Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Fatima Mernissi

“Islamic Feminists” singing out of the Pack?

The term “Islamic Feminism” was coined in 1992 by Shahla Sherkat. Shehla published a weekly magazine in Tehran (Iran) called Zanan (women) and women contributed with articles and papers.

Prior to that date, many Turkish women authors have used similar term. For example, the authors Yasmin Arat, Farida Akar, and Wanilo Fargoul. In 1999, the Arabic American Margo Dadran grabbed the term and ran with it: Margo liked “Islamic Feminism” as opposed to Western feminism.

A world conference was held in Barcelona in 2005. The conference discussed the Islamic women trends and many papers were submitted.  The main outcome was this statement: “The culprit is not Islam for the persistent persecution of Islamic women: It is the malicious and willful misinterpretations engaged my male chauvinist of the verses and hadith of sacred books…” 

In 2006, the UNESCO, a UN organization, organized another world conference in Paris. Many secular and Islamic women participated.  These two conferences contributed in establishing the term “Islamic Feminists” as a movement, which spread in Arabic and Islamic countries and communities.

The “Islamic Feminists” movement was preceded by many women movements since 1920 that started in Egypt and encouraged women to drop the veil and reclaim the civil rights on equal terms with male gender in education, positions, marriage, voting, and inheritance…

In the last two decades, many women authors confronted the rigid interpretations of the fundamental Islamic religious political parties.  For example, Fatima Mernissi published “Political Harem: The Prophet and Islam”.  Fatima tried to figure out the causes and historical circumstances that alienated and pushed women aside from participating in the political scenes and decision-making…Fatima came to the conclusion that it was basically willful and sustained historical misinterpretations of the Prophet message by patriarchal Arab/Islamic societies.

For example, Fatima described in details how powerful women in early Islam defied the Califs and Imams pronouncements and managed to get their ways.  Um Samat (one of the Prophet wives), Aicha (the most beloved wife), Sakinat bint Al Hassan (daughter of Hassan the first grandson of the Prophet)…and many others refused to wear the veil, insisted on their rights to discuss in gatherings and in public, and wrote their own wedding contracts… 

A group of 70 women congregated in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad to complain of husbands beating them and the Prophet was pressured to voice verses on that critical issue…

The Afro-American Amina Wadoud was appointed Imam of the mosque in New York City in 2005 and then Imam at Oxford.  It is not the first time that women were elected Imam: In early Islam, a religious Islamic sect called Al Khawarej, appointed Shabibyah as Imam.

Amina claims that it is not necessary for Islamic women to transit through secular movements in order to impose their equal rights among men.  She suggest a vigorous mental “Jihad” to counter discrimination through the re-interpretation of Islamic religious culture.

Asmaa Perlas, Pakistani women by origin, published “The women believers in Islam” and demonstrated the basis of total equality between the genders.

Rifaat Hassan, originally from Pakistan, teaches religious cultures and humanities at the Univ. of Louisville (Kentucky).  Rifaat opened up the question: “What made Islam males believe that women are inferior?”  The breast bone story is not included in the Koran…

There are currently other women movements in the Arab/Islamic communities. Many of them want none to do with reverting to religious texts in order to reclaim their rightful equality in societies: They think these re-interpretations of sacred books are futile undertakings. These movements are opposed to the entire religious culture and prefer to be labelled “Angry, indignant Islamic women”.

How about “Indignant women”. Period.

I have published countless articles on women and reviewed many books on women and Islamic women.  You may find 9 articles “Women in Islam…”, specifically dealing with the verses and their interpretations related to women rights in the Koran and Hadith… You may start with women movement in Egypt of the 20’s https://adonis49.wordpress.com/wp-admin/index.php?page=stats&blog=4896284&view=postviews&numdays=30&summarize

Note 1:  This article was inspired of a book review “Out of the pack: Study on the opposition of Islamic Feminists and the lure of Liberty” by Fahmi Jadaan. The reviewer, Haitham Mazahen, published his piece in the Lebanese/Arabic daily Al Nahar (Oct. 18, 2011)

Note 2:  You may read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/sex-for-a-sufi/

“I killed Scheherazade” by Joumana Haddad

“Let me warn you from the start:  I don’t facilitate life.  If you are reading this book with prejudices such as: truths that you think you do know; proofs that you think you have gathered; being confronted with your vision of the orient; being reassured of your anti-Arab prejudices; hoping to read of the constant civilization clash; confirmations of your Arab women idiosyncrasies then, stop reading here and there.”

