New Age Islam News Bureau
1 Jun 2020
‘Niqab’ Or ‘Shmaagh’ Can Be Worn as A Facemask
• Divorces UpThirty Percent in Saudi Arabia As Women Find Out Husbands Married Others In Secret
• Iran Bans Women’s Boxing in Khuzestan Province
• ‘Niqab’ (For Women)Or ‘Shmaagh’ (For Men) Can Be Worn as A Facemask: Saudi Ministry of Health
• Woman Who Tried to Send Phones to ISIS to Be Used as Bomb Detonators Jailed
• Coronavirus: Ministers Should Use Crisis to Improve Education for Girls, Malala’s Father Says
• 15 Unique Stories from Muslim Women About What It's Like to Celebrate In Different Countries
• A $100,000 Prize Is Open for UAE Women Entrepreneurs Making Right Business Pitch
• In This Crucial Time, History Must Not Repeat for Afghan Women
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Saudi Shura Rejects Call to Let Women Marry with Her Consent, Proposal Submitted By A Female Council Member
June 1, 2020
JEDDAH: The Judicial Committee of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council turned down a proposal submitted by a female council member that would allow women to contract their marriage without requiring the permission of a male guardian, foreign media reported.
According to a Saturday report by Al Riyadh, EqbalDarandari’s proposal called on the Ministry of Justice to work with the Supreme Judicial Council to amend the necessary laws and permit adult women to marry a partner on their own.
The council, which is the formal advisory body of the Kingdom, rejected the proposal, saying a male guardian’s presence is a key condition to legislate a marriageUnder Saudi customary law, the presence of a male guardian is considered essential, the pro-government Riyadh-based daily reported.
Citing a statement released by the judicial committee, Al Riyadh said Darandari “withdrew” her proposal, while other council members also took back a request to amend laws relating to different types of divorce – including Faskh [annulment of marriage] and Khala’a [dispossession of a spouse].
Saudi Arabia notoriously restricts women’s rights under its male guardianship system, which according to the Human Rights Watch, lets a man “control a Saudi woman’s life from her birth until her death”.
Every Saudi woman is reqired by law to have a male guardian, who is often the father, husband or sibling of the girl. The guardian makes has the power to make a range of critical decisions on a Saudi woman’s behalf.
A Saudi woman is not allowed to legislate her marriage without the approval of her assigned guardian.TheShura Council is set to convene on Monday to hear the Judicial Committee’s response to observations. Faisal al-Fadil, who heads the economic committee, called on the council to additionally consider other reforms.
According to Al-Riyadh, Fadil is proposing to abolish “disciplinary” punishments, including floggings and executions and replace them with “other fit punishments that do not go against Islamic Sharia law”.
The alternative punishments would reportedly focus on rehabilitation rather than “putting an end to a life or humiliating” the accused.“The need has become more urgent than ever to consider this proposal. This will help improve the image of the Kingdom and where it falls on human rights. It will bridge the gap with the international community,” the pro-Saudi paper wrote.
Divorces Up Thirty Percent In Saudi Arabia As Women Find Out Husbands Married Others In Secret
May 31, 2020
Abu Dhabi: The number of marriage contracts made across Saudi Arabia in February reached 13,000, an increase of 5 per cent over contracts made in the same month last year, and Saudi citizens accounted for the vast majority. In contrast, the number of divorce deeds for the same month was 7,482, according official statistics.
During the COVID-19 crisis, observers noted a 30 per cent increase in requests for divorce and Khula’, a procedure through which a woman can divorce her husband in Islam, by returning the dowry (mahr) or something else that she received from her husband, as agreed by the spouses or court decree.
Among the cases are female doctors, community women and employees who were forced to request annulment of their marriage after they discovered their husbands had married other women in secret, according to Okaz newspaper.
The pandemic, home quarantine and the curfew contributed to uncovering what was hidden, and the courts’ family counsellors try to bridge the rift between the couples away from court sessions to protect families and prevent the dispersion of children.
A woman seeking annulment or Khula’ needs specific procedures to fulfil her request with the return of the husband’s dowry and she may request annulment without compensation if she proves that she has been harmed by the husband.
