Friday, March 30, 2007

Can someone who doesn't speak Arabic be trusted with the task of *translating* the Quran?

New Translation Prompts Debate ...
excerpts from an article on what is being erroneously touted as 'the first translation of the meanings of the Quran by a woman' in The New York Times.
Laleh Bakhtiar had already spent two years working on an English translation of the Koran when she came upon Chapter 4, Verse 34.Ms. Bakhtiar spent three months translating a verse that addresses treatment of a rebellious woman. She nearly dropped the project right then.
The hotly debated verse states that a rebellious woman should first be admonished, then abandoned in bed, and ultimately “beaten” — the most common translation for the Arabic word “daraba” — unless her behavior improves.
“I decided it either has to have a different meaning, or I can’t keep translating,” said Ms. Bakhtiar, an Iranian-American who adopted her father’s Islamic faith as an adult and had not dwelled on the verse before
When she reached the problematic verse, Ms. Bakhtiar spent the next three months on “daraba.” She does not speak Arabic, but she learned to read the holy texts in Arabic while studying and working as a translator in Iran in the 1970s and ’80s.
well said: SunniSister's analysis: Saved by Bakhtiar

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Is wearing a hijab to a sauna carrying political correctness too far?

from:Oxford Mail
A health club has been criticised for allowing a Muslim woman to go for a swim and sauna while wearing traditional head dress and robe.The woman was admitted to David Lloyd Leisure, in Garsington Road, Cowley, on Sunday in contravention of the company's own rules on dress.The decision has been condemned by club member Ian Caldwell, who was in the sauna when the woman walked in and by Muslim community leader Taj Hargey, who said it was "political correctness gone crazy."
Mr Caldwell said: "The woman walked in wearing her head dress and robe down to the floor and I said 'do you think it's appropriate to wear all that gear in the sauna'."There were other women in there who felt threatened because they were wearing swimsuits while she was fully dressed."She then left and got into the swimming pool. I asked the manager why she was allowed to break the rules and he said they had to observe her religious customs.
"They've got a dress code but they are effectively making exemptions for religious dress. I don't think they should put religious custom over and above health and hygiene. It is customary in this country to wear swim gear in the swimming pool."Liam Macgilp, general manager at David Lloyd Oxford, said: "Whereas we respect the religious beliefs and customs of all members, the health, hygiene and safety of members is always the first priority."
The rules are that all members in the sauna or the wet areas of the club should wear swimwear that is less voluminous for the health, safety and hygiene of all its staff and members."He would not comment on the incident on Sunday which he said he did not witness but said he understood Mr Caldwell's description of the sequence of events to be correct.
Mr Hargey, chairman of muslim group MECO, said: "If this woman wants to wear this garb it's not Islamic custom, it's a cultural tradition which has nothing to do with faith."This is political correctness gone crazy and there should be one set of rules and regulations for everyone, regardless of their culture or religion."Perhaps she should consider wearing a new Islamic swimsuit that has been designed called the Burqini which covers all the necessary parts."That would be one way around it if she wants to preserve her modesty."
Muslim community leader Muhammed Khan said: "Muslim women who choose to use a facility do so through their own free will and hence need to uphold both personal safety, relevant Islamic injunctions pertaining to the matter, as well as the health and safety of other users."It seems Muslim women are being permitted to wear clothing, not a swimsuit, that is concealing yet non-voluminous. It would be advisable to clarify what types of clothing would be classed as 'less voluminous'."

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Can you imagine discussing the inclination to sin with the Prophet of God?

By: The Ed
I was reading the story of a young man who came to Prophet Muhammad, صلىالله عليه وسلم (peace and blessings be upon him) who agreed to abide by all the other Islamic principles, but requested permission to be allowed to practice fornication/adultery even after he embraced Islam, as he was strongly inclined to it, (possibly accustomed to practising it) and couldn't imagine living without it.
At the time, the Prophet was sitting with his Companions who loudly reprimanded the young man and rebuked him for daring to bring up such a brazen appeal.
What did Allah's Messenger صلىالله عليه وسلم do?
He called the young man closer to him and gently enquired: “Would you accept [to see] your mother [being a participant] in committing fornication/adultery?"
The young man replied: "No!" .
Allah's Messengerصلىالله عليه وسلم said:"Similarly, other people dislike to see their mothers indulging in fornication/adultery."
The Prophet صلىالله عليه وسلم further asked the young man: "Would you accept [to see] your sister [being a participant] in committing fornication/adultery?"
The young man replied: "No".
The Prophet صلىالله عليه وسلم said: "Similarly, other people dislike to see their sisters indulging in fornication/adultery as well".
Allah's Messengerصلىالله عليه وسلم finally asked: "Would you accept [to see] your daughter committing fornication/adultery?"
The young man again replied:"No"
The Prophet صلىالله عليه وسلم said: "Similarly, other people dislike to see their daughters indulging in fornication/adultery as well".
Then, Allah's Messengerصلىالله عليه وسلم prayed for the young man saying: "Oh Allah! Purify the heart of this young man, guard his private parts (from unlawful sexual contact), and enable him to lower his gaze".
The young man is later reported to have said:" By Allah! From that moment on, nothing was more hateful to me than seeking unlawful sexual relations ”
[A Prophetic narration reported by At-Tabaraani]
Notwithstanding the Prophetic precedent, can a young Muslim man or woman imagine going up to a respected leader of the community or a religious figure and discussing their inclination to sin, with a view to finding a solution?
If the answer is "no", then we are clearly failing to live up to the Prophet's example.
Muslim youth today need counselling, community and peer support and prayer if they are to emerge unscathed from their inclination to sin -- an inclination that threatens their well-being and happiness in this world and the next.
The factors that contribute towards Muslim youth being inclined to sin are numerous -- the means to combat them are pitifully few. Deploring the lack of hayaa/religiosity in "today's kids"; displaying an ostrich-like attitude and simply wishing the problems away; vague admonitions to the youth to "have taqwa" and "lower your gaze" without educating them about the "hows" and "whys" of the process, are proving to be completely inadequate methods.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

