Crimes in the name of Islam

My mum and my friend R were discussing a movie over Sunday breakfast. R had made us a typical Lebanese breakfast with fatteh, ful and hoummus and halaweh. I must admit I was concentrating on the food and feeding the kids and not on their conversation. I hadn’t watched the movie but once my belly was full, I paid attention to what they were saying.

They were talking in code to avoid saying the word prostitute in front of the kid’s and me being blonde, it took me awhile to cotton on. Apparently it’s an Indian movie and the daughter moved city and became a prostitute because she needed to support her family. Besides the fact that she became a prostitute they didn’t give much other details. My mum was saying that this girl didn’t have a choice and R was saying everyone does and that she should never have gone down that path and once she did, she should have stopped and used the money to do something else.

The reason for my post is not to go into the movie, ‘cos even though I didn’t watch the movie I had an opinion on the story.

I was saying to them that when you come from a belief system and a family that believes that sex before marriage is either forbidden or unacceptable, then committing the act has two effects on people. They either, feel guilty and vow to change and truly move on from that or they condemn themselves. Along with the condemnation comes the belief that they are a “slut” and are not worthy of anything “good”. They slip into self-destruct mode and they keep repeating the behaviour.

It got them thinking and somehow the conversation turned eventually to people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and other women who have spoken out against Islam and it’s so called Ill treatment of women. My mum was saying she is quite sick of Islam getting the bad name when it’s just a few men out there who do things like this and that these women should not be condemning Islam about this.

I knew my comments were going to deeply offend my mother and could possibly offend alot of Muslims but I understand where these women are coming from. Surprisingly my mother didn’t fall off her chair.

Believers in Islam come from all over the world, with different practices and understanding of the religion. When we put things into perspective and look at the injustices of these women’s lives and the fact that it was done by men, usually men close to them and in places where it was condoned by the version of Islam practiced there. When I think of it like that then I understand how the religion gets blamed. I know it’s not Islam and you might know that but when your abuser keeps saying I can do this because God gives me the right, then logically when I get over the fact that according to the abuser I will be condemned to hell, I’ll turn around and hate both the Abuser and his God.

We have to face the fact that people do things that are unacceptable in Islam. We have to accept that these things happen and we have to stop covering it up. As human beings, we have an obligation to say yeah, this happens and it’s unacceptable and that it is not ordained in the religion and then educate about what Islam is.

I am over the cover up.

A lot of men dominate and abuse in the name of Islam. This must stop and the way it will stop is for us as a community to rat these people out and expose them. Too many men believe that Islam gives them rights over women, be it their mothers, daughters or wives. As women we need to raise our sons to behave differently and as men we need to set a good example to the younger men out there. As a community we must say NO.

When the “West” says that there are unequal rights between men and women in Islam, we all get on our high horse and get deeply offended, me firstly. It’s in recent times I have had to sit back and look at the examples that they have of Islam. Let’s take Saudi for example, Saudi is meant to be run by Shariah, it should be running according to Islamic Law and yet it falls short on too many occasions. So for me, before I get on my high horse, I need to start to change things in my own community first.

Recently we had a march against the illegal state of Israel and there were a few speeches before the march. This guy was shouting SHAME SHAME ISRAEL! and the crowd shouted after him and he listed their crimes and he shouts SHAME, SHAME SAUDI for a comment made by a Saudi spokesperson on the situation in Gaza and the crowd went crazy shouting and condemning Saudi and the guy continued on and says, SHAME ON SAUDI WHO DON”T TREAT WOMEN EQUALLY and the crowd went silent. I can’t exactly remember what he said but it had to do with women voting and the crowd who was deafening two minutes ago went silent for two non-Muslims and myself. People turned to look at me, I betrayed the Muslims.

I didn’t, facts are facts. We need to stop pretending to the outside world that we are perfect, we are not perfect because we are Muslims and we need to face this. Islam is perfect, but Muslims are human, humans who err.

We had a community meeting of mainly Imams with a government agency awhile back and it was being discussed that domestic violence in the community is a problem that needs to be addressed. The Imams sat in silence or said we don’t have such a problem in our community. One Imam decided to speak out, he spoke out about how Muslim Women hit their husbands and that it is a problem that we need to face. You might even think this is a joke but he sat there straight faced and said one man came to him crying because his wife wanted to stab him and this needs to be addressed. Don’t get me wrong, women can abuse men but FFS! My jaw dropped. I was stunned into silence for a good few minutes before I gave them all a piece of my mind which again gave me disapproving looks that would have killed me if looks could kill.

I do understand that it is better to cover the sins of your brother- I think thats a human quality that is good. I see that though, as me covering up the mistakes that my friend has made by not shaming her, we all make mistakes. I think though, that whenwe are addressing something wrong in the collective, there is no need for the white sheets to come out.

If we don’t admit to the problems we face in the community, then we never going to be able to find solutions. I want our leaders to stop burying their heads in the sand, I want them to stop interpreting religion to suit their wicked chauvinistic ideals and I want them to start addressing problems we face in the community so that injustice in the name of Islam can stop. I, for one am sick of it.

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