Viewpoint: Islam v feminism?
20th May 2015About the author
Why on earth would any girl abandon the liberties of a modern democracy to join the dark ages of IS? Huda Jawad attempts to offer an answer.I was born in Baghdad and grew up in the United Arab Emirates and Syria before coming to settle as a teenager in London in the late 1980s. My parents were political activists during the time of Saddam Hussein and fled Iraq after the death sentence was imposed on them in absentia. My mother has been a shining example of strength and endurance since her childhood. Her great-grandfather was an ayatollah, a famous religious jurist - Ayatollah Naini - and as a result she was raised in a deeply religious atmosphere. However, Ayatollah Naini was a vehement advocate of constitutionalism and the superiority of reasoning, who described freedom of expression as God-given. Perhaps that explains in part why she was the first girl in her family to go to university and go on to have a career as a head teacher. Before her, women in her family and social circle were not allowed an education, save for home-based Koranic and Islamic learning.
Huda Jawad is a communities and equalities activist. She is currently the Domestic Violence Housing Coordinator at Standing Together Against Domestic Violence and works with survivors at Solace Women's Aid.
Likewise, my father grew up in southern Iraq into a family with a heritage for political and religious activism since the 1900s. Both my mother and father fought against the now defunct Baathist regime of Saddam Hussain. As a result of this, my parents had to continually flee from where they had settled and make a new start in foreign lands, at least four times in their lives. Imagine doing that with young children who also happen to be girls.While most of the time it was a life rich with adventure for us girls, largely due to our parents' ability to shield us from the emotional turmoil, there were some very dark moments in an otherwise happy childhood.
You may have by now picked up on a theme in my life story so far - that of identity politics. It certainly seems to be one way of explaining the journeys that I encounter in life. A more recent experience of this was two and a half years ago when my uncle, an Iraqi Shia who lived in Syria for more than 30 years and married a Sunni Syrian woman, was kidnapped by rebel fighters outside his house in a southern suburb of Damascus. Find out more
Huda Jawad's viewpoint will be broadcast on BBC 4's Four Thought programme on Wednesday at 20:45 BST. You can catch up via the iPlayer.
He was taken as he was getting out of his car after driving home from work and was held captive for weeks under the most appalling conditions. He experienced awful treatment that to this date he cannot talk about but re-lives continuously in his nightmares. When asked why he was abducted, his kidnappers simply said because he was Shia, even though he might have not described himself as such. Luckily for him my father and I have worked with a number of Islamists and religious activists from the Middle East, so knew who to turn to for help. To this day, we are indebted to the very few people who worked so tirelessly to secure his release.