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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 30 Jan 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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AIMPLB to SC: Women, Men Can Pray Together In Mosques

New Age Islam News Bureau

30 Jan 2020

This Women-Led Mosque Wants to End Gender Discrimination in Islam

 Youtube / Mercury News


• Australian Training to Be Professional Hijabi Ballerina

• Sharia Law in Indonesia: Now, Female Floggers to Whip Women for Premarital Sex, Cuddling In Public

• Nahdlatul Ulama Women Help Transgender School in Yogyakarta

• Saudi Arabia Appoints First Female In A Leading Position At Justice Ministry

• Russia Frees US-Israeli Woman from Jail after Putin Pardon: TASS

• Qatar's First Female Minister Passes Away

• Saudi Mom, Two Kids to Represent Saudi Arabia at International Golf Tournament

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




AIMPLB to SC: Women, Men Can Pray Together In Mosques

Jan 29 2020

New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS): The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Wednesday said the entry of women into mosques is permitted, and that there is no restriction on men and women praying together.

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition filed by a Maharashtra-based Muslim couple demanding that women should be allowed to "worship in all mosques" and cited discrimination against them currently in practice at various mosques.

The issue will also be taken up by nine-judge bench constituted to examine the legal question associated with the discrimination against women in connection with their entry into various religious places, which includes Sabarimala temple.

The Board in its response said, "The present respondent (AIMPLB) has taken a stand, as per Islamic texts, that entry of woman into mosque for namaz is permitted. Any other 'fatwa' to this effect may be ignored."

However, the Board also contended that the sanctity of 'fatwa' is an opinion based upon religious texts, doctrine and their interpretation and has no statutory force, and the court has no jurisdiction to restrain 'fatwa'.

"In case, if some believer of Islam is of the opinion that he/she needs religious opinion/fatwa, based upon interpretations of religious texts, then delivering of 'fatwa' on that issue cannot be restrained by judicial order of this court as the same shall directly hit the right and freedom of religious belief of an individual", said the Board in the affidavit.

In October 2019, the apex court had issued notice on the plea of Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and Zuber Ahmad Nazir Peerzade, who contended restrictions on entry of Muslim women in mosques across the country were unconstitutional and violates fundamental right to life, equality and gender justice.

The plea sought direction to the government authorities and Muslim bodies to allow entry of Muslim women into mosques to offer namaz there. The plea also contended that in mosques where women are allowed, there should be no segregation -- separate entry, exit or a separate praying area.

The Board said it does not want to comment on any contrary religious opinion to this effect.

"Islam has not made it obligatory on Muslim women to join congregational prayer nor is it obligatory for woman to offer Friday namaz in congregation though it is so on Muslim men. The Muslim woman is differently placed because as per doctrines of Islam, she is entitled to the same religious reward for praying as per her option either in masjid or at home", said the affidavit.

However, it said the practice of religion on the places of worship are purely private bodies regulated by 'Muttawalis' of the Mosques. We being body of experts, without any state powers, can only issue advisory opinion, based on Islam.

"The answering Respondent (AIMPLB), and this court for that matter, cannot enter into the arena of detailed arrangements of a religious place, which is completely privately managed entity for religious practices of believers in a particular religion", contended the Board.



Australian Training to Be Professional Hijabi Ballerina

By Taylor Denny

January 30, 2020

Stephanie Kurlow is aspiring to be one of the first hijabi ballerinas in the world to join a professional dance company.

For a long time she believed this was impossible.

“I thought that it just wouldn't be possible. It wasn't until I sort of saw more women wearing the hijab in the news and on social media that I realised that maybe this could be possible,” she said.

Last week she wrapped up a national tour with The Wiggles, dancing on stage alongside yellow Wiggle Emma Watkins.

“On stage there's so many people, thousands of people, but I can spot all the hijabis in the audience. It would always be a special connection when you look at them and you sort of have that moment of like, I see you and I'm so happy you're here.

“When I was young, I would have never thought that I would see a hijabi dancer on stage with The Wiggles. That was just amazing and to think that they see that representation and they feel like they belong as well, which I think is really important.”

Kurlow, 18, grew up around Castle Hill, in Sydney's north-western suburbs,  and remembers searching for a Muslim ballet dancer on Google when she was a child and finding nothing.

"That was sort of a bit disappointing because you don't have someone to look up to. Or someone to sort of guide you on how to get to that place of professionalism."

