Many of you may know that I first became drawn to the Islamic faith upon learning of its treatment and respect of women. The treatment was in marked contrast with the treatment accorded to two daughters of the Ruler of Dubai – learned about that when the rest of the world did, the release of the findings of a High Court in London. It was appalling – he continues to reign with no apparent punishment – well, except for the fact that his ‘kingdom’ is going broke due to the effects of the pandemic.
Learned the real truth of the treatment of Muslim women from Care Giver (then Personal Driver), a lifelong practicing Muslim true to the faith, most respectful to his wife of many years and daughter. I began to explore the Internet at first the subject, subsequently more serious studies, reading the Quran and speaking with an Islamic scholar. The rest, they say, is history.
Studies and reading have continued, with rewards and ‘finds’.
Most recently a book purchased at Book Passages, entitled Islam, one from the Norton Anthology of World Religions. written by on Islam. It is not exactly easy reading but most enlightening. The reading has been been random, rather than orderly. This heroine is a modern day reformist, so found at the back of the book, wouldn’t have got there by orderly reading. As mentioned in a prior blog, Amina Wadud caught my eye, she is described as a scholar, activist, and author of books examining the role of women in Islam. She captured the attention of the entire world when she led congregations of men and women in ritual prayers – this happening took place in New York City in March of 2005. Those familiar with Muslim tradition will know that men and women worship separately. She was harshly criticized but defended her decision: This issue of gender equality is very important in Islam, and Muslims have unfortunately used highly restrictive interpretations of history to move backward.” She began the prayers by affirming: “With this prayer service we are moving forward . This single act is symbolic of the possibilities of Islam.” Oh! to have been there on that day! But of course I was not a Muslim fifteen years ago This sentence brought me pause: Wadud’s exegesis prompts her activism. Did not know the meaning of exegesis so was placed in a dilemma. It is the critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture. It synonyms are: interpretation. explanation, exposition, explication, elucidation, clarification; gloss, annotation.. So, in other words, what she does is clarity and explain the Qur’an and other Islamic texts, using her clearly powerful brain.
She was born in Maryland, was a convert to the faith, became a Muslim at the age of twenty, earning a PhD. In 1988 from the University of Michigan. Then, bravely , began teaching at the International Islamic University in Malaysia, remaining there until 1992. Her seminal work, Qur’an and Women was published in 1991 In that book she cleverly sets the Qur’an as as the standard, then compares the treatment of women in Muslim societies. This from Islam “Her central contention is that the Qur’an, while noting biological differences between men and women, teaches the ontological and spiritual equality of the sexes. As Wahdud sees it, the centuries long relegation of women as second-class in Islamic studies is a function of patriarchal social practises that are antithetical to the Qur’an.” By the way Ontology is the branch of philosophy that studies concepts such as existence, being, becoming, and reality. Her method is to use a “holistic” method of reading which “seeks to understand the Qur’an in its totality” The Qur’an’s primary message is justice and equality. By way of example, she cites Qur’an 2.28 which states that men are given a ‘degree’ over women. She argues that this must be narrowly construed referring only to the divorce setting where men can more easily get a divorce NOT that as some hold that men as a gender are superior to women. Her message is similar to that of another contemporary Islamic scholar Zahir Naik.. Both hold that the Qur’an has long term goals, science and knowledge that could not be realized at the time of its revelation.
I an an avid follower of Zahir Naik, Care Giver’s son told me of this man and his message. Many hours have been spent listening to the question and answer forums played before huge gatherings. Zahir Naik was removed from India, his television network was confiscated Now in exile in Malaysia, one of three Muslim countries who would accept him. He chose Malaysia for several reasons, one being he is out of the epicentre of conflict. Interesting, of course, is that Amina Wadud taught in Malaysia at the International Islamic University. Most unusual is the connection that Alexis McBride has with Malaysia. A stunning new condominium complex is being build it Kuala Lumpur. Its name is Alix Residences, it was named for me by Joo Kim Tiah – no doubt in most minds. Do Google Alix Residences, and also the theme Brazenly Authentic, which does describe yours truly. The acquaintance and naming took place before my conversion to the Islamic faith. If it does ever reach completion (doubtful actually) I could go to the bar, called Brazen (perfectly named) but shall be drinking a non-alcoholic beverage. It is also possible to use the search engine of the blog to read all of the entries at or near the time of naming.
Such coincidences, such a global reach by an old lady born, in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Closer to home, Care Giver (formerly Personal Driver) has a new car. Me: Finally, I have a car that is worthy of my status. Started with a Yellow Cab, then a Corolla, then a Prius but now a Honda. I am proud to ride in this car. He: It was purchased with the assistance of money which indirectly was a result of the coronavirus. Me: You are correct. The sale of automobiles was drastically reduced as a result of the economic instability following the pandemic, so funds were allocated to aid in the purchase of new automobiles.
The photographs are of the spiffy new car and myself. I am appropriately clad as a Muslim woman as my hair is covered, as are my arms and legs. But it is rather bizarre as it is a Scottish tam and scarf purchased in Scotland on a visit to Dryburgh Abbey and environs in 2015 with one of my cousins. The glitzy shoes are not exactly seventh century Muslim attire either. In Scotland doing research on my Uncle Dave book. Research completed but still no book. Far more people read my blog than ever would read the book – so it can wait for awhile.