Bureau

11 Jul 2014

Two of the women participating in the exhibition here showcasing their products (AN photo by Irfan Mohammed)


 Women’s Rights Activists Occupy Family Ministry Building in Istanbul

 UK invites Hasina to Girl Summit

 The Egyptian Female Revolution Will Not Be Televised but Streamed via Radio

 Taliban and Terror Fail To Chain These Pakistani Women

 Pakistan works to stop Hindu girls' forced marriages

 Saudi Woman Gets Tour Operator License

 600 Saudi Women Showcase Their Products

 Gambia: Women in Holy Month of Ramadan

 Pakistan: ‘Govt Making Efforts for Aafia's Repatriation’

 Converts Marry In Beersheba under Rocket Fire from Gaza

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Karima Baloch Leads Baloch Students in Struggle for Independence from Pakistan

11 July, 2014

This might come as a surprise to people who follow mainstream media’s coverage of Pakistan: one of the most controversial student organizations in the country is led by a woman.

Banuk Karima Baloch is the chairperson of the Baloch Student Organization (BSO-Azad), the largest ethnic Baloch student body in the country, which was banned by Pakistan in 2013 for being involved in “terrorism.”

Karima's organization plays a major role in mobilizing young dissidents and separatists in Balochistan, the country's south-western province, which is plagued by poverty, sectarian violence and an insurgency against the Pakistani state.

BSO-Azad was established in 2002 by Allah Nazar Baloch, a well-known separatist fighter. He is currently the commander of the banned Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), the most active militant group in the Baloch armed resistance against the Pakistani state.

Besides these very pertinent ground realities, women in Balochistan face additional challenges: they live in Pakistan's least developed province, where men dominate public life; maternity mortality rates here are among the highest in Asia and female literacy rates in the province are the lowest in the country.

Yet in recent years, Baloch women have been at the forefront of trying to call attention to Balochistan's “missing people“, one of the ugly and underreported aspects of the insurgency in Balochistan. In 2013 alone, 116 bodies were found across the province, 87 of which were identified by families who accused Pakistan’s security agencies of abducting their loved ones. According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, since 2010, the bodies of hundreds of Balochistan’s missing men have turned up bearing torture marks.

In May, Karima spoke about Baloch women, their role in the current freedom struggle and her aspirations for Balochistan in an interview conducted in Urdu. I translated the original interview into English for my blog Collateral Damage. Below is an excerpt of the translated interview.

This is the first time a woman is the head of a student organization in Balochistan. What are your feelings on being called to lead BSO-Azad?

Banuk Karima Baloch (BKB): Since in our organization there is no gender discrimination, men and women are participating in the national struggle side by side. During my time as the leader of the organization, I have never felt that I am different or inferior based on the fact that I am a woman. However, I am happy that the participation of my Baloch sisters in the freedom struggle has changed the thinking of the Baloch society toward women. With the resurrection of the national movement, many conservative traditions have now disappeared. Baloch women are, compared to the past, a lot more free and active.

In the present situation where the margin for legal political activities in Balochistan is becoming thinner and thinner, what strategy do you plan to adopt?

BKB: For us, peaceful struggle has been turned into a lethal poison. During the previous three years, many of our members have been brutally killed and thousands have been abducted. Two months back, the chairman of my organization was kidnapped right in front of my eyes. Before that, in 2009, the vice-chairman of our organization Zakir Majeed was kidnapped by the secret services while he was attending a crowded procession. He is still missing. Alongside the BSO-Azad, Majeed’s family struggled tirelessly for his released but in vain.

What I want to say is that the noose has been tightened around our necks. But regardless of that, we continue to persist. Even if the state continues to behave toward us as if it has no conscience, we will not relent from our peaceful and just struggle. Peaceful struggle is our right under international law. The more the savagery of the state, the more we will continue to resist, persevere and rise.

Women of Balochistan are playing an important role in the campaign for missing people. What impact will this phenomenon have on the Baloch nationalist movement? How does the Baloch society react to the participation of women in political activities?

BKB: As I stated, attitudes toward women in the Baloch society have evidently changed. Today, people feel proud at the participation of women in the national movement. Banuk Farzana, Banuk Sami Baloch and the rest of the sisters, due to their brave efforts, are looked upon as the symbols of the national movement. If you look at it, our population is small and is geographically dispersed; and so the women, who are half of our population, have played an instrumental role in solidifying our movement.

