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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 1 Dec 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Somali American Model Halima Aden Acted With Integrity, Muslim Twitter Should Too

New Age Islam News Bureau

01 December 2020

 • Youngest Lawmaker, Suraiya Zaman, From Pakistan’s North Looks Back On Her Days In Saudi Arabia

• ‘Moving Mountains’: How Pakistan’s ‘Invisible’ Women Won Workers’ Rights

• Pakistan Activists Demand Action Over Child Marriage

• Turkey’s Women’s National Football Team To Host Russia In UEFA Euro 2022 Qualifier

• Muslim Boy From Yamunanagar District Of Haryana Converts To Hinduism To Marry A Hindu Girl

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Somali American model Halima Aden Acted With Integrity, Muslim Twitter Should Too

1 December 2020


Aden says she felt pressured by the industry to compromise her beliefs [Getty]


I was scrolling on Twitter last Monday, when someone I follow said to head over to Instagram and check out Somali American model Halima Aden's Instagram story. In a long thread Aden, who was the first hijab-wearing model to walk the runway at New York Fashion week, announced she would no longer be working with labels that caused her to compromise her hijab.

Aden reflected on instances when her religious practices were compromised, from missing prayer times and having male stylists assist with fittings, to wearing a pair of jeans on her head instead of a headscarf as part of an American Eagle campaign.

There was an outpouring of love for Aden on social media. I was happy - happy that Aden was making a decision based on her own convictions, and not because she was caving into pressure from anyone in the community.

But behind the flood of support for Aden, I witnessed an ugly side to some in the online Muslim community. Rather than reflect on Aden's brave action of walking away from a lucrative career for the sake of her beliefs, some Twitter users saw it as an opportunity to troll Muslim women who do not wear the hijab or not wear it in the style they deem "correct."

Some users belittled Muslim social media influencers who decided to no longer wear the hijab, saying they were praying for non-hijab wearers to see the light. Aden's response to this was fantastic: "Don't utter my name in praise if you are openly shaming other people. This just taints what I'm trying to spread, love!"

Maryyum Mahmood, socio-political analyst, and creator of The SHIFT, an online platform that provides intercultural and faith training, was on the receiving end of such cyber bullying. She was forced to remove tweets highlighting hypocrisy in our community: praising women for wearing the hijab in a way deemed "correct", and criticising women who choose not wear it, or who wear it without conforming to a literalist interpretation.

Maryyum's tweets reflected our community's obsession with discussing what women wear, and called for respecting a woman's choice. They were met with a torrent of abuse, accusing her of siding with ex-Muslims and Islamophobes.

Likewise any Muslim woman who put out a tweet reminding people that a Muslim woman's choices are her own, encountered a backlash from the community, with some saying that the hijab is not a choice and that anyone not wearing it "correctly" is fooling themselves.

Even I faced backlash. In one now deleted tweet, I reflected on how in the past, no one advocated for a single style of hijab. From the gele in Nigeria, to the dupatta in India and Pakistan, Muslim women within each cultural community have been wearing their own styles for years. As I went on say, "no one, no matter who they are, has the right to judge a Hijabi for the way they wear their headscarf, period." For this I received a torrent of abuse from other Muslims, accusing me, yet again, of siding with Islamophobes - something I found amusing since I wear the hijab myself.

Leila Ahmed's book 'Women and Gender in Islam' does a fantastic job of charting how Islamic political movements had an influence on styles of hijab in the 20th century, as does Hafsa Lodi, who also explores evolving "modest fashion" in the 21st century in her book 'Modesty: A Fashion Paradox'.

In 2016 Muslim Girl made a video showcasing the different types of Hijab women have worn in different cultures throughout the last century, which was followed by Najma Sharif's video on 100 years of hijab styles worn across Africa. So how did we come to just one "proper" or "correct" hijab?

The hijab has become the a huge topic of debate in the Muslim community with some men still appointing themselves as judges, determining what Muslim women should wear. We are tired of a number of men in our community telling us to cover, or how to cover. We juggle this alongside western governments that pass legislation making it harder for Muslim women to wear the hijab and the niqab, all in the name of "freeing us", when there is nothing to free us from.

