Don’t ban the burqa – challenge the modesty doctrines instead

Don’t ban the burqa – challenge the modesty doctrines instead

By Tehmina Kazi Unlike other articles on Muslim women’s sartorial trends, this one will not start with a terrible “thinly-veiled” pun, or a picture of a woman with her face covered in black  cloth. Shazia Hobbs managed to avoid both these traps in her “Ban the burqa” article, which correctly identified religious fundamentalism as a bigger problem in the current generation of British Muslims, than in previous generations.  The proliferation of face-veils is simply one manifestation of this; other manifestations include gender segregation on university campuses, and the ex-communication (or takfir) of…

Transgender people in Pakistan: Demonisation of the ‘other’

Transgender people in Pakistan: Demonisation of the ‘other’

By Saima Baig   Transgender people have long been a part of the history of South Asia. Their stories are told in the Kama Sutra and they have existed in the Indian sub-continent for centuries. They were part of the courts of both Muslim and Hindu emperors and performed various spiritual and gender-liminal roles. Subsequently, while they were not openly ostracised by society, they tended to live on its edge, making their living by performing at functions, begging and as sex workers — but never as full members of the population with rights equal…

Britain Should Ban the Burqa

Britain Should Ban the Burqa

By Shazia Hobbs   Life today for Muslim women in the UK is completely different to when I was growing up. You know you are getting old when you start referring to the past as ‘the good old days’. But life in Glasgow, Scotland, in the 70s and 80s for Muslim women was actually really good. Yes, there was racism, but other communities had to put up with that too. The Muslim community doesn’t have a monopoly on victim status. It was frightening to have our windows smashed by young white men who were not pleased we had moved…

Why is Sesame Street’s New Afghan Muppet wearing a headscarf?

Why is Sesame Street’s New Afghan Muppet wearing a headscarf?

  This is a cross-post By Samar Esapzai   I have always loved Sesame Street. It was the only children’s show, along with Fraggle Rock, that I eagerly watched as a little girl while growing up in Saudi Arabia. I especially love how culturally diverse the show is and how, through multicultural elements, it aims to teach young children the value of mutual acceptance and cross-cultural friendships. In a nutshell, the show is perfect in all aspects of what a children’s show is supposed to entail. So it did not…

Let’s take Islam back from the extremists and fundamentalists

Let’s take Islam back from the extremists and fundamentalists

    By Hassan Radwan   Islam – my religion – is facing the most serious crisis of its 1400 year history. Extremists like ISIS only serve to bring this crisis to a head, but it has been growing over the last 200 years. Yet despite this, we refuse to accept there is need for reform or even to engage in a conversation about it. The past 200 years have seen some of the greatest changes in human history. Changes in relationships, gender roles, law and order, morality and ethics. Changes…

Muslims must focus on their own behaviour — not that of their fellow Muslims

Muslims must focus on their own behaviour — not that of their fellow Muslims

  By Shazia Hobbs   Everyone, it seems, is interested in which religion you follow. In Glasgow, you are usually asked which school you went to and if you reply Saint this or Our Ladies that, then the person asking will know you are a Catholic. I have been asked many times if I am Muslim as I have a Muslim name. Am I a Muslim? I suppose I am, because I was born into a Muslim family, even though my mother was born to Catholic parents. She gave up her religion when she met my father and converted to Islam. In…

Ex Muslims and converts to Islam are not so different

Ex Muslims and converts to Islam are not so different

By Sarah Ager   Ex-Muslims and converts to Islam have much more in common than you might imagine. These similarities go beyond simply moving from one set of beliefs (or lack thereof) to another or having a connection with Islam either in the past or the present. One of these unexpected, and rather negative, similarities between ex-Muslims and Muslim converts was first pointed out to me by Imtiaz Shams, co-founder of Faith to Faithless, during a conversation in which he commented that “both of us get fetishised and hated if you don’t fall in…

Green-Zone Protests: Is Iraq Sleepwalking Into Iran?

Green-Zone Protests: Is Iraq Sleepwalking Into Iran?

By Haydar Zaki Anti-corruption protests sweeping through a Middle Eastern country, spearheaded by an ultra-religious figure under the language of rights and equality – where have we heard this before? All one needs to do is look at the history of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq’s neighbour Iran to understand why I am deeply sceptical about current events. In Iran, ultra-religious figures were able to capitalise on the unrest and disenfranchisement of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to implement one of the most brutal theocracies in the region. It is with…