I also want to point out that the state and its agencies are left scratching their heads thanks to this trend. They are trying to come up with new ways to harass and threaten Baloch women so that their progress could be curtailed, so that they are unable to participate in the national movement. Last year, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, in the Baloch area of Quetta, carried out a bomb attack inside a girls’ college. The creation of a new Islamic group in Panjgur recently and the threats to shut down women’s education are other examples of the state policy. Last year in Turbat, Pakistani secret and security services raided a couple of education institutes, destroyed all the education materials, and later sold those institutes. These were those institutions where education and progress of women was encouraged and preferred.

What is your view on the present social and economic condition of women in Balochistan? What are the main challenges and how can they be overcome?

BKB: Despite being laden with natural resources, Balochistan is one of the least developed areas in the world. It is not just the women who are affected by the colonial rule Pakistan has imposed on us; every single Baloch person is forced to live a life of a second-class citizen. According the government’s own statistics, 52.2 percent of of the population of Balochistan is suffering from malnutrition. But in reality, a far higher number is malnourished. Apart from that, the UN Population Fund has noted that the infant mortality rate is at extremely dangerous levels. Every 20 minutes, a woman dies during childbirth.

The point that I am trying to make is that it is due to the oppressive system Pakistan has imposed on us and the public’s ignorance about it that people are under so much suffering. If Balochistan does not free itself from Pakistani rule, it will continue to suffer from poverty, destitution, and social and cultural decay.

Is there any particular female figure in the history of Balochistan who inspires you?

BKB: In Baloch history, I pay tribute to Hatun Bibi and the sacrifices she made in the struggle against the occupiers of Balochistan in Iran. She bravely fought alongside her family, especially Dad Shah, against the enemies.

Are there any efforts in hand on your part to contact the student organizations of other provinces, particularly Sindh, in order to enlarge your solidarity base?

BKB: Various student organizations have helped us in our campaign to demand the release of BSO-Azad’s chairman Zahid Baloch. In Karachi and elsewhere, they held protests and rallies in our support. In many areas, human rights groups have shown deep solidarity with us and with Lateef Johar, who is on a hunger strike unto death. We are trying to increase our collaboration with these groups; at least on the grounds of solidarity, we should remain associated and keep our relations going.

What message would you like to convey to the people, especially to the women of Pakistan?

BKB: I would like the Baloch people, especially women, to focus on education and become part of the fight against tyranny and slavery, so that Balochistan can be freed and made into an exemplary nation where there is no discrimination based on ethnicity, caste, gender, class, etc.



Women’s Rights Activists Occupy Family Ministry Building In Istanbul


Women’s rights activists have occupied the Family Ministry’s provincial directorate in Istanbul to protest the recent murders against women, calling on Parliament to hold an extraordinary session on the issue.

Around 50 activists representing a wide range of groups, from LGBT associations to trade unions, gathered in front of the Family Ministry building in Istanbul’s central Cağaloğlu district in the early hours of July 10.

The activists then entered the building and unfurled a banner from the second floor window that read: “Everywhere women are being murdered; Parliament, hold an extraordinary meeting.”

They also shouted slogans such as, “Prevent murders, not divorce,” “We are not [just] a family, but women” and “Jin, jiyan, azadî,” meaning “Women, life, freedom” in Kurdish

“If it were six men who were killed by women in the last two days, the state would have mobilized and the government would have taken extraordinary measures,” a public statement by the activists said, highlighting how four women have been killed in the last two days.

Stressing that the murder of women and transgender people should be treated as a political question, the activists called on Family Minister Ayşenur İslam to take concrete steps on the issue, including the preparation of an urgent action plan.

“While you keep talking about family, women are being murdered [in Turkey]. The murders are being legitimized while you keep silent,” the activists said, accusing the government of accepting violence by men toward women.

“We call on the government … to do their duty. We ask for Parliament to hold an extraordinary session regarding the murders of women and transgender people and prepare an urgent action plan in line with the conditions put forward by the Women’s Association for the Prevention of Murders,” the statement said.

The group dispersed peacefully following the public statement.



