News Briefs: Week of August 16, 2010

This week, the government of Afghanistan releases statistics on alarmingly high suicide attempt rates by Afghan women, and an Islamic theologian recounts his experience on a nudist beach that led to his conversion to Islam.
The government of Afghanistan released statistics that reveal that every year about 2,300 women or girls attempt suicide, mainly due to mental illness, domestic violence and poverty, reports ABC News. The report shows a several fold increase over the last thirty years. Despite these findings, Rachel Reid, Afghan analyst from Human Rights Watch, says the report actually shows promise. She says she is really encouraged that the government is drawing attention to the issue of women’s well-being — “that in itself is quite a seachange over the past 10 years,” says Reid.

Timothy Winters, also known as Sheikh Abdul-Hakim Murad, ranked in the top one hundred in The 500 Most influential Muslims 2010 guide, speaks to the Guardian about his conversion to Islam, in addition to speaking on a wide variety of topics. He recalls the initial moment of realization in his teen years that set him on the path of conversion. It was on a nude beach when he saw peach juice running off the chin of a beautiful girl that he realized that the world is not just a consequence of material forces. “That was the first time I became remotely interested in anything beyond the material world. … In a Christian context, sexuality is traditionally seen as a consequence of the Fall, but for Muslims, it is an anticipation of paradise. So I can say, I think, that I was validly converted to Islam by a teenage French Jewish nudist,” he says.
Shazia Riaz is Events and Publicity Editor for Altmuslimah.

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