New Age Islam News Bureau
6 Oct 2020
•Rihanna Accused Of Using Islam As An 'Aesthetic' After Catwalk Song Appeared To Sample A Kuwaiti Preacher
•Two Female Victims of Acid Attack Respond to Iran’s Friday Prayers Leaders
•Nida Rehman and Mohan Lal, Hindu-Muslim Couple in India Challenges Controversial Inter-Faith Marriage Law
•International Space City to Create 1 Million Arab Women Space Entrepreneurs
• Understanding the roles of women members in Union Disaster Management committes in Bangladesh
Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau
Rihanna Accused Of Using Islam As An 'Aesthetic' After Catwalk Song Appeared To Sample A Kuwaiti Preacher
By Rayhan Uddin
Muslims and non-Muslims alike took to social media to criticise Rihanna
Rihanna has come under fierce criticism after lingerie models at her latest fashion show danced to a song which appeared to remix an Islamic hadith.
On Friday, the Barbadian singer launched Savage X Fenty Volume 2, the second edition of her lingerie line, accompanied by a pre-recorded fashion show which aired on Amazon Prime.
Social media users noticed that in one segment of the show, models danced to a song called “Doom” by London-based producer Coucou Chloe. The song samples a narration of a hadith - a saying by the Prophet Muhammad which Muslims use as guidance.
The hadith in question appears to have remixed a recitation by Kuwaiti preacher Mishary bin Rashid Alafasy.
Muslims and non-Muslims alike took to social media to criticise Rihanna, accusing her of disrespecting Islam by using the sacred text in a sexualised context.
Some have noted that Rihanna has used "Doom", which appears to draw on the theme of judgement day in the hadith segment, in another fashion show three years ago.
Chloe's most recent Instagram post - ironically captioned "stress zero" - has hundreds of users criticising her track on it. Her Instagram has since limited interactions, while both her Facebook and Twitter accounts were deactivated.
On Monday, she reactivated her Twitter and posted an apology.
"I want to deeply apologise for the offence caused by the vocal samples used in my song 'Doom'. The song was created using samples from Baile Funk tracks I found online. At the time, I was not aware that these samples used text from an Islamic Hadith," Chloe wrote.
"I take full responsibility for the fact I did not research these words properly and want to thank those of you who have taken the time to explain this to me. We have been in the process of having the song urgently removed from all streaming platforms."
Rihanna has often been praised for her championing of diversity and inclusivity.
The Savage X Fenty launch last week was commended for including models of different races and sizes - something lingerie brands such as Victoria's Secret have been criticised for not doing in the past. Rihanna’s line earned particular plaudits this year for including plus-sized male models.
When it comes to the representation of Muslims, the 32-year-old singer and businesswoman has a mixed record.
Rihanna included hijab-wearing model Halima Aden in the launch of her cosmetic brand Fenty Beauty in 2017. She also promoted Fenty sunglasses last year with a hijabi model.
However, she has also been accused of appropriating Islamic dress. Last year’s Savage X Fenty lingerie launch featured women, including Palestinian-American model Bella Hadid, with their hair covered in a way that some interpreted as similar to hijab.
In 2013, Rihanna was asked to leave the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi after posing for photos in a way that was deemed inappropriate.
"She was asked to leave before entering the actual mosque (she was in the courtyard taking pictures), after taking some photos that did not fit within the rules and regulations set out to preserve the sacredness of the centre," the mosque said in a statement at the time.
The singer later posted pictures on Instagram covered head to toe in black, including one post with Muslim women in the background, captioned “Bitch stole my look”.
The latest controversy raises yet further concerns about Rihanna’s perceived use of Islam as an aesthetic.
She is certainly not the first hip-hop star to utilise Arabic or Islamic phrases in music, with singer Drake most recently doing so.
Drake’s use of the word “Inshallah” (God willing) in the 2018 song “Diplomatic Immunity” prompted music publisher Genius to track the history of Arab and Muslim references in hip-hop, including from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Jay-Z.
For many, however, the use of prophetic Islamic text in a lingerie show has been seen as a step much too far.
Two Female Victims of Acid Attack Respond to Iran’s Friday Prayers Leaders
October 5, 2020
With the inhuman and misogynistic remarks of the Iranian Friday prayers leader of Isfahan regarding the need to “confront mal-veiling”, two women who were victims of acid spraying, reacted to the senior cleric’s words. Simultaneous speeches of two Friday Imams in Isfahan and Bojnourd about confronting ‘bad hijab’ are among the bases for intimidation in society. The response of the two women victims of acid attacks to the representatives of Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei is a testament to this fact.
