Saturday, 20 of December of 2014

Category » cartoon

What is the meaning of hijab?


The MagicMuslims solve the Ramadan moonsighting issue…

The MagicMuslims are here again, using their cartoon superpowers to make the world a better place. They bring levity and humour to a world that needs a smile. They are ‘Ordinary Muslims, with extraordinary powers.’ Brought to you by Spirit21, if you haven’t seen them before, you can read more here.

Muslims follow a lunar calendar, and the beginning of each month is signalled by the sighting of the new moon. This becomes a particularly frenzied and controversial affair for the highly auspicious month of fasting, Ramadan, and leaves many confused over how such a simple matter ever got so complicated…

Enjoy the cartoon.


In conversation with God…

As we approach the month of Ramadhan, it’s time to get my head into shape, and my soul more tender so that they spiritual days of fasting can work their magic. At a prep-lecture last night, the speaker talked about the importance of engaging in munajat (moo-nah-jaat) with the Creator – intimate conversation. I was moved to think about how little we (for which read ‘I’) focus on creating space for ourselves and in dialogue with the Divine. Sadly, I think a lot translations of the Qur’an (and other Holy scripture) create the sense of distance, grandeur and scariness of the Creator, when perhaps we should be think more along the lines of best friend?

In that spirit, I rather liked this animated short by Matthew Walker called ‘Operator’ where a man calls the operator to get the number for God so he can have a chat. Spot on. Enjoy.

Temporary note: there seems to be a problem with the video running which i’m looking at fixing, in the meantime click on the link above, or please come back when the video is running properly. Sorry!


The Problem of the S-Word

Let the tabloids and politicians spend their time foaming at the mouth over words like Shar’iah, we should be spending our time pioneering services and solutions to meet our community needs

Shari’ah is once again big news. The Lord Chief Justice has said that, “There is no reason why Shari’ah principles, or any other religious code, should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution.” His comments follow a speech earlier in the year by the Archbishop of Canterbury who had been discussing the role of faith in the public sphere and had used the issue of Shari’ah courts as an example of where this could be done. The Lord Chief Justice commented about that speech: “It was not very radical to advocate embracing Shari’ah law in the context of family disputes, for example, and our system already goes a long way towards accommodating the Archbishop’s suggestion.

Predictably, the tabloids went berserk, and sadly some of our sound-bite simplistic politicians followed suit. What a furore! This was a simple discussion about civil arbitration, a provision that is rooted deep in English law. As Madeleine Bunting wrote in the Guardian, “Because of the provision for mediation by a third party in English civil law, there is already a degree of accommodation for Shari’ah law in our legal system.” In fact, she argues, if we don’t want Shari’ah we would have to remove the “fundamental option of mediation outside the legal system when agreed by both parties… [which]…will require a pretty radical reform which would stir up a lot of opposition.”
Clearly then, our politicians and media are not concerned with the actual essence of what the mediation process will be, but more upset about the word ‘Shari’ah’ itself.
The Shari’ah courts were a solution that Muslims created to deal with life for their new communities in the UK. It is important that we are clear that it is absolutely right and proper that a community should be able to create structures and institutions to support its individuals and families to operate smoothly and according to its principles and values. Of course those structures should and do operate within the law of the land. However, their creation was based on models familiar to the communities from their countries of origin, where the decision-making role of the ‘court’ was its primary purpose. The courts in those countries would have been supported by more accessible and prevalent mosques and Imams, and a community that was most likely majority Muslim. Most of these support services – which acted as buffers to problems and disputes before the final limit of legal jurisdiction – are not easily available to us in Britain.

So today, Muslims turn to bodies like Shari’ah courts as much for their Islamic decision-making status, as increasingly for their pastoral services. However, dealing with disputes requires counselling, therapy and support before a case can reach any final definitive verdict, all of which are an extension of a legal court’s traditional role. Individuals who are trapped in a dispute – whether marital or of another personal nature – want both support and recognition for their distress, which today they find may not be available elsewhere. They wish to feel the supportive hand of guidance and authority in resolving their pain based on the same principles by which they try to govern their own lives. It is therefore exactly in this grey area between civic dispute and any mediation ruling that an arbitration service based on Islamic principles can add tremendous value to our community.

Those who participate in the existing Shari’ah courts give a great deal of their time and energies, but in order to achieve this goal they need more skills and resources, more focus, more participation from the community to meet the growing needs for pastoral care. We need more women, more counsellors and more youth workers to name but a few of the skills required.

Most importantly what they need – what Muslims need – is to give themselves the freedom to think more freely about the purpose and function of such resources within the community. We must not diminish the need and importance of such mediation and resolution centres. They are a vital component of Muslim community institutions. But thinking of them within the prism of decision-making only, carries so much history and expectation with them that sometimes it can become impossible to create new models of operation.
Will we ever find the freedom to dive into the very essence of our needs and pioneer new tools and methodologies to meet our changing times and circumstances? Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph says, “Do not bring up your children the way that you were brought up, because they live in different times.” We live in a different time, and we need to pioneer new solutions.

