Dissent Dispatch: volume 4
Unbelief Brief
May 29, 2024
Breaking Taboos: Menstrual Hygiene Day Special Edition

Welcome to our first Special Edition of Dissent Dispatch!

The 28th of May marks Menstrual Hygiene Day every year. Read further to learn more about why this day is important to Ex-Muslims of North America!

As always, enjoy updates on the Unbelief Brief and Persecution Tracker.

The Unbelief Brief

An Iranian singer has received a harsh prison sentence in response to alleged crimes against the authoritarian regime. Thirty-six-year-old Amir-Hossein Maghsoudlou (a.k.a. Tataloo), reportedly “once a vocal supporter of the regime,” had been living in Turkey since 2018 but was extradited back to Iran in December. He has been on trial since March of this year, accused of numerous crimes related to obscenity and anti-regime propaganda. Notably, he was also accused of “insulting the Prophet Muhammad,” but in the verdict that was recently handed down, he was cleared of that charge while being found guilty of the others. He now faces ten years’ imprisonment, assuming his appeal is not successful.

Iran International’s reporting highlights the strangeness of this particular case. It seems Iran’s paranoia and militancy does not even allow it to extend mercy to its natural allies if the regime finds that they, too, have violated Islamic morality:

Known for his distinctive tattoos and his fusion of rap, pop and R&B, Tataloo had previously found favor with conservative politicians looking to engage Iran’s young, progressive audience.

In 2017, he also participated in a televised meeting with the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi, who [was] the President of Iran [before his recent death in a helicopter crash].

In a notable moment in 2015, as the landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers was unraveling, Tataloo released a song in support of Iran's nuclear program.

Over in China, a different type of repression, ongoing for years, has reached a notable terminus: the “last major mosque in China to have retained Arabic-style features” has been remodeled, losing its dome in what The Guardian terms a “sinification” of Chinese mosques. Along with the Uyghur genocide, this is one more dimension of an authoritarian state’s refusal to tolerate a multiplicity of thriving cultures within its own borders, preferring instead to crush a religious minority’s dignities and identities (much like what happens in most Muslim-majority countries).

Finally, in the UK: a new “government-commissioned” report recommends that the Department for Education explicitly instruct schools that teachers cannot be punished over accusations of blasphemy. This is in direct response to multiple high-profile blasphemy incidents in schools that have pushed the boundaries of defending freedom of expression. Hopefully, this recommendation will be implemented—but time will tell.

Persecution Tracker Updates

More mob violence in Pakistan: assailants burned down  a Christian man’s house and assaulted him  claiming that he had desecrated the Qur’an, a commonplace accusation in Pakistan frequently used to settle unrelated private scores. Read more about that incident at the Persecution Tracker here.

EXMNA Highlights

Tuesday, May 28th marked Menstrual Hygiene Day, a day devoted to combating stigmas and taboos surrounding menstruation. 

Islam, like many religions, is unsparing in its contempt for menstruation; menstrual periods and bodily impurity are inextricably linked and nearly impossible to disentangle. According to the Qur’an and many Sahih Hadiths, menstruating women are prevented from:

  1. Entering a mosque

  2. Reciting or touching the Qur’an

  3. Praying

  4. Fasting

  5. Walking around the Ka’bah during Hajj

  6. Having sexual intercourse with their husbands

Muhammad considered menstruation to be both a physical and moral deficiency and posed a significant roadblock to women’s spiritual fulfillment. The Qur’an also regards menstrual blood as “harmful” to men and requires women to purify themselves before engaging in acts of devotion. 

In our modern and rational understanding of the world, we can acknowledge the absurdity of these claims. Bodily fluids do not hold intrinsic value; they’re neither good nor bad, neither pure nor impure. So why exactly is menstruation singled out in this way? Simply put, its function and purpose were outside the scope of Muhammad’s understanding and the Qur’an and Hadith directly reflect his ignorance on the matter. Stigmatizing menstruation became one of the many  ways Islam dehumanizes women in order to assert its control and dominance over them. Religions play a central role in denigrating menstruation and Islam is no better or different in its scorn. 

References: https://seekersguidance.org/answers/hanafi-fiqh/can-i-take-notes-during-my-tafsir-class-when-on-my-period/  https://sunnah.com/bukhari:981 https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:595 https://sunnah.com/muslim:333a https://sunnah.com/muslim:335chttps://sunnah.com/bukhari:1650 https://quran.com/2?startingVerse=222 https://sunnah.com/bukhari:304 https://quran.com/2?startingVerse=222

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