roundup


Happy Friday everyone! It’s a rainy movie day for us, so here’s a quick roundup on the Olympics, hijab, radical Muslims, and feet.

Enjoy!

1) Right now in London 10,000 athletes from more than 200 countries are competing in 30 Olympic venues. Over 2,000 of those amazing athletes are Muslim — that’s a lot of people to profile (pun intended). So the media is making sure we at least know about the hijabis. And not just the athletes. The referees too:

The dancers are dressed to titillate, and the players wear even less: bikinis that reveal every movement of their muscles as they dig and dive for the ball.

El Sergany does not need a referee’s platform to be noticed on a beach volleyball court.

No, of course not!! She wears hijab. So let’s all stare at her, other her, pit women against each other by comparing a religious dress to bikinis, sensationalize what one woman considers normal, and ironically objectify her by turning Amina El Sergany into an Islamic standard.

Okay, sensational journalism aside, it’s a nice article with Amina saying she hopes her hijab encourages women from all cultures to take up the sport. That sport being BEACH VOLLEYBALL!

Score one for freedom!

So the media might be focusing only on the hijabis. I’m sure you’ve heard that Judoka Wojdan Shaherkani made Olympic history for being the first Saudi female to compete in the Games, and that sprinter Noor Al-Malki missed her chance at Olympic history when she injured herself in a 100m heat. But did you know that Souad Ait Salem came 37th in the Women’s Marathon Final — which is fantastic, and that Halima Hachlaf ran her season’s best time in the women’s 800m semi-finals?

If it’s all about celebrating Muslim women, let’s give a moment to the non-hijabi athletes too.

Oh, and did you catch Mo(hammad) Farah go into sujuud after he won the 10,000m? Fantastic! A Muslim won Gold for Team GB. Has anyone made a big deal about this? Must be his lack of hijab.

2) Rapid-fire: And now for something completely different:

  • VICE publishes I Walked Around in a Burqa All Day (and I’m not Muslim) in their fashion section. Point and laugh at a cultural tourist while she walks around NYC in niqab pretending to be some kind of Muslim from some kind of far away land. Check out the brilliant and informed comment section telling the author how offensive and Orientalist the stunt was.
  • Oh, did you know that Muslims have diverse beliefs? It’s true. Some Muslims are Atheists, Bhu-mus, Su-shis, Sufis, Bohras, Feminists, Traditionalists, Salaafis, Whovians, Wahaabis, Trekkies, Qur’anists, and more! Really, Muslims shouldn’t be defined by what’s on (or not on) our heads, by how many times we pray (or don’t pray) a day, or whether or not we keep kosher — and now there’s a US study telling us just that. Thanks.

3) Finally for everyone interested in women’s prayer and prayer spaces, or anyone with a foot fetish — I give you the Movable Mosque.

Check out more at Deena’s fantastic photo blog.

ZOMG it’s a muslim roundup! I’m almost giddy with excitement. So much happened this past month that I barely know where to begin. There was the video game based off the infamous Salman Rushdie fatwa; Rush Limbaugh accused Hillary Clinton of having ties to the Muslim Sisterhood; and an Islamohomophobic fatwa hoax.

So grab a drink (or in my case, a baby. Yes, this was written one handed while nursing Ivy), curl up and enjoy!

1) Tired of finding Mecca by calculating north on your iPhone compass? Need a prayer upgrade to compliment your automatic wudu washer? Why not literally step into God’s presence illuminated by light-emitting diodes with the EL Sajjadah — a prayer mat that lights up when facing Mecca.

There are only two prototypes in existence. After manually inputting your location, a digital compass lets you know when you’re facing the Qibla. Grace your floor or your wall with the soft, green LED glow of piety.

Too bad manual input of location and digital compass is soooo 20th century. What we need is a prayer mat that counts rakats for you, or has a virtual presence so you can pray while sitting on the couch. Or better yet, has a wudu detector. That would be EPIC.

2) In a season marked by shorts, tank tops and liberation from oppressive and restrictive clothes celebrated with teeny weeny, yellow polka dot bikinis, you’re sure to see AT LEAST one article on how the hijab liberates women from the expectations of society.