Regime’s cleric Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad, the Friday prayers leader and representative of Iran’s supreme leader in Isfahan, met with the provincial police commander and the provincial security headquarters. During the meeting, he called for seriousness and determination against lawbreakers and stressed that law-breaking should be dealt with seriously. He demanded that the atmosphere in society be made insecure for “unveiled women” and called for more support from judges for “Islamic morality police.”
‘Bad Hijabs’ Make Our Religious Community Insecure
Following the words of the Friday prayers leader of Isfahan, the Friday prayer leader of Bojnourd also ordered this anti-feminist act. Cleric Abolghasem Yaghoubi, who is also Khamenei’s representative in North Khorasan Province, said in Friday prayers ceremony on October 2: “Do not let the coronavirus distract us from other viruses. Law enforcement forces must make the life of the ‘mal-veiled’ women unsafe because they are trying to make our religious community insecure.”
The Spread of Repression
These statements and encouragement of government criminal factions are not a matter of spontaneity and personal opinion of these people. Such orders and actions given by Khamenei’s representatives in the provinces are a way to confront the threat of anti-government protests by the young population. By fomenting an atmosphere of intimidation and repression, Khamenei is trying in every way he can to prevent any protest or dissatisfaction, Iran watchers say. The order to suppress ‘unveiled’ or ‘badly veiled’ women and make society insecure for them is a clear manifestation of the spread of repression in the whole society.
Following the remarks by Khamenei’s representatives in Isfahan and Bojnourd, two women who were victims of acid attacks reacted.
Ms. Soheila Jorkesh and Ms. Marzieh Ebrahimi are two women who were victims of acid attacks in Isfahan in 2014. On her Instagram page, Ms. Soheila Jorkesh in response to the Friday prayers leader of Isfahan expression said: “The previous acid attacks are not over yet.” This statement refers to the case of acid attacks in 2014. The regime declared the case closed without identifying, prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators and those in charge in Isfahan.
Ms. Marzieh Ebrahimi is another victim of acid attacks in Isfahan. She too reacted to the words of the Friday prayers leader of Isfahan. She wrote on her Instagram page: “In those days, fear had taken over the whole city. The fear of going out, the fear of the streets… and that is all they wanted and got. People were all scared and this story will be repeated.”
Nida Rehman and Mohan Lal, Hindu-Muslim Couple in India Challenges Controversial Inter-Faith Marriage Law
OCT 5, 2020
NEW DELHI - Blood flowed on Delhi's streets during the February riots, as Hindus and Muslims attacked each other.
A young inter-faith couple in the city witnessed the events unfold with horror.
But this explosion of violence did not weaken their resolve to marry each other.
This was a decision that Ms Nida Rehman, a 26-year-old Muslim, and Mr Mohan Lal, a 28-year-old Hindu, had made after they met and fell in love in 2011 while they were university students.
Ms Rehman still considers their marriage as a "blooming flower" that could soothe relations between the two communities.
"The child that will come into our house will become familiar with both Hinduism and Islam and grow to respect both religions," she told The Straits Times.
But India, polarised along religious lines, has been a hostile flowerbed for such inter-faith unions that attract censure, not just from the lovers' families, but also society at large.
Ms Rehman walked out of her parent's house in August - they wanted Mr Lal to convert to Islam - and moved into a flat the couple rented. She did so after spending a few days under the protection of Dhanak of Humanity, a not-for-profit organisation that counsels inter-faith, as well as inter-caste, couples and offers them temporary refuge.
The couple has now taken the battle to the Delhi High Court, seeking to overhaul a law they believe discriminates against inter-faith couples.
On Sept 21, they filed a petition against the 1954 Special Marriage Act (SMA) that requires an inter-faith couple seeking to marry to issue a notice to a local government “marriage officer” in a district where at least one of them has lived for 30 days or more prior to issuing their notice.
This notice must contain private details such as names, addresses and photographs of the couple and has to be displayed in a "conspicuous place" in the marriage officer's office.
This is done so that anybody - not just family or relatives - who wishes to object to their marriage can do so.
These objections are then inquired into by the officer and the marriage is not solemnised until the officer is satisfied that the objection lacks merit or unless it is withdrawn.
Even couples who share the same faith but want to have a secular marriage under the SMA must follow the same process.
Ms Rehman believes inter-faith couples face a greater risk of harassment from uncooperative government officials and strangers after their private details are made public through such notices, especially by those who wish to exploit these relationships for political gains.
Her petition calls for Sections 6 and 7 of the SMA, which lay out this process of inviting public objections, to be scrapped. It claims these sections violate an individual's fundamental rights, including the right to privacy. The first hearing is scheduled for Oct 7.
