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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 9 Nov 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Self-Ruling Region in Syria Issues Women's Rights Decree

New Age Islam News Bureau

9 Nov 2014

The 'poppy hijab' is intended to raise awareness about Muslims who fought in World War I Rooful Ali/


 Split UK Opinion over 'Poppy Hijabs'

 Kashmiri Women Joining Saffron Movement in Jammu and Kashmir

 Delhi Riots: Police Were Violent With Muslim Women

 Michigan Company Will Fire Female Employees Unless They Wear Headscarves

 AP Story on Saudi Women Driving A Hoax?

 Iran: Free Woman in Sports Protest Case, Says HRW

 Islamic Women Challenge Malaysian Crackdown

 The World War One Women Who Went To the Front Line

 Wearing Hijab for Modesty in All Things

 Saudi Women Can Now Run Catering Business

 Beware of Beautiful Young Russian, Chinese Women, UK’s Mod Warns Senior Officials

 Obese Women Make Less Money, Work More Physically Demanding Jobs

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Self-Ruling Region in Syria Issues Women's Rights Decree

By REUTERS, NOV. 9, 2014

BEIRUT — Officials in a predominantly Kurdish province of north-eastern Syria have issued a women's rights decree, monitors said on Sunday, in an apparent rebuke to the hard-line views of Islamic State insurgents who have advanced in the region.

Islamic State, which has declared a "caliphate" across large areas of Syria and Iraq it has captured, has issued rules on how women should dress and has curb their movement outside the home, basing this on its radical interpretation of Sharia (Islamic law), according to residents living in territory it holds.

The 30-point decree issued by the joint leaders of the "self-ruling democracy of Jazira province" aims to safeguard and strengthen women's rights in semi-autonomous areas, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Jazira refers to an area in the northeast province of Hasaka that has gained self-rule during Syria's civil war. One of the leaders of the area is Kurdish and the other Arab, according to Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory.

Kurds hold about half of the province while Islamic State has about 30 percent of Hasaka, mainly in its south and southeast, the Observatory says.

The decree called for "equality between men and women in all spheres of public and private life," and said women had the right to run for office and an equal right to work, pay and inheritance. It was not immediately clear whether the decree was legally binding or how it would be implemented.

In its English-language magazine last month, Islamic State provided what it called religious justification for the enslavement of women and children as spoils of war. The al Qaeda offshoot has been accused by rights groups of kidnapping women and forcing them into marriage.

The rights decree said women should not be married below the age of 18, called for preventing polygamy and said women had an equal status in the eyes of the law. It said men and women had an equal right to divorce and that so-called "honor killings" and other violence against women was illegal.

Abdulrahman said some elements of the decree already existed in the region but others would improve the rights of women.

Parts of northern Syria have been experimenting in self-rule since last year after Kurdish fighters seized territory in the chaos of Syria's civil war, a development giving increased autonomy to the long-repressed Kurdish minority in the country.

Kurdish forces have also been fighting off Islamic State militants in northern Syria, including the besieged town of Kobani on the Turkish border whose defenders have been bolstered by U.S.-led coalition air strikes on insurgent positions.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)



Split UK opinion over 'poppy hijabs'

Simon Hooper, 09 Nov 2014

London, United Kingdom - To some it is a symbol of faith and freedom, a celebration of multicultural Britain, and even a fashion statement. But for others, it entrenches divisions and plays on the insecurities of an already-marginalised community.

A "poppy hijab" designed to commemorate their co-religionists who fought for the country is splitting opinion among British Muslims.

 Paper lapel poppies are traditionally worn by many people in the UK in the run-up to November 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I, in memory of those who fought and died for Britain in both world wars and subsequent conflicts.

But a poppy-themed headscarf backed by the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB) and British Future, an integration think tank, is this year offering Muslim women an additional way to support the campaign.

The scarf is also intended to raise awareness about the 400,000 Muslims, most of them soldiers in the 1.2-million-strong Indian army, who served alongside British forces in World War I.

Its launch was timed to coincide with the centenary of a soldier from modern-day Pakistan, Khudadad Khan, becoming the first Muslim to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the UK's highest military honour, for holding up a German advance while outgunned and severely wounded.