But with so many people wondering if Muslim women are “hot in that thing?!” the media has graced us with just a few more articles this month:

  • A woman’s significance will always be rated by what she wears. Fighting against this, Ayesha Nusrat writes a personal piece for the New York Times on why she took on the hijab. Mix one part activist, one part belief, and two parts personal empowerment and you get, “I believe my hijab gives me the right to assert my body, femininity and spirituality as my own and under my authority alone.” Sing it sistah.
  • [WARNING: high blood-pressure inducing article ahead] Michael Coren has an unfortunate blub about a Quebec hijabi who was banned from playing soccer in his own weekly roundup. Erroneously stating that the “hijab is a Muslim Brotherhood-prescribed version of Islamic covering,” he gives soccer players two options: take off hijab or play for another league.  Classy. Michael, I really didn’t think you had it in you.

…probably banned from playing soccer.

3) It’s almost Ramadan! This means tonnes of articles (re)surfing on how to get the most from your fast and how to stay healthy while reaching your spiritual goals.

One that really caught my eye is from Latonia’s wealth of breastfeeding information at her seriously fantastic blog, Suckled Sunnah. She has a great article with 27 tips on how to prevent burnout for those of us who choose to fast while breastfeeding. A truly supportive and excellent blog. Go check it out.

Another interesting article is from a mainstream bodybuilding magazine. Non-Muslim Nick Mitchell offers advice on how to maintain proper nutrition, supplementation and exercise during Ramadan.

Don’t let the article’s accompanying photo fool you. He gives eight great tips, and didn’t know that this dejected hijabi isn’t suffering from low energy due to fasting. Good effort though!

4) Finally, as I said, it’s almost Ramadan! This means funny Ramadan meme time:

Happy Wednesday everyone! Yep, looks like I’m still here, so I decided to throw together a little mid-week roundup.

It’s chalk full of Muslims doing every day things, some olde fashioned blogger love, BOOOOOOBS and hijab (big surprise there) and a little Muslim feminist controversy!

So let’s get to it.

1) A typical Media day for Muslimahs: ZOMG a Niqabi eating ice cream on a roller coaster! ZOMG Muslimahs have awesome sex! ZOMG Muslimahs are athletes! ZOMG hijabis pick their noses! ZOMG Muslim women are generally, all-around pretty badass.

Spurred on by a *scandalous* image of a woman in niqab holding a lacy bra, Farah Mawani takes on the Media obsession with Muslims doing everyday things in her HuffPo piece, “Muslims Do What?!” — and interviews photographer Asif Rehman on his latest exhibit, “Muslims?!” Essentially, a fantastic photo collection seeking to break down stereotypes about what it means to be a Canadian Muslim.

Mentioned in the article is none other than the FIERCE Muslimah boxer, Mombasa — who I had the utmost pleasure of interviewing last summer.

Oh, and if you’re in the Toronto area, you can check out Asif Rehman’s latest exhibit starting tomorrow.

2) Hey, let’s have some brilliant blogger love!

The always thought-provoking Organica has a heart-wrenching post from an anonymous woman who was thrust into an unwanted Polygamous marriage. From Polygamy Feels Like Cheating:

He came back and wanted me to forgive and live like normal. He said nothing will change. I said everything has changed. Besides, people forgive when it’s something that’s happened and over. He doesn’t plan on leaving her. He said to try. I told him I can’t live like that. Besides the fact that I think it’s completely gross, I will always be bitter and voice my discontent and I’ll always be suspicious…

The outspoken Mezba asks, “Where are the girls in this mosque?” after a disturbing mosque observation:

“Oh, they are upstairs, listening too,” Answered someone, when I asked them. “We have speakers and close circuit TV.”

This is the problem, the big problem, in today’s Muslim organizations. If you take a look at this picture, there is a LOT of empty space behind the men, in the MAIN prayer hall. Why can’t girls sit here, in close proximity to the speaker, so they can personally ask him questions, or be inspired in way that only a face-to-face conversation can? Sitting behind the men will satisfy any requirements that orthodox Muslims can throw at them, and not to mention, teaching women this way is actually a sunnah.

