Category Archives: Women

Take that Jack Straw !

You have to watch this clip of Iranian women graduating from Police School.

Who says you can’t function while wearing yards, and yards…and yards of fabric ?



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Defender of the Flag: In Memory of Alia Ansari
By Imam Zaid Shakir

This past Tuesday, Muslims celebrated ‘Id al-Fitr, one of Islam’s two
festivals. For me, it was a beautiful day that began with a truly warm
vibrant ‘Id gathering at the Zaytuna Institute. God afforded me a
opportunity to see friends who had been “missing in action,” to meet
enthusiastic new converts to the Islam, and to kiss so many babies I
like a politician. During that time, I was also able to break away from
gathering to visit the graves of some distinguished Muslims buried in a
nearby cemetery. Visiting the local Muslim cemetery on ‘Id day is a
I have been able to maintain since my earliest years in Islam. They
serve as
a solemn reminder that all of us have an appointment with the Angel of

I was blessed to stay at Zaytuna until the early afternoon when I
to attend a meeting at a local school, a reminder that we are in
America and
sometimes, despite our best efforts to clear our schedules on the day
of our
festivals, the requisites of our everyday duties intervene. After that
meeting, I was able to visit some of the Muslim families in the area.
All of
those visits filled my heart with awe at the simple dignity of ordinary
Muslims, many of whom are struggling valiantly to survive in this
cruel, always challenging and complicated society.

The last of those visits was to the family of Alia Ansari, the
Afghani-American mother of six who was gunned down in central Fremont
Thursday as she walked to pick up her children from school. The Ansari
family are everyday people—and, they are proud people. As I talked with
Alia’s husband, brothers, and cousins who were gathered in the family’s
humble apartment, it became clear to me that, most of all, they were
to be Ansaris, descendants of the companion of the Prophet Muhammad,
upon him, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, and the great Muslim mystical sage,
Abdullah Ansari. In Afghan society, they are people who are identified
piety and they endeavor to live up to that identification, in their

Alia Ansari migrated from war-torn Afghanistan at the age of 17. When
father died shortly thereafter, she became a second parent to her
siblings. A life of hardship could not suppress her inner beauty,
most readily in an irrepressible smile. Her husband, Ahmadullah Ansari,
auto mechanic struggling to make ends meet for a family that includes
young children, five of them girls, spoke glowingly of Alia’s martyrdom
the place God has reserved for her in Heaven. Her story impressed on me
truth embodied in the words of a poet who said, “Be yourself beautiful,
you will find the world full of beauty.”

Her husband, contrary to the caricature of the vindictive, hateful,
Muslim, mentioned how the family did not wish her martyrdom be treated
as a
hate crime, because he did not want her death to be a source of
agitation in
the area’s large Muslim community. He also mentioned that the family
not want the murderer executed, because that would not bring his wife
His wife was a martyr, her place in Paradise secure—for him that was

His gentle voice was most emphatic when he mentioned that he did not
his wife’s death to be politicized. Rather, he wanted her spirit of
love and
reconciliation to prevail after her passing as it had during her life.
spoke of his desire that her funeral be a solemn service, where people
all faiths could gather to remind each other just how important it is
work to remove the pernicious stain of racial and religious hatred from
society lest it lead to ever deepening spirals of senseless violence.

As we sat on the floor of their sparsely furnished living room to eat a
of traditional Afghan food, our gathering was overseen by four walls
decorated with only an unframed picture of the Ka’aba, and a tapestry
Ayatu Kursi, the Qur’anic Verse of the Throne (2:255), printed on it.
Husband, brothers, and cousins gathered around to tell me more about
who Alia Ansari was. They spoke proudly of a deeply religious
individual who
embodied the true spirit of the “Ansar,” the Helpers. The original
were those Muslims in Medina who welcomed into their city and homes the
faithful believers who had migrated from Mecca, fleeing the persecution
that city’s population. The Qur’an mentions the spirit the Ansar
in the following terms:

As for those who had previously established homes [in Medina], having
adopted the faith; they show their love and affection to those who
to them [seeking refuge]. You will not find their hearts harboring any
desire for that given to those migrants; rather they give preference to
over themselves, even though they are themselves afflicted with
poverty. (59:9)

Alia was indeed a helper. In addition to her tireless and faithful
to her immediate family, she was constantly helping relatives and
many of whom themselves had recently migrated to this country from
native Afghanistan. Her brother, Humayun, remarked that she did the
work of
six people and never complained. A typical day might find her preparing
meals for the family, dropping the children to school, taking a
shopping, shuttling a newly-arrived relative to the immigration
watching a neighbor’s child, nursing a sick relative, or numerous other
tasks demanding the sacrifice of her time and energy.