"Thousands of British Muslims already wear a poppy. This is just another way for them to show they remember those who gave their lives for their country," said Sughra Ahmed, president of the ISB.

 "It's also a way for ordinary Muslim citizens to take some attention away from extremists who seem to grab the headlines. This symbol of quiet remembrance is the face of everyday British Islam - not the angry minority who spout hatred and offend everyone."

Shared history

 According to polls carried out by British Future, many people in the UK remain unaware of the scale of the Muslim contribution to the country's World War I campaign. The group sees public interest in the centenary of the conflict offering an opportunity to remind people of that story as a way of strengthening integration and a sense of shared history.

 Yet, the message picked up by right-wing newspapers reporting the launch of the hijab was subtly different, with the Daily Mail stating that British Muslims were being "urged" to wear the scarf as "a challenge to extremist groups who 'spout hatred' about the armed forces".

 To some, coming from a newspaper that last year ran a comment piece with the headline: "When did you last see a poppy on a burka?", and weeks after the Sun newspaper used a front page picture of a woman in a Union Jack hijab to "urge Brits of all faiths to stand up to extremists", the story appeared to be the latest salvo in a media campaign casting Muslims as outsiders, and calling on them to prove where their loyalties lie.

 "These re-appropriations of the hijab can be little more than proxies for anti-Muslim bigotry. They become a politically correct way of airing a suspicion that all Muslims are 'basically terrorist sympathisers'. The wearing - or not wearing - of a patriotic hijab becomes a shrouded loyalty test," wrote Chris Allen, a researcher on anti-Muslim hate crime at the University of Birmingham.

 Faeeza Vaid, executive director of the Muslim Women's Network UK, told Al Jazeera the idea behind the hijab was well intentioned, but it risked deepening divisions between British communities.

"The fact that it is being promoted by the likes of the Daily Mail, part of the thinking is, 'Okay, you are a little bit British but not British enough. We will accept you, but on our terms,'" said Vaid.

"The idea is to show that we all care about the same things, but why is the burden on Muslim women to prove that sense of shared identity? We wouldn't expect Muslim men to wear poppy hats to the mosque, or Sikh men to wear poppy turbans. If you look at it like that it is just ludicrous."

Show support

 Vaid said she had worn a poppy in the past. But she said some people had concerns, especially in light of British involvement in more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, about promoting a symbol that the Royal British Legion, the charity behind the poppy appeal, says is worn "to commemorate the sacrifices of our armed forces and to show support to those still serving today".

 "We have to look at what the poppy symbolises. There have been so many more wars since the wars which it represents took place and I think we need a broader support for anti-war [efforts] or to highlight different approaches to war."

 For some women, there may be other reasons to feel uncomfortable about wearing a scarf decorated with a motif seen by many as an expression of patriotism.

 Recent studies of anti-Muslim hate crime have shown that women wearing traditional Islamic dress are most at risk from abuse and street attacks. A report last year said this had led some to question their Britishness.

 Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Tell MAMA, an organisation monitoring attacks on Muslims, told Al Jazeera most women simply wanted to get on with their lives and did not want any symbolism attached to the clothing that they chose to wear beyond the expression of their faith.

 "Women are at the brunt end of Islamophobia at street level. Now they are at the brunt end of being told they are the ones who need to prove their loyalty. And they are at the brunt end of people trying to manipulate the whole thing of how women should dress," Mughal said.

Steve Ballinger of British Future, which is selling the scarf online, told Al Jazeera the main aim of the hijab campaign had been to raise awareness about the numbers of Muslims who had fought for Britain during World War I and to "celebrate the things that people have in common".

"It is not intended in any way as a loyalty test," he said. "Some of the media reports have used the word 'urged' and that has understandably made some people rather concerned. It has always been a choice. Everyone chooses whether to wear a poppy to remember in November. Some Muslims do and some Muslims don't. Some non-Muslims do and some don't."

Greater tolerance

Among Muslim students leaving a college in East London, most said they had no objection to the headscarf and hoped it would help to promote greater tolerance and awareness of Muslim communities.

 "The perception that some people have of Muslim people is that they don't get involved, that they are just here," said Wahiida. "This is a way of respecting your religion and respecting the culture you are living in. There are some countries where they don't allow you to wear a headscarf."

