Archive for Love

Valentine’s Day Musings: Enjoy Sex

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by loonwatch
Burqa  Valentine
An Indian Muslim woman with a Valentine’s Day teddy bear at a gift shop in Ahmedabad (AFP, Sam Panthaky)

Many Islamic authorities forbid the celebration of Valentine’s Day since at its root it is a non-Islamic religious holiday. However the topic of love, experiencing love and loving one’s partner are central discussions across the Islamic world.

In this vein we share the following story of Widad Lootah, a woman who wears the niqab and is quite frank and open in writing about sex. The article below highlights the fact that for some the amount of openness from Lootah is breaching taboos within conservative society, however it must be pointed out that open discussion about the joy and importance of sex is obviously not without precedence in Muslim societies or Islamic history. For instance, the great Andalusian scholar and polymath Ibn Hazm wrote a seminal early treatise on the various forms of love, infatuation, etc. (going into quite some detail) titled The Ring of the Dove.

UAE Islamic love guru urges women to enjoy sex

by Lara Sukhtian (AFP)

DUBAI — Emirati love guru Widad Lootah is not your typical marriage counsellor. She is an ultra-conservative Muslim who wears the full veil and talks a lot about sex, often quoting the Muslim holy book the Koran.

On the eve of Valentine’s day, Lootah is calling on Muslim and Arab women everywhere to “embrace love and love making.”

“Don’t shy away from it, don’t feel ashamed by it. Enjoy it, you’re supposed to,” she said in an interview with AFP, adding that she is trying to break common misconceptions that sex in Islam is only about conceiving children.

“It’s also about having fun,” she said.

Dressed in a shroud of black revealing only her eyes — a choice, she says, that allows her to emulate the Muslim prophet’s wives — Lootah was frank and explicit about the importance Islam places on a healthy sex life.

“It’s at the core” of a happy marriage, she said.

Lootah noted that her 11 years as a marriage counsellor at the Dubai courthouse made her realise that “what happens (or doesn’t happen) in bed” is the main source of marital problems in the United Arab Emirates.

Public, and in many cases private, discussions about sex are still taboo in much of the conservative Muslim world, a reality she says contradicts Islam’s approach to the subject.

There are only two simple rules for sex in Islam: you must be married “and anal sex is strictly forbidden,” Lootah said.

“Everything else, including all sexually intimate acts below the belly button, is allowed. Feel each other, touch each other, kiss each other all over… it’s OK.”

The problem is, “there is so much shame and disgrace” associated with the enjoyment of sex in the Arab world.

Lootah is an adamant believer in bringing the discussion of sex out into the open, although at times doing so has proven it can be a risky business.

In 2009, she published the much-debated Muslim sex guide “Top Secret: Sexual Guidance for Married Couples.”

Her book, and her comments in interviews on the subject, initially triggered a slew of insults, condemnation and even threats against her life.

“They called me all sorts of things: crazy, vile, immoral, criminal,” she said. “Some even called me a traitor and spy for Israel and America.”

Today, Lootah is probably the UAE’s most prominent marriage counsellor, known by her clients as “Mama Widad.”

Lootah has also vigorously lobbied her home government to introduce sexual education in Emirati schools.

For older teens, “it’s very important that we educate them, both males and females, about sex… we have to prepare them psychologically and emotionally for it, and we have to teach them about the act itself.”

But first, we must “educate the teachers so they can educate the students,” said Lootah, adding that such education would also help protect young children from sexual predators.

They have to be “taught what form of adult-child interaction is appropriate and what’s not,” she said. “We need to teach them so they know to recognise the danger when it’s there.”

She said the taboos surrounding sex have also contributed to high divorce rates in the Emirates and to generally unhappy marriages.

In about a month, Lootah plans to submit her second book, “Top Secret Volume Two,” to the government censors, and in traditional Lootah style, its pages will contain a lot of sex talk.

But this time, the topic of discussion is forbidden sex under Islam.

“It’s about homosexual and lesbian relations and their effect on the institution of marriage,” said Lootah, adding that she had to tread carefully given the sensitivity of the subject and intense emotions it stirs in the Muslim world.

When asked why she has taken on the cause of love and sex in Islam, Lootah argued that it was an issue of “women’s rights.”

“I can’t fix everything… but I can try and fix the role of women (in sex and marriage) in the Arab world.”

As for her opinion of Valentine’s day, she says Islam forbids the celebration of non-Muslim holidays.

“But if you consider Valentine’s day as a mere reminder to show one’s love to another, then why not? I don’t object to it,” she said. But “if that’s the case, then every day should be Valentine’s day.”

Any last words of advice?

