Saturday, 7 June 2008

The Headscarf Strikes Back: Again!

Published in The Herald (Scotland) on Saturday 7th June 2008
Headscarf issue has been hijacked by politics

I READ with interest the Turkish Constitutional Court's decision against the wearing of the headscarf in universities (Headscarf ban in Turkish universities, June 6).

Why has the headscarf become such a big issue? Why is the way we dress the cause of a divide between "east" and "west"? Through my reading of Islamic traditions, I personally believe that the headscarf is not essential for Muslim piety but I would never prevent Muslim women from wearing one. Would a Catholic nun lose her spiritual sanctity if she removed her habit? Absolutely not.

I believe that at times the head covering has a more political meaning and message. It is the very fact that Islamic states such as Iran and Saudi Arabia force Muslim women to "cover" that the veil has lost its personal spiritual significance and become one that reeks of Muslim male domination. Is it any surprise that progressive secularists in Turkey seek an outright ban? Or maybe the real issue is the lamenting by my fellow Muslims of their lost Islamic state at the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which was followed by the secularist regime of Kemal Ataturk? Is this maybe a battle between the unveiled Turkish women, seen as westernised and un-Islamic, and the veiled Turkish women, seen as Islamic and pious?

Kemal Ataturk's own wife, Latife Ussaki, was seen in a headscarf by his side and at times seen without. The abuse of the headscarf for the glorification of the religious, usually enforced by the Muslim male, mocks the Islamic tenets of piety and belief. I would hope that in among all these political agendas there is a desire by covered Muslim women to better their relationship with God. But maybe these are initial hurdles that Muslims globally need to overcome for progressive Islam to spread.

Would it not be wonderful in our current international climate to have faith that goes beyond what we wear and is more about actions of the heart?

Amanullah De Sondy, School of Divinity, University of Glasgow.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

One Good + One Bad = ?

A French court has fined former film star Brigitte Bardot 15,000 euros (£12,000) for inciting racial hatred.

She was prosecuted over a letter published on her website that complained Muslims were "destroying our country by imposing their ways".

It is the fifth time Ms Bardot been convicted over her controversial remarks about Islam and its followers. This is her heaviest fine so far.

The French film idol, who is 73, was not in court to hear the ruling.

The fine - equivalent to $23,000 - related to a letter she wrote in December 2006 to the then Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, which was published on her website, in which she deplored the slaughter of animals for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

She demanded that the animals be stunned before being killed.

She said she was "tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts".

In a letter to the court Ms Bardot, who is a prominent animal rights campaigner, insisted she had a right to speak up for animal welfare.

The prosecutor said she was weary of charging Ms Bardot with offences relating to racial hatred and xenophobia.

Taken from BBC News:

Art and the Artist

Reflect on the work of art and you may attain to the artist.
- Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani

John Morrison inspects the ceiling in the entrance hall to Dumfries House, one of Robert and John Adam's important Georgian masterpieces in Cumnock, Ayrshire, which has opened its doors to the public for the first time in 250 years. Pic by Jeff J Mitchell.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Lebanon: Between Mosque and Music

Lebanese singer Magida al-Roumi is seen on a giant screen in front of Beirut’s landmark Mohammed al-Amin mosque during her performance in the heart of the Lebanese capital, 1 June. Photo by Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images

"Majida El Roumi (Arabic: ماجدة الرومي‎, also transliterated as Majida Al Roumi) was born in Kfarshima, Lebanon on December 13, 1956. She is a Lebanese singer who started her musical career in the early 1970s when she participated in the talent show, Studio El Fan on Télé Liban and won the gold medal for best female singer. Since her appearance on television at the tender age of 16, she has become one of the most successful and respected singers of the Arab world as well as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.

In more than three decades, Majida El Roumi has become a symbol and an idol for global audiences.On December 9, 2007 Majida El Roumi gave a heartwrenching speech to Lebanese political leaders at a memorial for Gebran Tueni, a Lebanese politician."

To be or Not to be 'Muslim'

'You find Muslims in such strange places these days...', I thought, as I came across this ATP interview... I have to confess I have no idea what his name means. Answers on a postcard:)

July 19, 2002
Interview With Marat Safin

Q. I read somewhere that your parents named you after the French revolution figure Jean-Paul Marat?

MARAT SAFIN: No, it's just a Muslim name. I think you know that I'm Muslim, you know, the religion. Yeah, that's why they call me this because it is a Muslim name.

Q. Does the name mean something in Muslim? (Hmmmm so now Muslim is the religion, believer and the language --- could we get some educated ATP interviewers in please!)

MARAT SAFIN: Somebody told me, but I forget. I don't know. I don't know. Freedom. I don't know, something good for sure (laughter). Not French revolutionary. But I hope also because of him. Maybe because of him also. Maybe something it's a royalty (laughter).