Tag Archives: Muslim

Nomad

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a reader. I love to read and I will read just about anything and everything. I am a fast reader and I can tear through a 300 page novel in about 2 days if all circumstances are right. (Plus it helps that the Dragonfly tends to be a lap sleeper so that affords me usually a 2 hour block in the afternoon in which I am sitting in my rocker with the child and a book. It’s lovely!) As I’ve gotten older, I have found my tastes evolving from mindless fiction to non-fiction novels… especially biographies and auto-biographies.

I most recently finished Nomad written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ms. Ali was born into a Muslim family in Somalia. She left her family and fled to the Netherlands when her father decided she should marry a cousin living in Canada, who she had never seen. Once in the Netherlands, she learned the language, the culture, worked odd jobs and eventually became a translator and a member of Parliment, before immigrating to the United States. She speaks highly of assimilating cultures and traditions into the majority, rather than allowing ethnic enclaves to exist and to perpetrate centuries old traditions that are not mallable to Western thinking.

This idea that immigrants need to maintain group cohesion promotes the perception of these people as victim groups requiring special treatment. If people should conform to their ancestral culture, it therefore follows that they should also be helped to maintain it, with even their own system of legal arbitration.

In the real world, equal respect for all cultures doesn’t translate into a rich mosaic of colorful and proud peoples interacting peacefully while maintaining a delightful diversity of food and craftwork. It translates into closed pockets of oppression, ignorance and abuse. (pg. 261)

Ms. Ali is an atheist but tolerates the Christian God more so than the Muslim Allah (which is kind of funny because in the end they are both the same God.) She does challenge those who fervently believe in the laws of Islam, especially women, who she believes should be doing more for other Muslim women:

On campus after campus I would stare in despair at these confident young men and women, born in the United States, who had so manifestly benefited from every advantage of Western education yet were determined to ignore the profound differences between a theocratic mind-set and a democratic mind-set… These students seems to lack a basic human empathy for other Muslim women- women who are just like they are but who cannot speak in public or even go to school. If they lived in Saudi Arabia, under Shari’a law, these college girls in their pretty scarves wouldn’t be free to study, to work, to drive, to walk around. In Saudi Arabia girls their age and younger are confined, are forced to marry, and if they have sex outside of marriage they are sentenced to prison and flogged. According to the Quran, their husband is permitted to bear them and decide whether they may work or even leave the house; he may marry other women without seeking their approval and if he chooses to divorce them, they have no right to resist or to keep custody of their children. Doesn’t this matter at all to these clever young Muslim girls in America? (pgs. 133-134)

Perhaps the cause most dear to Ms. Ali’s heart is the rights and dignity of women, especially when is comes to honor killings, female genital mutilation, child marriage and veiling. I do get the impression that she sees Muslim women who choose to wear the veil as still being repressed by the men in their lives, and who knows, maybe they are. But you know what, this all got me thinking. Do you want to know what honor killings, female genital mutilation, child marriage and forced veiling have in common? They are all legal in some countries and in the eyes of devout Muslims, can be interpreted as part of Shari’a law and used to support the subjugation of women. For these same devout Muslims, Shari’a law trumps that of Western laws, including US law. (Please note: it is very hard to find a neutral source discussion Shari’a law and women, so I include two separate links here and here. Both are biased, each in either direction.)

Many times, in discussing my pro-life views with people, they inevitably state one of two things: “If you don’t like abortions, don’t get one” and “If it was that bad for women, it wouldn’t be legal.” This brings me to this conclusion: Just because something is legal, does not mean that it is right. Just because it is legal to grind off your 4 year old’s clitoris, remove her inner labia and part of her outer labia and sew her vagina closed, doesn’t mean that it’s right. Just because it’s legal to marry your daughter off as soon as she begins menstruating (so as best to preserve your family honor) doesn’t mean that it is right. Just because killing your 4 year old because she underwent a gynecological exam after an allegation of molestation is legal doesn’t mean that it is right. (Ms. Ali is very pro-choice but she does comment how she appreciates how the pro-life and pro-choice camps in our country, for the most part, can discuss this difficult topic without resorting to violence.) But the question remains, where are the Western feminists in this fight?

There are many factors as to why Western feminists are not jumping fully into this fight for Women’s Rights. One is the threat of violence that stems from the more fanatical forms of Islam. Another is that Islam is headed by men of color and there is the issue of Western ideals being imposed on men of a minority status. Another is Western countries, in fear of seeming colonial or otherwise oppressive, do not want to force others to assimilate to that particular society’s norms.

