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English 10 Cultures Project Sources

  • need 7 sources in total:
    • 2 history and traditions
    • 3 articles about current events
    • 2 listing potential solutions


One: The Islamic Era Article

EBSCOhost The Islamic Era. Subject(s): INDIA -- History; INDIANS -- Religion; ISLAM -- India; MUSLIMS; RELIGIONS Geographic Terms: INDIA Author(s): Patel, Mohammad Source: Muslims in India: The Growth & Influence of Islam in the Nations of Asia & Central Asia, 2007, p26 Document Type: Book Chapter Abstract: This chapter features the history of Islam in India. At about the time King Harsha was consolidating his control in northern India, a religious and political struggle was beginning on the Arabian Peninsula. Out of that struggle emerged a faith, Islam, which would spawn powerful political empires and have a major influence on the course of Indian history. The remarkable expansion of Islam in such a relatively short period can be explained by several factors. First, Muslim armies were fierce, well organized, and highly motivated. Second, for many people the tenets of Islam held considerable appeal. A Muslim in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, bows toward Mecca in prayer. He is among the more than 135 million Indians who follow the Islamic faith. Accession Number: 21167297 ISBN: 1590-848810 Lexile: 1130 Persistent link to this record: Database History Reference Center

The Islamic Era

(missing pictures)

At about the time King Harsha was consolidating his control in northern India, a religious and political struggle was beginning more than 2,000 miles (3,220km) to the west, on the Arabian Peninsula. Out of that struggle emerged a new faith, Islam, which would spawn powerful political empires and have a major influence on the course of Indian history.

Muslim pilgrims pray before the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Before the triumph of the prophet Muhammad and his followers in A.D. 630, this ancient shrine--which Muslims believe was constructed by the patriarch Abraham and his son Ishmael and which they consider the holiest place on earth--contained pagan idols. The Prophet

Islam's roots lie in Mecca, a town in the mountainous Hejaz region of the western Arabian Peninsula. Located in a ravine at the crossroads of important caravan routes, Mecca was, by the sixth century A.D., a prosperous trading center. It was also an important destination for religious pilgrims, who flocked to Mecca to worship the many idols housed in a cube-like shrine known as the Kaaba. Arabs at this time were polytheistic; they worshiped several hundred gods and goddesses.

Islam's founder, Muhammad, was born in Mecca around 570. His tribe, the Quraysh, effectively functioned as Mecca's ruling class; the tribe controlled the Kaaba shrine and included the town's leading merchants. Muhammad's father died before the boy's birth; six years later, when his mother died, Muhammad became an orphan. He was raised by an uncle, Abu Talib.

Muhammad tended sheep and worked as a camel driver during his youth. He gained a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness, qualities that attracted the attention of a wealthy Meccan widow named Khadija, for whom Muhammad worked as a caravan agent. In 595, when Muhammad was about 25 years old and Khadija 40, they married.

Muhammad settled into the life of a merchant, but be was distressed at the idolatrous religious practices of his fellow Arabs and at the way wealthy Meccans treated the poor. Over the years, he retreated periodically to a cave on nearby Mount Hira in order to contemplate. Muslims believe that there, around 610, Muhammad received the first of what would be a lifelong series of revelations from Allah (the Arabic word for "God"), conveyed by the angel Gabriel. These revelations would later be transcribed as the Qur'an (also spelled Koran), Islam's holy scripture.

Initially, Muhammad shared his revelations only with Khadija and a small group of close friends and relatives. By 612, however, he had begun preaching Allah's message more openly. This led to conflict with Mecca's Quraysh leaders and merchants, for what Muhammad had to say directly threatened their privileged status.

Islam fundamentally challenged the status quo in Mecca first because of its monotheism. Muhammad said that there is but one God, and that everyone must submit to His will (the word Islam comes from an Arabic term meaning "submission" or "surrender"). In polytheistic Mecca, this proposition contradicted people's basic religious beliefs. But it also had significant economic implications: if pagan idols were not to be worshiped, the Quraysh stood to lose the considerable money they made from pilgrims to the Kaaba. Furthermore, Muhammad preached that the rich had an obligation to treat the poor with respect--and must even share some of their wealth with the less fortunate.

As more people--particularly among the lower classes--were attracted to Muhammad's message and became Muslims ("those who surrender" to God), Mecca's leaders took steps to contain Islam. They passed laws forbidding all social and business relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. This caused great hardship for the Muslims, some of whom were unable to earn a living and starved to death. More violent forms of persecution followed. Muslims were beaten and sometimes even murdered. A plot was hatched to kill Muhammad.

Finally, in 622, Muhammad and his followers fled to the town of Yathrib, located about 210 miles (338 km) north of Mecca. This event, known as the Hijra, is conventionally said to mark the beginning of the Islamic era.

In Yathrib, Muhammad and his followers established the first Muslim community and built the first mosque. The town was soon renamed Madinat al-Nabi ("City of the Prophet"). Today it is known in English as Medina.

Tensions between the Muslims and the Meccans persisted even though the two groups were now separated by hundreds of miles of desert. Warfare erupted in 624 when Muhammad led a 300-man force against a Meccan caravan in what became known as the Battle of Badr. Though the Meccans enjoyed a three-to-one numerical advantage, the Muslims triumphed. Over the next few years, the fighting continued intermittently. As more Arab tribes converted to Islam, the advantage swung to the Muslim forces. In 630, defeated and dispirited, Mecca surrendered to Muhammad, and most of the town converted voluntarily to Islam.

A page from the Qur'an, Islam's sacred scripture. Muslims believe the Qur'an contains the actual words of Allah (God) as revealed to the prophet Muhammad.

(Above) This painting depicts the Hijra, the exodus of Muhammad's followers from Mecca in A.D. 622. The embattled group settled in the oasis town of Yathrib, north of Mecca. (Right) After the Hijra, Muhammad and his followers established--and successfully defended--the first Islamic society. Yathrib was renamed Madinat al-Nabi ("City of the Prophet"); today it is better known to English-speakers as Medina. This photo shows Medina's Prophet's Mosque, whose initial construction dates to the year 622. The Spread of Islam

At the time of Muhammad's death in 632, Islam had spread across the Arabian Peninsula. Within a century a vast Islamic empire had been established. In the west, it streched across North Africa and into Europe's Iberian Peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal); in the east it encompassed what is today called the Middle East and reached into Central Asia.

The remarkable expansion of Islam in such a relatively short period can be explained by several factors. First, Muslim armies were fierce, well organized, and highly motivated. They won much territory for Islam by the sword. Second, for many people the tenets of Islam held considerable appeal. Islam's values are egalitarian and its rituals relatively simple and straightforward; Islam emphasizes the believer's direct relationship with God rather than requiring the performance of esoteric rituals or the intercession of a specialized clergy. Anyone can become a Muslim by making a simple profession of faith, called the shahada ("There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger"), and following a few basic duties of believers. In addition to the shahada, the fundamental obligations of the faithful, or Five Pillars of Islam, are salat, prayers performed rive times daily; zakat, the giving of a portion of one's wealth to charity; sawm, fasting between dawn and dusk during the holy month of Ramadan; and hajj, a ritual pilgrimage to Mecca, which all believers who are able must undertake at least once in their lifetime. As the Islamic empire expanded, many people who came under its rule willingly converted because of Islam's spiritual appeal. For pagan peoples, however, the choice was frequently between conversion and death (even though the Qur'an forbids forced conversion). While Jewish and Christian subjects were generally not compelled to convert, they did have to pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and were considered dhimmi, protected (if in many ways second-class) citizens. Economic considerations thus spurred some Christians and Jews to become Muslims.

A Muslim in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, bows toward Mecca in prayer. He is among the more than 135 million Indians who follow the Islamic faith. Islam on the Indian Subcontinent

Islam is believed to have first reached the Indian Subcontinent around the middle of the seventh century, with seafaring Arabs who traded in the region of Sind, in present-day southern Pakistan. In 711, ostensibly in response to the piracy of an Arab vessel, the Muslim governor of Iraq launched an invasion of Sind. The Arab forces crossed Baluchistan (in present-day western Pakistan), swept into the Indus Valley, and overwhelmed the area's Hindu rajas, or rulers. Initially, Hindus who refused to convert were killed; later they were granted dhimmi status.

For more than two centuries Islamic control on the Indian Subcontinent was largely limited to Sind. In the late 10th century, however, Muslim armies crossed the rugged mountains of Afghanistan and thrust into northwestern India, inaugurating a period of raiding and, eventually, conquest and consolidation that brought the Punjab region under Muslim control.

The first raid from Afghanistan was conducted in 986 by Subuktigin, the Turk ruler of Ghazni and founder of the Ghaznevid dynasty. Alter Subuktigin's death in 997, his son Mahmud of Ghazni continued these incursions into India. Beginning around 1000, Mahmud (971-1030) launched as many as 17 raids, ultimately taking his armies across northern India to the banks of the Ganges River.

Mahmud seems to have been motivated in part by a desire to spread Islam through jihad, or "holy war." Known as "the Idol Smasher," he destroyed Hindu idols, artwork, and temples; he also massacred large numbers of "infidel" Hindus. But plunder was probably at least an equally important motive. Mahmud looted gold and jewels and carried thousands of women and slaves back to Ghazni. Among the important Hindu cities Mahmud sacked were Somnath (in the present-day Indian state of Gujarat) and Mathura and Kannauj (both in Uttar Pradesh). By 1026 Mahmud had annexed the Punjab into his empire.

Muslim chroniclers wrote many accounts of Mahmud's exploits. A number of these writers demonstrate little or no first-hand knowledge of India, and there is good reason to suspect that some of the stories they include are not entirely accurate. Nevertheless, a vivid picture emerges of great destruction, suffering, and carnage inflicted upon Hindus by the Muslims. For example, in the account written by Utbi, Mahmud's personal secretary, the sultan is said to have taken 500,000 slaves alter defeating the Hindu king Jaipal in 1001. Mahmud destroyed 10,000 temples, Utbi reports, alter taking Kannauj in 1019. And when Mahmud sacked Somnath about rive years later, Utbi says that more than 50,000 Hindus were slaughtered in a single day. While scholars doubt that Utbi accompanied Mahmud on any of his raids, and while he may have exaggerated the scope of the sultan's exploits, clearly Mahmud's fierce reputation was not entirely undeserved.

A chronicler who did accompany Mahmud to India, in 1017, was the Persian mathematician, astronomer, and scholar Muhammad ibn-Ahmad al-Biruni. Open-minded and inquisitive, Al-Biruni mastered Sanskrit, consulted Indian experts, and studied their texts on mathematics, natural sciences, literature, philosophy, and religion. He translated astronomy and mathematics treatises that influenced the Arab world and eventually Europe. The Arabic numerals we use today, the decimal system, and the concept of zero were among the Hindu ideas the Muslims adapted and refined. In his book Ta'rikh al-Hind (History of India), Al-Biruni observed:

In all manners and usages, [the Hindus] differ from us to such a degree as to frighten their children with us, with our dress, and our ways and customs, and as to declare us to be devil's breed, and our doings as the very opposite of all that is good and proper. By the bye, we must confess, in order to be just, that a similar depreciation of foreigners not only prevails among us and the Hindus, but is common to all nations towards each other.

The small kingdoms of northwestern and northern India, while they shared the Hindu religion, were too fragmented to present a unified defense against the Muslim invaders. These kingdoms were ruled by members of a Hindu warrior caste known as the Rajputs, who were deeply divided by clan loyalties. Although Mahmud raided at will, he did not pay much attention to consolidating his rule in the territories he plundered. Alter he died, his empire disintegrated, and the Muslims lost control of the Punjab.

