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  • Technorati: graph / links

    MCB lets women down


    by Ala on 20th August, 2008 at 7:54 pm    

    Last Friday the Muslim Council of Britain disassociated itself from the new mariage contract drawn up by the Muslim Institute with the aim of addressing gender imbalances in current Shari’a marriage contracts after having initially backed it.

    The new contract will do away with the need for exclusively male and Muslim witnesses at the marriage ceremony, male guardians who decide whom a woman can marry, and women’s inhibitions in initiating a divorce. The MCB has decided to distance itself because of the wording used by the Muslim Institute when they said they wanted to “re-invent” shari’a. Because of this, the MCB will now produce its own guidance on the issue.

    Although the MCB by no means represents individual Muslims and their communities, and can’t change realities on the ground, it is the largest national Muslim umbrella organisation in Britain. The original backing of the MCB of a contract that gave women such unprecedented rights was a quantum leap in the fight for women’s equality. It had to be too good to be true.

    Some would argue that there is no need for a new contract, that we already have British law that gives women rights equal to men. The same argument would come to the logical conclusion that people who don’t like Islamic law should, well, leave Islam. If only it were so simple. But even then, there will always be those who have absolute respect for religious edicts and clerical pronouncements, who need religious authority in their lives. Are they to be left to rot, or should we fight for religious reform so they can follow a more benign dictator?

    The MCB’s reasons for withdrawing its support seem ridiculous in the face of the benefits that would result if such a contract was subsumed into Islamic orthodoxy. But I probably just touched upon the real reason for its withdrawal. Because of the MCB’s priority of remaining within the fold of orthodoxy, women were, once again, sacrificed on the altar.

    Sunny adds: Ed Husain’s article on this is also worth reading.



      |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Cultural Relativism, Current affairs, Muslim, Religion, Sex equality




    92 Comments below   |  

    1. Don — on 20th August, 2008 at 8:12 pm  

      a more benign dictator?

      Why would that be a good idea? So that the dictatorship would be sufficiently bearable that it could continue?

      Why will there always be those who have absolute respect for pronouncements that demean them? Why is that a given?

    2. MixTogether — on 20th August, 2008 at 8:59 pm  

      What a TOTAL tragedy that the MCB has flip-flopped in this matter. It is inexcusable for them to have endorsed the contract, only to pull out because they are realising the issue will bring some heat on them.

      So much for the ‘representative’, umbrella status of their organisation. The only true justification for withdrawing support would be for them to produce written letters- from a majority of Muslim women in Britain- stating that those women were unhappy with it. Only thus could they justify stepping back.

      Shame on them.

    3. Ala — on 20th August, 2008 at 9:02 pm  

      because that’s human nature

    4. Ala — on 20th August, 2008 at 9:03 pm  

      my comment at 3 was for Don by the way.

    5. Don — on 20th August, 2008 at 9:25 pm  

      No, it isn’t.

    6. douglas clark — on 20th August, 2008 at 9:36 pm  

      Ala @ 3,

      It is an aspect of human nature, not the whole of it. There are numerous ways that women could empower themselves if they wanted to.

      I am not really comfortable with the arguement that you have made here. In essence, if the MCB change their minds about modernisation, then, what? Throw up your arms and surrender?

      It is up to women to make their own decisions, not be led by a bunch of male fuddy duddies.

    7. Ravi Naik — on 20th August, 2008 at 10:21 pm  

      But even then, there will always be those who have absolute respect for religious edicts and clerical pronouncements, who need religious authority in their lives. Are they to be left to rot, or should we fight for religious reform so they can follow a more benign dictator?

      That is a lost cause and not worth fighting for. If you live in a country that gives equal rights to men and women, and instead you prefer the tyranny of religious edicts and clerical pronouncements - then it is your choice, why should anyone fight for you?

      MCB only whines about Islamophobia, and tries to achieve as much power and influence as possible. The real revolution must come from each individual, and perhaps with a less defeatist attitude than to say that it is human nature to be subservient to chauvinist power.

    8. Ala — on 20th August, 2008 at 11:23 pm  

      “The real revolution must come from each individual, and perhaps with a less defeatist attitude than to say that it is human nature to be subservient to chauvinist power.”

      Yes, because in an ideal world we must only ever work with ideals, we must never be expedient. Whoever came up with the idea of temporary solutions or gradual change is a subservient idiot.

      People who are too stupid to see that they’re stupid don’t deserve to live quite frankly.

    9. douglas clark — on 20th August, 2008 at 11:53 pm  

      Ala @ 8,

      People who are too stupid to see that they’re stupid don’t deserve to live quite frankly.

      Don’t be daft. Everyone deserves to live.

      I actually think you have argued yourself into a corner here. If you don’t accept responsibility for your own emancipation; to the extent that you wish it at all - and you seem to - and given that the MCB isn’t going to hand it to you on a plate, then what do you do?

      It is a fair question.

      Various folk have pointed out to you that you are limiting your own scope for action by playing exclusively by their rules.

      If there is more to this than is apparent, please let everyone know.

    10. Ravi Naik — on 20th August, 2008 at 11:58 pm  

      People who are too stupid to see that they’re stupid don’t deserve to live quite frankly.

      The point is that if you are exercising the choice of following religious edicts and absolute power, then by definition, you will always be in a position to be exploited and weakened. Waiting for benign dictators is no solution. Putting in a position where your life is at complete mercy of others is not of human nature but of cultural and religious upbringing. I suggest we start from there and teach from early on to think for themselves - rather than blindly following whatever leaders say, or relying on organisations like the MCB to act.

    11. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2008 at 12:31 am  

      Ravi,

      Sadly,

      The point is that if you are exercising the choice of following religious edicts and absolute power, then by definition, you will always be in a position to be exploited and weakened. Waiting for benign dictators is no solution.

      that is the truth, and nothing but the truth.

    12. Ala — on 21st August, 2008 at 12:34 am  

      Douglas,

      “I actually think you have argued yourself into a corner here. If you don’t accept responsibility for your own emancipation; to the extent that you wish it at all - and you seem to - and given that the MCB isn’t going to hand it to you on a plate, then what do you do?”

      I don’t know why you’re saying ‘you’, as if I’d describe myself as wanting a benign dictator. I don’t adhere to religion at all; you’ve presumed that I do, possibly because I mentioned wearing hijab. But I also said that I wear hijab only because it’s too petty for me to think about, having bigger fish to fry like emancipation from religion altogether, and possibly winning the X factor.

      Ravi,

      “The point is that if you are exercising the choice of following religious edicts and absolute power, then by definition, you will always be in a position to be exploited and weakened. Waiting for benign dictators is no solution.”

      Again, I refer you to my sarcastic comment earlier, key words being ‘temporary’, ‘gradual’. And here’re two other ones: ‘realistic’ and ‘practical’. Gosh, this really does save you typing whole sentences.

