Published Archives

Archive for the ‘Muslim Women’ Category

Eid al-Fitr 2013: Celebrating our Fitrah

In Muslim Views, Muslim Women, Palestine, Sacred Space, Scholar, Society on August 13, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Published in the Muslim Views Eid al-Fitr edition in August 2013.

As the Ummah approaches the beautiful celebrations of Eid al-Fitr, all Muslims – women and men alike will rejoice in the return to our fitrah, that innate disposition of purity which we are all created with. As we celebrate, let us spare an extra prayer for Muslim women, who in many cases, not only observed their own fasts but also prepared the Suhoor and Futoor meals for their families and communities.

As we approach the days of Eid, we also find ourselves in August – women’s month. In reflecting on the divergence of these two significant events, it is essential to reflect on some of the current challenges facing women, both of the Ummah and of humanity. Muslim women in South Africa are a whirlpool of talent and have certainly made great strides both educationally and professionally. Whilst on the national level, the visibility and contribution of Muslim women in the spheres of government, media and the corporate world are promising, on the community level, both socially and spiritually, there still remain some gaps. I refer here to the lack of inclusive sacred spaces in the masaajid and Eid musallah, as well the absence of a considerable active presence of women in key leadership positions in Muslim organizations – particularly scholarly bodies. I do not mean to generalize to the point of claiming no presence of women in these areas at all, because progress has certainly been made – however, there remains a strong need for more visible and significant contribution by women, which follows in the trajectory of the Quran and Sunnah of Muhammad (pbuh).

Read the rest of this entry »


In the Name of Honour: The Free Aafia Siddiqui Campaign in South Africa

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Review, Society on July 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Earlier this year, South African Muslim media was abuzz with the story of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist who was convicted and sentenced to 86 years in prison for assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan. The media campaign served to raise awareness about Siddiqui’s alleged abuse at the hands of the U.S justice system, and to assert her complete innocence. Her story is a difficult one, spanning the vastness of two continents and the complexity of terrorism politics in both of these. This post is not meant to cover the Siddiqui case, or to make any judgement claims as to her innocence or guilt. I would like to add that I sincerely advocate for justice for Siddiqui, who has no doubt suffered tremendously – whatever her political inclinations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Desperate in Dubai

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Review, Society, Story on July 23, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Desperate in Dubai, a cheeky exposé novel based on the original blog written by Ameera al-Hakawati (a pseudonym), revolves around the lives of four women who live, love, and labour in the sparkling Gulf city of Dubai.

Cover of Desperate in Dubai.

I recently had the chance to catch up with al-Hakawati in Dubai, to chat about her book, her faith, and the politics of anonymous writing as a Muslim woman.

Read the rest of this entry »

South African Muslimahs Speak about Headscarves at Airports

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Society, South Africa on July 23, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Over the Christmas and New Year season, Quraysha Ismail Sooliman, South African Muslimah scholar and lecturer in Political Studies at the University of Pretoria, was on her way out of the country with her family. At Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, she and her daughters were stopped at passport control, and one of her daughters was asked to remove her headscarf in order to be properly identified. The same happened upon their return, when her second daughter was asked the same, both times in an abrupt and condescending tone.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Fight over South Africa’s Muslim Marriage Bill Rages on

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Society, South Africa on July 23, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Recently, the South African Justice Ministry opened the latest draft of the Muslim Marriages Bill (MMB) up for public comment and called for submissions on the bill’s contents.

Along with this came the media furor over the Muslim community’s reaction to the idea of the government recognizing Muslim marriages as Muslim marriages and providing legislation for Muslims according to both constitutional gender equality and the dynamism of fiqh. The point of this post is not to assess the Shar’iah compliance of the bill, but to highlight the voices in the media that have spoken out against blatant dismissal of the bill and called for critical engagement, especially since most of the issues deal with gender equality and women’s rights within marriages.

Read the rest of this entry »

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).

Read the rest of this entry »

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)

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »