how the world sees america

Remembering the Martyr at My Grandma's House

Noorain3.jpg
Commemorating Muharram in My Grandmother's "House"

Guest post by Noorain Khan in Lahore:

This year, for the first time as an adult, I was among the 2000 women who came to commemorate the 9th of Muharram at my grandmother's house in Lahore, Pakistan. Though I was born, raised, and educated in the U.S., these past five days in Lahore moved me deeply, and helped me find myself.

Widowed at 36 with six children, my grandmother named Hamida Bano Ahmed began to gather women at her home in Lahore for ten days each year to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The groups grew larger over the years. Just before she passed away 25 years ago, she insisted that the house continue to be used for this purpose. It has been.

Now a large mosque has replaced my grandmother's home but the same women continue to gather, share their grief, and pay their respects to God, the Prophet, and his family.

Only women are at the pulpit and only women are in attendance at "Ahmed House," as it is known around Pakistan. It is a place where the seemingly irreconcilable worlds of gender, religion, culture and passion come together, because here, they belong together. And it is where I, as an American born Pakistan, can blend into the crowd.

Last week, Shi'ite Muslims (and others as well) from all over the world commemorated Ashura, the name for the day of the tragic and violent death of the grandson of the Prophet, Hussain ibn Ali. He, and over 70 of his followers were killed in at Karbala, in modern-day Iraq 680, at the hands of the caliph Yazid and army. Ashura, and the nine days leading up to it are commemorated in different ways around the world.

In Ahmed House, deeply rooted, beautifully gendered rituals incorporate rich, poetic lamentations. The women sound desperate, attempting to console the family of those lost. But it is clear in the strong, resilient, sad voices of those singing women that they are also consoling themselves, more than a thousand years later, for the loss of the defender of their faith. Listening to those lamentations, I was moved.

Muharram in the U.S. has its own value to me as an American -- I can understand the speeches better in English, I have the sense of community with people I've gotten to know over my years growing up in Texas. But something about my Muharram in Pakistan inspired a new passion within me -- a passion to do more, believe more.

The women at Ahmed House this year were surprised to find so many of Hamida's grandchildren like me settled all over the Western world, now running the religious events with that passion. These Pakistani women were proud to see that though we grew up outside of Pakistan, our passion for the events at Karbala was not tempered.

We all felt like we were coming back to where we belonged. And yet what I felt in my grandmother's house does not get lost there. It will shape my experiences here in the U.S. in new ways. Traveling home, I was proud and thankful for the opportunity to experience this rich Islamic tradition in America and in Pakistan.

I'm still trying to figure out just what occurred last week in Lahore, but whatever it is, I know it follows me home to America.

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Comments (16)

Georgiason:

First of all, I have not been back in this discussion because I found it difficult to on the technical level to do so. My cyber space navigational skills are not the best.

Vic Van Meter, we could obviously get into long exchanges, which does not work for long. So let me state the following, stripped of nuance only in the interest of brevity, not deliberate sharpness.

On an intellectual plane, I yield nothing of my original post. On a more personal and emotional level, I feel you are a fair-minded person with the best of intentions. On that basis, I regret that I have offended you.

One of your key points seems to be that the original article should be read and commented on, solely on the basis of its original content. You seem offended that I would introduce evidence from outside the article on which to base my comments. Well, I cannot accept that. Blogs like this are all about subjecting comments to rigorous review, marshalling whatever evidence is available. My whole point was that Ms. Khan's article seemed a little too smug and self-contained. My very purpose was to place it in a broader context.

In making my argument, I cited facts. I did not make allegations or assertions or engage in polemics. I cited facts. You seem to be one of those people who confuse facts with assertions. If the facts offend you, you feel you have right to denounce the facts, or to make ad hominem attacks on the bearer of the facts. Well, no apologies from me. If you are offended by the statement "two plus two equals four," that is your problem, not mine.

You try to make a big deal out of what you perceive as a distinction between Islam/religion, on the one hand, and society/culture on the other. I uncategorically reject that distinction. You constantly raise the example of Christianity to try to make your point. In my view, you accomplished exactly the opposite of what you intended. Of course Christianity has evolved in response to the cultural forces that have shaped and molded it over the centuries. One result being that the position of women in Christian-dominated countries is vastly different than it was centuries--even decades--ago. So why can't Islamic societies change, evolve, move toward more enlightened approaches toward women and religious minorities as well? WHY?

The answer to that question lies at the core of Islam's position in the modern world and its relations to the Christian West. You do not attempt to answer it. You skirt the issue by raising the phony issue of an alleged dichotomy between religion and culture. You repeat the cliche that Christian cultures were once no different, without examining how and why they changed. You lay Islam's ills solely at the feet of Muslim males, without probing the question of why once male-dominated Christian cultures have changed and what lessons Islamic cultures can learn. Or, what examples they can profitably follow.

I went back and re-read Ms. Khan's article. It reaffirmed my original reaction that her words create more heat than light. They reflect a tone of politically correct, multicultural babble. She does what so many religiously-inspired people do--she mistakes her personal emotions for a genuine religious outlook. She believes that whatever makes her feel warm and fuzzy inside reflects some universal truth, some true well-spring of religious ecstasy. It's all feelings over reality.

Reduced to its essence, Ms. Khan's outlook is this: I had these wonderful feelings celebrating some third-world, Islamic rites. I returned to America more determined than ever to preserve those third-world, Islamic ways. It makes me very proud to declare this.

But that experience is totally lacking context. No mention that it all happened in a country on the brink of collapse because of its deep religious, tribal, ethnic, and linguistic divisions. A country where its chief civilian leader was just brutally assassinated. Where deep gaps in income and deep poverty exist. Where education for most consists of children sitting in classrooms endlessly chanting religious verses, leaving them unfit to participate in the global economy. Where the slaughter of religious minorities frequently occurs. Where women are not accorded full legal and cultural equality. Where her own religious group is discriminated against and has not a chance of a snowball in hell of holding key political positions. Where a rape victim practically becomes a non-person.

And neither she nor you see the mind-numbing irony of making a big deal out of a handful of people engaging in one little ceremony in one house in the midst of all this hate and turmoil. Ms. Khan goes to that country and comes back and tells me that she is more determined than ever to preserve her traditional culture! And you don't understand why I have a problem. In fact, you accuse me of hate-mongering for even pointing out these FACTS! Do you understand the phrase, rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic?

Well, listen, my friend. I am a child of the Enlightenment. I believe deeply in personal liberties, freedom of expression, religious freedom, gender equality, and separation of church and state. I adhere wholeheartedly to the tradition that freed the human mind from the shackles of religious dogma. When you tell me that your broken native culture takes precedence over all the above, you become my enemy. When you tell me that preserving your medieval culture is more important than becoming a full-blown American, you lose me. All the above is too valuable and too fragile to stand by while it is undermined by multicultural and politically correct horse manure.

Vic van Meter:

You know Bob Tow, maybe last week, I was told that I seemed to conservative in my prior posts. Really, nothing's changed except the subject matter. Apparantly, I'm a huge liberal now...

Either way, Bob, you've missed the point of the article. You don't have to go back in time to see Christian women being trod over in third world countries. Perhaps you would like to take a look at women in third world countries which are predominantly Christian rather than predominantly Muslim? You will find that social equality is not so readily apparent.

I suppose I am having difficulty understanding your argument. Apparently, I prove Georgiason right by arguing that it is Muslim men in positions of power which drive women down rather than Islam itself, which tends to receive the bulk of the hate. I imagine you did not take the time to read the entire response, since all your evidence appears to be aimed at the first expository paragraphs of the post. I certainly don't hold it against you, it was quite a long string of text.

Nevertheless, I take issue that you dismissed my argument based on:

-the evolution of women's rights (relatively recently, actually) in European-Western society (I hate to point out how often this is NOT the case elsewhere in less socially-developed countries). I never anywhere stated contrary to the current place of women in the Middle East. I also did say that this article is written to demonstrate that women are attempting to reform their religion from within it and that this is why the article was written in the first place. I have trouble seeing your disagreement with the article if you support the rights of women in Islamic nations.

-That I apparently said somewhere that Muslims are a loving people (I have reread my statement and cannot begin to imagine where you got this) and I did not bring up the plight of the Jewish people. I suppose you could have read my posts before this on this very blog about the Israeli-Palestinian peace bickering to see what I thought about it. But should this be too difficult, I suppose it would be easiest to say that the reason I did not bring up the anti-Hebrew venom of Islam is the same reason I think it rather hypocritical of you all to do the same to Islam. As I stated numerous times in my discourse, religions are malleable and the blame, then lies in social politics, not religious doctrine. To think otherwise is foolhardy.

-that the news has a lot of images of Islamic torture. That anyone feels that they get a fair shake of situations on the ground from the news is a display of eye-rolling ignorance. First of all, it would make no sense to include news not pertinent to the viewership. Certainly no mystery about this. What we see in our news is pertinent to us (without assuming where you live, I will use our American media as an example). Certainly, a peaceful gathering of Muslims is not newsworthy and has little to no bearing in American news media. Therefore, even if it is reportable in local news, it is not going to make it overseas. An understandable predicament. But also, scenes such as the above article are heartwarming, but not particularly exciting. So what we are left with are stories involving American involvement in our Middle Eastern affairs and, not surprisingly, the best sellers are the ones where they do not like us and kill their women. Otherwise, why televise it. It is not unusual for news medias to act this way. Go look at Al-Jazeera online if you need proof. See what their news looks like. According to them, we Americans are the crazy, spiteful, hateful, ignorant society.

-the stoning of a woman in Iraq, somehow related to my initial argument that the author not bringing up abuses is not surprising. I am not intentionally blind and, if you had read my article, would see numerous references where I addressed that the situation IS NOT good for women. Never in the response did I say that it was good, that it should stay that way, or that it was positive. Certainly, this is not something that needs to be brought up. I know it well enough, as does anyone with half a brain. My statement reflects often that the author does not bring these abuses up because, quite frankly, if women gathering to worship was common she WOULD NOT HAVE WRITTEN THE ARTICLE. By writing the article as it is, the unspoken acknowledgment is that this is, at the very least, underreported in the media and, in almost all probability (accounting to the author's comment that it was known all over Pakistan) not relatively common. I suppose this was Westerner's train of thought at the end of his response. The idea being that the issue is so obvious that it does not need being brought up necessarily, since everyone reading the article already knows that this subject event is incredibly rare and otherwise would not need to be acknowledged with the original article at all.

For some reason, this makes me both not liberal (which I suppose is supposed to appall me) and makes me blind. The latter is what I certainly take issue with. I would like to see where in the response I said womens' rights were model in Middle Eastern society. I am not blind, or at least as open-eyed as anyone. We are all subjected to the subjectiveness of others unless we magically can be in all places at once and see every event for ourselves. I make a genuine attempt to be critical in everything I see and perceive because we tend to reduce the world down to be more simple than it actually is. Saying Muslims hate us and stone their women to death is, of course, accurate to some degree but is hardly universal. I suppose it is about as accurate as we Americans think of Muslim society as inherently murderous and terrorist. Which is also true to some degree. But whichever degree this is true, this is certainly what Muslims will see in their news, opinions, and television.

So, Georgiason's point (unless my comprehension fails me) that the author glossed over her social situation for some menacing reason and that Islam itself is responsible for numerous atrocities that should be mentioned in every article written on the subject. My response is largely in juxtaposing this with the view that it is unnecessary for her to reiterate the relatively well-known place of women in Middle Eastern society in her article, that the author would know her situation better than Georgiason, that it is social politics and not religion that are responsible for the atrocities Georgiason brings up, and that if womens' rights in the Middle East are important, than a bastion of female power in the religion should be fairly positive news rather than negative.

Where this suddenly became about me attempting to advertise my political affiliations (one way or the other) through an anonymous pen-name to other anonymous people on a web blog is beyond me. I suppose I could reassure you that as far as I am concerned, liberalism, as conservativism, libertarianism, and any other collective political ideology is an attempt to relate unrelated political subjects such as the economy, social equality, involvement of government, foreign affairs and so on into one narrow tube of political discourse. If I sound liberal to you here, then blame the subject matter, because I could certainly sound conservative on the next issue that arises.

Regardless, I hardly care what ideology I appear to belong to. I argue critically about subjects because thinking critically is paramount to achieving true understanding. I simply think the anti-Islamic venom expressed in many of the views here is unfounded. Islam is not to blame. What you seem to have glossed over from my historic example of European Christianity is that Christianity itself is not responsible for its actions. It's followers are responsible for setting the agenda, and within the last hundred years, at least, American religious society has moved closer to equality (not as many women are relegated to staying at home, stores will open on Sunday without being lambasted, und so weider). Islamic society, particularly Middle Eastern society, is likewise to blame for women's treatment because men in power have interpreted their religion in order to provide them with access to these rather atrocious options.

In more simplistic (or easily warped) terms, perhaps instead of attacking Islam, we should critically examine its structure and interpretation to determine where these problems occur, who keeps them this way, and how women could take control of their religion and gain autonomy.

Such as the above example. The author's subject is women's power in Islam where we had not previously heard of it. That we can hear a story like this is encouraging, at the very least. Why everyone so casually dismisses it and then frowns on her religious experience is certainly something else to be critically examined.

Westerner:

I don't understand the point of crying over a man that died a thousand years ago. Even if he was a defender of this particular sect of Islam. As a christian we celebrate easter so there is a death of a man involved and it is a somber time but no one cries over it. Also it is not his death that is remembered as much as his resurrection is celebrated.

Also, why are only women allowed in this house; is this the only place that women can go in pakistan to do this?

Bob Tow:

Answer to Vic Van Meter: You are so desperate to seem extreemly liberal, that you prove Georgiason right. You have to go back 400 years to compare the lot of Christian women compared with todays Muslim women. One thing you missed out on is the hatred for Jews and Infidels preached by those so called few radical muslims. I have a hard time seeing the traditional Muslim love When I see on the news daily the hate and anger portray by the masses of Muslims all over the world. I even saw the stoning of women in Iraq a country where americans are dying for peace and equality for every-one in that country. You are not liberal, you are intentionally blind.

Vic van Meter:

Well, let's look at your venom in particular:

"What an exercise in unintended self-parody. A Shia female writes an ecstatic commentary about the practice of Islam, in this case, her particular brand."

"One last note: If there are any American women who do not see the joker in the deck of the multicultural horse manure so prevalent in some circles, may God (or Allah) have mercy on your souls."

"I suggest you outraged Muslims go immediately to www.wikipedia.org and read the following... Then come back here for more enlightenment of your obviously dark ages' minds."

I'm trying to see where these comments don't come across as anti-Islamic venom. Then again, maybe you've failed to grasp the point of the article. Has the idea of Muslim women gathering for worship in their own circle without the leadership of any males simply passed beneath your radar? If not, allow me to elaborate on the concept of religion as a personal experience.

