This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Zehra Kazmi. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“When I Say I Am A Muslim And Try To Define Myself, One Begs The Question – What Kind Of Muslim?”

More from Zehra Kazmi

By Zehra Kazmi

While most of us are celebrating Ramzan this month, in China, the Chinese government has decided to ban civil servants, students and teachers from fasting during the month of Ramzan in the ethnically Uyghur Muslim dominated province of Xinjiang. Uyghur rights groups say China’s restrictions on practicing Islam in Xinjiang have added to ethnic tensions in the region, where clashes have killed hundreds in recent years. China believes it faces a “terrorist threat” in Xinjiang, with the state blaming “religious extremism” for the growing violence. The logic behind not allowing the people of a sensitive region to peacefully observe their most important festival might seem like a clearly flawed policy move to most of us. In fact, people like me in our cozy homes in secular, pluralist India might even heave a sigh of relief that we are in a country that allows us to practice our faith without any restrictions. While that realisation is definitely a happy one and mostly true, it might cause us to fall into a deceptive lull of complacency. It was only a few months ago that the current government decided to celebrate Good Governance Day on Christmas.

muslim woman

This majoritarian desire to assimilate and homogenize everyone is what is responsible for most ethno-religious conflicts in the world. A single identity never encapsulates the true essence of any individual’s context. Honestly, when I say I am a Muslim and try to define myself by saying just that, one begs the question – what kind of Muslim? A Shia or a Sunni? A Pakistani Muslim or a Nigerian Muslim? A rich, English-speaking Muslim banker or a poor, Maithili-speaking Muslim farmer? A man or a woman? A Bohra or an Ahmadiya? An Ansari or a Syed? Liberal or hardline?

The socio-cultural experiences of each kind of Muslim can be starkly different from each other. Then why this concern of the west to homogenize the image of the Muslim as the bearded man, armed with a Kalashnikov and one who speaks a distinctly harsh dialect of Arabic? For many Muslims, September 11, 2001 was a date that changed the meaning of what it means to be one. From that date hence, it became crucial for any Muslim to explain to their hesitant new acquaintance how extremists were a minority in their religion and in that very same breath qualify themselves as “moderate” Muslims, as though the rest of us were not “moderate” enough.

These generalizations might leave me livid at the way the media chooses to represent Muslims but the fact of the matter is that bad PR is one of the biggest problems that we are facing today. Obviously, I would be lying if I was to deny the presence of extremism in the Islamic community and you would have to be incredibly gullible to believe me. The threat of extremism is a real, tangible one and it is staring at us right in our faces today. So while most Muslims aren’t terrorists, there have been enough Muslims participating in terror to cause a certain negative perception to build and perpetuate itself in our society’s consciousness.

Muslims are also to blame for that, because we have definitely not made a strong enough effort to break that stereotype. That is why it is extremely important to recognize the work of individuals and groups who are fighting to combat this image of Muslims. Reza Aslan is one of the most important academics of our times not just because a clip of him shutting down a Fox News anchor who questioned a Muslim’s motives behind writing a work on Jesus went viral, but also because his scholarly criticism has been widely appreciated. Asra Nomani is an Indian-American journalist and author who ensured Muslim organizations in America to issue substantive affirmation of women’s rights in mosques. Mahmoud Mohammed Taha was executed for “apostasy” since he stood steadfast in his refusal to accept the interpretation of the sharia offered by the Sudanese government. Graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi broke the stereotype of burkha-clad voiceless Iranian woman with her strong-willed and opinionated characters. Even entertainers like Aziz Ansari and Nasim Pedrad, (who deal with more universal concerns in their work) as well as more directly involved comedians like Azhar Usman, have contributed in creating a counter-discourse to the one which the media is so keen on feeding to us and which we often seem keen enough to prove right.