Self-isolation promotes marital bonds
Talal Muhammad Al Nashiri, social worker and head of the Jeddah Therapy Association, said marital relations differ from one person to another, and they become more coherent and stronger when an external threat to the individual, family or society occurs.
“We observe the cohesion of members of society and their solidarity in facing diseases, epidemics and disasters, and this is the nature of human beings who unite and show more cohesion against external influences. We also observe a large percentage of society members who apply isolation and care for the safety of family and community members,” he said.
From this standpoint, he added, isolation strengthens family relations and increases family bonding with their participation in all matters of family life.
The electronic portal of the Ministry of Justice revealed that the number of marriage contracts made in February reached 13,000, an increase of 5 per cent over the marriage contracts made in the same month last year, and the marriage contracts whose parties are Saudis represented 88 per cent of the total marriage contracts in the Kingdom.
Statistics showed 45 per cent of the total marriage contracts were made in Makkah and Riyadh.
The number of marriage contracts made daily in Saudi courts ranged between 285 and 938 before the coronavirus crisis.
On the other hand, the number of divorce deeds for the February reached 7,482, and 52 per cent of the total divorce deeds were made in Makkah and Riyadh, while the number of divorce deeds made daily across the Kingdom ranged between 163 and 489 before the coronavirus pandemic, and the number of monthly divorce deeds ranged between 3,397 and 7,693 over the past 12 months.
Sources said the electronic portal of the Ministry of Justice has stopped publishing any statistics since February because of the suspension of work at the courts.
Where is affection and compassion?
The executive supervisor of the Takamul Aid Initiative, Manal Al Harthy, said that marital relations were not immune to the pandemic, as wives resorted to law firms to request divorce during the pandemic, and some of them filed an electronic lawsuit immediately after receiving legal advice to know the required steps, . She added that divorce occurs at any time and has no reason or occasion other than fuelling anger between the two spouses, and may not be documented in court immediately, and the husband may review relations his wife.
Law offices recorded a remarkable increase in requests for divorce, Khula, and annulment of marriage of about 30 per cent during the coronavirus crisis,
Some 22 cases were filed by teachers, doctors, and businesswomen, and the lawyer and judicial notary Saleh Musfer Al Ghamdi said he received five divorce requests within two weeks from wives, including doctors and businesswomen. “Among them is a doctor who discovered that her husband married secretly to an Arab resident,” Al Ghamdi said.
Iran Bans Women’s Boxing in Khuzestan Province
31 May 2020
Women’s boxing in Iran’s Khuzestan province has been banned, the head of the province’s boxing board said on Sunday.
“In light of a recent letter from the boxing federation, any activity in the women’s section of the discipline, including coaching, training, education, and theory classes, is prohibited,” Hamid Zanganehmanesh told the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Zanganehmanesh did not say why the boxing federation has decided to ban women’s boxing in Khuzestan.
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“No male trainer in the province has the right to teach boxing to women, and if they do, they will bear the consequences of their action and they will be dealt with,” he said.
Women’s boxing in Khuzestan will be unbanned once the boxing federation issues a permit, Zanganehmanesh said.
Iran is accused of discriminating against Iranian athletes based on gender and limiting women’s participation in sporting activities.
Women in Iran are not allowed to enter football stadiums to watch games.
In 2016, the country’s top authority Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa (religious edict) banning women from cycling in public.
‘Niqab’ (For Women) Or ‘Shmaagh’ (For Men) Can Be Worn as A Facemask: Saudi Ministry of Health
May 31, 2020
RIYADH – The Saudi Ministry of Health Call Centre “937” stated in its Twitter account: “Donning the Niqab (for women) or the Shmaagh (for men) is deemed an alternative for the cloth face mask, provided it is made of several layers of fabric. Furthermore, it should fit tightly when worn, specifically at the nose and mouth areas.”
The ministry was responding to a question by one of its followers in Twitter that whether it suffices to cover one’s mouth and nose with ‘Shmaagh’ (Saudi male checkered head gear) instead of a cloth facemask.
The response would alleviate the concern of a citizen or resident to use the Shmaagh or Niqab as a substitute for the medical or cloth mask in the event masks are unavailable, or the individual has run out of his stock of masks and needs to go to a pharmacy to buy masks.
