What’s the best way to bring greater cultural understanding among a diversity of people? One woman in Australia has a novel answer to that question, which she’s based on the old speed-dating concept. Every two weeks on a Sunday afternoon, folks arrive at Hana Assafiri’s Melbourne cafe to play a little “Ask a Muslim anything.” Many of the participants are Muslim women, and the idea is to get some real candid conversations going between people of differing backgrounds by letting those who are curious about Islam ask questions. “Nothing is off the table, and your questions can absolutely be frank and candid,” Assafiri told The Guardian in an interview. “The only requirement is that we are all respectful. Respectfully, we can ask why people wear the hijab, do they sleep in it, do they shower in it. The point of this exercise is to break down the divisions that exist in this simplistic environment that only seeks to demonize and further marginalize Muslim women.”
Hanifa Deen, who happened to be on-hand while a Guardian reporter observed one recent question-and-answer session, said that the exercise fills a void often left by the news media and gives women a voice to speak about faith and culture. “The media automatically goes to the men for comment, they ask the imams to talk about Muslim issues,” Deen said. “People don’t ask women. We need to bring out the Muslim women.” For all of the liberty to be frank during these conversations, there is one topic that Assafiri says is sort of off-limits and, if broached, will “be interrogated and rejected.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.