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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 15 Feb 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Sightless Muslim Girl, Seven-Year-Old Rida Zehra, Knows Gita By Heart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Sightless Muslim girl knows Gita by heart

 

Fencer to Become First US Olympian to Compete In Hijab

Vicious ISIS Thugs Rape Women for 'Cheating' On Husbands before Stoning Them to Death

Award-Winning Pakistani Entrepreneur Appointed To UN Panel on Women

Canadian Women Give Birth to Children of ISIS Fighters

How a Western Sydney Woman Stopped Her Boyfriend Joining Islamic State

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/sightless-muslim-girl,-seven-year-old-rida-zehra,-knows-gita-by-heart/d/106366

 

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Sightless Indian Muslim Girl, Seven-Year-Old Rida Zehra, Knows Gita by Heart

Ishita Bhatia | TNN | Feb 16, 2016

MEERUT: Ask seven-year-old Rida Zehra if she knows the Bahgwad Gita, the visually-challenged girl folds her hand and starts reciting the holy book, which she knows by heart, without giving a second thought.

Living at a residential blind school in Meerut for the last three years, Zehra has never seen the holy book for she was born with 80% blindness. In fact, she has not even read it in Braille. Her teacher at the school helped her memorise the whole text of the holy book by reading it out to her.

It doesn't matter for Zehra which God she prays, as she says that she will never be able to see him even if he appears in front of her. "I like praying to God, whether it is by reading Gita or Quran. It doesn't matter which God I pray, after all I will never be able to see him, even if he is there in front of me," says the class III girl, who studies at Brij Mohan School for the Blind in Meerut's Jagriti Vihar.

Zehra's parents and siblings live in Lohia Nagar, where she goes during her summer break, and in festivals.

She was admitted to the blind school by her father when she was three years old.

Her school principal Praveen Sharma, while detailing the girl's tryst with the Gita says, "It was in the beginning of 2015 when I got to know about a Gita competition being held for kids in the city. That is when I thought why not let our kids participate in the competition."

Sharma proudly says that Zehra was a quick learner. "First, I learnt how to recite Gita with the help of various Pandits. Once I learnt the right way to read it, I started teaching the holy book to the kids of my school and Zehra was one of the quick learners. I don't have its copy in Braille, so I read it out to her and she knows it verbatim."

The school has 30 students and five teachers. Two of the teachers are visually impaired. Zehra wants to study and teach others like her, who cannot see, so that they can have a "vision for life" through education.

Raees Haider, Zehra's father, told TOI over phone, "I just want my daughter to be educated and have a future despite the visual impairment. It doesn't matter to me whether she reads the Gita or the Quran. In fact, it is a matter of pride that she knows about other religions too; this will make her wiser than others." Haider earns a living by selling Biryani in Delhi.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/Sightless-Muslim-girl-knows-Gita-by-heart/articleshow/51000983.cms

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Fencer to become first US Olympian to compete in hijab

February 2, 2016

Ibtihaj Muhammad locked down her spot on the Olympic team after earning a bronze medal at the Athens World Cup qualifier

An American women’s saber fencer will make history at this year’s 2016 Rio Games by becoming the first U.S. athlete to compete at the Olympics in a hijab, or Muslim headscarf, after earning a bronze medal at a qualifying event over the weekend.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, a 30-year-old who now stands in second place on the U.S. fencing national team, mathematically locked down her spot on the Olympic team after earning a bronze medal at the Athens World Cup on Saturday. She will compete in this year’s Summer Olympics, which will begin in August.

“I want to compete in the Olympics for the United States to prove that nothing should hinder anyone from reaching their goals — not race, religion or gender,” said Muhammad, who was quoted by TeamUsa.org. “I want to set an example that anything is possible with perseverance.”

Muhammad, who failed to quality for the 2012 Olympics due to a torn ligament, will compete in the Rio Olympics in both the individual and team events along with U.S. Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis.

Muhammad, a New Jersey native who began training at the age of 13, said she took up fencing because she liked it and because she “saw there was a lack of minorities in the sport.”

“I recognized that I had a skill set, so I started to pursue fencing full time. I felt that it was something the squad needed. There were barriers that needed to be broken in women’s saber,” Muhammad told TeamUSA.org.

Last July, Muhammad spoke with Al Jazeera’s “The Stream,”  saying that part of her motivation for wanting to compete at the highest level of the sport comes from wanting people to hold Muslims, women and minorities in high-esteem and wanting people to "not pigeon-hole us in these boxes and say ‘this is what you’re supposed to do.'"

