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Michigan Muslim Woman Runner Featured On Magazine Cover, Internet Goes Wild

New Age Islam News Bureau

6 Oct 2016

Marathon runner Rahaf Khatib, 33 of Farmington Hills, graces this month's cover of Women's Running magazine. The mother of three, who was born in Damascus, Syria but grew up in Dearborn, Mich., is the first Muslim hijabi runner to appear on a fitness magazine. "I


 Norway Announces It Will Ban Islamic Veil from Schools and Universities

 Mother-Daughter Boxing Duo Make Pakistan Proud

 Shoe Hurled At Australian Imam on Live TV After Saying Muslim Women Needn't Wear Burqa

 Nigerian Islamic Scholar Says Senate Must Reject Equal Inheritance Bill

 The Women Leading a Social Revolution in Syria's Rojava

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Michigan Muslim Woman Runner Featured On Magazine Cover, Internet Goes Wild

October 05, 2016

FARMINGTON HILLS, MICH. -- Not too long ago, Rahaf Khatib was just another face in the land of American suburbia. The 33-year-old running enthusiast and mother of three was happily living out her life in the northern Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills.

Now, Khatib is a cover girl.

Her face is everywhere and her name is traveling the globe. She gets tagged in photos on Facebook with her posing right next to Hollywood starlet Jessica Alba — on opposite magazine covers, to be specific.

Khatib's bright smile on the cover of the October issue of Women's Running. The cover has created a stir because she's was a cover girl before she was on a cover. According to the magazine, Khatib is the first Muslim Hijabi runner to appear on a fitness magazine.

A hijab, the modest head covering of a Muslim woman's head, is part of a practice that involves making sure the body, except the face, is modestly covered. Hijabs have not been seen much in the world of fitness and athletics.

Since the cover of Khatib wearing her hijab was released in late September, the impact has been far-reaching.

"It's been awesome," Khatib said. "I feel honored and humbled with all of the positive messages I've been getting, the feedback from both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities. I feel like everyone has been reaching out to me saying, 'Oh, hey, I can relate to her. I'm a covered runner too.' Or, 'Hey, that's awesome. I'm a mommy runner as well. I'm just getting so many amazing, amazing messages from across the globe."

Khaitb says she has gotten messages of support from Malaysia, Africa, Australia and Europe. Basically, Khatib is the current "It Girl" in both the running and Muslim communities and her life has turned into a whirlwind of various interviews.

The New York Times has picked up the story and Khatib recently did an interview with ESPN.

"It's still slowly sinking in," Khatib said. "Yeah, you need to get used to it. I'm not used to getting that much attention at all. It is, like I've said, welcomed attention. I welcome it with open arms."

Having only started her journey into the sport of running as recent as 2012, Khatib got into running simply because she "wanted to get out there more." Now, she's completed six marathons — all while wearing a hijab and covering her body.

Khatib was born in Damascus, Syria, but grew up in Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb that is home to a large population of Arab Americans. She went to Dearborn Fordson High School, where she "hated running" and could not run more than two miles.

Yet, after marrying while in college at Wayne State and eventually embracing motherhood, she was trying to find a way to stay active and, hopefully, find some brief moments of alone time. Khatib's husband found a gym that had daycare and, although Khatib appreciated the alone time, she did not feel like she was challenging herself enough.

Then, Khatib heard of the "Martian Invasion of Races" in Dearborn that was connected to her son's school. With distances ranging from a 5-kilometer race to a full marathon, Khatib signed up for the 10-kilometer race.

Instead of paying for just a 5K race, Khatib thought she would get her money's worth and pay for a 10K.

"I didn't know at the time but 5Ks are pretty serious," Khatib said. "You've really got to train for that really hard, but at the time I didn't know. I was just like, 'OK, I will just pay to run six miles instead of three. So, I did that and I trained as much as I could with no training plan."

As much of a novice that Khatib was, she made it to the finish line. When she crossed the line, Khatib realized that she enjoyed herself more than she expected to.

