STOP PRESS: A compassionate warning to women. Do not join IS! Do not marry them! IS not only beheads innocent people and commits genocide against whole communities, enslaving the women and girls, it treats its own women abysmally and violently, using them as fodder to sexually satisfy fighting men and as mere baby machines for the cause.
A Fatwah on Purdah: Unveiling Niqab, Burqa, Chador and Hijab - A Scientific, scriptural and legal unravelling of the Muslim requirement for veiling and sequestering, for violent punishments for adultery, and women being allowed to see only through one eye, for fear that two female eyes will be so attractive they will turn men into beasts.
This article is a fatwa to unveil the veil and liberate the world from violent and lethal punishments for adultery. It is designed to be explanatory, for Muslims, and non-Muslims alike, on the status of the veil, and its more oppressive forms. If you are a Muslim, it is set out as a valid religious opinion. If you are not a Muslim, its grounds are human common sense and compassion. It includes scientific and biological arguments, which are valid for all human beings, traversing all human cultures, and have implications for the practices of other religions as well as Islam. In religious terms, this is a fatwa rejecting the claim that, under Muslim teachings, women are required to wear the veil, or that it is desirable to do so.
A Shrine to Noorjehan Begum and others like her stoned or burned under Shariat
Stoning for adultery was not the invention of Islam, not in the Qur'an, (which prescribed flogging), nor of Shariat, but of Deuteronomic Law, operating among the Jews of Medina in Muhammad's time however it was utterly condemned by Jesus: John 8:3 "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, 'Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?' ... and said unto them, 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. '... And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, 'Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?' She said, 'No man, Lord'. And Jesus said unto her, 'Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.'
Thus do I say also, in rememberance of Noorjehan and all who have suffered with her.
Genesis and Islam:
Key Readings in Islam And Women:
Palestine and the Female:
Even today Palestinian women who do not have the tokens of virginity can be killed, thrown down wells or murdered in other brutal ways. "The last case of 17 year old - the father knowing that she lost her virginity - they took her to two doctors - both gynecologists told him that she lost her virginity - so he ended up taking her at night and throwing her head - cutting her her head totally - separating the head from the body" Palestinian woman doctor.
"I drove behind them, schoolgirls growing wings, and in that split second between seeing the raised truncheon in the soldier's hand and braking and opening the car door, I lived through an infinity of terror. I wobbled on my high heels and clutched her to my breast, blood and streaming hair, taking the blows on my arms and shoulders, shielding that precious, vulnerable head with an obstinate imperviousness to pain that can transform a mother into a rock. For two days and one night I sat up by her hospital bed, holding her hand, staring at the closed eyes beneath the bandaged head, willing her with all my might to live. She lived, my Lina with the hair of brown silk; my Lina, who always used to start her drawings with a rainbow and a smiling sun, now draws a Palestinian flag, below which a young girl faces a gigantic figure in uniform brandishing a blood-stained club. Her laughter is not a giggle any more, but reverberates with a knowledge way beyond her years. It is this knowledge that I share with Najwa now. On top of the hill behind the barricades (Sami does not know where I am), I look down at the soldiers who look like the armed robots that Lina used to play with, and I laugh. I don't give a damn about my lost shoes." (Ashrawi)
Jordan Honour Killings of Women (20% of Murders are Honour Killings)
Jordanian law affirmed in 2000 makes this a light offense.
Virgins Murdered by Father, Brothers Who Say They Had Sex
A man took his two teen-age daughters, 16 and 17, for exams when he heard from neighbors that both were dating. Though the two were found to be virgins, two weeks later both were killed by their father and two brothers--they refused to believe the girls hadn't had sex. Back in Zarqa after serving one year for murder, Ahmad recalled the childhood good times with his sister Haneen. "We used to have fun when we played football together, but I always won because I am a man," he said. Any regrets? "I am not sorry. She was wrong." "Had she been alive and committed the same mistake, I would have killed her again."
