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← Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Who'd be female under Islamic law?

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Who'd be female under Islamic law? - Comments

cerad's Avatar Comment 31 by cerad

Islam is NOT a violent religion and I will BEHEAD anyone who disagrees.

Cutting off someone's head is generally considered to be violent.

Mon, 04 May 2009 05:51:00 UTC | #356001

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 32 by severalspeciesof

24. Comment #372711 by Steve Zara

Why should we define what the "true message" is, and insist that anyone who labels themselves as Muslim has to believe it? I though we were the ones in support of freedom of thought and speech.
Good point, but we should be pushing for them to provide us with that definition of the 'true message' so that freedom of speech and thought actually has a chance to work...

Though, if they can't agree on what is what, that's a problem, and a huge problem for women in this case...

So we may need to needle this with our own definitions of their 'true message'...

Mon, 04 May 2009 05:58:00 UTC | #356002

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 33 by Lisa Bauer

I don't know how Alibhai-Brown manages to combine Islam with feminism; I tried and I just couldn't make it fit. More power to her if she can, I suppose, and if only that attitude could spread! However, to do that would require jettisoning much of what has traditionally made Islam "Islam" (the emphasis on holy law interpreted by men, total obedience to the texts, etc.).

She references a book in this article, In the Land of Invisible Women by Qanta A. Ahmed, a British-born, Western-trained doctor of Pakistani descent, which I've read recently. It's an eye-opening account of life in Saudi Arabia, though since the author is a believing Muslim, you won't find denunciations of Islam as a whole there, just Wahhabism. She devotes quite a lot of space to her glowing account of her own hajj to Mecca, at which she has a religious experience, so it may not be for everyone if you can't get past that kind of thing.

Mon, 04 May 2009 06:22:00 UTC | #356006

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 34 by crookedshoes

The "cutting off the head" comment was (I think) originally said by one of the higher ups in the Muslim hierarchy. The fact that it is violent serves to highlight the contradiction and hypocrisy inherent in the way that some people think. I posted it because I think it is "funny". Funny in the worst possible way.

Mon, 04 May 2009 06:50:00 UTC | #356010

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 35 by Colwyn Abernathy

Islam, as practiced by millions today, has lost its compassion and integrity and is entering one of the darkest of dark ages.


"Lost"? Did it have it to begin with? Doesn't seem like it, according to its doctrine and "holy" books.

EDIT:

LordHum,

If you have not read INFIDEL by Aayan Hirsi Ali, I suggest you do so. It's a compelling tale of one woman who escaped the confines of religion. It isn't easy, nor is it typical. She also had the benefit of an education, and the ability to pursue it.

Mon, 04 May 2009 08:10:00 UTC | #356028

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 36 by Bonzai

For those of you who insist that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is not a true Muslim, I am wondering what are the requirements for being a true Muslim.

Someone told me that it is not very hard to be a minimalist Muslim.

All you need to do is to fullfil the 5 pillars of Islam. These are professing the belief in Allah as the one true God, praying 5 times a day, giving to charity, fasting during Ramadan and making the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your life if it is feasible.

Anything else is negotiable.

Maybe Layala can clarify this.

Mon, 04 May 2009 09:02:00 UTC | #356042

babel76's Avatar Comment 37 by babel76

I don't understand why some say that she is not a Muslim. It may technically be true, but only in the sense that a non-literalist Christian is not really Christian.
I know plenty of people like her who identify as Muslims,follow all the rites, yet have a very secular outlook.

Mon, 04 May 2009 09:21:00 UTC | #356051

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 38 by Bonzai

I also know a Muslim who is a fundie in many ways including believing in creationism and the "Quran science" but he doesn't believe in hell because 'Allah is merciful', he thinks all good people, including the infidels, eventually would go to heaven.

People are more diverse than religious dogmas.

Mon, 04 May 2009 09:26:00 UTC | #356052

root2squared's Avatar Comment 39 by root2squared

Since there is really no consensus on what a Muslim or a Christian is, we can just use the definition that best serves our argument.