Whether it is the media’s insistence on painting all Muslims in the same colour, the decision of governments to fiercely clamp down upon dissent and assimilate everyone in their hegemonic narratives, or our community’s resistance to change and acceptance of liberal values; they are all manifestations of the of the same impulse of intolerance that brings together the most unlikely compatriots – the white media baron running an organization like Fox or the mullah in Waziristan calling for death to all kafirs. No society can flourish by hoping to refuse the recognition of our differences. Their acceptance and celebration is the only chance we have at staying together.

This article is part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s special coverage of Ramzan this month. Follow Ramzan With Zehra for more.

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  1. B

    Thanks for the article. Extremism exists among every religion and community, but the western media selectively highlights Islamic extremism to malign the image of Muslims and Islam. This is the same media which selectively publishes news and pays a fortune to manipulate it. Otherwise why is there nothing on the over 400,000 Muslims displaced in Central African Republic, genocide of Burmese Muslims is not covered by the media, the United States killing 2 million Iraqis was not news, Obama droning innocent children in Pakistan was not highlighted by the media, United States slaughtered Muslims in Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon Pakistan, Somalia, Panama, Palestine and it was not news. Where is international media when the U.S. kills Muslims, sheds their blood, rapes their women, takes their land, mocks their religion, destroys their livelihood, and slaughters their children? The U.S. murders innocent children in Islamic countries and no one raises an eyebrow. There are no televised discussions. No one mourns. It does not make headlines. It is not news.

    https://youtu.be/3DOgWuGYGeo

  2. B

    Not sure why Muslims have to defend their faith for the actions of its people. I didn’t see Christians having to defend their faith and its teachings when its government killed 2 million Iraqis, 500,000 of which were children. No one talked about Christianity when innocent civilians were horrendously tortured and raped in prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, when the U.S. supplied Israel with 3.5 billion dollars in aid to kill innocent Palestinians, no one blamed Christianity for the U.S. led bloodshed in Iran, the bombing in Somalia, the slaughters in Libya, the butchering in Syria, the brutal killings in Lebanon, and the list is endless. I, for one, certainly do not blame Christianity knowing that the U.S. government has been murdering Muslims since decades for money, oil, and power. Blaming a religion for the actions of its people is like blaming a car for an accident.

    https://youtu.be/HOrrOu8uV8o

  3. B

    Article by John Pilger:

    For centuries now, Christian nations have been busy beating up one Muslim nation or another. In the Middle Ages they came as crusaders. Then they colonized many Muslim countries and tried to destroy their cultures and religion. During their struggle for independence some Muslims had to suffer terrible violence. The French killed about a million Muslims in Algeria because they wanted independence. In Lebanon, when Christians were in the majority there was war, but when Muslims became the majority there was peace except in the South of the country where Christians helped a foreign enemy against their own countrymen.

    What will the Christian be if the tables were turned and their lands were first colonized by Muslims and then bombed or maligned or ethnically cleansed? If the past is any guide, the answer is clear: There will be a vicious reaction and given the chance an attempt at almost total destruction of the Muslims. For in Spain Muslims lived for about 850 years as rulers. They lived with Jews and Christians for the most part in a spirit of tolerance and cooperation in promoting science and culture to the point that their work prepared for the modern scientific revolution with all its benefits for mankind. But the moment Muslims became weaker, the hate in the Christian heart came out with a vengeance. Muslims were either killed, converted, or forced to leave Spain and their heritage was as fully destroyed as was humanly possible. Before Palestine and Kosovo, there was Spain.

    Above, I have mentioned only what the Christian nations have been doing or are doing to the Muslims. But when we look at what they have done to each other or to other people any validity in their claim of being people of love and peace vanishes. The horrible treatment of the heretics and witches in the Middle Ages probably inspired the tyrants of later centuries. The native peoples of the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand bear a tragic witness to what Christian nations can do to other nations and with the blessings and assistance of Christian churches. In this century alone the Western nations have fought two world wars with tens of millions dead and untold misery for the living. For each victory in these two wars the church bells rang in the victorious countries.

    https://youtu.be/Sj7VDMJZB_s

    1. MajorBS

      Don’t forget the whole middle east was occupied by Muslim after the death of Mohammed. They then went on to slaughter and kill people of other faiths and enforced Islamic law in all these lands. They forced conversion of the masses fearing certain death otherwise. No going into history will be better for you. I was just looking through some related articles and you have the same comments everywhere.

