News Briefs: Week of August 9, 2010

The holy month of Ramadan commenced this week, and a British imam tells BBC News that pregnant women are exempt from fasting during this month if it poses health risks to the mother or her baby. Health professionals observe that many pregnant women still continue to fast, even with knowledge of this provision, as they find it harder to make up for the missed fasts when the month is over because no one else in their families is fasting along with them. A study found that pregnant women who fast are likely to have smaller babies who are more prone to learning disabilities in adulthood. The Columbia University researchers found that this trend was most marked if the women fasted early on in their pregnancy and during the summer when fasts are longer.

Aisha, the Afghan woman whose nose and ear were cut off by her husband, is now in California with her host family to begin an eight-month-long procedure to reconstruct her face, reports ABC News. In response to the TIME magazine cover story about Aisha’s mutilation, a Taliban spokesperson said, “In sacred Islamic law, cutting of human ears and noses whether the human is alive or dead is illegal and prohibited. Under Shariate law, if someone carries out this heinous act, the same thing will be done to the criminal who has perpetuated the act.”

Conservative Fox News satirist, Greg Gutfeld, claims he is looking into opening a Muslim-friendly gay bar next to the planned Cordoba Mosque near Ground Zero in New York city, reports the Examiner. He proposes a two-story floor plan with the second floor serving 72 virgin beverages to meet the alcohol-free dietary restrictions of Muslims. In response to his critics who accuse him of mocking both Muslim and Gay minority groups, he insists he is trying to “promote integration and tolerance” of gays in the Muslim community.

Zareena Grewal, a professor of American and religious studies at Yale, likens Ramadan Muslims to Christmas Christians, reports the Los Angeles Times. A man in his twenties, Omar Younis, like several other young American Muslim men and women, enjoys dating, drinking alcohol, and going to night clubs all year round except for when the holy month of Ramadan comes around. Grewal notes that Ramadan remains sacred for even those Muslims who don’t practice their religion on a daily basis and break many of its rules. For some, observance of Ramadan is the only religious ritual they still practice. This month mosques brim with many congregants whom have not been in attendance since the previous Ramadan
Shazia Riaz is Events and Publicity Editor for Altmuslimah.

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