Some of my readers may recall that during last year's Islam Awareness Week, Muslim women in the Dunedin community were told that they were not allowed to speak in public because a group of men decided they were considered a fitna (trial or temptation). Coming from Malaysia, a progressive Muslim country, this was the first time I ever had to deal with such a situation and it was a very distressing time. My friends e-mailed Islamic scholars from around the country and the rest of the world to find out if the claim of women as a fitna is true and they all said it's absolutely fine for women to participate in public life and speak in public, especially if they have good intentions. Of course, dressing modestly would be good as well. It's a simple thing but it's amazing how some people can blow it out of proportion. Unfortunately, the local Imam was not supportive of the women's cause and therefore many (not all) of the Muslim men in Dunedin were inclined to follow his opinion.
Now, whenever I have the chance to meet an Islamic scholar I would ask their opinion about the matter. I've spoken to Imam SuhaibWebb and more recently, Sheikh Afroz Ali, founder of Al-Ghazzali Centre, and Ustadh Mustafa Davis, filmmaker and photographer, when they were in Auckland in October to conduct a Muslim youth workshop, "Creative, Young and Muslim".
Alhamdulillah, both of them dispelled the myth of Muslim women as fitna in a very compelling manner. Have a listen to what Sheikh Afroz had to say about the issue.
P.S. Sorry for the late post. I was caught up with other things. I definitely know how to keep myself busy during my holiday!