If we go back oh, say, five hundred or so years, we could observe firsthand the place of women in the Christian religion. Little by little (or a great deal in some rather fortuitous leaps) things have largely changed. Largely. But that does not mean that Christianity has either completely reformed or that this reformation has anything at all to do with Christianity. Think, for instance, of impoverished Christian communities which still today push women down. And if we read the Bible, we see that the authors (or perhaps God Himself even) thinks women are fickle, prone to self-destruction, and are largely meant to be kept in line by rational men. So why did Christianity largely reform to allow women into the religion as equals and even into some positions of power (as in some Protestant churches)?

The Bible has not significantly changed (though the new language of the TNIV does soften some of the harsh language of earlier versions) so the reformation has come from within the religion, from faithful women and understanding males who altered the religion socially by replacing their values. In effect, it was not Christianity itself that changed, but Christian society, and most likely by actios such as that above.

So to lambast the place of women in Islam itself is to largely miss the point. It is not necessarily Islam keeping women in their place. All religions are still subject to reinterperetation and Islam is nothing more than a heavily dated manuscript for living a certain way under God's direct subjugation for the purposes of being provided a morality and for the reward of the release of oneself from the conflict of limited supply and the necessities of construction and development.

Which brings me full circle, to those statements above. The people who are likely the most aware of their treatment are Muslim women in Muslim countries. I am sure that the news you intend to enlighten them with about their situation has not gone unnoticed, particularly since these women are supposedly the subject of your information. As a matter of fact, the writer has obviously pointed out that she, herself, is an American and that she thinks:

"Only women are at the pulpit and only women are in attendance at "Ahmed House," as it is known around Pakistan. It is a place where the seemingly irreconcilable worlds of gender, religion, culture and passion come together, because here, they belong together. And it is where I, as an American-born Pakistani, can blend into the crowd."

I doubt it has escaped even the American Muslim woman's attention that often gender, religion, culture, and passion do NOT come together, thus making this a rather profound occurance for her. Hence her bothering to write the article at all (if women gathering without the tuteledge of men had not shocked anyone, we would likely not be otherwise interested in the article). In this sense, I doubt you are bringing up any information that Muslim women are not already aware of. By your recounting, these women are already being gang-raped, tortured, sexually mutilated, et. al. And since I think the situation of human rights in Islamic countries is LARGELY represented in enough Western media already, you are not exactly informing anyone.

So I am simply in wonderment at your ire at the writer failing to recount information about these circumstances when this information is fully represented and reformist movements largely are not. What should immediately have entered your mind as a proposed reformist of Islam (as I imagine your tirade not being specifically antagonistic) is that this article is about the very ideas you are supposedly advocating. In effect, this article is about Muslim women gathering as Muslim women for the purposes of practicing Islam in a way that does not expose them immediately either to the wrath of a man nor his leadership. In essence, your point of the author not mentioning all of the above is the exact point of the article: under these auspices, it is not happening in this setting. As I stated above, if these women were being flogged, mutilated, and raped, I assume this should obviously be one of the targets of your reform. This meeting, however, in a sense, is reform.

While I am sure the inclusion of the information as to WHY this meeting of women is so enlightening as an article (which I believe you provided in Wikipedia, but could also be proposed through the websites of active reformist groups with more experience than Wikipedia, e.g. Amnesty International) is certainly sure to inform all those who may have never heard of the abuse of women and children in Muslim society, I believe your ire is misplaced. If I may explain once more for emphasis.

Like Christianity, the problem is not Islam itself. Christianity's (and every other religions') practice is very personal and tailors itself to the needs of its practicioners. Items which may today give religious credence to these Islamic attrocities may years from now be reinterpereted, refocused, or flat out ignored. Otherwise the church would still not be suffering a witch to live.

So instead of blaming these Muslims for still believing in their faith, blame those men who have used the Qoran for their own purposes. Obviously, since these abuses are happening and are not necessary (I would love to know the part of the Qoran that precisely says you should participate in group sex with a woman who seems liberated) it is more than likely that your ire not be directed towards Muslim women worshipping in their own center of power, but to Muslim men and their interperetation of the Qoran.

