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Tag: 2014-2015

Breaking Stereotypes: Women in Islam


The Go Big Read book, “I Am Malala” has spurred many conversations on campus about education, women, and Islam. If an individual only watched mainstream “breaking” news they may falsely associate Islam with the Taliban, terrorism, or oppression. However, “I Am Malala” has sparked a different dialogue on campus. A conversation that focuses on strong Muslim girls who value education, whether it is Malala who had to overcome unimaginable barriers, or Shiza who has used her education and power to help others. Even though conversations have been started, many stereotypes still exist about Islam on our own campus.

Naman Siad, UW Madison senior and President of the Muslim Students Association, understands what it is like to have her identity questioned and have false stereotypes applied to her. In her Badger Herald article she says, “My scarf has often been an object of conversation, often invoking questions about “Where I am really from,” and “How is my English so fluent.” My answers always shocked people when I said I was from Madison and that my English better be fluent as it was my first language. I would often be frustrated with these types of situations. While my fellow classmates were never questioned on their American identity, I would often struggle to “prove” myself.”

Naman and the Muslim Students Association realize that the campus conversations about “I Am Malala” are an opportunity to break down stereotypes and false assumptions in the student body. This Friday students and community members have an opportunity to be a part of a conversation surrounding women in Islam.

The Muslim Students Association is holding a panel event tackling the misconceptions of Women in Islam and showcasing a positive image of successful Muslim Women across America! The inspirational panel will talk about the role of Muslim Women from three different perspectives. The event is at 7 pm Friday, Nov. 21st, in Sterling Hall Rm. 1310. 

If you want to read more of Naman’s article you can find it here: “I Am Malala” provokes necessary discussion of Islam on campus

Cold Weather Blues? Curl up with a book!

Campus is full of students bundled in mittens and scarves scurrying about as they desperately try to avoid the blustery wind and swirling snowflakes. Winter has officially arrived in Madison Wisconsin, whether we are ready or not. The rest of the week promises chilly temperatures, and by the end you’ll likely be craving a steaming cup of cocoa and the chance to curl up with a warm blanket and a new book. 
If you enjoyed this year’s Go Big Read book, I Am Malala, then you will want to consider choosing one of the books below that cover similar themes, regions, and topics. All of the books are available in campus libraries, you can discover the location by clicking on the linked titles.
An award-winning foreign correspondent who contributed to a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times series reveals the secret Afghan custom of disguising girls as boys to improve their prospects, discussing its political and social significance as well as the experiences of its practitioners.
Tears of the Desert: A memoir of survival in Darfur by Halim Bashir with Damien Lewis
Born into the Zaghawa tribe in the Sudanese desert, Halima Bashir received a good education away from her rural surroundings and at twenty-four became her village’s first formal doctor. Yet not even Bashir’s degree could protect her from the encroaching conflict that would consume her homeland. Janjaweed Arab militias savagely assaulted the Zaghawa, often with the backing of the Sudanese military. Then, in early 2004, the Janjaweed attacked Bashir’s village and surrounding areas, raping forty-two schoolgirls and their teachers. Bashir, who treated the traumatized victims, some as young as eight years old, could no longer remain quiet. But breaking her silence ignited a horrifying turn of events. 
An extraordinary young woman raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan, Joya became a teacher in secret girls’ schools, hiding her books under her burqa so the Taliban couldn’t find them; she helped establish a free medical clinic and orphanage in her impoverished home province of Farah; and at a constitutional assembly in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2003, she stood up and denounced her country’s powerful NATO-backed warlords. She was twenty-five years old. Two years later, she became the youngest person elected to Afghanistan’s new Parliament. In 2007, she was suspended from Parliament for her persistent criticism of the warlords and drug barons and their cronies. She has survived four assassination attempts to date, is accompanied at all times by armed guards, and sleeps only in safe houses.

In the name of honor: a memoir by Mukhtar Mai with Marie-Therese Cuny; translated by Lind Coverdale; foreword by Nicholas D. Kristof

Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman, was gang raped as a punishment for indiscretions allegedly committed by the women’s brother. However, Mai fought back and changed the feminist movement in Pakistan, one of the world’s most adverse climates for women. Mai was awarded money from the government and she used it to open a school for girls so that future generations would not suffer, as she had, from illiteracy. 

