ME: Thanx for your mail. When taken out of context, alot of this can take on an extreme nature. i've tried as far as possible to tie your questions BACK to issue at hand with Sam, and my answers too. but if taken totally out of context, issues take on a hypothetical nature. Please read my replies below.
>Fareena :
>OTHERS 1: it is obvious that you are quite knowledgeable of islam and
>took great time to write out a response. frankly i would not have
>bothered. though i had some questions for you as well, after reading your mail,
>if you will indulge me.

ME: this part of my response it also to ***** with regards to a part of her mail: (to read her mail click here)

ME: i feel i need to say something at this point. why does everyone tell me i should not have bothered. i think it's our duty to attempt to clear the doubts of those who question our beliefs. My mom is religious but she's not the type who reads modern literature on religion...she was brought up in Bdesh and she follows customs there, she follows the Quran and hadith religiously..she is very different from me but even she agrees that the reason why Christianity advances so quickly, it has done so for centuries, one of the reasons is its ardent missionaries.  I feel that this is what differentiates us Muslims from Christians. They make great effort in dispelling doubts and sharing the word of the Bible. The kind of missionary work that they have performed in the form of churches, schools and hospitals is highly admirable.

ME: Why do people feel that it is not worth writing a simple e-mail to a person who questions us? I don't understand this. It's not about being defensive. I do not write to to Sam and **** and others who question me because I feel they are insulting me and I should get defensive. I have a different opinion from them and it feels odd to me that I should not express it. When something sounds illogical or untrue, I question it and I feel I should speak up
about it. 

ME: I AM NOT KNOWLEDGEABLE WHEN IT COMES TO ISLAM....Far from it. I write these e-mails because everything is bounded by logic and common sense and most of the issues discussed here are basically about that.

ME: I am not spending all day writing these e-mail. I lead a normal life like anyone else. I run errands, I am doing my degree and I sit for exams and I play the role of daughter, friend and sister. It takes only a few minutes to express doubt and give my own opinion in the form of an email even is the person who i am writing to is not realy interested in listening. Why then am i blamed for making the effort?

>     You wrote:
>ME: THAT IS OPPRESSION. The constant need to look beautiful as society
>>prescribes so that you don't feel inferior or so that you get this
>>job you really want and so on. Can you very confidently say that
>>this is not a problem in modern societies and that it is a form of
>oppression of women?
>>OTHERS 1: Don't you think that patriarchal oppression is more than just hem
>lines, anorexia, and low self esteem?

ME: and don't you think they ARE major factors in gender power relations?? "patriarchal oppression" as you put it and hem lines, anorexia, and low self esteem are tied in a vicious cycle.

ME: What other factors are just as big as contributing factors, please do share...I have stated my opinion and would love to hear yours



>>ME: For a Muslim woman who wears the hijaab, she is judged by her mind and
>>her deeds only...not by how sexy she looks, how much cleavage she's showing
>>and how much make up she's wearing. when a man looks at her, he looks into
>>her eyes and his focus is on what she says and the way she thinks and not
>>anything else. that is freedom.
>OTHERS 1: So, if hijaab permits a woman to be judged by their mind-- why do not men
>wear hijaab too? Are you rationalizing here or are you truly being critical?
>Are we not interested in freedom for both sexes?

ME: We are interested in freedom for both sexes but do men face the same treatment that women do? Honestly speaking, DO men really face the same treatment that women do?

ME: If you concede that men have cleavage that gets stared at, and they have their butts grabbed and they get molested and raped and they get whistled at or gawked at as they walk by and they get rated for who is dressed more beautiful. I don't even have to LIST these..they are countless..and if MEN feel THEY face the same thing THEN WE TALK ABOUT HIJAAB FOR MEN.

>>ME: I think Hijaabi women have a great deal more confidence and self-respect
>>for themselves because they don't see the need to portray a beautiful
>>image in order to get by in life.
> OTHERS 1: Is this really a fair generalization.  Self-esteem and confidence has
>     nothing to do with covering one's body or not.  So, why would a
>     woman who wears hijaab have more confidence?

