Women and The Nationality Problem in the Arab World

Even though many Arab countries are pretty much secular, in the area of women they go back to being Fred Flinstone.

In Lebanon, women who are income earners cannot go to the \to the bank to open a bank account for her kids. There are 18 family codes.

In this Aljazeera English interview, this Lebanese women talks about how she married an Egyptian man and he left her and her kids are teenagers and they can’t get Lebanese citizenship. Isn’t this outrageous? They have NO health care and no social security and they won’t be able to go to college if they don’t get citizenship.

I am very proud of Morocco, because the nationality law was changed. A woman can now pass on her nationality to her children even if she marries a foreigner yay!. When this law was not in place, women whose husbands abandoned them with kids had many problems and I even know of one that had to forge a Moroccan passport for her son in order ti survive. And we know that Morocco is a country where the women and men alike marry foreigners frequently.

Worse, these women’s groups are subject to harassment by radical political Islamists. In Morocco, they had one of their offices bombed. In Jordan, their websites get hacked and now the website leads people to a website about Saudi Arabia. I don’t know what kind of Islamic law prevents children from basic citizenship rights if their father wasn’t the best of men.


It’s About Time- In Turkey, a Step to Allow Head Scarves

In Turkey, a Step to Allow Head Scarves

ISTANBUL — Turkey’s governing political party — a class of young, observant Muslim politicians — reached an agreement late Monday to lift a ban on the wearing of head scarves by women attending universities, a move likely to enrage the country’s staunchly secular old guard and clear the way for a more openly religious society.

The party, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed with a smaller nationalist party to amend several articles in the Constitution that they say will provide a guarantee to covered women, who have been barred from higher education since the late 1990s by a court ruling. Some get around the ban by wearing hats and wigs. Mr. Erdogan, whose party, Justice and Development, was re-elected in a landslide vote in July, has made lifting the ban a priority, because a large part of his constituency is observant Muslims, who feel that the state has discriminated against them for too long.

But the agreement, announced in a brief statement shortly before midnight on Monday, sets the stage for a broader fight between Mr. Erdogan, who favors a more religiously observant Turkey, and the entrenched secular old guard — the military and the judiciary, which has steered the state from behind the scenes since it was created in 1923.

The changes will be submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, and though the measure has enough votes to pass, the political party closest to the military, the Republican People’s Party, is likely to challenge it in the courts, which tend to rule in favor of the military.

The military, which has deposed four elected governments since 1960, delivered a sharp rebuke to Mr. Erdogan last spring when he was pressing for the selection of a close ally, an observant Muslim, as president. The military despises Mr. Erdogan because the democratic changes he is making in Turkey are slowly taking away its power.

The head scarf is a deeply emotional issue here, with its ban representing the feeling for religious Turks of being second-class citizens in their own country, and its growing public presence representing a changing society that secular Turks feel is no longer their own.

In a passionate speech to an auditorium full of covered female party members in Istanbul on Sunday, Mr. Erdogan emphasized that being religious did not preclude respecting the secular contours of Turkey’s state, a central charge of the old-guard elite.

“What do they say — only citizens without head scarves can be secular?” he said to the women, in remarks broadcast on Turkish television. “They are making a mistake falling into such segregation. This is a society of those, with and without head scarves, who support a democratic, secular social law state.”

Millions of rural, observant Turks migrated to cities in the 1980s, became middle class in an economic boom, and began to mix with their secular, urban counterparts in malls, parks and, by the late 1990s, universities.

Their continued religiosity contradicts the theory that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founder, applied in the 1920s that belief would die away with increased wealth and education.

“I am the walking proof of the failure of their theory,” said Hilal Kaplan, a graduate student in sociology. “I’m an enlightened woman, and I wear the head scarf. It just doesn’t make sense to them.”

The proposal left open the question of whether covered women, who are also barred from working as public servants, would be allowed in other public spheres as well.

An overwhelming majority of Turks support lifting the ban in universities, but support becomes shakier for extending those freedoms to primary schools and high schools.

Ayse Gul Altinay, a professor at Sabanci University who has deliberately included the writings of covered women in her courses so that their voices are heard, says the ban against covered women in universities is “indefensible,” but argues that lifting it for younger students was more problematic.