This 14th-century illustration depicts Mahmud of Ghazni receiving ambassadors, including an Indian delegation (seated atop the elephant). For a quarter century, the Muslim sultan raided and plundered northern India from his base in Afghanistan.

At Mahmud's death in 1030, his empire included India's Punjab region. His successors were unable to hold on to that territory, however. The Delhi Sultanate

Around the middle of the 12th century, a Persian Islamic dynasty known as the Ghurids took control of Ghazni in Afghanistan. In 1173 the Ghurid prince Muhammad of Ghur was made the sultan of Ghazni. Two years later he invaded northern India, and within two decades Muhammad had conquered as far as Delhi. Returning to Afghanistan, Muhammad left his most trusted general, a Turkic slave named Qutb-ud-din-Aybak, in charge of the conquered territory in India.

After Muhammad was assassinated in 1206, Qutb proclaimed himself the first sultan of Delhi. Over the succeeding centuries the Delhi Sultanate, India's first Muslim kingdom, would see rive major dynasties: the Slave (or Mamluk) dynasty (1206-1290), the Khalji dynasty (1290-1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1413), the Sayyid dynasty (1414-1451), and the Lodi dynasty (1451-1526). The Delhi Sultanate's power waxed and waned, and relations with Hindus varied, during the reigns of different sultans.

The first sultan, Qutb-ud-din-Aybak, died in a fall from his polo pony in 1210. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, Shams-ud-din Iltemish (Iltutmish), who guaranteed Hindus dhimmi status and allowed Hindu chiefs who paid revenues to control their territories. Shams-ud-din Iltemish's daughter Raziyya became the only Muslim woman to rule on Indian land.

The Khalji dynasty sultan Ala-ud-Din, who ruled from 1295 to 1315, brought large new territories in the southern part of India under Muslim control. Ala-ud-Din treated his Hindu subjects rather harshly, imposing high jizya taxes on them and compelling peasants to sell their grain only to his licensed dealers.

Muhammad ibn Tughlaq (ruled 1325-1351), founder of the Tughlaq dynasty, was more sympathetic to Hindus; he even appointed a Hindu amir (the highest official except for the sultan). But Ibn Tughlaq's personal eccentricities and his pursuit of some unpopular and ill-advised policies spurred a series of rebellions, and territories in southern India that Ala-ud-Din had won began to break away. These included the Hindu Vijayanagar kingdom, founded in 1336; it would grow into a powerful empire and stand as a bulwark against Muslim intrusion in southern India for two centuries. Also lost to the Delhi Sultanate during Ibn Tughlaq's reign was the Muslim Bahmani kingdom, established in 1347 by Bengal's rebellious military governor; it eventually broke into rive South Indian states ruled by Turks and Indian Muslims (this cultural blend influenced Hyderabad, which remained a princely state until 1948).

The last strong Delhi sultan was the Tughlaq dynasty's Firuz Shah (ruled 1351-1388). An orthodox Muslim, he is credited, according to historian Stanley Wolpert, with the construction of 40 mosques, along with 30 colleges, 100 hospitals, 50 dams and reservoirs, and 200 new towns. He was also hostile to Hindus. Visiting a village where a Hindu fair was being held, Firuz ordered the fair's organizers put to death. He had a Brahman burned alive for worshiping in public. He demolished many Hindu temples and replaced them with mosques.

Though it lingered for more than 135 years alter Firuz Shah's death, the Delhi Sultanate was reduced to little more than a local power by the Turkish conqueror Timur Lenk (better known to Westerners as Tamerlane). The grandson of the feared Mongol leader Genghis Khan, Timur (1336-1405) sacked Delhi in 1398. His armies killed countless Hindus and took some 100,000 slaves before Timur left India in 1399 alter reaching Meerut.

The Sayyid dynasty, whose rulers came from the family of Timur's viceroy, claimed power in Delhi in 1414. But their power did not extend much beyond the city of Delhi itself, and by 1451 they had been overthrown by the Afghan Lodis.

Ruins of the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar, which broke away from the Delhi Sultanate in 1336 and stood in the way of Muslim expansion into southern India for more than two centuries.

By Mohammad Patel Source: Muslims in India: The Growth & Influence of Islam in the Nations of Asia & Central Asia, 2007, p26, 14p Item: 21167297

Two:Phenomena of Faith Article

Pdf.jpgA PDF version of this work is available here: Image:Cultures Paper Source 2.pdf

Phenomena of Faith. Source: Harvard International Review; Winter2005, Vol. 26 Issue 4, p20-23, 4p, 3bw Document Type: Interview Subject Terms: COLLEGE teachers PEACE -- Religious aspects TERRORISM WAR -- Religious aspects LITTLE, David -- Interviews Abstract: Interviews David Little, a professor of the Practice in Religion, Ethnicity and International Conflict and faculty associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, about the religious dimensions in conflicts and peace. Role of religion in conflicts in Sri Lanka, Sudan and Israel-Palestine; Factors contributing to the reduction of conflict in Northern Ireland and Bosnia; Degree to which religion influences terrorist acts. ISSN: 0739-1854 Accession Number: 16091342 Persistent link to this record: Database MasterFILE Premier

Three: Loophole Saves Woman From Death By Stoning

LOOPHOLE SAVES WOMAN FROM DEATH BY STONING. Source: Herizons; Spring2002, Vol. 15 Issue 4, p6, 1/6p Document Type: Article Subject Terms: ISLAMIC law POLICE questioning WOMEN Geographic Terms: NIGERIA Abstract: Focuses on the police interrogation on raped and impregnated women in Nigeria. Impact of Islamic law on divorced mother; Provisions of shaira; Concept of the Islamic law for adultery. Full Text Word Count: 155 ISSN: 0711-7485 Accession Number: 6672703 Persistent link to this record: Database MasterFILE Premier

A Nigerian woman at the centre of an international lobbying campaign has won her life.

Safiya Husaini was sentenced to be buried to her waist and stoned to death after she confessed under police interrogation that she had been raped and impregnated by her cousin in Soko state where she lives. The divorced mother of six was sentenced according to sharia (Islamic law) custom for adultery as soon as her daughter was weaned. As luck would have it, under the provisions of sharia it takes four eyewitnesses to convict a man of adultery, so her cousin was not charged.

Women in the country fought for the sentence to be withdrawn and Husaini's lawyer successfully argued that according to the traditions of the Koran, a pregnancy can remain in the womb for seven years, which would make the father Ms. Husaini's ex-husband.

Four: Courts open old wounds Article

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Courts open old wounds. Authors: Omaar, Rageh Source: New Statesman; 8/28/2006, Vol. 135 Issue 4807, p12-13, 2p Document Type: Article Subject Terms: ISLAMIC law JIHAD SOMALIA -- Politics & government -- 1991- WARLORDISM ISLAMIC fundamentalists TALIBAN UNITED States. Armed Forces Geographic Terms: MOGADISHU (Somalia) Abstract: The article discusses the political changes in Somalia that took place after the withdrawal of United States forces. In early 2006, a radical Islamist movement took over Mogadishu, running out the warlords who controlled the country for thirteen years. A Taliban movement was started in the country and implemented a court system based on sharia law. At first a popular change from the warlords, the new government now includes jihadists and militant Islamists, which worries surrounding countries. ISSN: 1364-7431 Accession Number: 22059836 Persistent link to this record: Database MasterFILE Premier

Five: Reforming Islamic Family Law Article

Reforming Islamic Family Law. Authors: Weedon, Emily Source: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs; Jan/Feb2006, Vol. 25 Issue 1, p66-67, 2p, 1c Document Type: Article Subject Terms: COLLECTIF 95 (Organization) -- Political activity ISLAMIC law WOMEN & religion WOMEN'S rights REFORMS Abstract: The article presents information on the reforms in the women's rights in Islam. The Women's Learning Partnership, in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Dialogue Project, invited Mahnaz Afkhami, Rabéa Naciri and Zainah Anwar to discuss the role of women in Muslim-majority countries. Each speaker emphasized the difference between the role of women in Islam versus that of women under Islamic law, a human interpretation of the scriptures. The current debate among theologians over interpretations of the Qur'an allowed the Collectif 95 Maghreb-Egalité to promote different interpretations of the relationship between men and women as set forth by Islam. Full Text Word Count: 749 ISSN: 8755-4917 Accession Number: 19300701 Persistent link to this record: Database MasterFILE Premier

Reforming Islamic Family Law Section: Human Rights

The Women's Learning Partnership (WLP), in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Dialogue Project, invited Mahnaz Afkhami, Rabéa Naciri and Zainah Anwar to discuss the role of women in Muslim-majority countries. The panelists were optimistic about recent advances made in conjunction with Collectif 95 Maghreb-Egalité, a campaign which proposed ways that Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria could revise their interpretations of Islamic law to address women's rights more fairly. Each speaker emphasized the difference between the role of women in Islam versus that of women under Islamic law, a human interpretation of the scriptures.

Azar Nafisi, author of the best-selling Reading Lolita in Tehran, introduced and mediated the panel. She began by recounting The Tale of King Shahriyar and his Brother Shahzaman, a fable in which the king's new bride, Shahrazad, avoided certain death by intriguing the king with nightly stories and changing his attitude toward women.

This, Nafisi argued, is what must happen in Muslim culture today. In her opinion, it will not be sufficient to amend the current political structures of these countries. Instead, the mindset of their populations must be augmented so that women are respected as equal members of society. Nafisi refuted those who dismiss the struggles of Muslim women by saying, "it's their culture." This is not an excuse for inaction, she asserted, but a signal of the need for change.

Mahnaz Afkhami, WLP founder and president, discussed the West's difficulty in both understanding and approaching the issue of family law within Islamic culture. Family law, she explained, is "an envelope in which all aspects of a woman's life" takes place, a concept difficult to understand when one's own life has not been dictated in such a manner. Echoing Nafisi's sentiments, Afkhami agreed that outsiders found this issue difficult to approach. Specifically, she posited that NGOs and other foreign actors are "frightened into inaction" because of their belief that family law is culturally based. While stressing that global solidarity and understanding were important, Afkhami argued that change must be ignited from within Muslim-majority countries.

The success of the Collectif 95 Maghreb-Egalité's campaign for gender equality was discussed at length by Rabéa Naciri, former president of the organization, a coalition of women's and labor organizations which engaged North African governments in a debate over the interpretation of Islamic law and ratification of universal human rights charters. The current debate among theologians over interpretations of the Qur'an allowed the Collectif 95 Maghreb-Egalité to promote different interpretations of the relationship between men and women as set forth by Islam. The dichotomy between Muslim-majority countries' current treatment of women and the standard set under various international human rights treaties was also stressed as cause for change.

Zainah Anwar, who has been fighting for legislative change in Malaysia as executive director of the Sisters of Islam, noted another obstacle faced by women fighting for equal rights in Muslim-majority countries. Often, she noted, the struggle for women's rights is seen as an un-Islamic act, a push of Western culture on Islamic countries. The success of the Collectif 95 Maghreb-Egalité, Anwar said, presents a great opportunity for solidarity, as she can now demonstrate to her government that Islamic countries have modernized their interpretations of Islamic and family law. Anwar said she now focuses on a "frame-work approach," in which she wants to stop amending Islamic law piecemeal and instead illustrate that the classical interpretation of family law is no longer applicable in Islamic culture. Anwar hopes to do so, in part, by emphasizing the verses of the Qur'an which speak of equality and mutual protection between husband and wife.

The panel's message was clear. The women agreed that Islam does not promote gender inequality, but rather that the latter is the result of current interpretation of Islamic law. Family law, Anwar stressed, is based on a classical interpretation of the Qur'an that no longer is applicable in modern society and must be changed through a reinterpretation of the scriptures.

