• Sunday, October 20, 2019

Karachi's affluent women bring Islam into their lives and lifestyles (NYT)

Discussion in 'Social & Current Events' started by AUz, Mar 13, 2017.

  1. AUz

    AUz ELITE MEMBER

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    Pakistan City’s Affluent Women Bring Islam Into Their Lives and Lifestyles: The New York Times

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    Women looking for wedding clothes in Karachi, Pakistan. Karachi’s upscale neighborhoods have experienced a boom of Islam-themed businesses for women.

    KARACHI, Pakistan — It was a weekday afternoon in an upscale neighborhood of Karachi, but the hall was packed for the lecture on Islam and marriage.

    Laughter burst forth as the speaker asked how husbands change over the years.

    They’re terrible listeners, one woman said. Inattentive, offered another. Other women, apparently without husbands, offered more charitable attributes: They’re rational, and able to take risks.

    “I was expecting the unmarried lot would have more unrealistic expectations for men,” the speaker said to more laughter.

    Most religious events in Karachi are dominated by men and addressed by older, often-virulent clerics, but the participants at this recent lecture were all women. Drawn largely from the city’s affluent neighborhoods, they sat in rapt attention, dressed in bright patterned tunics, listening to the lecturer, Sara Asif, instruct them on Islamic strictures.

    Ms. Asif talked about the strengths of women, and how a man’s life — and home — would be joyless without a wife. “Allah has given us beauty,” she said. “All of us are beautiful.”

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    Islamic clothing displayed at a designer shop selling abayas and more

    Such lectures by instructors like Ms. Asif are part of a growing religious ecosystem for women in Pakistan that eschews politics and traditional clerics in favor of female preachers and an Islamic-themed consumer lifestyle. This new culture has attracted a diverse mix of homemakers and socialites, bankers and doctors, who incorporate religion into their lives, but also into their lifestyles, buying everything from sequined abayas to custom prayer mats.

    The well-heeled in Karachi have been turning to Islam since the 1990s, when a female preacher called Farhat Hashmi began preaching the faith at the palatial homes that are a feature of Karachi’s wealthy neighborhoods.

    Soon after, women in those communities could be seen wearing burqas and attending Quran classes with the zeal of the newly converted. Ms. Hashmi also set up a controversial Islamic education network known as Al-Huda, which gained notoriety when it was revealed that former students included Tashfeen Malik, one half of the couple that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015.

    Ms. Hashmi’s success helped spawn a string of religious businesses by people inspired by her, encompassing everything from educational institutions to burqa boutiques.

    But in recent years, a new generation of women — like her former student Huma Najmul Hassan, whose Al-Ilm Institute is a popular fixture on Karachi’s religious circuit — has helped take things to a new level. The number of women attending their classes is inspiring the growth of even more Islam-themed businesses for women.

    The commercial boom can be seen on the street across from the Baitussalam Mosque in the upmarket Defence area, which has turned into a veritable religious shopping strip. Islamic bookstores selling titles like “300 Questions for Husbands and Wives” are sandwiched between boutiques stocking $35 abayas with embossed palm tree borders, and banks offering Shariah-based services.

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    The Baitussalam Mosque in the upscale Defence neighborhood.

    At Habitt, a home décor store in the Dolmen Mall on Karachi’s seafront, $4 sandalwood prayer beads are displayed against an invocation to prayer in stylized English script. Online, there are artisanal Islamic brands like Little Ummati, which sells customized $20 prayer mats.

    Mahjabeen Umar, a Pakistani graphic designer who lives in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, said Little Ummati had been born out of her desire to make religious practices appealing for her children. Since other products and books for children are colorful and well made, she asked, “why should an Islamic product not be well designed?”

    There has also been a boom in services.

    One woman runs a “Shariah-compliant” aerobics class out of a residence in the Defence neighborhood. On a recent Friday afternoon, a dozen teenage girls in skinny jeans took notes as a woman demonstrated how to make skin cream at a Muslim youth club meeting. In January, a group associated with the Baitussalam Mosque organized a workshop on halal food. Over a hundred abaya-clad women gathered to hear about Muhammad’s favorite foods and the risks of diets.

    In Karachi’s affluent neighborhoods, women meet at Quran classes and at private talks by female preachers, in residences and institutes watched over by guards. They gather for religious conferences in five-star hotels. Institutes offer a range of Islamic courses in English and Urdu: on understanding the Quran, Arabic pronunciations and Islamic practices through presentations like “My WhatsApp to Allah.”