Then she saw Zahra Lari, the world's first hijabi figure skater, while watching the news and she was inspired.

"Seeing other women in sports, and ice skating, and models and everything, journalists, is just... it's a really beautiful thing."

Kurlow describes herself as “very visibly Muslim” and feels a deep connection between her dancing and her faith.

She began wearing the hijab when she was 11-years-old and says the Muslim community has been incredibly supportive.

“My faith is really important to me. And it's something that's very spiritual for me. And so, I think that really comes out in my dancing.”

She plans to work hard, make sacrifices and dedicate most of her time to becoming a professional ballerina in a company over the next few years, but she’s also thinking of her future beyond this.

“Later on in my career, one of my biggest dreams is to open my own ballet studio. For kids and young people of all races, religions and backgrounds and abilities. I really want to have a safe space for people to appreciate ballet and enjoy it just as much as I do.”



Sharia Law in Indonesia: Now, Female Floggers to Whip Women for Premarital Sex, Cuddling In Public

Jan 29, 2020

The masked woman nervously approaches her target, shuffles into position and then unleashes a flurry of lashes -- proving herself as the newest member of the first female flogging squad in Indonesia's Aceh province.

The new recruit initially needed some coaxing to punish the offender -- an unmarried woman caught in a hotel room with a man.

Such behaviour constitutes a morality crime in Aceh, the only region in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation that imposes Islamic law -- known as Sharia. Those found guilty of breaches are often publicly whipped with a rattan cane.

But despite her reticence, she persevered and delivered her first flogging.

"I think she did a good job. Her technique was nice," Banda Aceh Sharia police chief investigator Zakwan, who uses one name, told AFP.

The controversial punishment enrages rights activists and generates heated media debate, as well as amongst politicians.

Indonesia's president has issued a call for the public floggings to stop but he has little say over what happens in Aceh, a deeply conservative region on Sumatra island.

Unlike the rest of the nation, Aceh follows religious law as part of a 2005 autonomy deal agreed with the central government that ended a decades-long separatist insurgency.

Here, public whipping remains a common punishment for scores of offenders for a range of charges including gambling, adultery, drinking alcohol, and having gay or pre-marital sex.

But the job has always been done by men. Until now.

'No mercy'

More and more women are being charged for morality crimes such as public affection or premarital sex, experts say, as greater internet access and globalisation bring clashes with local cultural and religious norms.

Enforcement too has increased and now Aceh says it's trying to follow Islamic law, which calls for women to whip female perpetrators. This is already what happens in neighbouring Malaysia.

But convincing women to participate has been no easy task, and it's taken years to assemble the first female squad, according to Safriadi, who heads provincial capital Banda Aceh's Sharia Implementation Unit.

Eight women -- all Sharia officers -- agreed to be floggers and were trained in the appropriate technique and advised how to limit injury.

Previously, a dozen men performed all the whippings in the city for an unspecified fee.

For security reasons, Aceh officials declined to let AFP speak with the floggers, who are outfitted in cloth masks and loose-fitting brown uniforms to hide their identities.

"We train them to make sure they're physically fit and teach them how to do a proper whipping," Zakwan said.

But the secret for any whipping is getting past the mental hurdle of lashing fellow citizens.

For that, you need to look to God, Zakwan said.

"It's kind of an indoctrination that we give to them so they have a better understanding of their role -- have no mercy for those who violate God's law', he added.

'Too lenient'

Aceh officials insist caning deters crime, with patrols often scouring public places and establishments -- or acting on tip-offs -- to monitor behaviour.

Sharia police in Banda Aceh, a city of some 220,000 people, are on the streets round-the-clock in three shifts.

On a recent patrol, a couple sitting close to each other on the beach escaped with a reprimand.

But a group of men and women spotted at a coffee shop around 3:00 am weren't so lucky and were arrested on suspicion of breaking strict codes about unmarried men and women interacting.

"This shows that we never sleep looking for violations of Sharia (Islamic law)," Safriadi said.

From behind bars, one of the men said that there was nothing romantic happening at the coffee shop.

"We don't even know the women and were sitting at different tables," he told AFP.

The women were later released with a reprimand as were the men, but police said the trio may be charged for a new offence, after it was determined they were gay.

Same-sex relations can earn residents a whipping in front of jeering crowds, which can number in the hundreds.

"Sharia in Aceh is still lenient," said resident Saiful Tengkuh.

"Aceh needs harsher punishments like stoning, not just whipping. Someone committing adultery should be stoned 100 times," he added.

