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Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

They Don’t Have Prayer: the Media and Eid for Muslim Women in South Africa

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Sacred Space, South Africa on October 19, 2010 at 11:34 am

Published at Muslimah Media Watch, Muslim Matters and Racialicious

Several weeks after Eid al Fitr and before Eid al Adha, it’s a good time to analyze the recent media embroglio about women and Eid prayers in South Africa. The ways in which South African Muslims interact with the media has changed drastically in the last few years with the rise of social media, and this has reflected itself especially in what has been called “the desktop gender jihad” (women using the internet to fight, lobby and advocate for their rights).

In the weeks following Eid al-Fitr, a group of South African women from different cities and affiliated with different groups put their heads together to make a statement: Women have the right to attend Eid prayers. Traditionally, South African Muslim women in the north have been barred from attending the prayers, as part of the dominant mindset of women as a source “temptation” and “distraction.” Muslims in the South, especially in the Cape, have always had women as part of their congregations. These differences are sometimes attributed to ethnicity and sometimes to madhab (school of law).

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Faithworks Inaugural Documentary Screening

In Muslim Women, Society, South Africa on October 19, 2010 at 11:32 am


Published in Al Qalam newspaper

A group of young Muslim women, working under the brand of Faithworks, have launched an exciting documentary screening project, the aim of which is to showcase alternate expressions of Islam, fostering inter and intra-religious tolerance.

Months of tireless work to secure licenses and funding to screen the movies and grapple with the logistics, have finally paid off, and the response from the Johannesburg community has been overwhelming.

Muslims are not a monolith, and the world over, articulate their faith in diverse ways. Using the power of film, Faithworks hopes to showcase some of these different expressions, as well to explore divisive issues, especially related to the arts, gender, spirituality and politics. (photo via Safeeyah Kharsany)

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South Africa’s Muslim Media: Between Conservative Space and Cyberspace.

In Review on October 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

Published in Al Qalam

To what extent have South Africa’s Muslim media shaped the way South African Muslims express their religious and national identities? How has the Muslim community approached the new and unchartered frontiers of cyberspace? Where is all this taking us a community?

These were some of the questions that Professor Muhammad Haron, associate Professor of religious studies at the University of Botswana, and attendees at a seminar held by the University of Johannesburg’s department for the Study of Islam, engaged in.

The history of Muslim media in post Apartheid South Africa is reflective of our young democracy. Within a short period, a number of community newspapers, magazines, newsletters, radio stations and even a television station sprung up and have established themselves, each scrambling for their piece of the Muslim demographic pie, and each, in some way, serving the need s and interests of the community it works within.

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Academic Boycott of Israel Gains Momentum

In Palestine on October 19, 2010 at 11:20 am

Published in Al Qalam newspaper

The last week of September 2010 proved to be an eventful one for the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement in South Africa. Following vigorous campaigning by activists for the University Of Johannesburg (UJ) to cut its ties with the Ben Gurion University (BGU) in the Negev, a petition was signed by over 200 academics from 22 institutions across South Africa, including top-ranking intellectuals, scholars and religious leaders. Signees include the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kader Asmal, Allan Boesack, Breyten Breytenbach, John Dugard, Antjie Krog, Mahmood Mamdani, Adam Habib and Barney Pityana, amongst other prominent names.

UJ’s ties with BGU date back to the 1980’s, and have come under heavy criticism due to its continuation from the Apartheid regime, seen as an unnecessary carry over with oppressive connotations . BGU is ostensibly involved, directly and indirectly, in Israeli military operations and occupation. It has offered scholarships to students who served in active combat units; turns a blind eye to oppressive practices like land dispossession in its vicinity and practices discrimination against Palestinian students.

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The Eid Prayer: a Spiritual Expression of Community

In Muslim Women on October 19, 2010 at 11:19 am

Published in the Fordsburg Independent

After much self-restraint and discipline during the month Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn until dusk; the Eid al-Fitr – a celebration which marks the end of the fast – is a welcome break.

There are some rituals assigned especially for the day of Eid, such a dispatching a certain amount of money to the poor known as Sadaqat al-Fitr and the congregational Eid prayer.