    Islamic events — from prayer meetings to conferences — have long been a mainstay of life in Pakistan. Islam is constitutionally and culturally enshrined here and taught at school; Muslims make up 96 percent of the population.

    But Islam has historically been perceived as the domain of the poor, and mainstream religious-political groups that constitute clerics’ and conservatives’ support consider themselves authorities on faith, and promise to make Pakistan a Shariah-law-abiding state.

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    Fashionable abayas displayed for customers at an Islamic clothing shop run by a woman in Karachi. The surge in interest in Islam among more affluent women in Pakistan is on vivid display in the city.

    In recent years, however, the country’s elite have tried to seize that mantle, convinced that they are better placed as the guardians of Islam because of their education, experiences and resources.

    That view is echoed by Humaira Iqbal, a doctor who is a former student of the female lecturer Safiya Khan.

    “Our elite didn’t have any religion, and so religion was literally preserved by the clerics,” she said. “They led funerals and prayers, and taught kids to read the Quran. But unfortunately, because they were illiterate, they could not understand Islam like an educated person.”

    Dr. Iqbal, 34, runs a workshop called Lustre that teaches women to embrace their sexuality within marriage using Islamic dictates and anecdotes from religious teachings.

    “The concept of this workshop is that people realize that as far as religion is concerned, it is really, really encouraged,” she said, referring to sex, albeit in heterosexual and marital relationships.

    She laughingly described herself as a “hijabi pervert,” referring to the Islamic headdress worn by women outside the home. She said she had become a guru of sorts to people with questions about sex, Islam and marriage — like whether anal sex is acceptable. (It isn’t, she said.)

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    Masarrat Misbah’s halal makeup stand at Dolmen Mall in Karachi. The New York Times

    Much of the discussion at women’s lectures revolves around relationships, families and the demands of urban life.

    Women from affluent communities who discover Islam anew and opt to wear the hijab or adopt religious practices risk social ostracism and criticism — particularly from their families, friends and husbands — who are often aghast at a loved one’s transformation into a black-robed, devout person who will not attend parties that feature singing and dancing.

    Many of these women say Islam has given them a sense of purpose and direction that had been missing from their lives.

    Kulsoom Umar, who studied at the London School of Economics and consulted on development projects in Pakistan, lectures at Al-Ilm. She walked into her first Quran class in a sheer shirt, and now wears a cloak and covers her face and hair.

    “I was always a fiercely independent person, but the thing that Islam and God gave me was emancipation,” she said.

    This conservative — and independent — strain of elite women does not necessarily fit a stereotype of submissive religious women.


    “The ‘empowerment’ that so many Al-Huda women speak about doesn’t make much sense from a liberal feminist perspective, especially to those who can’t come to terms with these women’s full face-and-body covering,” said Faiza Mushtaq, a sociologist at Karachi’s Institute of Business Administration who wrote her doctoral dissertation on Al-Huda.

    “Yet in many ways, Al-Huda has given these women access to new forms of community and new positions of authority,” she said, like studying the Quran collectively without the need for men and becoming leaders and organizers.
     
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  2. AUz

    AUz ELITE MEMBER

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    @Zibago and others of her ilk might get a heart attack to realize their bubble is very different from reality on the ground :lol:
     
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  3. Zibago

    Zibago ELITE MEMBER

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    Nah we live here dont worry about us we understand two faces of our society way better than folks in west :-)

    But i dont think discussing it is of any use with someone who asks questions only to troll
     
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  4. Musafir117

    Musafir117 ELITE MEMBER

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    Funny thing is that someone living in Amerika where their so call LIBERALS life style is more common than back home AND they happily living there, MUNAFIQAT ki koi boundary hai?
     
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  5. AUz

    AUz ELITE MEMBER

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    Idiots like you have no grasp on human facts or ground realities. May be you are a teenager struggling to graduate highschool lol!

    Living in America has no bearing on my views on Pakistan...just like living in Saudi Arabia (I lived there too) would not make me want to transform Pakistan into a Saudi-style religious monarchy.

    I want many 'American' things in Pakistan (Good things of U.S here that I think Pakistan can learn from)..and similarly, there are a few things that Saudis do better than us and we can learn a thing or two from them.