Want to embarass a moderate? Point to the extremist and associate them as being more true to their religion. Want to soften a slightly more rigorous faither? Point to the moderate and say how cool it is that their religion allows this. As for fundies, well, best to just leave some people be.

Mon, 04 May 2009 09:41:00 UTC | #356057

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 40 by Richard Dawkins

For a while now I have carried on a sporadic, and more-or-less friendly, correspondence with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I continually try to provoke her with the horrors of Islam, in order to persuade her to leave it. She roundly condemns the bad bits of Islam, but I wonder where there are any good bits for her to retreat to. I am becoming increasingly curious. Are there ANY good things about Islam at all?
Richard

Mon, 04 May 2009 10:00:00 UTC | #356062

righton's Avatar Comment 41 by righton

Bonzai wrote:

"I also know a Muslim who is a fundie in many ways including believing in creationism and the "Quran science" but he doesn't believe in hell because 'Allah is merciful', he thinks all good people, including the infidels, eventually would go to heaven."



Does he also believe that the suicide bombers are good people and will go to heaven?

Mon, 04 May 2009 10:02:00 UTC | #356063

Gregg Townsend's Avatar Comment 42 by Gregg Townsend

40. Comment #372789 by Richard Dawkins

*crickets*

Mon, 04 May 2009 10:04:00 UTC | #356064

zengardener's Avatar Comment 43 by zengardener

14. Comment #372668 by RainDear on May 4, 2009 at 2:00 am
There's obviously a need for an underground railway for muslim women


I second that. Here are a couple of links.
The first one is a 10 minute video, the second and third are to German sites in Berlin. Surely someone could find better links, but what difference will it make if these women can't get on the internet?

tips to women on the run
10 TIPS

Papatya in Berlin(the name translates as "chamomile")they help Turkish girls
Runaway Turkis Girls

Finding a secret apartment in Berlin
secret appartments

Mon, 04 May 2009 10:11:00 UTC | #356070

quisquose's Avatar Comment 44 by quisquose

Why do we never hear such criticism of the bad bits of Islam (is there any good bits?) from the people whose criticism might actually have an effect?

Where is the anger from the Muslim Council Of Great Britain or the imams who are supposed to represent 'moderate' Islam?

:(

Mon, 04 May 2009 10:27:00 UTC | #356082

mitch_486's Avatar Comment 45 by mitch_486

40. Comment #372789 by Richard Dawkins on May 4, 2009 at 11:00 am

Are there ANY good things about Islam at all?


I think most followers do condemn the worst parts of it. The problem is that so many families are devout followers of its traditions. Some are willing to overlook absolute attrocities (and say, "well, they're extreme") in favor of an overwhelming need to follow tradition.

Islam, on a global scale, represents tradition so near and dear to the hearts of its followers that anything else (change) is absurd.

I mean, I've heard many devout women state that they are rather comfortable wrapping themselves up in 40-yard-long pieces of cotton, and really don't NEED to change anything. It's this type of thinking that hijacks ones freedom and substitutes tradition in an extremely "non-free" way.

So, to put it bluntly, I don't think there is anything good about it, but you won't be changing any minds on account of whether it's generally good or not. Their minds have an uncanny ability to mold to islam, in an almost endearing way.

EDIT: "Their minds...." I'd actually rather say "The human mind..."

