Nida Manzoor’s Complicated Muslim Women

In the British sitcom “We Are Lady Parts” and the feature film “Polite Society,” Manzoor presents characters that are joyful, liberated, glamorous, and confused.

Three minutes into the first episode of “We Are Lady Parts,” a British sitcom about an all-female, all-Muslim punk band that débuted in the spring of 2021, the band is introduced rehearsing a raucous anthem. “I’m gonna kill my sister,” Saira, the tattooed, plaid-shirt-wearing lead singer and rhythm guitarist, snarls. “She stole my eyeliner . . . and she’s been stretching out my shoes with her big fucking feet.” Alongside Saira are the other members: Bisma, the bass player, who wears a headwrap and a cowrie-shell necklace, and Ayesha, who pounds the drums furiously, tossing luxuriant hair that’s typically kept tucked under a headscarf. On the couch is Momtaz, the band’s manager, rocking out in a midnight-blue niqab. The song, “Ain’t No One Gonna Honour Kill My Sister But Me,” is, like the best punk anthems, delivered straight and filled with rage. Meanwhile, the show that it’s a part of—created by Nida Manzoor, a thirty-three-year-old writer and director from London—is, like the best comedy, sly and subversive. Securing a rare hundred-per-cent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “We Are Lady Parts” is as unexpected and as heady as the cloud of vape smoke that wafts through Momtaz’s veil.

When “Lady Parts” débuted in Britain, on Channel 4, it was immediately hailed as something new: a series that represented the experience of young British Muslim women by acknowledging the should-be-obvious fact that there is no single experience shared by young British Muslim women. Instead, there is a multiplicity of experiences, which, in “Lady Parts,” is refracted through its ensemble cast. There’s the experience of Saira, who, when she is not making music, is butchering halal meat and, in dealing with her own trauma and loss, trying to keep her devoted boyfriend at a distance. There’s that of Bisma, who has a young daughter, a partner, and an aspiring career as a creator of feminist graphic novels called “The Killing Period (Apocalypse Vag)”—“think ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ meets ‘Rugrats,’ ” she says. There’s that of Ayesha, who, as an Uber driver, has to deal with the prejudices of riders like the three young men who ask her if her dad is forcing her to work. “Yeah, he said if I don’t drive simple dickless pissheads around he’s going to send me to Iraq to marry my cousin,” she replies, before blasting them with heavy metal. The swaggering Momtaz, who wheels and deals on behalf of the band in her veil, gown, and gloves, and who also works in a fancy-lingerie shop selling bras that she categorizes to one customer as “recreational, titillational, factual, respectful, shag-me-kind or shag-me-hard,” repudiates the bigoted perceptions of observant women held by some non-Muslim Brits, including the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who once characterized women who choose to wear the burqa as “looking like letterboxes.”


Confronting problematic tenets of religious law: Judaism could follow Islam.

Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and others have been comfortable for over two decades. Post-9/11, international attention focused on perceived Islam problems that supposedly breed violence.

What turned young Muslims into suicide bombers? What drives militancy and the willingness to sacrifice one’s life and those of innocent others? And what was it in Islam that produced supremacy, intolerance, and rejection of pluralism?

Desperation, disenfranchisement, marginalisation, frustration, and anger are only partial explanations.

To be sure, these factors played a role. But so did the ability to justify such attitudes in religious texts.

Even so, Muslim political and religious leaders and world leaders joined a chorus of voices insisting Islam was not part of the problem.

However, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest and most moderate Muslim civil society movement, bucked the trend, insisting that Islam is part of the problem.

But equally important is Nahdlatul Ulama’s assertion that it is not just Islam that embraces legal concepts that are outdated, obsolete, and/or problematic today. The movement argues that this is equally true for most, if not all, religions.

In the case of Judaism, that has become more evident. This is not just with the rise of the most far-right, ultra-nationalist, and religiously ultra-conservative government in Israel’s history.

It has also become more evident in how Israel confronts the reality that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has no shelf life and that a one-state solution is all that remains on the table and is already a reality.


