Thursday, October 29, 2009

Extremists obsession with female bodies

The article by the title "Why are Islamic extremists obsessed with female bodies?" follows my commentary. *** note about the Bra is listed below.

It is a serious issue that needs attention. First of all, let’s acknowledge that the practice of dehumanizing a woman is wrong, and that it is spreading unabated.

Secondly, let’s accept the responsibility that each one of us has to do our share of work for creating civil societies.

Justice and Fairness is the hall mark of civil societies, where justice and a sense of fairness is the norm, there is a correlation in people’s confidence the sense of security that brings peace and prosperity. We cannot have peace when people around us don’t.

Since these attitudes are seriously spreading, we need to do the research to find what germinates it. The abuse of women continues in the most civilized societies as well as the traditional sub-societies where the culture of men is to be the providers and women to be the nurturers.

We need to study, if there is a correlation between un-employment rate, inability to bring fairness and justice in their enclaves and how men behave with women, the easy target to amass a wrong sense of self worth is by preying on the weak. Isn’t that an animal instinct, rather than a Wahhabi inspired attitude?

Don’t the politicians in India use the unemployed to go burn the buses and trains for Cauvery water, for Tamil/ Hindi conflicts and for a host of other conflicts.

It is convenient to blame Wahhabi ideology and wash off our hands that the problem is solved. That is irresponsible thing to do unless we find the roots of the problem and bring about a lasting solution.

Please note that I will not defend the Wahhabis. As a Pluralist, I am more opposed to the exclusive ideology of Wahhabis than an average person. However, we need to learn to bark at the right tree. Place the responsibility where it belongs, so we can find real sustainable solutions.

Given that, I would reccomend that it be re-titled as "The extremiss obsession with female bodies."

*** I found the picture of bra appropriate on this site to make a point – just recently Yvonne Ridley was in Dallas sharing her story about her capture by the Talibans… she made a big point about the Talibans, when in Jail, she washed her underclothing and hung them on the clothes line to dry, the whole ministry was involved in telling her to remove and the reason they gave was that the bra would incite the men, it would tempt them and she had to remove the object of temptations from the clothes line that is in their sight outside the compound. She made a comment about their obsession about this rather than doing the foreign policy work. The notes about her visit at:

Mike Ghouse

Friends, Following article reinforces concerns articulated by Pervez Hoodbhoy in "The Saudiisation of Pakistan and the death of its rich culture" (Thank you Farida), from a rapid and malignant spread of Wahhabi ideology in Islam.

I must warn the reader that the article has some explicit language and expressions. If you have no tolerance for that, please don't read any further. Otherwise, read and reflect meaningfully.
# # #

Why are Islamic extremists obsessed with female bodies?

Fanatics view women as objects of pleasure, temptation and sin and use
strictness toward them as an easy form of religious struggle"

- Egyptian author Alaa Al Aswany

The Shabaab movement in Somalia controls large parts of the south and centre of
the country, and because officials in this movement embrace the Wahhabi
ideology, they have imposed their views on Somalis by force and have issued
strict decrees banning films, plays, dancing at weddings, football matches and
all forms of music, even the ring tones on mobile phones.

Some days ago, these Islamic extremists carried out a strange operation: They
arrested a Somali woman and whipped her in public because she was wearing a bra.
They announced clearly that wearing bras was un-Islamic because it is a form of
fraud and deception.

We may well ask what wearing bras has to do with religion, why they would
consider them to be a form of fraud and deception and how they managed to arrest
the woman wearing the bra when all Somali women go around with their bodies
completely covered. Did they appoint a special female officer to inspect the
breasts of women passing by in the street?

One Somali woman called Halima told the Reuters news agency: "Al-Shabaab forced
us to wear their type of veil and now they order us to shake our breasts....
They first banned the former veil and introduced a hard fabric which stands
stiffly on women's chests. They are now saying that breasts should be firm
naturally, or just flat."


In fact, this excessive interest in covering up women's bodies is not confined
to the extremists in Somalia.

