Gender and Sexuality


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A post about the famous 14th century Mamluk text of al-Nuwayri, with a new English translation of excerpts from this classic compendium now available.

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The women of Iran – 120 years ago

Antoin Sevruguin, the father of Iranian society photography, captured portraits of Iranian women in the early 20th century, from well-known ladies at the court to women from various tribes around the country.

Click here to see the photographs.

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by Scheherazade Bloul, Morocco World News, Monday 30 November 2015

Rabat – One of Morocco’s most celebrated feminist writers and sociologists passed away aged 75, on Monday.

Born in 1940, in Fes, Fatima Mernissi became known for her significant contributions in the literary field through which she focused on reconciling traditional Islam with progressive feminism.

The author of classics such as Beyond the Veil, The Veil and the Male Elite, Islam and Democracy and countless more publications, the campaigner for women’s rights gained international attention for her work on Islam and women. (more…)

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H&M: Where Pseudo-Sustainability Meets Diversity Porn
by Melody Moezzi, MS Blog, September 30, 2015

The world’s second largest fashion retailer recently made a deliberate move to attract members of the world’s second largest religion, and people have taken notice.

More specifically, H&M featured a Muslim hijabi woman for a split second in this video advertising spot that deftly disguises a sly cost-saving measure as an eco-friendly call for “sustainable fashion.” The spot concludes, “Leave your unwanted garments in any of our 3,300 stores. We reuse them or recycle them into new clothes. Recycling one single T-shirt saves 2,100 liters of water.” Makes you wonder how much money it saves H&M—though unsurprisingly, the ad doesn’t say.

More notably, the ad includes a sort of festival of other “others,” resulting in an awkward spectacle of diversity porn that begs to be shared and tweeted by all those progressive and free-thinking folks who have no problem letting multinational companies into their hearts, minds and closets.
(more…)


A member of ISIS poses in a fighter jet similar to those used in the Prophet’s time.

By Haroon Moghul, Religion Dispatches, August 24, 2015

Last week, The New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi published “A Theology of Rape,” a report as important as it is horrifying. Unfortunately, like several recent exposés on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including Graeme Wood’s website-busting What ISIS Really Wants, Callimachi’s reporting is unusually receptive to the movement’s claims. Namely, that plausible Islamic arguments can be made for slavery, rape, and other crimes.

In support of his own argument that ISIS isn’t just “Islamic,” but “very Islamic,” Wood cited Princeton academic Bernard Haykel who insists that anyone who denies ISIS’ Islamic authenticity is being disingenuous (who says this is never elaborated on). Wood then proceeded to analyze ISIS’ “Islamicity” based almost entirely on Haykel, several fringe Muslim scholars, ISIS sympathizers, and no mainstream voices.

This is a problem. Journalist Murtaza Hussain explains that, “We invariably view conflicts involving Muslim groups as being driven primarily by atavistic religious beliefs.” Which is why, he adds, we jump to “texts and ideology to explain contemporary events. We don’t do this with the recent Israeli war on Gaza, even though that conflict also contains clear religious connotations and justifications.”

Only weeks ago Jewish radicals lit a house on fire and burned a Palestinian child to death. Last year another Palestinian child was burned alive. Yet I don’t recall articles in the Times, the Atlantic or any other popular media assessing the act’s conformity with Judaism, or arguing that “price tag” attacks are not just “Jewish,” but “very Jewish.” There are, in fact, radical Jewish sects who preach indiscriminate violence citing G-d and the Torah, but these claims are not entertained as serious.

“ISIS,” laments Hussain, “has been granted full civilizational power to speak for and represent Islam.”

For the rest of this article, click here.

by Hind Aleryani, Your Middle East, April 29, 2013

We used to play at my aunt’s garden when we were younger…girls and boys, there was no difference… we grew up together… we used to race, play, laugh… sometimes we would fight playfully… we used to watch TV together… cry at the end of sad cartoons together… we grew a bit older… we began to study for our classes together… whenever we’d fight we used to threaten the other that we’d tell on them to the teacher… we used to play practical jokes on one another… we’d laugh with all our hearts…

