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Female Genital Mutilation- Excavating Sharia Part 2

As a faith community, we are facing a serious crisis in human (and God given) rights violations. Many of those “in charge” are and have been misusing religious texts to cripple more than half of our population- women.

We are a global community and these issues have infected our lives on a global scale. Because of these issues, Saadia Haq and I are “Excavating Shariah” in an attempt to chip away at the fiqh interpretations (human understanding of the Shariah (Islamic) law) that have either intentionally or unintentionally ignored the female experience, oppressed women, or co-opted women’s religious dedication.

Female Genital Mutilation Part 2

Part 2 Written by Theresa Corbin

We take it as a serious matter that Islam has been wrongfully used as a weapon against women. We feel we have the right and an obligation, as Muslims, to speak on these issues. Currently we are “excavating” the affront that is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

What is FGM

“Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons” -The World Health Organization (WHO)

There are four types of FMG that increase in horrific nature from the removal of the clitoris to the removal of all external genital tissue and creation of a seal over the vagina, leaving only a small hole for urine and menstrual blood to escape.

It’s hard to read, I know. But imagine having to live through it. A few years ago, I read about the procedures in depth and I was beyond shocked by the brutality and severe physical and emotional scars and complication the victims are left with. Read more here if you want to know more about this brutal reality.

History of FGM

Read more

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Female Genital Mutilation- Excavating Sharia Part 1

As a faith community, we are facing a serious crisis in human (and God given) rights violations. Many of those “in charge” are and have been misusing religious texts to cripple more than half of our population- women.

We are a global community and these issues have infected our lives on a global scale. Because of these issues, Saadia Haq and I are “Excavating Shariah” in an attempt to chip away at the fiqh interpretations (human understanding of the Shariah (Islamic) law) that have either intentionally or unintentionally ignored the female experience, oppressed women, or co-opted women’s religious dedication.

FGM Excavating Sharia

 

Part 1 written by Saadia Haq

A new low was achieved this August, thanks to an Egyptian politician Elhamy Agina blatant argument that women’s sexual appetite needed to be curbed through FGM because in reality “men were sexually weak” and unable to match their bedroom demands.

This caused an international outcry whereas I was transported back into time during my university days in Jordan. My short time in Amman provided me with insider view into the Middle Eastern cultures; soon I made lots of female friends that were pleasantly welcoming to a South Asian Muslim woman. The unique combination of studying rights issues in a progressive Muslim nation like Jordan and living together with diverse group of women from Arabian and African nations helped foster many bonds that have grown stronger with time.

Continue reading on Saadia Haq’s blog The Human Lens here

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Terrorism Knows No Religion: Podcast ep. 1

Podcasted by Kaighla Um Dayo & Theresa Corbin

Here at islamwich, we discuss all things Muslim, all things ‘merican, and everything in between. Some things, though, need a little more than a few hundred words (ok, a lot more).

SIGN ME UP!

Twice a month (give or take), Theresa Corbin and Kaighla Um Dayo exchange witty banter and (somewhat) intelligent conversation right here, on the islamwich Podcast, all while helping bridge the gap between Islam and ‘merica. 

(If you train your eye up there on the pages tabs, you’ll see our new islamwich podcast page. You can find any and all of our future podcasts listed there.)

Enjoy the first in the islamwich podcast series “The ‘Us & Them’ Illusion & Double Standards”. In this episode, we discuss why there is a double standard when tragedy strikes in the West vs. when the same tragedy happens in the East, why #blacklivesmatter is necessary, and the importance of remembering even the most evil people (yes, even Trump and Cruz) are human beings, too.

 

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7 Questions to Ask Before Asking if Muslims Condemn Terrorism

Written by Hind Makki and originally posted on here on Patheos

In the last few days, several people have put their two cents in about whether Muslims are condemning ISIS, why these condemnations aren’t reaching those who need to hear it, and what Muslims can do to reach the media. A tumblr page has been created documenting instances of Muslims condemning things. This question, “Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism,” is one that nearly single Muslim leader, activist, public intellectual, interfaith speaker, has had to answer multiple times, especially since 9/11.

nimn[…]
I’m frustrated because for years, Muslim writers/activists/leaders have endured our interfaith sisters and brothers, as well as media and politicians, telling us that we don’t denounce terrorism done by Muslims. Even though Muslim organizations, leaders, lay people have all constantly condemned terrorism in the name of Islam, consistently since 9/11. 

