Starting your own rock band can be a trying endeavor. But it’s safe to say that most of us burgeoning musicians don’t have to deal with having a religious fatwa issued against us just for wanting to rock out. That’s what the band Praagaash had to face, simply because they’re Muslim girls who want to play music. The teenage girls in Praagaash — which means “from darkness to light” — quit playing after they received several threats from religious conservatives who believed they were sinning by playing music. The conservative clerics of Kashmir, the hotly contested region that lies between India and Pakistan, allegedly told the girls that their band was in violation of Muslim law.
After several days in the spotlight, the three young women decided to quit the band, citing the conflicting cultural influences of Kashmir and Islam. “The culture of Kashmir is not like this. Music has been going on from centuries. In Islam though it is not permitted and therefore we quit,” the band said in a statement. “We respect his (grand mufti) decision that music is haraam (forbidden) in Islam and therefore we have quit.”
Click through to check out a performance — one of only two they completed — from the Praagaash. Keep reading »
Houda Al-Habash is not only seen driving her car in the opening scene of “The Light In Her Eyes,” but she is also steering hundreds of young Syrian girls and women to study the Koran. The 2011 documentary, airing on Thursday, July 19 on PBS’s Point Of View series, explores the impact studying the the Koran has on the girls and how it empowers them to become whatever they wish to be. Keep reading »
Wonk-y magazine Foreign Policy‘s most recent issue, The Sex Issue, is right up our alley with a cover story article about the how the real war on women is in the Middle East. Author Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian-American writer who was beaten and sexually assaulted by police while protesting in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Her piece, “Why Do They Hate Us?“, is worth a read on its own.
But images used for the piece are also causing controversy: an attractive, naked woman is covered in body paint made to look like a niqab (a body-covering veil), with only her eyes showing. Newsweek‘s Tumblr lauded the images as “powerful,” while a Tumblr blogger who goes by the name That Sassy Arab chastised the magazine: “Nope, newsweek [sic], this is not stunning and powerful, or awesome. This is highly offensive and completely misguided.” Other critiques of the images used by FP, and the article by by Eltahawy hereself, are here, here and here.
What do you think, Frisky readers? [Foreign Policy]
There are many reasons why women look for cosmetics without this or that—maybe they’re vegans or maybe they’re very eco-conscious. Another reason? Religion.
For Muslim women, there’s apparently been a gap in the market, due to the lack of non-halal makeup. (Halal refers to the law forbidding, among other things, certain pork and animal products and alcohol.) That said, many Arab women already wear makeup — lots of it. We’re guessing that, perhaps, they’re not all so strict about conforming to Islamic law. Keep reading »