In 1989, at the time of the first national elections in a generation, Jordan was still under martial law and the ban on political parties stood, which meant most candidates had to run as independents. Only the Muslim Brotherhood was able to present candidates for election because of its legal status as a charity and not a political party. Consequently, of the eighty seats in parliament, twenty went to the Muslim Brotherhood and an additional fourteen went to independent Islamists, giving the fundamentalists 40 percent of the parliamentary seats and making them the largest block in government. Those same elections were the first in Jordan for which women were permitted to stand as candidates, and twelve women ran, although none succeeded. But for one of the candidates, Tujan Faisal, the campaign waged against her still continues, and robbed her of her career, her marriage, her comfortable life-style, and her security. "Kill the apostate! Kill the apostate!" The words still haunt her. The blood the fundamentalists were calling for was her own. That phrase was shouted for hours each day outside the courthouse, and the chanting followed her to her home and was also repeated over her phone. In accusing her of apostasy, the Islamists asked the court to declare Faisal incompetent, dissolve her marriage, confiscate all her property, strip her of' all legal rights, ban any of' her works, and grant immunity to anyone who shed her blood. Her crime? In response to a two-month campaign waged in the nation's media by fundamentalists that claimed women should not be permitted to run for political office because they are not mentally competent to do so, she wrote a newspaper article castigating the crusade. Said Faisal, then Jordan's top female television commentator, who had her own show and was also a newspaper columnist, "The newspaper articles stated that women are minors all their lives, and need male guardians to run their affairs and keep them on the straight path. Another said, 'Women are so deficient they are only capable of cleaning, cooking, and serving members of the family. They possess a physical makeup suitable only for menial tasks. In return for these services, a woman's remuneration will be that she is fed, given shelter, and clothed.' A third read, 'It is permissible to beat a woman if' she disobeys her husband's instructions. Beating does not hurt a woman's dignity. This is impossible, because woman is born without dignity'" (Goodwin 1994).
Bangla Desh Taslima Nazrin - The Lightning Rod of the Black Stone
Seemingly overnight, a young woman from the provinces [of Bangladesh] - an unknown anaesthiologist in a government clinic - had become the newest victim of religious intolerance, threatened not only with death by Islamic militants, but a blasphemy trial.
Demonstrations, in in which thousands of fundamentalists took to the streets demanding Taslima's death, had become an almost daily occurrence this summer, and seemed particularly explosive on Fridays after mid-day prayers. As I looked down at the demonstrators from a balcony near the city's Central Mosque, they seemed a sea of flowing white prayer robes and caps as they flailed bamboo clubs, iron pipes, and machetes in the air. A number of the marchers had pythons and cobras coiled around their necks. They had threatened to release ten thousand snakes on the streets of Dhaka if Taslima Nasrin was is not publicly hanged.
She is an Eastern fatalist by birth, a Marxist by conviction, a self-proclaimed athiest. She is a doctor by choice of her family, a novelist, a columnist and a poet by her own. She is also a thrice-married feminist who has given voice to ideas never before publically expressed in Bangladesh. "She is either the bravest, orthe most foolish woman I have ever met".
To most Bangladeshis Taslima's pronouncements - collected in sixteen outspoken and often sexually explicit books "are like the pronouncements of someone who has dropped in from Mars. She's not even part of the Dhaka or the provincial elite, but comce from a little town way up in the hills. Where on earth did she get these ideas?"
Strong, often startling challenges to Islamic taboos on the role of women are an essential ingredient of her work. 'Religion is the great opressor and should be abolished' she has frequently said.
I was told that the location [of our meeting] was not to be identified, wince some seventy-five thousand Muslims were living in Sweeden, a large number of them from Iran, and members of her security detail still feared that the death sentence against her could be internationalized.
I asked her what it was like to live under a death sentence and to live underground. She smiled shyly, then answered in hesitant, but articulate English, "You become anonymous. You can't walk on the streets, you can't go shopping, you can't go to bookshops, or even to the Book Fair. Before all this happened, I didn't go to the mosque, I didn't go to Islamic meetings, I didn't go to the cinema. 'That meant that I had no other choice except for literature and art.
In the West, the money on my head is a small amount. In Bangladesh, twelve hundred and fifty dollars is a huge amount. You can give somebody two dollars to kill someone in Bangladesh. But perhaps what was most frightening to me was that my own government did nothing- it took no action against those who issued the fatwas against me.' Her voice was soft and quiet as she searched for words. Only her eyes betrayed the emotion that she must have felt.
