Homosexuality; a matter of faith? March 18, 2008
We all know what the Qu’ran say about Homosexuality and for those of you who don’t, here’s a verse from the Qu’ran that expains:
Sura 4:20-21: “Against those of your women who commit adultery, call witnesses four in number from among yourselves; and if these bear witness, then keep the women in houses until death release them, or God shall make for them a way. And if two (men) of you commit it, then hurt them both; but if they turn again and amend, leave them alone, verily, God is easily turned, compassionate.”
Basically, lesbians should be locked up until death and if they keep re-offending kill them. Gay men should be killed unless they repent for their sins.
I know most Muslims believe this, in fact i’ve yet to meet a Muslim, British or not who disagrees with this. Yet, i myself, do not agree with this view. Am i not a Muslim? But the thing is i am and when making this decision i had two choices really:
Listen to scripture that is over 1000 years old but nonetheless holy and paramount to my faith and believe every single word that it says no matter how much i fundementally disagree with it.
Or- Use my common sense, formulate my own views based on my real experiences and hope that Allah who is all- loving and merciful will reward me for being true to myself.
Naturally i chose the latter option. Like many, i grew up in a strict Muslim household in which the words “homosexuality” and “lesbians” should never be uttered as it was a tremendous taboo. I don’t think i even knew what homosexuality really was until i was about 13. I certainly didn’t think that any Muslim could be homosexual, that concept seemed completely alien to me. Then i watched a program that changed my mind.
When i was around about 16, i remember watching a program on Channel 4 called “Gay Muslims”. Now the programme was nothing profound and wasnt even greatly made. It’s the people that appeared on them that had the real impact on me. I remember watching the pixulated face of an 18 year old girl who was disowned by her parents because she’d fallen in love with a woman. I heard her crying and instead of feeling disgust at her sexual deeds, i felt sympathy and admiration for this girl. It was then that i realized that homosexuality was not a choice that someone makes, like what colour shoes to buy, but it’s inherently in the core of their being, like the way i know i’m heterosexual, like the way i know that murder is wrong.
I know it’s not a choice because no one would actively chose to be disowned by their family and face abuse and ostricisation from their community. In fact i can’t think of anything worse, so i admired this girl for standing up for who she was, for being true to herself. This was further confirmed by yet another pixualted ( for fear of abuse) face of a divorced man in his late twenties who had been beaten up numerous times for being openly gay. His ex wife would not allow him to see his children and his family had also disowned him.
In this scenario it was the persecutors of these openly gay and lesbians that i felt disgusted at. I’ve often found it hard to swallow how our backward Muslim communities cannot stand anything that is different or not in line with their beliefs. I still have cousins that are not able to go to college to get further education becuase their parents believe education is not for women!
I thought such outdated views would change with the following generations but it seems to have got worse. The new generations of Muslims seem even more zealous in the their denouncement of anything that is “unislamic”. Most of them couldn’t even read a Qu’ran between them but they’re happy to tell you that they could never be friends with “batty men” as they so eloquently put it. In that case if you are are so religious, why are you sitting here talking to me my Muslim brother? Why do you go out partying and drinking on a saturday night whilst making sure that your sisters are safely tucked up in bed at night? Why do you indulge in sex before marriage with your white girlfriends and then claim you can’t marry a British Muslim becuase they’re all sluts!?
It all comes down to one thing HYPOCRISY! Hypocrisy and stupidity. Yes we believe and follow the Qu’ran but like everythig else it should be in context. Just like the fact the many British Muslim girls do not wear the hijab and chat openly with other men without anything sinister being involved, thus we should have similarly relaxed view on homosexuality. Such outdates views have no place in the 21st Century world. And i wish that this generation would take note and use their common sense and think for themselves rather than blindly following the billigerent musing of the Mullahs.
Niqab; a step too far? March 8, 2008
I will always respect your right to wear a niqab or whatever else you chose to wear but i say openly that i do not agree with it.
I feel a growing uneasiness at the increased number of young muslim women opting to wear a niqab or the full burka in Britain today. What is the need for it? Why do you make this decision? I asked a few girls around my university on their opinions about this and recieved quite a positive response.
One muslim girl stated that by wearing the niqab these girls acheive a “superior connection to Allah and achieve a higher level of piouty”. The first batch of girls were sure enough muslim but the second batch produced a surprising bag of results.
When asked how they felt about the growing number of muslim women in Britain wearing the niqab, several replied that they would feel “uncomfortable” approach such women as they saw the niqab as a sign of alienation. Sadly i have to agree with this view. Even as a fellow muslim myself, i would feel quite uncomfortable approaching these sisters.
I just don’t understand why modern muslim women, probably born and brought up in the UK feel the need to cover themselves to such an extent as to only show their eyes or not even at all in the case of the burka. In fact i find it quite an insult because as a British muslim feminist i find it a sign of self oppression. As a lot of british-born muslim girls fight against oppression born from predominantly patriachal societies influenced by Islam, for better rights and more modern attitudes, you niqabis take us a step back.