For more information on the Women's Learning Partnership, visit its Web site at <>. The English-language translation of the Collectif 95 Maghreb-Egalité's book, Guide to Equality in the Family in the Mahgreb, can be purchased through the WLP, at <>.

By Emily Weedon Source: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Jan/Feb2006, Vol. 25 Issue 1, p66, 2p Item: 19300701

Six: A Man's World? Sheet

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A Man's World? Source: Current Events; 10/7/2005, Vol. 105 Issue 5, p4-4, 1/6p, 1 cartoon Document Type: Article Subject Terms: CARICATURES & cartoons HUSSEIN, Saddam IRAQIS ISLAMIC law WOMEN -- Legal status, laws, etc. WOMEN'S rights Geographic Terms: IRAQ Abstract: The article states that there could be a new role for women in Iraq--as insurgents and also presents a cartoon related to it. In this cartoon, angry women storm into a room where Iraqi men are drafting the country's constitution. Many Iraqi women fear that if strict Islamic law becomes an integral part of Iraq's new government, they will have fewer rights than they had under President Saddam Hussein's rule. Full Text Word Count: 92 ISSN: 0011-3492 Accession Number: 18404729 Persistent link to this record: Database MasterFILE Premier

A Man's World?

News Cartoon

There could be a new role for women in Iraq — as insurgents. In this cartoon, angry women storm into a room where Iraqi men are drafting the country's constitution. Many Iraqi women fear that if strict Islamic law becomes an integral part of Iraq's new government, they will have fewer rights than they had under Saddam Hussein's rule. According to the cartoonist, how are Iraqi women faring? Why does the Iraqi man call the women "insurgents"? Explain your answers.


Source: Current Events, 10/7/2005, Vol. 105 Issue 5, p4, 1p Item: 18404729

Seven: The Union of Islamic Courts retrived 10/23/2006

The Union of Islamic Courts Oct. 20, 2006. 05:16 AM

Somalia has been without a government since the presidency of Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. In the 15 years since, fighting between rival warlords, as well as famine and disease have led to the deaths of up to

1 million people. Mogadishu descended into anarchy.

In June, a group known as the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), seized control of Mogadishu and implemented sharia law. Some compare its authoritarian rule, which allows women to be punished if their heads are not covered and the public executions of criminals, to the rule of Afghanistan's Taliban. But the group has brought unprecedented security and enjoys support among many secular and war-weary Somalis.

A shaky UN-backed transitional federal government is supported by neighbouring Ethiopia and accuses the Islamists of links to Al Qaeda. With Eritrea supporting the UIC, there are fears a regional war may break out.

Eight: Indonesia: Gays Fight Sharia Laws 10/23/06 retrived Z Mag Indonesia: Gays Fight Sharia Laws by Doug Ireland

October 18, 2006 DIRELAND Indonesia's fledgling LGBT group, Arus Pelangi (Rainbow Flag), last Monday launched a national campaign against a welter of ultra-homophobic regional statutes based on Muslim Sharia law.

"Many LGBT people are arrested and detained, often without charges or clear reason, only to be released after a few days," said Widodo "Dodo" Budi Darmo, the 35-year-old director of campaigning for Arus Pelangi, which was formed in January this year as Indonesia's first explicitly activist LGBT group on the legal and political fronts.

"In 2004, the region of Palembang introduced a regional law that proscribes homosexuality as an act of prostitution that 'violates the norms of common decency, religion, and legal norms as they apply to societal rule,'" Dodo -- a co-founder of Arus Pelangi -- told Gay City News from Jakarta. "That law says that included under the term 'act of prostitution' are 'homosexual sex, lesbians, sodomy, sexual harassment, and other pornographic acts.'"

Dodo said that "this regional law was part of a chain of similar laws across Sumatra and Java that base themselves on Sharia law from the Koran," and that "52 regions have adopted or put forward such laws." In the special capital district of Jakarta itself, he said, "all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and transsexual people are legally considered cacat, or mentally handicapped, and as such are not protected by law. This contradiction of LGBT people falling outside the law while still being subjected to it is one of the injustices that Arus Pelangi hopes to combat."

Some 88 percent of Indonesia's quarter of a billion people identify as Muslims, making it the world's largest Islamic nation. Islamic beliefs take various forms in the country -- there are the orthodox, Mecca-oriented santri, and also another Muslim current called kebatinan, or Javanism, which is an amalgam of Islamic (especially Sufi) beliefs colored by indigenous animist and Hindu-Buddhist influences, as well as ethnic traditions, in a country where 300 languages are spoken.

Three-fifths of the nation's population lives on the island of Java and Islamic precepts continue to frame public debate. There is considerable political coherence among traditionalist and modernist Muslim currents -- all of them doctrinally opposed to homosexuality.

"There are many Islamic fundamentalist groups in Indonesia that thrive on premanism, or thuggery, against anyone that goes against what they feel their religion dictates," said Dodo. "These groups -- in Jakarta they are most predominantly the FPI (the Front of Supporters of Islam) and the FBR (Betawi Council Forum) -- will attack the offices, workplaces, and homes of people they consider to be of particular threat to the morals and values of Islam, and that includes LGBT people."

The International Herald Tribune noted in an October 9 article on Indonesia, "President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been criticized by some for failing to speak out clearly against" the "persistent [Muslim-instigated] violence."

Last Monday, Dodo recounted, "We had a forum with the Department of Justice and Human Rights, and met with the head of the office regarding regional laws in order to push the issue of discrimination against LGBT people evidenced in those laws, and as well to attempt to break through channels in order to meet with the only two people in Indonesian politics able to quash laws still in deliberation (the minister of Internal Affairs) or already made (President Yudhoyono.)" So far, Arus Pelangi has had no success in arranging those breakthrough meetings.

Arus Pelangi also has been lobbying hard against final passage of a sweeping "Law Against Pornography and Porno-Action" that is being pushed by Islamic-oriented political parties, and could be used to stifle any pro-gay agitation or writing. This draconian, homophobic law would prohibit any writing or audio-visual presentation -- including songs, poetry, films, paintings, and photographs -- that "exploit the notion of persons engaging in sexual relations" or "engaging in activities leading to sexual relations with persons of the same sex." Even portrayals of "kissing on the lips" of any gender combinations would be forbidden under this proposed legislation. Violations of this law would be punishable not only by fines but by prison terms of up to seven years as well.

"There are a few supporters within the Indonesian Parliament who are willing to help us seek equal rights for LGBT people in Indonesia," Dodo said, "and these are mainly from the PDI-P (Party for the Indonesian Democracy Struggle) and the PKB (National Awakening Party), and though their members are few, they have greatly supported Arus Pelangi's cause and have enabled us to come further in political discussions and alliances as a result."

Arus Pelangi is also striving, against great odds, to have sexual orientation included in a new Minority Rights law being considered by Parliament that was originally presented as a bill on ethnic and racial discrimination.

"There has been strong opposition from various [Islamic] fundamentalist and conservative parties who have threatened to block the Minority Rights bill should the LGBT issue be inserted," Dodo said, "but we are currently working in coalition with several [non-governmental organizations] and a few members of Parliament to further this issue."

Less than a year old, Arus Pelangi has some 400 members -- about 40 percent are lesbians, 30 percent gay men, and 30 percent transsexuals. The large number of lesbians is in part due to the success of bi-weekly lesbian discussion groups the organization runs in Jakarta which, Dodo said, "have been successful in uniting groups with little to no ties with each other previously. They've become a popular forum for lesbians who are open about their sexuality as well as with those who have yet to come out," and involve discussions of everyday problems, violations of their human rights, and consciousness-raising.

Arus Pelangi has already facilitated the establishment of three autonomous branches outside Jakarta. In Surabaya, the LGBT organization Us was formed with the support of Arus Pelangi staff, and participates in the activities generated by the Jakarta office. An Arus Pelangi chapter has started in Medan to target LGBT issues in Northern Sumatra. And in Purwokerto, a new LGBT organization has been formed as a result of Arus Pelangi's activities in the region in response to the murder last year of Vera, a transsexual.

"The case of Vera, a transsexual who was murdered last October 28 in Purwokerto, Central Java, has received little attention from the local police," Dodo said. "Our staff traveled to the area, met with witnesses and the victim's family, and received permission to take this case to court. We've developed a network of partners to insure the protection of witnesses, only four of whom have as yet been questioned by the police but with no concrete action as a result."

In another horrendous case that is the focus of Arus Pelangi's work, three transsexuals were murdered in Jakarta by the Indonesian police.

"We've begun investigations with the families of the victims who live in Jakarta, and have raised the issue with the National Human Rights Commission," said Dodo, "but this case will require an extremely long process of data collection and campaigning with government authorities, as it involves charges being brought against the police. We've taken up cases like these, and are trying to build up our local communities and empower them to support themselves and each other, to decrease the fear experienced by LGBT people."

In fact, it is difficult to quantify with any specificity the level of bias-related anti-gay violence in the country because, until the founding of Arus Pelangi, there was no gay group collecting such information in Indonesia. A group called Lambda Indonesia was founded in 1985, sponsored social gatherings, consciousness-raising, and issued a newsletter, but it petered out in the 1990s. Gaya Nusantara is a gay group focusing on health issues like AIDS, and operating mainly in Surabaya, East Java. Yayasan Srikandi Sejati, founded in 1998, focuses specifically on health issue of the transgendered, running a free health clinic that provides HIV/AIDS counseling and free condoms to transsexual sex workers.

"In general, the public here is not well-informed about HIV/AIDS," Dodo said. "There is no sex education in the schools, except for that done by these other organizations with very limited means and despite hostility from school authorities. Because the other LGBT organizations before Arus Pelangi exclusively focused on health issues, they inadvertently perpetuated the notion of AIDS as a 'gay disease' and thus the stigmatization of the LGBT community concerning this issue. However, the stereotype of people with AIDS now leans more toward drug users and Papuans, the indigenous people living in the easternmost province of Indonesia."

Legal and police abuse of gay people in Indonesia is hard to document, said Julie Van Dassen, Arus Pelangi's Canadian-born international advocacy secretary, "because people often do not report cases due to their sexuality, and thus data is very hard to come by. Frequently, LGBT people are arrested for other reasons, or with no charges at all, which happens often enough in Indonesia, especially in certain regions (Aceh being the worst), and though it is obvious that they are scapegoated because of their sexual orientation, this is never formally issued as a charge, and thus hard to prove or not reported as a crime of discrimination at all."

In addition to this, Van Dassen said, "often gays, once taken into jail, are submitted to sexual abuse far beyond that of other prisoners because of their sexual orientation. These cases are also very hard to prove, especially as many of the victims are very traumatized and remain silent out of fear of returning to jail and being subjected to abuse, rape, and beatings again."

A good example of this police abuse, she said, is the case of Adang, a gay man who was one of many arrested in a protest against the opening of a an environmentally poisonous dump site in Bojong, Bogor, West Java.

"Adang was suffering from a mild form of tuberculosis at the time of his arrest," Van Dassan explained. "He informed authorities of this, but received no medical attention. He was further criminalized in jail, forced to kiss, masturbate for, and perform fellatio on the guards at the prison and other inmates were encouraged to take advantage of him sexually because he was a gay man, 'so he must love it.' His condition worsened while in jail, he was beaten and still received no medical attention. Upon his release, after seven months in jail, he received medical attention but died three weeks later due to complications connected to his injuries and tuberculosis."

Dodo dismisses the notion that a gay identity is a "Western" notion foreign to Asian or Islamic cultures.