According to officials of international aid agencies, who administer much of the critically needed two billion dollars in development assistance that Bangladesh receives each year, a steady quiet infusion of education and social programs had just begun to help the country turn the corner - lowering its birth rate, educating girls, and providing employment opportunities for women (whose literacy rate remains frozen at fifteen per cent).
And then the highly explosive, potentially lethal battle between Taslima Nasrin and the fundamentalists began:
The Stoning of Noorjehan: A woman named Noorjehan Begum was, by most accounts, the daughter of a landless peasant - a twenty-one-year-old who, in January, 1993, after her first marriage was dissolved, married again. The local mullah, giving no reasons, declared that a second marriage was contrary to Islamic law. A few weeks later, just after dawn, she was led to an open field in a small village in the district of Sylhet a stronghold of the fundamentalists - where a pit had been dug overnight. She was lowered into the pit and buried waist deep. Then, slowly and methodically, she was stoned - a hundred and one times. Her death horrified Dhaka's elite. It has horrified me into action.
A few months later, in another village another woman - also named Noorjehan - was tied to a bamboo stake after being condemned by a fatwa for adultery, she had abandoned her husband to elope with a neighbor, it was said. Kerosene was poured over her, and she was burned to death.
By 1993, use of the fatwa had travelled to the most remote hamlets of Bangladesh. It seemed that no areas were left untouched by the fundamentalists' ire. Over the countryside, women and non-governmental organizations, or N.G.O.s, whose programs for women begun transforming village life, came nder attack, as they challenged the staus-quo, a hierarchical system over which mullahs and moneylenders had presided tionally. The mullahs' particular targets were the Grameen Bank and the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, whose success vath women's programs in the villages had earned international renown. In the first three months of this year, a hundred and ten BRAC schools were torched, and many of them burned to the ground. Women, as the focus of the efforts ofthe N.G.O.s, were the objects of the mullahs' wrath. Throughout the countryside, they were being humiliated, driven out of their villages, or pushed to suicide if they dared to leave their homes, whether to work, to remarry, or to go to school.
As the atrocities continued, Taslima began to make a name for herself as an advocate of social, legal, and religious reform. She had arrived in Dhaka in late 1990, and had been assigned to the gynecological department of a small hospital in a working-class neighborhood.
Much of what she saw there, along with her earlier experiences in hospitals in Mymensingh, provided her with material for the harsh realism that became a defining characteristic of her work. She had already published small volumes of poetry, and now she began writing a syndicated newspaper column, mainly about the world she knew: about the oppression ofwomen in the provinces, and religious intolerance. Her language was Swiftian and direct. Her readership consisted largely of women - and of fundamentalists. Over the next year or so, her writing became increasingly stark and angry, making references to sexual organs, and featuring tirades against men and an uncompromising rejection of the status quo - The mullahs were enraged. In early 1992, angry mobs had begun attacking bookstores that carried her works; they also attacked her physically at the Dhaka Book Fair. She received threatening threatening anonymousletters and phone calls. She was called "whore" and "pornographer"!
In 1992 she wrote Shame a fictionalized account of the brutalization of a Hindu family by Islamic extremists in India, which was lauded by Hindus but resulted in her first fatwah from the Muslims.
A few months later in Calcutta, she told the English- language daily Statesman, according to the newspaper's account, that 'the Koran should be revised thoroughly,' and added, almost as an afterthought, that women activists in Bangladesh - who, at some risk to themselves, had earlier spoken out in her behalf played limited roles, and were only too happy to serve as housewives, faithfully following Islam's Shariat law.
Subsequently, in an open letter to the Indian and Bangladeshi press, she denied making the reported remarks, but her denial struck the already outraged as even more provocative than those initial remarks, for in it she wrote that "the Koran, the Vedas, the Bible and all such religious texts' were 'out of place and out of time.' The clear implication was that they should all be abolished, not revised.
In Bangladesh, fundamentalists took to the streets by the tens of thousands in a frenzy. What had begun as a minor, if nettlesome, incident was assuming the form of a major political crisis. ... All the Bangladeshis I talked with agreed that, intentionally or not, Taslima had become an Islamic lightning rod. The government filed blasphemy charges against her. She left her apartment and went underground. For the next two months, she never saw daylight.