 Her friend Nafisat said she would also consider wearing the scarf, if she was given one for free. "I would wear this because it is a modern type of style. It makes it fashionable, and it is paying respect to the soldiers who fought for the country. And it is a multicultural symbol. When you think of Britain you don't think of a race, you think of different people."

 But others said two of the models photographed posing in the hijab were dressed inappropriately because their necks and chests were visible, and said they considered their scarves an expression of their religious identities. "They should have designed a bracelet or something instead," said a young woman wearing a niqab who did not want to give her name.

 Only on one thing did all agree. At £22 ($35), compared to a typical poppy donation of a few pounds, donning a poppy hijab is an expensive statement to make. "Too pricey," said one woman, shaking her head.



Kashmiri Women Joining Saffron Movement in Jammu and Kashmir

M Saleem Pandit

Nov 9, 2014

SRINAGAR: The BJP, a party that had no serious takers until now in the Muslim majority and conflict-torn Kashmir valley, is drawing considerable support from Kashmiri women in the run up to the assembly elections due later this month.

When the BJP won the parliamentary elections with a huge majority earlier this year, some Kashmiri women supporters came out dancing and waving posters of Narendra Modi on the streets, which are generally filled with anti-India protesters. Though very cautiously, but People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti too has praised Modi in the past and given subtle indications that her party may not be entirely averse to an alliance with the BJP after the elections.

More recently, Hina Bhat, 35, a dental surgeon was rewarded for her vocal and dauntless support to the party when the BJP chose her as its candidate from Amira Kadal assembly constituency. She is the only Kashmir Muslim woman to get a ticket in Jammu and Kashmir so far.

The dental surgeon, who is the daughter of former MLA and MP of J&K's grand old party, the National Conference, Mohammad Shafi Bhat, quit her job at SKIMS medical college a few years ago to do social work. "All the political parties--National conference, PDP, Congress, had failed people of J&K and never provided good governance. I had planned to contest assembly elections as an independent candidate from Amira Kadal constituency but when I discovered that Prime Minister Narendra Modi , who is the most misunderstood person in Kashmir, has better vision for the country's development and equally for the valley, I joined the party," Hina told TOI.

"I will prove that I have taken the right decision when the valley reaches new heights of development and progress," she said. Hina believes that BJP's image of 'anti-Muslim' in Kashmir valley will fade due to Prime Minister's sincerity towards Kashmir. "We should not rear an apprehension that the saffron movement will change the demography of the state. People of Kashmir need to change their mind."

Her topmost agenda is to stress for withdrawal of trivial cases against the youth and those who languish in jails for petty crimes. Hina who was working against drug abuse before she joined the BJP, recently helped the flood hit people in Jawahar Nagar and Rajbagh areas, which fall in her constituency. Muzaffar Shah, a businessman, who suffered a loss of over two crores in the flood, said that Hina was the only leader who had visited the distressed people in the area.

Hina is not the only woman who has come out publicly to support the controversial party in the valley. Another prominent leader Darakhshan Andrabi has merged her Left-leaning Socialistic Democratic Party (SDP) along with her hundreds of party men with the Right-wing BJP to give Modi's "vision for development" a chance in Kashmir as well.

Andrabi, who is in her 40s, may get a BJP ticket to contest from Khan Sahib in Budgam district. "I have worked a lot for the people of that area," she said.

Though both the women are conscious of anti-India and anti-Modi feeling within the valley, yet they are not intimidated by the hostile atmosphere in which they will have to campaign for the BJP. Andrabi said: "I never cared about the threats of separatist leaders nor will I now bother about their perception about my political activities."

Hina moves in her constituency with meagre security but Andrabi who has been in politics for quite some time now, campaigns under sufficient security cover.



Delhi Riots: Police Were Violent With Muslim Women

By Mayura Janwalkar

November 9, 2014

A complaint filed before the Delhi Minorities Commission has alleged that the action taken by Delhi during the communal riots in Trilokpuri was partisan and that male police officers had used force against Muslim women.