"We have to make a separation between religion and sexual orientation," he said, "because sexual orientation is natural, it's a human right that needs to be respected and valued. My family was very open and pluralistic, so I was lucky to be raised in a family that was not too focused on religious rules or ethos. In Indonesia, religion is forced, you are not afforded the opportunity not to choose a religion -- and as a result, many of the social norms, political policies, and laws are deeply rooted in Islamic ties and morals. I was not as affected by this as most others were."

In fact, said Van Dassen, "Dodo is one of very few (three, at most) of our staff that has actually come out to his family and friends. Most of the staff, even though they are passionate enough about supporting LGBT rights to work full-time without wages for Arus Pelangi, are still afraid to come out to the people close to them."

Van Dassen explained that "their reasons vary -- some come from moderate or more conservative Muslim families and are afraid to come out and be alienated from their families; some are less afraid of the reaction of their families but more the reaction of their community and the shame it would bring upon their entire family, which could have mild to severe social and economic effects -- their business would no longer be used, they would be ostracized in social circles. Still others, and this was the most shocking for me, is that some, not working in Arus Pelangi but connected to it, are ashamed to admit it to themselves. They were raised in Muslim families and feel that their natural sexual inclinations are a sin, and have no idea of what to do about it."

Arus Pelangi can be contacted at Jl. Purwodadi No. 29, Menteng, Jakarta 10310, Indonesia; Telephone-Fax. 021-390-6258; or e-mail

Doug Ireland, a longtime radical journalist and media critic, runs the blog DIRELAND, where this article appeared Oct. 18, 2006. The article was originally written for Gay City News, New York City's largest weekly gay newspaper.

Nine: Indonesia vows to maintain religious pluralism retrived 10/23/2006 Indonesia vows to maintain religious pluralism Wed 18 Oct 2006 8:44 AM ET

By Jerry Norton

JAKARTA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Indonesia stands by religious pluralism, and radical Islamists are a small minority in the world's most populous Muslim nation, presidential spokesman and adviser Andi Mallarangeng said on Wednesday.

In recent years Indonesia has suffered from a series of deadly attacks on Western targets blamed on Islamic militants, while an increasing number of local and regional rules and regulations have been passed that are in line with Sharia, or Islamic law.

But Mallarangeng, speaking to foreign correspondents and diplomats on a panel about President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's first two years in office, said most Indonesian Muslims rejected the more extreme versions of the faith.

"Indonesian Islam is not like that," he said.

He also said election trends as well as recent polls suggest support for political parties who want to make Indonesia an Islamic state is dropping.

As far as Yudhoyono's government is concerned, Mallarangeng said: "Pancasila is final in Indonesia as the state foundation ... those people just need to face it."

Propounded as the country's basic political philosophy in 1945 by Indonesian founding father Sukarno, Pancasila includes faith in God, but tolerance of different religions.

Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country, with 220 million people, 85 percent of whom follow Islam.

However, secular parties have a majority in Indonesia's parliament, and a poll released last Sunday supported Mallarangeng's argument that backing for their Islamist competitors is decreasing.

But the same poll showed around one Indonesian Muslim in 10 endorsed jihad, or holy struggle, violence and justified bombing attacks on Indonesia's tourist island of Bali, where 202 people were killed in blasts three years ago attributed to the militant Jemaah Islamiah network.

Mallarangeng said Yudhoyono's government was doing all it could to go after violent Islamists.

"I think our record is good. We fight them, we chase them, we destroy their cells, we put them in jail and we sentence them to death," he said.

In the latest legal development, prosecutors in the Central Java capital of Semarang on Wednesday demanded the death sentence for Islamic militant Subur Sugiyarto, who is on trial for possession of explosives and firearms, the state's Antara news agency reported.

The prosecutors also said Sugiyarto was an associate of fugitive bombing suspect Noordin Top.

Three men convicted of terrorism over the 2002 Bali bombings are already on death row, although they have yet to be executed and are appealing their sentences.

On the issue of the increasing number of regional and local regulations in line with Islamic law, Mallarangeng said generally they did not explicitly refer to Sharia, but the central government was reviewing statutes to see if they violated national law and the constitution.

He also said individuals and private groups were free to challenge such laws in court themselves.

Ten: BBC: Viewpoint: Women and Sharia law Retrieved 10/23/06 Viewpoint: Women and Sharia law

Aina Khan Lawyer specialising in Islamic law

Aina Khan is a solicitor in London. Her family is originally from Pakistan, and she has grown up with a strong commitment to women's rights in Islam. She specialises in achieving solutions using Sharia law principles in the English courts.

In my practice as a Muslim woman solicitor in London, I daily handle cases in which clients wish to have their Islamic legal rights recognised under English law.

A common problem is that some Muslim women have never had their marriages registered under English law.

We register our cars, should we not also register our marriage? If the Islamic ceremony takes place in the UK, it is essential to also have a civil registration.

Otherwise the woman has no matrimonial rights and is left with the much lesser rights of a 'cohabitee'.

Although there are moves to increase these rights, at present the view is that marriage should be given a higher status than merely living together.

When my client is a cohabitee, I have to obtain a 'Declaration of Trust' from the court, which decides in what shares the couple intended to hold any assets.

This is a complex matter, and it is so much easier to get an equitable settlement under matrimonial rights.

It is surprisingly common for even well-educated Muslim women not to register their marriages, deeming it unnecessary, only to face enormous problems on divorce or death.

We are living as British citizens - if we register our cars, should we not also register our marriage?

Financial rights

Sharia (Islamic) law states that after marriage, a woman keeps the money and property she owns.

It is a husband's primary duty to financially maintain his wife and children This was a startling concept when Islam introduced it 1400 years ago - until the 19th century, women could not even own property in the UK!

It belonged either to her male relatives or to her husband.

For Muslims, it is a husband's primary duty to financially maintain his wife and children, with any contribution the wife makes being voluntary.

Further, to avoid disputes later on, the wife is given a set financial sum at the time of the marriage, which is written down as a term of the 'Nikah' or marriage contract.

This sum is known as 'Haq Mehr', and is intended to give the wife enough to survive on in the event of divorce or widowhood.

Often, a husband refuses to pay the 'Haq Mehr', which we then enforce in English law as a contractual right.

Also, the use of prenuptial agreements is becoming more common in the UK.

The 'Nikah Nama', or Islamic marriage certificate, can be viewed as such an agreement, since it addresses the issue of the financial settlement and is signed before witnesses.

Forced marriages

Muslim girls from Britain participate in the opening ceremony of the Third Muslim Women Games in Tehran Islam liberated women says Aina Khan In Islam, a woman's consent has to be obtained for marriage.

This was a truly liberating right, as it was given at a time when families arranged marriages to align power and fortunes.

In spite of being set free by Islam so long ago, many women - from the Indian sub-continent in particular - are still becoming victims of forced marriages today.

The family forces a woman to marry a man of their choice, often from 'back home', and her wishes are overridden.

The woman is stuck in a loveless, miserable marriage.

Once she becomes aware that such a marriage is not acceptable under Islam, she can obtain a simple annulment from the Sharia Council in the UK.

Under English law, we help her obtain a Nullity decree, which declares that the marriage was void from the start because of the 'duress' used.

English law can be extremely accommodating of Shariah law rights This enables the woman to state that she was never legally married, an important point when divorce can so often be a stigma.

It is essential to state that a common misconception is that if the woman can prove she is a virgin, she can obtain a Nullity decree.

Quite aside from the fact that the courts would find it distasteful to subject a girl to providing such medical evidence, there is a legal bar - the marriage can only be void if there is 'wilful non-consummation' by the other party i.e. (usually) the man is refusing to consummate.

Since the reality is usually the opposite, this option is not available to many. English law can be extremely accommodating of Sharia law rights.

With the growth in numbers of practicing Muslims in the UK, and more women increasingly proud of their Islamic legal rights, there is an increasing need for UK lawyers who recognise the work that can be done to ensure equality and justice under English law.

Do you have any comments about this article? Send us your views using the form at the top right of this page.

Your comments:

An excellent article highlighting the equal status of women in Islam. Sharia law does allow a man to marry four wives but only on certain strict circumstances like war, when there are more widows and less men. People sometimes get so carried away in propounding leniency that they do so at the stake of justice. If only they pondered a little on the various reasons as to why Islam prescribes laws that it prescribes. They would have found them to be well-reasoned and just. Mohd Anisul Karim, UAE

Those who criticise Sharia law should know that this law gave rights to men, to women and to children long before they were even a concern in this country. In fact, Sharia law also gave animals rights, which are relatively new compared to other rights in the west. Talal, UK

There is no doubt that Islam respects women rights, how can we open a debate about Islam when advertisement companies in the west cannot advertise anything without using a woman's body? Is that the kind of respect you are talking about? If that is what is happening then I would prefer to be called a fundamentalist least our women are given there rights but not to cross the red lines of discipline and dignity.. Ahmed Lashin, Cairo, Egypt

People with a legal status under one law system, but living under another, have a problem in general. This is not unique to Muslim immigrants or to Muslim women; we see similar issues on a smaller scale where UK law and US law differ. What do you do, if your marriage, divorce, inheritance right or duty to maintain your parent or second wife is not recognised either by the court, or by the social welfare department, adoption agency, whatever? You need a lawyer like Aina Khan who knows both systems, and can find ways of expressing your right or duty or status in terms acceptable to UK law. This is not the same as having a dual system of law, or abandoning the secular basis of western law. More power to her elbow. We need more like her, not just practicing law but also advising government departments on policy-making and specific cases. Sen McGlinn, The Netherlands

It's not about what women want or what men want Rizwanullah, Pakistan The problem is you've got a civilization which believes in 'this life' and the will of the people, versus one which believes in an afterlife and the will of God, hence the gulf. Also, it is shocking that people with Muslim names in the West explain away major tenets of their faith as chauvinistic 'interpretations' by obscurantist men. Look, the basis of this faith, Islam, is "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his Messenger." This is the faith. Our perpetually changing prejudices should not be allowed to tamper with the integrity of the faith. It's not about what women want or what men want; it is about what God wants as relayed by His prophet. That's all. Rizwanullah, Pakistan

What a fascinating and enlightening article - and what an even more engaging debate following it! As an atheist, I have neither axe to grind nor a candle to hold for any religion. The debate around this article often focuses on people's own beliefs being used to justify their prejudices about Islam (both for and against). From my reading of Islam, it is a deeply honourable, spiritual and relevant faith. But its advocates too often seem to be rooted in its past, using ancient legal systems to justify their narrow attitudes. In the West, we need to hear more stories like that of Aina Khan, who is trying to relate Islam to the modern world. I welcome the fabulous diversity of culture in our country and I reject bigots of all hues. James, UK

I'm from Egypt and I cannot have a legal marriage based only on Shariah Abdellatif Ahmed, Egypt The truth is that most Muslim countries have marriage regulations which are not mentioned in, and which are even not accepted by Shariah. So marriage in the UK should be registered under UK regulations, the same as in any other Western or Eastern country as is the case in Egypt, Jordan, etc. I'm from Egypt and I cannot have a legal marriage based only on Shariah. Islam and Christianity are not relevant to this discussion which is being used to highlight weak points and practice attack techniques. Abdellatif Ahmed, Egypt

There seems to be some hypocrisy in this otherwise interesting article. If it is true that Islam 'gave women equal rights', why is it still possible for husbands to divorce their wives by a simple verbal declaration? Why are females treated, apparently, as the property of their fathers or husbands? And why do so many Muslim women and even small girls feel forced to cover themselves from head to foot? I read a book by a woman Muslim scholar who said that this practice is not actually demanded by the Quran, but based merely on the interpretation of one verse by some authorities. In other words, it is a cultural, not a religious practice. What may have been progressive 1000 years ago or so may not be anything of the sort in the modern world. Laurence, UK