"I guess what I remember most about my life in hiding was the dark. I stayed in a dark room all the time. I moved ten times in two months, but all the rooms were small and dark. My friends used to lock the door, the window shades were drawn. I had no books, no pens or paper, no radio, no phone only darkness. I wanted to see my family, - my friends refused. I couldn't sleep at night or during the day. I used to hear the chants of the fundamentalists outside on the street 'Kill Tastima! Kill Taslima!' I was terrified. I was sure they would find me and chop me into pieces with their swords and knives.'
Meredith Tax, the chair of the Women Writers' Committee of Intemational PEN, remembers a tiny, quiet voice in a call that came this June, in the middle ofthe night: 'Please save me, Meredith. They are going to kill me.'
She was eventually charged, given bail and flown secretly out of the country after extensive international negotiations.
But they're also killing people in the name of God. If they really believed in God, they couldn't kill. they only use the name of God.' "Some of your friends have suggested that you're really quite religious yourself,' I said. She smiled before replying. 'Did they give you proof?" she asked. Then she said, 'I've seen many religious people, like my mother. Theyre afraid of God. They obey God because, they say, if they don't, God will punish them later. Thats not my kind of God. So' she spoke with an air of finality 'I became an atheist when I was eleven or twelve.' 'What happened?'
'I'll tell you another day. My lawyers ave told me, Close your big mouth about religion; zip it shut. Otherwise, they'll leave me.' 'Did you say that the Koran should be revised?' 'No,' she wailed. 'How many times I have to say it? I've said it over and again. I said that Shariat law should be revised. I want a modern, civilized law where women are given equal rights. I want no religious law that discrimiates, none, period - no Hindu law, Christian law, no Islamic law. Why should a man be entitled to have four wives? Why should a son get two-thirds of his parents'property when a daughter an inherit only a third?' She fell silent, then turned toward me and asked, almost as though she were about someone else, 'Should I be killed for saying this?"
Her father Dr. Rojab Ali told me as he greeted me at the door. He looked pale and spoke without emotion, in a flat, subdued tone. A man of medium height and late middle years who had recently retired from a professorship at Mymen- singh Medical College, he was now in private practice as an internist- Three times in as many weeks, he told me, his chnic had been attacked by Islamic mobs.
Think not that Taslima is irreligious, she is upholding the sanctity of life and its true respect. "She's so shy its painful. ... I dont know if she fears talking or if she's dumb. But when she writes, she does so in such a disarmingly direct way that everyone understands. ... It was only a year ago that she began buying books on Islam and the Koran. I don't understand what drives her" - an editor.
What was it about Mymensingh that so caused Tashma to rebel?' I asked. 'Women are sold here for taka, for money!" Dr. Ah responded. 'Men are encouraged to beat their wives. We had a relative, a pir, a learned Sufi holy man, who issued fatwas to prevent our women s from leaving the house, fatwas against his own family for years. He declared me an apostate who would bum in Hell, along with my entire family, including Taslima. She was only nine years old."
"[The pir] was mad," she said. 'An Old Testament religion is what he preached. My mother used to take me to his house. He used to sit in a very comfortable place. His supporters surrounded him, reading their religious books. Women were behind a partition, a screen. There were many young women there; he always liked young girls. He would tell us that we should never get married, that the world would be destroyed and we would go on to a new life - that we would go before God, and he would punish us. Religion was punishment-, religion was sanctions.
"I'm not the female Salman Rushdie. We're very different. I respect Rushdie as a writer - he's very powerful. But he's repented, he became a born-again Muslim, and that I don't respect. I will never be like him. I will never repent.
I know if I ever go back I'll have to keep silent, stay inside my house. I'll never lead a normal life in my country, until my death."
Nov 98 Taslima's arrest warrant is commuted to bail.
By the fatwah, Taslima has in effect become the darkened one - the Shulamite or Zulumat - the Goddess of the enclosed garden. The Queen of the South. Guardian of the sacred stone.
See also the Koan of Renewal.