Mon, 04 May 2009 10:29:00 UTC | #356084

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 46 by Lisa Bauer

#40
If I put on my mental hijab for a moment, perhaps Alibhai-Brown might be attracted to a number of things in the religion, even ignoring the potential threats or possible family ostracism. There's the feelingof being part of the ummah, the 'nation' of all Muslims, and (more or less) praying the same way, fasting, going on hajj, etc. which you share along with a billion other of your 'brothers' and 'sisters'. 'Fellowship' and 'community', I guess. If you look at Islamic teachings on charity and aiding others, the poor, widows and orphans, and so on through rose-tinted glasses, Islam can seem like a religion preaching love, justice, and charity. Some of the rituals, such as prayer, reciting stock Arabic phrases, reciting the Qur'an, and so on, may be comforting and calming. Much of Islamic art and architecture -- mosques and Qur'anic calligraphy -- is very beautiful. Some may be attracted to Islam's simple message of the oneness of Allah and that all things are subject to his will. Some believe Islam is attractive because it places great importance on the family and treating the elderly with respect (I'm just mentioning what some say, not endorsing it). There might be a few other things -- aside from the fact that it's familiar to many liberal Muslims and they don't want to give that up.

Mon, 04 May 2009 10:46:00 UTC | #356089

mitch_486's Avatar Comment 47 by mitch_486

47. Comment #372817 by Layla Nasreddin on May 4, 2009 at 11:46 am

Precisely.

EDIT:
Layla, I'm reminded of something Richard has said (not sure if this is exact, so my apologies)

"At best, religion is unhelpful"

Amidst plenty of beauty, I think this is worth noting.

Mon, 04 May 2009 10:52:00 UTC | #356094

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 48 by Lisa Bauer

#47

That reminds me of something. Author James Carroll, who has written books like Constantine's Sword exposing the dark, sordid history of the Roman Catholic Church, has just come out with a new book, Practicing Catholic. I haven't read it, but in it he apparently tries to justify why he's still a Catholic; supposedly there are enough positive things about the Church to remain a member, even if an often dissenting one. It sounds kind of interesting to me, because I could relate to that mindset of being disgusted by what passes for your religion, yet felling that there is something salvageable in it. I suppose the difference between Carroll and Alibhai-Brown on the one hand and me on the other is that I finally couldn't find anything worth salvaging! Along with the realization that I couldn't make myself believe this rubbish no matter how hard I tried, of course.

I'd be interested to read why Alibhai-Brown still remains a Muslim, in her own words; perhaps she's written about it somewhere.

Mon, 04 May 2009 14:02:00 UTC | #356161

Stewart's Avatar Comment 49 by Stewart

Richard asks:

"Are there ANY good things about Islam at all?"

Well, it's "a great religion that has brought the knowledge and love of God to untold billions."

What more could one ask for?

Go ahead, guess the religious affiliation of the speaker.

(source of quote: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1239710862839&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull)

Mon, 04 May 2009 14:02:00 UTC | #356163

Gregg Townsend's Avatar Comment 50 by Gregg Townsend

49. Comment #372894 by Stewart

Oh dear...poor Shmuley has gone completely bonkers!

Mon, 04 May 2009 14:09:00 UTC | #356165

PERSON's Avatar Comment 51 by PERSON

There's a kind of "no true Scotsman" fallacy being applied by some commenters here. If you don't subscribe to a certain set of illiberal beliefs, then you aren't a real Muslim, as if there haven't since its inception been people living in Muslim countries and whose cultural identity is Muslim who have views that were progressive (whatever that happened to mean at the time) and there is no scope for any kind of flexibility in Islam. They all secretly wish they weren't Muslims really and they are either lying or in denial. All Muslim states unerringly move towards being like Saudi Arabia or Iran. It's like saying everyone who opposes the National Front(1) isn't really British because Britain has a monarchy and no church-state separation, and there exist countries that are theocracies and dictatorships that are terrible regimes. And when presented with evidence to the contrary, saying that if it isn't true now, it must be so in the future due to the nature of the state. That is, it's a gross, fatalistic over-simplification.


(1) A neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalist organisation.

Mon, 04 May 2009 14:16:00 UTC | #356168

NakedCelt's Avatar Comment 52 by NakedCelt

Comment #372789 by Richard Dawkins:

For a while now I have carried on a sporadic, and more-or-less friendly, correspondence with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I continually try to provoke her with the horrors of Islam, in order to persuade her to leave it. She roundly condemns the bad bits of Islam, but I wonder where there are any good bits for her to retreat to. I am becoming increasingly curious. Are there ANY good things about Islam at all?
What does Yasmin say when you ask her that?