“It’s different for a child,” she said. In very conservative towns “there’s a very real danger of social pressure.”

But years of blocking what many see as a basic demand has built up frustration. “It had been so inflexible for so long,” Ms. Altinay said. “Unfortunately, we’ve asked for it.”

Mr. Erdogan seemed to indicate as much in his speech to the women of his party.

“This issue has been debated for 40 years and been a struggle for 18 years,” he said. “This issue should be off the agenda.”

Also on Monday, a Turkish court convicted Atilla Yayla, a college professor who is now teaching in England, and sentenced him to 15 months in prison for insulting the memory of Turkey’s founder. The judge suspended the sentence, however, saying it would be applied only if he committed another offense. One of Mr. Yayla’s lawyers said the ruling would be appealed.

Sebnem Arsu contributed reporting.


It’s about time. Ya era hora.

Here’s the link to the NYT article.  turkey headscarf

Great Maya Angelou Quote

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.” – Maya Angelou


Let’s all strive to be women whose hearts are hidden in God inshaAllah!

Concentrating in Prayer- the 5 Minute Rule

There was something described to me a couple of weeks ago called the 5 minute rule.  It means that if you were thinking of something other than Allah(swt) for about 5 minutes before the prayer, then it is pretty much a guarantee that you’ll be thinking about that thing during the prayer.

So basically if you watch a movie and try to jump up and pray you’ll definitely think about that movie. If you are listening to akon or jay-z before prayer it will disturb it.

There’s a hadith of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace.) that Aisha narrated about the Prophet at home. I don’t know the hadith by heart or exactly what it is but the basic gist of it is that the Prophet was extremely playful and kind at home but when the time for prayer came “it was as if he didn’t know us. Do we ever think about what this means in relation to our own prayer? What does this mean?

The Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) was getting into the zone before he spoke to his Lord.

And we llike dance around to hip-hop or Arabic music and pause it and say “Allahu akbar” one second later and expect to be in the zone? We expect to be to completely focused in our prayer?

Did you ever see someone right before they interview for a really big job or for university or med school or grad school?

They are really nervous, if not really nervous, they are studying for their interview with index cards.

They are dressed nicely, they probably have showered and smell good, and they are definitely not dancing or watching a movie 10 minutes before their interview. (I hope not haha) That is because they are getting ready to talk to an important person and they need to be ready.

(These examples are really arbitrary by the way.)

You know what I’m getting at here.

When we pray, we are getting ready to talk to the Lord of the Worlds and we don’t prepare that much at all. We try to keep our wudu all day so we don’t have to repeat it even though wudu id good. If we do have to do wudu, we huff and puff through it or we do it in 10 seconds barely wetting ourselves. We might not be in our best clothes… and you know the rest.

Now let’s quickly go through some parts of the Prayer. We need to interact with our prayer more.

There is a parallel that Shaykh Hamza Yusuf made with the prayer. I have no clue if it’s true or whatnot but I do think it’s beneficial so I’ll say it.

He said that the qiyam (the part of prayer when you are standing and you recite fatiha and whatnot) represents Islam. It represents the prayer.

The ruku (hands on your knees) represents iman, you are praising your Lord during that time.

The sujood (prostration with the head on the ground) represents Ihsan. This is the time when you are closest to your heart.

Also during the qiyaam, your mind is above your heart. In ruku, they are perfectly level and in sujood your heart is above your mind.

On Allahu Akbar:

Translation: God is the Greatest or God is Greater?

Both are true. However the latter is the better translation.

Think about it in terms of the prayer. Maybe you’re not completely concentrated. But you have to say “God is greater.”

God s greater than everything that is happening in your life at the moment.

If you’ve just gone through a crisis and you find it hard to concentrate in prayer, think about the fact that God is greater than all that.

After the ruku

Think about sujood. You are putting your face to the ground. This is worship. Islam really puts an emphasis on how your face really represents your dignity. Muslims are not allowed to strike the face of the opponent in war. No Muslim is allowed to ever strike face of another. Ever. Without exceptions.

So sujood really signifies how much we are humbling ourselves before our creator. We are nothing in comparison. We put our faces to the ground and we say “Glory be to God the highest of the high.”