The complaint was filed by the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) on October 30. It has urged the commission “to conduct an inquiry into the role and conduct of the local police of Kalyanpuri and Mayur Vihar Phase I, in light of the serious allegations and complaints of indiscriminate arrests, torture, beatings, high-handedness, abuse of power, discrimination and hostility towards the Muslim community.”

Police had registered three FIRs in connection with the riots and arrested 32 Muslims and 12 Hindus.

However, SDPI state secretary Azim Khan claimed, “We spoke to several residents from different blocks in the area. Muslim men were picked up not only from streets where violence took place but also their homes.”

The four-page complaint consists of ‘testimonies’ of victims from Trilokpuri, like that of a Muslim woman from Block 27. The woman said that around 3.30 pm on October 25, around 20-25 policemen broke open their house and assaulted her husband and brother-in-law — a tuberculosis patient — and picked them up.”

“Police also physically assaulted and abused the women and children in the house before dragging these men out…There are numerous testimonies of Muslim women being beaten and verbally abused by male police officers,” Khan alleged.

Claiming that Muslim women continue to feel unsafe, the complaint stated, “It has also been reported in eyewitness accounts that Muslim women are especially vulnerable at this point and fear for their safety. This feeling of insecurity or apprehension of sexual violence is exacerbated in those blocks of Trilokpuri where there are fewer Muslim houses.”

Chairman of the commission Qamar Ahmad said the commission is examining the complaint and has asked residents of Trilokpuri to share their experiences with its members. The three-member commission had also visited the riot-ridden area for restoration of peace.

“We have not received the police version yet. We will carry out preliminary work and forward the complaint to police,” Ahmad said.

However, a senior police officer who was part of the investigation denied the claims made by SDPI. “There has been no discrimination on the part of police while conducting searches or making arrests during the clashes. Also, there was not a single spot where female police officers were not deployed to quell the violence and disperse the rioters,” he said.

— Inputs from Sarah Hafeez



Michigan Company Will Fire Female Employees Unless They Wear Headscarves

November 8, 2014

The Supreme Court’s decision in the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby case is being taking very seriously, and often out of context. One Muslim-owned craft store in Dearborn, Michigan has started ordering their Christian employees to wear traditional Islamic headscarves to work.

While this was never the intention of the ruling, it has given family-owned businesses the right to do things like require Christian female employees to wear Hijabs to work—even though three of the eight women working there are Christian.

According to reports, the company has even threatened to fire anyone who doesn’t comply.

“My boss came in last Tuesday with a Koran in his hand and told us we were dressed like harlots,” says Karen Anderson, a 28-year-old employee who has worked for the company for five years. “He gave us each a hijab and said if we didn’t wear it we’d be unemployed.”

“I’m a strong believer in Jesus Christ,” she continued. “But my husband passed a few years ago, and I need this job to support my kids. I don’t really have a choice. I have to wear it.”

The store owner, Khaleed El-Helani, had some opinions of his own.

“I read through the entire Supreme Court decision. I don’t really see what the problem is here,” he told reporters. “I’m a small, closely held business. I have devout religious beliefs. Why should I be forced to employ people if it violates my religion?

What do you think? Should El-Helani be required to make employees wear hijab against their will?



AP story on Saudi women driving a hoax?

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A story reported by the Associated Press on Friday claiming that Saudi Shura Council has recommended to the government lifting a de-facto ban on women’s driving was previously reported in Arabic press in details six years ago, in 2008.

The Associated Press mentioned the conditions under which women could be allowed to drive: These appear to be the exact same conditions mentioned in the 2008 reports, which were never confirmed and was acknowledged by many as a hoax or a joke which was made popular by social media.

The government is not obliged to implement the Shura Council’s recommendations as it is a consultative body and not a legislative one.

Exactly like the 2008 reports, the Associated Press story quoted an anonymous member of the Shura Council as saying the recommendations were made in “secret, closed session held in the past month.”

“The member spoke on condition of anonymity because the recommendations had not been made public,” the Associated Press story said. Same alleged recommendations were of course reported six years ago.

Among these, only women over 30 would be allowed to drive with permission from a male guardian and only from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday through Wednesday and noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, which is the weekend in the kingdom.

The alleged conditions also states women drivers should wear conservative dress and no make-up.

