Jewish World Review April 9, 2004 / 19 Nissan, 5764
S-e-x and the Koran; PETA targets Beyonce; more
NEW YORK Never mind the question Mohja Kahf and Asra Q. Nomani are the American Muslim world's answer to "Sex and the City."
And if they're hoping to shock, they just might get their wish.
On Friday, in the online magazine muslimwakeup.com, the Syrian-born Kahf, a University of Arkansas literature professor, launches the mag's first Islamic sex column, "Sex & the Umma."
Her subject: "Do women get to have sex in paradise, too?"
In Friday's installment, an Islamic scholar at a New Jersey mosque says drily: "Any woman who wants such a thing is not likely to make it to paradise."
Later on in the column written in the form of a short story a group of Muslim women share their sexual fantasies and frustrations.
When I asked Kahf Thursday how her fellow Muslims will react to such musings, she answered breezily: "I think they will be thrilled, darling!"
But won't the traditionalists be scandalized?
"They will be smiling under their beards," replied the 36-year-old married mother of three.
The Bombay-born Nomani, a 38-year-old single mom and former Wall Street Journal reporter, will alternate with her own column starting next month.
"We're writing for people who are willing to challenge the status quo and mainstream Muslim thinking," Nomani told me. "We're doing it from an Islamic perspective, but we'd like to have a sense of humor about it."
The sex column was the brainchild of Ahmed Nassef, the Egyptian-born editor-in-chief of the year-old Web site.
"We started the online magazine to address the challenges of being a progressive Muslim," the 37-year-old Nassef, a U.S. citizen, told me Thursday. "Ninety percent of Muslims in the United States and North America are very conservative. Most of the mosques are highly conservative. After 9/11, the Muslims speaking for the community on television reflect the conservative side. But we're giving expression to another point of view."
The Web site summarizes the column's goals: "To address modern day Muslim sexual experiences even if they do not match Islamic prescriptions for sexual conduct." And "to affirm the sexual drives of women as much as those of men."
PETA TARGETS BEYONCE
Fur-loving Beyonce Knowles is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal's latest celebrity quarry.
"Dear Beyonce: Your many fans at PETA are saddened that you've ignored repeated appeals calling your attention to the way minks, foxes and chinchillas are gassed, strangled and electrocuted on fur farms for your wardrobe," the animal rights zealots demand in a full-page ad in Billboard magazine Monday an ad timed to Beyonce's sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden. "Won't you do the decent, humane thing and stop wearing fur?"
The ad features a gruesome photo of a pet dog named Jasmine, crushed to death by a fur trap.
"Our open letter to her comes after years of sending her polite personal letters, but it could be that someone threw those letters out," PETA veep Lisa Lange told this column Thursday. "Beyonce claims to adhere to very strong Christian values. But killing animals, trapping them and bludgeoning them to death are not very Christian acts."
This column's calls to Beyonce's rep and to her mom, Tina Knowles, who designs Beyonce's costumes, were not returned.
DOUBLE YOUR MONEY?: The Olsen twins just hate, hate, hate being called the Olsen twins, the new Premiere magazine reports. "It's just, like, uncomfortable," Ashley complains. Mary-Kate grouses: "No-nuh-no. It's RUDE. I'll say it. If someone comes up to me and says, 'Hey, are you the Olsen twins?' I'm like, 'No.'" Being a teen mogul is tough, apparently.
NOT-SO-POSH PLUM: "Bergdorf Blondes" novelist Plum Sykes, who has fashioned a career of sorts out of being fabulous, is apparently a pull-herself-up-by-her-Manolo-straps kinda gal. "American people would definitely think, 'Oh, Plum comes from like a "Gosford Park" scenario,'" the toffee-accented Londoner confides to Entertainment Weekly. "Unfortunately, my parents were posh but broke." Plum tries to goose book sales by getting in on the Carolyn Bessette phenomenon. The late wife of the late JFK Jr. remains "the icon of 'Bergdorf Blondes,'" Sykes claims. "She was so wow do you know what I mean? so totally wow."
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