A Response to Yasmin Mogahed’s Article Against Female-Led Prayer

Since the article by Yasmin Mogahed where she argues against female-led prayer (google it) has been making rounds again and it has some misleading and false statements, here’s a response to it, point by point. Collectively written by me, Zahra K., and someone else. Yasmin Mogahed’s points are in red, and our responses follow. Please note that this post is only a response to Mogahed’s claims and not entirely on female-led prayer. For an article on female-led prayer and how Islam does actually permit it, please click here (it includes references – and I’m gonna link to this a few times below because).

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a song for Afghan refugees in Pakistan: Pekhawara Afghanan che khapa na krre by Naghma

With Pakistan evicting some 600,000 Afghan refugees by the end of this year alone, this song, sung by Naghma in 2011 (I think?), is so real and relevant it’s heartbreaking. Song is at the bottom of the lyrics. The Pashto is in Green (one of my favorite colors, yay!). Immense thanks to T. A. S. for helping with translation of a couple of lines/words I was struggling with.
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Why are women so picky when it comes to marriage/relationships?

This is disturbing, so don’t read further if you will be triggered.

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Menstruation, Ramadhan, and the Muslim Woman: beyond the whole “it’s a break from prayer/fasting!”

This post was inspired in part by a vibrant discussion on Facebook at this FITNA group. (FITNA = Feminist Islamic Troublemakers of North America). Both the  discussion and the group are public intentionally, and we invite readers and participants in the group from all over the world.

If it were mere exemption, if it were a mercy, if it were a break, you would still have that option to OPT OUT of the exemption if you wanted; you’d have the option to say, “Aww, I really appreciate this! But, hey, since it’s Ramadhan, and Ramadhan comes only once a year, I’m going to go ahead and continue praying and fasting and everything. But I’ll take you up on the exemption thingie when it’s not Ramadhan, especially during the first couple of days of my period. Those days are the worst, ugh. I’m totally willing to just chill in my bed, wrapping my body around myself while I’m suffering from pain, thanking God that I don’t have to get up and do wudhu and pray. Although, come to think of it, the more merciful thing to do here would be to NOT declare my prayer invalid while I’m menstruating.”

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How Not to Talk about Haruka Weiser

EDIT: Since this piece has received an unexpected level of attention, perhaps a disclaimer is appropriate. (Note that this is a personal blog run by one individual absolutely not okay with any sort of bigotry, especially against minorities.) With the emails, messages, comments, and tweets I’ve received, a lot of white people are offended by my use of what are apparently “absolutes.” The irony! (Because you know, orientalism, colonialism, and other such realities POC still have to live with – and orientalist and empty representations of especially Muslims and Middle Easterners and Africans in western understandings of the peoples of these regions.) I’m obviously not claiming that all white people are evil to all people of color (I mean, what?). This blog turns the tables and privileges people of color, their voices, their concerns, their experiences. So if you’re a white individual offended by anything I’ve written below, I’m actually not sorry at all because the only reason you’d be offended is that you expected I’m talking about all white people, and since you’re not a bigot, I should take that into consideration. Well, except, no. You don’t get a pat on the back for not being a bigot.

Understand that it is your white privilege speaking when you expect me to reiterate my point so that it doesn’t “generalize” all white people (?). It is your privilege speaking when you expect me to explain myself (or any person of color) over and over and over so you can understand it. When you expect people of color to serve your ego.  This blog is not the place for apologies to white people. If you take issues with that, there are plenty of other spaces where white people’s egos are served.

So if you’re a white person offended by what I’ve written below, here are some suggestions: 1) Look up the hashtag #StopWhitePeople2016, and 2) go be friends with at least 30 people of color. 30 might not be enough, either, but it’s a good start. This way, you won’t be able to say, “But my one black friend is okay with my use of the N word!” Or “My Asian friend says Asian people are like X.”

Why can’t white people just, just shut up for once and listen? (Again, #notallwhitepeople! We know!)

But nonetheless, just to clarify: The whole point of the piece below is to discuss white hypocrisy and limit it specifically to the demonization of all black people when the suspected criminal is a black man (and this holds true for the race/religion/etc. of other POC criminals, too – like attacking Islam or Muslims for the crimes of individual Muslims, or highlighting the individual’s religion and race in the discussion of the crime when the person is not white. And for literally jusifying the crimes when the person is white because he had mental health issues at the time of the crime. And I point out the status of the mental health of the black suspect in custody for Haruka’s crime, and you are not okay with that? And you act like I care that you’re not okay with that?)

And to say that the murder of Haruka Weiser (may she rest in peace) is not permission for you to be racist or say, “See, see, this is why black people shouldn’t be living” or “this is why Black Lives Matter has no purpose.”

If you read any of what’s below to mean that I don’t care about Haruka Weiser or that her murder was justified in any way at all (God forgive me for saying this – as we say in Arabic, astaghfirullah for this suggestion alone), you didn’t read the thing at all; and if that’s what you choose to believe, you’ll believe it even if there’s evidence to the contrary. Fine, you stay that way.