    2. B

      Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, now please tell me how many reversions are taking place with the sword? Islam is a beautiful and peaceful religion, and just because you happened to misinterpret it doesn’t change anything. There is no evidence in Islamic history that forceful conversions took place. Many distinguished Western historians have attested this fact – foremost among whom is Sir Thomas W. Arnold in his book, “The Preaching of Islam”. Marshall G. Hodgson in his book, “The Venture of Islam”, Albert Hourani in his book, “A History of the Arab People”, Ira Lapidus in his book, “History of Islamic Societies”, L.S. Starorianos in his book, “A Global History, the Human Heritage” and many others.

  4. MajorBS

    Oh really its the western media’s fault now is it? Why is it that every country from USA, UK, Pakistan, India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia (notice that some of them are muslim nations) together be plotting aganst islam? The truth is they are not plotting, they are dealing with organized terrorism from muslim terrorists more than any other religion. They kill muslims as well saying things like they are not following islam to word. In Saudi a woman was burned alive for driving a car. Many women are stoned to death for petty crimes. The reason being the presence contrversial verses in the holy book (or at least thats what muslims believe). Anyone who can read understand arab will know the meaning and intention of the verse of the sword and it explicitly asks the followers of islam to kill or enslave non believers and conquer the whole world in the name of Allah. That is what terrorists around the world are following. So calling all religions extreme may not be true, its followers are sometimes extremists. But Islam as a religion is extremist and hence its followers become extremists. The reason extremism is mainly associated with Islam is because of the very nature of verses in its text. And not to mention 90% of terrorism is funded and organized by Islamic extremists. Not even the most hypocritical pretentious muslim will argue with that point.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZWG5zqWeG8

  5. MajorBS

    Chapter 9 verse 29 is unbelievable that any one who follows god would know that no god will ever say these verses. Here is what it says
    There should be zero tolerance towards non believers, kill them wherever you find them until they accept discriminatory regulations mandated in quran and pay extra taxes. Particularly to jews and christians (addressed as people of the book)

    The responsibility to wage war against jews and Christians and bring them to subjugation
    Anyone can check up on this verse

    1. B

      The verses were revealed in the battlefield. You should read my comments before replying.

    2. MajorBS

      It may be revealed in the battlefield. But it doesn’t say anything about when they are to be stopped or when they are to be practiced. Thus making killing non believers the duty every Muslim man. You guys are so pretentious. How can you deny the verse of the sword? If circumstances effect whether the gods words need to be followed or not then why don’t you also extend it to other things like hijab and having more than one wife? Are u seriously believing these things belong to the modern world but only verse of the sword is circumstantial? Do you know of any other which asked its people to kill people of other faiths. Christianity teaches just the opposite. They also faced the same threats. What about after Mohammed’s death? Muslims conquered all of the middle east and forced every other faith in slavery death or conversion. That is why all of middle east presently have Muslim population. Obama bombing innocents doesn’t make the evil within Islam go away.

    3. B

      “But it doesn’t say anything about when they are to be stopped or when they are to be practiced.”

      The verses were revealed for that period of time only, to be practiced in the battlefield when Muslims were being oppressed. Self-defence is not a crime.

      “Christianity teaches just the opposite.”

      Please ask the American government why they have killed millions of Muslims in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon Pakistan, Somalia, Panama, among a list of other countries.

      “Thus making killing non believers the duty every Muslim man.”

      You seriously think every Muslim is supposed to go around killing non-Muslims? The Holy Quran clearly states that killing one person is like killing the whole of humanity and saving one life is like saving the whole of humanity. There is no religion which places so much value on human life.

    4. MajorBS

      Some more quotes you may find truly peaceful in Quran. And great value for human life. Its a shame YKS would not let me comment these. I dont want o be another charlie hebdo so cannot comment anywhere else also

      Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…” Is pursuing an injured and retreating enemy really an act of self-defense?

