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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 26 Feb 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Placards identify burqa-clad woman for govt scheme

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 Feb 2017 

Photo: Placards identify burqa-clad woman for govt scheme


 US: Hijab-wearing White House staffer quits Trump administration in 8 days

 Female Iraqi reporter killed in Mosul offensive

 Lindsay Lohan's sultry 'Inshallah' Instagram photo confuses her Muslim fans

 Muslim Outfit Asks CBFC To Ban Lipstick Under My Burkha For Going Against 'Tenets Of Islam'

 Sisterhood of the hijab: Fort McMurray women show solidarity with local Muslim community

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Placards identify burqa-clad woman for govt scheme

Shivani Azad | TNN | Updated: Feb 26, 2017

DEHRADUN: Officials involved in the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY) are facing a unique problem as many Muslim women beneficiaries of the scheme are insisting on having their pictures clicked only in a burqa.

Beneficiaries, all of whom are women, are allotted an amount of Rs 1.60 lakh to construct a pucca house under the scheme. However, before releasing the payment, the beneficiary's picture has to be taken and uploaded on the PMAY portal along with land details. But in doing so, officials are facing resistance, especially in Muslim-dominated areas.

In Dehradun, Roorkee and Haridwar, for instance, many women have objected to lifting their burqa to have their pictures clicked. After failing to convince the women, officials have now hit upon a novel idea and agreed to have their pictures clicked in a burqa as they stand in front of their respective plots and hold a placard with their name on it.

"We have tried our utmost to convince the women, telling them that having a picture clicked is for their own benefit. But they have resisted, citing cultural compulsions. We faced a similar problem in the hills also as village women, too, are shy but many of them after some persuasion, became ready to have their pictures taken," said Bansidhar Tiwari, chief development officer (CDO), Dehradun.

The PMAY scheme was started last year for people in rural areas who did not have access to pucca houses. The scheme came with a rider that the owner of the house should be a woman family member. This was done to ensure women in poor households got a sense of financial security.

A total of 8,120 beneficiaries were chosen under the scheme in Uttarakhand, a majority of them in the three districts of Haridwar (2,649), Udham Singh Nagar (2,411) and Dehradun(1,535). "All the districts have a large population of Muslim households. Many women in these areas are illiterate and are extremely shy to get a picture clicked. Very reluctantly, they agreed to hold a placard with their name but insisted on retaining their burqa," said Tiwari.

Asked if taking such a picture was permissible since it did not reveal the true identity of the woman beneficiary and could lead to fraudulent submissions, an official said, "We take steps to check the identity of the woman before taking the picture. Also, one of our officials stands by the woman in the frame to corroborate that the identity has been cross-checked."

Meanwhile, Haji Suleman, the pradhan of Siwana village in Mehuwala near Dehradun, said the scheme was "a good initiative" but it would have been better had the government been sensitive about issues like 'purdah'. "When they craft schemes which are especially meant for women, these aspects need to be taken into consideration," he added.



US: Hijab-wearing White House staffer quits Trump administration in 8 days

"When Trump issued a ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees, I knew I could no longer stay and work for that administration."

By: PTI | Washington | Published:February 26, 2017

A bold Hijab-wearing Muslim ex-White House staffer of Bangladeshi-origin has said she quit her job after US President Donald Trump announced his controversial travel ban, lasting just eight days in the new administration. Rumana Ahmed was hired in 2011 to work at the White House and eventually the National Security Council (NSC). “My job there was to promote and protect the best of what my country stands for. I am a hijab-wearing Muslim woman –– I was the only hijabi in the West Wing –– and the Obama administration always made me feel welcome and included,” she wrote in an article published in The Atlantic. Ahmed said that like most of her fellow American-Muslims, she spent much of 2016 watching with “consternation” as Trump “vilified our community”.

“Despite this –– or because of it –– I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens.

“I lasted eight days. When Trump issued a ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees, I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat,” she said.

Ahmed said the evening before she left her job at the White House, she notified Trump’s senior National Security Council (NSC) communications adviser, Michael Anton, of her decision.

“His initial surprise, asking whether I was leaving government entirely, was followed by silence — almost in caution, not asking why. I told him anyway,” she wrote.

