Thursday, January 28, 2010

Social Justice Challenge - Religious Freedom

January's topic for the Social Justice Challenge is Religious Freedom. What is religious freedom?

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Violations of religious freedom can take many forms:
Switzerland votes to ban the construction of minarets.
China mistreats the citizens that follow banned religions.
These are just two examples from Amnesty International.

For this challenge, I read Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks.

I chose this particular book for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Brooks is an Australian author, I am Australian, and I want to make a point of reading more books written and published in Australia. Secondly, I don't know a lot about the Islamic religion and I want to learn more.
What this book is not. This book is not about freedom of belief or the freedom to manifest religion.

This book is a memoir of the time that the author spent living with women in various predominantly Islamic countries, with the express intention of finding out the real story of these women's lives.

I did, however, learn a lot about freedom of belief and the freedom to manifest religion. Though it is easy to believe that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is "immutable international currency, independent of cultural mores and political circumstances" (Brooks, 2008, p.237), that is not the case. Not all people in all countries agree.

Also, the practice of religion is affected in complex ways by the political climate and cultural norms of a country. Not all Muslims practice their religion the same way or believe the same things.

I highly recommend this fascinating insight into the lives of Muslim women.


ibeeeg said...

Interesting. I liked how you quoted the Declaration of Human Rights. I was unaware that there was one. I am going to check out the link.
I, like you, do not know much about Islam. I would like to learn. Did you find this book gave you insight to where you now have a bit of understanding of Islam?

Fiona said...

Yes, I did learn a bit about Islam from this book. I definitely need to read more though.

Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

I read the same book for this challenge. Excellent post!

Fiona said...

Hey Stephanie, I'm following your blog now. Will check it out when I get the chance :)

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This sounds interesting. I hadn't heard of this one. Another one for my ever growing list!

Kim said...

I read this years ago and was left with such a changed impression of Muslim women in the countries she discussed. There was far more humor and strength than what is often depicted about females.

Wendy said...

You made me want to read this book...thanks for a great review.

Fiona said...

Thanks for visiting my blog to read my review. I'm just about to visit some other reviews re religious freedom to see what others have read.