      Quran (5:33) – “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement”

      Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.

      Quran (8:15) – “O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. (16)Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end.”

      Quran (8:39) – “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah” Some translations interpret “fitna” as “persecution”, but the traditional understanding of this word is not supported by the historical context (See notes for 2:193). The Meccans were simply refusing Muhammad access to their city during Haj. Other Muslims were allowed to travel there – just not as an armed group, since Muhammad had declared war on Mecca prior to his eviction. The Meccans were also acting in defense of their religion, since it was Muhammad’s intention to destroy their idols and establish Islam by force (which he later did). Hence the critical part of this verse is to fight until “religion is only for Allah”, meaning that the true justification of violence was the unbelief of the opposition. According to the Sira (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 324) Muhammad further explains that “Allah must have no rivals.”

    5. MajorBS

      Where does it say that it is revealed for that period of time? Besides there are several other verses in the Quran that say worse things, and mostly the reason for violence is to enforce religion and the main reason for killing unbelievers is because they are unbelievers. As you can see from above comment. This is what I meant by hypocrisy of Muslims when it comes to their faith

      When I talk about terrorism mainly in the name of religion, Americans bombing middle east does not fall underthat category. Because they do not say they do it for Christianity, they also do not seek support of Christians around the world, train them and sacrifice them in the name of holy war.
      They have not attacked Muslim countries where terrorist concentrations are not high. Which include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Turkey. While terrorists do exactly that. They get attacked by USA, they blast bomb in Britain or France. Without any provocation on 26/11 they came to Mumbai and shot down a lot innocents. They bombed a mosque in Hyderabad killing fellow Muslims. In 1993 Mumbai blasts took life of many Muslims. When have you seen USA killing someone for making fun of Jesus. But when some cartoonists drew a funny picture of Prophet did he deserve to die? May be in your faith that is the punishment, but you cannot practice it everywhere

      On another note USA is not the only country terrorists target. They kill innocents in the name of their god all over the world including India. If you say it is retribution to injustices Muslims face in these countries that makes you a terrorist as well, because that is not how we deal with injustice in a civilized society like ours. Justifying terrorism is what you are doing. They kill people of the same faith because they live in a country that does not practice Islam like terrorists do.

      USA bombing middle east using drones did not start till late 2005 to early 2006. But Islamic terrorism has been existent since 1960s.

      Christianity does teach the opposite (not that Christianity is a perfect religion or that I am a follower)
      Muhammed asked his followers to kill all non-believers and bring them to subjugation during the time of war
      While Christ even as he was being crucified prayed for the people who punished him and asked god to forgive their sins. So it is easy to understand (for people who are not blinded by faith) which faith places value on human life and treats their fellow being with compassion.
      You can also find great quotes calling for mass murder, mutilation in the above reply. Please go ahead and try to justify this. Truly some great value for human life.
      I am not your typical commentator. I was born and raised a Muslim and studied Quran for 8 years before I gave up religion and became an atheist. Largely because I found Quran to be a work of fiction. So don’t try to come up with your regular arguments about Islam, because I know you are being hypocritical.
      I have been to Saudi Arabia, women cannot roam freely in Saudi as per the sharia law which is the official in Saudi. Hijab is compulsory and they need to have their father or husband, or in emergency situations their brother with them if they are out of their houses.
      Most men have multiple wives 4 to 5 (sometimes more). Since majority of Muslim population is living in the middle east and this seems to be normal there, we can easily conclude that majority of Muslim men do practice polygamy which is absolutely not ok. Especially because there is no more need to protect them from war or problem with less men. (Apparently context is not important there). I have also been to Oman, Kuwait and UAE. There is polygamy elaborately practiced in all of these places
      I dont want to convince you. I just want this to be included in the thread so that people reading your comments will not be fooled into believing the biased ideas and victimhood you are selling about Muslim community and the values they believe in

    6. MajorBS

      Quran (4:95) – “Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allah has promised good (Paradise), but Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward ” This passage criticizes “peaceful” Muslims who do not join in the violence, letting them know that they are less worthy in Allah’s eyes. It also demolishes the modern myth that “Jihad” doesn’t mean holy war in the Quran, but rather a spiritual struggle. Not only is this Arabic word (mujahiduna) used in this passage, but it is clearly not referring to anything spiritual, since the physically disabled are given exemption. (The Hadith reveals the context of the passage to be in response to a blind man’s protest that he is unable to engage in Jihad, which would not make sense if it meant an internal struggle). According to the verse, Allah will allow the disabled into Paradise, but will provide a larger reward to those who are able to kill others in his cause.