Funny that People of Color have shared this piece many, many times, and I’ve received a lot of support from them for it. My own white friends also appreciate it. (See?) But many other white people are coming to tell me this is an inappropriate piece. If only I cared about your ego.

Bye now.
This is really painful to write and talk about. But, given the response to the murder, I feel compelled to write it in criticism of the racism and other bigotry that so many people are displaying while attempting to express their anger and grief over the murder of an innocent young white (actually mixed) woman killed allegedly by a young black homeless teen diagnosed with autism, depression, and schizophrenia.
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On Pashto Names, “Ruining proper Islamic” Names, and Self-Hatred

Pashto meme 1On refusing to give your kids names in your language and instead giving them Arabic ones (nothing against this – I’ve a point; read on, please) because of the way your language is structured and your “pagan/haram/backward” language turns “proper, beautiful Islamic” (read: Arabic) names into wrong ones. Because ignorance and self-hatred and politics and minority statuses and so on.

There’s a complicated history of the status of Pashto (and other minority languages) in Pakistan and the reasons why Pukhto names aren’t very popular among certain generations of Pukhtuns, but I currently don’t have the time to get into the political side of things. I will soon, I promise! (Unless someone else gets to it, first … which I hope they do!)

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On Al-Jazeera’s “Muslim women breaking stereotypes”: the obsession with the Muslim woman’s body as a site of resistance

Can we end these discussions that claim to “prove” that “Muslim women” are challenging “stereotypes”? (Apologies to reader for the constant quotation use – I clearly have a lot of problems with this sort of discussion.) It’s the same reason I find the idea of viewing the Muslim woman’s body as a constant site of resistance unaccrptable. That is, this profound idea goes, Muslim women constantly seem to be resisting something or another, and the Al-Jazeera discussion on their breaking stereotypes is a part of that resistance conversation I find so troubling and frustrating. And old. (See the comments under the Al-Jazeera linked post. I like what Amina Wadud says there in a comment: “Fabulous…as long as you don’t start ANOTHER false stereotype, that only young Muslim women are breaking barriers. Or maybe it’s just because these ladies are so attractive as well. Good on them.” Someone named Danya Shakfeh also writes some thoughts worth reflecting on.) Instead of challenging the underlying reasons because of which these assumptions about Muslim women exist, we’re actually and ironically reinforcing the stereotypes when we give the Muslim-women-haters examples here and there of why they’re wrong.

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The Babarra Massacre of August 12, 1948: Translation and Background of Pashto Song “Margiya Ma Raza Darzama”

The short version of what follows


What happened on August 12, 1948 in Charsadda [EDIT: it’s been brought to my attention that this photo is NOT of the Babarra massacre but of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (against Sikhs) of 1919.]

On August 12, 1948, two days before Pakistan was to celebrate the first anniversary of its creation (August 14, 1947), the Pakistani government  attacked and killed over 600 Pashtuns during a peaceful demonstration against the unjust imprisonment of several Pashtun leaders demanding justice for Pashtuns. This took place in a town called Babarra in Charasadda, Pakhtunkhwa. Hardly anyone knows about this massacre and Pakistan doesn’t want to acknowledge it; such denial on Pakistan’s part and the ignorance on Pakistanis’, including Pashtuns’, part is unacceptable. We can’t bring the dead back, and we can’t heal the wounded, but there’s a reason history is important. It’s especially unhelpful that Pashtuns don’t know about it because that’s a part of the deliberate attempts on Pakistan’s part to keep Pashtuns as ignorant of their history as possible. I have my theories about why this is so (e.g., aware Pashtuns as a threat to Pakistan), but we’ll talk about that another time.

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What It’s Like Being a Pashtun Woman on Social Media – Story 4: when men send you porn to try to silence you

Continuing our series on Pashtun women’s experiences with social media / what it’s like being a Pashtun woman on good ol’ internet. (The other stories are linked at the bottom of this post. PLEASE read the Introduction to the series so you understand why I choose to focus on Pashtuns and not on other people. No, harassment and intimidation have no race, I know that.) Note that one of the following ladies’ harassers has been identified and his Facebook is linked; another of her harassers, a Hamza Jahed, is also linked with his Facebook – and a quick visit to Hamza’s FB page proves the man’s hypocrisy: he’s got pictures of the Qur’an with Allah’s name here and there! I believe in naming and shaming to death all men like this.

Quoting verbatim in italics.

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What It’s Like Being a Pashtun Woman on Social Media – Story 3: on public identity, marriage proposals, unwanted requests

Continuing our series on Pashtun women’s experiences with social media / what it’s like being a Pashtun woman on good ol’ internet. (The other stories are linked at the bottom of this post. PLEASE read the Introduction to the series so you understand why I choose to focus on Pashtuns and not on other people. No, harassment and intimidation have no race, I know that.)
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