"I've never felt more like I was on top of the world than ever before," she said. "Just going out there for a run and crossing the first finish line for the first race of my life — I felt euphoric. I felt like I just won the race.

After that, Khatib could not stop. By the time 2014 came around, Khatib had graduated to the marathon distance for races, 26.2 miles. Why? Khatib loves to challenge herself.

"Don't you get hot? That's the number one question that I get," Khatib said. "I also get, 'How do you run in all of that?"

"I just love to kick my own behind," Khatib said with a laugh. "I love that feeling that I accomplished something after working so hard for it."

With her six marathons and two triathlons under her belt, Khatib has gotten in plenty of traveling as well. For marathons, she has competed in Chicago, Indianapolis, Paris, Berlin and, of course, Detroit.


The sport of competitive running isn't easy with Khatib's choice of wardrobe. "Less is more" is a common theme when it comes to race clothing so runners can stay cool enough.

"Don't you get hot? That's the number one question that I get," Khatib said. "I also get, 'How do you run in all of that?"

Although Khatib does get hot, especially when her outfit gives her no choice to layer, all of the shopping and experimenting to get the most comfortable outfit can be more difficult to deal with than the heat.

"You really have to dig deep," Khatib said, referring to her clothes shopping adventures. "You have to do a lot of shopping. You have to see what fits and what is long enough to cover my behind and what is one sleeved. Sometimes, you have to layer and I hate layering. I absolutely despise layering but sometimes you have to if you need that extra coverage. You need something that's light and thin, which you can find easily, especially with long sleeves.

In terms of the length, you don't find that a lot. You have to always cover and look for things that could make up for that.

Khatib has found websites to order athletic hijabs from. The company called Captsers sells athletic hijab wear to women across the world, including Khatib. Made from more breathable material, Khatib does not have to worry about wearing cotton or other heavier, heat-trapping materials. As she says, "cotton is rotten" when it comes to running.


Khatib's cover shoot process got started when Khatib was on Facebook and saw that the July cover runner for Women's Running was a transgender woman. Khatib had noticed that the magazine had past covers featuring Latina runners, plus-sized runners and, now, a transgender runner. However, she was hoping the magazine would include one group that she did not notice.

"I just wrote a comment under the picture — just a comment — saying that it was amazing and I'm so happy for all of these cover runners," Khatib said. "They represent diversity but you're missing one community who is an essential part of this American society as a whole."

Of course, Khatib was referring to Muslim Americans. Almost immediately, the publication responded and, suddenly, Khatib was chosen to be one of the magazines's feature called "20 Women Who Are Changing The Sport Of Running (And The World)".

Soon after that, she was given the cover.

Yet, despite the outpouring of support that Khatib has received since the Women's Running cover was released, she has seen her share of negative remarks aimed toward her.

"I just woke up one day and my Twitter was just blasting with comments directed at me and Women's Running magazine," Khatib said. "They were just negative, insults and, really, stuff I can't even repeat. Some things had to be reported even and deleted by Twitter."

Then, there are those who try to defend her when she does not need it, saying that she wears her hijab because she is oppressed and that it is too bad that she has to cover herself because her husband makes her.

For Khatib, wearing a hijab because of oppression is something that could not be further from the truth.

"It's my choice to wear it," Khatib said. "How is it that I'm oppressed? If it's your choice to wear whatever you want to wear, how does that make you oppressed? Don't think I'm wearing it for my husband or whatnot.

"Ultimately, I'm wearing it for modesty. It's not just about a piece of fabric on my head. It's about the outward — my attitude, the way I carry myself, the way I guard my speech. It's about the outward as well as the inward."

Khatib does not like to dwell on the negativity.

"I feel like love trumps hate," Khatib said. "People recognize that. People want that. They know that there is love and that there is humanity. We have been getting more positive messages than negative."

Khatib's magazine cover is more than just an image; it is becoming an icon. Khatib hopes that others get more out of her magazine cover than she did. In fact, her motives are two-fold.