    7. B

      ” Is pursuing an injured and retreating enemy really an act of self-defense?”

      I have already told you that the verses were revealed in the battlefield when Muslims were being killed, tortured, persecuted, and harassed. I am not going to reiterate my point, except that where did you find that the enemy was “injured” and “retreating?”

    8. MajorBS

      (To the YKA team, try to let your audiences have a dialogue. I will keep commenting until I see my comment published here, there is nothing offensive here in what I have written. Everything can be verified by anyone who thinks I am exaggerating. Only terrorist and radical islamic groups will find this offensive. Are we stooping to their level of political correctness?)

      Where does it say that it is revealed for that period of time? Besides there are several other verses in the Quran that say worse things, and mostly the reason for violence is to enforce religion and the main reason for killing unbelievers is because they are unbelievers. As you can see from above comments. Have a little honesty and learn to accept what your faith is lacking.

      When I talk about terrorism mainly in the name of religion, Americans bombing middle east does not fall under that category. Because they do not say they do it for Christianity, they also do not seek support of Christians around the world, train them and sacrifice them in the name of holy war.
      They have not attacked Muslim countries where terrorist concentrations are not high. Which include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Turkey. While terrorists do exactly that. They get attacked by USA, they blast bomb in Britain or France. Without any provocation on 26/11 they came to Mumbai and shot down innocents. They bombed a mosque in Hyderabad killing fellow Muslims. In 1993 Mumbai blasts took life of many Muslims. Lastly today in Kuwait, since when is Kuwait an enemy of muslims?

      When have you seen USA killing someone for making fun of Jesus. But when some cartoonists drew a funny picture of Prophet did he deserve to die? May be in your faith that is the punishment, but you cannot practice it everywhere

      On another note USA is not the only country terrorists target. They kill innocents in the name of their god all over the world including India. If you say it is retribution to injustices Muslims face in these countries that makes you a terrorist as well, because that is not how we deal with injustice in a civilized society like ours. Justifying terrorism is what you are doing. They kill people of the same faith because they live in a country that does not practice Islam like terrorists do.

      The world is cruel to muslims right? Muslims built mosque and practice their religion all over the world. Why is practicing other religion not allowed in most muslim countries? Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Pakistan none of these countries allow other religion to be practiced, while christian countries and secular nations allow practice of Islam. So why are muslim so intolerant to other religions?

      USA bombing middle east using drones did not start till late 2005 to early 2006. But Islamic terrorism has been existent since 1960s.

      Christianity does teach the opposite (not that Christianity is a perfect religion or that I am a follower)
      Muhammed asked his followers to kill all non-believers and bring them to subjugation during the time of war
      While Christ even as he was being crucified prayed for the people who punished him and asked god to forgive their sins. So it is easy to understand (for people who are not blinded by faith) which faith places value on human life and treats their fellow being with compassion.

      You can also find great quotes calling for mass murder, mutilation in the above reply. Bask yourself in the glory of your faith and what it teaches. Please go ahead and try to justify this. Truly some great value for human life.
      I am not your typical commentator. I was born and raised a Muslim and studied Quran for 8 years before I gave up religion and became an atheist. Largely because I found Quran to be a work of fiction by a really angry author in the face of atrocities. So don’t try to come up with your regular arguments about Islam, because I know you are being hypocritical.