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An Open Letter to “I”SIS

not in my name
http://wayvs.com/2014/09/22/muslims-social-media-campaign/

First thing’s first, pick a name (may I suggest neo-Kharijite?). Seriously. But leave Islam out of it. Because, between you and me and the rest of the world, we kinda all know you have no idea what Islam is. It is so obvious. We’ve all seen the pics of you attempting to pray and getting it all wrong. You don’t even know the basics.

ISIS praying wrong Read more

Take Back Islam: Freedom of Religion & Freedom from It

Take Back Islam: Freedom of Religion & Freedom from It

Written by Stephanie Siam

Like many reverts to Islam, my conversion did not come without its share of awkward and unsure feelings: Was I making the right choice? Would I still be accepted in my circles? How would I be perceived by friends and family?

Alhumdulillah, I had a supportive network of friends, and I have family members who, above all, respect my inherent right to make such a profound decision on my own.

No compulsion in Islam
graphic by Nicole Elmasry

Now, I understand the commonly-held belief that when we’re born we are, in the literal sense of the word, Muslims (in complete submission to Allah). That is why many consider themselves “reverts” instead of “converts”.

But in terms of being spiritually-identifying and religiously-practicing individuals, we are not anything. For most people, whatever religion (or non-religion) their parents ascribe to will be the one they also follow into young adulthood (and quite often far beyond). But this doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily chosen it.

For a great majority, they’ve gone along with it, without questioning.

Yet, being a practitioner of a religion requires conviction in the heart. As a certain Elder once reminded me:

Just because your mother or father are a certain religion doesn’t make you that religion. This is NOT DNA people! We do not inherit it!

Unfortunately, not everybody around the world is afforded this inherent right to choose their religious affiliation (or non-affiliation).

One of the biggest news stories circling the globe as of late is the case of Sudanese doctor Meriam Ishag, who was accused of committing adultery, apostatizing from Islam and, ultimately, sentenced to death. Though current rumors (which I pray are true!) announce Ibrahim will soon be freed from her unlawful incarceration, the distress this issue has caused in the international community is still highly tangible – and will continue to be for a long time.

How can we call ourselves The Religion of Peace when those who act as the talking heads and spokespeople of all Muslims continue to misappropriate, bend and twist the sayings of our dear Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and verses of the perfect Qur’an?

How can we stand up and say, “Islam is the religion of human rights”? Proclaim that it “provides rights and equality for women”? Defend it against naysayers who call Muslims, collectively, “terrorists” and “barbarians”? (Or maybe a better question might be, “Why should we have to defend it?” But, that’s for another post. ..)

And it boils down to this next sentence:

Trying to convince a person about something when they are adamant their opinion is correct is like trying to move the iceberg out of the way of the Titanic.

Sailing_too_Close
graphic by Nicole Elmasry

What we have is a giant ship of people (take your pick: Muslims, Christians, atheists, whatever) heading toward a giant problem (the issue of apostasy and its possible punishments).

As much as we’d like, we can’t move the issue (iceberg). If we did, another one would just come up at a later point in time, we’d be back at the beginning. Specifically, someone else would defect from their religion, possibly bringing a harsh verdict down upon themselves. And, in the case of Sudan, illegal.

That’s right. It is illegal, since the sentence directly contradicts Sudan’s 2005 Interim National Constitution, which

provides for freedom of religion in Sudan. In Article 38, on Freedom of Creed and Worship, the Constitution assures that “[e]very person shall have the right to the freedom of religious creed and worship … no person shall be coerced to adopt such faith, that he/she does not believe in, nor to practice rites or services to which he/she does not voluntarily consent.”

Sudan also ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1986. The ICCPR is legally binding and is monitored by the Human Rights Council. Furthermore, Sudan is a member of the UN, an organization that recognized the importance of freedom of religion or belief in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition, Article 27(3) of Sudan’s Constitution expressly states that international human rights instruments ratified by Sudan shall become part of the Constitution [. . .] — Sudan Democracy First Group

Be that as it may, I am not here to argue the legal or penal code of Sudan (though it clearly needs enforcement).

What I want to do is draw attention to the basic insinuation that has landed Dr. Ishag in prison to begin with. The very idea that apostasy should be addressed by an Earthly council so that the apostate can be punished in the duniya (the physical life prior to the spiritual Hereafter).