UK invites Hasina to Girl Summit

Jul 11, 2014

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been invited by her British counterpart David Cameron to attend the Girls Summit in London this month.

“The British prime minister invited our prime minister to attend the Girls Summit to be held in London on July 22,” a foreign ministry official said.

Although it had not been decided whether the prime minister would be attending the summit, the ministry was preparing for the possibility of the prime minister traveling to Britain, he said.

The invitation is considered significant because the United Kingdom and other Western countries criticized the government for its uncontested election on January 5.

Hasina has already made visits to Japan and China and attended the BIMSTEC summit meeting in Myanmar. She has been invited by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit New Delhi.

The UK will host the first Girl Summit in July, aimed at mobilising domestic and international effort to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. UNICEF will co-host the event.

Girls and women have the right to live free from violence and discrimination and to live fulfilling lives, but millions are prevented from doing so by harmful practices such as FGM and CEFM, which are illegal in the UK.

In the heart of communities and families in the UK and across Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, more and more people are saying no to these practices.



The Egyptian Female Revolution Will Not Be Televised but Streamed via Radio

11 July, 2014

In 2008, a young Egyptian woman, Amani Eltunsi, started the first radio station in the Arab world dedicated to women only. Despite being imprisoned and attacked under both Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi, she is, unlike them, still standing.

Advertisements for cosmetics, a picture of a chicken dish, a pink background. The homepage of Banat We Bas, the first online radio station in the Arab world only for women, does not look like a feminist haven. But the first impression is misleading. Banat We Bas is the place to turn to when you want to learn about women’s rights, sexuality and empowerment as a young Egyptian woman. The boss here is Amani Eltunsi, 29, who in 2012 received the BMW Foundation Young Leaders Award, the World Summit Youth Award and the Austrian League for Human Rights’ Award. She was recognized for being “one of Egypt’s leading feminists,” as well as a radio programmingmaker, activist, publisher, author and businesswoman.

This is the Amani Eltunsi of 2014. But the story of her success started in 2008, when Egypt looked very different.

At the time, Hosni Mubarak was still in power. A general strike that April forecast the coming revolution. The same month, Eltunsi, a computer science student, was driving through the streets of Cairo and saw a man beating up a woman in the street. After the woman eventually ran away, Eltunsi took her into the car. “You should not accept this. You need to report him,” she told her. “But he is my husband,” replied the woman.

Her answer made Eltunsi realize the urgent need for change. “I knew that I needed to reach these women. And not only one woman but as many as possible,”she recalled in an interview with an Austrian daily. The idea for Banat We Bas was born.

Setting up a regular radio station was not possible due to the legalized monopoly that Mubarak’s regime held forall terrestrial broadcasting. Eltunsi then got a private loan to set up an online radio station that would not be affected by the restrictions. For three years this loan was her business’s only financial backing. Thanks to her background in computer science, she could create the website herself. To earn money, she worked as an artdirector for a magazine, but in her freetime she was on the air talking about everything that touched Egyptian women.

“If we had delicate topics, we disguised it as a book review,” she said. “We advised women to keep on reading in the book where we had to stop on the radio. We told them: Go buy this book and you will learn a lot. And give it to your daughters.” For Eltunsi, journalism and activism go closely together. “I want girls and women to be protected and their rights to be heard in politics.”

Because of her ideas, Eltunsi has come under attack, as both a journalist and an activist. Under Mubarak, the National Security Council forbade her to talk about religion, politics or sexuality. Then came the revolution. Tahrir Square became the celebrated symbol of democratic hopes, but behind the waving flags, hundreds of women were assaulted during the protests.

Violence against women had been a social problem and a political tool in the Mubarak era, but since the 2011 uprising, gang rapes have become epidemic in public places, making women keep away from the streets. According to a study released last April by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. The Cairo-based institute Nazra for Feminist Studies documented 250 cases of rape between November 2012 and January 2014 in central Cairo.

This was the situation Eltunsi felt obliged to report about, but during the revolution her license was suddenly terminated. She was arrested for her activism and was forced to stand in a room without windows for six hours. All her radio recording equipment and all of her assets was seized. In prison she reached a deal with a security guard, and she gave him her Facebook password. “He changed my profile picture to a Hosni Mubarak picture and my status to ‘I’m so sorry, I love you my president,’” she recalled in an interview with Deutsche Welle. This led to her immediate release.