"This law is holding back our society from progress. If a man and a woman are ready to get married, why is the consent of a third person being sought at all," said Ms Rehman. She applied last month to marry under SMA to the local marriage officer but is still waiting to hear when her 30-day notice period to register her marriage begins.
Inter-faith couples have often been victims of harassment across India, even leading to "honour killings" and suicide in many cases. A 23-year-old Hindu man was murdered not far from his house in Delhi in 2018 by the family of the Muslim girl she was dating. In cases where the girl is a Hindu and the boy a Muslim, accusations of "love jihad" further aggravate communal tension.
The term "love jihad" is used by radical Hindu groups to accuse Muslim men of participating in a planned conspiracy to convert Hindu women to Islam by seducing them.
In July, the Kerala government discontinued the practice of uploading application forms filed under the SMA online and now only displays them at sub-registrar office notice boards. This was done after such notices were found to be used by right-wing groups to target inter-faith couples, accusing them of "love jihad".
The SMA, however, lays down specific grounds for objection. Neither party to a proposed marriage should have a living spouse nor should they suffer from any "unsoundness of mind" that renders them incapable of giving valid consent. They should also not suffer from a "mental disorder" that makes them unfit for marriage or "procreation of children".
Mr Utkarsh Singh, the advocate who is representing Ms Rehman, argues that the objection for having a living spouse may also arise in Hindu or Muslim religious marriages but they do not require the publication of a similar public notice.
The objections based on the mental health of the couple, he added, cannot be raised by strangers at all, and must be settled with medical expertise.
"Only a certified medical practitioner can raise them or somebody from the family, backed by necessary medical evidence," he told The Straits Times.
In addition to Ms Rehman's petition, a public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court last month by Ms Nandini Praveen, a Kerala-based law student.
The petition also calls for certain portions of the SMA, including Sections 6 and 7, to be impugned as they violate the privacy of an individual. The court has sought a response from the federal government ahead of the next hearing that is yet to be scheduled.
Mr Kaleeswaram Raj, the advocate for the petitioner, described these provisions as an "unprincipled intrusion by the state into the lives of two individuals".
"Marriage, which is essentially a private affair between two consenting adults, is treated and exhibited as a public affair. This goes against the very idea of privacy," he said.
Mr Raj said the practice of issuing a public notice under the SMA is a "remnant of colonial vintage" that India transplanted from the Indian Christian Marriage Act of 1872, which calls for a similar public notice.
Hindu or Islamic marriage laws in India do not not include such a practice.
There have been growing calls for SMA reform in recent years. In 2018, the Law Commission of India had recommended that the 30-day period be reduced to "bring the procedure in line" with Hindu and Muslim marriage laws that enable couples to register their marriage in a day.
Between January and September last year in New Delhi, 461 marriages were registered under the SMA compared to 13,572 under the Hindu Marriage Act.
Mr Asif Iqbal, who co-founded Dhanak of Humanity in 2005, said the harassment and procedural delays inter-faith couples have to suffer in order to marry under the SMA forces many among them to convert to their partner's faith.
This expedites the marriage and makes it easier under Hindu or Islamic marriage laws. Such an outcome also helps them avoid family pressure or harassment from local police - something that couples living together face at times.
But Ms Rehman and Mr Lal refuse to compromise in such a manner.
"We have been clear right from the start of our relationship that we will not convert. We are what we are; we chose each other for what we are. Why change that?" she said.
International Space City to create 1 million Arab women space entrepreneurs
Oct 6, 2020
Liverpool-based International Space City, a virtual commercial city to promote the business of space, is rolling out a new online programme called Spacehackers to create 1 million Arab women space entrepreneurs.
Held under the "inspire generations" campaign, Spacehackers is a six-week leadership and mini-MBA training programme. It will help Arab women in the GCC to launch their own space-related business in three areas – law and ethics, social impact and trade and business.
“Space 4.0 is an emerging industry … if we encourage responsible business from the start, we won’t have to try and fix it later,” Helen Rankin, executive director of International Space City, said.
“Affordable technology and increased entrepreneurship globally has decentralised and accelerated commercialisation of the space industry … now is the time for creativity, innovation and responsible business,” said Ms Rankin.
The initiative, which was originally scheduled to launch in March, was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The first batch will commence classes from November 17.
Cheaper and faster technology has paved the way for smaller companies to innovate and disrupt the space industry. The global space economy is estimated to generate revenue of $1 trillion or more in 2040, up from $350 billion this year, according to Morgan Stanley.
The most significant short- and medium-term opportunities may come from satellite broadband internet access, the American investment bank said.
It will represent 50 per cent of the projected growth of the global space economy by 2040 and as much as 70 per cent in the most bullish scenario. Launching satellites that offer broadband internet service will help to drive down the cost of data, just as demand for data explodes.