      I have been to Saudi Arabia, women cannot roam freely in Saudi as per the sharia law which is official in Saudi. Hijab is compulsory and they need to have their father or husband, or in emergency situations their brother with them if they are out of their houses.
      Most men have multiple wives 4 to 5 (sometimes more). Since majority of Muslim population is living in the middle east and this seems to be normal there, we can easily conclude that majority of Muslim men do practice polygamy which is absolutely not ok. Especially because there is no more need to protect them from war or problem with less men. (Apparently context is not important there). I have also been to Oman, Kuwait and UAE. There is polygamy elaborately practiced in all of these places

    9. MajorBS

      I can tell you how I know that. As soon as you tell me where in Quran it states that the verse of the sword or any of the verses I mentioned should be stopped when the battle is over or that it is a verse meant for limited time only. Any way you still dont deserve a response because you have no come back in any of the questions raised

    10. B

      According to you, the United States killing millions of Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Panama, Sudan, Egypt, and giving aid and weapons to Israel to kill innocent Palestinians is not terrorism because they don’t do it in the name of religion. So killing people is okay, and that too in the millions, if you don’t do it in the name of religion? Is that your point? Why is that not terrorism? Why isn’t the biased and bigoted media not highlighting it? I can go on and write a long comment but then, you will write the same thing over and over again, even though I have answered all your questions. In the meantime, watch this ….

      https://youtu.be/fRZEvNnyqlA

      https://youtu.be/fRZEvNnyqlA

    11. B

      Read this article

      Horrendous Torture Techniques Sanctioned By American Government In Afghanistan Prisons

      http://www.chowrangi.pk/torture-techniques-by-americans-in-afghanistan-prisons.html

    12. MajorBS

      Context of this article – Islamic identity and extremism associated with it (Please notice that there is nothing about America bombing other countries, killing people or torturing POWs)

      My question – What are these extremist passages doing in the quran more than 1000 years since it was written? Isn’t that a contradiction to the whole “religion of peace” thing?

      Your Ans: They are only to be practiced during holy war

      Argument: If these passages are to be practiced only during war, Quran being the ultimate authority in Islamic matters needs to have a verse giving out this information or guideline to its people, that these are verses to be practiced in the battlefield. Which it does not.

      Conclusion: extremist verses contained in the Quran are meant to be practiced by its followers anytime, which terrorists are doing around the world

      Question: Doesn’t this mean that Islam is in fact an extremist religion that has zero tolerance for other religions as seen in quran and as practiced by 1000s of Islamic terrorists across the world?

      Ans: America is bombing other countries, killing muslims, torturing prisoners of war

      Why is muslims allowed to practiced their religion (despite its extremist nature) around the world , even in Christian countries, in contrast muslim nations never allow practice of other religions within their land?

      Ans: America is bombing other countries, killing muslims, torturing prisoners of war

      Question: If the majority of muslims reject verse of the sword based on context (never mind there is no mention of stopping the violence once holy war is over within the quran and it makes it abundantly clear that it is the duty of all muslims to fight against unbelievers and these fighters have a special place in Allah’s eyes) why can’t they reject other medieval ideas like polygamy or genital mutilation or taboo about eating pork?

      Ans: America is bombing other countries, killing muslims, torturing prisoners of war

      It seems to me that you think all the terrorism the world faces is justified because America is bombing some countries and killing innocent muslims. And all the the things inherently wrong with Islam and its holy text has arisen because of America and its military involvement in the middle east and Islamic nations.
      Clearly, it is not.
      What is more pathetic? You know this to be true, but you will rather blame America and divert attention to their actions when I question the your faith and its teachings.