And the fearless Nahida takes on how Patriarchy has infected Qur’anic interpretation. From On Interpreting the Qur’an and Subjectivity:

If scholars, who know the Arabic language efficiently, arrive at incorrect conclusions, and continue to insist that “alternative” readings are not legitimate, they are not only denying that the Prophet’s companions differed extensively in their understandings of Quranic verses, but they are trapping themselves when it is revealed and widely accepted (as verse 4:34 is now beginning to be accepted) that for centuries they have been misinterpreting this verse, and that a long line of male scholars who deny women the practicality required to seek an education are reading their own male privilege and debauchery into the Qur’an—and deliberately so.

3) Now, when the Media isn’t trying to save Muslim women from their clothing, they’re talking about how Muslim women love to let loose and take off their clothing.

The New York Times has a darling article showcasing the first ever all-girl Prom at Hamtramck High School in Michigan:

In this season of wobbly heels and cleavage, the bittersweet transformation of teenagers in jeans and T-shirts into elegant adults barely recognizable to their friends is an anticipated tradition.

But at the all-girl prom, there were double double-takes, as some of Tharima’s classmates, normally concealed in a chrysalis of hijab and abaya, the traditional Muslim cloak, literally let their hair down in public for the first time.

Oh the chrysalis of hijab (that’s a new one!) — transforming hawt hijabis since 1859.

But in all seriousness, do read the article and check out the video. Tharima Ahmed worked her butt off to pull off this amazing prom — raising money, organizing bands, and galvanizing support from her teachers and school body. I tip my hijab to you my dear!

4) And finally, if you haven’t already heard about the controversy around Mona “we are more than headscarves and hymens” Eltahawy’s Foreign Policy piece “Why Do They Hate Us”, here’s a quick rapid-fire:

Of course, we could also hear from Mona in this really exciting and wonderful debate on the issue with Leila Ahmed. Which is really, a must see:


Hat-tip to Metis for the Mona Twitter picture.

Okay baby, you may come now. Aaaaand…now. NOW.

Happy weekend everyone! There are plenty of links in this inclusive, funky, informative and ranty edition of the roundup. So let’s get to it.

Enjoy!

1) Are Progressive Muslims succeeding at supporting LGBT issues, women’s rights, gender equity, hippy drum circles, and everything else being stamped out by the fitnah patrol? Are they an oddity, a footnote in modern history? Or are they really the sign of the future of North American Islam?

Jaweed Kaleem addresses this and more in his HuffPo piece, Progressive Muslims Launch Gay-Friendly, Women-Led Mosques In Attempt To Reform American Islam.

Today, as America’s Muslim leaders debate controversial topics like political radicalism inside mosques and states’ attempts to ban Shariah law, this growing network of alternative mosques and Islamic groups is quietly forging a new spiritual movement.

They’re taking bold steps, reinterpreting Islamic norms and re-examining taboos. While far from accepted by mainstream clerics, these worshipers feel that the future of the religion lies not solely with tradition but with them. Women are leading congregations in prayer, gay imams are performing Islamic marriages, and men and women are praying side by side

Haters gonna hate — just check out some of the tweets in response to this article.

But if people have a safe, inclusive and inviting place to pray, what’s the big deal? Here’s some food for thought: I bet you one million dollars, the FBI isn’t using mosque outreach programs to spy on Muslims who attend progressive mosques.

2) When people need to get their 101 on they will, at the very least, turn to an Internet search engine for some perspective before making a complete fool of themselves.

Here’s some EXCELLENT perspective on How NOT to Study Gender in the Middle East:

Six: Avoid tokenism and broad generalizations. Sometimes a hijab is just a hijab, and sometimes it is not.

Eight: I know this is hard to believe, but Islam may not be the most important factor, or even a particularly important factor, when studying gender in Muslim majority countries or communities… Islam is not the only religion in the region, although it often seems to be in mainstream media coverage. When an action such as the hitting of women by men for not conforming to “proper” gender roles in ultra orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem or in conservative neighborhoods of Riyadh is scripted in radically different terms the reader should pause. At these moments you are not reading about Islam, you are reading within a discourse about Islam.

Please read the whole thing. It’s gorgeous. Artful. Dripping with sage advice.

(Technicolor Muslimah Art by Saba Barnard. Hat tip to the always fantastic Kawlture.)

3) Rapid fire:

4) What do you get when you put Michael Coren and Tarek Fatah together in a room to do a “media analysis” of Little Mosque on the Prairie? A whole bunch of racist slurs, anti-Muslim sentiments and gross stretches of the imagination.

