Followers

Monday, September 13, 2010

Daisy Khan Means Flower Power

The name Khan is related to the African words Kain and Kandace and means ruler.  A ruler is either someone who inherits a position or one who takes the lead.  Daisy Khan fits the latter, but the mainstream media has ignored her work, though she is close to the center of the NYC Islamic Center debate.

Here's what Betsy Taylor has to say:

At the center of the media firestorm is an interesting woman, Daisy Khan, co-visionary of the proposed center. But, her vision and life work have been nearly invisible in recent media accounts. She has been categorized almost exclusively as “the Imam's wife” and quoted because he's out of the country. But, if one pushes aside the media's smothering memes, one can easily find out more about Daisy Khan beyond her role as wife. Why has the mainstream media ignored so much about her life and achievements? It turns out she's an interesting American woman struggling to build new institutions for women to reclaim voice and power.

Daisy Khan's work is important – for America, for Islam, for Muslim women and for the women's movement within the US and internationally. In an interfaith conversation at the Garrison Institute in 2009, Khan described her path to activism – especially to improve the condition of Muslim women. Khan said, “So, in 2006, I left my regular cushy job and dedicated myself to really looking at our community and seeing what needs to be done.” She convened a gathering of almost 200 Muslim women from 27 countries, out of which emerged the Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE)– an organization which describes itself as a “grassroots social justice movement led by Muslim women” with the mission to build “a cohesive, global movement of Muslim women that will reclaim women’s rights in Islam, enabling them to make dignified choices and fully participate in creating just and flourishing societies”. In four years WISE has tackled an impressive range of issues affecting Muslim women internationally – including domestic and sexual violence, education, women's rights in marriage / divorce / inheritance. Their current focus is a campaign against extremist violence in Islam. In a striking innovation they are developing the first ever training program for women to become a Muslim jurist (or mufiyyah) – qualified to interpret Muslim law and pronounce decisions (or fatwas). This program values modern scholarship (e.g., modern human rights law, theories of globalization), ecumenical exchange with Jewish / Christian and other traditions (it is hosted at the protestant Union Theological Seminary), and, is deeply rooted in the long and diverse traditions of Islamic scholarship and spirituality. As Daisy Khan said, “If you look at the landscape of the Muslim world there are more than 500 million Muslim women around the world and there was not a single institution that spoke for us. So, if we are not at the table, who is going to speak for us?”

Read it all here.

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