"My whole message is that, if I can do it, anyone can," Khatib said. "Sign up for a race and go out there and do it for yourself and make time for yourself, especially if you're a stay-at-home mom like I am for 12 years now. You need that boost in your self confidence. You need to go out there and meet fellow runners and bond and feel like you're a part of a community.

"My other message is for those who see people who look like me, who dress like me. To them, I just say smile and offer them a nice word. Or, if you're really curious, ask. Just simply ask. Do not rely on stereotypes that you've heard from the media or certain political candidates and whatnot. Just ask a question and we would love to answer."



Norway Announces It Will Ban Islamic Veil from Schools and Universities

6 October 2016

Norway's right-wing government on Wednesday announced plans to ban the full-face Islamic veil from classrooms and university lecture halls.

Education Minister Torbjorn Roe Isaksen, quoted in the Vart Land newspaper, said the government was seeking 'national regulations prohibiting the full-face veil in schools and universities'.

Muslim women are rarely seen wearing such veils in Norway, let alone in schools. But the issue has come up recently in political debates, with less than a year to go before parliamentary elections.

Several political parties including the opposition Labour Party had expressed support for such a ban.

Roe Isaksen stressed that the ban would not apply to Islamic headscarves that leave the face exposed such as the hijab. People should be allowed to express their faith in public in Norway, he said.

'I want a young Christian girl who wears a cross to be able to show it,' he told parliament.

'I want a Jewish boy who wears a kippa to be able to show it. And I do not want a ban on the hijab.'

The Norwegian move comes as several European countries have moved to ban the face-covering niqab and full-body burqa.

Bulgaria on Friday banned women from wearing the full veil in public, and Switzerland's lower house last week narrowly approved a draft bill on a nationwide ban.

In August Germany's interior minister came out in favour of a partial ban.

France and Belgium have both banned the burqa and niqab in public, while French beach resorts sparked international controversy this summer with local bans on the full-body 'burkini' Islamic swimsuit.

A poll published earlier this month showed Britons to be strongly in favour of a burqa ban.



Mother-Daughter Boxing Duo Make Pakistan Proud

October 6th, 2016

KARACHI: A few days after the legendary American boxer Mohammad Ali passed away, Younus Qambrani of the Pak Shaheen Boxing Club received an interesting phone call.

A young girl named Razia Abdul Aziz had looked him up on the internet and wanted to know if he would be willing to teach her how to box with the 10 other girls he trained at his club.

Mr Qambrani has been teaching Lyari’s youth how to box since 1994 and started to train girls in the sport last year.

“When she called me she was worried about the fees but I told her that I train girls free-of-cost,” he said, adding that Razia was one of the most hardworking and enthusiastic students he had.

According to Mr Qambrani, Razia trains seven days a week for an hour or more. In just a few months, he said, she had advanced fantastically.

Razia, 19, told Dawn, that her dream was to become a professional boxer and represent Pakistan at the Olympics. “I don’t just want to participate, I want to win gold,” she said.

According to Razia, her English language teacher at the House of Modern English inspired her to become a boxer. “My teacher is a great boxer and an amazing teacher. He really inspired me,” she said.

“I was always very interested in sports but did not have the opportunity to do so. When I tried playing cricket in college people thought it was strange,” she added.

“Training at this club and boxing is a great opportunity for me and I will not let it go to waste. I will train and give it my best,” she said.

Nearly a month ago, Razia’s mother, Halima, joined her at the club — something that no woman in her neighbourhood of Lyari dared to do before.

“My daughter, Razia, started training at the club a few months ago and last month I decided that I wanted to try it out as well,” she said.

“Razia came up to me one day and asked if she could learn how to box — I said if that is what you want then go for it.”

“When I joined I wanted to do this just for the physical fitness. I thought I would come here for PT and then go home but with encouragement from the coach I decided that I would learn the sport,” she added.

Talking to Dawn, Halima said that she knew she was not as fast as the other girls Razia trained with or learning at the same pace.

“I started learning slowly and give it as much time as I can. Although I never wanted to be a professional boxer, I have decided that in the future I want to become a referee,” she said.