And if this isn't enough to handle, we now have to contend with judgement from other Muslim women who troll women who choose not to wear it, or those hijabis with with a style different to their own. It's a toxic environment.

If we are ever to find unity within our community, we need to start respecting other Muslims' choices. We need to stop abusing the term 'naseeha', Arabic for advice. Some Muslims believe it's their duty to advise other Muslims. However, there are rules of engagement for naseeha-giving, rules that have been discarded.

You are not meant to judge people, nor are you meant to give advice in the public domain in a way that embarrasses someone or hurts their feelings. We are taught to practise naseeha using wisdom so that it does not make an individual feel targeted.

Have we forgotten how to have a nuanced discussion? Some lament the loss of the Golden Era of Islam of the 9th and 10th centuries, forgetting this was also time when Muslims had differing opinions and interpretations of the religion, and discussed them respectfully.

Halima Aden's announcement that she would no longer take on jobs that compromised her faith should not be about her wearing "proper" hijab and pressuring others to follow suit. It should be a celebration of standing up for what she believes in, and having agency as a Muslim woman to make her own life decisions.


Youngest Lawmaker, Suraiya Zaman, From Pakistan’s North Looks Back On Her Days In Saudi Arabia

December 01, 2020


Suraiya Zaman during the interview with Arab News, where she spoke of her time in Saudi Arabia, on Sunday. (AP photo)


 KARACHI: After making history as Pakistan’s youngest lawmaker from the northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan earlier this month, Suraiya Zaman credits her time in Saudi Arabia and “lots of sweet memories” for her successful foray into politics.

“Growing up in Saudi Arabia allowed me to meet people from different cultures and walks of life,” Zaman told Arab News on Sunday. “It has given me a sense of pride and appreciation for my own country. I spent my childhood in Saudi Arabia, and I consider the Kingdom as my second home. I have a lot of sweet childhood memories.”

Zaman was born in Oct. 1993 in the scenic but conservative Darel Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan’s Diamer district. She moved to Saudi Arabia with her family in 2004.

Her father, Dr. Muhammad Zaman Khan, was a physician at Al-Hada Military Hospital in Taif and she studied at Saudi Arabia International School Al-Hada until grade 10.

“I remember visiting Makkah every weekend for Umrah and the weather and mountains of Al-Hada,” Zaman said, reminiscing about her “beautiful life” in the Kingdom. But there was nothing specific that she missed about Al-Hada because it was so similar to Gilgit-Baltistan.

“Both are mountainous areas and the weather and fruits are the same. Even we are the same!” she added, explaining how life in Saudi Arabia had affected her family.

“Most of our extended family eat spicy food, but we cannot eat it. We mostly cook and eat Saudi cuisine, especially mandi even though it does not taste the same. We wear abayas and other Saudi outfits and sleep late and wake up late on weekends.”

Zaman returned to Pakistan in 2013 for higher studies, while her family moved back in July this year.

She enrolled at Islamabad’s National University of Modern Languages to study English literature and linguistics. She speaks English, Urdu, Shina and Khuwar.

Zaman was elected as president of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party’s women’s wing for the Diamer-Astore division in Gilgit-Baltistan in February after her father, a PTI leader, convinced her to join politics.

Gilgit-Baltistan is not an officially recognised part of Pakistan, but forms a part of the disputed Kashmir region that Pakistan controls. Both India and Pakistan have claimed ownership of Kashmir since 1947 and have fought two wars over the territory.

Elections were held on Nov. 15 for 23 seats in Gilgit-Baltistan’s third legislative assembly with as many as 330 candidates, including four women, contesting the polls.

Zaman, who was elected on the PTI ticket, did not expect to win but wants to use her newfound status to improve the education sector in Daimer, where religious extremists destroyed 14 schools, mostly for girls, in Aug. 2018.For that goal, she said, she would look to her experiences in Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia treats its citizens as a mother would treat her children – very fairly. They are given free medical care and education, which relieves a huge burden from the shoulders of its citizens. I want something similar to be implemented here in Gilgit-Baltistan.”

Daimer’s Darel Valley has a 12 percent literacy rate for girls, the lowest in the entire province where 42 percent of girls and 66 percent of boys between the age of 10 and 15 attend school. Zaman found this statistic worrying.