This query by the Twitter follower was made in the wake of a statement by an official source in the Ministry of Interior (MoI) that subsequent to the announcement made on Ramadan 14, 1441H approving the bylaw banning gatherings that contribute to spreading and transmitting the novel coronavirus COVID-19 infection.
It included a table of classification of violations accompanying the bylaw. Both the bylaw and the appended table of classification of violations have been amended to include several other violations of the precautionary and preventative measures (protocols) and the decided penalties for the violations.
They include the penalty for intentionally violating the precautionary and preventative measures (protocols) announced on Shawwal 6, 1441H, which is a fine of SR1,000.
The list of violations includes not wearing a medical or cloth face mask or any substitute that covers the nose and mouth, or not abiding by the mandatory social distancing, not allowing the pertinent employee or security guard to take his body temperature when entering a public or private sector facility, and not complying with the measures in place when the measured body temperature is above 38 degrees Celsius.
In the case of repeated violations, the penalty is multiplied by the number of instances.
Woman Who Tried to Send Phones to ISIS to Be Used as Bomb Detonators Jailed
May 30, 2020
A US woman has been jailed for attempting to send phones to the Middle East to be used as bomb detonators by ISIS.
Alison Marie Sheppard, 35, of Florida, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison on Friday.
She had pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS.
Sheppard began using Facebook and other social media applications in 2016 to connect with others who supported the terror group, according to court documents.
She also used social media applications to engage in encrypted communications with people she believed were supporters of ISIS.
One of those people was later apprehended by the FBI and began cooperating with federal law enforcement.
Sheppard also began communicating with two undercover agents who she believed were ISIS supporters.
In June 2017, Sheppard told the agents she could purchase and ship the phones for ISIS, prosecutors said.
She bought 10 phones the next month and posted them to one of the agents, believing they would be forwarded to the Middle East and used in pressure cooker bombs.
Coronavirus: ministers should use crisis to improve education for girls, Malala’s father says
May 30, 2020
The teacher father of MalalaYousafzai, the Pakistani education activist who survived a murder attempt by the Taliban when she was 15, said on Saturday that the coronavirus pandemic offers a chance to reflect and improve education for girls.
“We need to learn from Covid-19, it needs to give us an opportunity to reflect. This teaches us how the world leaders should spend money and should invest,” ZiauddinYousafzai, told the T4 Conference, an online teaching convention bringing together 100,000 teachers from at least 67 countries.
The virtual forum sought to make sense of so-called ‘new normal’ in schools when they operate amid a global pandemic.
“There are 259 million children and youth who are not in schools right now,” said Mr Yousafzai.
“The reason isn't because of Covid-19, it is because they don’t have enough schools, they don’t have enough teachers, they don't have enough facilities.”
He decried the “ugly social taboos” and “patriarchal norms” that mean that hundreds of millions of girls have no access to education.
“There are 129 million girls right now are not in schools. And again, the reason is not Covid-19 or a pandemic. These girls are not in school because of the patriarchal governments - governments that invest less in girls’ education,” he said.
He read out a message to the conference from his daughter Malala, 22, who is studying in her final year at Oxford University in the UK.
The letter called governments to keep commitments to students by helping them connect to more remote learning opportunities and ensuring girls can re-enrol when schools are open again. She also urged countries to prioritise education in their coronavirus responses.
With many children not returning to school until September due to the pandemic, governments need to encourage more collaboration and community engagement to help teachers restart classes in a post-coronavirus world, another leading educator said during the conference.
“We are in a transition phase for many countries, leaders, and ministries of education all over the world. Most of the time they’ve got it right and most of the time they've also got it wrong,” Andria Zafirakou, the Winner of the 2018 Global Teacher Prize, said.
VikasPota, the host of the T4 event, is the former chief executive of the Varkey Foundation, a global charity that focuses on improving standards of education for underprivileged children. Mr Pota set up the annual $1 million Global Teacher Prize.
“What we really desperately need from you [ministers] is to think about the future. Be brave. Think about 10 years in advance. What do our students need? What do employers want them to have so we know what to be teaching them,” Ms Zafirkou added.
“Give us the opportunities to lead our communities. Give us the opportunities to really do what we know is best for our communities because we can and we've been doing that as well.”