    13. Shelina Zahra — on 21st August, 2008 at 12:42 am  

      It is important to clarify that the contract document only puts into writing the ‘unprecedented rights’ that have always been part of the nikah. Theologically speaking it is not ‘new’. As a bride, you can create your own contract and agree it with your husband to be. It does not need any official endorsement.

    14. Sunny — on 21st August, 2008 at 12:46 am  

      Look, her point is spot on, and I’m not sure why people don’t get it.

      In an ideal world, people know English and they would be empowered about the rights that the state affords them. In reality many immigrants don’t know English - and that is why translation services exist (I don’t like them, but they’re necessary as a stopgap). Its an acceptance of reality, not how you would like to see the world.

      and instead you prefer the tyranny of religious edicts and clerical pronouncements - then it is your choice, why should anyone fight for you?

      Well, there are people who will want to fight for their rights too - and that would be completely legit. If you want to write them off and say that the world should be ideal and those who don’t follow the ideal should be written off - that’s your choice. the reality is different.

      The reality is that there are some women who will face Sharia courts and religious edicts for various internal religions. For them, this contract was a boon.

      Bloody shame the MCB can’t follow through with the one piece of progressive thinking that they’d signed up to.

    15. Ala — on 21st August, 2008 at 12:58 am  

      Shelina, yes a bride can write her own contract, but we’re talking about other laws such as who the witnesses of the marriage should be and whether she needs a wali; those things are not something she can opt out of under any Islamic school of thought. Therefore, these new stipulations are quite radical. Come to think of it, the MCB’s opinion on this reflects that of most Muslims. I don’t know what I was thinking when I expected this kind of change would actually happen so fast.

    16. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:00 am  

      If you live in a country that gives equal rights to men and women, and instead you prefer the tyranny of religious edicts and clerical pronouncements - then it is your choice, why should anyone fight for you?

      I would have thought a religious person like yourself would understand Ala’s underlying point which is that religious people like living out their lives within the forms, supports and rules that religion offers. That they derive comfort from that is probably the main reason why certain people take to religion, that much is obvious.

      If Christians want a church wedding, are they “exercising the choice of following religious edicts and absolute power,”?

      For Muslims, this means they should accept the official recognition that a marriage certificate provides as paramount to the religious mandate of a nikaa but they would feel more comfortable about marriage if it is also done in the religious terms of the nikaa.

      Ala’s point is pretty non-contentious and perfectly valid, and that is: The MCB fails to offer Muslims the chance for the nikaah to be mandated by the state by adopting a retarded stance, and one that uses the false premise of “unorthodxy” as it’s get-out clause.

    17. fugstar — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:08 am  

      No need to promote the contract, you can write whatever you like into your nikah thingemy. The chance of gender justice is nothing that the mcb has any power over. You silly people mistake it for the vatican in your cheeky ways.

      Its naffness value, the appeal to the ‘oh please accept me anglosaxonia’ gene within every paki has to be appreciated.

      However the PR product, with grains of utility has been entered into the faked public sphere on muslim matters. I dont thing our ‘disabling womens ambitions and turning them into baby machines’ habit was going to be corrected by some technocratic fix like this anyway.

      MCB is one of many human organisations doing the muslim thing. Their member’s interests and values were kept in mind no doubt. CC did their bit by articulating it, thats all they need to do.

    18. Shelina Zahra — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:09 am  

      Ala, some schools of thought do permit nikah without witnesses or wali.

      I think the problem is that the contract has been issued with these stipulations because certain people felt like it rather than actual deep theological research. MCB is not a theological body (nor is Muslim Institute) so they cannot derive new theology.

      What we need to do is challenge Imams and mosques to make sure that the existing parameters are properly governed - and if that was the case then a woman could not be forced into marriage, and in fact the right of a wali can be waived if he is objecting for no substantive reason. This does not require a contract but a proper education of Imams who frankly are not doing their job properly.

      On top of that, young Muslims need more education about what their rights are, and how these issues are governed.

    19. fugstar — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:16 am  

      specifically, i think the ‘getting married without proper wali(guardian)’ aspect is most likely to have turned of the MCB, who are of the murrabi (elder) identity. How very gretna green/las vegas. MCB would be more likely to advocate muta marriage than that. But no that would be dancing to the wrong piper.

      people who want to go that way and seek the sanction of the deen can shop around already anyway..

    20. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:18 am  

      Ala,

      Fine.

      You and I are atheists both. What a strange person you are, the hijab wearing atheist. However, you are merely being the journalist here. Is that your new persona?

      But you are not, are you? What was this all about?

      Yes, because in an ideal world we must only ever work with ideals, we must never be expedient. Whoever came up with the idea of temporary solutions or gradual change is a subservient idiot.

      People who are too stupid to see that they’re stupid don’t deserve to live quite frankly.

      Who is this ‘we’ of which you speak? If you were the atheist you now claim to be, with the predetermined:

      “we must only ever work with ideals, we must never be expedient.”

      Frankly, Ala, you are playing mind games here, what with faceless people, a frankly ridiculous idea of what human nature is, death threats and the idea that sarcasm covers up a warped brain.

      Sunny, your new chum needs to sort herself out.

    21. Sunny — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:22 am  

      Sunny, your new chum needs to sort herself out.

      No she doesn’t. She’s great as she is. That’s why I invited her to join the team.

      Anyway, this is ludicrous. IF you don’t agree with her views then bloody argue with her in the comments. What are you asking me for? I happen to agree with her in this case. We all have our different views and life experiences on PP and write from them. There’s no party line. Just get used to a more diverse range of views. There’s nothing for anyone to sort out.

    22. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:27 am  

      Sunny,

      I hope you never excuse this:

      “People who are too stupid to see that they’re stupid don’t deserve to live quite frankly.”

      C’mon, get real. You cannot allow that. And you bloody well know it.

    23. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:29 am  

      Sunny,

      Sorry mate, but that is just completely wrong. See 22.

    24. Sunny — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:33 am  

      “People who are too stupid to see that they’re stupid don’t deserve to live quite frankly.”

      Erm, its rather obvious what her point is. She’s sarcastically saying that by “writing off” these people, you’re saying no one should care about their fate.

      See Ed Husain’s article on this:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/20/islam.religion

      Women face serious problems because of the way these things are structured. Its you guys who are more heartless by writing them off.

    25. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:39 am  

      I would have thought a religious person like yourself would understand Ala’s underlying point which is that religious people like living out their lives within the forms, supports and rules that religion offers. That they derive comfort from that is probably the main reason why certain people take to religion, that much is obvious.

      If that is the point that Ala is making, then why is she castigating the MCB for letting women down? It seems that such religious rules are not that comforting…

      The reality is that there are some women who will face Sharia courts and religious edicts for various internal religions. For them, this contract was a boon. Bloody shame the MCB can’t follow through with the one piece of progressive thinking that they’d signed up to.