With the money she earned from her job as a network designer, she repurchased all the necessary recording equipment. When Mubarak was toppled in February 2011, Eltunsi was one of the few female reporters covering his trial. But even under the short regime of the Muslim Brotherhood, things did not get easier for Banat We Bas. “They tried to hack us, but we have the better hackers,” said Eltunsi about a hacking attack by ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis when I interviewed her in 2013. She laughed. The Salafis had not studied computer science, but she had.

By now the radio station has more than 20,000 listeners per program. About 5 million people worldwide have subscribed. “Our subscribers count on us to report,” Eltunsi said. “Our task is to give them the information that otherwise is detained. This is how we tell women that they have rights; we question the image of women in the media. We trust in these women to keep fighting for their rights until these are granted to them.”

To ensure that this happens, Eltunsi is not only active in radio. As a part of Banat We Bas, she has founded a publishing house, printing books by young authors who write about taboos. Since 2009 she has released more than 40 books, two of which she wrote herself. One of the most important things for her is contact with the people. In a scene from the Austrian documentary “Private Revolutions,” which features her story, she stands in the streets of Cairo and asks a woman, “Do you think the Muslim Brotherhood will bring democracy to the country?” A controversial discussion follows.

“We have to be in the streets to be in touch with people,”Eltunsi said. “The Internet is only for a few people. If you want to spread an idea, then you better go to the metro station and talk about it with a girl.” Her aim is equality for all Egyptian women. On her website you can find a lengthy strategy on how to achieve it. Beside it is a photo of Eltunsi wearing a blue shirt that says Little Miss Trouble.



Taliban and terror fail to chain these Pakistani women

11 July, 2014

Dubai: One recently became the country’s first female fighter jet pilot. The other is CEO of a group of schools. Yet another left an engineering degree to become captain of the national cricket team.

Though terrorism has plagued Pakistan, women are bravely making inroads in different fields, defying all odds to represent the modern face of their country.

News and images of honour killings and acid attacks on women in the country often make headlines around the world, but the progress made by Pakistan’s women is hardly shown.

Women in Pakistan are building impressive careers, launching successful, independent ventures of their own and training young girls to follow in their footsteps.

With impressive resumes and university pedigrees that rival most male executives, these women are making waves.

“Most women in Pakistan are extremely progressive in their presence in every field whether it is politics, sports, entertainment, fashion, performing arts or business but all we need is to portray them positively,” said Ambreen K, who is pioneer member of the Pakistan Change Initiative (PCI) — a Dubai-based group working to highlight positive image of Pakistan. Ambreen said the PCI strives to present the positive side of the country through various events.

“We recently held an event in Dubai to showcase modern face of Pakistani women and their contribution to the society and it was a big hit,” she said.

Though traditional gender roles still exist for many women in Pakistan, some are making impressive gains.

They are part of a growing cadre of women who are determined to move forward despite threats from hardliners.

Women make up slightly more than half of Pakistan’s population of 180 million. Though only 17 per cent of them are considered “economically active”, given the chance they have proved their mettle in every field.

The women in Pakistan have never been so proud as when First Lt Ayesha Farooq became the first female fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force in 2013.

She had joined the Air Force at the age of 17 after battling to convince her mother to let her realise her dreams.

Cultural practices used to prevent many women from working outside their homes in Pakistan. Today, that is changing. More women are now leading a number of successful businesses in various industries while creating previously unheard of opportunities for other women.

One such woman is Fatima, an educationist and model in Lahore.

Fatima is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Beaconhouse School System, a network of private schools founded by her mother-in-law. Another example is Sana Mir, captain of Pakistan’s women’s cricket team, who has become a great inspiration for girls to join sports. Mir was enrolled in an engineering degree at a national university, but left to pursue her passion for cricket.

Pilates instructor Zainab Abbas was determined to be different when she opened her fitness studio, Route2Pilates, in Lahore after receiving training in Bangkok, Thailand. She carries out rehabilitation workouts for people with joint problems as well as specialised workouts for pregnant women.

