Thursday, February 28

Egyptian Men.. Wutz Up with You?

Egypt men say 'I don't' to woman marriage registrar

CAIRO (AFP) The appointment this week of Egypt's first woman able to conduct Muslim marriages has sparked controversy in the religious country, particularly from men who see their status being challenged.

Amal Soliman, 32, is the first woman in the Middle East and possibly the Muslim world to be authorised to perform wedding ceremonies and sign marriage and divorce contracts.
Straddling the worlds of bureaucracy and religion -- two pillars of Egyptian society -- the graduate in civil and criminal law said she is "more qualified" than her colleagues to perform the function of "maazun".

Justice Minister Mamduh Mari stressed that Soliman's nomination depended on her abilities rather than on her gender, but it has raised eyebrows and anger on the streets in the male-dominated Arab country.

"I completely reject the idea," Mahmud Ali, a bearded 40-year-old, told AFP in Cairo. "There must be religious texts forbidding this... there are also obstacles on a social level, she would always take the woman's side."

"This idea won't spread, it's a one-off and it won't last."
Ahmed Abdel Rehim declared simply: "A woman cannot do this job. I would never have a female maazun at my wedding."

But officials, eager to portray an image of equality, welcomed the decision.
"I'm not shocked at all, it's a purely legal job, reading Koranic verses and conducting a marriage," said Ali Saman, former head of Al-Azhar University's religious dialogue committee.
"A maazun is a judicial assistant, a notary... so it's a job that women can do."

In 2005, US-based Amina Wadud sparked controversy in the Muslim world, including in Egypt, when she led prayers in New York, with some clerics saying it went against Islamic doctrine.
"A female imam (who leads prayers in a mosque) is different, that's to be debated by specialists but a female maazun who signs and officialises a marriage certificate there's no problem," he said.

"There are no religious texts banning a Muslim woman from being a maazun," said Al-Azhar's deputy director Sheikh Fawzi Zafzaf. "But when a woman is menstruating she must not enter a mosque or read Koranic verses and that will affect her job, so for this reason we say it is not advisable to have a woman maazun."

Women's rights in Egypt have a long and occasionally rocky history. Egyptian women were allowed to vote and stand for office in 1956. But they are notable in their absence from Egyptian courtrooms, even those dealing with family law. A first group of 30 women judges was authorised to practice in March 2007.

"Islam guarantees women's rights,
whatever is said about the inferiority of women is a lie," said Zafzaf.

"Why not support women?" said Shawkiya Rawash, in her 50s. "If she can be an example to follow, if she manages to do her job well, why not? I'm in favour."

And I'm in favor too, Shawkiya. Thank you so much. But, you know what? Egyptian men seem to have got issues with this..

Now, let's speak seriously, please guys. What's up with you, men? Huh?

Al-Azhar seems to me to be so messed up on this subject. And unfortunately, I've been one miserable victim who watched this issue being debated live on Egyptian TV. Gotta tell you.. I just felt SICK of all the biased trash I heard.

I've talked about this before in my comment on EFC's first post here. And I told her about Al-Azhar's unjustified objection to the court sentence in this case back then. This woman, Amal Soliman, has earned her basic rights through a long needless battle with the justice system. And even after that, the judge was reluctant, and he insisted that an official approval by the Fatwa Committee of Al-Azhar is a must for Amal to get her legal rights in holding her job.

I saw Amal Soliman on TV.. She is such a decent woman, and she has got all what it takes to have this job. She holds a masters degree in law, and her work experience has enabled her to beat 10 male candidates in order to become maazun. Moreover, she faced lots of unjustifiable complications, and was deprived of her right to start practicing her new job. But she didn't give up. She fought for her right. She filed a lawsuit against her employers, and got a court sentence in her favor. So.. Why the hell had Al-Azhar's committee denied her permission to get that job, and why the hell did they suddenly change their minds?

And please allow me to ask, WHAT THE HELL is Al-Azhar's deputy director saying?!!

I'm sorry. With all my respect to Al-Azhar and its men.. But this man doesn't seem to make any sense in his speech. And I am sorry to repeat his meaningless and contradictory statements down here.

He said, "There are no religious texts banning a Muslim woman from being a maazun."
Right.. Then why did Al-Azhar reject Mrs. Soliman's request the first time? And how can they forbid what God Himself has not forbidden? How can anyone dare to ban something, on religious basis, although God has never banned it?

OK.. Let's assume that they realized they were mistaken. Now, check out what Sheikh Zafzaf says right after: "But when a woman is menstruating she must not enter a mosque or read Koranic verses and that will affect her job, so for this reason we say it is not advisable to have a woman maazun."

Wait a minute! Did I just read this again? I really wish this is just a bad dream.. But did this man actually say "it is not advisable to have a woman maazun"? Come on! Are we kidding here or what?

