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Is this not discrimination?!

8 Mar

I read in an article that Hema, a shop in Genk, Belgium, fired one of its staff members today. The sole reason for this decision? The woman in question wears a headscarf. The management of the shop received a number of complaints from (narrow-minded) customers about her headscarf, and decided to get rid of her.

The woman is Belgian, and when she first started to work there, she didn’t wear a headscarf yet. Then she decided to wear it (i.e nobody obliged her). She did ask the management of the shop first if she would be allowed to work there with a headscarf, and they gave their permission. But apparently some narrow-minded people took offence and complained. The management changed their mind and asked her to take it off. She refused. Then they fired her.

I read the comments on the article, and they were almost all in favor of the decision that the shop made. What kind of society are we living in? Is this not paternalistic and discriminating? Is this not other people deciding what a woman can and cannot wear? And all this happened on international woman’s day! Or is this day only to promote respect for Western, non-Muslim women?

Since she’s Belgian, it’s not a case of “racism”, and no organisation is really bothered by it. But wait until a woman gets fired because she wears a mini-skirt, then the public will scream and protest that we are living in the 21st century and that a woman can now decide for herself what she wants to wear.
It’s not because you don’t understand why a woman would want to wear a headscarf, that it’s impossible that she does it out of her own free will. It seems that Belgian, or should I say Flemish society is moving away from being tolerant and open-minded, to a place where it’s perfectly acceptable to fire a person based on his/her religion. It scares me, and on the other hand, it makes me more determined than ever to wear headscarf myself and to fight for my rights as a Belgian citizen and human being!

 

We have a voice!

2 Mar

I watched “The King’s Speech” yesterday, and felt inspired by it. I’m sure most of you know the story. It’s about King George VI of Britain, who has a stammering problem. He feels very unsure about speaking in public, and about finding his voice really. Luckily he meets a man, Lionel Logue, who can help him with his problem and who becomes a true friend.

Maybe the same can be said about us Muslim women. Some of us are still stammering too, as in that we feel unsure about speaking up. So many decisions are made over our head. So many people claim to know what’s best for us. Enforcing the veil, banning the veil, locking us up in the house, trying to westernise us and making us appear half-naked on the street,…
But we are not dumb creatures who can’t look after ourselves. We have a voice and we can look after ourselves! No need to restrict us or to pity us.
We know exactly what Islam is about, and it’s not about being a prisoner or being oppressed! So stop trying to tell us what to do, and let us make our own decisions. Most of us WANT to wear the veil, because we believe it guards our modesty and dignity, and we are NOT forced.  Some of us are treated unfairly, but that’s despite of Islam and not because of it. We feel the injustice of that as much as you do, and we want a change!
And do you think the West is so much better? My friend who’s a convert got a lot of job offers, until they discovered she wore headscarf, then all of a sudden they weren’t interested anymore. Is that not discrimination or unfair? They say they want to liberate us, but instead they force us to stay at home or to take on lesser jobs just as much! In most schools in my country, the veil is now forbidden, while miniskirts are all over the place. Why can’t we wear what we want? We don’t have a bomb hidden underneath our veil. Who do we hurt with wearing a veil, except the narrow-minded racists?
We have a voice, and we will use it more and more. We know how the Prophet (p.b.u.h) instructed Muslim men to treat their women, and we will not accept anything less! Not from our fellow Muslims, and not from the West! You don’t have to agree with us, and we are not here to force you to become Muslim too. All we want is respect and freedom to let us be who we want to be, and to let us develop ourselves in the best way possible.
Maybe we are still stammering now, but like King George VI, we will find our voice and we will resist all the hostile forces surrounding us.

The Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him, said, “Women are the twin halves of men”

Once a woman came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, with a complaint against her husband. He told her: “There is no woman who removes something to replace it in its proper place, with a view to tidying her husband’s house, but that God sets it down as a virtue for her. Nor is there a man who walks with his wife hand-in-hand, but that God sets it down as a virtue for him; and if he puts his arm round her shoulder in love, his virtue is increased tenfold.”

Libya: Stop the Crackdown

24 Feb

From avaaz.org:

In Libya, Colonel Qaddafi’s armed forces are using machine guns and fighter jets against pro-democracy protesters — hundreds have already been killed and, without immediate international action, the situation could spiral into a national bloodbath.

The United Nations Security Council and the European Union are in emergency sessions on Libya this week. If we can pressure them to agree to a no-fly zone over Libya, a freeze of Qaddafi’s, his family’s and his high command’s assets, targeted sanctions against the regime, and international prosecution of any military officials involved in the crackdown — this could stop airforce bombings and split Qaddafi’s command structure.