Ms Zafirakou, an Arts and Textiles teacher works at Alperton Community School in northwest London, said that safety of teachers and pupils is paramount when holding classes in the new normal. She called for teachers to all be provided with adequate personal protective equipment so they can carry out their jobs safely.
The British teacher said some schools have been showing leadership by delivering learning devices and food to children’s houses.
A surge in domestic violence fuelled by the strict social isolation measures can mean that some children have to rely on their schools more than their parents to care for them.
Teachers have also helped collaborate with communities by working with nurses and doctors to construct Covid-19 testing stations.
A poll of the conference attendants found that leadership is less of a priority now than collaboration for teachers around the world, as schools grapple with the changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
Of the participants, some 35.1 per cent said teacher collaboration was the main priority during the pandemic, while 25.6 per cent said it was teacher well-being. Twenty-two and a half per cent said teacher technology while only 16.9 per cent said teacher leadership.
Fellow panellist Maggie MacDonnell, the Canadian Winner of the 2017 Global Teacher Prize, called on the new normal being “embedded and rooted in wellness” for both teachers and students.
“The pandemic has created an urgency that has allowed us to reflect and be critical. The old normal has plenty of problems so let’s imagine some good new normals,” she said.
“To me, a new normal that would be successful would be embedded and rooted in wellness. When I talk about wellness, I don't just mean student wellness. I mean teacher and student wellness. The way forward is listening to teachers and what they've been advocating for.”
She said such wellness programmes for teachers could look like smaller, more manageable class sizes, adequate pay and ongoing high quality professional development. For pupils, it could mean the encouragement of wellness exercises such as meditation or yoga.
The T4 event featured education leaders speaking from around the world, including Andreas Schleicher, from the directorate of education and skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris (OECD); David Edwards, the general secretary of Education International in Belgium; and HibaBallout, the science co-ordinator at Saint George Schools in Lebanon.
Banky W, the Nigerian rapper, actor and philanthropist, also addressed the subject of “Why Teachers Matter”.
Four out of five teachers around the globe believe it is not yet safe to return to the classroom because of the pandemic, a poll carried out by T4 earlier this month showed.
15 Unique Stories from Muslim Women About What It's Like to Celebrate In Different Countries
May 23, 2020
The traditions surrounding the celebration of Eid may vary in different communities around the world, but the faith and joy that exist at its core remain the same.
A new book touches on that very idea, and also explores the festival in detail. Once Upon An Eid is a collection of short stories about the shared experience of Eid by people from diverse cultures around the globe, written solely by women.
According to the book's editor, S K Ali, the idea for the tome came from a desire to give young readers “cosy, happy, warm” stories that reflect Muslim experiences, to fill what the editorial team perceived as a gap in the publishing landscape.
Along with co-editor Aisha Saeed, the team decided on an anthology of stories, to reflect myriad Eid traditions in different formats suited to the ideas of the different contributors.
The collection, in which the main characters are between the ages of 8 and 12, explores questions relating to faith, tradition and acceptance in the face of setbacks that appear before the young protagonists.
The anthology contains 15 stories told by writers hailing from diverse communities, all of them with solid works behind them, such as G Willow Wilson, Randa Abdel-Fattah and Ruksana Khan.
How food is a connecting theme for Eid across the world
Since the stories revolve around Eid, food is, unsurprisingly, an important element in most of the narratives. From creating new traditions to adapting old customs in fresh locations with newfound friends, food becomes a key element that brings communities and people together in the book. From cupcakes to ka’ak and korma to bubblegum, the food connection works to add to the collection’s charm.
The food theme came about naturally, without contributors being asked to focus on it, the editors say. “It underlined how similar we are in the simple ways we humans share joy,” says Ali.
Saeed’s story, Yusuf and the Great Big Brownie Mistake, is about siblings and family and how a stressful situation leads to a new tradition.
In Ali’s story, Do’nut Break Tradition, a young girl tries to save a family Eid that is not going well by attempting to single-handedly reinstate a family tradition. Inspired by a family member’s challenging health condition, Ali says the story is about resilience and adjusting expectations.