      Well, in an ideal world the MCB would solve the progressive gap that exist in some communities. But in the real world… :)

    26. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:46 am  

      Ravi, do you actually understand the point that is being made here? The MCB is deserving all the castigating it gets because as a Muslim-affairs QUANGO it is, once again, standing in the way of aligning Islamic family law matters from being aligned to the legal standards of the state. Muslims could have had an Islamic marriage contract that complies with common law and thereby have a benefitted from a single legally binding document if the MCB played game. Everyone would have been a winner, baby.

    27. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:51 am  

      Right Sunny,

      I’m going to bed. My “erm” is a lot bigger than your “erm” though. I am saying exactly the opposite of what you are attempting to accuse me of. I refer you to this, me at 9.

      Ala @ 8,

      “People who are too stupid to see that they’re stupid don’t deserve to live quite frankly.”

      Don’t be daft. Everyone deserves to live.

      Her comment, in inverted commas’ was not sarcasm, it was directed at another commentator, not me and no matter how much you duck and weave…

      Och, figure it out for yourself. I’ve always admired your intelligence…

      If we cannot address each other clearly, then someone is playing games, and it ain’t me.

      Good night, and take care.

    28. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 1:59 am  

      Ed Husain’s article should be essential reading for the wilfull non-comprehenders and the serial messenger-shooters out there.

    29. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 2:01 am  

      Everyone would have been a winner, baby.

      In the ideal world, yes. But in the real world, somebody was going to lose, right?

    30. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 2:06 am  

      if the MCB played game

      Of course the point that Ala is making is that MCB should have played the game. The point I and others are making, is why the MCB or any other organisation should have that power in the first place. If you want to solve the problem, that is, you want to go from where you are (reality) to where you want to go (ideal), then why not just try to sort out the problem by its roots, rather than prolonging it…

    31. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 8:40 am  

      The point I and others are making, is why the MCB or any other organisation should have that power in the first place.

      Since Ala has already made that point, yout attempts to reinforce that point further is redundant. All the more curious that you are equating Muslims wanting religious ceremonies with wanting to live by “religious edicts and clerical pronouncements” provided by the MCB.

      1) Religious people will want religious ceremonies to ordain their lives.

      2) The MCB are a Muslim umbrella org which interfaces with the government on behalf of Muslims.

      These facts are not related.

      What Ala is saying, is that the MCB has failed to standardise with the law of the land thus willfully and stupidly losing the chance to make the contract officially recognised.

      If you want to solve the problem, that is, you want to go from where you are (reality) to where you want to go (ideal), then why not just try to sort out the problem by its roots, rather than prolonging it

      Yeah she’s attempting to solve the problem by identifying it and then critiquing it. How exactly is she “prolonging it”?

    32. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 8:45 am  

      “Everyone would have been a winner, baby.”

      In the ideal world, yes. But in the real world, somebody was going to lose, right?

      No, not right. Why was somebody going to lose in the real world? WTF are you blowing?

    33. Ibrahim — on 21st August, 2008 at 9:46 am  

      It might be useful to list all the endorsements this contract received from those who had read the contract in full before its launch:

      Source: http://www.musliminstitute.com/article.php?id=1247

      - Dr Reefat Drabu, the Chair of the MCB Social and Family Affairs Committee:
      “The Muslim Council of Britain (the MCB) is pleased to have collaborated
      with the Muslim Institute in this important initiative. It meets a pressing need
      of our communities by explaining in clear and simple language the importance
      of marriage, the process leading to its solemnisation and the rights and
      responsibilities flowing from it for the parties. I congratulate and commend
      Mufti Barkatullah and the Muslim Institute for making the template for the
      Certificate of Marriage. It is very well constructed and the explanatory notes
      reflect the consensus of opinion amongst leading Islamic scholars on the rights
      and responsibilities of parties to a marriage under the Shari’ah. The MCB calls
      upon all the Imams/Qadis involved in performing nikah to use the
      documentation, as its correct use will facilitate the success of marriage and will
      lead to harmonious and healthy family life”

      - Ann Cryer, MP:
      “This document has been carefully researched over a 4-year period and I feel
      confident in recommending its findings to women (and men) of the Muslim
      Faith contemplating Marriage.

      The advice contained will, I am sure, help thousands of young people and I
      congratulate the Muslim Institute for having the foresight to prepare, publish
      and launch this excellent piece of work.”

      - Dr Ziba Mir-Hoseini, Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, SOAS, University of
      London
      “The idea of marriage as a contract is one of those powerful concepts in Islamic
      legal tradition that allows two individuals to regulate their most intimate
      relationship not only within the bounds of the Shari’a but also in accordance
      with the demands of time and place. The launch of the new standard marriage
      contract is a welcome initiative, a right step in the right direction, that provides
      the Muslims in UK with a model for a harmonious and egalitarian marriage.”

      - Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE, Leading family lawyer
      “I am delighted to support this very important and inclusive initiative.
      The Muslim Marriage Contract will provide certainty in marital obligations.
      Most importantly it will provide civil law protection to many women and
      children through the obligation on the parties to enter into a binding civil
      marriage. All too often spouses have found themselves marginalised and cut off from the
      legal and financial protection afforded by the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1973.”

      - Dr Usama Hasan, Director, The City Circle
      “This new Muslim marriage contract is an excellent development, since it draws
      on those traditional Islamic legal opinions that are more in keeping with the
      spirit of gender equality. Too many fathers have abused their right of wilayah
      (guardianship) over their daughters and too many husbands have abused their
      right of initiating divorce for us to continue with law rooted in patriarchal
      societies. It is high time that Muslim women enjoy the same rights and
      freedoms under Islamic law as they do under present legal systems in the UK.”

      - Shaykh Haytham Tamim, Director of Utrujj Foundation
      “We welcome the initiative. It meets the aspirations of our young people.”

      - Shahid Raza, OBE, Secretary, Imams and Mosques Council (UK)
      “It is a commendable initiative and likely to enhance the family life of Muslims
      in Britain.”

    34. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 10:42 am  

      All the more curious that you are equating Muslims wanting religious ceremonies with wanting to live by “religious edicts and clerical pronouncements” provided by the MCB.

      I have never talked about religious ceremonies - you are. There is a difference between following rituals and ceremonies, and following edicts and clerical pronouncements that screw you. If you follow the latter piously without questioning, then I agree that the short-term solution is to appeal to the “progressive” side of the high-authority - which is what Ala and Sunny are defending. The long-term solution is to teach people their rights, and not to follow high-authority blindly, or be damned. I understand that to achieve the long-term solution you must take gradual steps - but Ala is off-the-mark when she says blindly following others is human nature - it is NOT. You are conditioned with your upbringing.