The day of Eid is usually spent feasting with family and friends in private gatherings at home, except for the Eid prayer, observed in the early morning – a time when the entire community of Muslims; men, women and children, come out to an open field or large mosque to pray and recite the Takbeer (proclamation of God’s greatness). It is a gathering charged with spiritual energy.

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Thoughts on Women and the Eid Prayer

In Muslim Women on October 19, 2010 at 11:15 am

Published at Altmuslimah and

I’ve been mulling over this topic since the beginning of Ramadan really, wondering how to broach it. For a few years now, my attempts to get other women to attend the Eidgah have been just that – attempts. Feeble one’s.

I was thinking of putting together a compilation of the ahadith pointing to the permissibility and importance of attending Eid prayers, for men and women, but that’s been done before. There are even lists of these ahadith with counter arguments for each one. To avoid presenting a counter-counter argument, I really didn’t know where to start. Quraysha Yousuf, a scholar of Islam, journalist and friend of mine, has really made my task easier. She writes indisputably about the matter.

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Locating Ethnic States in a Cosmopolitan World

In Palestine on October 19, 2010 at 11:13 am

Published in Al Qalam newspaper

The Afro-Middle East Centre hosted its first international conference last week, bringing together key academics, activists and politicians, in a three day symposium entitled, “Locating Ethnic States in a Cosmopolitan World: the Case of Israel”.  The conference, which took place in Pretoria, was targeted at the policy-making community.

The conference was initiated by Deputy Minister of International Relations, Ebrahim Ebrahim, who stressed that South Africa is willing to be engaged in seeking justice for Palestinians.

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Regressive Redemption in CII’s Ramadan Serial

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Review on October 19, 2010 at 11:07 am

Published at Muslimah Media Watch

Channel Islam International, often considered to be the “more progressive” Muslim community radio station in Johannesburg, is broadcasting a radio drama series for the month of Ramadan. The show is titled “Redemption Road,” and aims to be a representation of South African Indian Muslim society and its idiosyncrasies while reminding listeners to their often-forgotten purpose in life.

While the show does deal with important issues like wife neglect/abuse and teen problems, it is severely stereotypical of Muslim women in a number of aspects.

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The Stoning of Soraya M.: A Review

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Review on October 19, 2010 at 11:04 am

Published at Muslimah Media Watch

Before watching The Stoning of Soraya M., I had already formed an opinion of it as “objectifying” and “misrepresenting” Muslim women, as a reaction to a recent spate of “save the Muslim damsel in distress” media like that which surrounds the European burqa ban debacle. The movie, however, turned out to be powerful in its message; incredibly moving and certainly not a damsel in distress tale. Instead, it is about extraordinary womanhood and moral courage in the face of injustice.

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Pasha’s Perfection: Mother of the Believers

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Review on October 19, 2010 at 11:01 am

Published at Muslimah Media Watch

During Ramadan, my bedside novel happened to be Mother of the Believers by Kamran Pasha. It’s a work of fiction about the youngest and most beloved wife of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Pasha has brought to life the story of A’isha, one of Islam’s most controversial and enigmatic characters. Only the right amount of poetic license, coupled with a lot of accuracy and consistency, can make historical fiction a success, asMother of the Believers is.


It is important to note that Muslims and non-Muslims alike dispute everything about A’isha: her age, her actions and even her intentions. I can only imagine the daunting task of putting together a story about her without offending anyone and yet remaining true to her legacy. Some have criticized Pasha for abiding too much by the book, especially with regard to A’isha’s age at the time of her marriage to the Prophet, which he depicted as the traditionally held nine years. In the preface of the novel, Pasha defends his position—one that I agree with—at length: we must face controversial issues within the Muslim community by creating dialogue about them. This is what will create real change about the image of Islam.

The book is a staggering 527 pages, and holds detailed insight into early Islamic life from the eyes of A’isha as an old woman. I particularly enjoyed the first person narrative. That Pasha gave A’isha her own voice is so refreshing in a world where the Muslim women is always spoken about, spoken to, and seldom heard. I am not sure if Pasha intended this, but by allowing A’isha to tell her own story, he has created a powerful image of an independent, fiery and outspoken woman.  I also feel he has honored the memory of A’isha by doing so (sentimental that I am).


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