I envy women living in the UK and the rights they have, I recently have been a victim of Islam and shariaa law and the lack of civil rights to protect me. Islam is against women all the way and that is from experience. Rim, Dubai

Under the Sharia law, I would be severely punished Peter, Germany I'm a gay man. Under the Sharia law, I would be severely punished if found out - probably killed -although I didn't choose my sexuality freely. So, I'm really scared when I read that Sharia law is being applied in the UK. Peter, Germany

People talk about "stoning to death" because they read a story about a women in Africa and have become experts on the matter without knowing or understanding anything about it. Nobody mentioned that men can also be adulterous and punished the same way. More importantly, nobody mentioned that in order to prove that someone is guilty of adultery four witnesses must testify that they have seen the actual intercourse, which is almost impossible to happen. Nobody mentioned that a woman or a man need only swear that they are innocent to have the accusation refuted. It applies to men and women who are married and have stable marital lives. The only way someone can be stoned is if they choose to come forward and ask for this punishment in order to repent¿ Leena Carr, Canada

I am appalled that sharia law seems to be in some senses running in parallel to British law. If Muslims live in Britain they must abide by British laws, and British laws alone. Sharia is atavistic, repressive and divisive. Damian Lanigan, UK / USA

Women rights in the West were developed over the course of many centuries Malik Abd'Al-Malik, US While some very ugly things were said about Islam here, I don't believe that malice was behind them but ignorance. Firstly, and I can't speak for the UK, but here in the US any clergyman of any religion need only fill out a registration form so that he can perform legally binding marriages. Secondly, it is true that today's western women enjoy more liberty, than their Muslim counterparts in the third world, but it is equally true that this is a relatively recent phenomenon (within the last century or so). Women rights in the West were developed over the course of many centuries; the Third World should be given the same chance to develop without outside coercion. Malik Abd'Al-Malik, US

The writer here chooses to ignore the injustices to women prescribed in the Sharia, considering only the points which will make the Sharia attractive. Do you really think the UK should accept a law which prescribes cold-blooded murder by stoning for adultery for the woman concerned and a nominal fine for the man for the same offence? A law which allows men to marry 4 women at the same time. A law which allows the man to obtain a divorce, without any reasons, just by uttering the word 'talaq'. A law which does not recognise the right of the women to vote or to choose their ruler. These are only some of the injustices under Sharia. Jon Adams, Bristol, UK

The women in Muslim (not Islamic!) countries is not representative of Islam H Shaker, UK I do believe that Islam itself did raise the status of women before any 'modern' civilisation but I also agree, as a Muslim, that the status of the women in Muslim (not Islamic!) countries is not representative of Islam. Over many centuries due to various reasons, women have gone from being pillars of society at the time of Prophet Mohamed to simply being almost nothing in many Muslim countries where many backward non-Islamic traditions have been introduced into Muslim life e.g. female circumcision, honour killings etc. H Shaker, UK

I am constantly baffled by the assertions of distinguished Muslims, women as well as men - that Muslim women have the same dignity and rights as men, when to non-Muslims it is blatantly obvious that, whatever the Quran states, in daily life here in the UK and around the world, Muslim women are treated at best, as the intellectual and moral inferiors of men, and at worst, as subhuman. Having worked as a journalist in several Islamic states over the years, I am also shocked at the disrespect shown by Muslim men to non-Muslim women, including myself. I have always been scrupulous about how I dress and behave in such circumstances. Having an open mind, and a desire to understand other cultures and theologies, I would appreciate answers to how so many men who consider themselves devout Muslims, simply ignore those parts of the Quran which don't suit their desire to control the female half of their societies. Thank You Marian Shiels, UK

When Islamic laws were set up 1400 years ago they probably were very modern for those days, especially considering they were introduced in a tribal society with pagan customs. The problem is that they have not changed a bit during those centuries and are now hopelessly lagging behind. They have been overtaken by reality and modernism. Roeland, Amsterdam, NL

Let people practice what they practice as long as it doesn't impose on others Ali, UK I can't believe those on this page who go on about democracy. Do they really understand what democracy is? Let people practice what they practice as long as it doesn't impose on others, be they Muslim, Jewish, Christian or whatever. That applies as much to Muslims as non-Muslims. After all isn't that the fundamental rule of Democracy? Ali, UK

The sources of Islamic law are divine revelation in the form of Quran & Sunnah. Obviously non-Muslims will not believe in these sources as divine. Secular systems have their basis in human intellect, making laws exercised via a select few powerful members of society; capitalist democracies are not inherently beneficial to humanity. On the other hand Islam promotes the abolition of tyranny and exploitation of humans by humans. Ansari, USA

How would Sharia Law be imposed on non-Moslems? A system that doesn't treat people equally has no place as part of democratic justice. Matt, UK

Islam was by no means the first religion to give "rights" to women Helen, England Islam was by no means the first religion to give "rights" to women. Ancient Egypt is one example of a society which did not institutionalise discrimination on grounds of gender. The Romans were among the worst discriminators against women - women had almost no access to Roman law - quite a contrast to the Anglo-Saxons and as someone else has said the Celts. The Prophet himself appears to have intended his foundation to be benign rather than repressive - for example the hijab or Islamic head covering signifies that the individual is under the protection of Islam, and should therefore be shown respect. The problem for Islam (as for other religions and philosophical systems) is that it is practiced by a very diverse range of people, many of whom are not of an egalitarian mind. Helen, England

Judging from many of the comments posted on the forum, it is evident that most do not understand the true Shari'ah laws regarding women. I am a British born Muslim woman, and would really appreciate it if those living in the West would get to know me first before I am judged. I hear people speaking on 'my behalf', making everyone aware of how 'oppressed' I am. I wonder how many people know how it feels to have to sit back and watch the media and society make such assumptions about you? I personally find this more oppressive than any Shari'ah law. Fatima Mahmood, England

Khan seems to be providing a good and sensible service Jen, UK I find some of these comments incredible! Aina Khan is not trying to replace British law with Sharia, but helping Muslims to understand what the legal situation is here. Telling Muslims to register their marriages under English law, helping those women forced into marriages by giving them a way out under English law. No one is suggesting here that English law should be changed to chop limbs off or make women cover their heads. Khan seems to be providing a good and sensible service. Thanks for an interesting and thought-provoking piece. Jen, UK

I think what Ms Khan means is that there is a conceptual overlap between sharia and English law in the area of marriage. Sharia cannot [and will not] be used in the UK because that would need the consent of Parliament. Jorge, UK

I certainly wouldn't want to live under Sharia law Peter Shields, UK I certainly wouldn't want to live under Sharia law - everywhere it is implemented it seems to bring tyranny and mob rule. However, those who argue that national laws should be entirely secular seem to be unaware that secularism is also a faith-based worldview. To say that religion should have no part in forming a country's statutes is naive, prejudiced, intolerant and discriminatory - in fact, all the things they tend to accuse religion of! Peter Shields, UK

As a Swede living in Malaysia, I find it interesting to hear Ms Khan argue that Sharia law can be seen to promote women's interests. Here in Malaysia, the current hot topic is whether Muslim men can divorce one of their wives by sending an SMS message with the required Arabic formula. Much to the embarrassment of the comparatively progressive Malaysian government, a state Sharia court found that this was indeed the case. Harald, Malaysia

If a Muslim woman lives in the UK and has been married under the Sharia law of Islam, she should be obliged to have a civil English marriage. This is especially true if she resides in the UK or has become a citizen of the UK. If this is not done, then the marriage must be considered to be cohabitation without the legal rights of a civilian marriage in England. Joe Nigrin, Guatemala

In my opinion if you live in this country, you abide by UK law. We can't start making exception; it'll be chaos. Helen, UK

I would worry about any law based on religion. I am a (practising) Christian and I am aware that most UK laws are at least roughly based on Christian law. However, these laws are relatively free to change and be re-interpreted. If the law is based on a text, or worse, is taken to be the literal word of God, that law can never change. It is by this method that society gets trapped in a never-ending regressive cycle. Mark, UK

Islam is heavily restrictive of women's rights James McNaught, UK I read here comments about how Islam was the first religion to give women equal rights. This is not strictly true as the Qura'an states that a woman's testimony in court is only worth half that of a man's - only one example of restrictions on women. At the time, Islam may have been quite liberating but compared to modern society, Islam is heavily restrictive of women's rights James McNaught, UK

Women in the West face hardships supporting themselves and their children and are used as objects by the media. Is this what the West perceives as giving rights to women? Under Sharia Law, women are given full rights and more than men. They are not obliged to work and be provided by their husbands. Ismail, UK

I agree completely with John Mullins below. How can a law that condemns a woman to be stoned to death because she had a child outside of the wedlock, be accommodated within the law of the democratic Western society is beyond me. Byungmoon Cho, South Korean living in London

Sharia law comes with the precept that the law should bring satisfaction not fairness John Mullins, UK Sharia law comes with the precept that the law should bring satisfaction not fairness. It does not give power to the people, but takes power from them and hand it to the mob culture that Sharia inevitably breeds. Militant Islamism is the biggest threat to Islam today - not the West. If Islam cannot mature as a culture and take care of its extremist fringes, including Sharia, there will always be a resolute defence, by the West, of its own philosophies and values using prejudice and force, if necessary. As for all the poor citizens that have to live under an immoral tyranny created by the fear and loathing that Sharia spews, the time will come when your freedom will be at hand. John Mullins, UK

When will we stop calling names and painting whole nations with a single brush? It is exactly that type or reasoning that has led to terrorist acts in both the East and West. Islam is a great religion and I should think that we would not base our understanding of almost one billion people on articles posted on BBC or any other site. For every one case of abuse in the Muslim world related on BBC or any other news program, there are hundreds of thousands of good incidents that are never heard of. Who wants to hear about Muslims building wells in Sudan, or Muslims funding schools in Africa, or Muslims rebuilding homes? These stories won't sell in the media. As for living in the West, what about Muslims who were born here? Where should we send them back to? Cilia, USA

I am against any religion having a public or prescriptive role in our society Lizzie, UK It is nonsensical to impose religious dogma as part of the law within a democracy; particularly given the struggle that women have gone through to achieve relative freedom within this democracy. I am against any religion having a public or prescriptive role in our society and wish that 'faith schools' did not exist. Once you put God/religion in front of a statement you can justify just about anything - including cutting a hand off someone for theft. Who defines theft? Are we not all guilty of some kind of theft? Should we then all be limbless? No please keep religion in the church, synagogue, mosque etc for those who wish to partake and leave the rest of us to claim by the sanctity of reason. Lizzie, UK

Lizzie's comments surprise me. Atheism is often presented as a wholly reasoned approach but there are foundational assumptions in atheism just as there are in religion. To tell all people with a religious faith that there is no place for this in public life is simply to impose your own atheistic worldview on others - a bit strange when tolerance is almost a religious creed to atheists. Beth, Australia

Thank you for an article that shows Islam and the UK in a positive light. What a pleasant change. Nadia Abdul-Sabur, UK / Egypt

A two-tier system of law will destroy the West Jane, California, USA If Muslims are not able to live under Western secular law, they shouldn't be living in the West. A two-tiered form of justice is not workable. It doesn't work in India (where Muslim personal law is recognized) and it won't work in the West. Our nations were formed under the 2,000 year-old Western principle of individual rights before the law, not on "group" rights. A two-tier system of law will destroy the West. Jane, California, USA

Why wouldn't a Muslim man in the UK register his marriage? Does he not acknowledge the government's right to create laws to govern the populace? It seems only logical. Muslim countries also pass additional laws and regulations not found in the Sharia, don't they? This point is not clear in the article. Joshua Godinez, United States of America

