Month June

  • Cinemas, mosques and the power of prayer

    A little humour for a Monday morning. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but that it seems very plausible and that we believe from our instincts about human nature that it might be true, is telling in itself…

    In a small town in East Africa, a person decided to open up a cinema showing films of disrepute, which was right opposite to the mosque. The Members of the congregation started a campaign to block the tawdry business from opening with petitions and prayed daily against his business. Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open, a lightning bolt struck the construction and it was burnt to the ground.

    The mosque folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the cinema owner sued the mosque authorities on the grounds that the mosque authorities through their congregation and prayers were ultimately responsible for the demise of his project, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

    In its reply to the court, the mosque autorities vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers were reasons to the cinema’s demise.

    As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented:
    “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, that we have the owner of a disreputable cinema who believes in the power of prayer and we have devotees from the mosque who don’t!”

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  • Sarkozy speaks out against Burqa in France

    Yesterday the French president said “The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic.”

    This follows the establishment of a parliamentary commission to investigate whether the wearing of the burqa should be banned in public.

    Following his speech, he is due to meet the Emir of Qatar – I wonder if he will suggest to him that women there should also remove their veils? If his view is that it is wrong in France as it “reduces them to servitude and undermines their dignity” then he ought to make the same point to the Emir about women in Qatar.

    Except he won’t. His speech yesterday was held to the French parliament – a right he put into the constitution for himself last year. This is the first time that such a speech has been held in over a century. Following in the footsteps of his imperial predecessor at yesterday’s speech, it seems that in a hundred years, little has changed in Mr Sarkozy’s mind about imposing his version of liberal values.

    Let’s remember what Obama said in Cairo, β€˜it is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practising religion as they see fit – for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear. We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism.’

    In the shadow of the sumptuous Versailles Palace, Sarkozy’s comments seem little other than cheap shots at winning political points, without really addressing the heart of the issue. How can a politician determine what a woman should wear? If she is wearing it out of choice – as some women do – not that I necessarily agree with them – then refusing a women’s right to choose what to wear is a form of oppression that women have long fought against.

    If she is being forced to wear it – and this of course does happen – then what that woman needs is not a patronising president, but real tools to help her take control of her life – education and economics.

    Besides, those women who wear burqa’s are a tiny minority of Muslim women – why single those who are forced to wear it as sufferers of domestic oppression, when so many millions of women face domestic violence? A more holistic approach would reap greater benefits for women in both quality and quantity. It seems from his words that he cares more about his own popularity, then making changes for burqa-wearing women.

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  • Hurrah!

    Last week, my book Love in a Headscarf won the Best Published Non-Fiction prize at the Muslim Writers Awards. IslamOnline has described this event as the “Muslim Oscars” and it certainly is very glamorous.

    I was extremely delighted to win the award, and hopeful that this acknowledgement will bring even more wonderful things in the future. (More awards please!)

    Here’s a pic of the trophy itself, sunning itself in the garden the following day…
    And if you haven’t bought a copy of the book yet, you can visit to find out more, and purchase a copy. Happy reading πŸ˜€
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