Or.. Are we playing some kind of a very old game that men are never tired of playing? They give you something by one hand, and take it by the other.

Zafzaf, haven't you learned in Al-Azhar that lying is haram? I mean, this is a lesson we learn in 1st primary.. Yet, in your case, I assume that lying is not a good thing to do at all, since you are Al-Azhar's deputy director! Who are you speaking to please now? God or society?.. Or the beduin patriarchal society, to be more specific?

Zafzaf, you know that the maazun's job has got nothing to do with the mosque. And you know that the prayers said at the wedding are part of the cermony, not the legal process of writing and officiating the marriage certificate. Thus, you are misleading people - on purpose - to make them believe that this woman will actually hold the hands of the groom and the bride's father under a white handkerchief to recite the usual lines said at the wedding ceremony. Isn't this a lie Zafzaf? Aren't you twisting facts A LOT here? Isn't this a very bad and cheap con job?

And then you dare say, "whatever is said about the inferiority of women is a lie"!!.. Man, you've just said that this woman's period will affect her job!

Now, this is a double lie. You've discriminated against this woman, and all other women who would want to have the same job.. You've told people not to hire this woman for their weddings, for God's sake! And then you go ahead saying "the inferiority of women is a lie"?! That's way too much.. Seriously.

Zafzaf.. I'm sorry, but you don't belong to a respectable religious institution like Al-Azhar. You rather belong with some male chauvinistic movement . You are a disgrace to the position you hold, really. You deform Islam to satisfy your male buddies.

Thumbs down Azhar!.. Both thumbs down!.. And I will tell all my family and friends to hire this woman for their weddings. Shame on you men.

* I'd like to thank Raaasa for inspiring this post and providing the AFP link


Dr. Eyad Harfoush said...

Dear Fantasia,

I can imagine your reasons, however, I find it only a matter of rejecting things the man is not familiar with. The comment you mentioned of that man saying "there must be something banning this in Islam" is a common thing. People regard what is common as the right thing and vice versa. They believe whatever innovative approach to life is Bed3a and must not be good otherwise the Salaf would have did it, apart from their temporal conditions... Afterall, not all men are alike.

saadebaid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arabic ID said...

Once I heard a such topic, you jumped to my head .. I thought what a flaming post I will read on fantasia blog,
and of-course you didn't disappoint me.

I agree with you, and I can imagine a way of thinking would be porn following a such happening, but I am always looking to such "newings" as stepping on wire, we have to complete till the end , but missing one step might lead us to the bottom of chaos.

good intentions don't make good solutions or endings for sure.

is this clear?, I hope my English helped me this time.

Egyptian Feminist Chic said...

Dear Fanta,

Sorry for taking soo long to comment on this excellent post.

I think i have a theory about al- azhar's rediculous position on this issue.... it all goes back to money and funding...

Saudi arabia funds alazhar. saudi has one of the most opressive regimes ever known to mankind!! the lucky azhar shikhs are the ones who get to go work in saudi or on television.. they are the ones who make all the money...

Saudi ideology is all about oppression of women... anything that gives a woman any rights is discourage. they would prefer it if all women wore black tents and were forbidden from ever going out in public or working... now if alazhar actually gives this woman the right to work, they will anger saudi= loss of funding!! so they dont want to approve it... yet this woman made the matter so public that she will be bringing the matter under scrutiny in the public eye... so they have to use religious texts to forbid this woman from working.... and there is no religious text!!! so in order to please the "powers that be" they discouraged it and of course they used the world famous excuse that they always use.... women get periods!!! they blame everything on periods... they make it out like a woman with a period will infect the world with the plague... so we need to prevent all human contact... they are being ignorant fools!

add to all of that our idiotic chauvanistic attitudes that make most men say if a woman does a certain job, the men might as well wear dresses and go sit at home.... intolerance, sarcasm and bigotry at its finest!!

the truth is they like saying that women are inferior... they dont know why women would be inferior, so they blame it on the one thing men dont know anything about... periods!

"I completely reject the idea," Mahmud Ali, a bearded 40-year-old, told AFP in Cairo. "There must be religious texts forbidding this... there are also obstacles on a social level, she would always take the woman's side."

"This idea won't spread, it's a one-off and it won't last."
Ahmed Abdel Rehim declared simply: "A woman cannot do this job. I would never have a female maazun at my wedding."

they wish that god would have forbidden a woman from being a maazoon, hence the comment that there must be a religious text!!

and what is that about taking a woman's side??? is this what they expect from a male maazun?? o take the man's side?? is this a war or something and we need to start picking sides?? and lets assume there were sides... wouldnt it be farir to have women as well as men?? why be biased to men 100% of the time?

begad takhalof we ghaba2 we habal.
You do not need a penis to conduct a wedding ceremony.

look on the bright side... this is only the beginning, that woman is brave and she has done something great by fighting for her right! kudos to her. egyptian women are strong women, and more women will hopefully fight for more rights... despite wahabi pressure, we will get everything we deserve, one day at a time :)

raaasa said...

