18 February 2009

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.
Wednesday February 18, 2009
Great to be making history

Some 250 scholars and activists – women and men – gathered in Kuala Lumpur to launch Musawah, a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family.

WE DON’T always know when we are participating in something special and historic at the moment it is happening.

But this past weekend I have been privileged to be part of one such moment in time; Musawah, a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family was launched here in Kuala Lumpur.

Not that everybody appreciated the import of this moment.

As 250 scholars and activists, female and male, gathered in KL from some 47 countries to discuss what can be done to ensure that the equality and justice inherent in Islam is brought to the fore in all policies related to the family, there were people who claimed that what we were doing was “insulting Islam”.

The logic that ensuring Islam treats all its adherents, male and female, equally and justly is viewed as somehow insulting to the religion escapes me completely.

The Musawah (“equality”, not as some allege, “sameness”) gathering sought to find, within Islamic texts and jurisprudence, solutions to the contemporary problems facing women and men in ways that ensure that justice is served.

As many of the scholars pointed out, Islam brought justice to the society it was revealed to via Prophet Muhammad, especially to women.

If women feel that they are being treated unjustly in many societies today, it is not a failing of Islam but of interpretations of the religion that ignored its essential just and egalitarian spirit.

And the lives of many Muslim women today are pretty miserable. In many countries, women have little say over their lives, treated as they are as properties of their fathers, and then of their husbands.

They often cannot be educated, nor take jobs, nor have the freedom to choose when to marry or how many children to have. To protest against any of these conditions has often meant that these women have had to suffer violence or worse, death.

In many countries, honour killings, where men kill female relatives for perceived insults to their family’s honour, still occur and are ex­­plained away with so-called religious reasons.

In others, women are still subjected to female genital mutilation in the name of religion, despite the fact that the Quran says absolutely nothing about it.

Our own Muslim women may not suffer the same extreme humiliations but nevertheless do not always receive the justice that they deserve, and Islam extols.

Women abandoned by their husbands and bringing up their children single-handedly still cannot be considered guardians to their own children. Their husbands can summarily divorce them without much notice or with provisions for their living and that of their children.

Attempts to amend these laws to make them better for women have thus far been derided as “changing God’s laws”, never mind that they were already amended from the originally just ones to ones that are far less fair to women.

It was exhilarating to learn from these learned scholars that God does not discriminate between men and women, both His creations, the proof of which is in the Quran itself.

Nor does it allow for men to mistreat women, enjoining repeatedly that women and orphans be always fairly treated.

Even more exhilarating was to listen to people from Morocco, Turkey and Afghanistan talk about the strides they have made to better the lot of their societies by making family laws more just and equitable. None of this was easy, and took a very long time and hard and dedicated effort. But it paid off.

Today, Morocco has a family law that describes marriage as “an equal partnership” between a man and a woman.

Turkey, which is governed by an Islamist party, has a civil and penal code that were amended to ensure that women were treated as equals in the law and not as passive recipients of whatever male jurists decided.

Even Afghanistan managed to pass a law that gave women the right to contract their own marriages, rather than through their male relatives, despite a lack of stable government and institutions.

All of these countries did it while adhering to Islamic teachings, thus showing that Islam is no barrier to justice and equality. It is thus puzzling that anyone should be critical of this effort, as if leaving Muslim women mired in suffering is desirable.

Even more bewildering is that there are women who think that striving for justice and equality in Islam is somehow wrong, as if God means for the feminine gender to be discriminated against.

I came away energised by this meeting, secure in my belief that my religion will never abandon my sisters and I whenever we are in need. If they were not before, our eyes have been opened to the glory of Islam where God loves women equally as much as He loves men.

11 February 2009

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.
Wednesday February 4, 2009
Stop the World, I want to end the woes
Musings by Marina Mahathir

Instead of giving us solutions to our many problems, our leaders “treat” us to a ridiculous show. Now, if everyone, took up our own causes, then we’d probably make more progress towards solving things. And we could learn from the children.

IN the 1960s, there was a musical play called “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” which is about a man called Littlechap who, not appreciating the loving wife he had, sought the attention of other women until he finally realised his folly.

Although my reasons are different, these days I too feel like saying “Stop the world, I want to get off!” Everywhere you turn these days, there is yet another war, another crisis and another disaster.

The truce in Gaza is tenuous; in Sri Lanka, 250,000 civilians are trapped between the government and rebel forces and are facing starvation and death.

There are bombings in a number of countries in conflict and even in a relatively peaceful Thailand, a schoolboy threw a grenade into a temple, killing seven people and injuring a hundred.

Fortunately, we have nothing to equal the crises in other parts of the world back home, nevertheless we are not immune to the world’s problems, particularly economic ones.

Yet instead of giving us solutions to such problems, our leaders “treat” us to a ridiculous show comprising various minor politicians who can’t seem to make up their minds who they want to align with.

Perhaps a new requisite for politicians we elect, to add to the already extensive list of desirable qualities, should be “decisiveness”?

What’s interesting about all these crises is how people respond to them. Some will take one or two causes and do what they can for them. Others will simply turn their minds off such issues and deal only with what affects them personally. Still others will take up certain issues and then demand that someone else does something about them.

This last trait seems to be a common one among our people. We have become used to expecting others to take care of things that we don’t realise any more how we disempower ourselves.

One example is the support for testing people for HIV mandatorily, rather than voluntarily. Generally this is based on the assumption that firstly, it is only other people who are bad; secondly, the Government must do something about those people and thirdly, we ourselves have no responsibility in ensuring that we are educated enough about the issue to prevent ourselves from getting infected.

Similarly, I find that when it comes to global causes, we often expect others to do something and assume that we ourselves have no power to do anything. And yet when someone does something, we complain about their choice of causes. Why this one, and not the other?

Not once does it occur to us that if everyone, including ourselves, took up our own causes, rather than expecting the few to take care of everything, then we’d probably make more progress towards solving them.

For instance, if someone decided to raise funds for people overseas, there is bound to be someone who will complain about them not doing the same for our own people. The assumption must be that there is not only a finite amount of money anyone can raise but also a limited amount of energy that anyone can expand on such works.

The former is false and the latter is partly true because we expect the same people to take care of every single issue. Rarely do we think that instead of spending our energy complaining, we could use it to do something ourselves about any cause we espouse.

I came across a book my daughter bought about young girls who have done inspiring things. One girl, having spent some boring weeks in hospital, had the idea to collect children’s videos for hospitals to keep other children entertained while they are warded.

Another girl decided to volunteer her dog at a hospital because pets can help in the rehabilitation of patients. And yet another girl, who had received a kidney transplant from a young fireman who subsequently lost his life in the World Trade Centre in New York, started a memorial fund to educate people about transplants.

Needless to say, none of these real-life stories were from our country. Perhaps in countries where people are encouraged to be self-reliant, children are not stopped from implementing ideas that they get. They then learn about independence and the benefits of helping others without waiting for an adult to initiate it. Children who learn to take initiatives like these grow up to be adults who are innovative as well.

Perhaps that is our problem. Initiative especially by ordinary people in dealing with problems and issues is neither encouraged nor rewarded.

We have been brainwashed into thinking that nothing can be done unless we have “power”. No doubt our leaders would prefer we believe in that too, even when they are ineffective. Maybe that’s why we’re in the mess we’re in.