And so the days went by…

My cousin and I are staring outside the window… we are looking at the garden where my male cousin and his friends are playing… this is the garden where we used to play together… they used to be our friends once upon a time… these are the boys we used to play with… what happened? Why are we prisoners at home, while they play ball outside with all freedom… what did we do? Did we grow older? Did our bodies change? Did we become an object of temptation that needs to be covered from people’s eyes? Aren’t those the boys we knew since we were children? What changed? Why are we strangers? Why do I run and hide whenever I hear one of their voices? Is it just because the pitch of his voice changed? Is that why we aren’t friends anymore? Are we supposed to act differently towards one another? Different to how we acted just yesterday? We started to act shy and anxious whenever we’d speak… we stopped playing with one another… My cousin and I began spending our spare time watching Mexican soap operas, as if we were in our 50s…

And so the days went by… (more…)

I have been wondering for some time if there is any profession in the world more disgraceful and pathetic than that of being a politician. I realize that there have been and are decent people that get elected to public office and even some good intentioned folk who gain power through other means. I am also aware that every profession has its crazies and I have known my fair share of academics who fit that characterization. But two things came across my Facebook radar today that are too absurd not to call for a commentary. One is an elected official, the Tea Party Wunderkind Tom Cotton, who in only a few months appears to have been drinking something far stronger than the tea of the party that elected him. Given his fast start out of the gate of congress, I am tempted to think he signed a Hollywood movie contract before he ran for office. Perhaps Arnold has already been pegged to play him. Cotton has been having a ball acting like a boll weevil on a Fox News feeding frenzy. Managing to convince 40-odd fellow senators to sign on to a letter that is in some sense an act of treason for anyone who does care about the Constitution was certainly an opening act hard to duplicate. Our allies are surely excited to know that one section of our government has little intention of honoring what the president is authorized to do before he even does it.

But more pathetic than this silly letter, which surely must frighten Iran into accepting everything a tea partyer might dream up, is his Rambo attitude towards his fellow citizens, assuming he considers a large portion (perhaps that percentage noted by Romney in the last election) citizens. I can see the logic here. The bulk of our military today relies on poorer individuals, lots of Hispanics and Blacks. So if we increase the military he must think we will get these potential criminals off the streets where the white folk live. As for those who do not enlist or who return to discover there are few decent jobs for war veterans (unless they are rightwing enough to run for congress), we will obviously need a lot more prisons to hold them all. Perhaps if we invade another country (Iran or some evil state like that) we could set up a penal colony and deport the unwanted. I am sure a select committee in congress could fashion a comprehensive bill defining who deserves to stay in America and who should be sent packing. I can see a possible motto for the act: “America, leave it now whether you love it or not because we hate you.” The list could start by deporting anyone who ever received food stamps and that would make it easier to close down the Food Stamp program.

But then perhaps I am being unfair. If al-Qaida allies with the Mexican drug lords, then we will see shariah law west of the Pecos. If East Coast liberals continue to push for gay marriage (and the Presbyterian Church USA just moved to perform gay marriages), then our population will decline so drastically that the Republicans will never have a chance to rule the country into the ground forever. Then there are those hippies in San Francisco who need to be weeded out (same goes for Coloradans and all those other psychedelic states). If we start the draft again (I remember how popular it was when I was of draft age but I think it would be better to have it run by annual income rather than birth date to make sure only the lower class goes off to fight), then these druggies can go off somewhere, kill our enemies (which are everywhere) and get high all they want on the drugs overseas. We could send more to Afghan and give them first dibs on the poppy fields.

Then there is Egypt. It seems that a notorious belly dancer wants to run for parliament. I think there is no fear that she would harbor any sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood. One of her music videos could be a rather effective campaign message. Imagine a politician who can shake her belly and not just fill it up with bribes. The world needs more female politicians for sure, so who would not support this candidate.

So who should be a politician? It seems that the more bizarre you are, the more incentive there is to run for office. But I think I have been asking the wrong question. The real question is who should be a voter that elects politicians? If the majority of those elected is a representative sample, then it may be that no one should vote. Sorry Athens, but democracy is just too dangerous to promote any more. Now with Cotton in congress and Sama al-Masri attempting to dangle both her zaina in Sisi’s newly formed Egyptian parliament, the new model for government should be Sparta. Hail Leonidas.

A painting that says it all by Sulafa Hijazi on Arab Women Artists.

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