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Islam in its original state gave women privileges and imposed no harsh restrictions or double standards upon them. — Saimah Ashraf, Muslim author, in her essay "Shattering Illusions: Western Conceptions of Muslim Women"

Women are active fighting for their rights in all public spheres, including as workers, in many societies, but again the culture of religious patriarchy is so dominant that we are still not free individuals in our own right. — Houzan Mahmoud, Iraqi activist

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... we continued our exploration of Islam, examining contemporary issues: the status of women, the division between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, the challenge of peace in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the modern appearance of terrorism as an expression of Muslim extremists. The story in this workshop was about Khadijah, the first wife of Muhammad.


  • Khadijah supported Muhammad on his spiritual journey. Do you have someone who supports you on your spiritual journey?


  • Read the book The Complete Persopolis by Marjane Satrapi (New York: Pantheon, 2007) or watch the animated movie Persepolis (2007, directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, PG-13) to hear one young woman's experiences with an Islamic government.
  • Mideast Tunes features alternative music from the Middle East. Many of these musicians are trying to change the world with their music. There are several genres, including classical, punk, heavy metal, and hip-hop. Even if you do not understand the lyrics, you can enjoy the music.
  • A novel about a youth who decides to wear the hijab is Does This Make My Head Look Big? by Randa Abdel-Fattah (New York: Scholastic, 2007).
  • Another interesting book is The Trouble with Islam Today by Irshad Manji, (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2005). The author is a lesbian-Ugandan-Canadian woman, who embraces her Islamic faith while also understanding the challenges of modern Islam.

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