Saturday, April 26

Spiced Spare Ribs! Click for more info

To be honest when I saw the marketing poster for this, the latest RMW event, I thought that it immediately gave this event away for what it actually turned out to be - a session in scapegoating, rhetoric and, quite frankly, moaning. I would crack a joke about oestrogen, but since I've already placed myself firmly in the "insecure and defensive male critic" bracket I'd better not push my chances of being taken seriously here any more than I already have. Still, I thought it would be a nice way to introduce a friend from abroad to what Muslim London/UK was all about so we popped along for a looksie anyway.

It wasn't all that bad actually. Despite being female only (a criticism of the event's philosophy rather than the sheer individual talent on show), the panel did manage to both enlighten and entertain for most of it. For me, the star of the show was Humera Khan, possibly an manifestation of the ongoing developing attitude she herself lays claim to. There were a few times when she seemed to lay all problems at the feet of Muslim men (and even a thinly veiled "in my experience" qualification didn't really make up for that) but that could be forgiven in the grand scheme of things.

The rest of the panel was also brilliant: Fatima Zohra was the most real and constantly refused to acknowledge the cliches her mainly Asian audience were throwing at her. Catherine Heseltine charmingly did her MPAC proactive thing, having a pop at the establishment and all, and made a nice contrast to the more subtle approach to change suggested by the rest of the panel.

Khola Hasan seemed to represent the traditional angle, scholarly and backing up her opinion with various theological ideas. And of course the awesome Fareena Alam did a brill job as moderator (I've been told I'm not allowed to say that I fancy her out of respect of her marriage to the equally awesome Abdel-Rehman Malik and so I won't).

Topic-wise we actually started out really well, only becoming progressively worse as the strong resistance to conventional thinking and blame started to waver. As a warm-up we first debated the marketing poster (which was pretty fun) before moving on to the always-juicy discussion on relationships and marriage - or how to solve The Problem Of Being Single.

The concept of platonic relationships in Islam was considered and answered without deferring to an obvious "no", segregation was criticised and the value of remaining single touched upon. We did have a couple of redundant questions ("should older women marry younger men?") but they were dealt with quickly and efficiently enough. In hindsight I should have piped up a bit more; but as always is the case with these things I always want to save my self-fool-making for later.

We then moved to the place of women in politics (the conclusion in short: "yes, there in fact is one") which bled onto leadership and then female scholarship. By that point nothing new was really being discussed and the predictable prejudices and insecurities of the audience had taken over.

By that point my eyes had gotten tired by all the incessant rolling, and tonight was one of the few times I had ever left a talk early. A bit of a shame then, as the potential to break new ground and introduce a new way of thinking was squashed by the transformation of it all into a big old soap box.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous16:04

    'as the potential to break new ground and introduce a new way of thinking was squashed by the transformation of it all into a big old soap box.'

    ha ha ha

    big old soap box!

    What did you expect?

    Main thing -- by attending these events you are keeping it halal, radical, spicey and real.

    I think the raddicle middle way is one big cringe cliche....

    I better stop being patronising. I'm off to fugstar's blog to leave a comment, it's been a while and his blog seems to be a hollow and lonely place. He needs the company.

    In the meantime I am keeping it real. Hope you are as well.