If women drivers want to venture outside cities, they would need a male guardian to be present with them in the car.

The alleged reports also said a "female traffic department" should be created to deal with female drivers when their cars break down in cases of traffic violations.

Female traffic officers would be under the supervision of the "religious agencies," according to the reports.

All the above details carried in the AP story were previously reported in Arabic, but they were never confirmed and remained unsubstantiated claims.

The AP story doesn't include any official government confirmation nor does it explain the questionable similarities with the 2008 report which all proved to be untrue.

A source close to a Shura Council member informs Al Arabiya News that the AP report seems baseless and that there has been no recent developments on the women driving front to report, adding that such announcements are usually made public.




NOVEMBER 8, 2014

Iran’s judiciary should quash the conviction of Ghoncheh Ghavami for “propaganda against the state” and immediately release her since the charge is on its face a punishment for peaceful speech and protest, Human Rights Watch said today. Ghavami, a dual Iranian-British national, was arrested June 30, 2014 after protesting a ban on women attending volleyball matches. She began a hunger strike on November 2 to protest her detention, her brother Iman Ghavami told Human Rights Watch.

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has called on the Iranian government to release Ghavami, and affirmed its commitment to “inclusivity and the right of women to participate in sport on an equal basis.” Nevertheless, on November 2, the Asian Volleyball Confederation reportedly announced that it had selected Iran to co-host the 2015 Asian Men’s Volleyball Championships. Ghavami’s conviction and Iran’s continuing ban on women spectators should prompt the FIVB to step up its actions on her behalf and for equal access to sporting events, Human Rights Watch said.

“The list of people Iran has jailed for demanding their rights is a long one,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives. “To that list we can now add a courageous voice for women’s right to watch a sporting event.”

A Tehran revolutionary court convicted Ghavami in a closed trial on October 14. On November 1, her lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, told the Iranian Labour News Agency that the court had yet to issue the written judgment, which would explain the basis for the guilty verdict. Tabatabaei said that Iranian law requires courts to issue their written verdicts within one week of a trial’s conclusion. The delay in this case has fueled fears that authorities may bring additional charges against Ghavami, a family friend following the case, told Human Rights Watch.

Tabatabaei said that he was not able to meet with his client except on October 14, the day of the trial.

Security authorities initially arrested Ghavami and about 20 others on June 20 after they protested a ban preventing women from entering the Azadi Sports Complex to watch a match between Iran and Italy. The protesters were taken to Tehran’s Vozara Detention Center, where women arrested for breaches of the Islamic dress code are often held. Officials released Ghavami after several hours, but re-arrested her on June 30, when she returned to the detention facility to collect her phone.

Iman Ghavami said that security officials then searched his sister’s home, confiscated her laptop and other possessions, and transferred her to Evin prison, where she remains. Ghavami spent her first 41 days in solitary confinement in section 2A of Evin prison , he said. It is believed that Section 2A is controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

On September 22, Iran’s judiciary spokesperson said that Ghavami’s arrest was for national security reasons and “has nothing to do with sports.” However, no judiciary or other state officials has disclosed any of the evidence used to convict Ghavami.

The male-only policy for spectators at volleyball matches dates to 2012, when the Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry extended the existing policy on soccer matches to cover volleyball. Iranian officials claim that mixed attendance at sports events is un-Islamic, threatens public order, and exposes women to crude behavior by male fans.

Human Rights Watch urged the FIVB in a September 29 letter to raise Ghavami’s case with the Iranian government and to ensure that “the FIVB will not, in the future, authorize games in venues where the entry policy or national laws violate the principle of non-discrimination on gender and other prohibited grounds.”

The FIVB responded that it had sent a letter to President Hassan Rouhani urging him to reconsider the decision to keep Ghavami under arrest. In an October 21 meeting with Human Rights Watch staff, the FIVB affirmed its commitment to inclusivity and the right of women to participate in sports and said that Iran would not be able to host a world championship or any international event until this problem is solved.

On November 1, at the FIVB World Congress in Cagliari, Italy, Dr. Ary S. Graça, the body’s president, publicly called for the release of Ghavami and declared, “[W]omen throughout the world should be allowed to watch and participate in volleyball on an equal basis.” The Asian Volleyball Confederation’s announcement came the next day.