So, as we come back towards the question you raised, I find your comments venemous and anti-Islamic simply because you decided to chide the WOMEN and THEIR, to quote you again, "particular brand [of Islam]" and then to bring forth a litany of charges which is not likely to be part of these womens' brand of Islam. Obviously, if you asked them if they should be sexually mutilated, gang-raped, physically abused, and relegated to the status of slaves (of slaves, ironically) I am sure you would not receive a superlative affirmation. Blaming Islam for the plight of Islamic women is like blaming Christianity (not Christians of the time) for the Inquisition or Democracy (not politicians of the time) for the geopolitical turmoil of the world. It is certainly misplaced antagonism.

Besides, there are certainly well-practicing Muslims in the world who have not mutilated, raped, or beaten any woman. Obviously, Islam is not your issue. And religion being such a personal experience, I find it hard to believe that decrying a faith will yield you the understanding of its believers in your quest to advance womens' rights in the Middle East.

GeorgiaSon:

REPLY TO VIC VAN METER:

You wrote: "So perhaps we could stave off the anti-Islamic venom for another day?"

What posts are you referring to that contained anti-Islamic venom? Looking back over the comments so far--like mine--I just see references to the facts and realities of Islam, as it is practiced in Islamic countries.

Have you by chance read Samira Bellil's book, "In the Hell of the Gang-rapes"? The media's reviews and summaries are chilling, don't you think?

Vic van Meter:

Religion is not necessarily an inconvenience and its practice is not to be downplayed. Certainly, some people who live their lives with very little have no recourse but to religion. And this is all well and fine in this situation which none should belittle: the gathering of Muslim women to commemorate a date which they feel personally, through their faith. None can doubt that faith is an incredibly personal experience, whatever distractions there are to a religion.

Unlike my own religion, most religions stress servitude to promote unity, which I largely agree with in the case of the majority of people. It is good for most people to become part of a mass since the one organism is much more organized and less prone to self-destruction. Followers tend to devote themselves to their respective deities and this both occupies their time, gives them a sense of belonging with their peers, and increases their sense of community. If all serve, all feel they have joined the same cause. Certainly a noble aspiration of man is to become the best part of the servants of God. It should certainly promote unity as a people.

So in the above example, whatever our composite views of Islam and its affiliate branches, we should have a certain respect for these women as the story is presented. To be so devoted to the well-being of another being is a good way to gain unity in a society. How they express that unity is their own goal.

My difficulty with Islam lies only in their attitude towards people not of their faith who serve another deity or those who serve no one. Muslims gathering peaceably for unity as above is to be encourage. Let us not attack all of Islam for every gathering and effort at support, considering there are other gatherings of Muslims (and other religious cult gatherings) which are much more detrimental to our own personal faiths. These fringes are what deserves our ire and attacks, not the unity of peaceable Muslim women.

So perhaps we could stave off the anti-Islamic venom for another day?

GeorgiaSon:

I made a mistake in my previous post. In addition to France, Norway, and Sweden, I should have added Australia as a country to do a Google search on Muslims and gang rape.

Sydney Morning Herald ^ | March 2, 2004 | Natasha Wallace

Three Pakistani gang rapists who are facing life in jail yesterday begged a judge to be pardoned, citing cultural differences that led to the brutal attack, immaturity on their part and hardship within their families if they were imprisoned.

Five males, four of whom are brothers, were found guilty last year of nine counts of aggravated sexual assault in company - which carries a maximum life sentence - on two girls, aged 16 and 17, at the brothers' Ashfield family home on July 28, 2002.

The girls were repeatedly raped, threatened with knives and bullets and one was told the other had been killed because she had resisted her attackers. None of the men can be named because the younger brothers, MMK and MRK, 18, were minors at the time. Another man, known as RS, is 25.

The brothers are representing themselves because they believe an anti-Muslim conspiracy has prevented a fair hearing. Their father, a practising doctor, told the court they should be pardoned because they "did not know the culture of this country".