Abdel-Fattah’s Eid and Pink Bubblegum, Inshallah, follows four siblings on a heart-warming road trip with their parents on the eve of Eid. The narrator’s tongue-in-cheek observations about her siblings and parents’ reactions add a light-hearted touch.
Khan’s Gifts comes with her characteristic humour, as she tells the story of a little boy who is on a quest to discover where his parents have hidden the Eid gifts.
Even while dealing with cheery subjects of food and festivities, some of the stories go beyond this to capture the essence of the celebration on a broader canvas. Searching for Blue by N H Senzai tells the story of Bassem, 12, who, along with his mother and sister, is in a refugee camp in Greece fleeing the war in Syria. The loss of his father, his grandparents and his home weighs heavily on the boy, who finds it difficult to even imagine celebrating Eid.
In this story, the author touches upon the history of the colour blue while using it as a harbinger of hope, contrary to popular perception.
“For me, blue was not the blue of sadness, but of hope – of finding something ephemeral that brings joy, and a chance of a better future,” Senzai says.
She also uses the colour to signal a change in the tone of the story when she writes: “Bassem’s heart lifted, and he spotted a glimmer of aquamarine beyond the grey cloud that had descended over him.”
We further learn how an object as simple as a cookie mould taken by Bassem’s mother as a reminder of home becomes the tool that goes on to bring people and communities together and make Eid in the camp a festive and happy occasion.
'Any Muslim who grew up in the West has been the only Muslim in the room'
Another story that places focus on the community at large is Huda Al Marashi’sNot Only an Only. The story begins with Aya, a young Iraqi girl, dealing with the highs and lows of being the sole ambassador of her faith in her school. The arrival of another Muslim upsets this delicate balance, more so because the new girl is Sunni, while Aya is Shia. The deceptively simple yet layered narrative then goes on to bring focus on how acceptance of differences triumphs over the loneliness of divisions.
Talking about the inspiration for her story, Al Marashi says: “Any Muslim who grew up in the West has been the only Muslim in the room at some point in their lives … there is a loneliness to that experience and a burden in that representation, as well.”
In Candice Montgomery’s story Just like Chest Armour, a young Caribbean girl excitedly tries out scarves in various colours and shapes as she begs her mother for permission to wear the hijab.
The author creates an atmosphere of joy to the whole business of a young girl’s initiation to wearing the covering, and it seems as if she is trying to document the birth of a new tradition. Montgomery says she wanted to show the excitement of the event and that much of what is happening in the story came from her own experiences.
There are many similarities between various Islamic communities
As in all multi-author anthologies, the stories are not bound by a singular style. Furthermore, the complexities of the narratives vary greatly. Some of stories follow a linear format, geared as they are towards the target audience of middle-grade children.
There are other stories that cover the larger themes of displacement, acceptance and reconciliation, along with the broader theme of Eid. These stories will appeal to older readers for the complexities that arise either because of the storyline or the format.
However, far from being a deterrent, this facet only adds to the strength of the anthology, making it suitable for children of all ages.
Apart from short stories, the collection also contains an illustrated story and prose-poems.
Adding a spirit of adventure to the book is a story written by Wilson, illustrated by Sara Alfageeh, titled Seraj Captures the Moon. Children of all ages are likely to enjoy the delightful escapade of Seraj and Pickles as they travel the sky looking for the elusive Eid Moon.
In the prose-poem titled Taste, author Hanna Alkaf tells the story of a young girl making the traditional Eid meal for the first time without the comforting presence of her mother beside her. Alkaf's format is clever, using short and long verses to spring startling images that at once evoke grief and guilt, shame and love, panic and tenderness, finally tying it all together with the thread of acceptance and faith.
'Challenging that feeling of singularity'
The importance of collections such as Once Upon An Eid is they can provide a glimpse of similarities even among differences between various Islamic communities.
“These collections of Muslim voices challenge that feeling of singularity for readers who may not have access to a larger Muslim community otherwise, and because they showcase the diversity within the Muslim community, they offer an opportunity for Muslims of many backgrounds to see themselves,” says Al Marashi.
Montgomery, who is based in the US, says: “Today, in this world, beneath this society and this administration, it’s so hard to be a Muslim outside of our own circles. Children are our future.