Mon, 04 May 2009 14:58:00 UTC | #356191

Goldy's Avatar Comment 53 by Goldy

Richard

Are there ANY good things about Islam at all£

Depends what you mean by Islam. Depends what they think Islam is.
There is quite a good injunction to charity, what with giving money to charitable reasons. Shariah seems to have insulated the banks following that from the worst of the down side of capitalism (though that is, as I admit, what they tell us). There is work ethics involved in Islam (according to some article I read about Turkey and Egypt - give me time, I could find them). Sufism doesn't seem to be the Islam we hear and read about - indeed, Ahmed Rashid says what the Taleban are preaching as Islam is not really indigenous
http://dawntravelshow.com/dblog/2009/05/04/pakistan-is-facing-galloping-talibanisation-ahmed-rashid/
The law in Swat is Taliban law, and it’s nonsense to say that the Swatis have been practicing Sharia for decades. The Taliban law has nothing to do with the mild form of Sufi-influenced Sharia that Swatis have had from 1960s.


I think you'd find this fairly interesting
http://dawntravelshow.com/dblog/2009/04/30/questions-about-burning/
The comments are interesting. Here's one
A very myopic view of Islamic values has led the world to believe that we are a rigid religion with no room for change/adaptation/evolution (call it whatever u want). ‘Ashfaq’ is a muslim but a version moulded by teachers who themselves had limited excess to enlightenment through education.

I wonder how we could revive Islam atleast to the days of glory & enlightenment when we were in Spain.


Any religion is basically what people say it is. For some, it is a rigid following of what they are told is written in their holy books. For others, it's a lot looser than that. Guess it's like cooking - sometimes a dish doesn't even have the same ingredients if cooked by different people...

Mon, 04 May 2009 15:11:00 UTC | #356197

green and dying's Avatar Comment 54 by green and dying

I don't see why it would matter whether there were any good things about Islam as long as she believes it's actually true. She doesn't have to like it to believe it's true.

Mon, 04 May 2009 16:07:00 UTC | #356229

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 55 by Enlightenme..

Schmuley:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1239710862839&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull
"It is even less likely that the rise of science is killing off religion, since science still cannot account for the nearly infinite complexity of organic life. Genetic mutation accompanied by natural selection is still no match for the sheer mathematical improbability of higher organisms ever emerging from random events.."

Creotard.
science still cannot account for the nearly infinite complexity of organic life. Genetic mutation accompanied by natural selection is still no match for the sheer mathematical improbability of higher organisms ever emerging from random events..therefore spontaneous generation theory - in which insects, amphibians, and mice appeared by natural self-assembly of nonliving ingredients in old clothes or piles of garbage - still holds.

Mon, 04 May 2009 17:25:00 UTC | #356245

Lisa Bauer's Avatar Comment 56 by Lisa Bauer

#53 Goldy -

I forgot about the appeal Sufism has for a lot of Muslims and even non-Muslims, although it never really appealed to me -- I was never into mysticism. I found it too emotional and even anti-intellectual ("turn off your conscious mind and your logic and reason and try to allow yourself to become one with the Source of Truth, Beauty and Peace").

I agree with you that Islam is only what Muslims do and believe; there is no one "true Islam" or "true Christianity" or any other religion. On the other hand, such a position tends to undercut many of the liberal reformers of both religions, who argue that "true Islam" (or "true Christianity," or "true religion") is something very different from what it has generally been for centuries and to a great extent still is today. If a Muslim feminist says that "true Islam" would allow women to lead prayers in mixed groupings, she's going to be totally outnumbered, because even moderate Muslims in the West don't agree. Similarly, when "progressive Christians" argue that "true Christianity" is against homophobia -- well, somebody better tell those hundreds of millions of Christians around the globe who think otherwise. It's not that there's one Islam or Christianity or one "essence" of those or any other religion, but somebody taking it upon him or herself to declare the beliefs of an enormous number of Muslims or Christians, including many of the most educated in religion, as "not the true religion" or "a perversion" -- well, a lot of people are not going to be convinced.