Joumana Haddad had published a magazine on women erotic body called “Jassad” or Body.

A foreign woman journalist asked Joumana in 2008: “How an Arab woman came to publish an Arabic magazine as controversial as Jassad? Most western people cannot imagine that there exist Arab Women as liberated as you are.”   Joumana replied defensively: “I don’t view myself as exceptional.  There are plenty of liberated Arab women.  If the western people ignore our existence, as you mentioned, then it is your problem, not ours.

That day, Joumana felt upset and she had the idea of going through all the fragments of her articles, personal notes, and ventured into the job of writing and publishing this book.

Joumana has the phobia of the whistling sound of incoming missiles or cannon balls.  She has no love affair with Beirut since she never crossed to West Beirut during the 15 years of civil war and because Beirut has no longer any particular culture.

I had the impression from the comments of the dailies that this book is an autobiography or a serious introspection study.  The book is fundamentally a set of essays on women, Arabs and non-Arabs.   They are good essays:  For example, you have essays on:

Young Arab woman reading Sade’s books” beginning with writer May Ziade‘s saying: “Books are the unique places where two strangers can meet in complete intimacy”;

“Women Arabs with no homeland” and the saying of Fatima Mernissi: “Absence of clear vision for the future is one of the main tragic obstacles confronting Arabs”;

“Arab women writing erotic poems” and starting with Nawal Saadawi saying: “A better world is impossible as long as our spirit, our body, and our language on women are not liberated“;

“Arab woman creating a magazine on the body”;

“Arab woman redefining its femininity” starting with the saying of Khalida Said: ” Not a single change in the hierarchy of power, actions against satanizing of women,  her exclusion from the workforce, education and centers of struggle is feasible as long as women have not entered the fields of activities, shouldered by her will, and her individual choice”;

“Arab woman not fearing provoking Allah” beginning with Wajeha Al-Huwaider saying: “I will continue demanding the rights of Saudi women as long as Saudi men are not brought to police stations for driving cars, women denied wearing comfortable garment, men not wearing veils and black cloths, and men having but two locations: Home and the tomb”;

“Arab woman saying NO and living it” introduced by Fadwa Touqan’s saying “I will never cease being free; I will chant the desires of my spirit in chains and my face rubbing in earth; my chant will pour out from the deep”

“Am I an Arab woman?”  Many women wear whatever they want, go wherever they desire, say their mind freely, are not illiterate, oppressed, and not submitted.  No men deny us riding cars, bicycles, motorcycle, or airplane.  Many of us are professionals and go to their work; we are active, have great salaries surpassing professional men.

We don’t live in tents, ride camels, and cannot belly dance.  We resemble so much to any foreign women.  Apparently, statistics shows that only 10,000 out of 200 million Arabs read poetry although 4 times that number claim to be poets.

It is good to read essays of May Ziade, Laure Moghaizel, Hoda Chaarawi, Etel Adnan, Mai Ghoussoub, Fatima Mernissi, Khalida Said.  It is interesting to read the novels of Ahdaf Soueif, Alawiya Sobh, Hoda Barakat, Hanan el-Cheikh, and Sahar Khalifeh.  You are encouraged to see the art works of Zaha Hadid, Mona Hatoum, Helen Khal, and Ghada Amer.

It is a joy reading the poems of Joyce Mansour, Saniya Saleh, , Nazek al Malaika, Nadia Tueni, and Fadwa Toukan.

You will thrilled by the pieces of theater of Jalila Bakkar, Raja ben Ammar, Lina Khoury, Darina el-Joundi, and Nidal al-Ashkar.  You will apreciate the movies of Jocelyne Saab, Randa Shahhal, Danielle Arbid, Layla al-Marrakshi.

Would Jumana reaches a stage of awareness for a serious introspection of her limitations, weaknesses, and foibles? I believe introspection is necessary to resuming a career of a writer:  Jumana might later be capable to strive for universality.

If Joumana is writing a diary then this is a fantastic initiation to honestly baring her spirit and sharing with mankind the deepest difficulties that women have to face and challenge.

Note 1:  My 12 year-old niece asked me “why a woman would like to kill Scheherazade?  She told the story of Sindbad and she saved thousands of women who would have died if she were not a good story-teller”

Sure, I will tell Joumana not to try killing Scheherazade again?  I wish I had  Scheherazade to keep me company.

Note 2:  I overheard that Joumana was on the diploma panel of a woman student submitting her final project.  This student displayed her magazine project along with all the necessary details.  Joumana stole the project without the consent of the graduate student and applied it and published it as her own as “Jassad”.