I grew up in quite a strict Bangladeshi-muslim family, where my mother has worn a hijab for most of my life. I was given the choice of whether i wanted to wear one, and i myself chose not to. I remember visiting two very different muslim nations; Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. In Bangladesh, the number of women that wear the niqab is definetly the very few minority whereas as in Saudi Arabia it seemed to be the majority. Whereas in Bangladesh, covering your head is optional in Saudi Arabia, it is compulsory. I came to the conclusion that wearing the niqab is more a cultural thing possibly influenced more by the wahabism predominant in Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern countries.
Despite this, i’d assumed that the niqabis i would meet would most likely to be middle eastern yet this was not the case, most of them were Bangladeshi or Pakistani. I’m still baffeled as to why. I grew up in a Bangladeshi culture and of all the “aunties” i met i only recall a few who wore the niqab yet see a growing number of their daughters adopting this form of dress.
It leads me to think that maybe the press aren’t wrong or overexaggerating, maybe there is increasing rise in Islamisn and convervative Islam. I almost feel sad to say this, but if the press are right, then i don’t want to be a part of it. Why is it that this generation of young muslims feel that their parents religious values were not enough, were not strict enough? Why do they feel they need to take it a step further. As far as i’m aware, more muslim scholars agree that wearing the niqab is not compulsory whereas waring the hijab is. So where is the need? Why does the hijab not suffice?
It is not just for symbolisms sake that i am against the niqab. I feel it has no place multi-cultural Britain in a practical sense. Especially in the case of niqabis who are studying at university and hope to pursue a career. Whehter you like it or not, niqab does scream out the word “alienation”. You are merely giving in to the negative stereotyping of muslims. How do you expect to get a decent job if you wont even show your face to your employer? It clearly sends out the message, “i do not want to integrate, i do not want to talk to you, i am stuck in the past”
The hijab on the contrary, i absolutely endorse. I think it is a liberating force which allows muslims to stay faithful to Islam but still alows you to be approachable and practical. It does not in anyway hinder communication or give off a sense of isolation. I can imagine and will probably be proven right in thinking that a woman wearing a hijab can have a perfectly succesful career with little obstacles. For women wearing the niqab, i’m afraid i cannot say the same….
Confessions of a British Muslim March 6, 2008
To get this blog going, i thought i’d ask muslim students at my university whether they think Islam is fair. After all it is our views that matter, as we are the lastest generation of young, eductated muslims who live by this religion. The first to give in to my questioning was 20-year-old Anaam Raza.
Anaam was born in Pakistan and arrived in Britain at the age of 5 where she was educated until the age of 11 afterwhich she returned to Pakistan. After completing her A levels she came back to England to study at university. Like many muslim women she is both articulate and intelligent and wears the hijab (headscarf) out of choice.
When i asked her outright whether she viewed Islam as a fair religion i got the expected view of “Absolutely”. When asked why, she responded, “because i’ve been raised in the religion and it applies justly to my life.” Fair enough, i believed her as she asserted this statement with particular veroctiy.
Do you think it is fair to all women? She replied, “Yes, if you look into the religion and scriptures, it states men and women as equal. It is society and culture that are not fair to women.” This answer did not sit well with me, not necessarily because i didn’t agree with it, more because it seemed to be a generic answer rehearsed and regurgitated by most muslims in Anaam’s position whenever this particular question is posed. It didn’t really answer my question and seemed to me a bit of a cop out.
This lead me to ask her the question, How do you feel when people say “honour killings” are based on religion as it is cultures mainly based on Islam that practice it? “That’s not true, it is not only cultures in Islam that practice it, there have been many reported honour killings performed by non-muslims from the Indian sub-continent. It is rare and is a backward practice performed mainly for cultural reasons, not religious reasons”
Although she makes a good point i find this particularly hard to swallow as recent figures have shown that countries such as Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey have the biggest problem of “honour killings” in the world, with 97 per cent of Egyptian women being subjected to such unhumane practices as genital mutilation. Now you may ask “what has that got to do with Islam?” Well the reality is, such practices are based on Islamic principles based on honour, supressed sexuality and female chastity and i hardly think it a coincidence that they mainly take place in Islamic countries or countries with a high population of Muslims such as Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria. One only needs to ask themselves whether this problem would be so widespread if Islam were not predominant in such countries.
Now, some of you may think this is just another anti-Islamic tirade. It is nothing of the such, i am a British Muslim and very proud to be so. However, i am getting particular sick of other Muslims whom i meet and discuss these issues with giving me the same old rehearsed lines without addressing the real issue. I have no doubt that they are probably just showing loyalty to their religion that has been widely critiscised by the West in the last few years. Yet it seems to me, highlighting problems that have stemmed from this ancient religion is not blasphemy but merely common sense. No one can deny that women, men and children have suffered at the hands of Islamic regimes and customs and by doing so they themselves are commiting a sin to humanity.