      When some mosque is bombed in India, it is retribution to America bombing other countries? When they attacked Kuwait (which has zero involvment in any of the military operations of America in the middle east) it is retribution to America bombing other countries? What about before 9/11, the consistent and steady attack on Indian democracy, blasting bombs in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, terrorists attacking and attempting to bomb our parliament, in many occassions targeting mosques and muslim dominated areas within this country? I guess that is also because they knew in the future America is going to bomb them and of course people in India are directly responsible for America’s actions. Oh and the recent kidnapping of school kids in Nigeria and torturing and mutilating them till they bled to death, it also had everything to do with America’s military actions in the countries you mentioned

      No killing people is not OK. However since we are discussing religious extremism, America’s actions have no place in this discussion. The author has acknowledged this extremism within Islam. You on the other hand thinks its ok to kill people in the name of religion anywhere in the world, all because America is being an imperialistic mass murderer

      Get a grip of the BS you type in the name of defending your faith.
      No matter what you believe, how much you try to spread victimhood among muslim people, the world knows about your holy book and what it teaches. What sets Islamic terrorism aside from the rest of the religious fanatics and why they are so large in number and are present in almost all countries of the world.
      The world views muslims with fear and insecurity because of extremists like you who cannot take criticism of your faith in the right spirirt and think about changing it for the better.
      Hence the ultimate solution for the rest of the world is to seggregate muslims, isolate them from their society and keep as far away from them as possible. Never talk to them about their faith or prophet.

  6. B

    not have a religion. Period. Also, you need to differentiate between the actions of Muslims and Islam, just as you do with people of other religions.A terrorist doesJihad means ‘to strive.’ Muslims are commanded by Allah to strive for good through words and actions. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, the Holy Quran was not revealed in one day – It was revealed few verses at a time. After the persecution of Muslims in Makkah for thirteen years, they escaped to Madina to save their lives and that of their wives and children. The verses about killing were revealed in the battlefield, when Muslims could no longer face torture at the hands of barbarians in Madina.

    Islam lays a huge amount of importance to human life, so much as that the Holy Quran says:

    “…if anyone kills a person …. it is as though he has killed the whole of humanity, and if anyone saved a life, it is as though he saved the whole of humanity.”

    Now please explain to me why millions being killed by the United States is neither labelled terrorism, nor highlighted by the media.

    https://youtu.be/akm3nYN8aG8

    1. MajorBS

      The so called innocents there in Pakistan, Afghanistan etc have a history of treating terrorists like heroes. The region hangs in the balance between government laws at times and Taliban control for the rest. Terrorists including Osama Bin Laden, Hafiz Sayed have sought asylum there. There are still terrorists emerging out of the region which acts as a hub of teaching terrorism and hatred towards other faiths, training terrorists. Hence bombings are warranted. Innocents may die, but if they are giving shelter to terrorists and raising children with terrorists values chances are they support them as well and children will be future terrorists. So if we had started a bit early that would have rid a world a whole lot of evil.
      The thing that i find most ridiculous is the hypocrisy of Muslims when it comes to their faith. Verse of sword was given in battlefield, so what? It’s still there in your book and people are dying because of these verses. America is killing Muslims, what has that got to do with murderous war cry and hatred towards other faiths promoted in your book? Did Obama change something in Qur’an? Since when is it ok to treat women like farm animals? Having multiple wives in modern world is completely OK because Qur’an says so. Oh i have 3 gonna get one more tomorrow, how many you have? I have nothing but contempt to ur naive attempt to defend your religion. Fact still remains that if i buy your book and read the verses, it takes gods name and attach it to hatred and murder. And any group of population following that medieval text deserve to be bombed, racially abused and kicked out of any country which has non Muslim laws

    2. B

      At the time of Prophet Mohammad (SAW) Muslims were being persecuted and killed, and a lot of men died, due to which there were a lot of widows and orphans. A man could take more than one wife to support widows and orphans. Would you like to marry widows and take care of their orphans? Besides, how many men today do you know who have more than one wife? Also, the Christian mormon sect allows marrying more than one wife. Howcome you did not raise any objection to that? In California many Christian men have multiple wives.

      You should keep in mind that if you go around killing a people of a certain race or religion in the millions, at one point or another, there will be a backlash. I think that is common sense. People attacking Islam are the biggest hypocrites, because they fail to acknowledge the fact that the biggest terrorist is the American government which has slaughtered Muslims in the millions, and Muslims have kept quiet for decades. I think that is the height of tolerance.