Embattled Ideologies: I am Malala and the Question of Women’s Education in South Asia Event Today

The UW Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions is hosting an expert panel today from 4:00-6:00 pm in the Sheldon Lubar Faculty Commons, Room 7200, in the UW Law School.

The event brings together four expert scholars on Islam and Education to discuss the challenging and complex questions surrounding women’s education in tribal Pakistan, the historical encounter of Islam and modernity, and the cultural problematics of international aid.

If you are interested in a deeper intellectual conversation surrounding these issues you will not want to miss this event!

Shiza Shahid’s keynote talk is now available online!

People of all ages and backgrounds anxiously waited in line Monday night for the chance to hear Shiza Shahid speak about her experiences with Malala and her background as an activist. Varsity Hall quickly reached capacity, but auditorium doors were opened so that those who could not fit could still see and hear Shiza and over 700 viewers from home watched the live steam of her speech.

Shiza’s speech left the audience captivated, whether it was from the emotional videos she shared, or her own personal stories of triumph and heartbreak. The crowd was taken on a journey of this inspirational young woman’s life and when her story was complete she left the crowd with this parting advice, “We [all] have our struggles. We [all] have our fears, By
saying ‘I am Malala,’ we promise to try and be stronger than those
fears, than whatever is holding us back. I want you to remember, you are
Malala.” The crowd erupted into applause and gave Shiza a well deserved standing ovation.

If you were busy Monday night or even just want to
experience the talk again it is now available online, posted as a link below. A
captioned version will be available next week and I will be placing it
on this blog when it is ready.

Go Big Read Keynote Event 


If you have not finished this year’s Go Big Read book, “I Am Malala”, you will want to find the time this weekend to complete it before the keynote event on Monday!

On Monday Shiza Shahid will be visiting campus to deliver the Go Big Read keynote address. Shiza co-founded the Malala Fund with Malala and has been named on Forbes 30 under 30 list. She is a powerful and motivated woman that will no doubt deliver a powerful speech that you will not want to miss!

The event is at 7:00 p.m. at Union South in Varsity Hall on Monday, October 27th. You will want to arrive early since a large crowd is expected. The event is open to the public and no tickets are necessary.

There will be Q&A session after her speech. We hope to see you all there!

Malala Yousafzai Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

Malala Yousafzai and children’s right activist Kailash Satyarthi were jointly awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize today. The Nobel Prize board announced that Malala and Kailash were awarded “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

The Taliban took over the Swat region of Pakistan where Malala lived in 2008. The Taliban immediately began closing schools for girls. In 2009 Malala began her fight for education. Malala was only 11 when she began anonymously blogging for the BBC about her struggles to receive an education and the fear she lived in everyday. That same year she came forward and announced who she was. Malala publicly criticized the Taliban for not allowing girls to go to school. All Malala wanted was an education.

Two years and one day ago Malala was shot in the head by Taliban men on her way home from school. The world was shocked that a child who was only 15 had been so callously and cruelly attacked. Malala’s assassination attempt brought international attention to Malala and her cause.

Malala had a long road of healing ahead of her, but she never forgot about her fellow Pakistani classmates who were still fighting to receive an education. Malala and Shiza Shahid created the Malala Fund, an organization dedicated to helping all children receive an education. Malala had every right to be angry after her attack, but instead she said “I don’t want revenge on the Taliban. I want education for sons and daughters of the Taliban. Malala, who is only 17, is the youngest ever recipient of a Nobel Prize.

Malala has inspired an education movement that brings together people from all across the world. Her work through the Malala Fund is truly making a difference, and she has no plans of slowing down. I for one expect nothing but greatness in Malala’s future.

Comment and let me know what your favorite Malala quote is.

November 11th Lubar Institute Symposium: 
Embattled Ideologies: I Am Malala and the
Question of Women’s Education in South Asia

The Go Big Read program has been fielding requests from the reading community for a venue that allows for deeper conversation of the themes presented in “I Am Malala”, as well as an event that features UW faculty and experts in the region of study.
 

The
UW Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions is holding a
free, public symposium on November 11th entitled:  Embattled Ideologies: I Am Malala and the
Question of Women’s Education in South Asia

Event Description: Beyond the dramatic story of Malala
Yousafzai’s life and struggle for women’s education as recounted
in I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was
Shot by the Taliban
—UW-Madison’s Go Big Read book
selection for 2014—lie profound and complex questions: 

 –What are the larger and deeper
ideological forces that underpin the political and
humanitarian forefront of the “Malala” story? How do we make
sense of the perspective of the emancipators even as we want
to unravel the fury of the extremists?
 