ME: I think it had ALOT to do with covering a woman's body. First of all, in many societies wearing a hijaab has to do with breaking out of social norms. Even in societies like Singapore where there are many Muslims, when non-Muslims see many hijaabis together, they stop and stare. In America, it's worse. It takes confidence to break out of a social norm/dress-code.

ME: Secondly, I don't think one even needs to mention the confidence boost that external appearances give to a person. Can you really say the only reason women DON'T wear hijaab is to avoid feeling hot and that wearing tight fitting clothes, makes-up and flaunting one's assets does not make a woman feel good about herself? Can you really find women who really disagree that looking good externally makes them feel good on the inside?

ME: I am NOT a hijaabi, and I certainly speak from experience that external appearances make a person feel more confident.

ME: When men go for interviews, to cite one example...don't u do your best to dress immaculately? Why? Cos' there is so much emphasis on external appearances when a person is being judged.

ME: Especially in the west, I feel that hijaabi women have more confidence because they rely on what is not external. See what I mean? She relies on her mind and her intelligence and her wisdom and she is confident enough that she can because she has thrown away the need to increase her worthiness with that which is external.

ME: we don't live in societies where people are NOT judged based on how they look and dress.

>>ME: Have you any idea of the extent to which domestic violence is rampant >>in America AND other parts of the world which have little or >>negligible number of Muslims? Domestic violence >>is a social problem rampant in the USA....and how many percentage of the >>offenders are MUSLIM?
>OTHERS 1: With this thread of your argument,  I adamantly disagree.  Unfortunately,
>here you do great injustice to Muslim women by suggesting that domestic
>violence is not rampant among Muslim communities.  I worked for over a
>year in a South Asian domestic violence organization, and I worked with
>many women (Bangladeshi & Pakistani) who are abused by their husbands who
>are Muslim.  Domestic violence does not discriminate.  The statistics you
>cited do not even record extensively or survey women of color, let alone
>muslim women.  What are you statistics on the incidence of domestic
>violence among Muslims? It has not been done, at least not that I know od
>in the states. I have done community presentations at Islamic centers  &
>mosques in NY and women say in confidence that it happens at the same
>rates.  So, by suggesting that domestic violence does not happen in muslim
>communities, you are silencing the woman who experiences abuse from her
>partner who is Muslim, because she may think she is the only one, an
>aberration.  This severely undermines the work that women are trying to do
>to address social problems within the community.  As her Muslim sister, if
>you negate experiences of Muslim women who are abused, you simply add an
>additional burden to her life as she is trying to defend her religion in a
>society that is seeks to demonize it, and protect herself from
>her partner who abuses her.  You unwittingly take away her potential
>supporter -- women like yourself.  We need to be careful, in how we
>discuss these issues which are more complex than the dichotomies you set
>up. (modern vs. islam; women who wear hijaab vs. those who don't etc).
>As it is obvious that you are interested in women and islam, allow me
>to suggest an author that I respect who writes extensively about women,
>feminism, and islam.  Her name is Fatima Mernissi. Any book of hers would
>be good.

ME: If taken OUT OF CONTEXT, my paragraph above will be HIGHLY UNFAIR AND I AGREE WITH YOU. but if you try and look at it within context, I DID NOT DENY that muslim women are beaten up very often. The point of my paragraph is to show that domestic violence can and does occur in NON-MUSLIM societies. If yuo read Sam's mail carefully he seems very adamant on the fact that domestic violence is such a problem because Islam recommends it. The point of my paragraph above is to ask him to explain why domestic violence is such a problem in societies which consists largely of non-muslims. It is not a denial of domestic violence among muslims at all. the point of my paragraph is far from that.

ME: By showing that it is just as rampant in non-muslim societies, I dispel the notion among non-muslims that Islamic instructions are the only threats to a woman's freedom and rights.Domestic violence is a SOCIAL, gender-power relations problem that cuts across religious and racial boundaries.

ME: I will definitely look out for the author you have recommended. Thanx.