anthropology, Gender, Islam, Muslim family, Muslims, Politics, Research, sociology, South Asia, Sunni

When piety kills: power, religious performance and inhumanity, the case of Hena Akhter

That body is of 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl, Hena Akhter. Her story has distracted the western mass media from the still very confused situation in Libya. Hena Akhter was sentenced to receive 101 lashes to be delivered with extreme force after a village court implemented the fatwa of the local imam, whom decided that she had committed fornication with her much older married cousin. She died a week later from the injuries. The story is a script seen too many times in rural Bangladesh, at least since 1991 when Bangladeshi villages increased these extra-juridical sentences (Riaz 2005). Continue reading

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anthropology, bin-Laden, Islam, Islam in Europe, Islamophobia, Israel, Israel/Palestine, Middle East, Muslims, Politics, Religion, Research, sociology

The other “fatwa”: when strange and violent ‘advice’ passes unnoticed

All religions have their scholars since no religious text or even tradition can escape the slavery of human exegesis; no exegesis, no religion. Since Ayatollah Khomeini’s famous 1989 Fatwa, which made Salman Rushdie famous for books that few succeed in reading from cover to cover and others find unpalatable, fatwas have become a symbol of all the evil or stupidity (depending the circumstances) people believe to find in Islam (rather than in the ‘scholar’ issuing them). Many fatwas have received more attention from non-Muslims than from Muslims thanks to the mass media hyper-focus on whatever is related to Islam. Indeed, fatwa means simply ‘advice’ and Sunni Muslims are not bound to accept them, particularly if the religious edicts are irrational or illogical. Continue reading

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anthropology, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Ethnic Minorities, Freedom, Humor, Islam, Islam and Christianity, Journalism, Politics, Religion, Research, Singapore, South Asia

Malaysian Muslim? Sorry, no yoga for you!

Yesterday the Malaysian National Fatwa Council has issued another of its many fatwas, which have seen an increase in numbers during this time of political turmoil. “Yoga is forbidden for Muslims. The practice will erode their faith in the religion,” said Abdul Shukor Husin, the council’s chairman.This time the target was one of the most (also among Muslims) anti-stress activities: Yoga. As mental and physical discipline, Yoga has been appreciated by many Muslim scholars, who have even suggested that the practice could be ‘Islamicized’. Continue reading

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