Freedom of expressions, liberty of conscience, democratic institutions, separation of powers, human rights, and equal civil rights to all regardless of gender, race, color, origin, or religious affiliations turned out to be “lalla Hagoura” . 

In the Moroccan storytelling, Lalla Hagoura is a malevolent old hag that hides in dark staircases and then disembowels kids making noises; the only way for loud kids at siesta time to be saved was for the mother to show up on time and ward off the calamity. Thus, the rowdy kids split into two clans: one clan opting for silence and hanging to mother’s skirt when escalating staircases and the other clan deciding to start waking up early, entraping lalla Hagoura, and then lapidating her with stones to death.           

Lalla Hagoura is someone that everyone wants to see but she never shows up.  Lalla Hagoura became the code name of what is unknown; and thus, a scarecrow for people not falling in line.  One of the many faces of lalla Hagoura are the articles of the UN Charter that, occasionally, a few international gathering divulge the secret of the existence of this Charter but that the general public never read or is aware of being a set of international super laws that should be applied to mankind regardless of political regimes or religious dogma.

            All States in the UN have signed up on the Charter but all States prefer not to take out the skeleton out of the closet; every State desires its own charter commensurate to its political structure and the best way to tame the little people and the frustrated masses.  A few States teach courses in “civic education” for kids, or what amount to fairy tales of how government institutions function. Civic education courses are barely communicated to grown up students for a good reason:  Teachers would feel terribly embarrassed of questions demanding details on how “civility” coincides with real applications by government institutions.  When will the UN Charter be taught and disseminated in schools as pre-requisite to human education and knowledge development?

            It would be a great milestone to humanity if a President or Prime Minister of any State delivers a candid speech on how the State laws fair with the articles of the UN Charter that was written in San Francisco in 1946. The UN Charter supersedes all States’ Constitutions according to the signatory States.  Societies’ organs were asked to keep the UN Charter in their mind and do their best to teach and educate and disseminate the articles to the new generations and to develop respect to human rights, civil rights, liberty of conscience, and equal rights to all. 

UN resolution 116 of the year 1947 stated: “Any State desiring to be member of the UN must apply a formal declaration of accepting the UN Charter.”  Thus, formal declarations poured in stating that the signatory State is a democracy with parliament and intending to enact laws compatible to those of the Charter; foremost laws were stating freedom of thinking, of conscious, and liberty of changing religious convictions.

            Instead of conducting public debates, on the meaning of each article and the proper application of the Charter and what are the representative procedures, most States ignored their citizens and signed up hurriedly in order to side among the war victor States. The UN Charter has become a scarecrow skeleton that should best be kept a secret to the general public.  Even the developed States that claim to represent “humanist civilization” are disseminating lalla Hagoura scare tactics whenever their interests do not match with recalcitrant States.

The veto power States in the UN (US, Russia, China, France, and England) or what I call the “Club of Dirty Five” have agreed on a set of “punishing” program toward the regime in Iran.  We all thought that the latest nuclear treaty that Turkey and Brasil managed to pull off with Iran satisfied the veto power States, especially, that it is the US that asked De Silva of Brasil to undertake the lasted round of this successful negotiations.  So what happened? What’s going so terribly wrong in Iran, besides developing nuclear plants and a nuclear program for civilian usage?  Does Iran has schemes far worse than producing an atomic bomb that India, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, and North Korea already own? 

“Club of Dirty Five” uses the UN Charter as a big stick for hording hegemony over the world member States in the UN to satisfying their economic and geo-political interests:  They have never cared about the UN Charter during the last 60 years of the institution of the UN.

We are very worried.  If the veto power States, which failed in restoring world peace in the last 60 years, have serious intelligence that are very dangerous to world peace then, we demand from this secret Club of the Dirty Five to come clean and and open up to the general public; we want transparency; we want to know all the States that failed so far in seriously applying the UN Charter.  We are grown up people and “grown up States” and we get upset when this secret club treats us like idiots.