Zahra Afridi chose to be an interior designer and runs her own interior design company. Her most recent project was the Classic Rock Coffee café in Islamabad. She is also an avid kick-boxer and regularly trains to stay fit.



Pakistan works to stop Hindu girls' forced marriages

11 July, 2014

PESHAWAR – The prospect of forced marriages of kidnapped Hindu girls is on the radar of Pakistani lawmakers.

They're reacting to cases like one last December in Sindh Province, when unidentified kidnappers abducted 6-year-old Jumna and 10-year-old Pooja and forced the pair to "convert" to Islam and to "marry" a man named Rajab Pathan. The girls' parents learned about their fate through media reports and courts.

Now the government is taking measures to protect young Hindu girls against forced marriages.

The National Assembly (NA)'s Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights June 27 approved a draft law of the Hindu Marriage Bill 2014, which is meant to end the practice.

Ending forced 'conversions'

Forced marriages have been a problem, especially in Sindh, where 96% of the country's 7m Hindus reside, Rameesh Kumar, a lawmaker holding one of the parliamentary seats set aside for minorities, told Central Asia Online.

About 1,000 of the so-called conversions take place in Sindh every year, he said.

"Girls are abducted, and their parents receive a phone call after 15 to 30 days, telling them that their girls married Muslim men and converted to Islam," Kumar said.

"Hindus did nothing to prevent the forced conversions because they feared extremists would retaliate," Kumar said, adding that fanatics sometimes lurk outside courts and react violently when the courts rule against their wishes.

Hindu input on draft bill

Lawmakers consulted the Hindu community and the Council of Islamic Ideology while drafting the bill, National Assembly member and committee chairman Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk said.

The bill includes passages to bar Muslim men from "marrying" already-wed Hindu women, and sets the minimum age for Hindu girls to marry at 18, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Sardar Muhammad Yousaf said.

"It also recommends that the National Database and Registration Authority [NADRA] issue computerised marriage registration certificates to Hindu couples," Kumar said, noting that he expects the NA to pass the draft within a month.

Some quarters oppose the bill, saying the 18th constitutional amendment made marriage a provincial matter.

"However, we are committed to pass it through provincial assemblies," Yousaf said of the bill.

Protecting religious minorities

The bill is part of a broader effort to bring Hindus and other ethnic and religious minorities into the mainstream, the federal minister said.

The federal government has also said it would increase from 2% to 5% the number of jobs it sets aside for Hindu civil servants in an effort to provide them with better opportunities for development, he said.

Islamabad also has asked the provinces to allow Christians to operate their own schools and colleges, he added.

"We've appealed to the central government to let Hindus and Christians construct their own places of worship and to end its ban [since 1991] on building churches and temples," Khyber Pakhtunkhwa parliamentarian Fredrick Azeem said. "The population of minorities has increased, and they need more places of worship."



Saudi Woman gets tour operator license

11 July, 2014

Aziza Turkistani, a local resident, is the first Saudi woman to get a license to operate tours to Makkah and other cities.

Turkistani provides pilgrims with transport, accommodation, and other services during their stay in Makkah.

"I started my career in advertising, design, graphics and printing,” said Turkistani. She is also the first woman to obtain a license for her advertising and printing business.

Turkistani first applied to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities for a license to operate tours eight years ago, covering Makkah, Jeddah and Taif.

She targets Saudi and Gulf travelers, especially on weekends and vacations. Two years ago, she began organizing three tourism programs for visits to Okaz market, Taif heritage events, and other tourist destinations in Jeddah and Makkah.

She also decided to target Saudi and Gulf women coming to Makkah, who make up a significant portion of visitors to the Grand Mosque.

She urged Saudi women to work in this field because there are no religious or social problems with it.

“I've noticed that Saudis have started to recognize the benefits of having their trips handled for them by an organizer, who can save them time, provide a good schedule, distribute their budget appropriately and provide correct information about a region.”

There are no female tour guides so she accompanies all the trips organized by her company, she said.

The service includes booking hotels, airport reception, transport to Makkah and organizing group tours in Jeddah, Makkah and Taif to historical places and shopping malls.

Turkistani urged Saudi women to work as tour guides with female visitors. She said women could also work from the comfort of their homes, online and using the phone.