The tashahud: It’s really nice to know the context of the tashahud.

During Israa and Miraj, we believe that the Prophet (May Allah bless him and give him peace) ascended to the heavens. He was walking through wondering how to adress Allah. We address each other as aslamu alaikom but Allah is al Salam. That is one of his names. So he said “Attahiyatu lilah Azzakiyatu lilah Attayibatus salawatu lilah”

Greetings to God, Righteous offerings to God. Best of Prayers to God.

Then Allah ta3ala responded back to the Prophet:

Assalamu alaika Ayyuha annabi. Peace be upon you O Prophet.

Then the Prophet(May Allah bless him and give him peace) said:assalamu alaina wa ala ilah asaliheen

Peace be upon us and upon God’s righteous slaves.

Of course our beloved (May Allah bless him and give him peace) didn’t forget his umma and included us.

The angels were watching this and then after seeing it said the shahada: “Asshadu inna la ilhaha ila Allah wahdahu la sharika lahu waashaddu anna muhamaddan abu wa rasoolu”

I testify that there is no God but God and that Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger.

Some tips to apply the Rule and help to concentrate in prayer:

  • Wudu-Use wudhu time to reflect on Allah swt. Don’t have conversations during wudu. The act of wudu has to do with cleanliness but that’s not all we use it for. It’s supposed to cleanse you to put you in a state of mind for the act of prayer. We all know that if there is no water available we can use earth so there is definitely more to wudu than cleanliness.
  • Know what you’re reciting! If you don’t know Arabic, quickly read through a translation of fatiha before you pray. This is the part of the quran where Allah teaches us how to make dua to him so know what you’re saying!
  • For people that do and don’t know Arabic- listen to a really good tafsir of surah fatiha or read a good tafsir. Knowing the translation is not really enough. Read the commentary if your translation of the Qu’ran has one. Even if you’ve already read one or taken a class on one, read it regularly to keep yourself refreshed. Sunnipath had a really good special with Shaykh Sohail Hanif on Surah Fatiha It is available on their website. I’ll post my notes from it shortly

Finally, I know that all of us might not have the time to prep for our prayer. In university, we have to rush to pray between classes etc. But you can remember Allah while running to the campus musalla. We should just try our best to get in the zone before we pray, so that our prayer benefits us.

This post is wayy longer than I intended it to be, so back to work.

Amina Wadud and Sparking Conversation and Dialogue

I know this is old news when there was the “historic” jumuah that a woman led. I know it’s way overkill to talk about this. No I don’t support what happened…
But I have to say one of the things that upset me about the Muslim community was the personal attacks that were being made against this woman. People got angry and made many personal attacks against her as a person. That’s not cool. While I don’t support women leading prayers, that’s still not cool.

But my post isn’t about this topic in general. It’s about using what happened as an example of sparking some type of conversation. All too often the most controversial posts on the blogosphere get the most commentary. Then the writer of the blog writes another well written, well thought out better post and it hardly gets any traffic. Why? (This is just general by the way.)

People tend to listen and leave their comments on very controversial posts with radical statements in them. But some excellent well-written posts get ignored because they might be more moderate.

So do we always need to see something extreme to spark discussion? Did Amina Wadud’s jumuah cause just that? If she would have just resorted to some mosque activism about letting women in mosques etc, would that have had the same effect as her radical move? I don’t know what her goal was at all but maybe it was to spark discussion about women in mosques and not have them be imams, but it took something like that to get people talking? Who knows?

A part of me thinks that she might have just added more wood to the fire (echó mas leña al fuego) because this got many Muslims very angry so it was kind of a shooting in the foot.

Do extreme acts make the most difference and spark the most discussion, or do they just aggravate the wound more and make things worse?

hmm. Just thinking and rambling.

By the way check out this great article at by UmmZaid and women and the mosque.

Still too blown away to type anything coherent


My head was really shook up this weekend!

Like really!

Dr. Jackson is a good paradigm breaker!

And he makes almost flawless analogies.

After I get over the shock and take in everything he’s said, I’ll post something coherent.

If Dr. Jackson comes to your town, go!!

Blown Away by Dr. Jackson this Weekend

I have gone to see Dr. Jackson more than four times. He always delivers and he always has something really intelligent to say.

