Examples of hijabs in different regions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Written by Nicola Hugo (1)
Purdah is the strict enforcement of seclusion rules upon (typically) married Muslim women. They are expected to remain indoors, except in extreme cases such as to receive medical treatment or to attend marriages and funerals with their husbands’ permission. If women do venture out, they need to be completely covered by a hijab, and in some instances also escorted. Violating these regulations may result in accusation of promiscuity or even divorce.(2)
Human rights bodies have criticised the practice, saying that it limits women’s social, economic and political participation. But supporters of purdah say that it is an act of honour, respect and dignity. They point out that women find creative ways to participate, especially economically. This paper will attempt to better contextualise these opposing views by focusing on purdah in northern Nigeria. It also aims to challenge the Eurocentric image of these women as passive and counterproductive victims.
Purdah in Nigeria
Purdah in northern Nigeria was introduced by the Islamic jihad (religious struggle) led by Usmandan Fodio during the 18th century. This jihad took control of several major Hausa states, eventually establishing the Sokoto Caliphate, a Muslim empire.(3) At the beginning of the 19th century Islam was well established in all the major centres of the Hausa and Borno states. However, a group of Muslim intellectuals were dissatisfied because rulers in these states allowed the practice of Islam to be mixed with traditional religion. This meant that nowhere was the Islamic law observed in full.(4) This resulted in the Sokoto jihad that was fought, in a series of emirates, between 1804 and 1808. It was led by young men under the leadership of a Shaikh and young men from Fulani pastoralist families.(5) (The Fulani are a people of obscure origins who expanded eastward from lower Senegal in the 14th century. By the 16th century they were proceeding into Hausaland.)(6)
One of the aims of these (and later) jihads was to eradicate syncretic practices, including the free mixing of the sexes. Free mixing of adult females with non-family members of the opposite sex needed to be avoided due to the evil or negative potential consequences of such mixing; infidelity for example. It is an Islamic imperative that women’s modesty be strictly guarded.(7) Enforcement of purdah thus aims to create a pure or chaste society and serves as a measure to prevent the disintegration of the family, further giving men legitimate control over their wives’ behaviour.(8) This has caused profound changes in the social, political and cultural conditions of Muslim Hausa women in the area.(9)
Posted in Africa, Islam, Security, War & Conflicts, Women Rights
- Tagged BokoHaram, Fulani, Hausa, Islam, Muslim, Nigeria, Northern Nigeria, Sokoto Caliphate
Gulf media is reporting that a recent charity dinner for an Islamic endowment sponsored by the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has raised over $6.5 million dollars for the project. Of particular interest is that the Gulf News report indicates that Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi personally donated over half a million dollars of that amount:
May 15, 2012 A charity dinner in Qatar has raised QR 24 million ($6,586,170) for the ‘Renaissance of a Nation’ endowment project launched by the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS). The project aims to raise enough funds to help the union, headed by Doha-based scholar Yusuf Al Qaradawi, be financially self-sustained. The dinner was attended by Qatar’s Crown Prince Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, ministers, diplomats and business people, local Arabic daily Al Sharq reported on Tuesday. ‘Your generous donations and the funds raised by selling some rare items will help us build a tower and acquire buildings and shares for the endowments of the union,’ Shaikh Ali Mohieddeen Al Qardaghi, the union secretary general, said in his address. The union has plans to invest up to $100 million within the next 10 years to help secure financial returns that will be used for its charity work. Antique carpets, clothing The sale of historic carpets and Ottoman-era clothes and copies of the Holy Quran from Turkey raised QR17 million. The amount was topped by a QR 5 million ($1,372,120) donation by Shaikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, owner of Al Faisal Without Borders Charity Foundation who was awarded the Personality of the Year distinction by the union. Al Qaradawi donated another SR2 million ($548,847). Al Faisal Without Borders Charity Foundation was set up in June 2011 by Shaikh Faisal, a prominent businessman, as a foundation ‘for the benefit of all, at home and abroad, without any reservation or discrimination on the basis of nationality, race or religion.’
Posted in Africa, Islam, Middle East, Muslim Brotherhood, Reports
- Tagged Egypt, International Institute of Islamic Thought, Islam, Muslim, Muslim Brotherhood, Qaradawi, Qatar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
An Egyptian woman looking on during a rally to mark the one year anniversary of the revolution, Tahrir Square, January 25, 2012
To Kenneth Roth:
In your Introduction to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2012, “Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights,” you urge support for the newly elected governments that have brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Tunisia and Egypt. In your desire to “constructively engage” with the new governments, you ask states to stop supporting autocrats. But you are not a state; you are the head of an international human rights organization whose role is to report on human rights violations, an honorable and necessary task which your essay largely neglects.
Posted in Islam, Middle East, Muslim Brotherhood, Politics, Security, Terrorist Supporters, Women Rights
- Tagged Egypt, Human Right, Islamism, Kenneth Roth, Muslim, Muslim Brotherhood, Sharia, Tunisia, Yusuf al-Qaradawi
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By Peter Mayer Jan 12, 2011, 13:57 GMT
Vatican City – Repeated calls by Pope Benedict XVI in favour of religious freedom, especially for Christians living in Muslim– majority nations, are triggering angry responses, including from Egypt which is widely regarded as a moderate Muslim state.
Benedict’s appeals for a stop to anti-Christian persecution culminated this week in his annual speech to ambassadors of the 178 states that have diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
In what Vatican observers described as a ‘very focused’ address, the pontiff condemned assaults against Christians, citing specific examples in Iraq, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and China.
He also denounced the growing ‘marginalisation’ of Christianity in secular Europe.
The speech echoed an earlier message on New Year’s Day by the pontiff, in which he also called for greater protection of Christians around the world. Continue reading
Posted in Commentary, Europe, Islamic Terrorism, Middle East, News, Security, Terrorism
- Tagged Catholic Church, Christian, Dominique Mamberti, Egypt, Muslim, Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, World Day of Peace
Jan 26, 2010, 10:24 GMT
Nairobi/Abuja – Nigerian police have arrested over 300 suspects in the wake of last week’s bloody clashes between Christians and Muslims in the city of Jos, The Punch newspaper reported Tuesday.
The paper cited a police spokesman in reporting the figure, with 139 of those arrested having been taken to the capital Abuja. Continue reading