According to reports, Nasrin "has said women should have the right to marry four times in Islamic societies, just as men do. She has also said that she was for 'freedom of the womb' and that women must control whether they bear children or not." From exile, Nasrin told the French newspaper Le Monde that "they don't like what I write, because I try to show the extent to which people are oppressed by religion. In my view religious laws should be scrapped, and the hold religion has on society should be brought to an end. In response to the question, "Are you opposed to all dogma?" she said: "It seems to me that all religions contain the seeds of discrimination. If I'd been born in another country, I'd probably have criticised the dominant religion too. I'm not sure I'm any more convinced by what I read in the Bible, for example. To me, religion was necessary in the past, but perhaps isn't any more today. We can get along perfectly well just with our conscience."
Nawal El Saadawi is a leading Egyptian feminist, socialist, medical doctor, novelist and author of a classic work on women in Islam, The Hidden Face of Eve. She had a distinguished career as Director of Health Education in the MInistry of Health in Cairo, until she was dismissed summarily from her post in 1972, as a consequence of eher political writing and activities. Worse was to follow, for in 1981 she was arrested, together with some thousands of others, for alleged crimes agfainst the state. She was released only after the assasination of President Sadat.Memoirs from the Women's Prison III gives her account of this experience.
"Sarah was a famous slave singer who aimed her barbed words against the Moslems. She was among those whom Mahomet ordered to be executed on the day of his victorious entry into Mecca. In the region of El Nagir, it was recounted that some women had rejoiced when the Prophet died and Abu Bake, the first of the Caliphs, ordered their hands and feet to be cut off. Thus women who dared to give voice to their protest or opposition could be exposed to cruel punishment. Their hands might be cut off, or their teeth pulled out, or their tongues torn from their mouths. This last form of punishment was usually reserved for those who were singers. It was said of these women that they used to dye their hands with henna, brazenly display the seductions of their beauty, and beat time with their fingers on tambourines and drums in defiance of God, and in derision towards the rights of God and his Prophet. It was therefore necessary to cut off their hands and tear out their tongues" (Saadawi 1980)
It is said by al-Bukhari that the Prophet himself said: "This world shall not pass away until the buttocks of the women of Daws wiggle [again] around the dhu-al-Khalasah and they worship it as they were want to do [before Islam]" (Faris 32).
Algeria: Bloodbath of Fundametalism
Over 60,000 people have died in Algeria since the postponement of elections believed ot have won by the Islamic Salvation front. Despite subsequent elections won by a landslide by opponents of fundamentalism, the violence continues.
Stemming from before Islam, there appears to have been a tradition of sexual licence on the Haj associated with the fertility rites, which was forgiven through calling the offspring 'children of god', only now the tables have turned against the goddess. Briffault (3/221) states "At the immemorial shrine of al-Uzza at Mecca, it is a practice for women to offer themselves to the holy pilgrims. With the Persian Shi'ites it is the custom to form remporary unions during the period of the holy pilgrimage. It is stipulated at a fixed date all relations must cease, and the parties of such unions do not give signs of recognition if they subsequently meet. Any children of such unions are regarded as a blessing in the family and are looked upon as divine children or saints".
Pakistan - A Conservative Case NZ Herald 26 Oct 98
ISLAMABAD - Thousands of veiled women who support a Pakistani orthodox Islamic party said yesterday that Western concepts of women's liberation exploited and degraded women. The women met during a three-day conference held by the right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami, which wants to impose Islamic law on Pakistan. The conference has attracted 100,000 people to the federal capital. Organisers say they are laying the groundwork for an Islamic revolution. In recent months, economic troubles have worsened in Pakistan, and Islamic hard-liners have gained popularity. The women said they sought to dispel misconceptions that Islam did not guarantee women equal political, social and economic rights, and said standards in the West harm women. "Western civihsation has caused mischief in all spheres of human life," the women said. "Women became the main target of lust.... and are exposed to the worst kind of exploitation in the name of their rights." After the meeting, participants donated jewelery and cash to the Jamaat's Jihad, or holy war, fund. Jamaat sends volunteers to fight in conflicts involving Muslims around the world.
Later, 30 couples were married in a mass ceremony. The grooms and brides signed wedding documents and celebrated in separate tents, meeting only at the end of the day, a tradition in strict Muslim families- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has pressed for a sweeping bill that would impose Islamic law, but hard-liners say his actions are just a ploy to consolidate power. - AP
Comment: This position is one commonly taken by conservative Islamic organizations - viz to use women themselves to support the conservative patriarchal line in the name of modesty and sanctity of women. The hypocrasy of the position is immediately emphasized by the women tossing their jewelery into a jihad fund in violation of the spirit of Sakina without which Islam would not exist. This is a frank violation of the spirit of peace by women in the name of male combat myth.. It belies the very foundation of their position and the independence of spirit required to conceive a sustainable world.