The essential problem with so called 'Islamic Law' is that it has little or no validity in N Europe or non Arab cultures. What is needed is a Western Interpretation of Islamic law to sit alongside those of the four great schools Andrew Stone, UK

The laws of a state should be secular and not based on any one religion Neelkumar Patel, UK So if sharia law is valid in the UK, should a husband who wants his wife stoned to death because she has committed adultery be allowed to have her stoned because it is his Islamic legal right which is recognised under English law? Maybe Islamic law is beneficial in some ways but there are some grim sides to it also. I think that the laws of a state should be secular and not based on any one religion. Neelkumar Patel, UK

As far as I know, Islamic law has little or no regard for the right of women. Case study in Nigeria: how could a woman be sentenced to death for adultery, and the man with whom she committed the offence should not share the same penalty. Solomon Villa, Sierra Leone

Actually the fact that women were not allowed to own property in the UK until the 19th century is a common fallacy. In Celtic society women could inherit property and retain the wealth they brought into a marriage. Also, they were entitled to a split of the goods in family. Plus they were allowed to have a say in the running of the tribe, be judges, advocates or priests and even divorce their husbands for being impotent, adulterous or grossly overweight. While property laws did change in the UK in the Middle Ages, the idea that Islam was some sort of advanced liberating ideology bringing equality to women is frankly ridiculous. Take a look at the current position of women within Muslim societies all around the world; women are in no way as equal as they are in non-Muslim western societies. Richard Evans, UK

One of the posts says: "While property laws did change in the UK in the Middle Ages, the idea that Islam was some sort of advanced liberating ideology bringing equality to women is frankly ridiculous." Why is it 'frankly ridiculous?' Is it ridiculous because it was, oh my God, an Islamic ideology? I don't see anything ridiculous in recognizing the historical fact that Muslim women were much more advanced in being endowed with unprecedented civil and social rights. Nazim Haqqani, US

Islam offered a defence for women in its time and left space for supple interpretation Suzan, Sweden Islam offered a defence for women in its time and left space for supple interpretation. One can also read the Qura'an and find no dogma about the veil nor adultery. It stresses proper evaluation and encourages insight in several passages. It leaves space for a broader form of thinking; this seems to be disregarded by Muslim men. Suzan, Sweden

In response to H Brooke, UK: The slave owners were better off than the slaves also. The West controls eastern economies using all sorts of tools including generating wars. People are simply flocking to the West for economic reasons. Let's open our eyes and get real. We should take the best of both the West and Islam. A Rana, London, UK

I find this article and the site "Islam and the West" indicative of the BBC's continued bias in favour of totalitarian regimes. The fact that citizens in western societies are rich, better off and enjoy far greater human rights than any country under the Islam yoke cannot be ignored. There is no mass immigration to any Muslim country, precisely the opposite - people are leaving these countries in droves and for good reason. They are run by dictators, religious police and tyrants. Women are treated little better than slaves, which is why I find the 'Viewpoint' article the epitome of your biased coverage. Women are being stoned, forced into marriage, killed by their families in so-called honour killings - but does the BBC mention this - oh no! Instead we get some political correct pap about how 'liberated' Muslim women are and how 'oppressed' they are by coming to Britain. H Brooke, UK

Please will H. Brooke distinguish between religion and culture? A lot of what he says is related to culture and not to religion. Zoyz Gul, Leeds, UK

H Brooke is, like many others, confusing Islamic views with extremism. Islam was the first religion to give women equal rights. And the only reason people 'flock' to the West is to escape the fruits of the West's doing. The US put Saddam in power, the CIA supplied Osama Bin Laden with weapons, Palestinians and Jews were living peacefully until Britain occupied the area, the same can be said of Hindus and Muslims in India. South Africa would not have gone through the Apartheid period if it were not for Britain, and Africa is in tatters due to the slave trade and occupation by Western countries. So why should we not come to the West? Islam does not teach violence but we only see the extremists in the media, which is obviously biased. I've never read about the IRA being 'extremist Christian fundamentalists'. Q Alam, UK

Q. Alam, like many others, seems to believe that for some reason, Islam along with other cultures he mentions are somehow fundamentally inferior, victims of another culture. Does this line of reasoning mean that the West somehow is 'superior' and can go willy nilly imposing it's will on other cultures, and that those cultures should simply rot in some nihilistic quagmire, unable or unwilling to do anything about it? D. Biasutti, Toronto, Canada

Eleven: The Quran

The Quran Rashad Khalifa translator

Pdf.jpgA PDF version of this work is available here: Image:The Quran.pdf

Twelve: Sharia in Kabul?

retrieved 10/26/2006 Sharia in Kabul? A theological iron curtain is descending across Afghanistan

by Nina Shea


OCTOBER 28, 2002

Shortly after Afghanistan’s cabinet was announced in June, new chief justice Fazul Hadi Shinwari denounced the newly appointed women’s affairs minister, Sima Samar, for speaking “against the Islamic nation of Afghanistan.” Samar was formally charged with “blasphemy,” which can carry the death penalty. Her crime? Dr. Samar had allegedly told a magazine in Canada that she did not believe in sharia, or Islamic law. Fearing for her life, Samar ultimately declined her office, even though, under intense U.S. pressure, the charges were dropped.

President Bush has robustly affirmed the importance of human rights and democracy in America’s foreign policy. In his New York Times op-ed on September 11, the president declared that America would work “to extend the benefits of freedom and progress to nations that lack them.” One might think, then, that the political reconstruction of Afghanistan—entailing considerable American involvement and hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support—would present a clear opportunity for protecting the human rights the president championed.

Think again. Notwithstanding the endless news stories about girls being allowed to go to school, Afghanistan is in imminent danger of being reconstructed as an Islamic state under hard-line sharia law.

This hard-line rule differs from more common applications of sharia, which regulate mostly family and inheritance issues. Under the Islamist version of sharia, courts pronounce and enforce strict, all-encompassing codes of behavior supposedly based on a literal reading of the Koran and accounts of Mohammed’s life. Commanding their own police forces, the courts apply archaic rules of evidence and administer harsh corporal punishments. The final rulings of sharia criminal courts are considered to be pronouncements of divine law, and as such cannot be criticized or altered. The broad range of human rights—freedoms of expression, press, and religion; equality under the law; non-discrimination; the right not to be tortured—are typically denied.

In June, President Karzai appointed a politically diverse cabinet, including a number of moderates, to lead Afghanistan’s government in the current transition period. To head the supreme court, however, he appointed Shinwari, a man with a well-publicized commitment to implementing hard-line sharia. On January 24, for instance, Shinwari had told the international press that under the new government, adulterers would be stoned to death, the hands of thieves amputated, and consumers of alcohol given 80 lashes.

He is also opposed to the practice of Christianity. Reuters quoted him as stating: “The Islamic government, according to sharia, is bound to punish those who get involved in anti-Islamic activities. We can punish them for propagating other religions—such as threaten them, expel them and, as a last resort, execute them.” Shinwari told a National Public Radio correspondent that Islam has three essential rules. First, a man should be politely invited to accept Islam; second, if he does not convert, he should obey Islam. The third option, if he refuses, is to “behead him.”

Two weeks before his appointment as chief justice, Shinwari reiterated that the nation would continue as an Islamic state under all-encompassing sharia law. According to Agence France Presse, Shinwari insisted there would be no “Western-style government” in Afghanistan: “No one will accept it. Only an Islamic government is acceptable to the Afghan people.” The 70-year-old justice had lived in exile for nearly 40 years, mostly in Pakistan, where he taught Islamic law at a madrassa. Decorating the wall above his desk, according to the Associated Press, are a sword and a leather lash for flogging. They were left by the Taliban, but Shinwari keeps them up as symbols of the harsh sharia justice which he also endorses.

Not that Shinwari isn’t critical of the Taliban. Indeed, he never misses an opportunity to denounce them as “barbaric” for having carried out stonings and amputations as public spectacles in Kabul’s sports stadium, rather than in private. He has faulted them for pressing private doctors, and not special prison doctors, to implement sentences of amputation. He has deplored their rushing hastily to judgment, instead of methodically using appropriate procedures. But Shinwari has never backed away from the extreme sharia punishments, and has repeatedly and publicly asserted that he intends to apply them in the supreme court he now heads. “We are not eager to execute criminals or chop off heads,” he recently told the Washington Post, “but if all the conditions are fulfilled, [it] is required.”

In an absolute sharia state, only the judiciary holds power. Iran’s President Khatami has repeatedly complained that religious judges hold the real levers of power and do not allow him to usher in the civil liberties for which he was twice elected. Already in Afghanistan, Karzai’s justice ministry has ceded formal control of the central prosecutor’s office to the court, and a commission on judicial reform was dissolved after religious hard-liners obstructed it. If Shinwari’s vision of Afghanistan were realized, he and his colleagues on the bench would emerge as the country’s most powerful political figures. And the U.S. should not expect much in the way of cooperation from them. Shinwari has already said that he will be lenient with those involved in Afghanistan’s opium industry—a priority concern of the State Department—since, as he explained to the press, narcotics are not banned under Islamic law. Nor is it a good sign that he is given to referring to non-Muslims, even in public interviews, as “infidels.”

Shinwari’s role recently became still more troubling. In August, Afghanistan’s interim government established a religious law-enforcement apparatus, called the Accountability Department, functioning under the direct authority of the supreme court. The department is headed by a former mujahedeen figure, Mohammad Mustafa, who has a degree in religious affairs.

Because it hears appeals from lower courts that have yet to complete their first full year in session, the supreme court has only recently begun to hand down opinions. But even one of its early cases confirms human-rights fears. The supreme court backed a decision by the head of Kabul Radio and Television to ban the broadcasting of female vocalists and the airing of Indian films. “We totally oppose the idea of half-naked scenes or . . . women’s songs,” the court’s spokesman stated.

And if persuasion doesn’t work, the court will fall back on fines, imprisonment, and lashings. The new religious police has a staff of 200 to 300, including 50 women who are to visit girls’ schools to enforce Islamic behavior.

In September, President Karzai confirmed that sharia is the law of the land during a Q & A at the Council on Foreign Relations. He tried to give assurances that amputation punishments, at least, would not be applied: “There are strict, strict rules of earning that kind of punishment. Very strict rules . . . So I assure it will not happen.” But what if the new court were to dispense with the “strict rules”—as the old Taliban court did? Will critics of the court share Sima Samar’s fate and be charged with blasphemy? One of the problems with extreme sharia is that it allows no room for checks on judicial power. Karzai probably knows better, but he is under strong pressure from an Islamist defense minister, Mohammed Fahim, and the still well-armed leaders of the Northern Alliance. Iran provides a real-time demonstration of how and why extreme sharia law is difficult to reform, let alone remove. In early September, Hashem Aghajari, a leading voice in President Khatami’s reformist movement, went on trial for “blasphemy” after giving a speech in which he called for reforms of the sharia system. He could now face the death penalty. Scores of other critics of sharia law have been flogged and jailed in Iran in recent months, and some 60 dissenting publications have been shut down.

The stoning to death of women found guilty of adultery under the Taliban (and, more recently, in Africa) has prompted outraged editorials in the West. But the more fundamental problem of extreme sharia—that its all-powerful judicial apparatus precludes democracy and sharply reduces human freedom across the board—has been all but overlooked. When asked about the development of penal sharia in Afghanistan, a senior State Department official told me recently that State was concerned about Karzai’s security, not about sharia. They fail to realize that in a hard-line sharia state, with 7th-century laws and punishments, the supreme court is not merely another branch of government: It’s where the real power resides. Countries where religious judges directly command the coercive powers of the state are de facto theocratic. No president or parliament can override their decisions, no politician or journalist can criticize them; to do so would be blasphemy.