“I told him I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim,” Ahmed said.

She told Anton that the administration was attacking the basic tenets of democracy. She said Anton just looked at her and said nothing.

Ahmed, whose parents immigrated to the US from Bangladesh in 1978, said inspired by then president Barack Obama, she joined the White House in 2011, after graduating from the George Washington University. “The days I spent in the Trump White House were strange, appalling and disturbing,” she wrote.

Ahmed’s personal account comes amid a spike in incidents of intimidation and assault targeting hijab-wearing women across the US following Trump’s electoral triumph.



Female Iraqi reporter killed in Mosul offensive

February 26, 2017

A female reporter working for Iraqi Kurdish channel Rudaw was killed by the explosion of a roadside bomb Saturday during fighting between government forces and militants in Mosul, her channel said.

“Prominent Rudaw war reporter and journalist Shifa Gardi has been killed in Mosul as she covered clashes,” Rudaw said on social media.

“Journalism remains male-dominated — Shifa Gardi broke those perceptions and stereotypes — we pay tribute to her courageous journalism,” the channel said.

Rudaw editors told AFP that the 30-year-old reporter, who was born a refugee in Iran, was killed by an explosive device on a road in west Mosul and said that the cameraman working with her was wounded.

He was transferred to Arbil, the nearby capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region where the channel is headquartered.

Iraqi forces entered neighbourhoods of the west bank of Mosul on Friday for the first since the start on October 17 of a huge offensive to retake the city from the Islamic State group.

Gardi was the second journalist to die covering the Mosul offensive, in the first days of which a young Iraqi reporter for Al Sumaria TV, Ali Raysan, was also killed.

Ranked 158th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' 2016 World Press Freedom Index, Iraq is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists.

“Shifa Gardi was one of Rudaw's most daring journalist,” the channel said in a statement.

She had recently started presenting a daily show on the Mosul offensive, the early stages of which Kurdish peshmerga forces took part in.

Rudaw posted a picture on their website of Gardi holding a rabbit she found wounded while on assignment south of Mosul earlier this week.

“I brought it back with me. We will be treating the rabbit and then give it to an animal protection agency which is willing to look after it,” she was quoted as saying.


Lindsay Lohan's sultry 'Inshallah' Instagram photo confuses her Muslim fans

Published February 26th, 2017

Lindsay revealed in an interview with Kuwaiti TV host Swar Shuaib that she has found Lindsay revealed in an interview with Kuwaiti TV host Swar Shuaib that she has found "solace" in the Quran.(Instagram)

Follow > IDC, Instagram, Lindsay Lohan, Piers Morgan

She recently told British TV host Piers Morgan that she hasn't converted to Islam, but some of American actress Lindsay Lohan's fans think otherwise.

Over the weekend, LiLo posted a sultry Instagram photo which received mixed reviews from her Muslim followers.

The black and white snapshot was of a sexy Lohan showing off her smokey eye makeup, long polished fingernails and what appears to be lingerie.

She captioned the photo with the Arabic, Muslim expression "Inshallah" (if God wills it), without clarifying what exactly she is "praying for."

Inshallah she will be the new face of some makeup brand? Inshallah she will soon cover up and start dressing modestly according to Islamic law? Or did she mean Inshallah... just Inshallah?!

One fan questioned the caption's relation to Lindsay's conversion, asking: “Inshallah? Are you Muslim? I’m proud if you have become a Muslim.”

Another exclaimed: "Your moslem? Alhamdulillah. (sic)"

Meanwhile, some weren't impressed with the fact that Lohan was attaching God's name to a provocative photo.

"Idc you're moeslims or not. Just careful with every caption on your pic. "Inshaallah" with a pics like that!? You hurting my hearts. Please change your caption. (sic)," one follower wrote.

Another wasn't happy with the way she's dressed in the snap: "Omg insane. You're not a Muslim cuz if you were you wouldn't be allowed to model or show like this except to your Muslim family. (sic)"

Earlier this month, Lindsay revealed in an interview with Kuwaiti TV host Swar Shuaib that she has found "solace" in the Quran.

More recently, she told Piers Morgan that she was "racially profiled" at Heathrow Airport after being asked to remove her headscarf.