In Sudan, the police examine women's clothing with extreme vigilance and arrest
any woman who is wearing trousers. They force her to make a public apology for
what she has done and then they whip her in public as an example to other women.

Some weeks ago, Sudanese journalist Lubna Hussein insisted on wearing trousers
and refused to make the public apology. When she refused to submit to flogging,
she was referred to a real trial and the farce reached its climax when the judge
summoned three witnesses and asked them if they had been able to detect the
shape of the accused's underwear when she was wearing the trousers.

When one of the witnesses hesitated in answering, the judge asked him directly:
"Did you see Lubna's stomach when she was wearing the trousers?"

The witness gravely replied: "To some extent."

Ms. Hussein said she was wearing a modest pair of trousers and that the
scandalous pair she was accused of wearing would not suit her at all because she
is plump and would need to lose 20 kilograms in order to put them on.

The judge convicted her anyway and fined her 500 pounds or a month in prison.

In Egypt, too, extremists continue to take an excessive interest in women's
bodies and in trying to cover them up entirely. They advocate not only that
women wear the niqab, but also that they wear gloves, believing they will ensure
that no passions are aroused when men and women shake hands.

We really do face a phenomenon that deserves consideration: Why are Islamic
extremists so obsessed with women's bodies?


Some ideas might help us answer this question.

First, the extremist view of women is that they are only bodies and instruments
for either legitimate pleasure or temptation, as well as factories for producing
children. This view strips women of their human nature.

Accusing the Somali woman of fraud and deception because she was wearing a bra
is the same charge of commercial fraud that the law holds against a merchant who
conceals the defects of his goods and makes false claims about their qualities
in order to sell them at a higher price. The idea here is that a woman who
accentuates her breasts by using a bra gives a false impression of the goods
(her body), which is seen as fraud and deception of the buyer (the man) who
might buy (marry) her for her ample breasts and later discover that they were
ample because of the bra and not by nature.

It would be fair to remember that treating women's bodies as commodities is not
something found only in extremist ideologies, but often happens in Western
societies, too. The use of women's naked bodies to market commercial products in
the West is merely another application of the idea that women are commodities.
Anyone who visits the red-light district in Amsterdam can see for himself how
wretched prostitutes, completely naked, are lined up behind glass windows so
that passersby can inspect their charms before agreeing on the price. Isn't that
a modern-day slave market, where women's bodies are on sale to anyone willing to

Second, the extremists believe women to be the source of temptation and the
prime cause of sin. This view, which is prevalent in all primitive societies, is
unfair and inhuman, because men and women commit sin together and the
responsibility is shared and equal. If a beautiful woman arouses and tempts men,
then a handsome man also arouses and tempts women. But the extremist ideology is
biased in favour of the man and hostile to the woman, and considers that she
alone is primarily responsible for all sins.

Third, being strict about covering up women's bodies is an easy and effortless
form of religious struggle. In Egypt, we see dozens of Wahhabi sheiks who
enthusiastically advocate covering up women's bodies, but do not utter a single
word against despotism, corruption, fraud or torture because they know very well
that serious opposition to the despotic regime (which should really be their
first duty) would inevitably lead to their arrest, torture and the destruction
of their lives. Their strictness on things related to women's bodies enables
them to operate as evangelists without any real costs.

Somalia is a wretched country in the grip of famine and chaos, but officials
there are distracted from that by inspecting bras. The Sudanese regime is
implicated in crimes of murder, torture and raping thousands of innocents in
Darfur, but that does not stop it from putting on trial a woman who insisted on
wearing trousers.

It is women rather than men who always pay the price for despotism, corruption
and religious hypocrisy.

Fourth, the extremist ideology assumes that humans are a group of wild beasts
who are incapable of controlling their instincts, that it is enough for a man to
see a bare piece of female flesh for him to pounce on her and have intercourse.
This assumption is incorrect, because humans, unlike animals, always have the
power to control their instincts by willpower and ethics. An ordinary man, if he
is sane, cannot have his instincts aroused by his mother, sister, daughter or
even the wife of a friend, because his sense of honour and morality transcends
his desires and neutralizes their effect.