"At any point I could have stopped fencing and said 'you know what these people are right, this isn’t something I should do' and I was blessed to have parents that encouraged me to be involved in sports and to try to fight those stereotypes," she told Al Jazeera.

america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/2/2/fencer-to-be-first-us-olympian-to-compete-in-hijab.html

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Vicious ISIS Thugs Rape Women for 'Cheating' On Husbands before Stoning Them To Death

Tue, Feb 16, 2016

ISIS fighters raped the four women before carrying out the execution in front of a baying crowd, according to sources in the Iraqi city of Mosul - where the attack took place.

The depraved death cult, which continues to plumb new depths in a bid to expand its warped territory across the Middle East, released a photo of the atrocity in a sickening boast to warn other women.

An ISIS-led Sharia Court issued a decision to publicly execute the victims after it found them 'guilty' of "committing adultery".

A local media spokesman said: "The four victims were arrested earlier on Wednesday in a raid by ISIS Jihadis.

"The Jihadis claimed to have captured the women while committing adultery.

"The four women were stoned to death on Thursday in front of a large crowd of people in central Mosul."

express.co.uk/news/world/644313/Islamic-State-Daesh-jihadis-stone-death-Iraqi-women-adultery

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Award-winning Pakistani entrepreneur appointed to UN panel on women

Feb 16, 2016

Pakistani entrepreneur Fiza Farhan, co-founder of the Buksh Foundation, has been appointed a Member of the first ever High-Level Panel of the UN Secretary-General on Women’s Economic Empowerment, according to a UN press release.

The panel’s establishment was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month.

The panel’s main task is to make policy recommendations for governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders to “improve economic outcomes for women and promote women’s leadership in driving sustainable and inclusive, environmentally sensitive economic growth”.

The aim is mainly to target economic empowerment for women as part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Farhan is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Buksh Foundation and Director of Buksh Energy Pvt Ltd., whose business and clean energy loans have been extended to some 12,000 entrepreneurs.

dawn.com/news/1239910/award-winning-pakistani-entrepreneur-appointed-to-un-panel-on-women

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Canadian women give birth to children of ISIS fighters

February 15, 2016 

Canadian women are helping to grow the so-called Islamic State.

According to researchers at the University of Waterloo, three Canadian women have given birth to children of ISIS fighters, while another two are pregnant. The new details are part of a larger study following foreign fighters who flee to Syria and Iraq. The women travelled separately over the past two years, leaving their families back home devastated.

“They’re quite worried about what is going to happen to their daughter, but also their grandchild,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a co-lead author of the study. “For most of the parents, I think there’s kind of a double reaction. First they’re kind of happy a grandchild is involved, but at the same time, they’re quite devastated that a child was born into a war zone, to somebody they’ve never met.”

Demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group, slogans as they carry the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, June 16, 2014. (AP Photo, File)

Amarasingam said the women are between the ages of 19 and 22, and are from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. Families agreed to speak to the research team with the promise that specific personal details would be kept confidential. “Because there are so few Canadian women that have gone over, it will be quite obvious… who they are, if I talk (specifically) about where they are from.”

The researcher also said the challenges these women face are quite obvious. Although they have a place to live, it is difficult to find basic supplies like clothing and diapers. Some of the families back in Canada are keen to help their daughters, but are afraid of the legal consequences.

“If you were to send diapers to Syria, I don’t know if that contributes to real support of a terrorist organization, but it does rest on very shaky legal ground, in terms of what you’re allowed to send to a place like Raqqa,” said Amarasingam.

‘Very disturbing’

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said this is “obviously a very disturbing development,” and recommitted to opening a national counter-radicalization office.

“We will be moving forward shortly, as rapidly as we can, on the creation of this new office for community outreach and counter radicalization,” said Goodale.

“I’m concerned with every dimension about this type of problem, it runs contrary to everything Canada stands for, in terms of values in the world,” he added.

The creation of a new office was part of a mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the public safety minister late last year. The Liberals aren’t saying yet if funding for the office will be included in the upcoming budget, but there are signs this program will be a priority.

‘Very young’

Amarasingam said the challenges these women face become more complex because of their age. “These girls are very young,” he added, “they don’t have much experience in how to raise children, but they’re also raising these children under circumstances many others don’t have to worry about.”

There are no indications, any of the Canadian women are being held against their will. But the researcher said that if any of the Canadians want to come home, that process would be complicated.

“While they weren’t fighting for the Islamic State, I’m guessing the prosecution would argue they were aiding and abetting a terrorist organization, or providing material support to a terrorist organization, and so I think they would face legal consequences upon return,” said Amarasingam.

ctvnews.ca/canada/canadian-women-give-birth-to-children-of-isis-fighters-1.2779296

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How a Western Sydney woman stopped her boyfriend joining Islamic State

February 15, 2016

Having already lost a family member, who was killed fighting for Islamic State, Soraya refused to let it happen again.© ABC News / Triple J Having already lost a family member, who was killed fighting for Islamic State, Soraya refused to let it happen again.

