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Allegedly Halal Thoughts II

G'day. Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney lawyer whose practice focuses on industrial and human rights law. He is a regular Webdiarist. His last contribution was Sharia for complete bankers – Part 3. Part I of Allegedly Halal Thoughts is here.

by Irfan Yusuf

Alan Jones invited to meet with Australian professionals

Some weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a prominent Muslim lawyer from Melbourne who complained about being verbally abused on numerous occasions in Sydney for wearing a headscarf. She is a respected legal practitioner who was educated in New Zealand and has practised on both sides of the Tasman.

She told me that things haven’t been the same for her since the Cronulla riots. In and amongst her complaints were references to various radio talkshow hosts, including Alan Jones and Brian Wiltshire.

I’ve heard and read a lot about the various discussions of morning radio talkshow host and prominent shareholder of 2GB. Some of his comments have been reproduced on the ABC’s Media Watch website.

I have heard the excerpts, and they do definitely smack of racism. Whether this is the racism of Alan himself or his listeners remains to be seen.

But I personally don’t think it serves any purpose to attack Jones directly. I admit that I am not a regular listener to Jones or any other morning radio show. I’m a night owl, and value my early morning sleep!

Rather than condemn media personalities, it is time for Aussie Mossies to talk with them face-to-face, to open up a dialogue with them in good faith. For this reason, I’ve decided to invite Alan to join a select group of Australians of Muslim background as we share food for our stomachs as well as for thought.

I will keep readers posted on further developments with the proposed meeting and meal with Jones.


Blog Who?

In the meantime, if any of you feel like a trup across the Tezmun, feel free to join me in Willungtun for the inaugural Blog Hui International Conference for Bloggers [http://bloghui.org/] this weekend. Ut should bay ebsolutelay fentestuk! You might even get to see me present a paper. or you can save your frequent flyer points for another occasion and read the following summary of my paper from the conference website ...

"This presentation will examine how blogging can be used as a tool for media and community activism. It examines a number of examples where blogging has been used as a training ground for converting activists into writers with a view to enabling changes in social attitudes toward unpopular and unconventional groups and ideas."


Did I hear someone coughing "buuh-sht, buu-sht"?



Re-Trial of Christchurch murder suspect

Some Kiwistani dude is accused of murdering a woman in Christchurch. Yeah? So what?

But this isn’t any murder trial. The victim was ... wait for it ... a sex worker!

Yeah? So what? Are sex workers a bunch of vampires who defy murder attempts and live on forever? Perhaps not. But violence against sex workers is a huge issue on both sides of the Tasman. And if it isn't a big issue, it should be.

I think a lot of it has to do with the enormous stigma attached to sex workers which has roots in what I regard as false religiosity. Some years ago, I found myself writing something on the topic of sex work, Islamic theology and Muslim cultures.

It is a difficult topic for both men and women to discuss. Yes, I agree that sex work tends to be an environment which is inherently oppressive to women. But I think the extreme stigma doesn’t help women who find themselves in the industry and wish to leave. Further, the stigma ensures that women in the industry aren’t protected from violence.

During my recent visit to Indonesia, I had occasion to visit a Muslim NGO in Yogyakarta known as “Rifka an-Nisa”. This organisation provided counselling, social and advocacy services to women the subject of family and other violence.

Part of RN’s work includes working with sex workers, many of whom are practising Muslim women with multiple mouths to feed and few if any sources of social or financial support.

A practising Muslim woman working as a prostitute? One male RN worker posed this question to a client who had 4 school-age children and a severely disabled husband.

“What other option do I have? I was taught as a child that Allah is merciful. I can only hope He is merciful to me. I have 5 mouths to feed and no support from anyone.”

The RN worker told us that he had to question the basis of his faith after meeting this client. Up until that moment, his understanding of faith allowed him to cast judgment on people’s actions and lifestyles without understanding their peculiar circumstances.

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food for thought

Irfan reckons he wants to " invite Alan ...to exchange food ...for thought ".

The conclusion I drew from the Four Corners report on Cronulla was that background influences like Howard, Costello and Jones have a lot to answer for with their brainless dog-whistling populism.

And herein lies the problem. Irfan's plan is doomed if he looks for an "exchange of thought", since to have thoughts one must have a brain first. I wholeheartedly urge Irfan to reconsider his exercise, until he finds someone with more brains than a mallee-fowl.

And no, Mike Lyvers. It's not about "homosexuals", it's about trying to salvage something from the volatile tendencies encouraged and revealed at Cronulla over summer, that could have a high cost for society and for victims of violence if the tendencies are further inflamed in the irresponsible way they have been by populist federal and state politicians and tabloid media, rather than ameliorated through adult discourse.

Mark and Paul

Mark, thanks for the links, I will check them out. However as I understand Irfan, he is saying that there is no monolithic "Islam" but rather a collection of Islams, and I was wondering if there are any that are tolerant of homosexuality. Likewise there is no monolithic Jewish or Christian attitude to homosexuality (there are churches for gays, for example). Thus I await Irfan's informed response. (I know individual Muslims who are tolerant of homosexuality, but my question has to do with organised religion rather than individuals.)

