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Muslim Women Misrepresented

February 28, 1988

I am writing to protest Jonathan Kirsch's review of "The Wind Blows Away Our Words." My complaint is that Kirsch is ignorant of Islamic practice and history. Therefore, when he expresses his doubt that Muslim women would "emerge from the isolation of strict Islamic practice to fight the Russians," he misrepresents our religion.

During the time of our Prophet Muhammad, Muslim women fought alongside the men in pitched battle. Later, when the Byzantines invaded Arabia to crush the Muslims, the women formed a skirmish line behind the men. The women told Khalid bin Waleed, a Muslim commander, that should the men be killed, they would fill the gaps; should the men retreat, they would force the men back into combat. These are verified historical incidents. Strict Islamic practice includes women in combat if that cannot be avoided, for surely our women are our partners in faith, and life.

My complaint, however, is urgent. Kirsch is like many of the "letter to the editor" writers and reporters who fill your pages with incorrect "facts" or misleading views about Islam. These items form harmful prejudices that come into our homes when our children return from school. They tell us of the way their classmates and teachers talk about their religion because of what is written in the newspaper. Much of that talk is not true and hurts them.

Please be more responsible when writing about our dear way of life, Islam.

MAZHAR HASSANALLY

CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF TRUSTEES

THE ISLAMIC CENTER OF THE SOUTH BAY-LA

LOMITA, CA.

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