“Sports associations have no business bringing events to countries where women will not be welcome as spectators – or where they could get attacked or arrested for cheering a team,” Worden said. “Sporting bodies and leaders need to agree that they will not back mega-sporting event host countries that violate the sport’s fundamental commitment to equality.”

Human Rights Watch has called on organizers of international sporting events to include non-discrimination clauses in their host city contracts, following the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in September to include that requirement. The IOC has informed the finalists bidding for the 2022 Winter Games of this requirement.

“The FIVB took a positive stand for the principle of gender non-discrimination in sports – a principle that Ghoncheh Ghavami is paying an enormous price for,” Worden said. “Countries that discriminate against women who want to play or watch sports should quite simply be denied the chance to host international competitions until they change their policies and play by the rules.”



The World War One women who went to the front line

9 November 2014 Last updated at 09:25 GMT

At a time when the roles of men and women were very clearly defined, the women of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry defied convention and their families to help wounded soldiers.

As Britain remembers those who sacrificed their lives in the First World War, Robert Hall reports on the women who also went to the front line.



Wearing Hijab for Modesty in All Things

November 9, 2014

Society has conditioned us to believe that a woman who wears Hijab must be oppressed. Due to this, a lot of Muslim women are afraid to show their identity by wearing the cloth covering. But Hijab is not a symbol of oppression; in many ways, it is liberating. Primarily, Hijab is a way to achieve the goal of modesty, a characteristic that the Holy Qur’an instructs should be possessed by men and women alike:

“Say to the believing men that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well aware of what they do.” [24:31]

“And say to the believing women that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts, and that they disclose not their natural and artificial beauty except that which is apparent thereof, that they draw their head-coverings over their bosoms, and that they disclose not their beauty save to their husbands, or to their fathers … (a list of exceptions).” [24:32]

At another place God states:

“O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons … that they should be known and not molested.” [33:60]

Females in U.S. society face so much pressure, starting from a very young age, to look a certain way, to dress in a way that attracts the other gender, to look just like the models in the magazines, to have a size zero figure, and so on. These unrealistic and artificial thoughts are embedded in our minds by the media. Of Muslim women, the media portrays hijab as an example of oppression by male authority. But when girls or women fall into the trap of trying to fit the concept of a paper-thin “perfect body” image, they give their freedom to such ideologies. Hijab gives that power back to each individual. It takes away the societal pressure and gives the woman wearing Hijab the power, the freedom to choose to be the size she would desire, to dress how she chooses to.

Islam empowers women with hijab by giving them the ability to avoid the societal pressures of the time. Hijab is the tool to help achieve modesty, decency, and professionalism while interacting in the world, especially with the opposite gender. Hijab does not limit a woman’s abilities to achieve education and a career, contrary to the modern belief. In fact, the first woman in Islam, Khadija, who was the wife of Prophet Muhammad, was herself a very well-known, powerful businesswoman. The notion that Hijab or Islam oppresses women is completely false. It is completely a woman’s choice to wear a scarf. God clearly states in the Holy Qur’an: “There is no compulsion in religion.” [2:257]

Different cultures have adapted the commandment of hijab and have come up with different outfits to cover themselves with. Some use a chaddar, a scarf, Burqa, or a simple coat of a length that reaches below the knees with a covering that covers the head and chest. In the history of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and other religions, we see that many times women wore head coverings and modest attire. Virgin Mary, a symbol of piety, is always depicted wearing a long cloak covering her head and body. Nuns, who are a symbol of righteousness, piety, and modesty, always cover themselves with a head covering and outer cloak. Islam is not new in spreading the idea of Hijab. Islam has made it possible and has commanded all women to take their power in their own hands and reach the highest state of modesty by wearing hijab.

A Muslim woman has to work hard for the badge of honour represented by hijab. It is on her if she wears that badge while trying to hide away from the world or if she confidently displays that badge as a symbol of power and joy. However, we as the members of this society also have a responsibility to let people wear their badges proudly, as they wish, without scrutiny.