The International Space City describes Spacehackers as individuals who use creative, low-cost strategies to accelerate the commercialisation of the space industry.
“Spacehackers are the new generation of space entrepreneurs,” said Ms Rankin, adding that there are many similarities between the internet boom of the 1990s and the current state of the space industry.
“We can repeat our mistakes or learn from them … we need entrepreneurs to lead the way, to set the agenda now on outer space law and ethics, off-planet social impact and interplanetary trade,” she added.
Applications are encouraged from adult women, non-graduates and graduates of all ages and backgrounds in the GCC. Interested applicants can register here by paying $150.
Understanding the roles of women members in Union Disaster Management committes in Bangladesh
5 Oct 2020
Bangladesh is a country that faces a variety of natural disasters, overpopulation, poverty and other adversities that challenge the lives and livelihoods of its people. Women face the brunt of these hardships, because of the socio-economic differences and inequalities that are prevalent, alongside the impacts of disasters and climate change, especially in drought, flood, and coastal areas. Over the last 30 years, many more women have died in natural disasters than men, due to their lower economic status, lack of social capital, and lack of disaster preparedness. As climate change impacts continue to rise, greater numbers of women in Bangladesh will be affected, more frequently. With these considerations, the government of Bangladesh established the Union Disaster Management Committee, based on the Standing Order of Disasters, in 2010, established to carry out disaster management activities as preventative actions, mitigation measures, and preparedness activities. As automatic members of the UDMC from the Union Parishad, women play complex roles in the activities of the committee, ensuring that there are representatives of women in the community within a disaster management body in each area of Bangladesh.
This study aimed to understand the participation, perceptions, and knowledge of differentiated impacts of disasters and disaster risk reduction on women and men. It found that women’s socio-economic status, their understanding of their own capabilities, gender biases, and cultural and religious barriers in society restrict opportunities for women to participate and contribute in positive ways to the activities, especially field-based ones, of the UDMC. The study was conducted in ten upazillas of ten districts in Bangladesh, with two UDMCs studied in each upazilla. Out of the 140 targeted personnel, 134 personnel were interviewed, of which 53 were male, including chairmen, government officers and NGO workers, and 81 were female members. One of these women was the chairman of her UDMC, two were government officials and three were NGO workers. The rest of the female respondents were general members and vulnerable women representatives.
A majority of the interviewed respondents agreed that men and women are impacted differentially and that it was vitally important that women take active roles in the UDMCs.
Women, especially in the more conservative areas of Bangladesh need an outlet and supportive body where they can share their health, hygiene and reproductive problems, and it is imperative to provide them such outlets through active participation in the UDMCs. Women members can also assist other women in their unions to share their issues and concerns without hesitation.
Respondents also noted the need for women members to become more aware of climate change and disaster impacts, and how they can impact women differently than men. Awareness is critical for women in the community so that they can be prepared to face disaster situations without compromising themselves or their families and households. This awareness, respondents claimed, could only be provided to them by knowledgeable and active female members of a UDMC, through structured and highly experienced means.
Yet the study also found that there is a significant gap in the perceptions of the roles and responsibilities that women play in the UDMCs between male and female respondents. While a little more than half the women respondents mentioned that they play a role in distributing relief after disasters, a significant number of the chairmen and government officials said that women are involved in this process. This discrepancy can contribute to ideas that women are more involved than they really are, and that there is no need to empower female members further in playing more active roles and increasing their responsibilities in delivering support to their communities. It is also possible that women are likely less active in these tasks delivery as the leadership and more responsibilities are assigned to men.
The study further suggests that male counterparts seldom encourage women members to get actively involved in activities, although the larger portion of the male members interviewed expressed strong views in supporting women members. All female respondents iterated the importance of women members participating in activities such as disaster risk reduction planning, raising awareness, helping and aiding women, children, and the disabled, and in damage assessment activities post-disaster.
Conclusive data from the field findings show that the female members of the UDMCs across the study areas are, in most cases, not participating in the activities of the committee as the guideline prescribe. Participation for most women has come down to mere presence in the meetings, and most women do not voice their opinions in the proceedings of the meetings. The women who do raise suggestions and opinions explained that their words are seldom heeded, and eventually they stop raising their voices altogether. In addition, researchers in the field have witnessed and reported cases of intimidation from male members toward female members, and noted instances of misadministration in the participation of women members.
Yet, the study has also uncovered positive potential for future exploration, where women reported having active and comprehensive participation. There were UDMCs found in the field where women’s opinions were not only heeded but actively put into action, and male members encouraged further dynamic participation of their female counterparts.
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