For the longest time, I was really against the thought of assimilation. Thinking that if people make the choice and fight (or pay) to come to the US, the least that we can do is let them hold on to their cultural identities. But I do believe that there is a fine line between holding onto family traditions from the old country and completely distancing yourself from those in your “new” country, preferring ethnic enclaves on Western soil, with rules and laws to match. Is there an easy answer? As with the best questions, not really.

Ms. Ali mentions one way to push back is to engage in dialogue and to ask tough questions. She was raised in an environment where question asking was not permitted and met with violence rather than answers. From page 215:

Free Speech is the bedrock of liberty and a free society. And yes, it includes the right to blaspheme and to offend.

and from page 212:

All human beings are equal, but all cultures and religions are not.

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Have you read Nomad? What are your thoughts? Is Ms. Ali just trying to bad mouth an otherwise peaceful religion or is she telling the hard truth? The next book I am reading is Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health. Grab it from your local library and join me!

Pax Christi!

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Filed under feminism, Moslem, political, Tuesday

Final Thoughts Friday: A week of firsts.

This week was a big one for our home… Monday found us looking at minivans, ready to make the leap; The Bear started preschool on Tuesday and The Dragonfly turned 1 on Wednesday. I created my first ever Catholic Quiz for the blog and it was pretty well received (Congratulations to David on his win!) You can still take advantage of free shipping at my Etsy shop until Sunday 5pm (CST).

Yesterday I was happy to hear that the Florida pastor has decided agains burning the Qur’an but then disheartened this morning to hear that he only made that decision based on the withdrawal of the proposed plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero, about which the Imam said he made no promise.

I find the actions of the Florida preacher present quite a paradox in my mind: Yes, he has the right to burn a Qur’an but is it right? At the same time, that argument could be directed toward the building of a mosque: They have the right to build it there but is it right? I guess in these cases, right and wrong are all in the eyes of the beholder.

I think that we tend to forget that the God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are all the same God and you can further say that if not for Abraham’s actions against Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, we wouldn’t have such a division. But I guess as my own children fight and strife at times, so will all of God’s children. God even stepped into the fray when He became the Word Incarnate in the form of Jesus. Maybe we all need to remember what Jesus came to do?

To my Moslem readers: I hope you have a fulfilling end to the month of Ramadan!
To my Jewish readers: Blessings to you on the New Year!

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Every Tuesday is “Ask CCM Tuesday!” If you have questions about Catholicism, conversion, RCIA, Natural Family Planning, Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapering, Frugal Living, Knitting, Crochet, Biology, Forensic Science, Marriage, Parenting, Gentle Discipline, etc., etc., please send me an email at:

CaffeinatedCatholicMama (at) gmail (dot) com

In your email, please include your first name and your location and let me know if you want your name withheld when I answer your question on the blog.

Pax Christi!

Quiz Answers:
1. false
2. c
3. d
4. true
5. b

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NIMBY, I guess.

Remember a few weeks back when I gave my opinion on the Ground Zero/ Mosque controversy and I talked about how it’s not just Ground Zero at which the debate is happening? If not, you can read it here.

Anyway, this morning I woke up to this report.

It all makes the CCM very sad.

(in case you were wondering, NIMBY stands for “Not in my backyard.”)
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You have thoughts, you know you do! Share them here. I welcome disagreements but you have to be respectful and stand by your statements.

Pax Christi!

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Let’s talk about Mosques, shall we?

Yesterday, I spent the morning with some of my ladies and we were discussing this Sunday’s Mass Readings and the common theme of Humility. The Gospel (Lk 14:1,7-14) is the parable of the wedding feast in which Christ reminds us that when choosing places at the wedding feast, it is better to choose a lower station rather than a higher one, as by choosing low, the host can elevate you to a higher status, but if you automatically choose the higher station, the host come to you and ask you to move as someone more important than you is to sit there.

(The funny thing is, I saw this happen at my brother-in-law’s wedding and a guest had to be informed that she was not supposed to be sitting at the head table. It’s funny looking back and thinking about it but at the time it was weird for all parties involved.)

The Gospel goes on to suggest to us that when throwing a party or feast, rather than inviting friends and family, who would feel the need to reciprocate, you should invite those who are at the fringes of society… the down trodden and outcasts who have no means to reciprocate. We discussed this last point at length and thought about who were the outcasts in our lives.

Extending the parable, making the feast not just an actual wedding feast, but the feast we celebrate at every Eucharist and the feast awaiting us in Heaven, we talked about the usual: family members who have fallen away from the church, the homeless, those weird relatives that just don’t know how to dress for occasions. We came to the conclusion that the ones on the fringes are the ones that don’t completely mesh with our values and ideals. That’s when one of the moms piped up about the current Mosque controversy in New York and how Moslems are filling the role as the outsiders because they are different.