Archaeologists Have Discovered Medieval Paintings ‘Unique for Christian Art’ on the Walls of an Ancient Chamber in Sudan

Archaeologists have uncovered a hidden complex of rooms covered with Christian paintings in Old Dongola, a deserted town in Sudan that was once the capital of medieval Makuria.

A team from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology had been exploring houses dating from the later Funj period, 16th to 19th century, when they stumbled upon an opening into a small chamber painted with depictions of the Mother of God, Christ, a Nubian ruler, and Archangel Michael.

Preliminary research suggests the paintings were created during a time of extreme duress for Dongola, which was an important trade city on the Nile that flourished for hundreds of years under the peaceful relations between the Muslims of Egypt and the Christians of Nubia.

Old Dongola

Close up of King David inside the discovered vaults in Old Dongola. Photo: Magdalena Skarżyńska Skarżyńska/Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology University of Warsaw.

The paintings show a Nubian ruler, believed to be King David, being shielded by Archangel Michael and are accompanied by inscriptions calling for God to protect the city—figurative scenes that the archaeologists consider “unique for Christian art.”

David’s reign marked the beginning of the end for the kingdom and his actions led to the city being sacked by the Mamluk Sultanate in 1276. Onsite archaeologists speculate that the paintings might have been made with the Mamluk army approaching or laying siege to the city. Inscriptions accompanying the paintings, according to a preliminary reading, include pleas for God’s protection.


Eid Al Fitr 2023 Expected to Fall on April 21 in US

The Fiqh Council of North America’s calendar sets April 21 as Eid Al-Fitr.

Rabat – Eid Al Fitr 2023 is set to take place on April 21 in the US, according to astronomy predictions.

According to, the Astronomical new moon will be on Thursday, April 20.

“On April 20, the elongation is more than 8 degrees and the moon is more than 5 degrees above the sun everywhere in North America. Hence the first day of Sawaal is on Friday, April 21, 2023,” the website added.

Shawwal is the tenth month of the lunar-based Islamic calendar, marking the end of Ramadan.

The Fiqh Council of America’s calendar is also putting April 21 as the date of Eid Al Fitr.

Several other countries in the Gulf are also expected to celebrate the end-of-Ramadan festival on Friday, April 21 — including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, among others.

Meanwhile, Morocco is expected to celebrate Eid Al Fitr on April 22. It will be the first time in five years for the North African country to fast for 30 days instead of 29 days.

Muslims across the world observe the Eid with several rituals and customs, including morning prayers.


Saudi Arabia, UAE call on Muslims to sight Eid crescent moon on Thursday

Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday called on Muslims across the Kingdom to sight the crescent moon on Thursday, April 20.

“The Supreme Court called on whoever sights the crescent moon by naked eyes or through binoculars to report to the nearest court and register their testimony,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

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“The Supreme Court expressed hope that those who are capable of sighting the crescent moon will join committees formed for that purpose in different regions and participate in such efforts that benefit Muslims,” the report added.

A similar call to sight the moon was made by authorities in the UAE on Tuesday.

“The moon-sighting committee has invited all Muslims in the UAE to sight the crescent of the month of Shawwal on Thursday evening, 29th Ramadan, 1444 H, which corresponds to 20th April, 2023,” the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The UAE committee requested those who spot the crescent moon to contact the authorities on +97126921166 and be directed to the nearest court to record a testimony, WAM reported.

Meanwhile, astronomers in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said that Eid al-Fitr could begin on Saturday as the Shawwal moon is expected to be visible by the naked eye on Friday evening and not Thursday, Al Arabiya English previously reported.

Technically, the moon will appear in the sky on Thursday evening, but it will not be illuminated by the sun’s rays and will be difficult to see without specialist equipment, Majid Abu Zahra from the Jeddah Astronomical Society was quoted as saying in the report.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan which began on March 23.


Mosques and Muslims Around the World Promote Sustainability and ‘Green’ Ramadan

JAKARTA, Indonesia — In the heart of Jakarta, the grand Istiqlal Mosque was built with a vision for it to stand for a thousand years.