    But regardless of where I live, my opinion on Pakistan should be more inline with the local culture and not my surrounding

    That's why idiots like @Zibago's foreign friends see gay marriage being legalized around them in West--and say "We need equality!!! Pakistan mein gay rights honay chahiye!!!!" :lol:

    Dumb kids...

    You ALWAYS analyze the situation from the local perspective, and not from the perspective of where you are living (in my case, USA).
     
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  6. gayMo

    gayMo BANNED

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    Curious to know.. what is that the Saudis do better than anyone?
     
  7. AUz

    AUz ELITE MEMBER

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    Nobody asked you a question.

    Secondly, there aren't "two faces" of Pakistani society. Don't try to portray as if there are two competing factions of almost equal size in Pakistan---one religious, other uber liberal/secular etc (Like here we have in the U.S).

    In Pakistan...traditional culture (ever evolving, as culture is by definition)...reins supreme everywhere, even in larger cities and towns for the most part.

    Uber liberal secularist type behavior can only be found in small niche' of society and is no way a mainstream aspect of modern Pakistani culture.

    Dig up PEW surveys on societal values, Pakistanis' voting patterns on issues, Gallop polls on religiosity etc etc...Literally every single one of the above points towards only one direction--an ardently proud Islamic Republic having Islam at the center of its culture, people's values, identity, worldview, and so on.

    With development, Pakistan's culture is evolving in terms of women at workplace...education attainment amongst both genders, and more confident citizens more aware of politics around them etc. But all of that is happening within Pakistan's traditional cultural outlook defined by our culture and Islam. Nobody is urging to change the fundamental nature of our Islamic Republic or our culture entrenched in Muslim values.

    This is where you and your ilk sit in your little bubble and keep posting Dawn, Express Tribune, or the Nation's English-language blogs...feeling 'change is happening' :lol:

    Change is happening---as it always has been---but not what your burger friends will think in their drug parties

    Internal security, police being very helpful for the common people, many of their social policies are geared towards providing people with relief first and foremost. They genuinely care about their people's wellbeing. I remember in my city of stay in Middle Saudi Arabia--there was this one big accident causing some deaths because of the turn on the road being curvy. Within a month of accident, Saudi authorities rebuilt the entire intersection and took out the turn altogether--so that no accident happens ever again due to a mere turn on the road.

    Guess you can do that if you have lots of wealth--but then again, I wonder if our corrupt politicians had similar levels of wealth--would they prioritize citizens over their personal pockets?

    Also, for the most part, the justice system over there is pretty kickass. No matter how wealthy or powerful you are---if you found to be breaking the law in a serious manner---the authorities are coming after you no matter what!

    (There are many bad things inherent to Saudi system, their biased towards their own citizens rather than "ajnabees" from S.Asia..... so offcourse they aren't an example to follow at all overall).
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
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  8. Musafir117

    Musafir117 ELITE MEMBER

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    Ye kitne pese le ga jaan chorne ki? :rofl: well, my mistake tho:undecided:
     
  9. ABCharlie

    ABCharlie FULL MEMBER

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    It's a fashion trend for them.
     
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  10. Luffy 500

    Luffy 500 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Good article, but I hope the subtle anti-islamic subtext slipped into the article by New York times will NOT be lost by conscious Muslims readers. Ever so true to their orientalist roots, NYT did NOT fail to paint the Muslim clerics as old and virulent, who "oppress women". Even in this article about a positive phenomenon of Pak society, they are trying to portray a false dichotomy between Pakistani Muslim Men and Muslim Women and non-existent competition between genders in Muslim society. These Pakistani Muslim women are not belittling Islamic Men scholars or orthodoxy (as NYT is trying to portray), but rather they are being true to their Islamic heritage and orthodoxy by gaining beneficial knowledge as commanded by their Creator.

    Also Note how NYT is trying to give a capitalist consumerist spin to this beautiful endeavour of gaining knowledge by our Pakistani sisters.

    And what is this term conservative? It s a western term that denotes relativism and often negatively perceived. Conservative relative to what? These Muslim women wearing proper Hijab/Niqab, reciting Quran and learning about their faith are simply following the fundamentals of their religion. Their is NO liberal islam or conservative Islam. Such categorization of Islam only exists in the head of secular imperialistic westerners.

    Problem is, the westerners contextualize everything associated with Islam from their socio-cultural-historical perspective and imposes some of their own historical and cultural prejudice and experience on Islamic world , as doing so appeases their superiority complex.
     