LiLo, care to explain what your "Inshallah" is all about?



Muslim Outfit Asks CBFC To Ban Lipstick Under My Burkha For Going Against 'Tenets Of Islam'


A Muslim organisation here has asked the censor board not to clear the Prakash Jha-produced film "Lipstick Under My Burkha".

The film, directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, has already run into trouble as the Central Board of Film Certification has denied it clearance for being "lady-oriented" and containing "abusive words".

"Advisory panel of Madhya Pradesh unit of All India Muslim Tehwar Committee at its meeting here yesterday condemned the movie," the organisation's state unit chairman Ausaf Shahmeeri Khurram said.

He alleged that the film was "against the dignity of our women and tenets of Islam" and said the AIMTC had requested the CBFC not to clear it.

The film was shot in Bhopal.

"Lipstick Under My Burkha" has won the Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival. It featues Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak, Aahana Kumra and Plabita Borthaku.



Sisterhood of the hijab: Fort McMurray women show solidarity with local Muslim community

Feb 22, 2017

Seven Fort McMurray women are halfway through their month-long commitment to show solidarity with their new Muslim friends by wearing hijabs.

When they asked the city's Muslim community for permission to wear the religious head scarves, a local Islamic organization that hosts World Hijab Day YMM welcomed the gesture.

Kiran Malik-Khan, whose group holds an annual public event that invites women to try on hijabs, sees the gesture as a sign of solidarity.

"To us, these are women choosing to walk in our shoes, or in this case our hijab," Malik-Khan said. "It is so appreciated. It is sisterhood at its best."

Vanessa McMahon said she was motivated to put on a hijab after the Quebec mosque shootings in January.

"[Six] Muslim men were killed praying in a mosque," McMahon said. "That is not OK in our country. That is not OK in any country. Everybody has the right to peacefully practice their religion. Period."

'These are women choosing to walk in our shoes, or in this case our hijab. It is so appreciated. It is sisterhood at its best.'

- Kiran Malik-Khan

At the beginning of February, about 100 women, many from Fort McMurray's Islamic community, gathered for a ceremony to kick off the 30-day campaign.

The participants promised to cover their heads and other parts of their bodies whenever they left the house, or were in the presence of men who were not blood relatives. They also promised not to smoke or drink, as some branches of Islam prescribe.

Malik-Khan said the participants are learning more about the religion and are showing support for women who wear hijabs every day.

Tarra Melanson (left) and Vanessa McMahon are two Fort McMurray women who committed to wear hijabs for 30 days. (David Thurton/ CBC)

While the Quebec mosque shootings have been at the forefront of many minds, the act of solidarity also comes in the midst of a United States ban that restricts travel by citizens from several Muslim-majority countries.

Tarra Melanson lived in New York City during the attacks there on Sept. 11, 2001, and had several friends who died.

She said she's disgusted that 15 years later, events like the attack on the World Trade Center towers are being used to justify discrimination against Muslims.

"The people that I lost were good people, and some of them were Muslim," Melanson said. "They would not want this to be their legacy — this hatred."

Wearing hijabs has allowed participants to build relationships and friendships with the Fort McMurray Muslim community in their homes and over dinners.

Members World Hijab Day YMM hold up signs and pose for a photo at an event at a Fort McMurray mall. (World Hijab Day YMM/ Submitted)

'Not a chore'

Out in public, the women say they've experienced a few awkward stares from people, but for the most part they say they haven't been treated differently because they're wearing Islamic head scarves.

McMahon and Melanson both say they felt wearing the hijab empowered them as women, because covering their bodies made them feel less like objects.

"I am more representative of feminism wearing this than I was when I wasn't wearing it," Melanson said.

"Because now when someone talks to me, they look at my face. They talk to me. What they get to know is the person that I am. My intelligence."

Malik-Khan said she wanted the women who participated to know that wearing the hijab is not a burden but a blessing Islamic women chose to wear.

"This is not a chore," Malik-Khan said. "Modesty doesn't mean I am oppressed. This is our life and it is a beautiful life."



Women in niqab unveil reasons for wearing it

Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar | February 26, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Associated with everything from female oppression to religious piety to extremism, the niqab, a face veil that leaves only the eyes uncovered, is perhaps one of the most controversial dress pieces in these days.