But this weekend especially at the second day of the seminar, I was absolutely blown away.  There will be like a billion posts about this inshaAllah. But now I’m just at a loss for words.

Now, the way he did things was that everytime he explained a tidbit of seerah he jumped immediately to modern times and showed how that aspect of the seerah relates to us. So the notes might read incoherently. So I need to fix them up just a note for those who requested.



I’m like on super iman high. And my understanding of Quran and the Prophet May Allah bless him and give him peace has grown.

I can’t explain how mind blowing this weekend was. I think Dr. Jackson’s a genius. MashAllah

Let’s all pray for him and his family.

Good night!

Dr. Jackson Seerah Intensive at NYU- Medina

For the first time Dr. Jackson did the Medinese period of the Seerah. The Medinese part is tomorrow.

I took more than 15 pages of single spaced notes.

Should I make the notes available for download?

I can’t wait until the second part tomorrow. The man is brilliant!

MashaAllah, May Allah preserve him.

U.S. has become haven for war criminals, senator says

U.S has become a haven for war criminals.

This is disturbing.

Read the article here.

I am a Muslim Woman

Read this piece of Spoken word poetry performed last yeat by a Muslim woman. Very moving when heard performed:

Here’s the link to the original blog post.

My Spoken Word 

I’m passive, weak, uneducated
Veiled from head to toe
One of his four wives
Work in the kitchen all day
And spread my legs wide at night
That’s what you think, right?
Funny how the devil spreads ignorance amongst a “civilized people”
The Orientalist whispers in so many ears
To him, I’m the mistress of the harem
Black-hair, olive skin, eyes that glow, hips that don’t lie
Hold up
Sexual exploitation- There’s nothing exotic about that
I’m poor, cracked feet that never touched soft designer shoes
Dirty, hungry, cold, alone
I’m calling out for help, America save me from my fathers, my brothers, my backward culture, America–  save me from myself,
Let me tell you something
You don’t have to be a woman to hear my stories
But you have to be a woman to understand them
The blood that boils in my veins is the same as yours
My story is a testament of my struggle
My struggle is a testament of my faith
I am a Muslim woman
Muslim woman.
I made Prophets weak in the knees,
Fought alongside my man in war
Then went home to nurture my baby
Does that surprise you?
You say I need liberation
What do you call it?
Oh yeah…Furthering women’s rights in the Middle East
I have one thing to say to you
My liberation won’t come from the one who has oppressed me
Bringing me democracy
You think you’re really gonna send Condi
to tell me how to be free
But wait, I’m not here to play the blame game
Let’s make this more real
Not only do I take this hate from you
But I take it internally from the close-minded bigots of my own society
So my Muslim father tells me how to dress, but so does BCBG
So my Muslim brothers tell me how to act, but so does MTV
Yea… so it’s this double bind I face
When I realize that if I do what I want,
I won’t make anyone happy
Too good to be bad, too bad to be good
But wait, why this dichotomy
Since when did my identity become a zero sum game
Why do you insist on labeling me?
Putting me in boxes simple and easy only for you to understand
Countless books and movies dedicated to uncovering me instead of just letting me be
What’s in free will when my spiritual will isn’t allowed to be free
Just look at France and Turkey
“Unveiling the Muslim Woman”
Why don’t I unveil your sexist patriarchal ideology
Remember The golden rule—treat others how you’d like to be treated, if you’re so keen to educate then please be educated,
Enslaving not our bodies now but our minds,
Eating disorders and depression, no love and not that much attention
This equality talk is cheap and the price expensive
Using my body to sell everything from cigarettes to automotives,
Confusing my flesh for my spirit
Confusing my humanity as weakness 
When I say something in protest
Standing against trafficking, hunger, poverty, violence, you know “women’s” issues,
they brush it aside to…oh, she’s just a Femi-NAZI
So Don’t confuse my silence as submission
nor my covering for oppression
Don’t confuse my peaceful battle as lack of conviction
When you ask what sustains me
I say: not man, not America, But God, our God
Am I American, Kashmiri, or an ABCD,
On applications, I check none of the above, all of the above, some of the above, but ultimately

I am a Muslim woman.



 Go to the original post.

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