All too often, people of various religious persuasion take it upon themselves to enact punishment (vengeance?) upon those who do not conform to the ideals or standards of society, theology, or indoctrination. Whoa, that was a loaded statement. Basically, it’s the mindset of

You are wrong. I am right. You don’t agree that I am right. I am going to punish/kill/imprison/maim/torture you.

But where did humans — HUMANS — get this balderdash idea that Allah needs humans to protect Him? Why would the Creator of the known and unknown universes, the artist of ultimate perfection, need an imperfect creature such as man to force atonement on others for not choosing to do something that is…….a CHOICE?

Let’s not forget there is no compulsion in religion (Qur’an 2:256):

2:256

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.

 

But that verse is always given as a shield by those who oppose mistreatment of not only apostates, but anyone who chooses not to follow or conform to Islamic teachings. Let’s look at a few others that should serve to remind us that we, mere humans, are not the judge and jury of others when it comes to dealing with actions that directly (and predominately) affects a person’s soul.

 

Take, for example, Qur’an 5:54, which tells us that Allah does not NEED us, as he can replace us at any time with another believer:

5:54

O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion

– Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers [. . .] That is the favor of Allah;

He bestows it upon whom He wills [. . .]

 

Or Qur’an 9:67, which reminds us that if we forget Allah, He will forget about us:

 

9:67

[. . .] They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them [. . .]

 

And yet, the basic truth is this:

There is NO surat (chapter) in the Qur’an, or verse therein, that advocates, prescribes, suggests or commands execution for the apostate of Islam.

Furthermore, the actions that were permitted by the Prophet (SAW) during his time to clarify vague descriptions in the Qur’an were done as example. Yet, neither the Prophet nor any of his companions ever sentenced anyone to death for renouncing their faith, though they had ample chance to do so.  If the punishment were not only permissible, but indeed recommended, the Prophet would have been the first to cast a stone to set the example.

Now, am I saying there is no punishment for apostasy? No. The Qur’an tells us in 9:74 the punishment for apostasy is jahannam (Hellfire). But that punishment is Allah’s to dole out, and Allah’s alone.

So, this brings us back to our ship, heading straight for disaster, as nobody can agree on a solution to avoid the problem.

So, then, how do we avoid running into the iceberg?

We must find an answer that allows all people involved to be true to their respective beliefs, dogmas, ideas, interpretations. In simple terms, we must agree to disagree, while at the same time agree to take action based on a common – no, core – similarity.  But what is that similarity?

The answer is the acknowledgement of humanity.

If you take a group of various theist/atheist scholars (or regular Joes) and ask them a pertinent, faith-based question, you’ll more than likely get a different answer from each attendee based on their ___________ (fill in the blank with your choice of beliefs, religion, interpretation of theological text, agenda, etc.).

But ask them a direct, logic-based question that you might ask a 1st-grader, aka Someone Who is Not Affected by Theological/Atheological Thinking, such as:

Is it right to kill another human?

Shakles
graphic by Nicole Elmasry

Unless they are inherently evil, all of these individuals who can’t even agree on how the Earth was made can unanimously utter a single word:

No.

Now, I see your wheels spinning, Readers (a few unnamed ones, specifically). Here’s the follow-up question:

If there is NO PHYSICAL VIOLENCE involved, is it right to kill another human?

Again, No.

And I think we can agree that it is wrong to take a mother from her children if she isn’t physically neglecting or harming them. Or a child from its father. Or to separate spouses because an intangible entity (government) decides their marriage is not valid by some inane ruling.

Therefore, the only logical solution that allows us to avoid certain catastrophe at the hands of too many captains at the helm is:

When in doubt, do no harm.

And, that, dear Readers is the bond of humanity that will save the ship from going down.

If we can’t agree on the “right” answer, we can at least agree that leaving apostates alone to answer for their own choices on Judgement Day is the least harmful answer in this Life. Perhaps by granting clemency, by truly following the peaceful path, the apostate may be brought round. Maybe he won’t. But, in the end, it’s not our decision to make. Because Allah brings to Islam whom He wills.

And if we execute a person who renounces his faith in Allah, what we’re ULTIMATELY doing is usurping the WILL OF ALLAH to guide him home.

 

#TakeBackIslam 

Read more about our Take Back Islam effort: here, here, here, and here

 

References:

Sudan Democracy First Group (31 May 2014). “The dilemma of freedom of religion in Sudan.” Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 9 June 2014, from http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article51185

 

Follow us (upper right of the page). Email us (islamwich@yahoo.com). Like our face with your face on Facebook (facebook.com/islamwich). Tumble with us on Tumblr (islamwich.tumblr.com). Pin with us (pinterest.com/islamwich). Follow us on twitter (@islamwich).