"So, they need to know there is happiness and pride surrounding our faith.”
A $100,000 Prize Is Open for UAE Women Entrepreneurs Making Right Business Pitch
June 01, 2020
Dubai: Women entrepreneurs in the UAE have a chance to tap into a $100,000 pool if they come up with the best business pitch.
The 2020 Pitch Competition offers early- and late-stage women-owned businesses to compete. The owners need to pitch their business idea to their local TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) chapter and thus gain access to mentors who will guide and train them.
Finalists from each chapter will be invited to attend the Women 2020 finals to be held in December in Dubai, and get to be in the Grand Finale Pitch with a chance to win $100,000 as well as investor support.
“According to research, just one in seven investments in the Arab World go into female founded businesses, we all recognize the challenges women face when accessing funding and financial support,” said ZiadMatar, President of the Dubai Chapter of TiE.
The TiE Women initiative is open to registered businesses founded or led by women across the MENA region. Participants can submit their nomination online on https://bit.ly/2Xj62AI . To be accepted, participating startups can apply for the early stage or late stage category and need to be established for seven years or less.
A December finale
Nominations will open from today to August 1, and 20 businesses will be shortlisted to participate in live online pitch. Three shortlisted businesses will also be nominated in September for an accelerator programme to be run locally for three months, where each business entity will receive personalized coaching.
The finalist will participate in the December finals.
“There is so much untapped potential in the Arab World and by empowering women to go into business and rewarding aspiring female leaders, we will ensure global economic gains and a competitive knowledge economy,” said Matar.
In This Crucial Time, History Must Not Repeat for Afghan Women
When I left school that day in 1995, I had no way of knowing I wouldn’t be allowed back for six years. Those six years—which could have been spent as my best learning and improving years—turned into the darkest and the scariest years of my life.
On the second day of their rule in Herat, the Taliban closed all the schools, universities and public bathhouses.
When we turned on the radio, Taliban were talking about enforcing the Sharia laws—warning that if people didn’t obey, they would be severely punished. Women and girls were to cover themselves head to toe and were not allowed to leave their homes. If they had to, a male family member was to escort them. They also closed TV stations and banned music. They ordered the men to wear turbans and let their beards grow.
For the first few months, I was still hopeful that the Taliban would change their minds and open the schools—but months turned into years. Fortunately, my father was educated and helped me and my sisters learn how to read and write at home.
When I was 10 years old, my mother sent me to our neighbor who was a tailor. In exchange to teach me tailoring, I cleaned her house and carried water from the mosque’s well. This small job became the only way I could leave home or have a semblance of social life.
Soon, most of our relatives had left Herat for the neighboring countries, and we become very isolated. Life was very tough during the Taliban regime. We spent every day in fear.
I watched as Taliban beat my father, brother and brother-in-law with whips because they took us to see the Herat River. I could do nothing but shake in fear as my brother’s back was bloodied.
Another time, they jailed my brother for a week for the crime of listening to music. They beat my mother for leaving home without my father. I still have nightmares when I think about those dark days.
Afghanistan is in a crucial time now; we must not let history repeat itself. We must ensure that the Taliban will not bring back the period of darkness and injustice.
We want peace—but a just, inclusive and sustainable peace. A peace that includes all aspects of human rights such as safety and security for all, education for women and children, access to justice, healthcare, food, clean water and freedom of choice.
We want meaningful participation for women in peace negotiations. Our demands and concerns must be heard and put into action. If the Taliban wants to be part of the Afghan government, they must promise that they will respect women’s rights. They must respect and accept Afghanistan’s constitution which prohibits many kinds of discrimination and gives men and women equal rights and duties under the law. They must do what the Constitution says: to allow Afghan women to get an education, seek justice, hold political positions, work in society and travel.
They must also promise to preserve and respect women’s achievements, rather than banish women from the workplaces and schools. They must stop their brutal tribal laws and stop stoning and executing women.
Afghan women want the international community by their side. With their support, Afghan women have come a long way. Giving up on Afghanistan will put women in a great danger and will take away the achievements that women laid their lives into.
With the pandemic and the world shifting their attention from Afghanistan, I worry that once again, Afghan women will fall into dark times. We must do what we can to prevent that from happening.
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