      What Ala is saying, is that the MCB has failed to standardise with the law of the land thus willfully and stupidly losing the chance to make the contract officially recognised.

      Refer to Shelina’s comment in #18.

      Why was somebody going to lose in the real world? WTF are you blowing?

      Don’t be naive. If the current Sharia Law skewers against women, then it gives advantage to men. I think you are smart enough to infer the rest.

    35. Ibrahim — on 21st August, 2008 at 11:58 am  

      The MCB has re-endorsed the contract:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/21/islam.religion

      Yes but, not but, yes but…

    36. DavidMWW — on 21st August, 2008 at 12:18 pm  

      Clearly a case of the MCB getting its nikahs in a twist.

    37. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 12:26 pm  

      Ravi #34

      Ala is absolutely correct. You’re way off the mark in this discussion. She’s saying that Muslims will want to have a nikaa just as much as a Christian would want a church wedding and wouldn’t it be great if the grand old men of the MCB would agree to allow the nikaah become legally compliant and binding as per British Law. Muslims don’t regard the MCB as even a quasi-religious body but one that is supposed to represent their civic rights. They’ve failed on that score.

      I have never talked about religious ceremonies - you are. There is a difference between following rituals and ceremonies, and following edicts and clerical pronouncements that screw you.

      We are talking about ceremonies, or one in particular, the nikaah. You don’t have to follow “religious edicts”, as you say (fuck knows why), to observe it. The intention with this contract was to have the nikaah ceremony compliant with British Common Law.

      Don’t be naive. If the current Sharia Law skewers against women, then it gives advantage to men. I think you are smart enough to infer the rest.

      More proof that you’ve misunderstood the basic premise here, you’re arguments are way out of scope of this issue. We’re not talking about the sharia in general terms. We are talking about the nikaah in the particular, and bringing it in line with common law.

    38. Ala — on 21st August, 2008 at 12:28 pm  

      Jesus Christ, Douglas! I never thought such patently obvious sarcasm would ever be read as otherwise, at least not here.

      What is wrong with you? I was referring to Ravi’s and your argument that the only escape for women in oppressive religions is for them to leave the religion and if not, let them rot.

      “people who are too stupid to see that they’re stupid deserve to die” was a satire of your very argument!

      I never said I was an atheist. I only ever mentioned agnosticism with regards to my personal beliefs. And, either way, there’s nothing strange about a hijabi atheist.

    39. Draman — on 21st August, 2008 at 12:45 pm  

      # 35 and 36:

      MCB has not re-endorsed the contracts. You actually should read, as it is a response to Mohammed Husain (and I gues Ala):

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/21/islam.religion

      “Unfortunately those that the MCB had trusted to take the lead in launching the initiative misrepresented the content and claimed that it was a “re-invention of shariah” or, as Mr Husain puts it, to “develop and update” Islamic jurisprudence without recourse to or the understanding of Islam’s diverse juridical viewpoints. I find it strange that while he hastens to speak out against those who condemn Islam’s diversity, then proceeds to pronounce that all British Muslims must follow one school of thought, as directed by him. “

    40. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 3:39 pm  

      We are talking about ceremonies, or one in particular, the nikaah. You don’t have to follow “religious edicts”, as you say (fuck knows why)

      Sid - ONCE AGAIN - I am not talking about ceremonies, but focusing specifically on this gem that Ala wrote:

      “But even then, there will always be those who have absolute respect for religious edicts and clerical pronouncements, who need religious authority in their lives. Are they to be left to rot, or should we fight for religious reform so they can follow a more benign dictator?

      Got it? But if you want to talk about the nikaah, and you have no clue to who was to lose if the new contract was accepted, than Ala tells you already:

      The new contract will do away with the need for exclusively male and Muslim witnesses at the marriage ceremony, male guardians who decide whom a woman can marry, and women’s inhibitions in initiating a divorce

      Everybody would win my arse (#32).

    41. Ibrahim — on 21st August, 2008 at 3:41 pm  

      #39

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/21/islam.religion

      The MCB says: “The marriage contract produced by the Muslim Insititute is simply one interpretation of shariah.” Sounds like an endorsement to me. It means they remain happy with the contract wording (which hasn’t changed since they originally endorsed it the week earlier). They had to be seen to be climbing down to appease the clerics (as they didn’t have the “balls” to stand up to them) but their heart is still with it. Be interesting to see what contract they eventually come up with themselves (given they’ve already endorsed this one).

    42. Sunny — on 21st August, 2008 at 4:15 pm  

      Ravi, seriously, have no idea what you’re arguing about. I fail to see why such simple arguments are blown way off course so easily these days.

      And Douggie, stop being so defensive man - its obvious she was being sarcastic.

    43. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 4:35 pm  

      Ravi, seriously, have no idea what you’re arguing about. I fail to see why such simple arguments are blown way off course so easily these days.

      Two points really about this paragraph:

      “But even then, there will always be those who have absolute respect for religious edicts and clerical pronouncements, who need religious authority in their lives. Are they to be left to rot, or should we fight for religious reform so they can follow a more benign dictator?”

      1) People follow religious authority blindly even if they screw them because of their upbringing, not because of human nature as Ala was saying.
      2) The long-term solution for eradicating this abuse of power is through education and for people to think with their heads. This way it is easier to fight their rights.

    44. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 4:44 pm  

      Let me rephrase the above point:

      2) The long-term solution for eradicating this abuse of power is through education and for people to think with their heads. This way it is easier for them to fight for their rights. I mean, how can you disagree with high-power if you are brought up believing you can’t go against them, and have to abide to all their rules?

      The tyranny of Christianity didn’t end because suddenly they decided to be progressive. They were forced to by the people.

      That is an easy point to understand, Sunny.

    45. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 5:08 pm  

      But the cherry in the cake is that Ala is asking us to fight to reform the system on behalf of people who have absolute faith in it. Not to mention that her reform consists of finding a benign dictator. I must be the only one who thinks this is a self-defeatist goal.

    46. Don — on 21st August, 2008 at 5:12 pm  

      Good point, Ravi. There may have been instances in history of a power structure voluntarily relinquishing power, but I can’t bring any to mind.

    47. Katy Newton — on 21st August, 2008 at 5:55 pm  

      If you live in a country that gives equal rights to men and women, and instead you prefer the tyranny of religious edicts and clerical pronouncements - then it is your choice, why should anyone fight for you?

      That sort of suggests that the choice is between being a member of the Muslim community and being a feminist. I see the sense of it in some ways, because superficially that is the solution: “That’s the way things are for religious people! If you don’t like being religious, stop being religious!” But I think you underestimate just how momentous that decision would be for most religious women.

      There is a lot of male privilege on this thread, by which I mean that there seem to be a lot of non-religious men thinking that they have the answer to religious women’s problems.

