After 20 years of ceaseless war and famine, the women of Afghanistan must heal themselves, and ultimately their nation, by rediscovering their identity as empowered, dignified Muslim women.
To many, such an assertion seems like an exact reversal of the truth. After so much suffering, some think, the last thing these women need is more of what apparently caused it. However, a brief look at history and women's rights through a correct understanding of Islam paints quite a different picture.
It was Islam, in the 7th century, that established women's spiritual and intellectual equality with men. Muslim women were granted the right to vote, own property, inherit, receive a higher education and even run a
business in which men were subordinates.
These teachings were immediately put into practice, where 1,400 years ago women played an active political role, not only voting for their leader, but also advising him. The Prophet Mohammed's wife, Khadijah, was one of the most successful businesswomen in Mecca, employing many men, including at one point the Prophet himself. Aisha, whom the Prophet married some years after the death of Khadijah, became a scholar of Islam. A man of the time described her by saying, "I have not seen a greater scholar than Aisha in the learning of the Koran, shares of inheritance, lawful and unlawful matters, poetry, literature, Arab history and genealogy." It was not surprising, then, when the world's first institution of higher education --
Al-Azhar Islamic University, founded in Cairo in 969 A.D. -- was named after a woman, Fatima al-Zahraa…
WHAT: CAIR-Central Pennsylvania (CAIR-PA) will conduct two seminars on Islam at the Bosler Free Library in Carlisle, Pa.The seminars will cover the following topics:
January 19 - Islam Between Rejection and Extremism - by Dr. Parvez Ahmed, Chair, CAIR-PA. Description: Islam is the path of moderation - the middle way.
January 26 - Muslim Women 2002: Ancient Relics or Friends of the Future - by Ms. Mumina Kowalski, Muslim Chaplain at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy, PA.
WHEN: January 19 and 26, from 1 to 3 p.m. each day.A question and answer session will follow the 1-hour presentations.
WHERE: The Bosler Free Library, 158 West High Street, Carlisle, PA 17013
P.O. Box 4516
Harrisburg PA 17111
E-MAIL: [email protected]
Sadly, American Airlines' shabby treatment of an Arab-American Secret Service agent has not dampened the growing enthusiasm for racial profiling as a standard security measure.
Among those still supporting this dubious security tool are many who ought to know better, including Jonathan Turley, a distinguished law professor at George Washington University and frequent media commentator. Even black Americans --- who know the indignities of racial profiling better than any
other ethnic group --- have become enthusiastic supporters of the racial profiling of citizens of Middle Eastern or Arab backgrounds since Sept. 11.
American Airlines has been applauded in many quarters for its actions toward Walied Shater, 33, a seven-year veteran of the Secret Service. Donald Carty, American Airlines' chief executive, issued a statement firmly supporting the actions of the pilot in denying Shater permission to fly. The pilot became alarmed after a flight attendant searched the agent's belongings and found a book with the word "Arab" in the title. Apparently, a person who is both armed and literate poses a grave threat…
…The practice is particularly offensive because security experts already know that it's utterly ineffective. A Justice Department report on "citizen-police contacts" in 1999 concluded:
"Although African-Americans and Hispanics were more likely to be stopped and searched, they were less likely to be in possession of contraband. On average, searches and seizures of African-American drivers yielded evidence only 8 percent of the time; searches and seizures of Hispanic drivers yielded evidence only 10 percent of the time; and searches and seizures of white drivers yielded evidence 17 percent of the time…"
…Given the environment, it seems likely that security personnel and immigration officials will come to rely more and more on the crudest methods --- physical features --- to determine those most likely to present
a security risk. Since the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks were all young men of Middle Eastern or Arab heritage, the burden of intrusive searches, airline rejections and even detentions will fall
heavily on young men who share that heritage (or who look as if they do, which could include large numbers of Latinos and African-Americans.)…
…Nor was racial profiling considered after the bombing of the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma. The FBI stepped up its surveillance of right-wing hate groups, but federal authorities did not adopt a strategy of
stopping and searching all young white males entering federal buildings. Instead, the law enforcement strategy depended on old-fashioned investigation and intelligence-gathering.
Then as now, those strategies are far more effective than racial profiling.