The United States may have a chance to prevent a theological iron curtain from again descending on Afghanistan. Last summer, the country’s legislative body initiated the year-long process of drafting a new constitution. In this drafting, it is crucial to the protection and expansion of human freedoms that the country not be defined as a sharia state, that the judiciary not be given control over law enforcement, that sharia jurisdiction not encompass criminal law, and that training in human-rights jurisprudence be a requirement for members of the supreme court. Certainly it is important that the United States protect Karzai’s life, but let’s not preserve him as merely a powerless figurehead.

Thirteen: CBC News In Depth: Afghanistan

retrieved 10/26/2006 CBC News INDEPTH: AFGHANISTAN Afghanistan CBC News Online | March 21, 2006

Afghanistan's economy is growing like gangbusters. Problem is, more than a quarter century of war and an attempt by the Taliban to isolate the country from modern influences has left the economy in ruins.

A United Nations report in February 2005, concluded that Afghanistan remains one of the world's least developed countries. It ranked 173rd out of 178 countries surveyed – beating five states in sub-Saharan Africa.

Out of every 1,000 babies born in Afghanistan, 142 die before reaching one year of age. A woman dies in pregnancy every 30 minutes. Overall life expectancy is estimated at just under 42.5 years.

Afghanistan is a landlocked country of about 28 million people, bordered by Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. It is a land of mountains, plains, cold winters and hot summers – and is often threatened by earthquakes and floods.

Afghanistan is a conservative Islamic country and 99 per cent of its population is Muslim. Shariah law, an Islamic legal code based on the Qu'ran, is strictly enforced. In 2003, a court sentenced two Afghan journalists to death for blasphemy but they escaped and sought asylum abroad. In March 2006, an Afghan man was brought before a Shariah court and faced a possible death penalty because he converted from Islam to Christianity.

The Soviet Union invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 1979, to prop up a Communist government and to suppress a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement it feared would spread to southern Soviet republics.

But the war went badly for the Soviets. By 1989, they were driven out of the country by anti-communist mujahedeen forces (trained and supplied by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan). A third of the population fled the country while the various factions fought. Most went to Pakistan and Iran.

The war also provided fertile training ground for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban movement.

Once the Soviets were gone, Afghanistan's numerous factions lost their one common goal – liberating the country from foreign occupiers. The factions clashed – and by the late 1990s the Taliban emerged as the dominant force. It seized control of most of the country, including the capital, Kabul.

The Taliban imposed its ultra-conservative version of Islamic law on the country: television was banned, women were barred from attending school, driving and working outside the home.

The United States accused the Taliban government of harbouring Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, which Washington blamed for a number of deadly attacks.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington made bin Laden and the Taliban the prime targets of the American military.

Barely a month after the attacks, an American-led coalition drove out the Taliban government. Most of its senior leaders – as well as Osama bin Laden – remain at large.

Since then, Afghanistan's economy has been growing at 25 per cent a year. It is projected to keep growing by about 10 per cent a year through the first decade of the 21st century.

Much of that has been fuelled by the billions of dollars in aid countries have pledged to help rebuild the country.

But there are concerns that much of the country's income is being siphoned off by warlords with strong political and military connections, further widening the gap between rich and poor.

Canada participated in the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force, which was created in late 2001 to help bring stability to the country.

Canada ended its role in late 2005 and committed a battle group of about 2,000 personnel to Kandahar in early 2006. Canadian Brigadier General David Fraser was to take the command of the multinational brigade consisting of Canadian, British and Dutch troops in March 2006.

There remain huge challenges: Afghanistan has the worst education system in the world, according to UN calculations. Nearly three-quarters of adults are illiterate and few girls go to school in many parts of the country.

The UN report points to positive developments as well. It notes that the October 2004 election won by President Hamid Karzai showed Afghanistan's political progress. It was an election that forces loyal to the former Taliban government had vowed to disrupt.

The election went off relatively smoothly. Still, Karzai has been referred to as the President of Kabul, as the government continues to have difficulty exercising its influence in the rugged and fiercely independent countryside.

With American help, Afghanistan is rebuilding its army, aiming for a projected 2006 full combat strength of 40,000 soldiers. That's more than twice as many as were in place at the end of 2004.

The American general overseeing the effort expects that the training of an overall force of 70,000, including a headquarters and other non-combat personnel, would be complete by 2008.

At the beginning 2005, there were promising signs that Afghanistan's political climate was warming up. Moderate members of the former Taliban government were negotiating with Karzai's government – among them, a former UN envoy and two former deputy ministers. They're members of a group called Khudam-ul Furqan (Servants of the Koran), which attracted several moderate Taliban members.

At the time, more militant Taliban guerrilla officials dismissed talk of reconciliation. They vowed to continue their war against the Karzai government and foreign forces.

In the fall of 2005, attacks by the Taliban insurgency increased in southern and eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban began using improvised explosive devices, basing their tactics on the insurgency in Iraq, as well as suicide attacks and raids on remote villages in a growing attempt to destabilize the Karzai government.

Fourteen:Politicized Islam

10/26/2006 Politicized Islam Afghanistan

Although Shariah courts existed in urban centers after Ahmad Shah Durrani established an Afghan state in 1747, the primary judicial basis for the society remained in the tribal code of the Pushtunwali until the end of the nineteenth century. Sporadic fatwas (formal legal opinions) were issued and occasional jihads were called not so much to advance Islamic ideology as to sanction the actions of specific individuals against their political opponents so that power might be consolidated.

The first systematic employment of Islam as an instrument for state-building was introduced by Amir Abdur Rahman (1880-1901) during his drive toward centralization. He decreed that all laws must comply with Islamic law and thus elevated the Shariah over customary laws embodied in the Pushtunwali. The ulama were enlisted to legitimize and sanction his state efforts as well as his central authority. This enhanced the religious community on the one hand, but as they were increasingly inducted into the bureaucracy as servants of the state, the religious leadership was ultimately weakened. Many economic privileges enjoyed by religious personalities and institutions were restructured within the framework of the state, the propagation of learning, once the sole prerogative of the ulama, was closely supervised, and the Amir became the supreme arbiter of justice.

His successors continued and expanded Amir Abdur Rahman's policies as they increased the momentum of secularization. Islam continued central to interactions, but the religious establishment remained essentially non-political, functioning as a moral rather than a political influence. Nevertheless, Islam asserted itself in times of national crisis. And, when the religious leadership considered themselves severely threatened, charismatic religious personalities periodically employed Islam to rally disparate groups in opposition to the state. They rose up on several occasions against King Amanullah (1919-929), for example, in protest against reforms they believed to be western intrusions inimical to Islam.

Subsequent rulers, mindful of traditional attitudes antithetical to secularization were careful to underline the compatibility of Islam with modernization. Even so, and despite its pivotal position within the society which continued to draw no distinction between religion and state, the role of religion in state affairs continued to decline.

The 1931 Constitution made the Hanafi Shariah the state religion, while the 1964 Constitution simply prescribed that the state should conduct its religious ritual according to the Hanafi School. The 1977 Constitution, declared Islam the religion of Afghanistan, but made no mention that the state ritual should be Hanafi. The Penal Code (1976) and Civil Law (1977), covering the entire field of social justice, represent major attempts to cope with elements of secular law, based on, but superseded by other systems. Courts, for instance, were enjoined to consider cases first according to secular law, resorting to the BCShariah in areas where secular law did not exist. By 1978, the government of the Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) openly expressed its aversion to the religious establishment. This precipitated the fledgling Islamist Movement into a national revolt; Islam moved from its passive stance on the periphery to play an active role.

Politicized Islam in Afghanistan represents a break from Afghan traditions. The Islamist Movement originated in 1958 among faculties of Kabul University, particularly within the Faculty of Islamic Law which had been formed in 1952 with the announced purpose of raising the quality of religious teaching to accommodate modern science and technology. The founders were largely professors influenced by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, a party formed in the 1930s that was dedicated to Islamic revivalism and social, economic, and political equity. Their objective is to come to terms with the modern world through the development of a political ideology based on Islam. The Afghan leaders, while indebted to many of these concepts, did not forge strong ties to similar movements in other countries.

The liberalization of government attitudes following the passage of the 1964 Constitution ushered in a period of intense activism among students at Kabul University. Professors and their students set up the Muslim Youth Organization (Sazmani Jawanani Musulman) in the mid-1960s at the same time that the leftists were also forming many parties. Initially communist students outnumbered the Muslim students, but by 1970 the Muslim Youth had gained a majority in student elections. Their membership was recruited from university faculties and from secondary schools in several cities such as Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat. These professors and students became the leaders of the Afghan Resistance in the 1980s.

With the takeover of government by the PDPA in April 1978, Islam became central to uniting the opposition against the communist ideology of the new rulers. As a politico-religious system, Islam is ideally suited to the needs of a diverse, unorganized, often mutually antagonistic citizenry wishing to forge a united front against a common enemy; and war permitted various groups within the mujahidin to put into effect competing concepts of organization.

The mujahidin leaders were charismatic figures with dyadic ties to followers. In many cases military and political leaders replaced the tribal leadership; at times the religious leadership was strengthened; often the religious combined with the political leadership. Followers selected their local leaders on the basis of personal choice and precedence among regions, sects, ethnic groups or tribes, but the major leaders rose to prominence through their ties to outsiders who controlled the resources of money and arms.

With the support of foreign aid, the mujahidin were ultimately successful in their jihad to drive out the Soviet forces, but not in their attempts to construct a political alternative to govern Afghanistan after their victory. Throughout the war, the mujahidin were never fully able to replace traditional structures with a modern political system based on Islam. Most mujahidin commanders either used traditional patterns of power, becoming the new khans, or sought to adapt modern political structures to the traditional society. In time the prominent leaders accumulated wealth and power and, in contrast to the past, wealth became a determining factor in the delineation of power at all levels.

With the departure of foreign troops and the long sought demise of Kabul's leftist government, The Islamic State of Afghanistan finally came into being in April 1992. This represented a distinct break with Afghan history, for religious specialists had never before exercised state power. But the new government failed to establish its legitimacy and, as much of its financial support dissipated, local and middle range commanders and their militia not only fought among themselves but resorted to a host of unacceptable practices in their protracted scrambles for power and profit. Throughout the nation the populous suffered from harassment, extortion, kidnapping, burglary, hijacking and acts dishonoring women. Drug trafficking increased alarmingly; nowhere were the highways safe. The mujahidin had forfeited the trust they once enjoyed.

In the fall of 1994 a Muslim "student militia" came forth vowing to cleanse the nation of the excesses sullying the jihad. Their avowed intention is to bring in a "pure" Islamic state subject to their own strict interpretations of the Shariah. Many of the leaders of this movement called the Taliban (seekers or students of Islam) were one-time mujahidin themselves, but the bulk of their forces are comprised of young Afghan refugees trained in Pakistani madrassas (religious schools), especially those run by the Jamiat-e Ulema-e Islam Pakistan, the aggressively conservative Pakistani political religious party headed by Maulana Fazlur Rahman, arch rival of Qazi Husain Ahmed, leader of the equally conservative Jamaat-e-Islami and long time supporter of the mujahidin.

Headquartered in Kandahar, initially almost entirely Pushtun, predominantly from the rural areas, and from the top leadership down to the fighting militia characteristically in their thirties or forties and even younger, the Taliban swept the country. In September 1996 they captured Kabul and ruled over two-thirds of Afghanistan.