“Experience love… even before marriage, that’s OK. But don’t do anything forbidden by Islam.”

Message from Iran: Tell All Americans We Love Them

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by loonwatch
Green MovementDemonstrators from Iran’s Green Movement

The Islamic Republic of Iran isn’t a top tourist destination for most Americans.

Iran is portrayed in the Western media as a country run by fanatical, bloodthirsty Mullahs, ruling in concert with the often outrageous President  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As for the Iranian people, angry mobs are often shown in the streets, burning American flags and shouting “Death to America!”

No wonder it is easy to convince Americans that Iranians are consumed by hatred and eager to reduce American cities to rubble.  Yet Americans brave enough to visit Iran quickly discover Iranians are a friendly, gracious people. They love Americans, and they are not bashful about sharing their  affection. Tourists from California said they were amazed by their experience:

“We were besieged, mobbed almost, by whole classrooms of up to 50 or 60 individuals who would come up to us and smother us with hugs and kisses,” reports Caroleen Williams, of Coronado. “‘Are you Americans?’ they asked. ‘We love Americans.’ Women walking down the sidewalks in full black burqas would wave to us and tap their hearts.”

In fact, Williams says they were repeatedly urged to take home a message: “Tell all Americans we love them.”

The experience is not unusual. An American Rabbi who visited Iran described a similar experience in his blog. He concluded that Iran is misunderstood by Americans, and especially by American Jews, many of whom are convinced the Iranians harbor a special hatred for them:

The most essential thing I’ve learned is in some ways the most basic: Iran is a beautiful country with a venerable history and wonderful, gracious people. It is also a powerfully complicated country, marked by a myriad of cultural/political/religious/historical layers. I am now more convinced than ever that we in the West harbor egregiously stereotypical assumptions about this country – and that we harbor them at our mutual peril.  ~ Rabbi Shalom Rav

A journalist from the Christian Science Monitor confirmed that the affection Iranians have for Americans is not confined to secular liberals:

After speaking with numerous Iranians from all walks of life – lower and upper class, religious and secular, Westernized and traditional, government- affiliated and civilian – I became convinced that this vilified member of the ‘Axis of Evil‘ is actually one of the most welcoming places for Americans to travel in the Middle East. Indeed, all Iranians with whom I spoke shared a positive opinion of Ameri-cans.

Iranian admiration for America is not a new phenomenon. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks more than a decade ago, Iranians held spontaneous candlelight vigils, mourning, praying for the victims, and expressing solidarity with the American people.

The New York Times reported that an opinion poll showed 74% of Iranians want to renew relations and start a dialogue with the US. Iranian authorities were so incensed by the results, they arrested the pollster. The regime has always capitalized on legitimate grievances against Western foreign policy to rally Iranians against America, but many Iranians are no longer listening.

Refusing anti-Americanism is one way to swipe at the hated regime. Iran has an overwhelmingly young, vibrant population fed up with the oppressive theocracy that began more than three decades ago when the late Ayatollah Khomeini and his allies established the system of Vilayat-i-Faqih, “Rule of the Jurist”.

In some ways Iranians are more American than Americans themselves, because Iranians truly cherish liberty and have struggled for over 100 years to be free. ~ Iranians love America – But – Americans Hate Iran

Paradoxically, the US is largely responsible for setting back Iranian democracy and self-rule by decades. In 1953, the US and Britain overthrew Iran’s democracy, imposed the tyrannical Shah of Iran as the new leader, and divided up the country’s oil wealth among themselves. The operation was not a secret, and is chronicled in mainstream sources here, here, and here.

Hostage CrisisAmerican Protester

In 1979, the Iranian people deposed the Shah. Later that same year, rumors circulated that the US was poised to retake the Iranian government, and the infamous Iranian Hostage Crisis ensued.

In the wake of the crisis, the late Ayatollah Khomeini dubbed America the Great Satan, a term that has been co-opted ever since by Islamophobes determined to portray Iranian leaders as hateful and irrational. The Iranian Hostage Crisis enraged Americans, and spawned Iranophobia, a special strain of fear and hatred that has never entirely faded from public memory.

Apparently emboldened by the dispute, Saddam Hussein subsequently waged war on Iran. The US supported and armed Saddam Hussein, who was an ally at the time. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians were killed during the Iran-Iraq War.

In the years since, US policy has remained aggressive and hypocritical in the eyes of many Iranians, and for good reason. Sanctions hurt the people of Iran and do little to weaken the regime, and frequent saber rattling by the US and Israel is unsettling:

When Iranians burn the American flag in street demonstrations – they are NOT showing hatred toward Americans; they are in fact pointing out the the U.S. government has and is continuing to try to destroy Iran and Iranians.