Interesting ideas, EFC. You have raised some insightful points as always.

Funding and influence is a huge issue in terms of the direction things take, here I mean at al-Azhar. On one hand, al-Azhar claims that it is traditionalist and moderate, ie. working as a buffer to prevent Wahhabi and Salafi extremism. (regarding women and family, I would argue that al-Azhar is more traditionalist and rarely if ever moderate.) Further on this in link below:

On the other hand, it happily accepts Saudi funding (with the assumption of compliance with Saudi "requests" or norms.)

And then, there is the government appointment of al-Azhar leadership.

I see this as quite a balancing act in terms of the sides and powers it must keep happy and quiet before even considering the public good.

ألِف said...

We're fine. Thank you for asking

But it's not only men who have something wrong with them, because as you know this doubt in women being able to do anything at all exists also among women. At least that's what some women would confess in public, submitting to social pressure, lest they be rejected, or worse, be regarded as out of norm, which is for women far worse than it is for men as it immediately have promisciousty-related connonations in the collective mind of our society.

Any way, as you know, it's not a gender-specific thing.

What I cannot understand regarding this issue, however, is that the Mazun is not a religious man (there's not such a thing in Islam in principle). It's strictly a civic office which doesn't even exist today in many (most?) Islamic countries, and surely didn't exist for a long duration [of Islam].

What's more is that the function itself is not required for an "Islamicly valid" marriage. We [Egyptians] probably devised it for the thrill of it; like we ulcered every other bereaucratic concept, from customs' officers [circa 7000 BCE] to tax collectors [circa 10000 BCE] :D

It's just a job! But that's more of a reason to fear competition.

Fantasia said...

Dear Dr. Eyad,

Yeah.. That guy sucks. What does it mean "there must be"? Does he want the sheikhs to fabricate a religious text to ban women from practicing this job?

I believe in this case it has not much to do with Bed3a.. it has to do with a general concept about the status of women in Islam. The recent islamic interpretations invading our country through the gulf has caused our society to have this distorted stereotypical image of how Islam defines women. In this distorted image, women are considered to be anti-religion.. They are a source of seduction.. They are the origin of evil.. They have to be controlled by men.. They are "not clean".. Their faith is weak.. Their bodies are a curse... etc. Therefore, men can not accept the idea that women can hold a position with has something to do with a religious ceremony.

Way are going far backwards.. Even further than what Islamists refer to as the time of Jahilyya.

Fantasia said...

arabic id,

glad i didn't disappoint you. this is one alarming disease that is attacking our society's collective mind, and we have to seek all the possible means to cure it or we will continue to be at the bottom of human civilization as we are now.. with all sorrow

we should never stop no matter what complications are put in our way. i totally agree with you on that. we must not allow ourselves to be intimidated or scared. there is a long road ahead.. and it is a damn tough one.. but we have to travel down this road.. there is no other way.

Fantasia said...

dear EFC,

brilliant thoughts as usual.. you never fail to read my mind. and i have actually talked about the role of saudi funding in ruining the Azhar institution on my arabic blog.

you are right.. this is a huge problem and it is making the whole country suffer.

we don't deserve to be thrown into the dark ages of the arabian peninsula.. egypt is different. egypt is the heart and mind of the middle east.. we have always been the leaders of change and the inspirers of development. why are we now forced to follow the footsteps of the beduins? WE CAN'T AFFORD TO HAVE THIS LUXURY!

they have got huge seas of oil.. and they have no problem selling it to the west.. THE INFIDEL WEST that they believe to be anti-Islam and the reason behind all evils on earth.. still they live out of its money, while they sit there doing nothing and manufacturing nothing. they are so proud that they don't work and that their contributions to humanity is a big fat ZERO. all they care about is turning women into walking black tents and going after satisfying their twisted lusts in secret. as if this is the kind of religious model that we have to follow! such a sick sick society!

we would be crazy if you chose to quit our wonderful egyptian culture to mimic those retarded communities! this is nuts.. a foolish self-destructive behavior.

the problem is that the new methods adopted by al-azhar is causing egyptians to confuse beduin traditions with Islam.. and THEY ARE DOING IT ON PURPOSE.. just like this Zafzaf was doing. this kind of making discrimination against women seem like a holy thing mandated by God makes our work very hard. how can you convince someone that Islam is not what those sheikhs are claiming it is? how can you make them listen to you and understand that criticizing beduin attitude and behaviors is not a criticism of Islam?