“Her father used to love boxing and Mohammad Ali was one of his all time favourites,” said Razia’s mother. “When he was alive we used to watch boxing matches and other sports together all the time.”

To ensure that the mother and daughter learn all the tricks of the sport, the coach makes them spar together.

“At first it was difficult, but then we realised that if we don’t punch each other or hurt each other someone else will and this is part of the sport,” they said.

Talking about her relationship with her daughter, Halima said that she feels boxing has brought them closer together.

“She has a very set routine — she wakes up at Fajr, has something to eat then goes to work, then comes to train, then rushes to the coaching centre to study. Finally she comes home around 8pm or so to pray, eat and sleep,” said Halima.

“Since we started boxing together we make it a point to not miss training at the club and always talk a little about boxing before going to sleep,” she added.



Shoe Hurled At Australian Imam On Live TV After Saying Muslim Women Needn't Wear Burqa

October 6th, 2016

An Egyptian live TV debate boiled over and ended in an all-out-brawl among participants. The fight erupted after prominent Sydney Imam, Dr Mostafa Rashid defended Muslim women who chose not wear Burqas.

This statement infuriated Egyptian lawyer Nabih al-Wahsh, who flung a shoe at him. The fight turned even more ugly during the commercial break, with verbal abuses and Rashid in turn throwing a chair at the lawyer.

The fight didn't end there, the two went on fighting eventually smashing a glass pane in the studio, before the crew members intervened and separated them.

Mohamed Al-Ghiety the TV shows host told the Middle-East Eye, 'It was a free fight in the middle of the studio. I never expected that something like this could happen on air.'

According to the report in Midlle-East Eye, Rashid, who holds a PhD in Islamic theology from Egypt's prestigious al-Azhar University, is known for his controversial views on Islam.

He is also known for his controversial views on the Quran, where he said the holy book 'forbids drunkenness but not the drinking of alcohol'. Rashid left Egypt for Sydney in 2013 after declaring prayers he gave alongside President Mohamed Morsi were "null" because of his 'violent crimes'.



Nigerian Islamic Scholar Says Senate Must Reject Equal Inheritance Bill

October 6th, 2016

A renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi, has condemned the controversial Gender and Equal Opportunity Bill, warning the Senate to reject it.

The bill, which seeks to ensure equal inheritances for male and female children, has passed the second reading at the Senate.

Speaking to newsmen in his Bauchi residence on Wednesday, October 5, he said the bill is against the provision of Islam about inheritance between male and female - the religion gave a higher percentage to a male heir.

Bauchi warned the Senate to be sensitive in dealing with issues that touch on the religious line as this may cause unnecessary tension among believers of the religion.

He particularly warned every Muslim Senator in the Chamber, who he said should know better, to strongly oppose the bill and ensure it is not passed into law.

He expressed pity for any Muslim senator who backs the bill, saying it is an attempt to change a divine law contained in the Qur'an. He said such person is doing so at his own peril.

Bauchi stressed that the attempt to give the same share of inheritance to male and female heirs in Nigeria is an infringement on the Islamic rights of Nigerian Muslims as enshrined in the Qur'an.

The Islamic scholar said: "Since there is a law which guarantees the freedom of religion, our Islamic laws must not be tampered with. Giving a double female share to a male heir in an inheritance was prescribed by Allah in the Qur'an.

"Anybody who thought that it is an attempt to short-changed women is only ignorant. Islam is the only religion that awards inheritance to women and guarantees their rights. In other religions and cultures, what is left by a deceased belongs to the eldest male child."

He called on Muslims to recall, reject and vote out their elected representatives who attempt to tamper with any Islamic law in whatever guise.



The Women Leading A Social Revolution In Syria's Rojava


Details have emerged of how women in towns and villages across northern Syria have defied the fierce oppression of President Bashar Al-Assad’s Ba’ath regime to come together and create a women’s movement.

