The reason progressive leftists like myself have such difficulty recognizing these aspects of Islamic revival movements, I think, owes in part to our profound disease with the appearance of religion outside of the private space of individualized belief. For those with well honed secular liberal and progressive sensibilities, the slightest eruption of religion into the public domain is frequently experienced as a dangerous affront, one that threatens to subject us to a normative morality dictated by mullahs and priests. This fear is accompanied by a deep self-assurance about the truth of the progressive secular imaginary, one that assumes that the life forms it offers are the best way out for these unenlightened souls, mired as they are in the spectral hopes that gods and prophets hold out to them. Within our secular epistemology, we tend to translate religious truth as force, a play of power that can be traced back to the machinations of economic and geopolitical interests.
I am certainly glossing over a number of different complications for the sake of brevity here, but what I want to communicate is the profound sense of dissatisfaction I have come to feel about my ability, as well as the ability of those I have shared a long trajectory of political struggle with, to understand how it is that the language of Islam has come to apprehend the aspirations of so many people around the Muslim world. I have come to question our conviction, however well intentioned, that other forms of human flourishing and life worlds are necessarily inferior to the solutions we have devised under the ban.. ner of “secular left” politics-as if there is a singularity of vision that unites us under this banner, or as if the politics we so proudly claim has not itself produced some spectacular human disasters. This self questioning does not mean that I have stopped struggling or fighting against the injustices-whether they pertain to issues of gender, ethnicity, class, or sexuality-that currently compound my social existence. What it does mean is that I have come to believe that a certain amount of self-scrutiny and skepticism is essential regarding the certainty of my own political commitments, when trying to understand the lives of others who do not necessarily share these commitments.
I have spent the past hour and half trying to find magazines in the US for Arab or Muslim Women. So far, I have found nothing. Either the magazines are no longer produced or simply aren’t sold and distributed in America. When I did find some fashion magazines for Arab Women that were in English I was disappointed to find that all of the pictures used to talk about beauty tips, fashion and hair accessories were not only NOT Arab women but instead they opted to use generic pictures featuring white women.
I’ve been dying to find some kind of representation of Arab women in magazines— something I could look at and resonate with on a personal level. Even if I’m not that into fashion I want to be able to say that I can buy a magazine and find women like me on the cover. No such luck. Very disheartening. I’m going to go cry now.
One of the things that I dislike so much about our desi culture is the twisted understanding of who constitutes a mehram, or a complete lack of understanding thereof. Your cousins are NOT your mehrams. “But we grew up together. He’s like my older/little brother!” No, he’s not. Who are you trying to delude? Your dad’s or mom’s cousin whom you call ‘chacha’ or ‘mamu’ are not your mehrams like your dad’s and mom’s real brothers. Your maternal and paternal aunt’s husbands are not your mehrams. Your dad’s best friend who treats you like his own daughter doesn’t become a mehram like your dad either. Don’t let him pat your head. Oh, and the big one, your brother in laws are NOT your mehrams even if they are “temporarily” haram for you in marriage. You are supposed to do hijab in front of him. This one annoys me the most, especially because of all the cheap desi jokes associated with being a “saali” (wife’s sister) and stupid traditions rampant in our society, mostly adopted from Hindu culture (eg: holding your brother-in-law’s little finger while coercing him to give out money to all the bride’s sisters during the wedding). These are acts of fahsha, indecency and have no room in Islam. All these non-mehrams in our immediate family and social circle are just as much non-mehrams for us as the random stranger walking down the street. In fact, we should be most cautious around them when it comes to preserving our modesty and observing hijab since our interaction with them happens more frequently, and there is greater room for fitnah and for Shaytan to cause us to slip. Allah swt has clearly laid down the injunctions in Quran about how to guard our modesty and who constitutes a mehram. Ignorance is no excuse.
“Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” Surah Nur, 30-31.
There’s a new petition taking off on Change.org, and we think you might be interested in signing it:Sign Kutibh’s Petition
Started by: Kutibh, Burlington, Vermont
For a family to be denied service and be forcibly locked out of a restaurant in the 21st century because of their faith is not only unacceptable, but harmful to the fabric of our society and a flagrant hate-crime.
“Mohammad Husain and his wife were looking for a bite to eat and a nice place to relax when they stopped in last month at a Shreveport, La. Subway owned by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA). But that visit soon turned turbulent, Husain told TPM recently, when he found himself locked out of the Subway franchise and his wife locked inside with an employee telling them they were not welcome there because they were Muslim.” - TPM
It is unacceptable to see this type of discrimination committed against two innocent Americans trying to have a typical family meal at a Subway. Even more inexcusable is Subway’s unwillingness to investigate the hate-crime. The Shreveport Police Department also has yet to return calls to investigate the situation even after Mohammad Husain had called 911 after his wife was locked inside the restaurant. Instead, he was patted down and searched by the officer as if he was a suspected terrorist. We demand that both Subway and the Shreveport Police Department as well as Rep. John Fleming who own’s this Subway franchise investigate the incident and issue respective reprimands to the employees involved.
1. Please sign the petition to send a message that this is unacceptable behavior from their employees, and to demand that an investigation be started
2. File a Complaint with Subway by calling 800-888-4848
3. Demand the Shreveport Police Department begin an investigation by calling (318) 673-7300
You can also check out other popular petitions on Change.org by clicking here.