#54 greenanddying

I don't see why it would matter whether there were any good things about Islam as long as she believes it's actually true. She doesn't have to like it to believe it's true.


But Alibhai-Brown doesn't believe that the ugly, misogynist rules and attitudes she bemoans are "really" dictated by Islam. She thinks they are not; that's why she can still believe in Islam. If she did believe they were part and parcel of Islam, she'd be in the untenable position of believing that the religion she finds so perfect orders something so contrary to her own most deeply-held principles. Either she'd end up discarding the religion (or interpretation) that sanctions these misogynist rules she finds so intolerable, or else she'd change her views about women to be more in line with that of her religion on the grounds that "Allah knows, and I do not know, who am I to question Allah?" (Alternately, I suppose one could completely ignore the issue, or live in total denial.)

Mon, 04 May 2009 17:28:00 UTC | #356247

Foxy13's Avatar Comment 57 by Foxy13

Comment #372789 by Richard Dawkins:

I am becoming increasingly curious. Are there ANY good things about Islam at all?


I rather like their crescent moon. Mostly because it doesn't have a dead body pinned to it.

Mon, 04 May 2009 17:29:00 UTC | #356248

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 58 by huzonfurst

Foxy13, don't give those freaks any ideas.

Mon, 04 May 2009 17:44:00 UTC | #356254

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 59 by Enlightenme..

I would also be interested to know in her own words why she remains a Muslim.
http://www.alibhai-brown.com/about.php

Mon, 04 May 2009 17:48:00 UTC | #356255

Goldy's Avatar Comment 60 by Goldy

Layla, regarding women leading prayers
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_as_imams

Certain medieval scholars—including Al-Tabari (838–932), Abu Thawr (764–854), Al-Muzani (791–878), and Ibn Arabi (1165–1240)—considered the practice permissible at least for optional (nafila) prayers; however, their views are not accepted by any major surviving group.

With in the Muslim communities in recent years the debate has been reactivated, arguing that the spirit of the Qur'an and the letter of a disputed hadith indicate that women should be able to lead mixed congregations as well as single-sex ones, and that the prohibition of this developed as a result of sexism in the medieval environment, not as a part of true Islam.[2]


But one also reads this
http://www.urbanonramps.com/blog/islamic_woman.pdf
Only a handful of protesters showed up outside the event and they conducted a counter prayer service on the sidewalk, led
by a young American man who would only give his name as Nussruh. "These people do not represent Islam," said the
clearly furious Nussruh. "If this was an Islamic state, this woman would be hanged, she would be killed, she would be diced
into pieces."

The do not represent Islam, eh? But then one reads this
http://www.mwlusa.org/topics/rights/womanledprayer.htm
Women Leading Prayer: Muslims do not have a clergy. Any knowledgeable, respected Muslim is qualified to perform our important socio-religious tasks such as leading prayer or officiating a wedding. It was, however, not customary for women to lead prayer during the Prophet’s time, but we believe it is important to ask whether this was a reflection of custom or religious edict. In our paper on the participation of women in politics and leadership the MWL reviews the literature on the subject and concludes that, based on the Qur’an and authentic traditions of the Prophet, it is not forbidden (haram) for a woman to lead a mixed congregation in prayer . (see http://mwlusa.org/publications/essays/polirights.html) Some would say in fact that it is allowed (but whether or not it is recommended may be debated.) The Qur’an is completely silent on the matter of women leading prayer, and there is one example, as cited in the Traditions compiled by Abu Dawud, where Prophet Muhammed instructed Umm Waraqa bint Abdullah to lead her household and its environs (which included at least one man) in prayer because she had the best knowledge of the Qur’an in her community.

So....from whence Islam, or ideed any religion? From a god....or the minds of men?

Mon, 04 May 2009 17:58:00 UTC | #356256