To identify womens' liberation with sexual exploitation in the West is a lie in the spirit of Angra Mainyu. Capitalistic materialism does result in sexual exploitation of women, but again in the interests of the patriarchy. We thus have two patriarchal systems vying with one another to claim women as their heritage. Women in Islam should be warned by the evidence from India concerning the role of the female in driving the caste system and think a little more deeply about the consequent implications of suttee in parallel to the sunna and the sequestering and violence against women in Islamic societies.
The Darkness of the Shulamite enclosed garden - Taleban in Afghanistan.
(Right) Mariam Shekebah 16 reads the opening of TV in Kabul unveiled after the ousting of the Taleban from the capital (November 2001)
Home Page: http://www.rawa.org
E-mail: [email protected]
1 April 1997 Stoned to Death
An Afghan woman charged with adultery was stoned to death in the Taliban-controlled Laghman priovince east of Kabul. The woman had reportedly deserted her husband and had run away with another man. There was no mention of punishment for the man involved.
Another Burning of a Woman by Her Husband Oct 1999 By RAWA reporter
Seyyed Abdul-Rahman, a former resident of Ghazni and an aviation engineer, who works for the Intelligence Ministry in Kabul, had an argument with his wife, Salehah, on October 25, 1999. During the argument, he poured gasoline over her body and set her on fire. When neighbors find out about the fight, they enter his house and see Salehah's burned body, with her hands and legs tied up. They immediately take her to the hospital. At the hospital Salehah tells the doctors and neighbors that her husband tied her up, after he beat her up, and set fire to her. She died two days later at the hospital. Her husband seized the opportunity caused by the confusion and ran away with his two sons before her burial. He has not been hear-of yet. Since he was employed by the Taliban Intelligence, it is suspected that he is being sheltered by them. Salehah Askarzadah, the daughter of retired Brigadier Seyyed Yaghub Khan from Chahardehi in Laghman, was born in 1972 in Kabul and had a bachelor's degree in economics. Before the Taliban take over, she worked at Export Development Bank. She married Abdul-Rahman three years ago and she had a son and an infant daughter from that marriage.
This report addresses two burning issues:
Gulbar was admitted to a local hospital in Badghis province in Northern Afghanistan in November 2005. She has been burnt by her husband.
According to her mother, she married a man 3 years ago but he was very cruel person and was torturing her on daily bases. Finally Gulbar run away to her mother's house. The next day her husband came and asked her to return home otherwise he will kill her, she refused to go with him, when he found her alone in the house, throw petrol on her body, set her on fire and he himself escaped.
The neighbors hear her voice and rush to help, when they control the fire, almost 40% of her body was burnt.
She has been in the hospital for past 40 days but no file has been cased against her heartless husband. Police and other authorities, who are mostly former commanders, turn a blind eye on these cases.
26-5-97 Iranians Have Voted for Change,
but the New President-Elect has Limited Room for Manouvere
Iran's moderate President-elect Mohammad Khatami was swept into office on a tide of desire for change after 18 years of revolution. The size of his victory will make it hard for the religious establishment to resist domestic reforms, analysts said yesterday. Mt Khatami's victory, won by a landslide after 2/3 of the votes were counted would come as a major shock to the religious establishment analysts said. But Mr. Khatami's room for manouvere is limited.. Althought the Presidency is Iran's highest elected office, it ranks second to that of supremeleader Ayatollah Khamenei, who has paramount authority over institutions of government. And the 270-seat Majlis or Parliament remains under the control of his election opponent Mr. Nateq-Nouri and like-minded conservatives. When the new President selects his cabinet ministers they must be confirmed by the Majlis. ... Mr. Khatami isknown to have a more open-minded approach to the west than most in power here. He says Iran could expedite domestic progress by learning from the West, a controversial viewpoint in a country where hatred of the United States - the "Great Satan" of Iranian demonology - is an act of revolutionary faith- REUTER.
Zhila Izadi, a 13 year old girl from the north-western city of Marivan had been condemned to death by stoning after being found that she had been pregnant from her 15 years-old brother. While Zhila as been sentenced to stoning, her brother, jailed in Tehran, is to receive only 150 lashes, in accordance with Islamic laws.
On August 10, 1994, in the city of Arak, a woman was sentenced to death by stoning. According to the ruling of the religious judge, her husband and two children were forced to attend the execution. The woman urged her husband to take the children away, but to no avail. A truck full of stones was brought in to be used during the stoning. In the middle of the stoning, although her eyes had been gouged out, the victim was able to escape from the ditch and started running away, but the regime's guards recaptured her and shot her to death.
Kayhan, October 4, 1986, reported that a 25-year-old woman named Nosrat was stoned to death in the city of Qom. She died after an hour of continuous stoning.
The Evolving Face of Iranian Politics
Rushdie and the Death Fatwah for Blasphemy
Temporary Marriage in Iran Even in fundamentalist Iran, despite severe "moral" restrictions and even executions of men and women for sexual "immorality," within religiously sanctioned limits men have a great deal of sexual freedom. One example is how, after the mullahs took control, they institutionalized what they call temporary marriage-in essence, a religiously administered sexual trade in women to take the place of the prostitutes these men executed when they closed down the Iranian brothels. Especially in large towns, women were forced to live together in homes under the control of a guardian who was authorized to perform these temporary marriages. Frequently these homes were established at government initiative especially when the women were young war widows or orphans. (Women Living under Moslem laws No. 62.2 Eisler 1996 216)
Red Light under a Thin Veil Observer 1998
DUBAI - Behind the anonymous white wallss of a handsome villa in North Tehran, business is booming for the best-known madams of pre- revolutionary Iran' Their legendary hospitality are queues of bearded mullahs who have been told that Belinda, and Chikma are now officially authorised to dispense their sexual favours. Under the strict morality coddes of Iran's ayatollahs, these three. women and thousands of others like them should be whipped or even to stoned to death. Indeed, when Khomeini overthrew the Shah and established his Islamic regime, revolutionary guuards targeted prostitutes and demolished the red-light district of Tehran. But it is a measure of the changing standards of Shi'ite rule that prostitution has once again become legitimate. Prostitutes may function as they invoke the "law of desire" and enter into marriages of enjoyment.
These are marriages in name only, not least because men have the right to deny their responsibdities for any children born of the temporary liaison. This controversial law allows men to fornicate, so long as they register their intentions with a religious Sharia, court where they fill out a form specifying how long they intend to "enjoy' their partner. In many cases the two sides agree on a 10-minute quickie in which they are able to satisfy each other and still keep within the law.
"The enoyment marriage is nothing but a legal cover for prostitution,' says Dr Mahran Keys Doltchahi, a professor at Iran's Free University. "How can anyone in the world claim that a marriage for 10 minutes is a legal act? The clergy justify their morally indefensible practice by relying on an ancient tradition which many prominent Iranian scholars, including the late imam Khomeini, have condemned." Professor Doitchahi and other prominent 'women's rights campaigners say the real victims of the Law of Desire are women from deprived socio-economic - backgrounds. 'These include tens of thousands who lost husbands in the 10-year war with Iraq.
Teheran's new and comparatively liberal President, Ayatollah Khatami has yet to announce where he stands on the issue of enjoyment ' marriages, but he is under pressure from the West - whose investors are yet to be convinced that Iran is a good bet for the future - to abolish the practice. Doing so, however, could antagonise hardliners in his own regime. His advisers hope he will distance himself frofii the practice since the recent publication of a book of memoirs containing embarrassing details about, the sex habits of senior officials. The author is Zara Khanom, widow of a former general in Iran's Military intelligence. Describing m herself as aprofessionbal wife " the 52-year-old, Ehanom says shes has had "hundreds of husbands" in the past 20 years. She says she has been forced -into the business because her first husband, whom she married legitimately, was executed by the regime for allegedly plotting the overthrow of Ayatollah Khomeini. "My temporary husbands have included - one ayatollah, 21 senior clergymenn, five famous' merchants, a few hundred univertity students and the head of a hospital in the holy city ofqom. The director of the hospital was the most handsome and polite of them,all; he treated me with love and respect, He used.to read me poetry and, together we used to listen ; to Beethoven's symphonies. "Unusually, our marriage lasted eight months, but he was forced to leave home after his wife discovered the temporary marriage. The hypocrisy of the clergy was highlighted last year when the former Government ' prosecutor, Hojatulislam Mohaimnedi, was asked if he approved of enjyment marriages. Mohammedi said he fully supported the concept because it prevented young people from sinning- But he would never allow his own daughter to participate in such a marriage.