Note: Cartoon is taken from Spirit21’s own MagicMuslims superheroes, visit www.spirit21.co.uk/magicmuslims


The MagicMuslims go to the Elections

If you want to meet the MagicMuslims, you can find out more here: http://www.spirit21.co.uk/magicmuslims/


Spirit21 reveals The Magic Muslims…

Spirit21 is proud to reveal The Magic Muslims – Ordinary Muslims with Extraordinary Powers. Fun-loving, quirky and joyful in life, once you’ve met them, you’ll want to keep coming back for more. Any Muslim you meet could be a MagicMuslim – a quiet superhero trying to bring happiness, humour and compassion to the world.

I’m really excited to bring you these characters – created and commissioned as original Superheroes by Spirit21 for everyone to enjoy and interact with. Every month or so a new cartoon with the characters will be published, so you can check out their antics in the world. I hope you enjoy them, as much as I enjoyed creating them. Please share your comments and thoughts, but do remember the copyright!

Make sure you get to know The Magic Muslims better here


The Art of Conversation – Britons, Britain, Muslims and Islam

Readers of a sensitive disposition should be advised that this article contains words of a difficult nature. What you are about to read may cause a temporary shut down in common sense and a brief outburst of hysteria.

Shariah.

Are you still there? I have smelling salts if you need them. Beware, here are a few more: fatwa, hijab, apostasy, niqab, cousin-marriage, Imam, Muslim women.

We can take a short breather now, and collect ourselves. Phew. I apologise if my outburst has reduced some readers to gibbering ranting Alf Garnett type creatures.

When the Archbishop mentioned the scary S-word, all rational debate – even if it be to score a resounding knock-out in the first three minutes for the secular corner – was suspended. What on earth have we just experienced in the last few days? Rowan Williams barely mentioned the word ’shariah’ and the country was in an Armageddon-style-end-of-the-world frenzy. It wasn’t even possible to get a word in edgeways to say that he was not in fact advocating shariah law. Instead, the media was awash with images of floggings from Somalia to the rings of Saturn and all the way in between.

Now that we are in the post-MTV, post-spin sound-bite century, we have lost the ability for discussion and debate. Sophistication and subtlety are a thing of the past. What I rue most is the lost art of conversation. Mention a word, and its caricature will be whipped up in front of you. Muslim woman in hijab? Poor, oppressed woman, one of four wives forced into marriage to her cousin, barely speaks English, wishes she could wear a mini-skirt… Muslim Imam? Mad ranting mullah burning a flag… Fatwa? Sentence to death for parking on a double yellow line.

It is completely impossible to have any kind of conversation about these issues without tantrums and hysteria. If British culture, values and laws are robust, then they will stand the test of discussion about these concepts, and vanquish anything that turns out to be barbaric or medaeival, or simply just not suited to the stiff upper lip and rugged British constitution. The knee-jerk ranting that surrounds us belies a lack of confidence and an unfounded sense of mistrust in the historic institutions that have made this country great.

We must ditch the cartoon (pun entirely intended) responses to any Muslim-sounding word that decorate our front pages week in week out. If we could get away from the unhelpful and misleading stereotypes that have lodged themselves into the public psyche, then maybe we could work our way through these minefields that seem to explode every few weeks. We might find our national debate engaging in that elusive thing – progress. Instead, the conversations that we need to have are being de-railed by the inability to communicate on the same wavelength. How can Muslims be part of the national conversation, if their terminology is at best unheard and misunderstood, or worse is misrepresented and the object of scaremongering?

P.S. To reduce the burden on some ‘opinionated’ readers, I have prepared some comments in advance that you might like to make. If you still feel het up, you can register your vote for your preferred tantrum. (1) What on earth is this Muslim complaining about? If she doesn’t like it here she can go home (2) Stop blowing us up if you don’t want us to react with hysteria every time you mention a foreign word (3) All Muslim women are oppressed. This is a fact. Thus Muslims are wrong on every possible count and we are right about everything (4) The sooner Muslims get it into their thick heads that this is Britain and we do things the British way, the happier we will all be


Are we on a path towards government approved mosques?

Hazel Blears, minister for Communities and Local Government today announced 70m pounds to help Muslim communities tackle extremism and radicalisation. They will set up websites, ‘help’ Imams, discuss identity and go into mosques to discuss citizenship and other nice fluffy stuff approved by the government as its preferred form of Islam. Is it a slippery slope to government approved mosques, or have the media headlines distorted the truth to fan the flames of mistrust?