“Female education is one of my priorities. I want to play an important role in promoting it in Gilgit-Baltistan, especially in my district. I want to unite, educate, empower and engage the youth of different backgrounds to ensure the decision-makers hear their voices.”

For that to happen she hoped to encourage parents in Daimer to give their children the basic right to education and send them to school.

“There are many parents who are willing, but they do not have enough funds to support their children’s education. So scholarships will be given to such children.”

Zaman was also hoping to seek help from the Kingdom for her cause.

“It’s my second home. I hope they help us in the development of Gilgit-Baltistan.”


‘Moving Mountains’: How Pakistan’s ‘Invisible’ Women Won Workers’ Rights

Zofeen Ebrahim

1 Dec 2020


Home-based workers officially register as workers in Sindh province, Pakistan. Their new status will allow them to receive numerous benefits. Photograph: Zofeen Ebrahim


Shamim Bano has been an invisible worker for 40 years. Working 12-hour days from home as a “cropper” in the port city of Karachi, she cuts the loose threads off clothing and makes samosas to sell at schools.

Bano is paid about 25 Pakistani rupees (£0.10) a day. It’s a precarious existence for Pakistan’s home-based workers, without access to social security benefits or pensions. Most of these informal workers are women.

But now Bano has become visible – as the first person to register under new legislation that will finally recognise her work. Sindh province is about to enact a law to award employment rights to an estimated informal workforce of 3 million people.

In 2018 Sindh passed the Home-Based Workers Act, making Pakistan the only country in south Asia where home workers were recognised as official labourers. Although the country’s three other provinces have not yet followed suit, it is believed that 12 million people across Pakistan are home-based workers, making clothes, shoes and crafts from their living rooms.

About 80% of them are women. Their contribution to the economy is sizeable – the informal sector accounts for 71% of employment in Pakistan outside agriculture, according to the Labour Force Survey for 2017–18. In rural areas 75% of people are classed as informal workers.

At the dilapidated one-room office of the United Home-Based Garment Workers’ Union in Karachi last week, Bano became the first woman working from home in Sindh to register with the provincial government’s labour department. She will now be eligible for social, medical and maternity benefits, and will also qualify for government grants to help pay for weddings and funerals.

“I don’t know when I will actually be able to enjoy the gains, but I am satisfied I was in the forefront of the struggle, says Bano, who lives with her husband, two daughters, son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. “To even get to this point, and that I was able to help so many other women, including my daughters have a future, that is better than … [getting this myself].”

It’s been a long journey to get to this point. The Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), has been fighting for its 3,500 members to be able to claim social security benefits and receive a living wage since 2009.

Zehra Khan, the federation’s general secretary, said the “historic” registration proved that “when scattered workers, especially women, organise themselves, they can move mountains and fight against capitalist greed”.

Khan added that the registration process would also give a true picture of the number of home-based workers.

As she filled in her registration form, Saira Feroze, 36, the general secretary of a union that belongs to the federation, said she had never thought “we would be recognised as workers in our lifetime”, and that this had seemed “like a distant dream”.

The registration process was due to begin in August, but Covid-19 restrictions delayed the rollout. Now Feroze’s union is trying to make up for lost time. “We are now taking it upon ourselves to start from our end, fill in the forms and hand them over to the labour department,” she says.

The delay in registration meant that women working from home were not eligible for the government’s emergency cash payments programme during the Covid-19 lockdown, which has had a huge impact on home-based workers.

Bano’s husband lost his livelihood selling street food from a kiosk during the lockdown.

“There is no work,” says Bano’s daughter, Sumera Azeem. “We had to take out a loan to be able to buy groceries. We have not paid the monthly house rent of 7,000 rupees since April, or the electricity and gas bills.”

Zahida Perveen, president of the HBWWF, said many home workers were already living hand-to-mouth when the city came to a standstill in March. “The second wave of Covid-19 is upon us and with food inflation at its height, I doubt if we can rely on this government to help us,” she says.

“If the registration process had not been delayed, many among us would have been able to avail ourselves of the government’s emergency cash payments.”