      But the cherry in the cake is that Ala is asking us to fight to reform the system on behalf of people who have absolute faith in it.

      Well, not exactly. One of the points often made about Islam is that it is often far more misogynistic in practice than it is in doctrine. And that leads to a situation where it is possible to have genuine religious feeling yet be unfairly oppressed by the way in which your community interprets that religion. I thought that what Ala was asking for was reforms to protect women who have genuine religious feeling and/or for other reasons would not find it easy to walk out of their community.

      It’s easy for you, Ravi and Don, to say that it’s a choice between religion and rights (if you like), because neither of you are religious, and both of you are male and educated, and presumably have the means to support yourselves.

      That’s what I mean when I say that you’re arguing from a privileged standpoint. You are both men, who I would assume were raised to believe either that men and women are equal or that men are superior to women. Neither of you are interested in religion, both of you are able to support yourselves. So if you had to choose between religion and rights, it would be easy for you to choose your rights over your religion. I don’t have a problem with that, but I do question your assumption that the women Ala is talking about are in the same position as you. They weren’t raised to believe that they were equal, they weren’t raised to go out and support themselves, they weren’t raised to learn to live outside their communities. They are not in the same place as you or me, for that matter.

    48. Ala — on 21st August, 2008 at 5:58 pm  

      Ravi, It’s not self-defeatist as it is a temporary solution: people are always going to follow religions, and I don’t just mean those who were coerced into it. If my friend had to wait ages to get out of a miserable marriage, I only wish the laws were made easier so she had to suffer less, because she’s not going to leave the religion, that’s not an option as she firmly believes in it and no one is going to change her mind about that.

      You shouldn’t assume that these people aren’t educated, as many of them are, but this doesn’t interfere with ther loyality and belief in a particular religious system.

    49. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 5:59 pm  

      But even then, there will always be those who have absolute respect for religious edicts and clerical pronouncements, who need religious authority in their lives. Are they to be left to rot, or should we fight for religious reform so they can follow a more benign dictator?

      I still don’t see what’s so terribly controversial about this passage. Ala is stating the obvious: religious people live and die by the strictures of their religion. And her’s was a plea to protect those who would like to continue to live within the formal structures religion offers *and* live by the laws of the land, the very people the MCB profess to represent but IN THIS CASE (and not some polemical abstraction) have failed utterly.

      But what I am totally puzzled by Ravi, is your reaction to this by Ala:

      The new contract will do away with the need for exclusively male and Muslim witnesses at the marriage ceremony, male guardians who decide whom a woman can marry, and women’s inhibitions in initiating a divorce

      which was:

      Everybody would win my arse (#32).

      Weirdsville! So you’re saying that the MCB was correct to oppose this contract are you?

      And finally, it has taken nearly half a millenium for the Church to be the defanged entity is now and it still isn’t the “liberal” institution you like to think it is . Furthermore, if the pope isn’t a “benign dictator”, I don’t know what is.

    50. Ala — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:04 pm  

      In furtherance to Katy’s point, had I been married off at a young age, I wouldn’t be in the position to stand back and criticise the inequalities I see now, I wouldn’t have had the time to develop my views which have so diverged from my parents’, being too busy raising a household and being a wife. This is how ‘backward’ cultures survive: it’s a vicious cycle, and only a lucky few slip through the net.

    51. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:04 pm  

      And what Katy said #47.

    52. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:23 pm  

      It’s easy for you, Ravi and Don, to say that it’s a choice between religion and rights (if you like), because neither of you are religious

      I am very religious, Katy. What makes you think otherwise?

      So if you had to choose between religion and rights, it would be easy for you to choose your rights over your religion.

      They are not mutually exclusive. And that is the point that needs to be taught: that religious authority or any authority for that matter - should be questioned and can be flawed, specially in regards to your rights and your brethren. That is the first step for reform. You can’t fight for your rights and fight for reform if you believe in absolute power, or you are taught not to question religious authority.

      What I am basically saying is that we can dwell upon finding benign dictators and appealing for the progressiveness of the high-courts, but real reform cannot come from external sources - they have to come within by questioning authority.

      I do question your assumption that the women Ala is talking about are in the same position as you.

      No one made that assumption, Katy. I specifically talked about a long-term solution, which implies that what I want to achieve is having religious people in the same as privileged position as myself.

    53. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:31 pm  

      Weirdsville! So you’re saying that the MCB was correct to oppose this contract are you?

      Nope. I am saying - OBVIOUSLY - that males would lose if the MCB agreed with this contract. You said everybody would win. And you are wrong.

      And finally, it has taken nearly half a millenium for the Church to be the defanged entity is now and it still isn’t the “liberal” institution you like to think it is . Furthermore, if the pope isn’t a “benign dictator”, I don’t know what is.

      It is not liberal at all, and I am vehemently against its stance on gay rights and marriage, and contraceptives. See what I did there? I am of Catholic faith and I question the authority of the Church. As for the Pope, I don’t see him as a dictator but as an advisor. I disagree with many of the things he says, and I agree with many others.

    54. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:34 pm  

      In furtherance to Katy’s point, had I been married off at a young age, I wouldn’t be in the position to stand back and criticise the inequalities I see now, I wouldn’t have had the time to develop my views which have so diverged from my parents’, being too busy raising a household and being a wife. This is how ‘backward’ cultures survive: it’s a vicious cycle, and only a lucky few slip through the net.

      Ala, let me say I enjoy reading your posts, and I apologise if I sound a bit harsh from time to time. I appreciate your honesty and insight even though we may disagree on some issues.

    55. Don — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:34 pm  

      Katy,

      On the other hand you have delineated me very accurately, although I think you’re extrapolating rather heavily from the three brief comments I have made on this thread.

    56. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:40 pm  

      Nope. I am saying - OBVIOUSLY - that males would lose if the MCB agreed with this contract. You said everybody would win. And you are wrong.

      See here you’ve lost me…

      Which males would lose if a reformed marriage contract does the following:
      - removes the exclusivity of Muslim male witnesses at the marriage ceremony
      - removes the need for male guardians who decide whom a woman can marry, and women’s inhibitions in nitiating a divorce

      So on one hand you’re busting out secular polemics about the necessity for criticism of religious authority (”that religious authority or any authority for that matter - should be questioned and can be flawed”) not to mention the self-contradictory line you’ve followed by getting bilious towards Ala for doing just that.

      and on the other hand you’re protecting the religious injunctions that gives males the upper hand in the marriage contract.

    57. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:42 pm  

      See what I did there? I am of Catholic faith and I question the authority of the Church.

      ooh you’re hard. Actually Ala has been criticising the MCB but you’ve been giving her the third degree all through this thread for doing so.

      As for the Pope, I don’t see him as a dictator but as an advisor. I disagree with many of the things he says, and I agree with many others.