On saying good-bye to the end of the show, headlined with “Little Mosque Propaganda” the men deliciously laughed:

Coren: Little Mosque on the Prairie has come to an end. But great news, the DVD/Blu-Ray  box set will have a special feature section, including the missing episode where they hang the local gay guy, they forcibly circumcise a little girl, and also murder the teenage daughter because she won’t wear the hijab. It’s bad enough [the show] isn’t funny, but it’s just the propaganda that I find so offensive.

Fatah: I found most white people would laugh at it because they were scared that if they didn’t laugh, they’d be called a racist. So they were locked up in their living room! They only time it was funny was when it had Italian as a language [dubbed] over the episode!

Man, shut the finah up! Coren often invites and supports Muslim activists to his show — so his incredibly incendiary assumptions about normative Muslims is just to get conservative ratings. Nice. Fatah does nothing more than categorize non-Muslim Canadians as unthinking automatons who are so socially terrified of Muslims, that they cower in their own homes at the mere thought of halal Boston Pizza.

I also find it funny that Tarek Fatah seems to know what goes on in the lives of MOST white people (you know, like me). You really don’t want me to tell you what I really think of most Tarek Fatahs.

The video segment continues with them spuriously accusing the CBC of hiring Muslim Brotherhood Activists as “content consultants” (because THAT’S believable) and making the leap to the current Sun Media obsession over the book, “How to Beat Your Wife the Islamic Way.” (And no, this book is not the Muslim equivalent of the Hunger Games in popularity. So do your research before harassing a book keeper who probably only had one copy in his store before it “sold out.”)

Sorry boys. Way to villainize the entire Muslim community.

5) Whew! After that rant I need a break. How about a little “Take Five” by the Pakistani Sachal Studio’s tabla ensemble:

Happy Friday eddiebody (as Eryn would say)!

So this week saw International Women’s Day and the 100th anniversary of the Oreo cookie. Naturally the media saw fit to report on a slew of women-related topics — and especially for Muslim women, covered a bunch of hijab stories.

(haha, see what I did there? Covered. Hijab. Get it?)

So how do you style your hijab? Do you twist it, dunk it, layer it, throw it on at once or in two bites?

Enjoy!

1) *taps mic*

Sick and tired of everyone else deciding how Muslim women live their lives, the lovely and brilliant Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi give their opinion on the public narrative used to construct the “Muslim woman” in their HuffPo piece, “Muslim Women Take Back the Mic on International Women’s Day.”

Very simply put, “Why doesn’t anyone ever ask Muslim women what they think?”

When we raise our voices to tell our own stories, we are silenced. We are either dismissed as outliers — educated and upper class Western-raised Muslim women with no grasp of the reality of “real” Muslim women — or brainwashed, because how could any intelligent woman defend Islam or call herself Muslim? In many cases, our experiences are negated or dismissed as inauthentic by virtue of comparison to the circumstances of some women in other countries…

The voices of Muslim women are diverse, and our individual experiences authentic. We must be placed in our own context without being smothered under an entire globe’s worth of geopolitical baggage. Just as the life of a Catholic woman in a village in Guatemala is very different from that of a Catholic woman in the village of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, so too are the lives, realities and experiences of over 500 million Muslim women across the globe.

Love, love, love! I get shivers!

Speaking of love and shivers, check out Ayesha’s and Nura’s recent video interview with Middle East Voices on their book Love, InshAllah. Giving women back the power to form their own narrative. YES.

2) In some serious news, Kingston police are asking for help identifying a woman after she was caught on security camera pulling on another woman’s hijab. The hijab was pulled hard enough to snap the woman’s head back. Police are calling it a hate crime assault.

I’m sad because I love my old university town. But I’m not surprised. That’s where someone spit on me, yelled obscenities at me from a car and verbally harassed me in the middle of Tim Horton’s. Ooooh K-town.

3) Is your political regime hijab limiting? Does your man chador oppress you? Why not come to a Hawaii-esque beach where you can have a “small taste of freedom” and experience “respite from a regime that regulates hemlines and headscarfs” while getting a tan and swimming with the “rare, sweet sensation of sunlight” on your skin.