Why are some people staunchly opposed
to extremism but also suspicious of the extraordinary
limelight that Yousafzai has received? And how have certain
claims made in the book offended many Pakistanis, so that
they question the extent of Yousafzai’s authorship? 

How and why do the politics and ethics
of international development aid sometimes backfire? Why are
universal concepts such as “womanhood,” “human rights,” or
even “education” often problematic?

    This symposium brings together scholars
    whose joint expertise cuts across the challenges of women’s
    education in tribal Pakistan, the historical encounter of Islam
    and modernity, and the cultural problematics of international
    aid. The goal of the program is to highlight how in South Asia
    and elsewhere debates about educational reform and women’s
    education in particular do not occur in a vacuum but are highly
    inflected by historically embedded ideologies, and culturally
    and politically vexed notions about human identity, education
    and development.
      
    PRESENTERS:
    Nancy Kendall is Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies,
    University of Wisconsin-Madison, who specializes in ethnographic
    studies of comparative, international, and global education policy. She
    is affiliated with the UW African Studies Program, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Development Studies Program, and Global Health Institute.
    Her research has examined children’s sense-making and
    experiences with gender and education, political
    democratization, sexuality and HIV/AIDS education, and
    orphan-focused international programming.

    Omar Qureshi is currently the principal of the Islamic Foundation School (Villa
    Park, Illinois) with considerable experience of teaching at
    public and private schools in Saudi Arabia and the United States. He
    has studied the Islamic religious sciences with a number of traditional
    scholars in Syria and Saudi Arabia and holds specialization in Islamic
    law and theology. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University–Chicago. His dissertation explores the conception of the highest good in Islamic Education.

    Sidra Rind is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Educational Policy Studies
    at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She received the Virginia Horne
    Henry Award for her research on female students in the tribal parts of
    Pakistan. She studies how in the province of Balochistan competing
    pressures from the state, the separatists, and the Taliban have shaped
    the educational experience of Pakistani schoolgirls.


    MODERATOR:
    Tayyab Zaidi is a doctoral student in Educational Policy Studies,
    UW–Madison, working toward a dissertation on models of Islamic
    education in America. His research interests cut across the educational
    applications of multimodal and systemic-functional analysis,
    postcolonial studies, and the impact of Muslim organizations. He is a
    recipient of the Fulbright Award and the Higher Education Commission
    Pakistan scholarship. Tayyab holds masters degrees in English as well
    as Applied Linguistics from the University of Karachi, Pakistan, and in
    Educational Studies from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

    Madison Public Library Community Book Groups Continue Into the Fall

    Each year Madison Public Library’s nine locations participate in Go Big Read by hosting community book discussions. MPL’s book discussions are typically long standing groups with a core group of regular attendees who welcome newcomers ready to listen, discuss and share the floor in exploration of the book and author. The list of remaining discussions is below.

    Here are some reactions from librarians that have already hosted discussions this year.
    Each quote is from a different librarian and book discussion group:

    We attempted to understand the birth of the Taliban after the Soviet
    troop withdrawal in 1989– their rise from religious to militant– and
    why they had initial world support, including that of the Reagan and
    Clinton administrations. It was interesting to learn the the Clinton’s
    administration’s flirtation with the Taliban did not last long, as
    Madeleine Albright, incensed by the Taliban’s treatment of women, halted it when she became Secretary of State.

    Many found it a difficult read with the political overtones, the
    anti-Americanism, the detailed historical religious perspective, the
    terminology, and the American unfamiliarity with Pakistan specifically,
    and Islam in general.  Some felt that the book would have held more
    credibility if it hadn’t looked like Malala’s story was being
    manipulated by adults with an agenda to sell books while Malala was
    still in the headlines.  One attendee suggested that, ‘although he had
    great respect for Malala, the book was obvious propaganda.

    We discussed the amazing phenomenon of Malala herself and her wisdom
    beyond her actual years, everyday life and family dynamics in Pakistan,
    all things education, including who has the say over what goes into
    children’s textbooks, whether or not kids here take education for
    granted, etc., religion, religious extremism, the role of the U.S. in
    the Middle East, how the people always get caught between their
    government and the militants and often our government as well, and how
    well that works out for everybody. I think people enjoyed the book and
    Malala’s voice and loved Malala.

