Saturday, February 28, 2009

Online Auto Mechanics Videos

For all of you ladies who don't mind checking things out under the hood. Read More...

For All of You Animal Lovers

35 Beautiful Examples of Animal Photography

Make Business Cards Online

Free PDF cards

Friday, February 27, 2009

Conference Report: Islamic Family Law Reforms

By Yoginder Sikand

Much has been written about Islamic family laws and Muslim women’s status and rights by Western or secular critics and human rights activists, on the one hand, and by traditionalist ulema, on the other. The former are generally bitterly anti-Islamic, and the latter often fiercely patriarchal, and there is absolutely no meeting ground between the two groups. This lack of dialogue between them is one of the major causes for the slow pace of reforms in Muslim family laws in many parts of the world.

It is in this context that a three-day conference recently organized in Tehran , Iran (which I had the good fortune of attending) assumes particular salience. Sponsored by the Tehran-based Institute of Islamic Culture and Thought and the Centre for Women and Family, it brought together over a hundred university scholars, ulema, human rights activists and senior government officials, from mostly from Iran, but also from Lebanon, Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, England and India, to discuss various aspects of Islamic family law. More than half the participants were women, including several scholars who had received specialized Islamic legal training in madrasas and universities across Iran . A substantial number of madrasa-trained male Iranian ulema, including some holding leading posts in important government-related organizations, also took part. It was a unique opportunity for university-educated Muslim scholars as well as madrasa-trained Iranian ulema (many of who also have a university training) to interact with each other on a wide range of issues related to Islamic family law and legal reforms. And as an Indian, for me it was the first time to witness a rich and free scholarly discussion between Muslim women rights activists and Islamic scholars and male ulema free of any acrimony and mud-slinging, with both listening respectfully to each other.

In his opening remarks to the conference, Hojjat ul-Islam Ali Rashad, director of the Institute of Islamic Culture and Thought, spoke about the need to understand Islamic family law in the context of what he called the ‘philosophy of the family’ in Islam. In contrast to the West, he said, where family laws and debates about women’s rights centre on the notion of rights alone, Islam stresses the duties as well as rights of both spouses. This point was further elaborated by Maryam Ahmadiya, a senior research scholar and member of the Social and Cultural Revolutionary Council of Iran. She dwelt on what she termed the principle of “ma ‘ruf” or morality, informed principally by religion and urf or socially approved conventions, that should mould family relations, in addition to laws. She defined “ma‘ruf”, which is linked to the Quranic commandment of ‘enjoining what is good’, as moral acts, kindness, loyalty, friendship, respect, moderation, patience, friendship and generosity that, she said, forms the basis of an ideal family, and which, in a sense, are much more crucial than mere laws and legal sanction in maintaining the family unit.

The second session of the conference was devoted to specific legal issues. Farajullah Hedayatnia, an Iranian religious scholar, spoke on the issue of polygamy, focusing particularly on the right that a Muslim wife has to include in the marriage contract a clause forbidding her husband from taking a second spouse. Fatima Bodaqi, an Iranian woman judge from the Iranian seminary town of Qom , spoke about the question of a divorced wife’s residence. She argued that the Islam forbids men from throwing their divorced wives onto the streets, thereby forcing them into destitution. In some specific cases, she argued, the man must leave the house, not the divorced woman. She raised the question of the possibility of a woman enjoying the right to live in the common residence even after divorce till she marries again. In Iran , she said, divorced women can even ask for payment in lieu of wages for work done in the house during the period of the marriage, and this amount is to be decided by the courts.

Hojjat ul-Islam Muhammad Sadeqi, an Iranian Shia alim, presented a paper on ‘temporary marriages’ among some Shias and Sunnis, called muta and misyar respectively, arguing that such arrangements were in some extraordinary conditions a necessity in order to prevent ‘social corruption’. He pointed out that such marriages were not meant to be the norm or to substitute for permanent marriages. A lively discussion followed thereafter, with some participants speaking out against the gross abuse of muta and misyar for sexual exploitation. Aicha al-Hajjami, a speaker from Morocco , argued that there was a need for critical reflection or ijtihad on the matter to stop the practice in accordance with ‘social welfare’ or maslaha. She also elaborated at length on various new provisions in Moroccan law, derived from alternate interpretations of the shariah, that have provided women considerably more rights than before.

