Afghanistan: female students attacked with acid in Kandahar

AP Photo / CNN
AP Photo / CNN

 “Kandahar is not safe. But we can’t stay at home, we want an education.” -Atifa, 16, acid attack victim – Kandahar, Afghanistan

Kandahar: this morning, two men sprayed a group of female students with acid – blinding at least two of them. It is unclear how many of the students were injured. Government spokesman Parwaz Ayoubi called the attackers “enemies of education”, suggesting that the insurgents who attacked the pupils were objecting to the education of females.

According to Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the incident, Latefeh – one of the injured students – says that this attack will not prevent her from pursuing her education or stop her from learning. The Afghan government reinforces their commitment to education, saying that attacks like these, by “unIslamic enemies of the country” will not prevent six million children from attending school.

Unfortunately, though, schoolrooms today were largely empty. Parents have held their children home for fear that they may be attacked – and children are afraid for their safety.

See BBC coverage here. (Also, Spanish speakers: check out coverage of this very blog entry here.)

To help:

* Learn about and support the work of Barakat.

* Check out some of the positive work being done by female educators and UNICEF.

* RAWA was founded by Afghan women for Afghan women. Educate yourself about their efforts here.

* Afghan-Network has a list of NGOs needing your help to support their work in Afghanistan, including Islamic Relief. Please click here to see this list and offer your support.

* Acid attacks are a pervasive problem. Learn about how women in Pakistan are fighting acid attacks, keeping their faith, and restoring hope.

* These attacks also happen in places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Colombia, the UK and the United States. Here is more coverage and some tips on what you can do to help.

Support the Eesha Project – and taboo-busting Muslim youth!

My piece in the latest issue of Eesha
My piece in the latest issue of Eesha

Eesha Magazine is a UK-based journal of Islamic thought and culture. They’ve featured a piece by me in their most recent edition. Above is a sample, but buy a copy to read the fine print! 

You’ll be getting far cooler things than just my article. See this site to learn more.

The brains behind the project is Hasin Tariq Amin. I’m proud to call him my akhi. He is only 15 years old and is going nowhere but up when it comes to positive social and cultural change. It’s been wonderful to see this commitment of his grow over the past year. He’s also a deeply faithful Muslim. That fact guides his work and his willingness to take on difficult issues. Enjoy.

New Muslim wedding contract in Britain

New from Britain: a new Muslim wedding contract has been implemented in the UK. Because it offers certain rights for women – and demands certain things of men (women are guaranteed the right to divorce, men must vow to not be abusive), it has been called “revolutionary”. However, it’s actually based in some of Islam’s most basic guidelines about how marriage should be.

It’s definitely a step in the right direction, and I commend the members of the ulema who have advocated these changes.

What do you think?

More. About. Hijab. Swanky hijab this time.

Yes, another post about hijab. I can’t help myself – Muslimah Media Watch started it!

IslamOnline published an article this month about the hijab going mainstream. It was a truncated version of the Telegraph’s piece on the headscarf making a fresh foray into fashion. The piece in the Telegraph opens with the journalist feeling none-too-happy with her “babushka” appearance as she tries on a headscarf. (Sidenote: the scarf was Hermes. If she’d care to donate her castoff Hermes to me, I’d be more than happy to show her that there is no reason to feel frumpette in those threads, wallahi!)

Anyway, Dolce & Gabbana, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Vera Wang and other designers are jumping into the  market, looking to “liven up” the headscarf and “introduce it to a younger generation.”

This isn’t anything entirely new. Top-notch designers have been designing abayas for years and selling them to the Middle East’s upper crust. Rummaging through a friend’s closet recently – looking for something to wear to a party we’d be attending – I had my pick of abayas: stunning purple, gilded turquoise – from Lolita Lempicka to Dior. (To my chagrin, my feet were too puny for her Louboutins.) In her closet, modesty met fashion, for sure. But wait – if it’s a flagrant display of cha-ching, is it modesty at all?

What is new is the 21st century push to revive the headscarf in the West. Sure, Grace Kelly rocked it. So did Audrey Hepburn. It’s even shown up on runways over the past 5 years — but hasn’t made its way into the fashion rags as an “it” trend.

Faith at Muslimah Media Watch has posted an insightful and interesting commentary about this, which I recommend you read here.

Shariah TV appearance airs TONIGHT!

This just in: catch me on Shariah TV tonight! The episode opening the brand-new series of Shariah TV – “Pledging Allegiance” – airs tonight at 5:00 pm EST, and midnight London time.

If you have access to the UK’s Channel 4, tune in and let me know what you think! Here’s Channel 4’s broadcast schedule.

Remember to check out the other episodes in the series too. To learn more, click here.

Broadcasting across the pond

Greetings from New  York City, where I am to tape the latest series of Shariah TV for the UK’s Channel 4. Shariah TV is a discussion-based program where a group of young Muslims engages with a panel of contemporary scholars.

We filmed from a rooftop in TriBeCa (lower Mahattan). A great view of the Empire State Building was the background for our conversation.

Shariah TV has young people ask scholars some of our most pressing issues. For example: what is a young Muslim to do when work functions involve alcohol? Do we have the right – or even responsibility – to reinterpret sacred texts?

I won’t spoil the show by telling you what the scholars said – or how our conversation went. What I will tell you is that it was vivacious – and the show’s staff did a great job of pulling together a diverse group of participants. The show airs in the UK in mid-July. I’ll do my best to get the footage accessible to you. For now, enjoy the photos I’ve included below.

On a personal note, I really enjoyed meeting my fellow participants and the panel of scholars. The conversations that started even after the tape stopped rolling were some of the most meaningful fellowship I’ve had in a long time. Differing opinions were met with the utmost respect, sincerity and compassion. My heartfelt gratitude goes to those participants I had the blessing of speaking with further. Non-alcoholic cheers to my new brothers and sisters!

Participants pose with one of the imams who sat on the panel of scholars (he is the man in the white shirt). I’m on the far right. Check out the great backdrop we had!

A network executive briefs participants before taping

The New York City skyline sets the scene for our conversations

Participants with Shariah TV host Tazeen Ahmad