We know that this “Club of the Dirty Five” does not dry its dirty wash in open air and resolves problems among themselves at the expense of the other members of the UN , but if this is that serious then we demand to know “What is happened in Iran?”  This “Club of the Dirty Five” made the third world States and people pay exhorbitant prices everytime they disagree as a club and especially, when they agree as a club:  everytime the “Club of the Dirty Five” meets all the world tremble, huddle, and brace for the coming calamities.  It appears that the “Club of the Dirty Five” is very apprehensive of emerging power States that demand to be counted and recognized such as Japan, India, Brasil, Turkey, Iran, South Korea, Indonesia, South Africa…

We all got it that oil should not be used as a strategic weapon, except by the “Club of Dirty Five”.  We all got it that oil production (with the exception of refined oil products that are the exclusive strategic substance of the superpowers) should be treated as a commodity on the world market.  But why the Middle East has to be paying the price and be destabilized at every corner and every period, even when oil is being distributed without hindrance around the world and at low prices, very low prices?

            The new code names enforced by the “Club of Dirty Five” are loyalty to the status quo and complete obedience to the ruling classes.  Most Arab State leaders enjoy the status of caliph for life and as such are to be revered as infallible.  Modernity means engagement in civil laws and the separation of State and religious powers; the secret for enduring power status was to monopolize communication Medias; this can no longer continue: Internet and satellite channels are forcing despots to re-assessing their controlling techniques.

            The best definition for a democratic political structure is when laws prohibit State administrations from manipulating religious beliefs to coincide with State interests.  Laws are not enough: effective laws have enforcing articles attached to them with sets of harsh punishing consequences.  This definition of democracy has corollaries such as separation of power institutions and representation of the public with no discrimination among genders, race, origins, or religious affiliations.  It is about time that the UN Charter be revisited publicly and frequently and not simply be used as a scarecrow tactics to pre-emptive wars, either physically or psychologically.

Lalla Hagoura: UN Charter scarecrow; (Apr. 13, 2010)

            Siesta time after lunch is sacred in hot climate but kids care to play all the time.  An alternative to convincing the kids to keep their peace for a couple of hours was to invite an old storytelling aunt.  The aunt of Fatima Mernissi barged in from the city of Tetouan and scared the hell out of the kids with lalla Hagoura story.  Lalla Hagoura turned out to be a malevolent old hag that hides in dark staircases and then disembowel kids making noises; the only way for loud kids to be saved was for the mother to show up on time and ward off the calamity. Thus, the rowdy kids split into two clans: one clan opted for silence and hanged to mother’s skirt when escalating staircases and the other clan decided to start waking up early, entrap lalla Hagoura, and then lapidate her with stones to death.

            Freedom of expressions, liberty of conscious, democratic institutions, separation of powers, and equal civil rights to all regardless of gender, race, color, origin, or religious affiliations turned out to be lalla Hagoura that everyone wanted to see but never showed up.  Lalla Hagoura became the code name of what is unknown and thus scares off people.  One of the many faces of lalla Hagoura are the articles of the UN Charter that occasionally a few international gathering divulge the secret of the existence of the Charter but that the general public never read or is aware of being international super laws that should be applied to mankind regardless of political regimes or religious dogma.

            All States in the UN have signed up on the Charter but all States prefer not to take out the skeleton out of the closet; every State desires its own charter commensurate to its political structure and the best way to tame the little people and the frustrated masses.  A few States teach courses in “civic education” for kids, or what amount to fairy tales of how government institutions function. Civic education courses are barely communicated to grown up students for a good reason:  Teachers would feel terribly embarrassed of questions demanding details on how “civility” coincides with real applications by government institutions.  When the UN Charter will be taught and disseminated in schools as pre-requisite to human education and knowledge development?

            It would be a great milestone to humanity if a President or Prime Minister of any State delivers a candid speech on how the State laws fair with the articles of the UN Charter that was written in San Francisco in 1945. The UN Charter supersedes all States’ Constitutions according to the signatory States. Societies’ organs were asked to keep the UN Charter in their mind and do their best to teach and educate and disseminate the articles to the new generations and to develop respect to human rights, civil rights, liberty of conscious and equal rights to all. UN resolution 116 of 1947 stated: “Any State desiring to be member of the UN must apply a formal declaration of accepting the UN Charter.”  Thus, formal declarations poured in stating that the signatory State is a democracy with parliament and intending to enact laws compatible to those of the Charter; foremost laws were stating freedom of thinking, of conscious, and liberty of changing religious convictions.

            Instead of conducting public debates on the meaning of each article and the proper application of the Charter and what are the representative procedures most States ignored their citizens and signed up hurriedly in order to side among the victor States. The UN Charter has become a scarecrow skeleton that should be best kept a secret to the general public.  Even the developed States that claim to represent “humanist civilization” are disseminating lalla Hagoura scare tactics whenever their interests do not match with recalcitrant States.