and whenever we speak about women's rights in egypt, they start turning the argument from a logical one into a religious sermon.. then when you talk about religion to clarify that there is not contradiction between what you are calling for and what God demanded, they tell you to shut up because you ain't an islamic scholar! as if you are talking about an area of exclusive expertise!.. not a religion that was meant to be for everyone.

they make religion interfer with every aspect of life, and then tell you don't talk about religion.. as if you were the one who started this entanglement in first place!

you know what? EFC.. egypt is going down hill like a rolling stone.. and anyone who will be brave enough to take iniative of stopping it from reaching the bottom must be willing to take the risk of being crushed and being stained by mud. agents of change in every falling society are like the tiny pebbles willing to stick themselves firmly into the mud in order to slow down the destructive process endangering their countries.

women are the weakest members in this society.. but free women are the hardest and toughest of pebbles.. because they can reverse the whole mechanism if they gather their pieces. they are not soft pebbles, but rather made of steel. that's why they have always scared the forces of darkness throughout history.

Mrs. Amal Soliman, the first woman maazun in the middle east, had to be egyptian.. in spite of all what egypt is going through nowadays.. because the egyptian woman has got a long history behind her, holding her roots firmly into the ground.. she has got a sense of pride and self-worth that enables her head to rise up high. she will always be the leader to other women in the region, no matter what others in the gulf or elsewhere try to do.. and no matter how much those beduin/ized hate it.

Fantasia said...

dear raaasa,

with the exception of a few pitfalls, i consider Ali Gomaa to an excellent example of moderate man of religion.. and one here must bear in mind the time during which this man became the grand mufti of egypt.

unfortunately al-azhar has been invaded by a wave of saudi funded professors, and professors who belong to the muslim brotherhood. as a religious institution, al-azhar did not enjoy any kind of "academic" protection. its head is chosen by the government on basis of his loyalty to the regime. of course you know that Tantawi, who was the former Mufti, is not the type of person who can lead this kind of institution. from the regime's perspective, he could have been a good choice of a Mufti, which doesn't demand any leadership skills.. but it was such a BAD idea making him the grand sheikh of al-azhar. the man has no credibility whatsoever.. he has no charisma.. he is much weaker than those who already control every aspect of this religious institution now.. he is just a title. he has got absolutely no authority and can contribute nothing to the development of this instituion.

as usual, it is us who have to pay the price.

Fantasia said...

dear alif,

i just have to agree.. some women are a big disappointment to themselves before they are to anybody else. a woman who regards herself as inferior is not only humiliating herself, she is reducing other women's chances in life. she is both a victim and a criminal.

but i have to make it clear that when i condemn women, i don't mean that things are even. i mean that they allowed themselves to be so weak that anything is able to scare them, and they have reduced their whole sex into those vulnerable creatures who are subjected to scrutiny from those who manipulated their lives.

as long as we have this male-dominated social structure, we can't simply say "well, we have to blame it on everybody" because there is somebody.. there is somebody who is now preventing women from having their rights, just as he did block their way to those rights from the start. ok?

everything you said about the job of the maazun is true. what remains is to spread the word, and let people understand what the truth is.. in other words.. unteach them what they have learned from the guardians of patriarchy :)

micheal said...

i just saw ur comment on hadary post in my blog now and i replied 2 it
sorry 4 being late

raaasa said...

Another article about Amal Sulayman's appointment:

raaasa said...

Listen up, people!

Zainab Radwan argues that a woman's testimony is equal to that of a man's. Furthermore, she asks why should inheritance laws discriminate non-Muslims?

Another point here, the photo shows women in 1919 protesting against the status quo --my guess is that they are denouncing the British presence rather than the status of women in the law...misleading in this context

Fantasia said...

Glad you did. Never mind being late. I enjoyed reading through your blog.

Fantasia said...

dear raaasa,
thanks for the links. i was really furious reading the comments on amal's news on alarabiya. those men are sick.
and i've actually written a post about dr. radwan's suggestion to the parliament on the arabic blog honestly, i thought this issue is too embarrassing to discuss here. I get visitors from different parts of the world, and i don't wanna be their source in knowing that a female testimony in front of egyptian courts is considered to be half that of a man's. i've even started a whole campaign for supporting this demand on facebook:

raaasa said...

Dear Fanta,

I see your point, but the facts are that under the law a woman is half a person--if a whole person is a man. The repercussions of this are just huge--as witnesses, as victims of crimes, and so on.

The idea is that a woman is never ever a full adult, a responsible citizen or member of society. Related to this, of course, are associated rights of inheritance and so on.

I think you should absolutely tackle this subject here--particularily so as many countries are considering adopting sharia regarding family concerns and so on.

Thanks for the links. I will again repeat, you go girl!!!

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