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Author: iqradotca

Doha Debates: Arranged marriages should end for Muslim women

(June 6, 2009) – The male-dominated Arab world was given a sharp warning by Qatar’s Doha Debates that Muslim women expect greater  freedom in choosing a husband. An audience of more than 350 people who attended the last in the current season of debates voted 62 per cent to 38 in favour of a motion that Muslim women should be free to marry anyone they choose. In an often impassioned debate Asra Nomani, Bombay-born American author and journalist, said she wanted Muslim women to be able to exercise their basic human right to freedom of choice. Speaking from her own experience of a loveless marriage she accepted because she didn’t believe she had choice, she said Muslim women needed to “know the suffering, the loneliness, the lovelessness that often comes out of marriages where women cannot make their own choices…and their spirit is broken”. Ms. Nomani, currently adjunct professor of journalism at Georgetown University, refuted arguments that Muslim families should decide what was in the best interests of young women. She said families should “offer unconditional love and allow people to make free choices. “It is for us to show the compassion that Islam is all about.” Muhammad Habash, a Muslim cleric and member of the Syrian Parliament, who joined her in supporting the motion, said it was wrong to interpret the Koran as advocating the subjugation of women....

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President Barack Obama to the Muslims – just a speech?

by Tariq Ramadan (June 5, 2009) – We are used to nice words and many, in the Muslim majority countries as well as Western Muslims, have ended up not trusting the United States when it comes to political discourse. They want actions and they are right. This is indeed what our world needs. Yet, President Obama, who is very eloquent and good at using symbols, has provided us with his speech in Cairo with something that is more than simple words. It is altogether an attitude, a mindset, a vision. In order to avoid shaping a binary vision of the world, Barack Obama referred to “America”, “Islam”, “the Muslims” and “the Muslim majority countries”: he never fell into the trap of speaking about “us” as different or opposed to “them” and he was quick to refer Islam as being an American reality, and to the American Muslims as being an asset to his own society. Talking about his own life, he went from personal to universal stating that he knows by experience that Islam is a religion whose message is about openness and tolerance. Both the wording and the substance of his speech were important and new: he managed to be humble, self-critical, open and demanding at the same time in a message targeting all of “us”, understood as “partners”. The seven areas he highlighted are critical. One might...

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New York hosts 10-day Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas Festival

(June 4, 2009) — In celebration of the extraordinary range of artistic expression in the Muslim world, the Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas event, an unprecedented ten-day festival and conference will take place June 5–14, 2009 throughout New York City. More than 100 artists and speakers from as far away as Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and as near as Brooklyn, will gather for performances, films, exhibitions, talks, and other events, ranging from the traditional calligraphy, storytelling, and Sufi devotional voices) to the contemporary (video installations and Arabic hip-hop). Singer Youssou N’Dour, visual artist Shirin Neshat, actor Naseeruddin Shah and choreographer/dancer Sardono Kusumo will highlight the festival Festival presentations and programs aim to present multiple perspectives from the Muslim world. World renowned singer Youssou N’Dour will open the festival at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Avenue) on Friday, June 5 at 8pm. Additional festival highlights will feature artists from India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan, among others. In addition to the mainstage offerings and complementary education and humanities events from Asia Society, BAM, and NYU Center for Dialogues, programs associated with the Muslim Voices: Arts & Ideas festival will take place at locations including: American Museum of Natural History, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, Brooklyn Museum, MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The New York Public Library. In celebration...

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New Muslim Cool is Islam as you have never seen it

(June 3, 2009) – It is hip-hop as you have probably never heard it. This new film, which opens the 22nd season of P.O.V., PBS’s award-winning nonfiction film series, gives audiences an insider’s view of a little-known cultural fusion between Muslims and street beats that has been developing since the very beginnings of hip-hop culture. The result is a surprising challenge to stereotypes of both Muslims and urban youth in America that encourages viewers to look critically at the “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West.  Jennifer Maytorena Taylor’s New Muslim Cool has its national broadcast premiere on PBS (P.O.V.) on Tuesday, June 23, 2009, at 10 p.m. (Check local listings.) New Muslim Cool is more than another hybrid hip-hop story. It’s also the story of a man coming of age, facing his deepest questions about his faith, trying to keep his family safe and learning how to hold himself accountable. A decade ago, Hamza Pérez, born Jason, was a drug dealer on America’s mean streets. The child of Puerto Rican parents, he had two recurring, competing dreams at night: in one he was in prison by age 21, and in the other he was dead. New Muslim Cool is the story of how, as Hamza laughingly puts it, “both [dreams] came true,” albeit in unpredictable ways.  Indeed, when Hamza was 21, he was hanging out with friends...

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Tariq Ramadan addresses the issue of Islam and homosexuality

The Islamic position on homosexuality has become one of the most sensitive issues facing Muslims living in the West, particularly in Europe. It is being held up as the key to any eventual “integration” of Muslims into Western culture, as if European culture and values could be reduced to the simple fact of accepting homosexuality. The contours of this de facto European culture is in a state of constant flux, shifting according to the topic of the day. Just as some insist, as do the Pope and certain intellectuals—often dogmatic and exclusivist defenders of the Enlightenment—that Europe’s roots are Greek and Christian (thus excluding Muslims), so several homosexual spokesman and the politicians who support them are now declaring (with an identical rejection of Muslims) that the “integration of Muslims” depends on their acceptance of homosexuality. The contradiction is a serious one: does Christianity, which forms the root structure of European culture, and which purports to embody European values and identity, not condemn homosexuality? A curious marriage. Unless the contradiction is intended to stigmatize Islam and Muslims by presenting them as “the Other”… without fear of self-contradiction. We must reiterate, as does Isabelle Levy in “Soins et croyances” [1] that all the worlds’ major religions and spiritual traditions—from the majority view in Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism to Christianity and Islam—condemn and forbid homosexuality. The great majority of rabbis hold the...

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