            The new code names are loyalty to the status quo and complete obedience to the ruling classes. Most Arab State leaders enjoy the status of caliph for life and as such are to be revered as infallible. Modernity means engagement in civil laws and the separation of State and religious powers; the secret for enduring power status was to monopolize communication Medias; this can no longer continue: Internet and satellite channels are forcing despots to re-assessing their controlling techniques.

            The best definition for a democratic political structure is when laws prohibit State administrations from manipulating religious beliefs to State interest; laws are not enough: effective laws have enforcing articles attached to them with sets of harsh punishing consequences.  This definition of democracy has corollaries such as separation of power institutions and representation of the public with no discrimination among genders, race, origins, or religious affiliations.  It is about time that the UN Charter be revisited publicly and frequently and not simply be used as a scarecrow to pre-emptive wars, either physically or psychologically.

Hardworking Mina on a war path; (Apr. 12, 2010)

            Eleven years ago, Mina found a job weaving carpet in Morocco.  Her more “experienced” co-worker incited Mina to check with syndicate for membership and was chased out beaten.  Mina then paid a visit to the work inspector who let the owner of the factory on Mina visit. The boss convoked Mina and treated her worthless whore with no sense of loyalty: Mina was supposed to appreciate the boss as a “father figure” and then she was dismissed.  For 6 months Mina could not find work in the same city: all the bosses were informed of Mina’s “disloyal” behavior.

            Mina worked for 10 years weaving carpets and then had hone of her wrists broken. Mina was dismissed with no compensation or even for covering medical expenses. Mina worked and was paid daily and had no papers or documents as a working citizen.  Her highly educated friend, Fatima Mernissi, paid Mina a visit to the hospital and then mindlessly suggested to Mina to have recourse to the work inspector. Mina got in a state of anger and frustration and threw her veil to the ground and replied: “Fatima, you are very educated but I am no stupid” and she told her friend the story of her work conditions. Mina resumed: “Allah is my defender, my work inspector, and my syndicate. God said “if any of my servants asks for my intervention then I will be by his side”. May Allah hear my demands; I want the factory burned down and the boss broken to pieces”

            A few nurses barged in to cool down the shouting and Mina chased them out saying: “If you don’t leave immediately then I will add your names to the list of the work inspector and the syndicate.”  In Mina’s mind, the incidences that she experienced 11 years ago with the work inspector and the syndicate are still valid: nothing has changed since then in the relationship of workers and bosses and control institutions.  Mina’s assumptions might be correct but lack of stable and equitable institutions drove Mina from a rational thinking person to an extremist “khawarej” attitude: she wouldn’t mind taking the most extreme of measures if supported in her frustration.

            Extreme codification of life behaviors, even in developed States with strong central institutions, to controlling and managing people generate extreme reactions in periods of civil unrest.  For example, the USA is witnessing terrorist acts (kamikaze) by its citizens against targeted institutions such as the Pentagon and the IRS (tax revenue) offices. It appears that the life of little people is extremely codified in developed States but the barons of industries and elite classes get off with a slap on the wrist: huge loopholes in laws for the barons and a justice system based on financial means is dooming little people for lack of serious justice.

            At least, in Islamic world, people have this exit alternative to lamenting to Allah and have the right to ask Allah to chastise unjust people.  Just figure a citizen in the developed States asking his God to burn and maim the boss: the boss might probably have a claim to drag to justice the disgruntled worker for incitement to physical hurt intentions.

            Democracy in most of the developing States is a mystery with no corresponding physical application; democratic institutions are shells devoid of any democratic rights to individual responsibilities and serious participation.  The UN Charter is a super law relative to human and civil rights and freedom of expressions but this charter is still the best kept secret to most students and adult people in developing States.  In kindergarten, kids learn their religious laws but the UN super laws are not available or taught or even required to be exhibited.

            Colonial powers didn’t practice their brand of democracies operating at home: as soon as a semblance of democratic institutions (such as parliament) were established that the colonial power flaunted it and disbanded it at the first free expressions of freedom, liberty, and equality.  Even today, the former colonial powers have no interest of witnessing democratic institutions in the developing States as long as oil is available at low prices and the market for arms is booming.  Bush Junior claimed that democracy had priority on his list of changes in the Greater Middle East! Bush Junior never was specific on what kinds of democracies he had in mind; anyway, the method he applied to invading Iraq in 2003 had nothing democratic about it!  Saudi Arabia is still disseminating and financing terrorist tendencies and all the Arab despots kept their martial laws that were instituted 40 years ago.


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