In interviews with FMT, several women gave their reasons for wearing it. Not all these reasons have to do with religion.

Mazratul Abdul Wahab, who owns a niqab boutique, said most of her customers chose it because it made them feel more comfortable.

“I’m sure it must be difficult for a man to understand, but most of my customers say they like wearing the niqab because it gives them a sense of privacy,” she said.

“Some people enjoy more private lives and like the fact that they will not be disturbed wherever they go.”

She said celebrities were among her customers who would use the full face veil for the privacy it afforded. “They enjoy wearing the niqab because people don’t bother them when they go out.”

Nurul Shahirah, a student at International Islamic University Malaysia, said she used the niqab because she was shy. “Since I was little, I’ve been a very shy girl. So the main reason I wear the niqab is that I feel more comfortable in it.”

Nurul is 19 years old and has worn the niqab for two years now.

“I started wearing the niqab when I was 17 after a conversation I had with some of my friends who were guys. They told me what they thought of women who didn’t cover up and that made me feel ashamed. I’ve been wearing the niqab ever since.”

Blogger Aishah Nur Hakim’s reasons for wearing the niqab are more spiritually grounded.

“I started wearing the niqab back in 2009,” she said. “This was during a time when it was quite difficult to find one, unlike today.

“Before I wore the niqab I was very naughty and would travel alone at night and was always commuting from Seremban to Kuala Lumpur. I decided to wear it because I wanted to change and become a better person. I knew it had to be a drastic change or else I’d just revert to my old ways. The niqab was the answer to that and it’s also a strong deterrent against doing naughty things.”

She does not agree that the niqab gives her more privacy because people have looked at her more since she started wearing it, though that bothers her less now.

“I thought if I wore the niqab people would stop bothering me and would look at me less. They have stopped bothering me, but the truth is they do stare more often. Most of the time it’s because they want to see how I do stuff with it on, like eating.”

She said her decision to wear the niqab had nothing to do with attachment to any particular Islamic school of thought.

“I enjoy getting involved in discussions regarding many different schools of thought when it comes to Islam, but I don’t subscribe to any particular one. I just don’t like being labelled a salafi, or a sufi, or a liberal or conservative Muslim. I’m just a Muslim.”

Islamic Renaissance Front director Ahmad Farouk Musa has insisted that Islam does not obligate women to cover their faces.


“Nowhere in the Quran or in any hadith are women instructed to cover their faces with a niqab,” he declared.

He told FMT that his position was the same as that of Nasiruddin al-Albani, a renowned hadith specialist who died in 1999.

Al-Albani was of the opinion that it’s not compulsory for women to cover their hands and faces.

Farouk quoted a hadith in which the Prophet is reported to have said that women were allowed to expose their hands and faces. Al-Albani, in his study of the hadith collection of the classical scholar Abu Dawud, categorised this hadith as sahih (authentic) because one of the chains of transmission goes back to Ummu Salamah, a wife of the Prophet, and this chain does not have dubious personalities in it.

“There’s another transmission of this hadith compiled by al-Tabarani and al-Bayhaqi where the sanad (chain of narrators) is nowhere below the hasan (acceptable) status,” Farouk said.

“With these two supporting evidences, Al-Albani graded the hadith as authentic.”

Farouk also quoted UCLA School of Law professor Khaled Abou al-Fadl on the question of aurat (those parts of the body that must be clothed).

“Prof al-Fadl says texts on ethical conduct often report opinions of the Prophet’s companions and their successors that the covering of the aurat is more of a moral value than a physical measure. For instance, it is reported that safeguarding the aurat entails respecting the privacy and dignity of others and not simply respecting their physical integrity.”

Farouk said speaking ill of people would be a violation of their aurat and “far more serious” than seeing parts of their bodies.

“This again points to the fact that the issues of aurat should not be approached in the formal and mechanical fashion employed by contemporary Muslims,” he said.

“According to Prof al-Fadl, Muslims should be far more focused on comprehending and pursuing the ethical qualities invoked by the aspiration towards modesty, humility and dignity than on the regiment of a dress code.”




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