With the *shocking* title of “From hijab to skimpy bikini” a New Zealand travel article explores the tropical Iranian island of Kish — where pale, submissive Persians let loose, laugh and play, enjoy some ice cream, and get their thong-tha-thong-tha-thongs on at the women-only beach.

Yeah.

Well at least they didn’t get topless…. Oh wait.

4) The fantastic Eman Hashim over at Muslimah Media Watch takes a look at hijab irony when Egyptian journalist Dalia Rabie was banned from joining her OWN birthday party at one of Cairo’s upscale restaurants because she was wearing hijab. The restaurant serves alcohol, and so the bouncer was only trying to protect her from the “debauched world of dining.” Certainly not because the restaurant wanted to maintain their “image.” NOOooo…</sarcasm>

So now we discuss if the woman who wears the hijab should play sports, sings, runs, play martial arts, etc.  If you think whatever choice contradicts with the hijab, then do not do it if you wear the headscarf, and mind your own business if you do not. You might see it contradictory, but she doesn’t!

Some women find it weird to be a model while wearing the hijab, some don’t. What’s the big deal?

You can worry about your religious beliefs, your good deeds and bad ones, and let us worry about ours.

I’m getting that printed on a t-shirt. Or my hijab.

Well it’s the weekend folks, and it’s finally another edition of the roundup. Since I’m off to America for a quick stop and Niagara Falls for a birthday party with an expected attendance of… oh, about 50 toddlers (yikes!), it’s going to be a quick, mixed bag this week. Also a little bit nostalgic — seeing that several of these links are years old — but are so fascinating and important that they’re making teh Internetz rounds again.

Enjoy!

1) Jameela has been teaching children how to recite the Qur’an for 40 years. For free. She’s been blessed enough to go on Hajj four times. Her neighbours have always respected her and in exchange for her knowledge, cook for her, clean her clothes and give her gifts. She currently has 450 students:

I started teaching when I was 31 years old and at that time people used to call me Khala (aunt) Jameela. Then it became Amma (mother) Jameela and now that I am 70 years old, they call me Nani (grandmother) Jameela.

Read more of her inspiring story, The eunuch who found her calling as a Quran teacher.

2) The Opinionista lets loose with a rant about her Muslim community — saying publicly what many of us may have said or thought at one time or another. She takes on moon sightings, hijab, segregation, hate preachers, and religious superiority.

I am over conservative members of my community trying to impose religious teachings, practices and gender segregation in community gatherings, weddings etc and expecting women to cover their hair during a prayer that none of us asked them to perform…

I am over people not understanding that that secularism and atheism are not the same thing…

I am over my community telling women to dress differently to prevent being raped instead of telling men NOT TO RAPE.

Brava!!

Seriously, if a woman feels compelled to cover her head with a tea saucer when the Qur’an is recited out any heavy guilt or shame hoisted upon her by others… well, why don’t clean-shaven men instantly sprout beards or cover their face with a doily? It’s the least they can do.

ZOMG! German Muslims are GORGEOUS.

3) Have you ever wondered what German Muslims look like? Do they have cow bells on the end of their hijab pins or wear lederhosen to keep their ankles ready for wudhu?

In order to “dismantle traditional perceptions of Islam and offer a more rounded and complex picture of the faith,” Zenith, a German-language magazine specializing in Middle Eastern issues, challenged German photographers to capture images of Islam in Germany.

Go check out some gorgeous pictures of regular people doing regular, everyday things.

I only have one German Muslim friend. And she looks like… my friend.

I don’t count since I’m only half German. Yes, I wore lederhosen as a child.

4) This.is.brilliant. Fantastic. Imaginative. Wonderful.

Ages ago, Mohja Kahf penned the Lost Pages from Sahih al-Bukhari’s Chapter on Menstruation‏. But it thankfully and recently made its way into my life. I love it, and it’s a must read.

On the authority of Rizvana Bano, narrated by her niece Tamequa Jackson, that her great-grandmother who was a Companion of the Woman Who Loved Her Period, Bibi Moina the Truthteller (MGEH—may God empower her), said:

“Behold, my period comes. I start feeling soft and melted and sexy a night or two before, and want to be held tenderly and protectively and made love to mightily, and then I want to be covered gently and left to sleep a bonus sleep that is off the clock, no babies crying no kids homework no dishes no phone calls let my partner take care of everything for a few hours. And that is how I know it is coming, and it feels like an old, familiar friend whose face I love. For behold, I love my period. (She said this latter three times.)”