Last spring, Soraya burst into a local Flight Centre in tears. She begged the travel agent to let her to make an urgent phone call. It was about a forced marriage dispute, she lied, and the call had to be made using their landline. The agent, taken aback, told her to go ahead and use the phone.

Soraya, a Lebanese Muslim woman from Sydney's west, phoned her boyfriend and told him - in an unrecognisable voice - that his flight to Turkey the next day was cancelled.

She was buying time to talk him out of it. The man she had fallen deeply for over the past 10 months was intending to travel to Syria via Turkey to fight for the terrorist group Islamic State.

Soraya discovered the plane tickets at his house the evening before, and she knew he was bound for Syria. She had been keeping track of his movements and his communication with recruiters for months.

A year ago, when Soraya met Abed at a cafe, she never expected she would expend all her energy "keeping him connected and creating doubt" throughout their relationship in order to furtively pull him away from the lures of Islamic State.

She could not have foreseen that she would lead a double-life, following Abed to secret recruiter meet-ups across Sydney to keep tabs on his activities. Nor could she have known when they first caught each other's eyes, that he would be en route for Syria someday.

I recently met up with Soraya at a cafe not too far from the one she first met Abed. When she encountered the Afghan-Australian man in January last year, she was with her girlfriends. Abed was with a mate. The two began seeing each other in secret, a common practice amongst Muslim couples dating before marriage.

To protect the identities of Soraya and Abed, we are not using their real names.

"I can't tell you how many times [his] life was threatened...they [recruiters] threaten to kill you - [when] you're already in a ring," Soraya told me.

Having already lost a family member, who was killed fighting for Islamic State, Soraya refused to let it happen again.

Abed, who is from a small family in western Sydney, had never been religious. He was born into a Muslim family, but didn't know much Arabic nor did he read the Quran or pray - he could only recite the opening verse, the fatiha.

I recently met up with Soraya at a cafe not too far from the one she first met Abed. When she encountered the Afghan-Australian man in January last year, she was with her girlfriends. Abed was with a mate. The two began seeing each other in secret, a common practice amongst Muslim couples dating before marriage.

To protect the identities of Soraya and Abed, we are not using their real names.

"I can't tell you how many times [his] life was threatened...they [recruiters] threaten to kill you - [when] you're already in a ring," Soraya told me.

Having already lost a family member, who was killed fighting for Islamic State, Soraya refused to let it happen again.

Abed, who is from a small family in western Sydney, had never been religious. He was born into a Muslim family, but didn't know much Arabic nor did he read the Quran or pray - he could only recite the opening verse, the fatiha.

But at the time the couple first became acquainted, Abed was interested in taking his faith more seriously, so he began attending lectures and workshops at the Markaz Imam Ahmad mosque in Liverpool in south western Sydney.

That's when Abed met a few men who had connections to Islamic State, and how he eventually ended up as part of The Crew.

"He was in a ring, he was part of what they called The Crew - and there's not just one crew," Soraya said. "There are literally pockets all over, and it's a combination of [people] online and people here."

An operation by Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by US-led strikes to retake the town of Sinjar from Islamic State.© Getty Images / Safin Hamed / ABC News An operation by Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by US-led strikes to retake the town of Sinjar from Islamic State.

but only took a matter of weeks for Abed to get close to a recruiter, and then months to groom him and persuade him to go to Syria.

Before discovering that Abed had been recruited, Soraya saw red flags. He seemed rigid, secretive and was out with friends a lot more than usual. An argument over the interpretation of a Quranic verse concerning the concept of jihad set off alarm bells for her. She said Abed insisted jihad meant holy war, as opposing to "striving" and "struggling", and he insisted Islam was "spread by the sword".

[But] nobody, not French, not Lebanese, should have to die at the hands...nobody should have to be dead because of someone else's mind----ness."

Soraya acted on the sly and retrieved Abed's phone's passcode. Her snooping revealed more. And it sucked her into months of following Abed, lying, and trying to "keep him connected" with her.

"I didn't involve authorities. I had to do it myself. And it was the biggest gamble of my entire life," she said.

"He became somebody I needed to save so I could save somebody else's life."

There is an image that is sent to Australian Islamic State recruits on an encrypted mobile messaging app before they leave to fight in Syria.

In a series of points, it lists how recruits should act and what they should wear in order not to arouse any suspicion before travelling.

To remain undetected at airports and appear integrated in the general community, the macro instructs men to cut their hair, shave their beards, and to dress in Western clothing - nothing overtly Islamic.

It tells recruits how they should walk and carry their bodies to avoid questioning, and to keep mundane, unassuming content on their phones.

Soraya discovered that Abed received this from a recruiter in the days before he planned to leave for Syria.

The Islamic State recruiters are set up as a hierarchy, with the chief leaders based overseas. However, there are physical recruiters in place here with connections to overseas, and Soraya had a glimpse of it all.