Like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About” page and browse other posts in “Table of Contents”.

Take Back Islam: Rape is NOT Zina

Take Back Islam: Rape is NOT Zina

Written by Theresa Corbin

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a 23-year-old woman was “awarded” a one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing “adultery” and trying to abort the resultant fetus after being abducted and gang raped – Saudi Gazzette.

We live in a world where men in charge conflate rape with sex. We live in a world where women living in “Muslim” countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and many more, are charged with zina (adultery) when, in fact,  they have been victims of rape.

This is a dangerous game men play with the lives and well-being of women.

No one is free when others are oppressed

Rape is not sex. Rape is not zina (adultery). Rape is ightisab (taking something by force). The history of Islamic scholarship bares this out. It is well-known that in “Fiqh-us-Sunnah” (an Islamic legal book) rape is included in a definition of hiraba (terrorism or crimes of violence), which states: “A single person or group of people causing public disruption, killing, forcibly taking property or money, attacking or raping women, killing cattle, or disrupting agriculture.”

But by conflating adultery with rape, the “Islamic” courts insist that a victim of rape should produce four witnesses.

However, the four witnesses demanded in the Quran does not even apply to rape. The four witnesses are only required when accusing a woman of adultery (zina). 

Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women – bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them or Allah ordains for them [another] way.” (4:15)

It is absolutely absurd to claim that a rape victim is accusing herself of being unchaste and committing adultery and then demand she produce witnesses!

In reality–which seems to not exists when it comes to rape in these Muslim countries–Islam as a crime despicable rape where the rapist is put to death or given 100 lashes. And the victim is not to be put under societal or legal pressure, but should be offered state sanctioned support.

But I guess these lawmakers in “Islamic” countries didn’t see the verse after the four witness verse that says both involved in sin of adultery should be punished.

“Punish both of those among you who are guilty of this sin, then if they repent and mend their ways, leave them alone. For Allah is always ready to accept repentance. He is All-Compassionate.” (4:16)

The fact that these “men” in charge call rape adultery and do not even punish the other party (rapists get off Scott free or even get to marry their victims) in the act is blatant evidence of their extreme misogyny and lack of understanding of the religion of Islam.

Because of this severely skewed sense of “justice” rape has sky-rocketed in the offending countries.

International rape scale

According to the Archives of Women’s Health study Violence Against Women in South Asian Countries:

“The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) found a sharp rise in cases of rape over the decade with estimates suggesting that for every two hours, one woman was raped somewhere in the country. Other reports suggested the figure could be far higher, given that many instances of rape are never reported [understandably], as a result of social [and legal] pressures. Incidents of abusive incest and rape within marriage are also said to be common although most occur in a hidden form in the society.”

Why?

These governments and “scholars” twist and distort Islam till it is unrecognizable. But the question is why? What do they gain?

They step on the rights of women to gain political power, using rape and humiliation as a tool. One notable example is General Zia of Pakistan who gained his political power through systematic oppression of women, as can be seen in his introduction of the 1979 Hudood ruling.

Rahat Imran writes in an essay, Islamic Laws, Gender Discrimination, and Legal Injustices, that:

“Zia used the ‘women card’ as the first and most obvious symbol for his Islamization plan, knowing that a large majority of the male population of the country would have little problem in digesting its implementation […] because the law not only serves the purpose of terrorizing and subjugating women, but also resolves critical and controversial issues like proving rape in the court of law in men’s favor”

This and other grabs for power at the expense of women’s rights, like the Ayatollah Khomeini’s “Islamic” revolution, paved the way for future oppression of women under the guise of Islam.

Today the torch of violence against and subjugation of women in “Islamic” countries has been handed down to the likes of the Taliban who burn the flame brightly to the detriment of all. 

What can we do?

It is time we pull the rug out from underneath these “men” who rule on false claims of Islam.

The first thing we need to do is understand the truth. Learn the reality of Islam and not the version that has been bought and sold by governments and/or people seeking power.

Then we MUST educate those around you.

And call these corrupt rulers and law makers out on their heinous crimes against humanity and God. Where ever you see oppression done in the name of Islam, speak up. It is your duty.

#TakeBackIslam