600 Saudi women showcase their products

11 July, 2014

Six hundred Saudi women are displaying their products and services here including Hijazi crafts, jewelry, paintings, dresses, perfumes, sweets, abayas and web design.

The three-day productive families' exhibition, being held for the second time in Ramadan, showcases the work of local women.

Princess Mashail bint Muqrin, who launched the event on Wednesday, said it would help women make a living from their own home-based businesses and contribute to the economy.

She said many Saudi women were expanding their businesses from traditional arts and crafts to a wider range of products, which could be sold in other markets.

The event is being held with the Makkah governorate and Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Eman Abdulshokor, coordinator of the event, said 600 Saudi families are exhibiting their products, and over 10,000 families are expected to attend. She said the aim of the event is to promote the products of citizens. It was an ideal time for families to visit and buy gifts for Ramadan and Eid, she said.

Abdulshokor said the participants are helping to create jobs in Saudi Arabia and contributing to economic growth. Supporting these businesses was an investment in the Saudi economy and should not be seen as a social responsibility project.

Abdulshokor said Princess Mashail wants to have similar events in other regions during Ramadan to promote enterprising Saudi women. Makkah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah supports the event, she said.



Gambia: Women in Holy Month of Ramadan

11 July, 2014

Ramadan is no doubt the holiest month in the Islamic Calendar.

Since Islam is a religion for both men and women, women also play very important role in this holy month of Ramadan.

Women hold the kitchen for men and their children in terms of preparing food for the breaking of the fast.

Is preparing food the only role they can play in this holy month? She-she-she had an interview with a prominent woman in Islam, Aja Maimuna Yadalieu Savage, and the following is her remark on Ramadan and women.

She-she-she: Could you please give us a brief background of Ramadan?

Aja Savage: Ramadan is the holiest of months in the Islamic calendar. This is a month in which the message which is communicated to Adam and Eve by Allah (SWT) when they made a mistake by eating the fruit of a certain tree they were asked not to eat. They were tempted by 'shaytan' and they ate up the fruit.

They were therefore demoted and sent down to live on earth but they were promised by Allah (SWT) that guidance will be sent for mankind and whosoever follows the guidance will be one of those who will go back to heaven.

The Quran itself tells us that during the month of Ramadan the Quran was revealed as guidance of mankind. The message was also sent down on the Night of Power which is in Ramadan. Ramadan is part of the five pillars of Islam. Every Muslim should bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammed (SAW) is a servant and messenger of Allah.

She-she-she: What is the role of women in Ramadan?

Aja Savage: Women are part of creation. When Allah created man, he created woman out of man meaning he created men and women and both of them were asked to serve Allah. The role of a woman during Ramadan is no difference from that of a man because the main purpose is for the woman to serve Allah.

During the month of Ramadan the role of a woman is to fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from water, other drinks and from having intercourse with a man. Every woman must fast but in case of menstruation or child birth, the woman should not fast even if she wants to fast.

The woman that is pregnant and is advised by the doctor not to fast, should not fast. A suckling mother and she needs enough milk for her child must not fast but she is not free from it; she will pay a day for a day in later days when she is able to do so.

The role of a woman in this month is to keep the month holy because it is the holiest of months; it is the month in which the holiest of books was sent to the holiest of messengers and the holiest of angels from Allah (SWT).

Women must make sure they make the intention of fasting either by doing the tarawi prayers or by declaring. Women must get up as early as 4:30 in the morning prepare some food, wake up the husband and children, and make them eat.

It is the women's role to make them pray and she must also pray because most women will fast without praying. The Prophet said if a woman prays five times daily and fasts during the month of Ramadan, guards her chastity, obeys her husband; when that woman dies all the doors of heaven shall be open for her to enter.

It is important for the woman at home to try to monitor the activities of the children: which films they are watching or the kind of music they are listening to and make sure they listen to Quranic messages and pray. Women should also cover their body during the Ramadan.

Women are most of the time engaged in vain conversations and during the Ramadan is not only the mouth that should fast; our eyes should be fasting, what we are looking at will be shown to us during resurrection; our ears should be fasting, and our legs should be fasting.

She-she-she: Should women cover their body only during the Ramadan?

Women should continue putting on the veil even after Ramadan. The command for the use of the veil is not only meant for the month of Ramadan.