      If you can tell me how women are treated like ‘farm animals’ as you call it, I will be in a better position to reply. If you are referring to the burka, than I think that many girls are grateful to be born in the Middle-East, where they can roam freely in a burqa without being harassed and racially abused, where they feel human because they are not compelled to dress semi-nude to ‘fit in’. It is the west which treats women like animals, meat in particular, look at semi-nude images of women plastered on walls, sale of adult DVDs on the roadside, companies devising cunning methods to sell provocative clothing in the name of fashion, advertisements featuring women in skimpy clothing, look at models going nude for fashion shows, nude protests for PETA, women going nude for magazines, nudity in art, nudity in movies, nudity in music videos, etc.

      And if the Muslim world is so bad, what are countless western expatriates doing there, where there are no taxes, petrol is cheaper than water, excellent salary packages, great food, where even in a modest job your company will provide housing, education for children, free airline tickets, among a host of other benefits which has seen westerners, including women, all over the western world, leaving their so called freedom and settling in the Middle-East.

      Do you know that educated, independent Muslim girls in Europe, U.S., and Canada choose to wear the burqa, and are not ‘forced by their husbands’, as the U.S. media would like you to believe. Miniskirts and skimpy clothing are automatically seen as a choice, even though they are enforced through constant images in movies, magazines, music videos, advertisements, billboards, fashion industries, peer pressure, and a need to ‘fit in’, but if a woman wants to cover her body and save herself from lewd stares and wants to reserve her body for the gaze of her husband, it is immediately labelled oppression. Please talk to burqa clad women in India and abroad, and it will give you a broader perspective on the issue, instead of succumbing to theories of oppression invented by the U.S. – an imperialistic nation which thrives on human suffering.

      https://youtu.be/0h1zuwpFdo4

  7. B

    At Guantanamo Bay, innocent victims are tortured, abused, sodomized, forced to listen to blaring music on headphones while they are handcuffed for hours on end, given food to eat you would not feed animals, bitten by dogs, urinated upon, deprived of sleep for hours, kept in complete isolation, whipped, beaten with rods and cables, and some techniques too horrible to even describe. All the torture techniques are sanctioned by the U.S. government.

    https://youtu.be/ONodd9PQgHE

  8. B

    Obama droned Pakistan to kill thousands of innocent civilians and terrorize hundreds of thousands in North Warizistan to maim and murder, and send them in a frenzy of anxiety. Imagine living when drones are flying over your head twenty-four hours, not knowing when one would end your life. It remains a fact that 98% of victims in drone attacks were innocent civilians, as the sole intent behind the deadly act was to terrorize, maim, and murder.

    98% innocent civilans murdered by Obama’s drones

    http://www.presstv.com/detail/2012/10/19/267614/threat-of-death-looming-over-pakistan-us-drones-in-pakistan-kill-98-civilians/

    Girl burnt by Obama’s drone

    http://www.chowrangi.pk/open-letter-u-s-president-barack-obama.html

    Obama lies that Drones are accurate, yet he bombs schools, hospitals, public places, women, children, elderly.

    https://youtu.be/6yMOzvmgVhc

  9. Neuroticknight

    Can you stop speaking like an oppressed minority. No you are not. Muslims occupy 22% of global population. Muslims as a group out number whites for two to one, why world seems against you is because Islamic groups are the most funded most militant and most powerful. Honestly can a gay couple walk together in mecca like they can in Vatican or are how many Islamic countries even have legislation where women are treated as equal. All religions have terrorism but if a bomb hoes of tomorrow guess which religion it’d belong too. What you are experiencing is what is called an attack on privilege. Christianity experienced it since the 80s and the internet in this part of the world is bring that. Are you seriously asking me to not think about lives of millions being oppressed and instead focus on your feelings instead? Are you that selfish. So your feelings are offended and your brand name got bad pr. So what? I’m a guy and I don’t cry everytime a rape article speaks I’ll of male community, because I seriously acknowledge that the suffering of victims outweigh my feelings of annoyance. So #notallmen #notallmuslims.

  10. MajorBS

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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