The mosque was conceived by Soekarno, Indonesia’s founding father, and was designed as an impressive symbol for the country’s independence. Its seven gates — representing the seven heavens in Islam — welcome visitors from across the archipelago and the world into the mosque’s lofty interior.

But they don’t just see the light here. It fuels them.

A major renovation in 2019 installed upwards of 500 solar panels on the mosque’s expansive roof, now a major and clean source of Istiqlal’s electricity. And this Ramadan, the mosque has encouraged an energy waqf — a type of donation in Islam that continues to bear fruit over time — to grow its capacity to make renewable power.

Her Pramtama, deputy head of the Ri’ayah — or building management — division of Istiqlal Mosque, hopes that Islam’s holiest month, when the faithful flock to mosques in greater numbers, can provide momentum to Istiqlal’s solar project through donations.

The mosque’s climate push is just one example of different “Green Ramadan” initiatives in Indonesia and around the world that promote an array of changes during the Muslim holy month, which has fasting and, in many cases, feasting elements as people gather to break their fasts.

Read More: Why More Non-Muslims Are Fasting This Ramadan

In a month where restraint and charity are emphasized, recommendations can include using less water while performing the ritual washing before prayers, replacing plastic bottles and cutlery during community iftars with reusable ones and reducing food waste. Other suggestions include carpooling to mosques, using local produce, emphasizing recycling and using donations to fund clean energy projects.


Why Hinduism Is Being Molded Into A Monotheistic Religion Like Islam And Christianity

(OPINION) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew to the northern city of Ayodhya in October to inspect the construction of a temple devoted to Ram, one of the most prominent deities in Hinduism. This marked Modi’s first visit to Ayodhya since he laid the foundation stone of the temple on Aug. 5, 2020, but it was a key milestone in his party’s efforts to create a version of Hinduism that shares many similarities with Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Modi offered prayers and performed “Aarti,” a Hindu ritual that involves waving lit lamps before an image of a deity — in this case, Ram — at the river Saryu, amid the ringing of bells and the playing of the religious song “Om Jai Saryu Mata” in the background. Over 1.5 million earthen lamps were lit on the banks of the river, accompanied by a laser show that depicted the life and times of Ram. This purely religious activity, as it may have appeared from the outside, carried a deeper subtext.

The political, cultural and religious symbolism of the occasion, as well as its timing in conjunction with the Hindu festival of lights, Deeputsav, were not lost on the people of India. The event was part of an ongoing, all-encompassing effort to craft and sustain a larger Hindu identity across its diverse traditions and forge Hinduism into a structured faith with Ram as its principal divinity.

Although Ram is one of the most familiar deities in Hinduism, he is not a central figure in all of its various strains, where different deities are worshipped. However, Hindutva — the reigning political ideology of the far-right government led by Modi, which took power in 2014 — has been systematically working to organize Hinduism along the lines of monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Hinduism is otherwise more of a diverse way of life than a formal faith. 

Centralizing Ram is part of this ambitious political and cultural enterprise. The ongoing construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya represents a major step in this direction.

The temple, which spans 54,700 square feet, will cost an estimated $220 million to build and will be quake resistant, with a lifespan of 1,000 years. Various Hindu organizations have run donation campaigns for the temple, which has received support from some film stars. It is expected to be ready for worship in 2024, just in time for the Bharatiya Janata Party to use it as an emotive electoral issue in the national elections that year. 


Christian man in Gaza brings dates and water to Muslims stuck in Ramadan rush hour

GAZA, April 13 (Reuters) – In the hour before sunset during Ramadan, Gaza’s roads become choked with cars as people dash home in time to break their fast with their families.

Frustrated drivers beep their horns or try to cut through the gridlock, and there are more accidents than usual as a whole day without food or water dulls concentration and shortens tempers.

For those unlucky enough to miss breaking the fast altogether as they stand in solid traffic, Ehab Ayyad is a welcome sight.