Unfortunately most of us women cover our body when we are attending funerals or when our husbands died and we are in a state of mourning, when we are ill, during the cold season and when going to Islamic conferences.

Islam did not say that the veil must be used only in the month of Ramadan. The Prophet of Islam said that when a woman reaches the age of puberty, nothing should be seen of her except the face and the palm of the hands.

He says in the Quran too Allah proclaims all the prophets to tell their wives and daughters and all the believing women that they should go out of doors with their veils on.

She-she-she: Can women sit in the mosque or recite the Holy Quran during Ramadan?

Aja Savage: Women can sit in the mosque just like men; they can read the Quran because the Quran is for both men and women. The message in the Quran is for men and women.

Women must read the Quran, especially in this holy month of Ramadan. Women must read the Quran and we cannot leave it to men to read for us. They can sit in the mosque in a specific area dedicated for them with a condition that most be fulfilled like using the veil to cover her entire body and most desist from talking.

She-she-she: Can women wear perfume, makeup or lipsticks during the Ramadan?

Aja Savage: Ramadan is a holy month and we must keep it holy. Women should not apply all these things during Ramadan or even after Ramadan. They can only do it at home for their husbands.

Allah stated it clearly in the holy Quran that they should not display their beauty or their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, their sons or little children.

During the month of Ramadan no woman should expose her beauty to other men out there, especially while fasting.



Pakistan: ‘Govt making efforts for Aafia's repatriation’

11 July, 2014

ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Wednesday said that the government of Pakistan was carrying out sincere efforts for repatriation of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

He said this while talking to Dr Aafia's sister Dr Fouzia Siddiqui who called on him here on Wednesday afternoon.

The minister discussed with Dr Fauzia the possible measures that could be helpful in repatriation of Dr Aafia. Nisar said that he was well cognizant of the latest position of the case and ministry of interior was analysing all the pros and cons related to various legal options in this regard. Fauzia also proposed various options that can be helpful for Aafia's repatriation. She appreciated the efforts of the government and expressed the confidence that these sincere efforts would prove fruitful in paving the path for Aafia's repatriation.



Converts marry in Beersheba under rocket fire from Gaza


Two couples in Beersheba finished their conversion to Judaism and were married by Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan on Thursday, despite the city coming under rocket fire during the ceremony.

Balta Ingido, 32, and his bride, Zomnash Balsh, 29, immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in February 2013. Ethiopian immigrants recognized as eligible for aliya are granted citizenship under the Law of Return, but the Chief Rabbinate still requires most of them to formally convert to Judaism in an accelerated program.

Having completed their conversion course, Balta and Zomnash, along with their four children, immersed in a mikve, or ritual bath, on Thursday morning thereby finalizing their Jewish status.

Although the couple were already married, because they are only now considered Jewish by the State of Israel they were required to marry again in a traditional Jewish ceremony.

Alexander Haim, 38, and Ruth Barebo, 26, came to Israel from Chile and subsequently decided to convert. They recently completed their conversion process as well and immersed in the mikve along with their two on Thursday.

The couples asked that Ben-Dahan, who is a rabbi, marry them, so he traveled down to Beersheba on Thursday morning to officiate at their weddings, and to express solidarity with residents of southern cities under rocket fire.

During the wedding ceremonies Color Red warning sirens sounded to warn of another salvo of rockets fired from Gaza heading toward the city.

Despite the threat, as well as the fact that the sirens were not distinctly heard in the absorption center where the weddings were conducted, the ceremonies continued and the two couples were married “according to the law of Moses and Israel.”

Speaking after the wedding, Ben-Dahan said that the Jewish people would continue its traditions in the Land of Israel, despite the threats from its enemies, and congratulated the two couples on their marriages.

“In these days in which terrorists are trying to disrupt our lives, I came to Beersheba to marry two couples who have just converted in order to show to the entire world that the Jewish people lives,” he said.

“We are strong and will continue the Jewish heritage, we will marry couples and establish homes among the Jewish people, who will remain here forever while all our enemies will not endure,” he continued while promising to maintain the provision of religious services despite the hostilities.

“I came today to support the residents of Beersheba and the southern region for their courageous perseverance. God willing, we will strike heavy blows against Hamas,” Ben-Dahan said.