'Don't do it again'

Aceh, home to about 5 million people, once mulled beheading for serious crimes, but the central government ruled it out.

This summer, it made headlines over a fatwa, or religious edict, against online game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) and opposing a national women's football league because it didn't have a stadium where only female players, match officials and spectators would be present.

But whipping is often what gets Aceh in the news -- unwanted attention local officials say is Islamophobic.

Advocates say many people caught breaking religious law choose to whip as an efficient if painful, way to avoid a stiff jail term.

But this rough justice can take a toll.

Floggings can be so severe that people pass out or are hospitalised, with the most serious crimes -- including gay sex and having relations with a minor -- earning as many as 150 lashes.

Many offenders have fled the area out of shame or because customers deserted their businesses. Few are keen to discuss their experience.

For women, arrest for even a minor violation can lead to victimisation, including sexual harassment and rape during the arrest, according to research by the Network for Civil Society Concerned with Sharia.

Reporting these assaults without proof can even open up victims to flogging for making a false accusation, it added.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have condemned such punishments as "barbaric", "inhumane", and tantamount to torture.

But Aceh officials insist they're "far more lenient" than ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia and some other Muslim nations.

"We're not aiming to hurt people by whipping them," Safriadi said.

"The most important thing is the shaming effect on violators and spectators so they don't do it again."



Nahdlatul Ulama Women Help Transgender School in Yogyakarta

January 30 2020  

In line with its inclusive policy and moderate Islam approach, the Yogyakarta branch of Fatayat Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the women's wing of NU, has expressed a willingness to provide female preachers to Al Fatah transgender Islamic boarding school.“We don’t have a different view of transgenders,” the branch’s chairwoman, Khotimatul Husna, said on Wednesday.The group signed a memorandum of understanding on the plan with the boarding school’s head, Shintar Ratri.Witnessing the signing were students of Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University’s School of Ushulludin, researchers and members of local transgender groups, including Yogyakarta Transgender Association (Iwayo) chair Kusuma Ayu.Khotimatul said Fatayat NU Yogyakarta had a moderate view and aimed to make friends with anybody, including transgender people. The more friends it had, the more goodness it could generate for all m...



Saudi Arabia Appoints First Female In A Leading Position At Justice Ministry

January 29, 2020

by Anas Alyusuf

JEDDAH — As the government takes up the cudgels for their rights, Saudi women have cracked the glass ceiling wide open and when there are no ceilings, the sky is the limit.”

Making the most of the official support, Saudi women have taken up leading positions of late in public as well as private sectors and on Tuesday another woman, Shuruq Al-Jadaan, joined the list.

The appointment of Al-Jadaan as the new deputy director of alimony affairs at the Ministry of Justice marked another milestone.

Thanking Saudi Justice Minister and Chairman of Alimony Fund Waleed Al-Sama’ani, Al-Jadaan expressing her appreciation for the trust and efforts by the ministry to empower women at various judicial sectors.

The fund aims to provide financial stability to families through prompt disbursement of maintenance whether permanent or temporary.

It has made several achievements, including prompt response to requests and effective interaction with beneficiaries.

Over the last couple of years, the government of Saudi Arabia has announced a raft of reforms and initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life of both Saudis and expatriates over the recent years.

Saudi women are the major beneficiaries of these reforms that have focused on strengthening their role in the national development, which has had a positive impact on their lives in a short span of less than two years.

There has been a tremendous response from young Saudi women to take up jobs at the Ministry of Justice. There are 220 women working at the ministry after they were allowed to work in this vital sector in 2018 and creation of a separate department for women at the ministry last October.

As many as 57 women got license to undertake attestation services, issuance and cancellation of power of attorney and other notary services. There has been a 240 percent increase in the number of licensed women lawyers. There are 418 female lawyers, in addition to 3,140 trainee lawyers.



Russia Frees US-Israeli Woman from Jail after Putin Pardon: TASS

30 January 2020

Russia on Thursday freed a US-Israeli national jailed on drug charges after President Vladimir Putin granted her a pardon, the TASS news agency said, citing a law enforcement source.

Naama Issachar, who was born in New Jersey, was arrested in April last year after police found nine grams of cannabis in her bags during a stopover at a Moscow airport.

Her release comes ahead of talks in Moscow between Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on Thursday.