Although never formally educated in Islam, she was a deeply devout and
spiritual individual. Her husband noted that she never missed a prayer.
quietly added that she would stand for voluntary prayer every night
she wept beseeching God to save her daughters from the ravages of the
violent, promiscuous youth culture of this country. Her deep
spirituality is
illustrated by the following incident. A few days before her demise,
told her husband that she had seen her deceased grandfather, an
well known for his righteousness, in a dream. The learned sage
that the end of her worldly struggles was near, and a resting place in
Paradise would soon be hers.

As a pious Muslim woman, she never left home without her hijab, the
traditional head scarf worn by Muslim women. She was proud of her
hijab. In
the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, some of her friends
relatives, afraid of reprisal attacks, took off their hijabs. Alia
encouraged them not to compromise their religion, especially when they
nothing to do with those crimes. As for herself, she told them that she
would never take off her hijab, even if someone put a gun to her head
demanding that she do so. Alia said that her hijab was her flag. She
not have known as she began the fateful walk to her children’s school
Thursday that her path would cross that of a lone gunman who in a
single act
of mindless violence would bring a close to a life of dedication and
service. She could not have known that her grandfather’s words were so
to fulfillment. She could not have known that she would soon die
her flag.

Among the believers are those who have been true to their covenant to
Among them are those who have given their lives, others patiently wait
turn, having never weakened in their resolve. (33:23)

Imam Zaid Shakir
Zaytuna Institute

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Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajioon

Shaheed during the month of Ramadan.  May Allah have mercy on her family

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The Qubaisiate

Interesting article on religious revival among women in Syria

and comments by Jill at Feministe

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Sexual Revolutions

I was reading this post earlier and came across a comment that irritated me.  I am so tired of people giving these pat little answers to great, complex questions that arise everyday.  In this case an easy answer to why do men leave when their girlfriends/wives, ect…get pregnant was “well it’s that sexual revolution of course”.  Apparently the sexual revolution caused women to sleep with whoever, forgetting their power (?) and thereby allowing men to love ’em and leave ’em….

What part of the sexual revolution is meant?  The part where women finally joined the workforce, but had to wait and in some areas are still waiting for equal pay?  Or is it the part where women finally were allowed to express enjoyment in being sexual as opposed to shutting their eyes, and gritting their teeth for god and country?  Or maybe it is the part that gets everyone in a uproar, where sexuality in its myriad forms became part of the cultural fabric of the West.

You cannot just lay blame because it sounds good.  People are constantly laying blame on feminism for everything bad in society these days.  It is so easy to harken back to those idealistic days when a man was a man and a woman was a woman and everyone knew their place.  I churned the butter and you brought home the chicken for my pot.  What was idealistic about those days?  The illusion that’s what. 

A lot of the original intent in the women’s lib movement has been distorted because like anything else, when we create something without first considering our spiritual needs and our religious obligations, we take it too far, we get confused, we make wrong decisions, assumptions, and conclusions.
We made the wrong decision when deciding that if men can screw around , then so can we…  We made the wrong assumption when we assumed being sexual equalled no responsibilites,  We came to wrong conclusion when we concluded that we had figured it out.

People are always talking about how women have all this power and we LET men get away with this and that…what power do women have?  We live in a patriarchal society that has used it’s patriarchy to create a sexist environment that we have to live in.  No matter what revolution, or liberation we start, it ultimately ends up being used against us.  So I can sleep with whoever I want, but at the end of the day I still have to contend with the messages drummed into my head by our male oriented society that I am nothing without a husband.  Who cares about sexual liberation when all you want is to be proposed to?  