We have no time to lose — the people of Libya are being slaughtered by government forces. Click to send a message directly to all the UNSC delegations, EU Foreign Ministers and the High Representative for the EU to stop the violence and share this with everyone — let’s inundate them with messages and spur them to action!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/libya_stop_the_crackdown_eu/97.php?cl_tta_sign=96300578f2b821a006a6c0b1c7b17124

 

 

Egypt belongs to its people!

3 Feb

A lot has been written and said about the revolution in Egypt. Some in favor, some complaining about the loss of power they are experiencing. There can be no excuse for the latter. I read an article about Israel being angry with the US because they didn’t support Mubarak. Israel clearly wants Mubarak to stay in power, and that purely out of self-interest. Maybe in the old world, this kind of attitude would have been rewarded, but I’m having the feeling that we, the people, are creating a new world. The Tunisians and the Egyptians gave everyone hope. And we must hold on to that hope, and support these kind of revolutions in every way we can. We mustn’t let the old powers take over again. I think a lot of superpowers are afraid of people standing up for their rights, and will try to do everything they can, whether openly or behind the screens, to prevent this. But we are not isolated from each other anymore. We have the media, the internet, mobile phones etc, and we are not blind.

I took a class this semester called “History of International Relations”. We learned about the Congress of Vienna (1815) after the defeat of Napoleon. This congress was designed to keep the status quo in Europe and to suppress revolutions. That’s right, we were in that place too once upon a time. They designed a system that would help the monarchies keep their power, as instability was seen as very dangerous for Europe (or should we say for the power of the people in charge in Europe). But just as we see today in the Middle East, where the dictators are trying to cling to the status quo of their power, and the people will not take it anymore, the same pattern happened in the history of Europe. There were no less than 3 waves of revolutions during the 19th century (1820-1830-1848), which spread all over Europe like wildfire.

Of course the world is very different now from how it was in the 19th century, but I do think that this proves that suppressed people will not be suppressed forever, no matter how the superpowers try to keep them there. I pray for the people of Egypt, that they may succeed in chasing Mubarak and his regime away, and that they will be able to build a democracy, that responds to their needs. I pray that Egypt will experience prosperity, and true freedom. Freedom to speak up, to fight injustice, and to stand against other countries trying to impose their interests. I pray that the selfish, greedy attitude of countries like Israel will no longer have a place in this world, because people will not accept it anymore. Egypt has given us hope, and we must do everything in our power to not let it go to waste.

Why I am a vegetarian

13 Jan

“I am a very strict vegetarian…I just really really love animals, and I act on my values. I am really against cruelty to animals.”

-Natalie Portman

“If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat.”

-Sir Paul McCartney

I’ve always felt a tremendous fondness for animals,whether it’s a cat, a cow or a horse. They are so innocent. They are not affected by human’s greed and evil. They don’t judge you based on how pretty you are (which happens a lot in human society), but based on the kindness and warmth you carry on the inside. A lot of times, they are a better judge of character than we are! I believe they have a lot of wisdom and things to teach us, if we would only look past our belief of being superior to them.

Some people still consider animals as soulless and without feelings. I cannot imagine a statement more wrong and ignorant than that.

There have been times in my life when I loved animals more than humans. Humans disappointed me with their cruelty and selfishness, and I found comfort in the sensitivity, gentleness and kindness animals were capable of.
I respect the earth and the creatures living on it. I even find it hard to kill a fly, and I try to avoid killing anything as much as possible.

I’m against the way a lot of animals are only treated as  meat. They are born in a small cage, force-fed, and then slaughtered without perhaps even ever having seen daylight.  How anyone can do this to a living being is beyond my imagination. Do people realise what they eat? Do people realise that the animal they are eating might have been treated in a cruel way?
You might say that animals in the wild are eaten too, by other animals. That’s true, of course, but at least they were born in the wild, and not in cages, and they had a chance to escape. A lion will only kill when he’s hungry, while mankind kills for profit. Not only for food, but also for clothes, bags, luxuries,… Just from the indifference people show towards animals and how they mistreat them, you can tell that there is something very wrong with the world.