    Many in our group were pleased this was a Go Big Read pick because UW
    students would read it– and look beyond their borders and/or discover a
    perspective on ‘the news’ that is more personal. The group also
    appreciated reading more about the Taliban- both the history, the day to
    day changes in Malala’s life because of them, and her courage in
    standing up to them.

    Quite a bit of time was spent thinking about/discussing the issue of
    the co-author– how not knowing what Lamb’s role was or who wrote what
    was distracting to the reader and opened up the possibility that this
    book was not Malala’s story or beliefs totally. The group was very
    interested to hear of the negative reaction to the book (and not Malala)
    in Pakistan.

    *Discussions continue at our libraries and Book Discussion Kits are
    available for private book groups (see below):

    Wednesday, October 22, 6:30-8:00pm at Meadowridge Library, 5740 Raymond
    Rd., Madison, WI, 53711, 288-6160

    Thursday, October 23, 1:00-2:00pm at Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd.,
    Madison, WI, 53711, 266-6385

    Wednesday, November 5, 6:00-7:30pm at Monroe Street Library, 1705 Monroe
    St., Madison, WI, 53711, 266-6390

    Thursday, November 6, 6:30-7:45pm at Lakeview Library, 2845 N. Sherman
    Ave., Madison, WI, 53704, 246-4547

    Thursday, November 13, 12:00-1:00pm at Lakeview Library, 2845 N. Sherman
    Ave., Madison, WI, 53704, 246-4547

    Tuesday, November 25, 7:00-8:00pm at Pinney Library, 204 Cottage Grove
    Rd., Madison, WI, 53716, 224-7100

    *Click here to borrow Book Discussion Kits from MPL

    Madison Public Library has bought over 100 copies of I am Malala to lend
    to private book groups. Kits are lent on a first come, first served
    basis– no holds or reserves allowed. While all kit copies are out as of
    this blog post, experience shows we’ll have many copies to lend again in
    the late fall- typically mid-November. To borrow a kit you’ll need a
    valid library card from one of the libraries in the South Central
    Library System (which includes Madison Public Library.) Call 266-6300
    for more information. You may borrow as many copies as your group needs
    and choose your due date (within reason!) The discussion guide included
    with the kit contains reviews, additional background information on
    Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai and discussion questions.

    Written by: Liz Amundson, Madison Public Library Reference Librarian

    Suggest a Question for Shiza Shahid

    Would you like to ask this year’s Go Big Read keynote speaker a question about the Malala Fund, her friendship with Malala, etc.?

    Shiza Shahid’s October 27th lecture at Varsity Hall, Union South, is free and open to the public. The event will begin at 7 pm (doors open at 6 pm) and no tickets are required. We hope you’ll attend and invite anyone you know who might be interested.

    Due to the large scale of the Varsity Hall event, some of the question and answer period will be moderated. Questions should be suggested in writing by October 17th. The moderator will select a representative set of questions and ask them to Shiza at the event.

    If you would like to suggest a question, please post it as a comment to this blog post. Please also consider including your name and some very brief information about yourself (e.g., your major, unit, etc.).

    * Please note that blog comments are moderated so there may be a delay of up to 24 hours between submitting your question and seeing it appear on the blog.

    First Lady Michelle Obama Calls on World Leaders to Match Courage of Malala

    The First Lady, Michelle Obama, gave a moving keynote address at the third annual Global Education First Initiative event. Michelle’s speech focused on providing quality education for all girls across the world. Obama challenged world leaders to match the courage and commitment of girls who are fighting for their right to education.

    I’m thinking about girls like Malala. I’m thinking about those brave girls in Nigeria. I’m thinking about all the girls who will never make the headlines who walk hours to school each day, who study late into the night because they are so hungry to fill every last bit of their God given potential.

    Universal education is a Millennium Development Goal that the United Nations had committed to achieving by next year, but as the year ticks away it is unlikely to achieve the goal. Michelle stressed that quality education for every child and the empowerment of women and girls needs to be on the post-2015 deadline agenda. The speech ended with her again calling world leaders to action by reminding leaders of the girls who are sacrificing so much just for the chance to get an education.

    If we can show just a tiny fraction of their courage and their commitment, then I know we can give all of our girls an education worthy of their promise.

    To read a news story on the speech, click here.
    To read a transcript of the speech, click here
    Lastly, to watch part of the speech, click on this link: Video of part of Michelle Obama’s speech