The Christian man from Gaza offers dates and water to Muslims held up in traffic or late home to break their fast, in keeping with the Prophet’s tradition.

Five years ago, Ayyad began by offering neighbours dates and water, the first thing Muslims normally eat when they end their fast at sunset, and decided to make the offer general.

“As a Christian, I offer my Muslim brothers dates and water as a kind of sharing because we’re living in the same homeland, and we have the same blood,” Ayyad, 23, told Reuters, at his house, decorated with lanterns and small statues of the Virgin Mary. “They first wondered how a Christian is doing that, but as days went by, they got happy to see me every year,” he said.

“Reactions are positive and I am happy and proud.”

Gaza, the coastal strip under an Israeli-led blockade since 2007 and run by the Islamist Hamas group, has only around 1,000 Christians, most of them Greek Orthodox, in a population of 2.3 million.

“It isn’t their month and they don’t fast but they feel for us and this is something good,” said coffee shop owner Louay Al-Zaharna, after receiving one of Ayyad’s gifts.


Why is there tension between Muslims and Jews over Jerusalem holy site?

Israeli police control security in Jerusalem, giving them considerable power over who can enter Al Aqsa and often resulting in violent confrontations – especially during Ramadan.

Jerusalem is an important city to followers of the three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

The coming together of these religions in a small, intense and ancient city is why it continues to be fought over with such passion and violence.

Here are the key sites in Jerusalem and the beliefs and history that underlie the tensions.

Al Aqsa Mosque

Haram al Sharif, which translates as The Noble Sanctuary in English, is a 36-acre site in the southeast corner of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The compound is home to two significant mosques, Al Aqsa and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.

Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad made his night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, before rising to heaven.

After the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina, Al Aqsa is the third most holy site in Islam.

Temple Mount

To Jews, the site is known as the Temple Mount.

They believe it is where King Solomon built the first temple 3,000 years ago. The temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, but it remains the most holy site in Judaism.

The Western Wall is the only remaining supporting wall of the original temple and is just yards from the two Islamic mosques.

Today, it is the only place on the site where Jews can pray and it is the focus of Jewish worship the world over.

Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall during Passover in April 2022
Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall during Passover


When The Moon Unites Muslims, Jews And Christians — Lessons For Abraham’s Children

BUENOS AIRES – These days you may find some of your neighbors savoring an Easter egg or a Matzah flatbread, or others eating nothing at all until past sunset. Customs you may have heard of, but where did they come from?

Yes, three important festivities are coinciding right now for the first time in recent memory, and they involve the major monotheistic faiths that account for half of humanity.

For the Catholics and Protestants it is Easter, which will culminate on Easter Sunday on April 9. The same date will be April 16 for the Orthodox who follow the Julian calendar. This is the most important feast of Christianity. For Jews like myself, Wednesday was the beginning of Passover, commemorating our liberation from slavery in Egypt and the birth of the Jewish nation that gave form to monotheism. It is the oldest festivity of the Western world.

According to tradition, as there was no time to make leavened bread on leaving Egypt, the events are commemorated by eating unleavened bread and food without yeast.

The Muslims are two weeks into Ramadan, the sacred month in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is a month of prayers, of rectification of conduct, reflection and self-analysis, all complemented with a full fast during daylight hours.

Though it is the second year in a row, it is generally very rare for the three faiths to see their holy dates coincide this way. As the Muslim calendar is lunar (having 10 or 11 days less than the solar calendar), Ramadan advances every year by several days, falling in March this year, a little earlier next year and so on. We will have to wait some three decades for this coincidence to recur.

\u200bAn image of a colorful mosque in Duba\u00ef during prayer.

A mosque in Dubaï during prayer.Rumman Amin

Older brothers in faith

We should recall that for centuries until the Vatican II Council of the Roman Church, Easter was used to incite the faithful against the Jews as “Christ killers,” or for a crime of lèse divinité if I may use such a term. Thankfully the Church has banished this discourse and the popes now refer to us as their “older brothers in faith.”