Dr Shahla Haeri, an anthropologist at Harvard and authoress of Law of Desire, says conservative clergy are behind a campaign to preserve enjoyinent marriages. She cites one of Iran''s leading imams, Jafar El Sadek, as declaring "partners in enjoyment in marriages are especially blessed. When they bathe, every drop of water turns into 70 angels who will testify on their behalf on the Day of Judgment " Ironically, it is the Iranian liberals who praise Khomeini for his forthright stand on the notorious Law of Desire. He was alone among senior clergy in condemning the law and the hypocrisy of those who were in favour"
Still remembered on the streets of Tehran is the Persian story he once quoted on televisision 'A religious leader said to a prostitute "You are drunk and every moment you go and visit someone different. She replied "Oh Sheik! What you say about me is correct. But what you pretend about yourself, is that true too?
A Season of Infamy in Iran Bahai Murders and Persecution (extract)
Jan 97 Commentary on Shariat
Buying shariat Rajiv Ghandi
Sharia is based on the Koran and the body of traditions on what the Prophet Mohammed said or did. But it is elaborated, interpreted and codified by the ulama, or religious scholars, a disparate group whose legal opinions routinely diverge, sometimes drastically. For instance, nearly all scholars believe that apostasy - when a Muslim renounces his or her faith - is punishable by death. But Hassan Turabi, Sudan's ideologue, views it differently: apostasy, he says, must amount to treason to warrant capital punishment. "Islam is not defined absolutely," he insists. This summer, Iran tightened its laws to mandate that a thief lose four fingers of his right hand for a first offence, and his toes for a second theft. A third would result in life in prison. But such orthodoxy sits uneasily with the pragmatism of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, who declared the Government could abrogate the principles of sharia in the interests of the Islamic state, even forbidding the very basics of prayer, fasting and pilgrimage. In addition, unlike some Persian Gulf states, women in Iran have the right to vote, drive cars and hold seats in Parliament. In Egypt, one of the country's top religious scholars ruled last year that earning interest from loans was permitted. Other scholars vehemently disagree, citing Islam's explicit prohibition of usury. - Afghanistan's zealotry has shocked many in the Muslim world. The crusading lighters of the Taliban movement have ordered women to stay home, closed girls' schools and told men to grow beards. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islarnic fundamentalist group, which wants to impose its version of Islamic law, criticised the Taliblan's campaign as 'crude and disgusting." Across the Muslim world, no symbol of the Islamic revival evokes more passion than the veil. While in the West the veil is viewed as a clear sign of women's second-class status, many Muslim women see it as a form of empowerment or an expression of their devotion. In Sudan, women are among the most active and visible organisers of the Islamic movement, particularly as teachers. Women in Iran, where the veil remains the revolution's most visible symbol, are making gains once thought impossible, with a growing presence in government, higher education and medicine. But in Tehran last week, the Supreme Court also upheld the death sentence against an Iranian woman for acting as a procuress for a gang convicted of economic sabotage and spying. Sheyda Khorrainzadeh Esfahani had organised "corrupt gatherings" with prostitutes, alcohol, drugs, music and dance "to establish immoral contacts with people in various government bodies." In Turkey, the Islamic Welfare Party relies on thousands of devoted women to canvass door to door and run social services that have made it the country's best organised and most popular party. Muslim women still face huge, almost insurmountable, challenges. While countries like Tunisia and Turkey have banned polygamy, and many Governments have handed down family codes that offer women some protection from arbitrary divorce, women activists are still lobbying for rights already given men, such as passing citizenship to their children and the right to own businesses. Iranian women have won victories on family law. In an important reform in 1991, women won the right to be paid for their labour during marriage if their husbands seek a divorce.' - PA, AP, REUTER