Tag Archives: religion

Ramadan Began This Week

Laurie and Debbie say:

We started out thinking we’d blog about this superb post from Muslimah Media Watch which we saw on Racialicious, but the more we looked at it, the more we realized we didn’t have anything to add or analyze. So we’re just reposting the whole thing. We recommend exploring the links. Ramadan is a month long, which will give us all plenty of time to appreciate the journey (Tip #6).



Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

For many years now, Muslimah Media Watch has worked hard to problematize, counter, question and critique depictions of Muslim women in a variety of media outlets, as a way to provide new perspectives to looking at the “Muslim woman problem” (starting by questioning this statement).

Since Ramadan 2013 has arrived, I would like to first wish you all a wonderful and blessed month. During this month, I am hoping my fellow MMW writers will have a break from horrid portrayals of Muslim women both in many mainstream media sources and in some Muslim communities. With Muslims immersed in the spiritual and cultural practices of Ramadan and everything else that is happening in the world (from sexual attacks on female protestors in Egypt to halal nail polish and Iranian officials refusing to recognize Elham Ashgari’s swimming record), I think it is important to reconsider the ways in which we speak about Muslim women.

So, I have come up with some suggestions, along the lines of Ramadan resolutions – that I would like other people to follow.

This is circulating on Facebook lately. Via Hijab Islam.

Tip #1: Enough with the Hijab!

It is Ramadan, and stories of “Ramadan hijabis” have started to flourish. I am hoping we won’t see any more of those sexist-hijab-focused memes that wood turtle recently wrote about. I am looking forward to finding alternative ways to welcome young Muslim women to the Ramadan experience other than hijab tutorials (recently critiqued by Izzie) and mosque lectures on the “woman as a pearl” analogy (which was the topic of the first Ramadan lecture in my mosque last year).

Tip #2: Get over it! We don’t need saving.

After all the FEMEN fuss (which we covered here and here), I am already expecting the group to show up topless to an iftar or Eid prayer somewhere… However, they are not the only ones who are out to save us. From politicians to Madonna and Iron Man (the latest movie was reviewed by wood turtle), Muslim women are seen as needing to be freed …Well, I would appreciate a month without saving, and it would be much better if people around the world could recognize Muslim women’s agency and local efforts to improve their opportunities, rights and status.

Tip #3: Acknowledge race, culture and privilege.

It may come as a surprise, but Muslim women are not a monolithic group that can be easily lumped into one category. The mainstream media is well-known for extrapolating their assumptions on Muslim women based on countries with “bad” reputations like Iran or Saudi Arabia. Yet, we do the same within Muslim communities. We preach equality but point at other Muslim groups when there is something we do not like (female circumcision anyone?)I belong to a predominantly Arab Muslim community where black abayas and hijabs are expected, the Arabic language is praised and pushed on everyone else, and Arab standards of beauty apply. There is little acknowledgement of South Asian and African communities, and racism prevails.  Fair-skinned Arab women rank first in beauty lists, followed by white converts.

We talk about racial equality in the mosque, but the reality is completely different, as explored by Amina in a recent post. So, this Ramadan we should be looking at our own biases and privileges.

Tip #4:  Get out of our bedrooms.

With the arrival of Ramadan I often hear non-Muslims going on and on about Muslims not having sex during the day (in northern Canada is about 18-19 hours) and Muslims providing explanations about their sex life. Particularly, there seems to be an unnatural curiosity about Muslim women’s sex lives. In recent months we have also seen an increase of media coverage on the intimate lives of Muslim women; from what they do in their bedroom to what they really like and enjoy. Shireen recently wrote a piece discussing media obsessions with this, and some answers provided by Muslim women. But to be honest… while I welcome Muslims’ questions and inquiries about worship and sex and I am happy to read and hear Muslim women’s stories exploring sexuality, I would really appreciate people not questioning, criticizing and mocking what we do (or don’t do) in our bedrooms in Ramadan (or ever).

Tip #5: Respect each Muslim woman’s worship.

I have had my share of lectures and conversations that make it sound really bad to be a Muslim woman in Ramadan, from people chasing after women that do not wear hijab and warning us against “tempting the brothers” to the struggles we face to explain ourselves to non-Muslims during the month.  It can be a lot of pressure to be a Muslim woman when it comes to Ramadan. However, I believe that the different ways in which Muslim women observe Ramadan should be appreciated. These might not include the clothing obsession or the modesty-for-the-sake-of-the-brothers speech. In fact, the posts from last year’s Ramadan series at MMW are a portrayal of the different ways in which a group of diverse Muslim women observe and experience Ramadan. Personally, I see in this diversity the key to the spiritual state that we are looking for during this time.

Tip #6: Appreciate the Journey.

Whether you are a Muslim or a non-Muslim, it is important to recognize that for many Muslims Islam is a journey. And just like any journey it is full of excitement, challenges, trouble, spirituality and joy. Ramadan is the peak of a cycle within the journey and it is, for some of us, a time of renewal. When it comes to Muslim women the journey is sometimes attached to experiences with the hijab (or lack of it), motherhood, marriage, professional careers, academic achievement, activism and, above all, spiritual connection to God.  This journey is to be appreciated for what it is whether you agree with it or not.

And after this long list, once more, I wish everyone a great Ramadan, full of spiritual fulfillment and happiness. Ramadan Mubarak!

Deus Vult: “God Wills It”

Laurie and Debbie say:

Believers in a Judeo-Christian god must, by definition, believe that the world was designed by that god as (s)he wished it to be. The Latin phrase is “Deus Vult,” translated literally as “God wills it.” In this context, let’s
contrast a popular (although far from universal) Christian view of sexuality with what’s known about the animal kingdom:

Lehman Strauss at bible.org talks about homosexuality:

Any evil condemned in Scripture cannot be honoring to God. Homosexual religious leaders attempt to smooth over the breaks and rough places with Christian terminology so that a euphoria predominates, but God is not in it. A truly born again person, who loves and understands the Bible as God’s revelation to him, will not condone an evil that God condemns. “If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him” (I John 2:29). “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (II Timothy 2:19). Practicing homosexuals are engaged in a divinely forbidden evil.

Cartoonist Roxy Drew, on the other hand, contributes this from her “(Human) Sex is Boring” series:

cartoon describing giraffe sex practices, including male homosexuality when females are not ovulating

So did God forget giraffes? Or decide it’s okay if your neck is ten feet long? (Hmm, is there a phallus joke there?) Or is the problem with Lehman Strauss?

And then there’s adultery, a Judeo-Christian sin so basic that it’s singled out in the Ten Commandments:

At Christians.org, we find:

Why should people refrain from adultery? Because God said so! And he said so for several obvious reasons. First of all, adultery adulterates. Sex is essentially pure. It is part of the creation that God pronounced good. But precisely because it is pure, it must be protected from adulteration. We need God’s pure sex law for the same reason we need pure food and drug laws. The laws protect us from contaminants that would destroy our health and happiness. The Bible is not against sex. To the contrary, it values sex enough to rescue it from adulteration.

And here’s Roxy Drew again:

Two-panel cartoon of two men simulating daisy sex:

Roxy Drew has a point: human sex is boring compared to so much of the wild and crazy sex of the animal and plant kingdoms. Who knows? Maybe some of our wilder efforts are an attempt to catch up to the “lesser beings.” And maybe Deus Vult.

Thanks to Annalee Newitz at io9 for the pointer to the delightful Roxy Drew.