      Actually, the pope isn’t actually that benign given the number of deaths caused by the Catholic Church’s anti-condom stance in Africa.

    58. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:48 pm  

      See here you’ve lost me…

      No kidding.

      Which males would lose if a reformed marriage contract does the following:
      … removes the need for male guardians who decide whom a woman can marry, and women’s inhibitions in initiating a divorce

      Really? Is it that hard, Sid?I am not giving up on you, though. Here is a hint: who tends to gain by controlling to whom a women can marry, and when she can divorce?

      Actually Ala has been criticising the MCB but you’ve been giving her the third degree all through this thread for doing so.

      I am not. I am debating one paragraph that she wrote.

      Actually, the pope isn’t actually that benign given the number of deaths caused by the Catholic Church’s anti-condom stance in Africa.

      Good, I was beginning to feel worried when you used the term “benign” for the Pope. :)

    59. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:50 pm  

      Really? Is it that hard, Sid?

      Well, we’re not all you Ravi.

      You seem to think that cutting and pasting Ala’s passages and appending “Got it?” is sufficient to make your argument. It isn’t.

    60. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:56 pm  

      Good, I was beginning to feel worried when you used the term “benign” for the Pope.

      He does like the sound of his own “tyranny of religious edicts and clerical pronouncements”, don’t he? :P

    61. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 6:58 pm  

      I am not giving up on you, though. Here is a hint: who tends to gain by controlling to whom a women can marry, and when she can divorce?

      Well here’s a clanger for you: Who do you think the contract was designed to give less the control to?

      I think you’ve made some rash statements in this thread and now you’re caught up in a vortex of clever-clever wordplay which is making you look hopelessly foolish. Give up the albatross, I say.

    62. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 7:11 pm  

      Well here’s a clanger for you: Who do you think the contract was designed to give less the control to?

      You are asking the wrong question. The goal of the new contract was to give more control to women in regards to marriage and divorce, but as a consequence it gives less control to men in regards to what they are used to. So, the new contract is not “everybody wins” as you are saying, and that is one of the reasons why it didn’t pass.

      It is so obvious that you are wrong on this issue, that I am not sure whether you are joking, or you actually need more time to ponder. I suggest that you don’t waste my time with this triviality.

    63. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 7:27 pm  

      No Ravi, it removes the “exclusivity” of control to males and gives an equal say to women. This is completely a case of sharing of responsibility and empowering women exactly as Ala and Katy have outlined above.

      If you think that means “it gives less control to men in regards to what they are used to”, then that’s a tragic problem on your part. The onus is on you to overcome your flabby-secular reactionary views and until then, you have no right to be lecturing Ala.

    64. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 7:28 pm  

      you’re protecting the religious injunctions that gives males the upper hand in the marriage contract.

      I am not doing anything of the sort, you sod. But if you admit that the status quo gives males the upper hand in the marrriage contract, and the new contract is meant to remove it… then aren’t you saying that males lose something? ;) Still think everybody wins?

      No Ravi, it removes the “exclusivity” of control to males… If you think that means “it gives less control to men in regards to what they are used to”, then that’s a tragic problem on your part.

      You are a real drama queen. And a bad one for that matter. :)

    65. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 7:37 pm  

      then aren’t you saying that males lose something

      Yes they lose the exclusive right to:
      1) Have male only witnesses in the ceremony
      2) Have male-only guardians to officiate the nikaa
      3) The male-only right to divorce their spouse and the NOT other way round.

      And you think removing exclusivity that is a loss for men? So you preferred it when Muslim women had no say in their own marriage contracts?

      All this means women have reciprocal status in their own marriage contracts. I can’t believe you have a problem with that. Or even your insistence to carry on with this ridiculous posture while maintaining how ethically correct you are.

      Well, actually I can.

    66. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 7:51 pm  

      And you think removing exclusivity that is a loss for men? So you preferred it when Muslim women had no say in their own marriage contracts?

      No, I am not stating my preference, it is obvious I believe in equal rights for men and women. This is what you said in (#26):

      Muslims could have had an Islamic marriage contract that complies with common law and thereby have a benefitted from a single legally binding document if the MCB played game. Everyone would have been a winner, baby.

      What I am saying is that you are wrong. Men in that community would have lost their full control rights, and that is why the new marriage contract is not a win-win for everyone as you were stating - it is obvious that because MALES would lose their exclusivity control that the MCB didn’t go forward.

      I have repeated this 10 times, and you still do not get it, and are distorting my position and saying stupid things like I am against women equality. What is fucking wrong with you, Sid?

    67. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 7:59 pm  

      I haven’t distorted anything you’ve said Ravi, don’t blame me if you’ve exposed your views and they don’t look so egalitarian or secular as you like to project you are.

    68. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 8:03 pm  

      I haven’t distorted anything you’ve said Ravi, don’t blame me if you’ve exposed your views

      I am stating a fact on the effects of the new contract, not my views. And shame on you for conflating both - you are a dishonest hack.

    69. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 8:09 pm  

      Well, I don’t think removing exclusivity to men in, of all things, a MARRIAGE CONTRACT, means a loss for men. You might do though.

    70. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 9:43 pm  

      Well, I don’t think removing exclusivity to men in, of all things, a MARRIAGE CONTRACT, means a loss for men.

      I finally understand your utter confusion: “loss” to you always has negative connotation. Let me explain to you why this is not always the case.

      * Losing fat is a good thing when you are overweight.

      * Losing the habit of smoking is a good thing if you are addicted.

      * Men LOSING exclusive control over marriage and divorce is a GOOD thing because not doing so goes against the basic equality rights of women.

      So, put that into your pipe, and smoke it. :cool:

    71. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 10:08 pm  

      My goodness Ravi. You really are an amoral little rat, aren’t you?

      So far, *you* have maintained that the loss of male exclusivity in the marriage contract has a negative connotations. It was you who maintained that if Muslim men lose exclusive rights in the marriage contract its not a win-win for all, but in fact a loss for men. You’ve maintained time and time again, right here, that my phrase “everyone’s one a *WINNER*” is not true. By implication, the losers are the men. In your words:

      The goal of the new contract was to give more control to women in regards to marriage and divorce, but as a consequence it gives less control to men in regards to what they are used to. So, the new contract is not “everybody wins” as you are saying, and that is one of the reasons why it didn’t pass.

      and also

      But if you admit that the status quo gives males the upper hand in the marrriage contract, and the new contract is meant to remove it… then aren’t you saying that males lose something? ;) Still think everybody wins?

      And now you’re trying very slyly to shift your ground 180 degrees. Not only does this set you in very poor light, it destroys your assertion that I was conflating your position fact that men lose out and the opinion that this is a bad thing.

      I am stating a fact on the effects of the new contract, not my views. And shame on you for conflating both - you are a dishonest hack.