I know, you might be thinking: “They’re not just different! They’re terrorists!” or you are thinking: “Yup, go on, oh wise CCM (tee hee)” But stay with me here. I know that it’s easy for me to say that I do not oppose the mosque, sitting here in middle America, but I would think the same thing even if I was living in Battery Park because it is the right thing to do. The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

If you look carefully, there is no asterisk by the word “religion” that says “provided that the religion in question is part of the main-line Christian type.” I guess we could get into whether the developer of the mosque is a US citizen (I don’t know) or if those who would use the mosque are citizens as well (again, I don’t know.) But for me it seems as if that is a dangerous slope to be heading down.

I was watching coverage of the protests at Ground Zero and there was a gentleman wearing an American Flag bandanna with a sign that said: “You can build a Mosque at Ground Zero when we can build a synagogue in Mecca.” Therein lies the rub… I could be wrong, but I don’t think Saudi Arabia has the same freedom of religion that we have and in my mind, by dictating where the mosque should be built, we are no better than those to whom we are trying to be an example of freedom.

My husband also offers his perspective on the matter. (FYI: DH grew up in Northern Wisconsin and is of Irish and German descent. In other words, “straight up White.”) His thought is this: If it is bad taste to build a mosque at Ground Zero because a fringe sect of Islam killed Americans of every color, religion and gender, then we should make sure that all churches are destroyed that are around or near where the KKK lynched men or otherwise terrorized blacks because the KKK is a Christian Organization.

I know that there is the the thought of just moving the proposed build site to somewhere less hallowed, but isn’t that what terrorists want? For us to change our habits and decisions? We have to remember that the actions of a few do not dictate the whole. Just because the KKK considers themselves to be Christian doesn’t mean that all Christians ascribe to their tenets of faith as not all Moslems are out to kill the infidels. Maybe instead of gleaning all of our information from Fox News, CNN or even The Daily Show (even though I heart Jon Stewart) we should learn about each other by reaching out to one another.
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You have thoughts, you know you do! Share them here. I welcome disagreements but you have to be respectful and stand by your statements.

Pax Christi!

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Filed under Catholic, life, Moslem, political, Thursday, world

Who gets to decide if it is a choice?

No, no, this isn’t a pro-life post (sorry to disappoint!) But I was listening to The Diane Rhem on NPR last week and they were discussing the proposed ban on face-covering veils in France. The discussion got a bit heated among the panelists and I found myself yelling at the radio at times.

I can understand the worry of the French Parlament, burkas can be used to conceal explosives of suicide bombers and face-covering veils can obscure the face rendering facial recognition software inoperable but does that still make it right for a group of politicians to dictate what a woman can and can’t wear?

Let’s be honest here, for the most part, the Western World is not known for being the most modest place, especially for women. I mean, here in the US, we seem to have a HUGE problem with breastfeeding in public but we don’t blink an eye at a 12 year old traipsing around wearing a belly bearing halter top and booty shorts a la Lolita. In talking to some people about this, I’ve heard a lot of comments along the lines of “If they want to wear the covering, why don’t they live in a country like Saudi Arabia where it wouldn’t be so obvious? Hmmm.

Additional arguments for the ban take on a “feminist” perspective in that for some women, the wearing of the burka or hijab is forced upon her by male relatives. While that is true, what about the women who choose to wear the burka or hijab? Should they be forced to shame themselves in the sight of their God because of the laws of man? Why don’t we address the treatment of women by radical Muslim men instead?

Where would the line be drawn? Would nuns and religious sisters be required to dress in short shorts and tank tops because “everyone else does?” What about priests? Should we ban Roman Collars because the collar is a clear religious symbol that is unduly pressed upon our non-religious brethren? Would we have to restrict the wearing of saris and buddhist robes because they too are long and could be used to conceal weapons?

I personally love wearing my veil to Sunday Mass and I have been known to take a long, black pashmina and wrap it around my head, hijab-style, on particularly bad hair days. Now granted, the proposed ban does focus on face-covering veils, but who is to say that the ban will not become more far reaching and attempt to secularize all types of religious dress?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but it does make for an interesting discussion. Should governments mandate what can and cannot be worn by its people? Or is it better for society to exert the pressures?
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What’s your opinion? Thoughts? I know you have one!

Pax Christi

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Filed under breastfeeding, Catholic, feminism, life, race, wednesday, world