How Muslims are challenging the blond, blue-eyed sunbronzed lifesaver stereotype

Australian Muslims Go for Surf, Lifesaving and Burqinis

By RAYMOND BONNER, The New York Times (via SunniSister)

...Ms. Laalaa is a Muslim and has voluntarily worn the burqa, the traditional head-to-toe covering for Muslim women, since she was 14. It is hard to swim, she said, if your body is swathed in cotton, which is very heavy when wet.
Now, her clothing quandary solved by a novel fashion, the burqini, Ms. Laalaa, a vivacious 20-yearold, has become a Surf Life Saver, as volunteer lifeguards here are known, lured to the beach by a new outreach program for Australia’s Muslims.
The program, On the Same Wave, was started a year ago by the nonprofit group that organizes the volunteers, Surf Life Saving Australia, along with the federal Immigration Ministry and the local council.
The outreach was the response to an ugly episode on Cronulla Beach, about 20 miles south of downtown Sydney, in December 2005, when skinheads and neo-Nazis, many drunk and with racial epithets painted on their bodies and T-shirts, marauded through the area beating up Lebanese men.
Many here and abroad wondered if Australia was headed for a period of rising racial tension. The riots set off a round of soul-searching and left many Australians asking if the violence reflected an underlying racism in their society.
Among Australia’s population of roughly 20.2 million, fewer than half a million are Muslims, most of them in Sydney and Melbourne.
On the Same Wave was intended to promote cultural understanding, introduce people from minority groups — Chinese, Somalis, Sudanese — to beach culture and safety, and above all to increase and diversify the membership of Surf Life Saving, said Vanessa Brown, its membership director.
It has also challenged the public perception of a virtually sacred Australian icon, the Surf Life Saver, as someone who is always blond, blue-eyed and sun-bronzed. “It’s a stereotype, that’s accurate,” said Suzie Stollznow, diversity manager for Surf Life Saving New South Wales.
Under the program, 22 men and women, from 14 to 40 years old and including a woman with three small children, signed up to become Surf Life Savers. Most were ethnic Lebanese, but there was a Palestinian, a Syrian and a Libyan.
“But all proudly Australian,” said one, Suheil Damouny. “It’s important to mention that.”
Like most Muslim immigrants here, Mr. Damouny, 20, a sportswriter at The Torch, a weekly newspaper, does not like to be referred to by ethnicity. His grandparents fled Palestine in 1948 and moved to Lebanon, then to the United Arab Emirates, where he lived until moving to Australia seven years ago. He considers himself Australian.
Mr. Damouny said his friends could not understand why he wanted to be a Life Saver, especially in Cronulla. And they did not think he could pass the rigorous eight-week course. “But I did,” he said proudly. Seventeen finished; one woman dropped out after making the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, and coming back in a full burqa.
Nodding to where a yellow surfboard with the red letters “Surf Rescue” rested waiting to be paddled out in an emergency, Mr. Damouny, who is about 5 feet 7 and weighs 140 pounds, said: “The hardest was getting used to that big, ugly thing. It is quite heavy.”
One requirement was to be able to pull an unconscious swimmer on board, and then get him to shore, “through massive waves,” Mr. Damouny said.
Ms. Laalaa broke her nose when she was trying to paddle out through the crashing surf and the board reared up and kicked back into her. She also twisted both ankles, she said. “I have black-and-blue bruises all over my body,” she said. “But I’d do it all over again.”
She admits that she was an unlikely candidate. “I’m a girly-girl,” she said. “I like to walk on the street in high heels.”
But Ms. Laalaa said one reason she had joined the lifesaving program was to educate Australians about Muslims. “They don’t think Muslim women swim,” she said. “Or do anything,” she quickly added with an irrepressible laugh.
When people see women wearing the burqa, they think they are oppressed. “I am not oppressed,” she said. “I do have my own mouth. I am educated. I do make my own decisions.”
For her and other women, the biggest obstacle, she explained, was what they would wear. That was solved by a local fashion entrepreneur, Aheda Zanetti, who designs “dynamic swimwear and sportswear for today’s Muslim female.”
For Surf Life Savers, Ms. Zanetti, whose label is Ahiida, came up with a two-piece outfit made of spandex, form-fitting but fully covering, even the hair. Ms. Laalaa pulls her hair back into a bun and hides it under a bright red hood that is an extension of the long-sleeved yellow top.
Ms. Laalaa said her father, a welder, was completely supportive, as was her mother, a homemaker, and her three brothers and sister. She said her family was not that different from other Muslims in Australia. Most are moderate, she said. Experts here agree. It is the radicals who grab the headlines, they say.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

How to make sense of the BlogRoll?

I just realised there are over a 100 links (110 to be precise) on the blogroll of this site...which can be daunting and confusing for someone randomly surfing in.

The header they are compiled under is, I think, self-explanatory: Worldviews.
They are websites on Muslims, or by Muslims, or of interest to Muslims and those interested in getting to know them better. They represent the plurality of voices within the Muslim community and beyond. Some of these sites are based on news and analyses, others give insight into personal lives and places -- pretty much an eclectic mix.

However, one feature they all share is that they are about real life and real people -- all the websites feature real names, photographs, incidents and opinions, not phantoms in cyberspace.

I'd really like to recommend some of the sites as mandatory reading and make a list of the sites that are my personal favourites, but that would probably be counter-productive to the true purpose of having a huge blogroll: the joy of discovery.

- The Ed

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