The third session of the conference was devoted to discussions on the principles of Islamic family law. Hojjat ul-Islam Ali Doust, a senior professor at the Hauza ul-Ilmi, Qom , spoke about the need for and proper method of engaging in ijtihad on a range of legal issues, including those related to family matters. He pointed out that in the Shia Jafari school of jurisprudence, which is followed in Iran, aql or reason is considered a major source of law and a basis of ijtihad, and said that this could be used in a creative way to deal with a host of legal matters that many Muslim societies are confronted with today, including in the realm of family law. He stressed the need for contextually-relevant ijtihad on family law matters in accordance with the ‘aims of the shariah’ (maqasid-e shariah) and ‘wisdom’ (hikmat), of which justice (adl) is a major component. Muna Zelzela, a woman Member of Parliament from Iraq , stressed the need for Muslim religious scholars and institutions to take issues of gender oppression seriously, calling for dialogue between and benefiting from the legal systems of different Muslim countries to ensure greater gender justice for Muslim women. Hojjat ul-Islam Abdul Ali Tavajjohi, a religious scholar from Qom , dwelt on family courts, and stressed other forms of conflict resolution between spouses before their cases are taken to such courts. Masood Noori, a Professor at Qom University , spoke about rights of children and the concept of children’s ‘best interest’ in Islamic jurisprudence, and called for benefiting from international rights discourses in this matter. Mohammad Mahdi Meqdadi, another legal specialist from Qom , spoke about the prohibition of violence against children in both Islamic as well as international law. Gholam Reza Peivandi, a student of criminal law, presented a paper on children with incompetent parents or guardians and legal issues related to this from an Islamic perspective. It is the duty of the state, he said, to protect such children, and, if need be, even to punish such parents or guardians. He spoke about a bill recently ratified by the Iranian Parliament setting out a comprehensive list of rights of children, including protection from parental neglect and abuse. My own presentation was about a leading Indian Shia alim, Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, and his vision of a Quranically-grounded theology of gender justice.

The valedictory address to the conference was delivered by Gholam-Hossein Elham, the Iranian Justice Minister. He spoke about how Muslim countries and communities in other parts of the world could benefit from the remarkable progress made by Iranian Muslim women in various spheres, including education and employment, in the years following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Like several speakers before him, he invoked the Islamic principle of ijtihad which, he said, could enable Islamic jurisprudence, including on family matters, to provide answers to new and pressing challenges.

The conference ended with a formal declaration to establish a permanent secretariat, based in Iran , to work on Islamic family law matters and to convene an international conference every two years on the subject, in which Muslim and non-Muslim scholars, ulema and human rights activists could share their views and experiences.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Showcase of Language Learning Sites

Including Arabic Pod and Arab Academy

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Useful Educational Blog List

The educational links at this site range from free tech for teachers to Picture Book of the Day.Tech-savvy folks should start at the top. The links are categorized by grade and there are blogs from many different teachers and even a few links to different classrooms. Sigh. I need another eight hours in the day to explore some of these ideas, lol. Read More...

Visit Kids Land

There are different activities to explore. I haven't tried it yet, but there is a Qur'an quiz, an Arabic alphabet rhyme, etiquette of drinking water, jigsaw puzzles.... Read More...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Beautiful City Photography

There are some really great photos here and about three or four of them are mosques. Read More...

Views of the Solar System

This is nice. There are plenty of things to see here. One of these days (if the snow melts and the warm air returns) we might find some of these things in the night sky. Read More...

Free Arabic Links and Lectures for Sisters

There are lots of free resources to download at Kalamullah. There are Arabic for Dummies and Tajweed podcasts.

There are also some interesting lectures on the Mothers of the Believers, Holiday Season and Bidah, and Was the Prophet (SAWS) Romantic? Read More...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Live Nature

WildEarth.TV

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Arabic Numbers

Another Arabic Number Video


Arabic Numbers


Amazing Free Resource for Arabic Learning

This site,Arabic comes first, has so much to offer,MashaALLAH. There are many vocabulary words, coloring pages, stories, classroom commands, etc. The stories are in full color with the English and Arabic and the drawings are halal. May we all benefit from these resources which have been provided for free, Ameen. Read More...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Classroom Schedule Samples

I found these sample kindergarten schedules on the net some time ago.... Read More...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Children's Books

These look like fun.

Getting Back to Normal

We're finally trying to follow most of our new routine. My daughter is learning what it feels like to work on her own a bit and not be so dependent upon me. After all, she can read pretty well, so now is the time to get her into the habit of reading the directions (aloud) and following them.

She loves math. I asked her which she liked better, art or math and she said that she likes them both the same. AlhamduLILLAH. However, she informed me that her career choice is "Arabic teacher with a school somewhere" and that she will need to "find some Muslims to go there."

