While many foreign correspondents based across the Muslim world are under pressure to file stories that will make headline news, Jack had the opportunity to go in-depth and focus on the day-to-day lives of everyday people across the Muslim world.
The most insightful reporting I have seen on the Muslim world has been on reporter Jack Fairweather’s blog Islam’s Advance. While many foreign correspondents based across the Muslim world are under pressure to file stories that will make headline news, Jack had the opportunity to go in-depth and focus on the day-to-day lives of everyday people across the Muslim world. He writes:
As a reporter who began work in the Middle East shortly after September 11, I learned to see the region in terms of a great ideological battle between Islam and the West. During six years of reporting across the region, I've come face-to-face with the darker sides of Islamic extremism: suicide bombings, kidnappings and sectarian violence. I had only an occasional glimpse of the richer and multi-faceted world of engaged, passionate Muslims.
I met Jack and his wife Christina when he began his journey in Afghanistan. I remember telling them that for me and many other American Muslims, religion was something not imposed on us. In Islam, there is no compulsion in religion; you should follow something because you really believe in it and not because it has been forced upon you. But living in Afghanistan, I quickly saw that many women did not have this luxury. While in the major cities such as Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, it was common to see girls go to school and even women working, but in the villages where the majority of Afghans live, the reality was far different. In such an illiterate society, if a mullah says that men should take multiple wives, that is what people will do and believe is right. It was startling for me to see that many women still covered their faces, not because they had the chance to study Islamic text and believed it was the right thing to do, but because it was an idea that was imposed on them.
Jack’s video Searching for a Fourth Wife provides a glimpse into a very much male dominated Afghan village.
Rahilla Zafar is a contributing writer for Altmuslimah. She was based in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2008 working for the International Organization for Migration and the NATO-led mission.