And turning back to Norway:

Five days before 9/11, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported that 65% of the country's rapes were committed by "non-Western" immigrants -- a category which, in Norway, is almost wholly Muslim. A professor at the University of Oslo explained that one reason for the disproportionate Muslim share of the rape market was that in their native lands "rape is scarcely punished" because it is generally believed that "it is women who are responsible for rape."

So Muslim immigrants to Norway should be made aware that things are a little different in Scandinavia? Not at all! Rather, the professor insisted, "Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes" because their manner of dress would be regarded by Muslim men as inappropriate. "Norwegian women must realize that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it."

GeorgiaSon:

Oops, did it again. Left off my ID. I'm the Anonymous that posted the above beginning "I suggest you outraged Muslims go immediately to www.wikipedia.org and read the following:..."

Anonymous:

I suggest you outraged Muslims go immediately to www.wikipedia.org and read the following:

Samira Bellil (November 24, 1972 - September 7, 2004) was a French Muslim feminist activist and a campaigner for the rights of Muslim girls and women. Bellil became famous in France with the publication of her autobiographical book Dans l'enfer des tournantes (translated as In the hell of the tournantes (gang-rapes)) (2002). The book discusses the violence she and other young women endured in the predominantly Muslim immigrant outskirts of Paris, where she was repeatedly gang-raped as a teenager by gangs led by people she knew, and then abandoned by her family and friends. Her book is a portrayal of the predicament of young girls in the poor, largely North African outlying suburbs (banlieue) of French cities.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samira_Bellil

Then there’s the report of an official French panel appointed to examine the Muslim society in France, as reported in the New York Times in December 2003:

“Among other problems identified in French society were the refusal by some Muslim women to be treated by male doctors, hostility in some schools toward the teaching of the Holocaust, anti-Semitic sentiment among alienated Muslim youth, difficulty in burying the dead according to different religious traditions, de facto job discrimination against candidates of foreign origin or foreign parentage, peer pressure in jails for prisoners to practice their religion strictly and insist their families wear 'religiously correct' clothing during visits, the refusal by girls taking first aid courses to rescue male accident victims, the refusal of strict Muslim women to shake hands with men.” The panel also reported the “increasing demands by France's large Muslim community for special privileges, like the separation of men and women in public swimming pools.”

Then do a Google search on the key words "France Norway Sweden Muslim rape."

Then come back here for more enlightenment of your obviously dark ages' minds.

Jami:

Gorgiason
You seems to be an uprooted persons with no ideas except your wishes. You cannot be equal to those who have traditions and belong to a civilization.

GetEducated:

GeorgiaSon your comments are nothing more than irrational and hate filled ignorance. Do you happen to work for FOX News?

I'm an American Christian who has lives abroad in Muslim countries. Women are treated like slaves? Genital mutilation? Gang rapes? Come on... at least come up with some original attacks. Anyone who has read absolutely anything on the subject will know how to differentiate between Islam and some traditions that are non-Islamic like those carried out in some parts in Africa (genital mutilation) or Central Asia (rapes, etc). These have nothing to do with Islam and to say they are one and the same is simple ignorance.

As another commentator noted, Muslim women had more liberties and freedoms in the Islamic world than those that were seen by their Christian counterparts for many centuries.

Get your facts straight. Have you even lived in a Muslim country or attempted to really see what it's like? Probably not, you simply saw some documentaries here and there and thought yourself an expert....

Ignorance is bliss....

ASH:

OR is trying to divert attention from the real issues facing Islam and Muslims in the contemporary world. He is trying to use scriptures to defend the fanatic aspirations stoked by Islam in its followers and the true state of Muslims across the world. It is a fact that Muslim communities across the globe live in "ghetto" mindset and are always at odd with civil, progressive and liberal societies. They use the same liberal framework to push their intolerant agendas and have been successfully pushed secular states to bow to their medieval practices. This was evident in case of Dutch cartoons or many retractions and apologies that we see in western press to assuage Islamic feelings.