      Ultimately it simply shows how shoddily you argue. After stressing the point throughout this thread that the contract is not a win-win, you’re now attempting to claim my own position! I’d have expected this kind of discombobulated cuntfoundery from others but not you. Well, maybe a little.

      I’m glad you’ve come round. But do try not to pass off my arguments as yours though, there’s a good man.

    72. Katy Newton — on 21st August, 2008 at 10:15 pm  

      Ravi, I had no idea that you were religious and I am sorry that I assumed you weren’t - but if you think that religious doctrine is subject to challenge and can be flawed (with which I entirely agree) then I think that you are still not coming at religion from the same angle as the people who Ala is describing.

      I see your point about a long-term solution, but the change has to start with this generation or the next generation won’t know that there’s a problem. And it seems to me that the Muslim Institute redrafting the marriage contract is change from an internal source rather than an external source. It’s something that the MCB could have facilitated but chose not to do. If they had, it would have been a huge step forward for women within Islam and I think it is a real shame that they didn’t.

      Don, I might be extrapolating unfairly but your brief comments did seem very dismissive and somewhat critical.

      It’s difficult to read tone in comments, but I have just noticed that Ala seems to be getting a lot of stick for trying to describe what it’s like to be a secular Muslim woman in a fairly traditional community, both on this thread and in her thread about covering hair. There was a bit of sniping from Douglas about “a hijab-wearing atheist, what an odd person you must be” further up the thread, which I thought was very unlike Douglas’s usual tone.

      I find Ala’s posts very interesting, because you often hear from women who were raised to be religious and then left their community to some extent, or from people who were raised in a secular family with lip service to a religion, but you don’t often hear about those women who are inclined to be secular but find themselves having to make compromises to stay in their more religious community. I just thought that people would be more interested and less, well, rude, although I am sure that no one actually intended to be rude.

    73. Sid — on 21st August, 2008 at 10:22 pm  

      I just thought that people would be more interested and less, well, rude, although I am sure that no one actually intended to be rude.

      Katy, I think the “shoot first, ask later, expose your reactionary underbelly, and then attempt to shift ground 180 degrees” school of argument is full on in this thread.

    74. Sunny — on 21st August, 2008 at 10:23 pm  

      Spot on, Katy.

      And Sid/Ravi - can you guys go easy on the fighting? I think the point is being lost somewhere here. I’m glad Katy’s brought it back on track.

    75. Desi Italiana — on 21st August, 2008 at 10:32 pm  

      “Although the MCB by no means represents individual Muslims and their communities, and can’t change realities on the ground, it is the largest national Muslim umbrella organisation in Britain.”

      “Some would argue that there is no need for a new contract, that we already have British law that gives women rights equal to men. The same argument would come to the logical conclusion that people who don’t like Islamic law should, well, leave Islam.”

      This is a stupid question, but is the MCB seen as the authority when it comes to “Islamic law” and defining it? Like, if one were to disagree with the MCB, does that mean they are disagreeing with Islamic law all over?

    76. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 10:39 pm  

      And now you’re trying very slyly to shift your ground 180 degrees.

      You are mad. I have not shifted my position at all. I have repeated the same thing over, and over. And I have no intentions to drag this further.

    77. Katy Newton — on 21st August, 2008 at 10:48 pm  

      Sid, it is an Internet thing. I think it’s the ever-present problem with reading tone in comments, plus the fact that people are far more direct in comments than they are in person. If we were all sitting in a pub we’d be having the same discussion but everyone would be fluffier.

    78. Ravi Naik — on 21st August, 2008 at 10:59 pm  

      you don’t often hear about those women who are inclined to be secular but find themselves having to make compromises to stay in their more religious community. I just thought that people would be more interested and less, well, rude, although I am sure that no one actually intended to be rude.

      Katy, I make a point in looking at what people write and not on their gender, race, religion, or ethnic background. And I certainly do not use any of these attributes to discredit what people write (”e.g. you are white so you are in no position to understand what an Asian feels”).

      So when I replied to Ala, I was writing in the same tone as I would write to Sunny and everyone else. I understand that sometimes the tone can be off putting specially if you are not used to, and it would be a shame if Ala didn’t write because of that, because I certainly would like to hear more. Which prompted me to write (#54).

    79. sonia — on 22nd August, 2008 at 1:48 am  

      for once, fugstar and i agree.

      or i think i agree with him anyway. this is all irrelevant anyway because if you want to look it up, you can find the relevant madhab which rules that the legal requirements for a civil marriage meets islamic requirements. you dont need the witnesses to be muslim or any special ‘mumbo jumbo’. just the intention to wed, in front of witnesses, and a contract. that makes it ‘halal’. I thought everyone knew this, but clearly not.

      I had no idea that British Muslims appear to think that civil marriages are not Halal or that they are not wed in the eyes of Allah!!

      this is all news to me.

      so whether the MCB sanctions something or not, and people actually listen to it, just goes to show that most people don’t really know what their religion requires or not and dont really care, but listen who whoever they think ‘represents’ religion to them./ the MCB seem to have that spot.

    80. sonia — on 22nd August, 2008 at 1:52 am  

      “This is a stupid question, but is the MCB seen as the authority when it comes to “Islamic law” and defining it? Like, if one were to disagree with the MCB, does that mean they are disagreeing with Islamic law all over?”

      well Desi it seems to be the case - but to whom, i can’t think. i had no idea British Muslims were so ignorant about their religion! I thought every goose knew that Islamic Law doesn’t exist per se as one thing anyway and that’s the whole bloody problem, as those of us who grew up in x no. of Muslim countries is fully aware. but that doesn’t seem to have reached the Western Hemisphere. muslims here seem to really have taken “Islam” as the Other and fall for this ‘its monolithic’ business, as much as many “islamophobes” but just on the other side, if you know what i mean.

    81. sonia — on 22nd August, 2008 at 1:52 am  

      I know this must sound strange coming from me, But perhaps it is time Young Muslims were given a little bit of Religious Education.

    82. sonia — on 22nd August, 2008 at 1:56 am  

      anyway, i’ll tell you what was really interesting about the MCB letting Women down! Or hijabi sisters - more accurately. it was at the time of the Jack Straw scandal, and the MCB put out this statement, which if you read it, in the body of the text, said sth along the lines of in future we would prefer it if this women let US handle the talking, and making a point, and stayed at home and let us do the representing..

    83. Shelina Zahra — on 22nd August, 2008 at 1:52 pm  

      Sonia has absolutely hit the nail on the head. Muslims need to get themselves better educated for themselves. That is the only way to make your own life and the lives of others better.

      It seems Muslims are unaware of the very basics of their faith - like how to get married. It takes a modicum of effort to pick up a range of books and do a little investigation. That is the comparatively easy part. The challenge is getting the inertia of the status quo to accept that things are not as they should be and harder still is to get them to change.

