Shelina’s Friday Miscellany

  • Every week I’ll be posting a Friday round-up of what I’ve been up to this week, interesting places I’ve been, things I’ve read and random thoughts I’ve had. This is the first in the series – so welcome to Shelina’s Friday Miscellany.

    This week I went along to the launch of the Inspired by Muhammad campaign. The campaign is designed to tell those unfamiliar with Muslims and what motivates them, about the inspiration they gain from the life of the Prophet Muhammad and the positive values Muslims feel he exemplified. As part of the campaign, a YouGov poll was commissioned that provided some very worrying statistics. Whilst 50% of over 2000 people polled associate Islam with terrorism, only 13% associate it with peace, and a measly 6% with justice. A mere 16%  think Islam promotes fairness and equality (a whopping 69% believing it encourages the repression of women) and 41% disagree or strongly disagree that Muslims have a positive impact on British society. As The New Statesman says, this makes for depressing reading, and means the campaign faces an ‘uphill’

    Inspired by Muhammad campaign poster


    It’s one to scratch your head about though – as despite these very strong attitudes, 60% say they don’t know very much about Islam and 17% say they know nothing at all. One of the few positive findings is that 33% would like to know more about Islam.

    So the campaign is very welcome – bringing to life the reality of Muslims’ experiences and their beliefs. And whatever those of other faiths or none may feel about Muslims, at the very least it is worth getting to know what inspires and motivates over 20% of the world’s population. And perhaps on the way they may learn some positives about Muslims and Islam.

    I’ve posted up the image of the poster related to women’s rights – and it was definitely a Muslim women’s week as on Wednesday Faith Matters released a report listing the 100 most ‘women-friendly’ mosques in the UK.

    I wrote a commentary about why I thought this was a ‘great first step’ in encouraging women’s participation in mosques for the Guardian.

    By analysing the challenges mosques were facing, it seemed that failing to include women at a strategic decision-making level was one of the obstacles. But as I noted, this is a general societal problem – the cabinet is only 14% female, and only 12% of FTSE 100 company directors are female.

    On a different note, anyone walking around the London underground will have noticed the multitude of posters for the upcoming “Clothes Show London” which is being billed as the “Ultimate Girls’ Day out.” *sigh* – it’s that old attitude of going shopping is the ‘ultimate’ sign of girliness. It got me thinking about the World Cup which is due to kick off tonight, and how men and women are so easily cast into their ‘ultimate’ gender stereotypes of clothes vs. football.

    The clothes show is due to  take place 25 – 27 June, in the middle of the World cup tournament, which of course is a male-festival, and women will be getting out doing what women do best (apparently) – shopping.

    But if I’m being flippant about having a good giggly girl’s day out – and nothing wrong with that, then there’s nothing flippant about the macho beer-fuelled problems that are currently being highlighted about the social impact of the World cup. Divorce rates rise in the period immediately after the World Cup. Even more worrying is that rates of domestic violence increase during the period of the world cup, and based on historic data, this can be by as much as 30% on days that England is playing. Various campaigns including “Don’t let the world cup leave its mark on you” have been launched.

    World cup 2010: The Revival's Fantasy Muslim XI

    On a lighter note, I was tickled by this World Cup Fantasy Football punt over at The Revival which analyses the abilities of the Muslim footballers attending the tournament, and picks out a Muslim XI. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

    Finally, this week I’ve been watching The Art of Spain, in particular the 16th century period of Felipe II.

    And this week I’ve been reading “The Idols will Fall”. Here’s the blurb: “Maximilian and his friends are living a double life, posing as royal counsellors for the despotic, pagan governor of Roman Philadelphia (present-day Jordan) while secretly spreading the outlawed religion of Jesus of Nazareth. As their brethren fall victim to torture and murder, their situation becomes more and more dire until they take a daring step that sends shockwaves throughout the whole Roman Empire. Although they are forced to flee, nonetheless, their story lives on as generation after generation carry on their epic battle and an unimaginable miracle changes their world forever. The Idols Will Fall is a unique presentation of the miraculous story of these young men referred to both in Christian historical literature and in the Qur’an. This is the story of the Sleepers of the Cave.”

    I’m always a bit sceptical of historical fiction (or non-fiction, however you describe it), but I was very moved by this book, and felt a sense of loss as I said goodbye to the characters at the end of the story. It was illuminating seeing the human struggle towards propagating faith, set in a

    The Idols Will Fall

    different time, context and even religion. The characters are of course Christian, as it is set in the 2nd to 5th century A.D. during which time the Roman empire is in full force, and persecutes the believers. It’s an easy and unstressful read, but conveys many of the same themes that people of faith struggle with today – separating religion from culture, knowing when to fight your battles, the price for standing up for what you believe in, and the power of media and communication. And of course, the wisdom that comes with the vicissitudes of time.


What do you think?

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  • Amina

    June 11, 2010

    Thanks for the post – I think this will be a great Friday series! It’s nice to keep updated about everything going on.

    Those were some very beautiful comments about that last book, The Idols Will Fall. I wanted to ask, what age range do you think it would be good for? Would you recommend it to Muslim teenagers at all?

  • shelina

    June 11, 2010

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from the moment i picked it up, and as i say in my review, i feel quite sad not to have those characters with me anymore, i found them very inspiring.

    I felt many of the challenges that i face today were explored in a different context which is very helpful, I think sometimes when we come across the usual anti-muslim issues for example we don’t see the bigger trends in what people are saying and the typical human blindnesses and therefore can’t respond at that meta-level. Or perhaps that’s just me and a poverty of wisdom.

    I think every madressah student (i.e. sunday school muslim student) should read it. Although having said that I think it’s a good read for adults and youngsters alike.

  • Nida Bhatti

    June 12, 2010


    Just wanted to say a few things.

    First, the Friday Miscellany is a great idea. I normally do something similar, but only on a more mental level, every Friday after Jummah prayer.

    Second, I wanted to thank you. You have been a great inspiration to me just as I was rediscovering Islam. You are ever present in my prayers.

    Also, several times now, I’ve seen the posters of around the Tubes. They left me feeling warm and I’m so glad that people are making an effort to promote are truer image of Islam as what the media portrays. I, also couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the adverts promoting the ‘Ultimate Gilrs Day Out” and the World cup. Unfortunately, you beat me to the punch as I hadn’t got around to blogging about it yet.

    Finally, “Idols will fall” sounds like a great read; perfect for the summer holidays after I finish my semester 6 exams. Thanks for the recommendation, it’s near the top of my reading list.