As stated in the first comment, women are really treated most brutally in Muslim societies. As far as women coming to power in Pakistan and Bangladesh, both Islamic states is more a factor of tribal mindset that passes on office as part of inheritance (Benazir's 19 yr old son is now leader of the party as it came to him in some will). In countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and even in India lot of things come to you by virtue of your birth and merit doesn't actually matter.

I believe that following Koran by rote and not having healthy debate since ages has taken its toll on the religion and have led them astray on a very divergent path from a civil and liberal world

O R:

To understand the feeling of grief for a loss experienced 1,000 years ago, you have to understand the feelings of grief for ones parents.

Muslims are informed, both by the Holy Qur'an and the narrations of sayings of our prophet (peace be upon him) that the believers are those that love him (the prophet) even more than they love their own selves, and that the prophet has a greater right over us than we do.

In line with this thinking, Muslims (particularly Shia Muslims), connect this level of deep love for Imam Hussain, the grandson of the prophet.

Remembering his brutal death at the hands of an oppressive regime is a testament to the principles our true leadership stood for. We are not only remembering his death, but also the struggle for justice against injustice, love against hate, and hope against fear.

I hope through my humble attempt to explain some of the thinking behind our commemoration, you will better understand why we grieve for Imam Hussain.

...

As for the first comment, I think it is sad that people so often associate Islam with Muslims. Just as Timothy McVeigh and other mass-murders and sociopaths do not epitomize the Christian values Americans (generally) respect so much, the acts of uninformed Muslims should not be the benchmark for evaluating what Islam actually stands for.

In addition, many of your comments were hate-filled and more important, incorrect. Muslim women are not treated like slaves in the majority of Muslim countries, nor does Islam advocate for it. Islam was the first religion to give women rights of inheritance, the right to own property, and rights over their children. In a contemporary context, Pakistan had a female leader - has the United States (yet)? Also, female genital mutilation is not an Islamic nor Muslim custom, it is mostly an African custom that our prophet (peace be upon him) forbade. It is people who do not understand religion who continue to practice it.

At any rate, sensible discussion calls for honesty and integrity, not hate mongering and lies. It is a disservice to the readers to not research and provide truthful information. Hopefully I was able to correct some of the half-truths you presented...

g:

It is difficult to understand this grief for an event that took place 1000 years ago. How exactly can you make it a personal grief? If it is a religious exercise akin to Easter when the Christians remember the crucifiction of Christ and then his resurrection, it remains a religious event that in this case was only attended by the women possibly because of the gender isolations practiced by some Muslims. Yes I guess one can celebrate religion but one would hope that one moves on from ones grandparents practices and attempts to eradicate the prejudices of the past and who can do it better than the educated women of today who realize that religion in some hands is a repressive tool

GeorgiaSon:

What an exercise in unintended self-parody. A Shia female writes an ecstatic commentary about the practice of Islam, in this case, her particular brand. Not a single word about the fact that women in Muslim societies are treated like slaves. Not a word about discrimination, honor killings, stoning to death for alleged sexual impropriety, the recent case of a gang-raped victim in Saudi Arabia becoming the subject of punishment. Not a word about the lack of educational opportunities, the much higher rate of illiteracy among females than males, the recent attempt of the male-dominated Kuwaiti Parliament to expel its only female member. Not a word about female sexual mutilation. Not a word about the intimidation and brutality, including the use of rape, visited against Muslim females even in European countries who dare to try to live like their Western counterparts.

If you respond to this post, please, no abstract nonsense about what the Koran really says about the position of women, blah, blah, blah.

Just respond with an honest look at the position of women in contemporary Muslim societies.

One last note: If there are any American women who do not see the joker in the deck of the multicultural horse manure so prevalent in some circles, may God (or Allah) have mercy on your souls.

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