So virtue will never come about through bans, repression and pursuing women in
the street, but rather through giving children a good upbringing, propagating
morality and refining character.

According to official statistics, societies that impose segregation between men
and women (as in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia) do not have lower rates of sexual
crimes than other societies. The rates there may even be higher.


We favour and advocate modesty for women, but first we advocate a humane view of
women, a view that respects their abilities, their wishes and their thinking.

What is really saddening is that the Wahhabi extremism that is spreading
throughout the world with oil money and gives Muslims a bad image is as far as
can be from the real teachings of Islam. Anyone who reads the history of Islam
fairly has to be impressed by the high status it accords to women, because from
the time of the Prophet Mohammed until the fall of Andalusia, Muslim women mixed
with men, were educated, worked and traded, fought, and had financial
responsibilities separately from their fathers or husbands. They had the right
to choose the husband they loved and the right to divorce if they wanted.
Western civilization gave women these rights many centuries after Islam.

Finally, let me say that religious extremism is the other face of political
despotism. We cannot get rid of the extremism before we end the despotism.
Democracy is the solution

Alaa Al Aswany is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Yacoubian
Building and Chicago, and is a regular contributor to the Egyptian newspaper
AlShorouk. Alaa Al Aswany, The Globe and Mail.

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  1. The extremist cabal representing this kind thinking - that sexual desire (lust) is sinful and it is the woman who excites "impure" thoughts in man and therefore the woman has to be chastised, controlled, locked up, covered up and punished for all instances of Zina ('fornication') - or for creation of circummstances that can remotely lead to Zina represents the majority of Muslims. They simply do no concede woman's God given right of liberty, of control over one's own body and the freedom to be left alone and will have to be, sooner or later,confronted, perhaps violently. You cannot reason with them; insofar as they practice the principles of the Ahadith (while preaching primacy of the Quran), they are hypocrites but will not concede that. They will call you an apostate and kafir and will loudly proclaim your inevitable consignment to hell because God has sealed your heart and has drawn a curtain over your eyes because, "God guides whom He will and misguides whom He will! Tell me, what sayest thee?

  2. >>>>>>>>>>> It is convenient to blame Wahhabi ideology and wash off our hands
    that the problem is solved. That is irresponsible thing to do unless we find the
    roots of the problem and bring about a lasting solution.<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    What do you think is the "root of the problem", Mike?

    Read this article together with pervez Hoodbhoy's article on Saudiisation, that
    Prof. Farida Majid posted yesterday. The proof is overwhelming about the "root
    of the problem".

    To eliminate the root, I don't think anyone has clear solutions. May be during
    your brain storming session of Jan 24 on genocides, you should invite solutions on this topic as well. Afterall, what is being done in the name of Islam by these ideologues is nothing short of a genocide - timeless and boundaryless.


  3. Najid,

    I will read both the articles you have suggested and would re-evaluate my supposition.

    People are always scanning to anchor their frustrations of injustice, voicelessness and their inability to fulfill their role of a traditional man of the house onto some activity where they can succeed. The easy way out is to take it out on their women, the very women whom they are to protect.

    They are ripe candidates and are vulnerable to suggestions; The Wahhabi mind set becomes a easy sale for the merchant mullahs, they buy it and latch onto to achieve that sense of manliness, a sense of I can do it.

    We need to do the research to find out what germinates it. The abuse of women continues in the most civilized societies as well as the traditional sub-societies where the culture of men is to be the providers and women to be the nurturers.

    What is your take on this?

    Indeed, the Holocaust and Genocides event is planned to bring to the fore, what can we learn and do as ordinary folks to prevent the Massacres and Genocides of the kind that happened in Gujarat and happening in Darfur.

    I invite a paper on each Genocide/ Massacre coupled with simple ideas.

    Mike Ghouse



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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.