The Committee of Diplomacy of Kongreya Star—a confederation of women’s organizations in Rojava, Syria—has released a 33-page report explaining how the Rojava Revolution has developed since it was founded (under the name Yekîtiya Star) in 2005.

The report’s fundamental conviction is clear: “Without the liberation of women, a truly free society is impossible.”

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It provides an insight into how women in the region are playing a leading role in organizing all areas of life from education and economics to politics and international relations. The group is focused on protecting each other, resisting the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and building an egalitarian community in the middle of a warzone.

Kurds make up the majority of Rojava and most of the population is Muslim, but the area is home to many different groups, including Arabs, Assyrians and Yazidis, as well as a Christian minority. As military escalation in 2011 turned Syria into a warzone, Kurdish women felt the repression doubly. They learnt from the experiences of the Kurdish Women’s Movement in other parts of the Middle East (the report mentions Bakur in southeast Turkey, Bashur in Iraq, and Rojhilat in northern Syria) and established a network of organizations to defend themselves.

But the people involved in Kongreya Star hope not just for a better society in their own communities, but for a better society across the whole region.

“Our goal is to overcome all forms of domination, power, ownership and sexism to establish a truly free society,” the report reads.

“Working throughout Rojava and Syria, Kongreya Star aims to be an example for the entire Middle East and to realize the women’s liberation revolution across the entire region.”

Working not only to “include women in the existing framework of knowledge, but rather to question and reshape this framework all together,” Kongreya Star explains its strategy under five umbrellas: the organization of the communes; establishing a communal economic system; providing education; the organization of self-defense; and the development of women’s science—also referred to as “Jineology.”

The report details how communes and assemblies are formed to ensure people come together on a regular basis to discuss and decide on collective matters, such as the distribution of water and energy. Women’s communes work within these communities and five committees are established in each area: education, health, economy, problem-solving and self-defense.

Kongreya Star states that so far, nine central committees of education have been established in nine different towns. The representatives of these committees receive education (including classes in literacy in the Kurdish language, history, democratic confederalism, women's rights and sexism) and training. In turn, they educate the women in their respective communes.

The group has also formed a women’s academy with a range of courses on offer, including history of the Middle East, law and justice, philosophy of Abdullah Ocalan, equality in relationships and Jineology.

In a bid to support the economy in Rojava, Kongreya Star also supports the building up of women’s cooperatives in three fields: agriculture, animal husbandry and production and sales.

“We have thus far realized nine agricultural cooperatives, two animal husbandry cooperatives and a vast variety of cooperatives in the field of production and sales, including three tailor cooperatives, two second-hand clothes shops, three bakeries, a restaurant, a cheesemaker, a general store and a cooperative that pickles vegetables,” the report reads.

“There are also cooperatives planting fruit trees, a practice which was forbidden under the Ba’ath regime.”

The organization dedicates a large section of the report to self-defense.

“Self-defense is a natural characteristic of all life,” the report reads. “A flower protects itself with thorns; a chameleon changes color according its environment; a turtle can retract inside its shell. Societies have always adapted and changed in order to defend themselves against attacks. However, with the emergence of the nation-state, self-defense has become part of the monopoly of the state.”

There are three protection forces of women active in Rojava: the military women’s self-defense forces—the Women’s Defense Units (YPJ), the women’s security-forces (Asayish a Jin) and the women civil self-defense forces connected to the communes, the HPC. All of these women are trained in the use of various weapons.

But Kongreya Star also aims to educate women on self-defense in relation to honor killings, rape and domestic violence.  

“In both the heroic military defense against ISIS, as well as in the building up of a new society that breaks with patriarchal traditions, women have embraced and championed an active role in every aspect of society,” the report reads. “Kongreya Star views self-defense as a fundamental principle of defending, developing and improving the values of this ethical and democratic society.

“Self-defense therefore includes all spheres of life, not only the military aspects. As women have historically been the first group dominated in any society, we believe that women’s liberation is a central pillar in tackling all structures of oppression.

“While we fight for the liberation of women, we also address all other forms of oppression, albeit based on grounds of gender, ethnicity, class or religion.”




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