Pakistan activists demand action over child marriage

December 01, 2020

Pakistan’s human rights defenders have presented a charter of demands calling for the inclusion of chapters on early child marriage, sexual violence, harassment and life skills in the school curriculum.

The demands were presented during a press conference on Nov. 27 hosted by RASTI in Karachi with the support of the Awaz Foundation and UJALA Network.

RASTI is a national organization working with children, youth and women to improve their quality of life by providing services in health, education and capacity building on development issues, gender equality, ecology and children’s rights.

Among the participants were rights agencies, social workers, social activists, teachers, parents, students, theater artists, sports people and media representatives.

Activists said separate courts should be formed for the protection of women and children.

Due to the increasing number of harassment and sexual abuse cases, the government must look at the women’s charter. The school curriculum must include topics on early marriage, sexual abuse and harassment.

Police must also be guided on how to deal with these issues and there must be a separate desk especially for women abuse-related cases in police stations.

The budget for Darul Aman shelter homes must also be increased so that it can help women in need. During the investigation of sexual harassment and abuse cases, the police and judiciary should consider forensic reports instead of eyewitnesses.

The press conference also demanded the government introduce a 24/7 helpline for this purpose.

Participants strongly condemned the increase in early marriage, sexual abuse, harassment and murder cases.

According to UNICEF, 21 percent of Pakistani girls are married by the age of 18 and 3 percent before 15. Child marriage tends to occur in the country’s most marginalized and vulnerable communities.

Pakistan has the sixth-highest number of women married or in a union before the age of 18 in the world.


Turkey’s women’s national football team to host Russia in UEFA Euro 2022 qualifier

NOV 30, 2020

Amatch against Russia on Tuesday will decide the women’s national football team's fate in the UEFA Euro 2022 qualifiers.

The Turkish side, nicknamed the Crescent Stars, will host its rival in the southern province of Antalya in their 10th and last game in Group A. The team sits at fifth place in its group, ahead of Estonia, with only one win and two draws in nine matches. Russia, with seven victories, has garnered 21 points so far and is runner-up behind the Netherlands.

The Turkish team defeated Estonia 4-0 in an away game Friday.

The group winners and the three runners-up with the best record against the sides first, third, fourth and fifth in their sections will join hosts England in the final tournament scheduled for July 2022. The other six runners-up will have a playoff in April for the remaining three berths in the 16-team finals.

Coach Necla Güngör Kırağası relies on a mixed lineup of homegrown stars and footballers playing abroad including Yağmur Uraz at Beşiktaş and Arzu Karabulut of Germany's SC Fortuna Koln. Players from Alg Spor based in the southern province of Gaziantep, which leads the Women’s First League, dominate the squad with six members, including goalkeeper Ezgi Çağlar, defender Gülbin Hız and midfielders Emine Ecem Esen, Ebru Topçu, Ilayda Civelek and Derya Arhan.


Muslim Boy From Yamunanagar District Of Haryana Converts To Hinduism To Marry A Hindu Girl

Dec 1, 2020

CHANDIGARH: At a time when the Haryana government is thinking of bringing in a law against ‘love jihad’ cases in the state, a Muslim boy from Yamunanagar district has converted to Hinduism to marry a Hindu girl. The boy (name withheld) changed his name before marrying the girl in a temple in accordance with Hindu rituals, reports Ajay Sura.

The couple — the girl (name withheld), 19, and the boy, 21 — are under the protection of the Yamunanagar police following the intervention of the Punjab and Haryana high court. They had told the court that they feared a threat to their lives and liberty from the girl’s family.

The boy, who works in a private company and earns around Rs 15,000 per month, claimed his parents were ready to accept their relationship but the girl’s family and relatives were against it.

On November 9, they solemnised their marriage against the wishes of the girl’s parents. However, they alleged, when the girl’s family learned of their marriage, they started threatening them with dire consequences.

The couple had approached the high court, submitting that opposition to their marriage was a serious abuse of their rights provided under Article 21 of the Constitution. The couple claimed that the girl’s relatives are saying that they will eliminate them whenever they get a chance.

During the hearing on November 11, the counsel for the girl’s family said her family wanted to meet her once. She, however, declined.

After hearing the case, the HC ordered the Yamunanagar SP to evaluate the threat perception and provide them security.




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