The Singapore Math is coming along nicely. We go through a couple of units at a time and then at the end of the unit block, there is a review session. This is the first time that she has had to complete written work on her own so there was some initial apprehension but she soon found her way.

Singapore Math Second Grade

Of course, they always come up with clever ways to convince me to get out the paints.

Mess-making 101

Seeing them around paint is so stressful, lol! The whole time, I am wondering if they are going to spill it (or eat it) but I know that I need to learn to relax.

And on that note, lol I managed to finally print out some elementary school rules.

School Rules

I found these online so long ago and I lost the link. I have the pdf so if you are in need of them, email me and I will do my best to get them to you, InshaALLAH. Some of them don't have faces and the others are easy to mark out.

I also have a few signs to show others in the house what we are doing and where we are at a particular time in the day. They are also good for those pesky solicitors who come to the door during the day - just stick them on the door and perhaps they will go away. I printed them on cardstock and now they need to be laminated.


And of course, what is more fun than earning a prize for doing your work and following the rules? Stickers are the ultimate motivators around here. Right now, the kids are going through a planet and star phase.


It has taken a few weeks to adjust, but even the little one managed to join us as we revisited the money and five pillars lapbooks today.

First Day of School

Lapbooks revisited

I sort of got away from making lapbooks because they were so time-consuming for me. I think we need to find some simpler ones that don't take so much cutting and pasting time.

My daughter is an excellent reader, MashaALLAH, so now is the time to hone her skills by tweaking her spelling. Last week, she started Emailing my mother to practice. Every couple of days, my mom sends a message and my daughter types a response - there is no emphasis on punctuation at this point, although she does add interjections via smileys and emoticons.

Another project that we completed in the last week was some amateur bookbinding.


You can learn how to do it here. We used cardboard, embroidery floss and Elmer's glue to make ours. It's not fabulous, but we were impressed.

sewn pages

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Don't Follow Rodents Into the Fire

Narrated Anas RA, that when ALLAH'S Messenger (SAW) came to Al-Madinah, the people had two days on which they engaged in games. He SAW said, "ALLAH has substituted for you something better than them: the day of sacrifice, and the day of breaking the fast." Reported by Abu Dawood and An-Nasa'i, with a Sahih isnad.

I've been planning to talk about ways to avoid the hype and/or participating in non-Islamic/pagan holidays and festivals for some time now. It was on my mind back in October when we had the dreaded Halloween (the whole night I thought, "Please don't come to our door" and AlhamduLILLAH no one did), and again during Thanksgiving (the Canadian holiday is in October and American in November - I can't win).

Of course, these are followed up by the Christian holidays and then there's Boxing Day and New Year's and now something that hadn't even crossed my mind: Groundhog's Day.I remember learning this nonsense in school when I was younger.

It seems harmless doesn't it? Just like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day and Father's Day,(wow, a whole day to honor us),these are not the days ascribed to us. I was never big on any of these in the first place, but it saddens me when I see Muslims doing it. People are trying to play weather psychic with a rodent. Who can know the weather but ALLAH? Must we succumb to the so-called predictions of an animal?

It is narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Zaid Ibn Khalid Al-Juhani (ra) that he said: "Allah's Messenger (may Peace Be Upon Him) prayed the morning prayer with us in Al-Hudaibiyyah after it had rained during the night, and when he had finished, he addressed the people, saying: "Do you know what your Rabb said?" They said: "Allah and His Messenger (may Peace Be Upon Him) know best!" He (may Peace Be Upon Him) said: (Allah swt said:) "Some of My slaves this morning are true Believers in Me and others are disbelievers: As for those who say: "We have received rain from the Bounty of Allah and His Mercy," they are Believers in Me and disbelievers in the stars, while those who say: "We have received rain from the movements of such-and-such a star," are disbelievers in Me and believers in the stars."

We cannot attribute the changing of the seasons to anything or anyone other than ALLAH.

Muslim has narrated, on the authority of one of the wives of the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) (Hafsah - may Allah be pleased with her), that Allah's Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) said:

"Whoever went to a fortune-teller and asked him about some matter (i.e. of the unseen) and believed him, will have his prayer rejected for forty days."

The Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) informs us in this Hadith that if anyone visited a fortune-teller and asked him about a matter of the unseen - about which, in reality, none possesses knowledge except Allah - and believed in what fortune teller said, Allah will not accept his prayers, nor reward them for forty days - and this is a punishment for the major sin which he has committed. Read More...