Who is the U.S. government fooling? Maybe Americans – but not Iranians. We know the truth and understand fully the harm that is being imposed on Iran – every single day.

As much as Iranians despise their current regime and adore Americans on a personal level, they are united in the opposition to foreign intervention. If the US attacks Iran, Iranians will rally around the flag. As the aforementioned article  in the New York Times states:

Left to its own devices, the Islamic revolution is headed for collapse, and there is a better chance of a strongly pro-American democratic government in Tehran in a decade than in Baghdad. The ayatollahs’ best hope is that hard-liners in Washington will continue their inept diplomacy, creating a wave of Iranian nationalism that bolsters the regime — as happened to a lesser degree after President Bush put Iran in the axis of evil.

Like the people of Iran, most Americans support diplomacy and are opposed to war. While it’s true that most Americans don’t reciprocate the love Iranians feel for them, it is largely because they glimpse into Iranian society exclusively through the corporate media.

Hardliners on both sides fan the flames of hatred and mutual distrust because it serves their nefarious agendas. The interests of the people lie in recognizing each others’ common humanity.

The Rally to Restore Sanity: No Need to Fear Muslims

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by loonwatch

Candidates for anti-Loons of the Year, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their combined Rallies to Restore Sanity and March to Keep Fear Alive on the Washington Mall, Saturday October, 30th. The event was held to promote a dialogue of reasonableness and restore rationality to the divided discourse that exists in America. Over 250,000 people showed up, more than Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor which garnered around 90,000.

Among the many messages, one was explicitly addressing the irrational fears Americans have of Muslims.

Jon Stewart on his intentions for the rally,

JON STEWART: I’m really happy you guys are here, even if none of us are really quite sure why. So, what exactly was this? I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are, and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies.

But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s twenty-four-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the résumé. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate—just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

Stewart and Colbert also awarded Jacob Isom a medal for his contribution to restoring sanity,

JON STEWART: Our next honoree reacted quickly when he found himself face-to-face with a flammable situation.

JACOB ISOM: Snuck up behind him and took his Quran. He said something about burning the Quran. I was like, “Dude, you have no Quran,” and ran off.

JON STEWART: I like that. Can we hear that again, maybe with a dance remix?

JACOB ISOM: [remixed] You have no Quran. Snuck up behind him and took his Quran. Said something about burning the Quran. I was like, “Dude, you have no Quran. Dude, you have no Quran.”

JON STEWART: Thank you, YouTube. Now, obviously I don’t normally condone ripping things out of people’s hands, but I think in this situation it was the most reasonable thing to do. Ladies and gentleman, our final awardee, Jacob Isom. Sir? Come on up, brother. Oh, there you go.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Boo-ya! Dude, you have no medal! How’s that feel?

Finally, the pair of comedians had an exchange with Karim Abdul Jabbar to highlight the fact that Americans shouldn’t fear Islam and Muslims and those who are doing criminal actions are a very tiny minority:

STEPHEN COLBERT: What about Muslims?

JON STEWART: What? What about them?

STEPHEN COLBERT: They attacked us.

JON STEWART: Stephen, “they” did not. Some people who happen to be of Muslim faith attacked us. But there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Most of them—

STEPHEN COLBERT: Did not, is what you’re saying?

JON STEWART: That is correct.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Oh, Jon, oh, so you’re saying—you’re saying that there is no reason at all to be afraid of Osama bin Laden?

JON STEWART: No, Osama bin Laden is a specific person. He’s bad.

STEPHEN COLBERT: He is a specific bad Muslim person.

JON STEWART: Yeah, but that’s not—there are plenty of Muslim people that are not bad and that you would like, and that’s fine.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Oh, really? Who? Who would I like?

JON STEWART: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

JON STEWART: Yes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Kareem!

JON STEWART: That is someone that you would—

STEPHEN COLBERT: Watch your head. Kareem, my man! Hey, Kareem!

JON STEWART: You know, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is Muslim.

STEPHEN COLBERT: Well, that’s not fair, Jon. That’s not a fair example. Kareem is cool. We’re friends.

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, we’re acquaintances. You know, a real friend understands that no matter what religious position someone plays, we’re all on the same team.

It was an amazing rally, and despite all the attempts to undercut it and underplay its significance by both the media and certain politicians it was a tremendous success! The message at the end of the day was that we can have disagreements in a reasonable manner and that what binds us as humans is stronger than what divides us. As cliche as it sounds, at the end of the day it was a call for peace and love.

I leave you with this duet between Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and Ozzy Osbourne doing their respective Peace Train and Crazy Train: