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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 4 Dec 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Women Teaching Moderate Islam to Italy's Inmates

New Age Islam News Bureau

4 Dec 2017 

The Thai coach Somprach Phonchoo (Courtesy Radiofarda)



 Malala Yousafzai: Loved By the World, Despised By Her Own

 Iran Forces Thai Male Coach to Wear ‘Hijab’ In Women’s Match

 Najib Proposes At Least 30% Women Senators

 Saudi Female Diplomats Are Making Great Progress, Says Ambassador

 Difference between Islamic and Western Feminism

 Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Apologises To Afghan Women Over 'Head Scarf' Remark

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




The Women Teaching Moderate Islam to Italy's Inmates


Each week, two women versed in Islamic law and religion visit a prison outside of Milan. These so-called “spiritual guides” have an important mission: to limit the spread of Islamic extremism amongst inmates.

Each week, Yamina Salah, who has a degree in Islamic law, teaches a course open to some of the 173 Muslim inmates housed in a prison outside of Milan.

“Islam is a moderate religion, not anything else, and we try to spread that message,” Salah told FRANCE 24.

During her visits, she also watches sermons given by one prisoner-turned-preacher. After each visit, Salah and her partner send a full report to the Italian Minister of Justice. For prison authorities, this initiative is a success.

“It’s the first time we’ve had the opportunity to have someone come in for Muslim inmates, so they can at last benefit from a spiritual education from the outside,” said Cosima Buccoliero, vice director of Bollate prison.

For the time being, the programme is being trialed in eight different prisons. However, the government is already thinking of extending the programme.



Malala Yousafzai: Loved By the World, Despised By Her Own

By Nazo Shinwar

December 4, 2017

There is hardly anyone in this world that is not aware of the name Malala Yousafzai or the work she has done for women and women’s education especially in her native Swat Valley in Pakistan. It was on 9th October five years ago, that tragedy struck for Malala in the shape of a bullet in her head because of her open activism for women’s education.

However, not only did she survive, but she also grew strong through her hardships. She became a symbol of empowerment for women all over the world over the years and has now become the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Malala Yousafzai is a symbol of hope for many young women like her. Through her work as an advocate for women empowerment and education, Malala has made a place in almost everyone’s heart.

However, while there are many people from around the world who support, laud and sympathize with Malala, there are some, who not only accuse her of being fake, but also despise her. For allegedly “selling out”; calling her a pawn of the West. What is even sadder is that many people who hold this belief are from her own country.

While she is praised for her work and her bravery by the world, many people in Pakistan have labelled her as nothing more than a mouthpiece for the government. Some even called her entire ordeal five years ago as a staged performance devised by the government.

This belief is not only held by most of the general population of Pakistan but many government officials and lawmakers as well, who have called out Malala and the Pakistani government several times on this issue. Mussarat Ahmad Zeb is only one example.

Malala Yousafzai has been called a traitor, a sellout and much more by Pakistanis who fail to recognize the specialness about her, stating that there are many other young females who have suffered worse hardships than Malala and yet the media fails to identify them. Many question her authenticity, citing that if she cared so much about women’s education in Pakistan, why did she not come back to Pakistan in all the years after her ordeal? Many say that there are countless girls still being killed and oppressed in Pakistan while the media blindly keeps its focus on Malala and her story of survival.

The question many people ask is, why is Malala Yousafzai celebrated by the media? And if she is, why does the Pakistani nation despise her for it? While many people have come to the conclusion that people don’t like her because they are envious of her and her success, many say that it’s because she is extremely overrated and overhyped by the media.

Her recent acceptance into Oxford University served as another divided opinion from people. While she was lauded for this achievement, many criticized her and poked fun of her misfortunes. She became the butt of many distasteful jokes where people went so far as to say that they wish they had been shot just so they could live abroad and study at a prestigious university for free.

However, this is just a recent example of Malala Yousafzai being trolled by the Pakistani nation. She has received similar treatment in the past by Pakistani people and if we as a nation fail to change our temperament, she will continue to do so in the future. While the work Malala has done for women speaks volumes about her; our criticism of her speaks volumes about us.



Iran forces Thai male coach to wear ‘hijab’ in women’s match

1 December 2017

Iranian authorities forced the male coach of the Thai female kabaddi team to wear hijab in order to be able to accompany his team into the women’s arena, during the Asian Kabaddi Championship , according to media reports.

Radio Farda said that the decision was taken because in Iran men are not allowed to enter sports arenas used by women.

Somprach Phonchoo, the Thai coach, in an interview with Radio Farda confirmed that he was requested to put on the headscarf if he was to be granted entry.

Mohammad Reza Maghasoudlou, the head of Iran’s Kabaddi federation, on his part came up with a funny explanation. He told ISNA News Agency, “A photographer had given the scarf to the Thai man so he could enter the arena and take pictures.”

“It was a mischievous act and the intention was to cast aspersion on the conduct of the games,” Maghasoudlou added.

The Asian Kabaddi Championship was held in the Iranian northern city of Gorgan between November 22-27.

The Iranian women’s team missed the final after a defeat at the hands of South Korea in the semi-final. In the final game, India defeated Pakistan and became champion.



Najib proposes at least 30% women senators

Melissa Darlyne Chow

December 4, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional government will consider increasing the quota of women representatives in the Senate, the upper house of Parliament, Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

Najib said this could happen if the government received a strong mandate in the coming election.

He said more women participating in politics would better reflect the electorate and make the political process more inclusive, hence strengthening democracy.

“If we get the necessary majority in this coming election, we could impose a quota for the upper house of no less than 30% of women senators, to begin with.

“I would like to see this proposal go through. That is why I hope we get a strong mandate this election.

“We can start with women to be appointed as senators and this could ensure leadership skills in the upper house,” he said at the Women in Politics Kuala Lumpur 2017 international conference here today.

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Najib paid tribute to Wanita Umno, saying that Umno itself has long relied on its women’s wing for maintaining grassroots relationships, particularly in the rural areas.

“That is why Wanita Umno is known as the backbone of our party,” he said.

Najib further stated that Malaysia has a strong track record when it comes to women’s rights.

“I am delighted to state that in the public sector, women now fill 35% of top management posts.

“In fact, if the police and military services are excluded, women officers will make up the majority of the civil service, at 57.5%.

“So we are heading in the right direction. But we want to go further, especially at the higher levels,” he said.

Najib reiterated the 30% requirement for the boards of directors of government-linked companies (GLCs), government-linked investment companies (GLICs) and statutory bodies to be made up of women by the end of 2018.

The conference has participants from 18 countries, representing 27 political parties and four international organisations.



Saudi female diplomats are making great progress, says ambassador

4 December 2017

RIYADH: Women are thriving in the diplomatic service, a government spokesman has said.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has employed women since 2008, when the first female competitive examination for diplomatic posts was advertised. The official MOFA spokesperson and director of media, Ambassador Osama Nugali, said: “In spite of the fact that Saudi women have recently entered the diplomatic scene, they are advancing in their diplomatic career path.”

Nugali added: “Diplomatic posts for both men and women start at the rank of an attache (equivalent to grade 6 in public services) and end at the rank of an ambassador (equivalent to grade 15). Additionally, top leadership positions for men and women alike require experience in diplomacy that is accumulated over the years.”

When asked about the incentives for women working at the ministry and holding high positions, Nugali said: “It is a fact that there are no regulations to prevent women from accessing top leadership positions in both public and private sectors in Saudi Arabia. MOFA is no exception. Indeed, one will find various examples of Saudi women in top-level positions in the two sectors.”

The ministry is keen to advance the careers of all its employees, through taking courses abroad and exposing them to other nationalities. To be a diplomat, proper etiquette and impeccable social skills are required.

“In line with Vision 2030, the ministry is committed, rather vigorously, to providing Saudi female diplomats with the academic and professional training needed to advance along their career path,” Nugali said.

Manal Al-Otaibi, a first secretary diplomat at MOFA, said: “The tasks assigned to female staff are different from those of male colleagues. The standard is not gender, but competence, specialization and skill.

“Despite the recent appointment of women in the diplomatic corps, the internal and external training programs offered by the ministry to its staff, in cooperation with academic institutions and international organizations, have helped me and my colleagues improve proficiently.”

Statistics show that female employees at the ministry can be grouped as follows: 115 based at its headquarters in Riyadh and its branches throughout the Kingdom; 185 working in the Kingdom’s missions in Europe, the US, Asia and Africa, as well as the Kingdom’s permanent missions to international organizations such as the UN in New York and Geneva, plus the Arab League in Cairo and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Saudi women are making a positive impact through hard work and accumulated knowledge through experience and interactions with other diplomats in their field. On both a professional and personal level, young women such as Al-Otaibi are working hard to develop themselves.

Nugali said: “The Kingdom is keen to enhance the role of Saudi women and enable them to carry out their responsibilities. Hence, Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 — with its emphasis on women’s pivotal role in the future of the Kingdom — aims to proactively create greater engagement of women and more ways to activate their leadership roles.”



Difference between Islamic And Western Feminism

December 04, 2017

If we go by the definition of feminism as an ideology to empower women, there is no difference. However, historically speaking, Muslim women lost the rights they had due mainly to the tribalisation of Islam, which was dominated by patriarchal values.

In the West, on the other hand, women had no rights but won them through a great deal of struggle known as ‘feminism’. But there are significant differences between Islamic and western feminism . Islamic feminism is based on certain non-negotiable values, i.e. equality with honour and dignity. Freedom comes with a certain responsibility in Islamic whereas in the West freedom tends to degenerate into licentiousness, not in law but certainly in social and cultural practices. In western culture, sexual freedoms have become a matter of human right and sex has become a matter of enjoyment, losing its sanctity as an instrument of procreation.

Though the Quran does not prescribe hijab or niqab (covering the whole body with a loose garment, including the face), as generally thought, it lays down certain strict norms for sexual behavior. Both men and women have right to gratification (a woman has as much right as a man) but within a marital framework. There is no concept of freedom for extramarital sex in any form. In a marital framework, it is an act of procreation and has much sanctity attached to it.

It is important to emphasize that in a patriarchal society men decided the norms of sexual behavior. It was theorized that a man has greater urge for sex and hence needed multiple wives and that a woman tended to be passive and hence had to be content with one husband at a time. The Quran’s approach is very different. It is not a greater or lesser degree of urge which necessitates multiple or monogamous marriages.

There is emphatic emphasis placed on a monogamous marriage in the Quranic verses 4:3 and 4:129. Multiple marriages were permitted only to take care of widows and orphans and not to satisfy man’s greater urge. Verse 4:129 gives the norm of monogamy and not to leave the first wife in suspense or negligence. Thus, as far as the Quran is concerned, sexual gratification is a non-negotiable right for both man and woman tied in wedlock. Hence a divorcee and a widow are also permitted to remarry and gratify their urge.

In western capitalist countries, woman’s dignity has been compromised and she has been reduced to a commodity to be exploited. Her semi-naked postures and her sexuality are exploited commercially and unabashedly. It is totally against the concept of woman’s honor and dignity. Unfortunately, many western feminists do not consider this objectionable but accept it as part of women’s freedom. Some (though not as many) even advocate prostitution as a woman’s right to earn a living.

This is against the concept of Islamic feminism , which while sanctioning sexual gratification to be as much of a woman’s basic right as a man’s prohibits extramarital sexual liaison. This, on one hand, upholds a woman’s honor and dignity, and on the other, exalts marital relations to the level of sanctity, restricting it for procreation. Islamic feminists have to observe certain norms which western feminists are not obliged to.



Afghan President Ashraf Ghani apologises to Afghan women over 'head scarf' remark

December 3, 2017

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani apologised to the people of Afghanistan and to Afghan women in particular for his 'Head Scarf' remark. He had said earlier that those who accuse Afghan government officials to be complicit with ISIS should prove the allegations or 'wear a head scarf'. Head scarf is widely worn by Muslim women and President Ghani's words were construed as an insult to dignity of Afghan women

"President Ghani made the remarks with a cultural interpretation as he pointed towards the head scarf and in no way he had any intentions to insult the women," President's Office ARG Palace said in a statement.

The statement further read, "President Ghani extends his apology to the Afghan women in case his remarks have affected their emotions,"

The leader made the 'head scarf' remark during the transfer of the border police forces to the Ministry of Defence.

His remarks had sparked furore  and had put him under immense pressure, mainly from the women and rights activists

Afghanistan is struggling to effectively defend Afghan territory against resurgent Taliban and ISIS.  Although Islamic state is being routed in Iraq and Syria, they have managed to secure some allies in Afghanistan where Taliban is trying to regroup and pose a challenge to US supported Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani




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