A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

women: work out, be confident, and run for office – more from my favorite imam

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on September 11, 2008

Yesterday the Daily Star made me grumpy. Today it has made me cheer, thanks to another article on my favorite Muslim cleric, Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, and his progressive positions regarding women’s role in society. This time, he has encouraged women to do sports and other physical activities to become strong, to seize opportunities for education, to take part in the political process, and to be confident in their abilities.

Oh, and to avoid witch-doctors – a bit off-topic, in my opinion, but I suppose its good advice in any case.

Here’s the article – happy reading!

Senior Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah stressed on Wednesday the right of women to become involved in politics and urged the Lebanese people to rebel against “anyone who obstructs the building of a strong Lebanese state.”

Discussing the role of women in Lebanese society during an iftar organized by the Mabarrat Association, Fadlallah said men and women complement each other, and dismissed claims that women were weak.

“Human beings are born physically weak but both men and women can grow strong if they work on themselves,” Fadlallah added.

Elaborating on the subject of physical strength, Fadlallah urged women to participate in sports activities and build up muscular force in order to protect themselves from violence, murder and rape.

“Strength means responsibility and not aggressiveness,” the sayyed explained.

Fadlallah also stressed the importance of education as a means to develop the human mind, and urged women to develop their intellectual skills.

“People are valued according to their culture and knowledge,” he added.

Fadlallah asked women to refrain from resorting to witchdoctors in cases of illness, adding that such practices don’t relate to religion or reason.

Highlighting the importance of women’s input concerning world issues, Fadlallah said that women should participate in decision-making by taking part in the political process.

“Some want women in the Middle East to remain ignorant,” said the cleric.

Fadlallah also stressed that it is the responsibility of men and women to join hands in order to build a strong nation “capable of making political, economic and security decisions.”

“Women should feel confident, because I fear women doubt their capacities,” Fadlallah added.

According to the senior Shiite cleric, Arabs and Muslims represent a fifth of the world’s population but have no role in decision-making, thus allowing the US and the European Union to impose their will.

Fadlallah also accused the United States of occupying Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan under the pretext of [a response to] the September 11, 2001, attacks, adding that the US “fully” supported Israel.

“Today conflicts of interests govern world dynamics and we have to be strong and proud in times of struggle,” he said.

The article is being picked up by various Muslim news sources, including this one, in Britain. I hope Fadlallah’s words spark some very interesting iftar-table conversations around the Muslim world this evening, and I hope they inspire us all to think about women’s ability to contribute to society.

And no, just in case any of you are wondering: I do not believe that he had Sarah Palin in mind when he gave this speech – although anything is possible.

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