When I was in Turkey last summer, we were on a guided trip, and apparently it’s a policy of the Turkish government that tourists on guided trips have to visit two Turkish companies. One of the companies we visited was a leather and fur company. The man who did the introduction was proudly telling us how the fur they produced was only from real animals like cats, foxes, rabbits etc.  Oh, how I hated that guy and wanted to reduce him to dust with my gaze. They even did a bloody fashion show after that! Really, tell me, am I the only one who is enraged by the fact that animals are killed (and sometimes skinned alive) for a stupid coat?

Some of my muslim friends told me that I can’t be a vegetarian and a Muslim at the same time, and even tried to hush me when I criticised the slaughter of animals.  I strongly disagree with them. Since when is eating meat obliged in Islam? It’s not. And although Islam allows humans to eat meat, the killing of animals should be done with the utmost consideration to their well-being.  Islam teaches us to be kind and merciful towards all creatures on earth. Islam does not tell us to mistreat and abuse animals, on the contrary! Don’t believe me? Let’s just look at the following hadiths and Quran verses:

“The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked by his companions if kindness to animals was rewarded in the life hereafter. He replied: “Yes, there is a meritorious reward for kindness to every living creature.” (Bukhari)

“There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings-but they are communities like you.” (The Quran, 6:38)

“The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) admonished: ‘Avoid the seven abominations (sins), and for one of the sins he recited the following verse of the Quran: “And kill not a living creature, which Allah has made sacrosant, except for a justifiable reason’.” (Al-Tirmidhi and Al-Nasai);(The Quran, 6:151 and 17:33)

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘One who kills even a sparrow or anything smaller, without a justifiable reason, will be answerable to Allah.’ When asked what would be a justifiable reason, he replied: ‘to slaughter it for food-not to kill and discard it’.” (Ahmad an al-Nasai)

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) told of a prostitute who, on a hot summer day, saw a thirsty dog hovering around a well, lolling his tongue. She lowered her socks down the well and watered the dog. Allah forgave all her sins (for this one act of kindness).” (Muslim)

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) narrated a vision in which he saw a woman being chastised after death because she had confined a cat during her life on earth without feeding and watering it, or even letting it free so it could feet itself.” (Muslim)

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade the beating, or the branding of animals. Once he saw a donkey branded on its face and said: ‘may Allah condemn the one who branded it’.” (Muslim)

The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “it is a great sin for man to imprison those animals which are in his power’.”(Muslim)

Ibn ‘Umar reported the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) as having condemned those who mutilate any part of an animal’s body while it is alive. (Ahmad and other authorities)

On religious sacrifice of animals: “Their flesh will never reach Allah, nor their blood-but your devotion and piety will reach Him.” (The Quran, 22:37)

And here are two sites that deal with being vegetarian ànd Muslim:

www.islamicconcerns.com

http://vegetarianmuslim.org/

And here is the link to the Peta vegetarian recipe database! 🙂

http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/recipes/default.aspx

World: wake up!

24 Dec

If there is one subject I feel very strongly about, it is the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the way the world turns a blind eye to it.  Sometimes it makes me want to open my window and scream, for it seems the moon is the only superpower that will hear me. Ok, the jews have been discriminated for centuries, and the nazi’s did some horrible things to them. I’m aware of this, and I feel very sorry and angry that this happened to them. But why does that give the right to Israel to do horrible things to another people? Haven’t they learned what it’s like to suffer? They know what it’s like to be oppressed, so why would they want the Palestinians to go through the same thing?
If you hurt another being out of ignorance, that’s bad, but if you hurt another being and take away his right, while you are fully aware of what it feels like, that is just too terrible for words.  And the countries who help them, or stand there and just do nothing, are just as guilty!
The Palestinians deserve their own country, anyone who has a bit of common sense can see that! It frustrates me and pains me that Israel can oppress them like that, and get away with it, time and time again! But when the Palestinians try to stand up for themselves and defend themselves, then all of a sudden the world rises from its seemingly deep sleep, to yell and scream and call them “terrorists”. There isn’t a more lethal, damaging slogan than “Israel has the right to defend itself”. Israel has been given too many rights, and it has to end. There is no excuse for being inhumane and cruel to others! Can’t people just forget their greed and economics for one second, and think about what is the right thing to do?!
We really need to open our eyes to what is going on in the world, and make a stand. There is so much injustice going on. We can’t afford to remain passive and just let the superpowers take what they want without consideration for anyone but themselves. I believe we as normal people can change something, if only a human life. We can start small, it doesn’t matter. As long as we are moving out of this state of indifference, towards compassion and justice. And if enough people are waking up and taking action, then, at last, we can change the world, and there will be no more room for selfishness and greed.
Hey, if you don’t have dreams, how can they come true?