Hijab has liberated me. Not only am I following the commandments of my religion, but while wearing Hijab, I am taking the power into my own hands of how much physical appearance plays a role in our society. Hijab gives me a sense of freedom: Freedom from the norms of what is “acceptable” to wear. Freedom from the need to fit in and starve myself to look model thin. Freedom from the prying eyes of the opposite gender. By wearing hijab I assert myself every day as a person who is beyond physical looks. I assert that I am not stepping out to seek the attention of others; rather, I am out in the university or out in the world to accomplish a goal, and hijab is a way to keep me focused on those goals.

Hijab’s purpose is simply modesty: modesty of clothing, modesty of action, and modesty of thoughts.

Ramlah Malhi is a guest writer for the Jihad of the Pen column. She is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, the oldest Muslim organization in the United States. Raised in the Bay Area, Malhi is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. She also organizes and leads service projects such as the Muslims for Life initiative and teaches a class, Jesus, Muhammad, and the Modern State, at Berkeley.



Saudi women can now run catering business

November 08, 2014

RIYADH —  Saudi women can now run catering business under certain conditions. An approval to this effect was given by Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Prince Dr. Mansour Bin Miteb, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

All workers in these shops ought to be Saudi women. The opening up of this sector will provide sources of income for Saudi families.

Undersecretary of the ministry for municipal affairs Yusuf Al-Saif said a circular has been issued to municipalities to ensure that the conditions are fulfilled when issuing licenses.

Women running catering business should fulfill Shariah conditions and provide a good and suitable work environment that guarantees privacy.

Municipalities will supervise and monitor these shops to ensure that they maintain hygienic conditions and comply with other regulations.

Applicants can telephone the municipality or visit the website of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs at



Beware of Beautiful Young Russian, Chinese Women, UK’s Mod Warns Senior Officials


9 November 2014

Top military officials have been warned not to have sex with attractive women in Russia or China in case they are spies, it has been reported.

A leaked document says agents of the FSB, Russia's intelligence service and successor to the Soviet-era KGB, could attempt to lure British officials into bed and then blackmail them.

The document, the Ministry of Defence Manual of Security, warns senior officers that the FSB, could gain valuable intelligence by exploiting 'knowledge of marital infidelity or sexual activity the target may wish to hide'.

The KGB used 'honey traps' like this extensively during the Cold War, using both men and women to target those they believed to have valuable information.

The Communist East German security services targeted young men to seduce middle-aged West German secretaries working for senior officials.



Obese Women Make Less Money, Work More Physically Demanding Jobs

November 08, 2014

Being overweight hurts your earnings, and being an overweight woman is particularly tough on income. Back in 2004, a landmark study found that a 65-pound increase in a woman's weight is associated with a 9-percent drop in earnings. The authors of the study noted that, in terms of wages, the "obesity penalty" basically amounted to losing three years of experience in the workplace.

A new study set out to see why that penalty exists. Jennifer Shinall, who teaches law at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and authored the study, had a few hypotheses.

Choice: Perhaps obese women are choosing to work in jobs that pay less.

Productivity: Perhaps obese women are less productive.

Discrimination: Perhaps employers are denying obese women jobs based on how they look or because they don't like working with obese women.

Shinall analyzed a lot of data about employees, looking at, among other things, gender, body mass index, wages, job description and industry. What she found is that job descriptions, and particularly how physically demanding job are, explains a lot about the obesity penalty.

"What my research indicates is that obese women are more likely to work in physical activity jobs and less likely to work in personal interaction jobs," she explains.

That's important because those "personal interaction jobs," like sales and reception, pay more on average than jobs that require more manual labor and less communication with the public.

Take, for example, two jobs at a paper company: a role in the warehouse, and a job in sales. Working in sales means being the face of the company — and making more money. An obese woman, based on Shinall's research, is more likely than an average-weight woman to have the job in the warehouse, and less likely to work in sales.

"I think my research is highly suggestive of sex-based discrimination," says Shinall. "Employers don't mind if an obese man is the face of their company, but they have a very different attitude toward obese women."

She says there seem to be different standards for the appearance of men and women. "When I presented this research at a conference ... one response from an audience member was, 'Well, this research makes absolute sense to me. Fat guys are fun,' " Shinall remembers.

"I think there's certainly a conception that obese men are somehow different than obese women."