The meteoric take over went almost unchallenged. Arms were collected and security was established. At the same time, acts committed for the purpose of enforcing the Shariah included public executions for murder, stoning for adultery, amputation for theft, a bann on all forms of gambling such as kite flying, chess and kawk (partridge) fighting, prohibition of music and videos, proscriptions against pictures of humans and animals, and an embargo on women's voices over the radio. Women are to remain as invisible as possible, behind the veil, in purdah in their homes, and dismissed from work or study outside their homes. Like many before them, the Taliban wave the flag of women's chasteness to prove their superior Muslimness.

Because of the strong religious sentiments that animate their minds, rural Afghans are still mostly captivated by the Taliban at the beginning of 1997. Others look on appalled at the rigidly orthodox dictates of these self-proclaimed arbiters of Islamic rectitude. To them Taliban interpretations of the Shariah are foreign deviations alien to the Islam practiced in Afghan society which has always stressed moderation, tolerance, dignity, individual choice and egalitarianism.

Afghanistan Table of Contents

Source: U.S. Library of Congress

Fifteen: Womenaid: The Emergence of the Taliban



The Taliban emerged in early 1994 from the Sunni religious schools (called madrassat) near Quetta, Pakistan, at a time when factional fighting and resulting lawlessness were at their height. Originally a small band of warriors from the majority Pashtoon tribe, their numbers swelled as they met with increasing success. Their take-over of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, in April 1994, was welcomed by its citizens, who had long suffered under corrupt and brutal mujahadeen commanders. The Taliban (the name derives from the Arabic word for student) quickly established order in Kandahar, disarming all factions and the general population. The Taliban leader of the faithful, amir ul-momineen, Mohammed Omar, is a former mujahadin and is a mullah from Kandahar.

A Pashtoon city, Kandahar has accepted the Taliban's strict version of sharia (Islamic law), which is more or less consistent with local traditions. Today it is peaceful. But for the Taliban, sharia law means public executions after trials which pay scant attention to any notion of due process. It means the gruesome spectacle of the Minister of Health personally amputating the hands and feet of suspected thieves. Young Pashtun men joined the Taliban - seeing it as a vehicle to reassert Pashtun power in Afghanistan.

The Taliban subsequently swept through south-western Afghanistan, and arrived in Herat, close to the Iranian border, in September 1995. Here their reign has been less welcome. Most Herat residents are Tajik, and accustomed to a more liberal tradition. They particularly reject the Taliban prohibition on education for girls. As Dari speakers, they view the Pashto-speaking Taliban as an occupation force. Many Heratis have sent their families into exile in Iran, where they hope their girls can be educated, or at least avoid the harshness of the Taliban regime.

On 27 September 1996 the Taliban Islamic militia took control of Kabul. Little resistance was offered by retreating government forces. Outbreaks of violence occurred as the Taliban implemented their particularly extreme version of Islamic law. Many who dared show defiance to the Taliban were arrested, beaten and detained, including some local staff working for aid agencies and media organisations. Women and girls bore the brunt of the new restrictions which included a ban on their employment and education. Kabul University was closed and the entire staff of the High Court was suspended, from judges to cleaners. Women were also ordered to remain at home and to wear the burqa in public. Some women, former teachers, organised secret schools in their homes. With so many of their rights violated, the women of Kabul provide an extreme example of discrimination. For this reason the European Parliament called upon members of the international community to show its support for Afghan women.

The Taliban version of Islam is extremely dogmatic and strict and is more closely derived from Pashtunwali, the Pashtun tribal code, than with an interpretation of the Koran. Initially welcomed by many war weary people the Taliban unchecked abuse of power, increasing dogmatism and 'gender apartheid' by the denial of basic human rights of Afghan women and girls has lead to increasing despair.

WOMENAID INTERNATIONAL 3 WHITEHALL COURT LONDON SW1A 2EL TEL: +44 (0) 20 7839 1790 FAX: +44 (0) 20 7839 2929 E-MAIL: Reg. Charity No. 299224

Sixteen: Human Rights Watch: Nigeria: Woman Sentenced to Death Under Sharia HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH Nigeria: Woman Sentenced to Death Under Sharia

(New York, October 23, 2001) - Human Rights Watch today condemned a recent ruling by an Islamic court in Northern Nigeria that sentenced Safiya Hussaini Tungar-Tudu to death by stoning. The court issued the death sentence after finding her guilty of having pre-marital sex "Women have a basic right to control their sexual autonomy," said LaShawn R. Jefferson, executive director of the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. "When a woman is punished so severely for having pre-marital sex, her right to make free decisions regarding her body is violated."

The Islamic court in Gwadabawa, Sokoto State, in northern Nigeria sentenced Ms. Tungar-Tudu to death after finding her guilty of having pre-marital sex, a punishable offense under Sharia law. Ms. Tungar-Tudu, who is pregnant, has until November 8 to file an appeal. The court's ruling is pending approval by the governor of Sokoto State after which a date to mete out the punishment will be fixed. The man she allegedly had sex with was set free by the same court after concluding that it lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute him for the alleged adultery.

Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty. Additionally, international law strictly prohibits the imposition of capital punishment on a pregnant woman.

In recent years, several states in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria have extended the application of Sharia law to criminal offenses, imposing Sharia punishments for theft and other crimes, and criminalizing acts such as pre-marital sex and alcohol consumption.

Ms. Tungar-Tudu's conviction for pre-marital sex is the second one to be reported in northern Nigeria. In September 2000, an Islamic court in the northern state of Zamfara, sentenced Bariya Ibrahim Magazu, a teenage girl, to 180 lashes for pre-marital sex and bringing false charges against men with whom she allegedly had sex. Despite protests by international and Nigerian human rights groups against her sentence, officials authorized the flogging of Ms. Magazu. Even though her appeal remained pending, the sentence was carried out; she was lashed one hundred times on January 19, 2001.

In another case, a Sharia court found a sixteen-year-old boy guilty of stealing money. He was sentenced to the amputation of his hand. Amputation is an extreme form of corporal punishment, which is expressly prohibited by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Human Rights Watch wrote to the governor of Kebbi State on October 12, 2001, expressing its concern over the case.

Human Rights Watch called on the Nigerian government to protect Ms. Tungar-Tudu from the arbitrary meting out of a harsh and unacceptable punishment, and to ensure that the courts operate in accordance with international human rights law and the bill of rights in Nigeria's own constitution.

Seventeen: Interview

Interview Nachef, Riad. Telephone interview. 31 Oct 2006. 31 Oct 2006 <>.

Eighteen: The Religion on Peace Home Page 11/1/06 6328 deaths

Nineteen: Hamas Interview with Globe and Mail

11/5/06 Hamas Interview with Globe and Mail Hamas: Separate classes for girls and boys January 28 2006 The incoming Hamas government will move quickly to make Islamic sharia “a source” of law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and will overhaul the Palestinian education system to separate boys and girls and introduce a more Islamic curriculum, a senior official in the movement said yesterday.

Spelling out the domestic agenda of Hamas for the first time since the group's stunning victory in a legislative election this week, Sheik Mohammed Abu Teir also said Hamas would not go to foreign donors on bended knee if they withdrew aid to the Palestinian Authority.

The armed struggle against Israel will continue as long as Israel continues its occupation of Palestinian lands, he added.

Israel, the West and many Palestinians have expressed concern at what Hamas — considered a terrorist organization by Canada and the United States, among others — might do in power.

Mr. Abu Teir, who was No. 2 on the Hamas list of candidates for Wednesday's election, said introducing sharia — a controversial moral and legal code based on the Koran — would be the first act of the new Hamas-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council.

“The No. 1 thing we will do is take sharia as a source for legislation. Sharia has a soul in it and is good for all occasions,” Mr. Abu Teir said in an interview with The Globe and Mail over a lunch of traditional Palestinian dishes supplemented with Coca-Cola. The table was set under photographs of Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi, past Hamas leaders who were assassinated in Israeli air strikes.

The current Palestinian legal system is based on Western-style jurisprudence and a hodgepodge of Jordanian, Egyptian and Ottoman laws.

It's questionable whether Hamas could push through legislation introducing sharia as the basic law, since any such bill would have to be signed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, a social moderate.

However, having won 76 of the 132 legislative seats in what observers billed the best-run election the Arab world has seen, Hamas — which campaigned on the slogan “Islam is the solution” — can argue that it has more popular support for its program than Mr. Abbas does for his.

Mr. Abu Teir, once a member of the secular Fatah movement, spent 25 years in Israeli jails, where he converted to Islam and emerged as a leader respected by his fellow prisoners.

With his henna-dyed, flaming orange beard, he is one of the Islamist movement's best-known faces and is widely expected to be named to a senior cabinet post when Hamas reveals the shape of the next government.

He was quick to clarify that the introduction of sharia didn't mean that alcohol would be banned, or that it would be made mandatory for women to cover their heads when outdoors, two fears raised by the group's liberal opponents.

Mr. Abu Teir's wording — that sharia would be “a source” of law — mirrors the language adopted in the new Iraqi constitution. Iran and Saudi Arabia use a strict interpretation of sharia as the only source of law and employ religious police to enforce it. That's not what Hamas has in mind, the sheik said.

“We are centrists, we are against any kind of extremism. The motto that we operate on is that in religion, you cannot force people.”

Palestinian Christians, many of whom have expressed concerns about being ruled by Islamists, have nothing to fear, he added.

The sheik, a resident of the Um Tuba neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, did say that he believes the consumption of alcohol is wrong, and that the Koran indicates women should dress modestly. He said Hamas hoped to lead by example and thus persuade people to change their ways and follow the teachings of Islam more closely.

“We will not force a woman to wear the hijab [Islamic head scarf]; we hope that decision will come from inside her. I don't care to have women put on the hijab and then take it off when no one is looking,” he said.

He made it clear that one way Hamas planned to encourage the next generation to follow sharia was to revamp the Palestinian education system, separating girls' and boys' classes and introducing a more Islamic curriculum.

“We will take such measures because we look at examples in the West, like Sweden. They have the highest level of co-education and the highest level of suicides,” he said. “We would like our children to have a protected environment. We don't want any distractions for our boys or our girls.”

On external affairs, Mr. Abu Teir gave no hint that Hamas would adjust its hard-line stand of refusing to recognize, or negotiate with, Israel. He said that instead of pressuring Hamas to disarm, the West should be demanding that Israel leave the West Bank, release all Palestinian prisoners and allow the return of the 4.1 million Palestinian refugees.

Israel has said it will ignore a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, and several countries, including the United States and Canada, have suggested they will not deal with Hamas unless it deletes language in its founding charter calling for the destruction of Israel.

Mr. Abu Teir expressed dismay at how news of Hamas's victory was received in the West, saying he didn't understand why the West, after years of giving money to a Palestinian Authority run by the corrupt Fatah movement, was now considering withholding aid.

“Why is the West worried? We're not thieves. Had that money been given to us, it would have found many good uses.”

However, he said Hamas would not go begging if aid were slashed. “Our people would rather live in poverty than live in humiliation with Israeli and Western aid.”

Palestinian political analysts said Mr. Abu Teir's remarks reveal the political immaturity of Hamas. The responsibilities and realities of being in power, several have predicted, would require them to abandon much of their ideological rhetoric.

“When Hamas starts doing these things, they will get into all kinds of trouble. Politically, socially, economically, they will not be able to do the kinds of things they are talking about,” said Basem Ezbidi, a political scientist at Birzeit University in Ramallah. “Many people are truly worried right now.”

He said it is “insanity” for Hamas to say that it would not talk to Israel or that it does not need foreign aid.

Palestinians regularly use Israeli hospitals, roads and the Israeli electricity grid, and the Palestinian Authority relies on Israel to collect sales taxes on its behalf.

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