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  11. Zarvan

    Zarvan ELITE MEMBER

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    Islam is growing thanks to policies of west. The more attack the more it will grow and these soft **** stars othewise known as showbiz people there actions also increase the reaction that is number of Hijab in women I study in University and I also see girls changing. First comers Duppatta and than scarf than Hijab and some go for Hijab directly. It will keep growing because it's the destiny no matter How much liberal fundos and enemies of Islam try to stop it
     
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  12. Zibago

    Zibago ELITE MEMBER

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    Ab kafir mulk mein rehney waley sahab mein rehney walay hamain batayein gay hamara mulk keisa hay

    Mein ney koshish ki samjhanay ki but is ka maqsad kuch aur hay khaur ye deta rahey tax dar ul harb mein jis sey ham jins parasti aur la deniyat ko farokh milay ga :D
     
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  13. Luffy 500

    Luffy 500 SENIOR MEMBER

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    Do you know what is munafiq?It means people who are two faced and inwardly conceal kufr like the liberals and secularists in Muslim lands who are virulently against Islam while claiming an association with Islam. They are always confused, always planning deceit and plots. They mock and slander practicing Muslims as fools, extremist, backward etc and defiantly disobey Allah (swt). Not to mention they lie and promote corruption, evil; and mischief in society and when confronted they argue that they are doing everything for the good of society:


    “And when it is said to them: ‘Make not mischief on the earth,’ they say: ‘We are only peacemakers.’
    Verily, they are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive not”[al-Baqarah 2:11-12]



    “And when it is said to them (hypocrites): ‘Believe as the people (followers of Muhammad, Al-Ansaar and Al-Muhaajiroon) have believed,’ they say: ‘Shall we believe as the fools have believed?’ Verily, they are the fools, but they know not”[al-Baqarah 2:13]

    “The hypocrites, men and women, are one from another; they enjoin (on the people) Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief and polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and forbid (people) from Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and they close their hands [from giving (spending in Allaah’s Cause) alms]. They have forgotten Allaah, so He has forgotten them. Verily, the hypocrites are the Faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allaah)”[al-Tawbah 9:67]

    There are four (characteristics), whoever has all of them is a complete hypocrite, and whoever has some of them has some element of hypocrisy, unless he gives it up: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a treaty, he betrays it; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; when he quarrels, he resorts to insults.”(Narrated by Muslim, 53)

    “And when they meet those who believe, they say: “We believe,” but when they are alone with their Shayaateen (devils — polytheists, hypocrites), they say: “Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking

    Allaah mocks at them and gives them increase in their wrong-doing to wander blindly”[al-Baqarah 2:14-15]

    Muslims simply by living in the west does NOT, I repeat does NOT become Munafiq. What you are uttering is NOT only non-nonsensical but completely unprecedented. Not even the Rand corp. funded "experts" on Islam that appear on CNN, BBC & Fox news have come out with this absurdity you are spouting. Did you ripped open @AUz heart to see whether he is a munafiq of not before you made takfir :woot: on him with you liberal intellect? ........Does your religion of liberalism even allow takfir or judgement on a person's religious commitment specially when that person in question is NOT even a follower of your religion?

    Btw just asking - do you know of a religious group called Qadiyanis? Its a heretical group that does NOT even believe in the finality of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him), but they masquerade as Muslims in western countries like Australia. I hope you don't get your information about Islam and Muslims from them. They believe in a kadhdhab (liar) called Mirza Gulam who was a gulam (slave) of the british raj and they virulently hate Islam and muslims.
     
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  14. Musafir117

    Musafir117 ELITE MEMBER

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    :coffee:
     
  15. AUz

    AUz ELITE MEMBER

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    That's what happens when you have no arguments left.

    What does my currently living in US has to do with my arguments and facts on the ground? Reply to my posts and dissect it--why deflect the issue by hiding behind "Yar ye to hai hi US mein"

    I live in US and Pakistan. My stay in US has to do with few things related to my livelihood. Majority of my last 15 years were in Pakistan..where I lived and worked in Lahore, Wah Cantt, Southern Punjab, Khanewal, Multan, Nowshera etc for over a decade.


    But but but...you will not reply to facts being shown because oh iski ID pe to US ka flag hai:lol:

    Grow up and learn to discuss things and not the person, baji
     
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