      On this occasion I fall on the side of the MCB (don’t hold it against me). All the rights that the marriage contract professes to offer already exist in shariah, so no-one is demanding a ‘reinvention of shariah’ which are the cheap PR points being scored by releasing the document.

      If it is really the welfare of Muslim women that is important then it is gaining substantive change from the most conservative elements of society that is critical.The PR grabbing headlines of ‘re-inventing’ shariah don’t help anyone because they turn off the very people who need to change.

      What needs to happen is for the principles that already exist to be properly implemented, and for a change in patriarchal attitudes which masquerade behind the labels of Islam. All we need to do is expose the difference. Unfortunately those who misuse religion in this way are relying on the fact that people are not properly religiously educated, or are too scared because of their personal circumstances.

      The first one we can all do something about - educate ourselves, the second will then automatically be addressed because it will expose the weakness and wrongness of those who do not follow the islamic principles.

    84. Ravi Naik — on 22nd August, 2008 at 2:28 pm  

      I know this must sound strange coming from me, But perhaps it is time Young Muslims were given a little bit of Religious Education.

      There are literally thousands of interrpretations of the Christian faith that stem from the same Book: from virulent racist to progressive liberal. I would assume that happens in Islam as well. Isn’t it important that religious education be given by moderate voices in particular those that focus on how to accomodate their faith in a secular environment?

    85. fug — on 22nd August, 2008 at 4:10 pm  

      I think Mrs Drabu’s (guardian?!?) piece is an elegant way of opening up the conversation. She should write more and express more with the muslims as her audience NOT other communities and interests..

      Headline hopping muppets and PP fools dont actually care about social problems. They only like to wave their wellies in the air.

      Ease up on the ‘young british street urchin muslims being ignorant’ routine though. There are many ways to skin the ‘wholesome marriage entry with haya’ cat, monolithism is only present in every stupid word that leave Ed the Pains’ lips.

    86. Sid — on 22nd August, 2008 at 4:56 pm  

      Sonia #79

      The best thing abbout the MI contract is that it finally makes muslim question the finer detail of the nikaa contract in reference to reciprocal rights.

      The existing sharia rules may be ambivalent about Muslim-only witnesses and male-only stewards for officiating the contract. I’m glad you’re here to point out the “cultural” laws layered on top of the Islamic laws. One of the additional failings of the MCB has been coming clean on the discrepancies between the cultural pseudo versus fiqh mandatory laws.

      However, the right to divorce your spouse is a male-only privelege in Islam and part of the fiqh. The reform of this rule alone would be an impressive revision of a 7th century law.

    87. opposite — on 22nd August, 2008 at 5:01 pm  

      Can we please call him Muham(ed) Husain. That is really his proper name. Might take the shine off a bit to find he is actually just like the rest of Muslims, and not someone specially anointed

    88. Ala — on 22nd August, 2008 at 11:09 pm  

      Hello all! I was busy today sampling some good Thai food in London’s West End, so sorry for the slowness of reply. First of all, thank you to those who are defending me, but I’m in no way deterred by offhand comments. Somehow, the less people understand me, the more I want to write.

      Shelina and Sonia have made interesting points. If reform just means going back to basics, and getting educated, then all the better, it’d be easier to convince people that way. However, because a low standard of education and disempowerment go hand in hand and the women who suffer most from patriarchal marriage laws are aslo often barred from education and work, this is not a situation where the victims can pick up a book and help themselves. Some sort of interference is needed, and that is the job of Muslim organisations. Whether or not the MI marriage contract is too much for the MBC, they should have been dealing with this issue a lot earlier, but it seems these organisations are more interested in complaining about Islamophobia and scoring political points than helping their own communities.

    89. douglas clark — on 22nd August, 2008 at 11:43 pm  

      Ala,

      Well, I’m not defending you. Though you can obviously write whatever you like. Just don’t expect it to go unchallenged.

      Somehow, the less people understand me, the more I want to write.

      Bloody hell. That is a pretty unique idea. Perhaps you ought to wonder why?

      Now, you might think that that is sarcastic.

      It is.

      But it is a lot less ’sarcastic’ than you try to be.

      Lets’ leave aside the fact that I don’t think you can communicate worth a damn and try to return to substantive issues.

      You say this:

      Whether or not the MI marriage contract is too much for the MBC, they should have been dealing with this issue a lot earlier, but it seems these organisations are more interested in complaining about Islamophobia and scoring political points than helping their own communities.

      Hallelujah! So, what do you suggest is to be done about it? I’d have thought that the likes of Sonia and Shelina have made the substantive point that, if there is any potential whatsoever to undermine the patriarchal conservatives, then young women such as yourself should be having a bash at it.

      Rather than be woebegone.

      On a personal note, I had a Shepherds’ Pie in Glasgows’ very own trendy South Side. Just in case that was relevant.

      Sunny, is this suitably sarcastic?

    90. Ala — on 23rd August, 2008 at 12:29 am  

      I’m already orchestrating my own single-handed revolution in my own community, but as for helping other women, I don’t think I can do much more than writing and campaigning. You overstate the power of the Muslim Women’s Guild.

      As for not communicating well, please do remember that is a matter of subjective perception, usually of the kind held by those who don’t comprehend well.

    91. Katy Newton — on 23rd August, 2008 at 12:38 am  

      Sunny, is this suitably sarcastic?

      It’s certainly pretty unpleasant. I know we’ve had our differences, Douglas, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so hostile to anyone before.

    92. douglas clark — on 23rd August, 2008 at 5:37 am  

      Katy,

      We may have had our differences in the past, in fact, we did have our differences in the past. However, we also agreed on quite a lot too. Contrary to what you may have thought, I always thought your opinions were worthwhile. You never once came across as someone that saw describing victimhood as the height of your ambition. Nor as someone who hadn’t thought through what they had to say before posting it.

      To be specific, we may not have agreed, but it was at least pretty clear what we were disagreeing over.

      Which, from where I’m sitting, is quite clearly what the problem is. It is not a lack of comprehension on my part, it is my complete inability to wrestle with an octopus.

      Much as I have given up completely on I/P threads I am going to give up on Alas’ threads. Assuming I don’t get dunted. This one in particular is being fed from a subservient attitude I find next to intolerable. To be clear, stating what a difficulty is is fine. Rejecting, denying, cutting off, or ignoring every proffered solution - out of hand - is not particularily advancing any sort of progressive agenda.

      Apologies to you all, there is a nasty side to me and I don’t like it any more than you do. It is generally brought out by passive / aggressive behaviour in others, at least so my friends tell me.

      Ala, I do have comprehension skills. If you are doing as you say you are at 90, perhaps explaining what you are doing in that context would be interesting.

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