And then people bring up religion and say “well Islam offers true liberation!”…ok…but only if both sides follow the rules… Islam asks us to submit ourselves – it is the heart of our deen.  We submit to God first and then to our husbands, our fathers, etc…   If we happen to have men in our lives who treat us well – lucky us…     

I can accept submission from a religious standpoint, where my ultimate responsibility is to please God.  I can live in a patriarchal society without feeling like it takes away from me a woman, but I cannot live in a sexist or misogynistic society.  Don’t insult my intelligence by telling me to simply believe that Islam liberates women and if we are good Muslims then presto everything will be grand.  Islam liberates our souls, it liberates humankind, it liberates you only when you liberate yourself of this world first.  But to throw out platitudes like that, and then turn around and put down feminism leaves many women where exactly?  What have you offered them that is concrete and true to their situation?
We now live in a world where young women do not know the names of the foremost thinkers and constructers of feminist theory – and they prance around wasting and abusing what so many fought so hard for.  We also live in a community where young women do not know their religion, and how to truly free themselves so that they can be Muslim, feminist, spiritual, sexual and revolutionaries to boot.                                                                                           

That is the next sexual revolution…if you don’t like the last one, create your own.


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Women Bringing About Change Without Hate

On the subject of women who lead by example, who bring about change, who break the status quo, who make people take notice…And she doesn’t even hate her religion or Muslims. Go figure!

The women won it
Salma Yaqoob
May 13, 2006 08:28 AM

Last week a little piece of history was made in Sparkbrook as I was elected to serve as Respect’s first Birmingham city councillor. For Respect, it was an important breakthrough. But it was significant too that I became the only female Muslim councillor in the city.

This was a small step to the left in a city where too many people turned to the far right. Not for Nick Cohen, who sees only “…a slice of the electorate in a poor part of Britain that is so lost in identity politics and victimhood that it will vote for those who stoke their rage, no matter how worthless they are.” This bigoted perception of Muslims has nothing in common with the realities of our lives or our struggles.

When the ballots were counted, we had polled nearly 50% of the vote and won with the third highest vote in the city. It was a crushing defeat for my opponents. It was only possible because we challenged the traditional conservatism that denies leading public positions to women, and challenged the old order, which treats our communities as silent voting fodder. And it was only possible because we united people around a progressive message of anti-racism and social justice.

While Birmingham has a large and very politically engaged Muslim community, its representatives are exclusively male, largely convinced that this is the right and natural order of things, and very determined to maintain the status quo. Gender played an important role in my election victory.

For my opponents, it was a point of attack. Representatives of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats pandered to conservative attitudes within the Muslim community about the position of women. At election meetings and polling booths, Lib Dem and Labour activists urged Muslim men not to vote for a woman because it was “un-Islamic”. The fact that I had not adopted my husband’s surname was evidence of me being insufficiently subservient. Instead of serious engagement with the issues, smears about my commitment to my family as a mother, daughter and wife abounded. The “dishonour” of even being challenged by a woman, and the precedent that this might set, ensured that local Lib Dem and Tory supporters worked behind the scenes to support the sitting Labour councillor.

What became clear to me, however, was that while such views might find favour with some more elderly and religiously conservative layers in the community, the women were having none of it. Time after time, I knocked on households with “Vote Labour” posters to be told by the women of the house “our dad is Labour, but you’ve got our vote”. Groups of Muslim women, armed with clipboards and Respect rosettes, pounded the streets and canvassed their sisters. On polling day, Respect was the only party with a visible female presence at the polling stations.

And, it should be said, Respect had the only visible white presence at the polling stations as well. For ours was a campaign that placed unity in pursuit of progressive objectives above who you know, whose family you are close to, or which mainstream party you can sell your principles to for the greatest personal reward.

What I saw in our campaign was a new confidence, pride and unity from all sections of our community. This confidence was most pronounced among women. But Nick Cohen sees only “Islamists”, “victimhood”, “identity politics”, and “rage”. He purports to direct his fire against Respect. But his contempt for the 4,339 people who voted for me is obvious

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