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Slandering Muslim Women Olympic Athletes

Personal View
By Farrukh I. Younus
Freelance Writer - United Kingdom
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These being the first games where at least one woman represents each country, present an additional sense of pride.

Throughout the Olympics opening ceremony my social media feeds populated with commentary and TV screenshots from friends around the globe.

Whether you loved or hated the opening ceremony, respective nations and their national pride took a front seat in person-to-person digital engagement.

Similarly, these news feeds remain populated by friends who despite the empty seats and 'Microsoft like blue screen' response on the official ticketing website, managed to find their way into the Olympic park: posing in front of, inside of, and alongside anything and everything Olympic.

These being the first games where at least one woman represents each country, present an additional sense of pride. My Muslim friends, male and female have circulated, faster and wider, photos of almost every Muslim woman who covers her hair competing.

" The father of the first ever Saudi female to compete at the Olympic Games has vowed to sue those who insulted his daughter for challenging strict traditions that prevented women from participating."

Read details about this news by clicking here.

However this global euphoria and awe of visibly Muslim women in (and out of) headscarves competing has been tainted by a Saudi Arabian Tweeter, allegedly named Sultan al-Hilali, who spread a hash tag which when translated refers to the Saudi female athletes as, The Prostitutes of The Olympics.

Whatever the polemics, according to the religious authority in the country, slandering a woman is a crime in Shariah  which carries a physical punishment.  Moreover, the Qur’an is clear, "Those who accuse chaste women and do not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes and reject their testimony forever. They are indeed faasiqoon (liars, rebellious, disobedient to Allah)".

However it appears that accountability towards women's rights remains as strictly observed as accountability towards the ruling elite; whether in Arabia or elsewhere in the region.

While gender issues do exist elsewhere in the Muslim world, as they do in the non-Muslim world (equal pay anyone?), the vast majority of Muslims and non-Muslims rejoice in this historic gender-inclusive Olympic games.

Earlier in the year, Malaysia deported a Saudi journalist accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad on Twitter at the request of the Saudi authorities. I wonder then whether the same Saudi officials will pursue Sultan al-Hilali, asking him to produce his four witnesses, and when he cannot, prosecute him for slandering the Saudi female athletes on Twitter.

If Saudi Arabia today reflected the Muslim world of early Islam, slandering women would never be compromised.

Back in history, Caliph Umar not only appointed a woman named al-Shifa to exercise judicial and executive powers at the biggest market in Madinah, but he also appointed another woman, Samra bint Nuhayk to punish anyone who cheated or gave a short measure in the market with a whip.

If this more accurate representation of Islam, where women were involved in all parts of society and not secluded under the guess of false religious fervor or piety, underpinned Arabia, men such as Sultan al-Hilali might think twice before airing such views.

While gender issues do exist elsewhere in the Muslim world, as they do in the non-Muslim world (equal pay anyone?), the vast majority of Muslims and non-Muslims rejoice in this historic gender-inclusive Olympic games.

As for those prone to slander against their own national team, it seems they have taken one of Prophet Muhammad's statements far too literally: if you have no shame, do as you wish.

Related Links:
Ramadan, Hajj, and the Olympics
2012 Olympics: Ramadan Challenges & Opportunities
Hijab to Make History in London Olympics
London 2012: Getting Ready for the Olympics
Farrukh I Younus has a background in mobile phone strategy across Europe and Asia, and has visited China on more than 25 occasions. Dedicated to understanding and delivering solutions based on new technology, Younus has spoken on the subject to the European Parliament in Brussels, and regularly attends industry-leading conferences. He currently runs a video platform, Implausibleblog, delivering lifestyle content via social media; where his focus is on understanding consumer behaviour with regards to digital content and digital advertising. His interests include travel, nouvelle cuisine, and chocolate.

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