Qatar's First Female Minister Passes Away

30 Jan 2020

The Peninsula

H E Sheikha Al Mahmoud (pictured), the first female minister of education and higher education of Qatar has passed away. After obtaining bachelor's degree in Arabic language, H E Al Mahmoud started work in 1970 as a teacher and  then a school director.

She worked as undersecretary at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education based on Amiri Decree No. 79 of 1996.  H E Sheikha Al Mahmoud became the Minister of Education and Higher Education in 2003, the first female minister in Qatar.

H E Al Mahmoud also chaired many committees including employees affairs, general supervisory on school development project. H E Sheikha Al Mahmoud received many honours, as she was honoured - as a pioneer figure - at the level of the Arab World on Arab Women’s Day in 2002.

Qatar University also chose H E Sheikha Al Mahmoud to be the personality of the year for social responsibility for the year 2018 in recognition of her services throughout her career in inspiring generations, through many achievements and initiatives, especially in her decades-long educational career.



Saudi Mom, Two Kids to Represent Saudi Arabia at International Golf Tournament

January 30, 2020

JEDDAH: A golfing Saudi mother and her two children are  to grace the opening day of a major tournament taking place in the Kingdom as their country's ambassadors of the sport.

Schoolteacher Raghdah Al-Essawi, who only took up the game a year ago, has been picked along with her kids Layla, 16, and Omar, 11, to represent their country at the Saudi International, which starts on Thursday at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

And teenager Layla has revealed her dream of becoming the Kingdom’s first-ever female professional in the sport.

The talented Al-Telmissani family trio was part of the Saudi Golf Federation national team that competed at the Pan Arab Golf Championship in Egypt last year. The event saw the mother and daughter become the first Saudi women to play for the Kingdom in an international golf tournament.

Al-Essawi, from KAEC, who started playing golf at Royal Greens just over 12 months ago, said: “At this moment in time there’s not many people, especially ladies, who play golf or even try playing golf in Saudi.

“But it is such an easy sport to get hooked on. It’s a great family activity and it really does have no age barrier – anyone can start playing.”

As part of the Vision 2030 reform plan, Golf Saudi  hopes over the next 10 years to encourage 1 million Saudis to try golf for the first time. The aim is to grow the game to such a level that by 2030, 50 percent of the population will have access to golf facilities within an hour’s drive of their home.

Golf is considered a strong platform for the Kingdom to promote its sporting vision, ambition and many social and economic opportunities —  all of which will be showcased this weekend when the world’s top golfers vie for prize money of $3.5 million in the second Saudi International, powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Al-Essawi’s husband Mohammed Al-Telmissani, said his family got great enjoyment from playing golf.

“What I love about golf is the time it gives me to spend with my family. When we are out on the golf course our mobile phones are put away, and it’s just great time together. We talk and have fun. That quality, family time is the major attraction to me. On top of that, it’s played in a beautiful location and is an enjoyable challenge.

“Golf really is absolutely new here (in the Kingdom). Even when I try and describe it to friends or say I’m going out to play golf, they confuse it with other sports — mimicking the action of grass bowls, for example. That shows the low level of understanding and awareness there is for the game here,” he added.

However, Al-Telmissani said he had seen a change over the last year, with people starting to travel and commute to KAEC to play the game. “A golf community exists here, and there’s a lot of motivation in that.

“There are some really great players here in Saudi Arabia now. I’m very excited to see where golf could take Layla, Omar and my wife in the coming years,” he added.

Last week his daughter Layla was inches away from a hole-in-one on Royal Greens’ most famous hole, the par-3 16th, where tournament champion Dustin Johnson landed his ball in the water in his final round last year.

Layla, who also does gymnastics and plays basketball, badminton, and volleyball, said: “My dream is to become the first Saudi woman professional. Golf is very stress relieving. Being out on the course takes you to this whole different environment, and I like that.”

For her brother Omar, the game of golf is all about trying to hit the ball as far as possible. “Golf is really fun to play. It’s exciting hitting a good shot,” he said.

Golf Saudi and the Saudi Golf Federation are supporting mass family participation in the sport.

“It has been a real pleasure for us seeing how Mohammed, Raghdah, Layla and Omar have all taken to the game of golf. They are a joy to have around the clubhouse at Royal Greens and are really developing as players,” said Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal, adviser to the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

“At Golf Saudi we are committed to the five pillars we consider central to growing golf in Saudi Arabia: Developing access and infrastructure, nurturing talent through golf academies, promoting mass participation, hosting world-class events, and bringing international players of all abilities here as a means of golf tourism,” the prince added.




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