Hat tip to the ever amazing Krista Riley of Muslimah Media Watch.

5) Finally, an inspiring project exploring the lives of Black Muslim lesbians.

At the time this was filmed, the producer, Hanifah Walidah and director, Olive Demetrius were trying to raise funds to complete the project. That was about four years ago and I really hope they’re still working on it!

I wrote a poem just recently to my whole family. and I said: “Let me tell you something. I am tired of being invisible.”

My Grandmother is Catholic, my mother is Muslim, we got Christians… How do you all get to sit at that table and be 100% you? How, when you get to come to my house, I can lay out a prayer rug for you, been done better by Islam — but I respect that this is what you choose for yourself.

I can lay out a prayer rug for you, turn down my music down and watch you make salaat — but when I come and sit at that same table, it’s only 50% of me.

Because the other half, you all don’t like — so I can’t be 100%.

This week’s roundup is a little bit of a mixed bag. I’ve come down with yet another cold and perhaps it’s the extra lemon and honey that’s got me finding strange stories. Or maybe it’s just the Media just talking about Muslims again.

Yeah, after reading about Muslim women models, non-threatening Muslims, and left-field fatwas, I’m going with option #2.

Enjoy!

1) So, if a Muslim woman can win the Miss USA beauty pageant, why is it such a stretch of the imagination when a Muslim Modelling Agency splashes on the scene?

Launching during New York Fashion Week, UNDERWRAPS aims to become the first global agency representing the Muslim Female Fashion Model. Fashionista covers this story with an in-depth interview with fashion designer and founder of UNDERWRAPS, Nailah Lymus:

“[Muslim models] come from a background where they dress Islamically appropriate, but to be in this industry and to be a model you kind of have to forfeit that,” Lymus said. “That’s why I wanted to start this agency, so you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to lose who you are to be in this business.”

Natch, the Islamofashionsphere on Facebook and Twitter are all buzzing over the absolute paradox a Muslim modelling agency creates.

I see no contradiction between fashion and modesty. Muslim countries have hundreds of successful Muslim designers creating modest (and not so modest) styles for the discerning (and not so discerning) Muslim woman. Why not start another fashion trend leaning toward modesty from within the industry itself? As the tagline for the agency says: UNDERWRAPS – creating a fusion for inclusion.

(hey wait a second… sounds like creeping shari’a to me!)

*gasp* could you imagine a modest American Apparel? The mind boggles.

2) A group of professional Muslims have joined together to create the first annual Muslim English Spelling Bee! Registration is now open and apparently schools from across America will be joining in to host this event sometime in March or April. It’s theme is “connecting communities through eduction” and is open to Muslim students in public, private, home and Islamic scools.

With Muslims already participating (and *cough* winning) America’s national spelling bees… I just have to ask: WHY?

3) In response to the media fallout over the Shafia murder trial, the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada has issued a fatwa against honour killings and domestic abuse. Apparently the fatwa was issued in my city probably at a mosque I frequent, though I had to read about it in the news…

Actually, I’m not sure why we need a fatwa, seeing that honour killing and domestic abuse already are against Islamic teachings…

Wait a second, who on earth is the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and why are they issuing fatwas in the non religious state of Canada?

Ok, sarcasm aside, my hijab goes off (oops!) to any imam who speaks against domestic violence and honour killings — especially when there are those who believe they have the religious right.

But here, instead read this amazing piece on the media sensationalizing the Shafia case and race on BitchMedia.

4) The New York Times covers the release of a new report claiming that terrorism by Muslim Americans is “a minuscule threat to public safety.” The report also finds that there is no single ethnic group dominating the 20 American Muslims charged in violent plots or attacks against America in 2011. In fact, 40% are converts.

*crickets*

Yeah. I don’t have much to say about this one.

(we told you so?)

5) Finally, lets end the weekend with a supurb little documentary outlining the contribution of Muslim Women in Europe. Former MTV host Kristiane Backer, female boxer Ambreen Saddique, leading Astrophysicist Rim Turkmani and more show us how they are Muslim Women of Influence.

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