A militant identified as "Jihadi John".© Reuters / SITE Intel Group / ABC News A militant identified as "Jihadi John".

ecruiters based in Syria would coax recruits on the ground in Australia to join them. "The ones already there talk to the ones here on the phone to convince them to come over," Soraya said.

"You will never have contact with people overseas - only if you are part of The Crew, and it takes time to get there."

Abed was lying to Soraya about where he would go in the evenings. She would follow him, sometimes wearing a niqab to disguise herself. The two lived a few suburbs apart and she would sneak out, spying on him as he met up with other men in car parks across western Sydney, or, less often, at their homes.

Many of The Crew's meeting places must have been covered by CCTV, Soraya said.

"We're talking about parking lots in someone's work place - you could easily see ---- on CCTV, if you were really looking," Soraya said.

"I believe the federal police already know half of it and they're waiting to catch the big person, but you know what happens when you wait to catch the big person? The little person gets eaten up."

Members of The Crew shared phone numbers for people in Syria and Iraq, along with Islamic State's propaganda films showing beheadings and other violent deaths. Some of these films featured killings by "Jihadi John", the British Islamic State fighter Mohammed Emwazi who is believed to have been killed in a drone strike in November 2014.

Without The Crew, many of whose members are still thought to be at large in Sydney, Soraya said Abed would never have been put in direct contact with Islamic State.

Soraya said there are loved ones who might give up on a recruit at that point - they feel that it would be too late to intervene.

"[They say] 'I don't care, what am I supposed to do about it? Khalas, that's it, they're gone. I can't change it, I've tried, let them go'," Soraya said. But she winced at the idea of giving up on someone.

It wasn't ever the imams or the mashuras - gatherings at the mosque - that pushed Abed in the direction of violent extremism, Soraya said, but other attendees. The mosque's management has come out many times to condemn Islamic State.

Sheik Abu Adnan, from the Markaz Imam Ahmad mosque, said the mosque liaises closely with the local community to address the ideologies of the terrorist group Islamic State, which is occupying parts of Syria and Iraq.

Mosques are open to the public. Anyone can come and go.

"We are working hard and closely with our community to eradicate this kind of ideology," Sheikh Abu Adnan, who is based at the Liverpool mosque in southwestern Sydney, recently told the Australian.

Abed was still "transitioning" mid-last year, and recruiters had threatened to kill him if he turned back. Others told him that god would love him for advancing the cause of the caliphate, or region of the Middle East currently under the self-declared rule of Islamic State.

"They tell them 'I swear, Allah will love you if you do this, I swear you're going to go to heaven and Allah will love you more by giving you things, and you're one of us'," Soraya said.

Sometimes, when trying to "get through" to Abed, Soraya self-harmed. She admitted to using emotional blackmail to rein him in.

I can't tell you the amount of times I have hit myself without doing it on purpose, no conscious doing...I didn't know what I was doing, I had to do whatever I was doing out of desperation."

She went against her moral compass every day. "You cheat, you lie, you spy, you swear, you emotionally blackmail - you have to be willing to give up part of yourself."

Soraya is concerned about the lack of support for people who are faced with loved ones wanting to join groups like IS, and said there are many silent victims like herself.

"How do I feel confident to go to a counsellor and say this is what's happening?" she said.

"I disconnected from my own family, my own support group, to get him to connect with me and other people."

Soon after Abed's plane destined for Turkey had left without him, Soraya confronted him.

"That fight was so bad and so big. I felt a sense of abandonment."

She said all it took was an apology. And a promise that he wouldn't go. Today, Abed is in Sydney and in touch with the right people, including one respected sheikh who is helping to guide him away from ideas of violent extremism.

The couple are no longer together, and looking back, Soraya said she "gave up her life" during the relationship.

"Do I miss him? Yeah, I miss him a lot. He was my best friend."

Despite the cost, Soraya remains passionately convinced she did the right thing.

"I don't think people understand what's involved in that. You can't band-aid those things."

Putting it bluntly, she says Islamic State screwed with her boyfriend and "I un----ed his mind".

Soraya, who wears the headscarf, said it upsets her when people lump all Muslims into the same IS-sympathising category.

"It makes me angry that I have to walk in the street and someone has to look at me like I'm the cause of other people's physical deaths when I just look at them and (think) I wish you knew I died every single day trying to stop it."

 version of this story written by Jennine Khalik and Dan Box was first published in the Australian newspaper. This feature was written for Hack (ABC) by Jennine and gives a more personal account.

msn.com/en-au/news/australia/how-a-western-sydney-woman-stopped-her-boyfriend-joining-islamic-state/ar-BBpw25o

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/sightless-muslim-girl,-seven-year-old-rida-zehra,-knows-gita-by-heart/d/106366

 

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