I don't understand your post, Paul. Cronulla has nothing whatsoever with my question about Islamic attitudes to homosexuality (and I'd bet the bozos involved in the Cronulla riots are as anti-gay as they come). You conclude your post by invoking "discourse" after telling Irfan that such discourse is impossible, which doesn't make any sense. I hope that Irfan succeeds in getting Jones or whoever involved in a discussion, that would be very interesting. PS why the scare quotes around the word homosexuals?

"Freedom" in Iraq

Iraqi cleric wants gays killed in "most severe way"

In the midst of sectarian violence that threatens to drag Iraq into civil war, the country's influential Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has issued a violent death order against gays and lesbians on his Web site, according to London-based LGBT human rights groups OutRage.

Written in Arabic, the fatwa comes from a press conference with the powerful religious cleric, where he was asked about the judgment on sodomy and lesbianism. “Forbidden,” Sistani answered, according to OutRage, “Punished, in fact, killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”

Judgement is mine said the Lord

Irfan love you articles which are always filled with wonderful insight.

“this understanding of faith allowed him to cast judgment on people’s actions and lifestyles without understanding their peculiar circumstances.”

I wish we would all think twice before we cast judgement.

On Alan Jones and prostitution

Can't wait for the discussion. Suspect I will have to. As I remember, it wasn't just his callers who made racist comments. Heard it myself for the first and blessedly only time. Why do people listen to these guys?

Out of curiosity, expanded my visions to include listening to a John Laws show. If I wanted to listen to a rude and obnoxious ill informed right wing little person basher now I know where to go. I think these guys just feed the easy playground, run with the pack, emotions that a civilised person needs to counter in their hearts. I wonder why they don't cringe as it is played back to them.

Anyway, to each their own and plenty feed off it to validate their little bigotries... As to prostitutes, it would be nice to think that in a world with proper social security for women and no drug problems to feed there would be none.

The fact is, it is a good income, little outlay, and plenty of girls do it for free on Saturday nights anyway, huh? Think about it. Some make advances in different ways using their physical attributes in ways some may define as prostitution.

Real McCoy prostitutes? How many have you spoken to? I have read no studies upon this but ... I have been shocked by some of the reasons for doing it from girls that I have met and had conversation with. From Honey in Jogjakarta to Susy in Darlinghurst it ain't all bleeding hearts. In fact, if there wasn't so much need for protection, as seen recently with the very violent assaults against brothel workers, and the organised crime dimension, it would be one of the few very lucrative professions a girl could do and really make a killing in.

Beauty is certainly no requirement: the ugliest woman I have ever met, with a real hair problem and quite a snarl when she talks, was well paid for her favours and had a boyfriend well aware of how their lounge suite was being paid off. Imagine, for a lounge suite!

Women and men who know and are aware of the ins and outs of what they do, literally, are different cases from the organised crime linked paedophile networks and immigrant women being raped. It is a shame that such heinous crimes are not the primary target of our police force. Those who object to the oldest profession upon religious grounds are usually accompanied in such by their clients, and I would love to learn of where such legislation banning prostitution has done the community any good or prevented such activities. Usually it just drives it underground or limits it to the upper echelons.


Gosh, Angela

I actually agree with your latest post here. This is a frightening development. What is the world coming to??

ah, nirvana aproaches

I think such a thunderous occurrence may be an omen. Then again, it happened to Will or Jay, forget which, and the sun still rose.

Ever wonder how it must have been to the Brits to hear that news: "the War is over"? Or the "wall is coming down"? Wonder whether we'll be here for the next "the war is over"? And just for the record the inverted commas this time DO mean I am anti-Warrist.


Islam and certain lifestyles

I have a question for you, Irfan:

What is the "moderate" Islamic position on homosexuality, given that sharia law mandates the death penalty for it?

Good Fraction of a Question

Good onya Mike, for taking an interest in discussing issues of changing social mores and how they relate to religious belief.

A simple Google search came up with this site that seems to be fairly broad in it's scope.

Now, I know that you only asked about Islam because Irfan is an Islamic moderate, or is that moderately Islamic, but I thought it would be helpful to contextualise the answer by including other religions. In fact, this could be a great issue for Roger Fedyk to explore. I'd love to see a comparative study of attitudes towards homosexuality within the "great" religions of the world.

So here we have examples of what Judaism thinks, followed closely by the very righteous Christians. Just to round things out we should include the thoughts of Hindus and Buddhists.

I have to warn that these are only the first intelligible sites that came up in a Google search. Further study is recommended for those that wish to examine the topic in greater detail. Nevertheless, I think these offer a beginning point for discussion.

Once again, thanks go to Mike Lyvers for offering the impetus to examine this fascinating topic. That is why you asked the question, Mike? Isn't it?

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